No doubt the large number of “JOOOOOOO!!!!”-ish converts will come up in the comments…
Now, Americans in particular take a lot of guff (see: “I forgot my mantra…”) for seeming to prefer trompe l’oeil religion—what Flannery O’Connor had her Hazel Motes concoct: a “Holy Church of Christ Without Christ.” That’s probably not surprising considering you’re a country cofounded by deists.
But while it’s funny to witness lily-white lapsed Catholics, still supposedly stinging from Sister’s ruler, sitting in Zen meditation classes where they’re sure to be slapped with an even bigger stick, let’s remember that Buddhism was an Eastern religion first.
It’s like Pearl Harbor: They started it.
And “they” aren’t all the unadulterated egalitarian Klaatus of our Big Sur wind-chime fantasies. Buddhist scandals—both sexual and fiduciary—receive only a slender sliver of the media attention and resulting popular scorn that, say, Catholic ones do. (Oddly enough!) Stand-up comics don’t crack jokes about perverted Theravada monks.