Cafeteria Christians? Cafeteria Buddhists?

Hi everybody!

There is one aspect of cafeteria religion that makes it valuable, but no one has brought it up yet. It is the aspect of learning critical thinking.

All institutionalized religions have doctrine that do not make sense. However, they want us to take these doctrines "on faith". This works to their advantage, because, as a result, we never look at these doctrines critically.

But it is our job to look at all doctrines critically. If a particular doctrine has been taught wrongly for centuries, it is our responsibliity to confront these doctrines. This is the very thing we need to do, and this is the very thing institutionalzed religions do not want us to do.

How? It all starts with being a Cafeteria Christian or Cafeteria Buddhist. This means starting to use our critical thinking skills. When done in this way, being a Cafeteria Christian or Cafeteria Buddhist is one of the best things we can do.

You said,

"...Jesus & Buddha really are now brothers to me."

--> You may be interested in the theory that Jesus was a reincarnation of the Bodhisattva named Maitreya. (Maitreya is scheduled to be the next Buddha.)

"While Maitreya (Pali: Metteya) is mentioned in the Pali Canon, he is not referred to as a bodhisattva, but simply the next fully-awakened Buddha to come into existence."

Link to quote — Bodhisattva - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You said,

"Guess you'd say I never would have "come to Jesus" had it not been for shamanism...."

--> I wonder if you had some significant lives in the past, both as a Christian and a Shamanism practioner.
Hi Earl –

No. I'm saying if you're going to pick the Jesus dish up, you've got to put the Buddhist dish down ...

Hi Earl –

No. I'm saying if you're going to pick the Jesus dish up, you've got to put the Buddhist dish down ...

So, Thomas, I take it you're thinking you need to be my own private dietician.;) :) earl
In keeping with the diet metaphor, Thomas, as I mentioned here before, no less a luminary than the fellow that invented the term "cafeteria spirituality," Huston Smith, has spoken of how, though Christianity is his "main meal," his spiritual diet also contained elements of zen Buddhism and Islamic prayers. So, each person's "spiritual metabolism" & "dietary requirements" are different. take care, earl
Ok, now I'm going to tell what to many is going to seem like a really weird personal tale, but perhaps illustrates why smorgasbord spirituality may not be such a bad thing. A few months ago I'd begun working with some shamanic methods and did what shamans refer to as a Lower World journey which involves what they term "soul retrieval-" basically reuniting with some aspect of ourselves left in the distant past. One can encounter in visionary form various scenes and figures which may be purely symbolic but may be actual scenes from one's past (this life or another). One does such in a fully receptive frame of mind with no agenda about what you'll see. I had a very emotionally powerful one-won't belabor all the details-but I was surprised that I encountered Jesus in a scene that very much felt like a past life memory and substantially altered my feelings about Christianity as well as put some of my personal traits into perspective. Did I actually know him in this world 2000 years ago? Maybe, I don't discount that possbility. Did I know him in "another world?" Maybe. Was it merely symbolic? Maybe as I've always known that my chief issues in this life are matters of the "heart" & relinquishing some control. All I can say is that ever since that encounter I've been drawn to contemplative prayer of the heart-the "Jesus Prayer" with a very strong connection whereas I never did before. It definitely unlocked something in me. Guess you'd say I never would have "come to Jesus" had it not been for shamanism.;) :D I've always followed the whisperings of my soul when engaging in spiritual activities and when I sit down to meditate I go with the activity that seems right for that moment. Right now when I sit down to do Buddhist meditation, a "Jesus Prayer" invariably breaks out. I consider myself a spiritual polygamist but lately it seems to be "serial monogamy.":D
Now my Jesus/Christ won't resemble others'-for example my view of the Christ is akin to the Purelanders view of Amida. But I really am going to have to get me a Celtic cross doo-dad to put in there with all my Buddhist statues since Jesus & Buddha really are now brothers to me.

So the thing about smorgasbords is you start at 1 end of the line and you never can say for sure what's going to end up on your plate til you get to the other end. Admittedly at Chinese smorgasbords in particular I do tend to put too much on my plate, however.;) But Thomas. are you suggesting that as I started with Buddhist chow, when I came to the Jesus dish I should have left it on the table?:)

take care, earl

That's a wonderful story earl! I greatly appreciate hearing it.

I guess I just can't get into the cafeteria analogy because I don't think that's really what most of us do. I would never say that one needs to put the Buddha dish down when when they find the Christ one delectable. In fact, there are going to be complementary dishes, and perhaps non-complementary dishes, served in the name of each.
Am glad you appreciated it, Luna. Guess you could say that was my first "witnessing for Christ.";) :) But I think though it may put 1 open to ridicule to share actual experiences as opposed to theoretical speculation, guess I've decided that to do so lately as it does move a discussion into the realm of what-we-actually-do-and-experience-in-the-world. have a good one, earl

Thanks for the info on that book. Unfortunately, I am writing a book, and reading a second book as research for my book, which takes a lot of my time. So, it will be a long time before I can get to the book you recommended.

