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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
FALL 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 71 For years a private entertainment of many Buddhists I know has been to collect funny or irritating instances of collisions between the mass media and Bud- dhist images, words, and ideas. There is in fact a website partly devoted to this pursuit, theworsthorse.com, whose author, Rod Meade Sperry, has immortalized such collisions under the label “Dharma-Burgers.” Of course, there are also those for whom the counting of Dharma-Burgers is itself a part of the problem, a sign of the degeneration of Buddhism in our times, as a result of the encounter between Buddhism and the modern world, especially the machinery of pop culture, mass media, and New Age fantasy. When I teach college courses on Buddhism and Asian history, I notice that my students are often fascinated by pictures and writings that juxtapose Buddhist ideas or people with bits of technology—cellphones, say, or computers—that seem to symbolize all that is modern. Pictures of such juxtapositions (monks holding cellphones and computers, for example, or Buddhist altars with electrically pow- ered prayer wheels) often strike students as highly incongruous, sometimes even shocking or funny. Moreover, while my students often have little knowledge of the ANNABELLA PITKIN is a visiting assistant professor in the Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures department at Barnard College. She specializes in Tibetan Buddhism and Asian intellectual history. BUDDHISM IN THE MODERN WORLD Edited by David L. McMahan Routledge, 2012 $39.95; 352 pages THE ROAD TO MODERN BUDDHISM Reviewed by Annabella Pitkin REVIEWS PHOTO RUSS MORRIS