Taking a page from one of McMaster University’s more notorious MA students, this talk will consider the rather peculiar preference for a certain view of Japanese Buddhism as a tradition in perpetual decline. Starting with a discussion of how images of ideal priests are created and disseminated in the surveys and studies of sectarian intellectuals, I will then compare these to ways in which temple priests actually talk about themselves. The talk will include material from my first book, Bonds of the Dead, as well as preliminary findings from my current project, Biographies of Non-Eminent Monks, which includes interviews with over 225 temple priests of every stripe from all over Japan.
Mark Rowe is Associate Professor of Japanese Religions at McMaster University. He is an ethnographer of Japanese Buddhism who has written extensively on temple Buddhism and changing burial practices, He is currently writing a manuscript on temple realities and priestly training based on interviews with 226 Buddhist priests from across Japan. His first book, Bonds of the Dead: Temples, Burial and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism, was published by University of Chicago Press.
Cost: Free and open to the public
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