What Way? Media confronts Buddhism in wake of Navy Yard shooting

Reflecting a number of misconceptions about Buddhism and its adherents  in the U.S., news outlets reacted with surprise when it was discovered that the man who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard this week had been a practicing Buddhist. Story after story juxtaposed the mass murder committed on Monday, September 16 with Buddhists’ stereotypical representation as serene, non-violent meditators. Other stories questioned whether the shooter was a “real” Buddhist, noting  his infrequent attendance at temple services and his interest in women, alcohol, and violent video games. The Washington Post did a good job of airing these discrepancies between the shooter’s actions and his faith. It’s Joshua Eaton, however, blogging for Religion Dispatches, who squares the circle most effectively with his essay, “Yes, the Navy Shooter Was a Buddhist,” which points out the difference between the aspiration and the actual in every spiritual tradition.


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