Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Passion of the Christ or Buddha

I wasn't quite sure why this bus-shelter sign in Chelsea (advertising a New Age speaker) bewitched, bothered, and bewildered me so much when I spotted it while walking up Seventh Avenue with my friend Chris on Tuesday afternoon. The first thing that came to mind was, "If the Beatles or Leapy Lee returned today ..." Then I got home and discovered that G.K.C. had already voiced my opinions much better than I could, with up-to-the-minute comments published nearly a century ago:

"Students of popular science ... are always insisting that Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism. This is generally believed, and I believed it myself until I read a book giving the reasons for it. The reasons were of two kinds: resemblances that meant nothing because they were common to all humanity, and resemblances which were not resemblances at all. The author solemnly explained that the two creeds were alike in things in which all creeds are alike, or else he described them as alike in some point in which they are quite obviously different. Thus, as a case of the first class, he said that both Christ and Buddha were called by the divine voice coming out of the sky, as if you would expect the divine voice to come out of the coal-cellar."

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1908

FURTHER READING: The American Chesterton Society's official Web site