Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Moral Issue and a few Theological Ones

So I have now officially completed my first week of college, and my first college assignment. Procrastination didn't get me too badly this time, but I need to step up my pace some, because there are going to be more than two papers which will be fairly long but not have really long times attached to them. (We're talking about 5 pages in about a week and a half, so nothing too horrible.)

I read today an intriguing (and I would say good and fair and balanced) article on gender and gaming over here at 1up.com. Well, to be honest, I didn't read every word of it, but I read a fair amount--enough to get the basics. It features commentary on the shifts in female stereotypes over the years, from the pretty girls who get rescued in older Zelda and Mario to the pretty girls who kick guys' butts in fighting games. (Depending on the fighting game, this may also be the pretty boys. See Soulcalibur's Yunsung.) It was good to read an article on a gaming website which acknowledged the problem of gender stereotyping in games but did not demonize game companies for doing what was and to a vast degree still is business. The article also acknowledges the progress that has been made, and must continue to be made, if the game industry is to play to more than just males. There was also the valid reiteration of the point that games are far from being the only media which can/does promote gender stereotypes; e.g. the People/inTouch/Us Weekly/Cosmopolitan magazines come to mind. Of course the biggest modern culprit, at least when it comes to female stereotypes, is the entire Dead or Alive series of games. I support 1up.com and others in dealing with this moral/cultural issue. Check it out.

World religions reading was interesting as usual. Comparing and contrasting religions helps one to better understand them. I've learned a lot about Hinduism these last few days and I am learning a lot about Buddhism from this weekend's reading. For instance, while both religions emphasize selflessness and service, the ideals are interpreted in different ways and taken to different lengths. It is also interesting to see the difference in dealing with the issue of desire. Christianity sees some desire as good, and some as bad, noting that when people desire bad things they are trying to fill a hole left by what they really desire (Christ.) But they do not know they desire Christ and so they try to fill the hole with the more tangible things they desire. When one comes to Christ one finds one's deep-rooted desires fulfilled, and the other desires either eliminated or fulfilled, depending upon the situation and the morality of those other desires. By contrast Buddhist teaching seems to indicate that the path to salvation is to eliminate all desire, rather than fulfilling it. Desire in Buddhism is not good at all--it is the root of our suffering. Somebody once pointed out that the goal of eliminiating all desire could be seen in and of itself as a desire, but in a sense you are eliminating that desire once you have eliminated all others. Of course none of this makes them compatible, but that is no matter for my textbook; it is determined to impart unto me the utmost pluralism (not the "appreciation of religions," as it defines it, but rather the idea that "all religions are somehow compatible and are a way of interacting with the divine reality.")

My conclusions so far on compatibility of religions, going on belief systems:

Buddhism and Hinduism: Some, but not enough for them to really "work" well together. Morals are somewhat the same--Buddhism's moral code has less to do with the life you are "born" into. Hinduism and Christianity: Some interesting moral similarities, and some similarities in the manifestation of the divine. However the latter calls you to seek out the position that God wants for you, and the former simply says "where you were born is where the god(s) want you. Buddhism and Christianity: Just as with the other two, some moral similarities. Again espeically similar around the ideals of selflessness and charity, but these ideals are played out to different lengths. The biggest differences: Hinduism's pantheistic, Buddhism is non-theistic and Christianity is monotheistic. I should like to read the Bhagavad-Gita sometime, perhaps this summer. Should be an interesting read if I want to learn more about Hinduism's moral code.

Of course I must be fair and note that pluralism is a great thought. It is idealistic and reaches out in unity and love and understanding. But the greatest understanding is not found there; there will be more on this subject later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do Buddhism and gnosticism have anything in common, i.e., matter (desire) is bad?