EuroFoo Day 2

Yesterday was more fun than I’ve had in a long time. I now know several scary things about locks, including how to pick simple ones (I’ve been practising). I heard a very interesting talk on the BBC’s Creative Archive – they hope to release the first piece of content this year sometime. And I gave a lightning talk (5 mins) on my new idea, and another on Patch Maker, which were both well received.

I’ve also discovered an excellent new game called Zendo, which would be even cooler if it didn’t have a Buddhism theme. I guess I have to think about how much I object to that; on the one hand, it’s all in fun, and Buddhism is a false religion anyway, so how can it hurt? On the other hand, one needs to be seen to be doing the right thing, and to be careful of appearing to condone idolatry.

12 thoughts on “EuroFoo Day 2

  1. Gerv,
    Again, your ignorance is showing through Gerv.
    Demeaning another religion or commenting about something you don’t know is not a good idea.
    Learn about something, completely understand it
    and then critique. Unfortunately a lot of Christians
    fall into this category, and they try to proseltize others saying that they are the only right ones.
    Jesus will laugh and stop this, if he was alive now.

  2. There’s a great “guess the rule” game which only really works once, but is most amusing with a group of people haven’t come across it before.

    You sit in a circle, and take turns to pass a pair of scissors to the person on your left, which you can do in various ways (open/closed — how you hold them — whatever). As you do so, you say whether they are “crossed” or “uncrossed”, and then the leader says if that is correct or not.

    The actual rule is: it just depends whether the person passing the scissors has their legs crossed or not, and has absolutely nothing to do with the scissors themselves.

    Once you work out the rule, don’t say what it is; just keep going.

    At some point there are going to be one or two people left who obviously still haven’t got it even though everyone else has, and (to everyone else’s amusement) just don’t twig, until the others start being REALLY unsubtle.

  3. As a Buddhist, I feel extremely offended by your comment that Buddhism is a ‘false’ religion. I have been very careful to avoid commenting on your christianity beliefs, but I’m shocked and hurt that you can go out as far to say the Buddhism is false.

    Please reconsider what you say.

  4. P.S. Talking of lockpicking, I remember hearing of a certain Cambridge maths student living in a student accommodation block, who realised that given the existence of a master key for the block, it must be possible to manufacture one by dismantling the lock from his own door and deducing what the master key must look like.

    (I think the principle is that there are three pins in each shaft, so that there are two interfaces between pins, one which lines up with the edge of the cylinder when the room key is inserted, the other when the master key is inserted.)

    I don’t recall whether he then did anything with the master key he made, and/or got into any (deserved) trouble…

  5. Come on, people! If Gerv wants to say Buddhism is a false religion, let him. You’re free to say the same on your own sites, aren’t you?

    Hem Ramachandran:
    Who’s to say Gerv didn’t made a study of Buddhism when determining his religion? In any case not being acquainted with a religion doesn’t mean that one can’t make a judgment about it. Are you willing to say that the religions of tribes of headhunters might be right because you haven’t studied them? Could the Aztecs have been right? Could the thuggee cult from the second Indiana Jones movie have been right? What about the Heaven’s Gate lunatics? If you’ve answered “no” to any of these without making an in-depth study of the respective religions, I’m afraid you’re not being fully logical.

    “Jesus will laugh and stop this” is also somewhat of a joke, because it sounds like Gerv understands Christianity better than you do. Did Jesus punish Stephen for declaring that the Jews who later stoned him were wrong? The Bible (held to be the divinely-inspired Word of God, not the writings of men) speaks of him as a martyr. (Here’s a reference to the story, for those who haven’t heard it.)

    Jim King-Smith:
    If one examines Christianity and Buddhism and notices that they are contrary (specifically, the “no other gods” part in Christianity, as the most obvious point – I’m sure there are a lot of other reasons), then clearly either one is right and one is wrong or both are wrong (to whatever degree of wrongness you decide). Gerv just thinks Buddhism is wrong and is expressing his opinion in the way he deems best (which is certainly more vocal than some would be). I’ll bet it hurts Gerv to see that you hold Christianity as a false religion, just as the opposite situation hurts you. Simply respect his decision to hold his beliefs, just as we (I hope I’m speaking for everyone here) respect your decision to hold your beliefs even if we don’t agree with them. Respecting the decision to believe a certain religion is truth and that all others are false has nothing to do with agreeing with the religions themselves.

    Personally, as at a glance I haven’t seen anything in the game that makes it particularly questionable, but scanning the website without actually having played the game isn’t enough to make a reasonable judgment.

  6. Thanks for the links, that game looks great!

    Jeff , your point about no other gods would resonate well if it wasn’t for the fact that (Zen) Buddhism has none, nor does it take a position on any metaphysical beliefs. Many Christians have studied, and found that there is no conflict between the practice of Zen and following Christ. This may have been where Hem was coming from in his comment. And from that position, it looks as if Gerv only has a surface understanding of the possibilities.

    However, if Gerv’s sources of info are primarily of the Mahayana school, then I can reasonably see him getting a “false god” message. But to paint all Buddhism with the same brush is even worse then looking at Catholics, Protestants and Jews and saying “well, I understand one of these, so I must understand them all, time for lunch.”

    Now, Jim… would you have been as offended if Gerv was an avowed atheist, and had said that all religions were false?

  7. Axord: I won’t deny the possibility that there are one or more forms of Zen which are compatible with Christianity – after all, Zen just means “meditation”. It’s the Buddhism part of Zen Buddhism (which does come through in the game storyline) which is more of an issue. I don’t believe that there can be a compatibility between any form of Buddhism and Christianity – the teachings are too different.

