The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha

Harper Collins (2005)
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Abstract

Asma, a professor of Buddhism at Columbia College in Chicago and the author of Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads (2001), recounts his intense and revelatory Cambodian adventures while teaching at Phnom Penh's Buddhist Institute. In an electrifying and frank mix of hair-raising anecdotes and expert analysis, he explicates the vast difference between text-based Buddhist teachings and daily life in a poor and politically volatile Buddhist society. Amid tales of massage parlors, marijuana-spiced pizza, and bloodshed, he cogently explains how Theravada Buddhism, the form practiced throughout Southeast Asia, differs from the Buddhism Westerners are familiar with, and how entwined it is with animistic beliefs. This fusion of Buddhist rationalism with superstition is but one of many juxtapositions Asma relishes as he assesses the terrible scars left by the Khmer Rouge and the profound self-possession of the people he meets. His striking insights into Cambodian reality lead to a bracing critique of American pop culture and the manipulative tactics of Cambodia-based fundamentalist Protestant missionaries--and an incisive argument for learning about and respecting religions other than one's own. Donna Seaman Copyright © American Library Association.

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Stephen Asma
Columbia College Chicago

Citations of this work

The Strangest Sort of Map: Reply to Commentaries.Stephen Asma - 2021 - Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 5 (2):75-82.

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