You too ? It must be some sort disease of the central nervous system that is going around.... Earl... a little help with our obsessions puullllleeeeaaaasssseeee ?

I suppose I'm saying, at some point you have to get out of the cafeteria and get on with it. To me its like window shopping.

The full richness of anything can never be experienced from the outside, nor can it be comprehended, nor can it be understood.
I don't understand why "cafeteria Christians/ Buddhists" have to be on the outside. I am sure that many are, but I don't see that it has to be this way. I do not see why they can't "get on with it" within the context of the cafeteria.

It must also be understood that holding to one religion or denomination is no guarantee getting on with, fully comprehending or understanding anything. My guess is that the person who does not get on with it in a cafeteria would also not get on with it inside of one particular religion.
Hi Cavalier –

I'm reading 'caftereria' in the sense of 'coffeeshop' (the etymology of the word.

Generally I'm reading cafeteria as 'lite'.

Hi Earl –

Re 'main meal' – that's my point.

I simply warn against the sampling of the cafeteria becoming an end in itself.

Hi Nick –

There is one aspect of cafeteria religion that makes it valuable, but no one has brought it up yet. It is the aspect of learning critical thinking.
The two are by no means synonymous ... in fact I would have thought 'light browsing' is not conducive to any degree of serious critical analysis.

I suppose, having questioned 'critical analysis', I should qualify that by indicating my reference points.

Well, obviously the whole Christian Philosophical Tradition, who's champion is, I suppose, St Thomas Aquinas, as his works are still themselves the subject of philosophical inquiry.

In fact, I could list alphabetically : Bonaventure, Cusanus, Dionysius, Eckhart...

But to give perhaps a more precise idea:
Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) French Catholic Philosopher
Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005) French Protestant Philosopher
Edmund Husserl (1859 - 1938) German Lutheran Philosopher
Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 – 1961) French (?) Philosopher
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) French (Jewish?) Philosopher
Emanuel Levinas (1906-1995) Lithuanian Jewish Philosopher

These, among others, I have been directed towards by my own reading, or on the advice of my tutor, a Catholic priest.

So let us have no more of this nonsensical and propagandist proclamations that 'faith' requires the suspension of the faculty of reason.

(I might add, Nick, that as a Theosopher, you must acknowledge that the foundation of HPB's doctrine on anonymous and unproven 'mahatmas' etc, and Olcott's subsequent promotion of the highly dubious doctrine of 'ascended masters', itself requires a perhaps greater leap of faith than any of the 'institutionalised religions'.)

If there is a preponderance of continental figures, this highlights the scope of the 'Continental' method, which accepts the diachronic and synchronic methods of textual analysis which have to be considered in the study of sacred texts and doctrines ... the AngloAmerican school of empirical analysis (which seems to be the de facto philosophical position of this Board, if indeed it can claim one) favours too heavily the diachronic, and subsequently the personalist (its roots lie in German rationalist idealism and anti-supernaturalism) which has become subject to much scholarly criticism...

Hi Cavalier –

I'm reading 'caftereria' in the sense of 'coffeeshop' (the etymology of the word.

Generally I'm reading cafeteria as 'lite'.

Ah, fair enough.
Given that reading, I think I might agree with you.
Generally I'm reading cafeteria as 'lite'.
Namate Thomas,

I'm thinking just the opposite. Now this does not pertain to you...but seems to me folks that sit in the religion of their parents, read the doctrine, follow, stand up, sit down, repeat, kneel, dance and turn at the behest of whatever spiritual spiritual/religious 'lite'.

Those that question, explore, cogitate, meditate, circumnamublate, seek out the history, the reason behind....Those willing to look under the rug, behind the viel...those are the ones that appear to me to end up at the table with food they've selected and not simply been prescribed....far from lite in my book.
Ok, a question for you Thomas.
What would your opinions of Cafeteria Christians be, based on a different (perhaps etymologically incorrect) reading of the word "cafeteria", one which would see it more as buffet, perhaps an all you can eat buffet?
Hi Will –

There is always 'blind faith' - but there is equally Pharisaic questioning.

Hi Cavalier –

All you can eat ... gluttony?


I am not trying to be difficult ... I am simply saying, one can spend one's whole life discussing what's the best thing to do, comparing, analysing, questioning, doubting, looking here, looking there, tasting this, trying that, checking, cross-checking ... but all of it is an avoidance of commitment.

Just go for it.

You know, I'm a "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matt 15:11) kind of person.
Hi everybody!

The term Cafeteria Christian refers to someone who picks and chooses what they believe, and leaves the rest behind. How does everyone feel about people who set up their belief system this way? I have a strong feeling in one direction, but I am curious what other people think.

I like to pull from various cafeterias. But I don't like cafeterias a whole lot, and prefer a nice local restaurant, so I pick out some menu items from there as well. Some others I cook up in my kitchen. I eat some books off of my bookshelf, swallow some music, then head out to a small cafe for a cup of black coffee. At the cafe, I write down some thoughts. The coffee makes me have to purge all the stuff that didn't nourish me--and sometimes this process is kinda stinky.

After a while, I get hungry again and start the process all over.

:D ;)

Metaphorically Yours,