    But, even if there were some compatible form, it’s not a distinction the average layman would understand – and therefore the bit about being seen to be doing the right thing comes into play (see Biblical reference in the main post).

    Having said all that, I’m still undecided about the game. Perhaps it would help if I explained more why I had reservations about it when playing it. The form of words used when playing might be “Master (i.e. game master), does this koan (collection of pyramids) have the Buddha nature?”. The question is: does saying those words, and playing along with the game’s “story”, imply to someone listening who doesn’t know me that I am condoning Buddhism?

  8. Hi. I previously posted above comments on the more lighthearted matters in Gerv’s original post, but as people want to talk about the Christianity/Buddhism issue, then fine, I’ll join in.

    Let me start with a little illustration I thought up.

    Suppose that you’re in the main hall of the Eurofoo conference, when suddenly in walk three people.

    • “A” claims to be a company representative. He has some nice electronic gadgets you might be interested in, if you’d just take the time to watch a little demonstration.
    • “B” claims to be a conference organiser. He says sorry the main hall is a bit stuffy with all the people, but the path to nice cool fresh air is through the north corridor.
    • “C” claims to be a fireman. He says that a fire has started in the north corridor, and is soon going to engulf the main hall. He promises he can get you out safely, but the only way is to follow him.

    What do you make of these three strange characters? Hard to say really. Depends who you believe.

    But suppose that you have some reason to believe “C”. Maybe he’s wearing fireman’s uniform. Well, maybe it could be fake. But let’s say that you’d seen the same fireman on television the previous day getting a special award from the chief fire officer.

    Now, in the light of your believing “C”, how do you view “B”? Well, “B” is a dangerous liar obviously. Avoid him.

    But what about “A”? He hasn’t said anything actually wrong, has he? Well, no, but if you believe what “C” has to say, then “A” is, in the context, every bit as dangerous as “B”. Avoid him, and follow “C” urgently!

    Now let’s look again at the situation under discussion:

    • Consider a belief system “A” which takes no position on any metaphysical beliefs, but nonetheless is likely to be seen as an alternative to Christianity (maybe because it reduces the felt need for Christ by appearing to offer some kind of its own fulfilment). Maybe this could be Zen (my taking on trust Axord’s statement that Zen fits into this category). Or maybe it could be our pervasive western consumerism which, while not in itself making direct atheist claims (which, incidentally, would be a spiritual statement, albeit a negative one), is nonetheless very much marketed on the basis of offering some kind of fulfilment.
    • Consider a religion “B” which most certainly claims to offer some kind of contact with God, but through a path different from Christ. Maybe other strands of Buddhism / maybe Islam / whatever.
    • Consider Jesus Christ, who claims to be one with God, and says that everybody (except himself) is shut off from God and facing his severe judgment because we are evil from the heart. He says that he can rescue us from that judgment and reconcile us to God by his death on the cross, but that we have to trust him as the only way to God and there is no other way. (I can provide references if requested.)

    Now, obviously you take your pick who you believe.

    BUT there is good external evidence to believe Jesus. He claims to be the God the Son. Well, anybody could claim that. But the historical evidence for his resurrection from the dead confirmed publicly and dramatically his identity and his approval from God the Father.

    And, just as in the analogy, if you believe Jesus, then you have to reject any other claims to fulfilment, whether they are actively false, or just dangerously irrelevant to the impending danger of God’s judgment. It would just not be consistent to claim Christian belief and also agree with belief systems which either actively compete with it or merely distract from it. And it is not necessary to know all the details about Buddhism to see that it is likely at least to distract from Christ.

    (Whether this means that a Christian should boycott the particular game is more of a grey area. But that no longer seems to be the main point for discussion.)

  9. Gerv: You seem to be in a tight corner, there. I would say that the third party listener case depends entirely upon that listener. Perhaps ironically, to a Zen Buddhist, you would not be “invok[ing] the names of other gods” since the Buddha is regarded as just being this guy, ya know? Obviously, to someone who didn’t know what Buddhism was, you’d just be saying words.

    To other Christians though? Some would acknowledge the game context. To play Candyland is not to affirm the existence of Mr Gumdrop. Others, though, might dismiss the game context and see any mention of “other gods” as endorsement. And the game–to those unfamiliar with Buddhist practice–might seem like ritual.

    However, to change your behavior based on the potential thoughts of that subset… To me that would be appeasement to the narrowest of minds. Pre-emptively bowing down to the worst kind of suspicious attitudes that humans can possess. But my balance point may be different from your own.

    Quite interesting, Alan. I wonder if the Christian Buddhists I’ve talked to would claim that their practice is bringing them closer to Christ, rather then being a distraction. You’ve given me a bunch of interesting things to think about. Thanks!

  10. Axord: you’ve missed the biggest and most important category – those who have heard of Buddhism and are neither Christian nor Buddhist.

    I am asking myself the question: would I be happy playing this, using its current theme, with a bunch of 15-year-olds on camp next year? And currently, I’m coming up with the answer “no”. I’ll brainstorm alternatives and post about what I come up with.

  11. Ah, I did miss that–ack. That’s a category I could see you having trouble with.

    But, isn’t that particular camp case quite easy, then?

    Just change all references about Buddha and such to something non-sensical. The important thing is to share the surreal nature of the game, i’d think.

    Unless there’s some critical thematic bit that I failed to pick up on?