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Book: Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority

Chapter: 11. Jerryson’s “Exposure of Buddhism” and the Christian Religio-cultural Legacy of Violence in U.S. War-Culture

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40731


This chapter draws on Jerryson’s insights as a heuristic to illuminate the religio-cultural violence in “U.S. war-culture.” Jerryson’s revelation of inadequate yet dominant patterns of analysis of Buddhism has surprising application to “the lived practice of Christianty” in the United States. As the editors of this volume emphasize, for too long, scholars in the west, because of their vision of Buddhism as “a pacific, chiefly meditative practice aiming for personal salvation and world peace,” missed seeing deeper destructive dynamics at work. (Prospectus) Jerryson’s “trailblazing study” shows how studies of Buddhism centering largely on doctrine and tradition, were insufficient. Meticulously and courageously drilling into patterns of discursive practices and institutional structures in “lived Buddhism,” his work shines light on the innerworkings of violence. This is indeed to “reexamine uncomfortable areas.”

I will reflect on Jerryson’s discoveries about Buddhism in light of my own about Christianity, regarding exploration that I began, not long after Sept. 11, 2001, of widespread cognitive assumptions that link religion, militarism, war and national identity in the United States. I argue that scholars and citizens in the United States also miss seeing and adequately responding to the innerworkings of this religious violence in U.S. war-culture of the post 9/11 era. Jerryson’s work inspires and informs my attempts similarly to “expose” a reality that largely remains hidden from dominant consciousness in scholarship and popular imagination -- U.S. war-culture, and its direct, structural and cultural systems of violence that are glorified, justified and concealed by way of Christian (civil) religious discourse, logic, doctrine and ritual.

Chapter Contributors

  • Kelly Denton-Borhaug ( - kdentonborhaug) 'Moravian College'