Buddhist Wisdom (Axiology)

Why Comcast chose a Buddhist Monk instead of a Christian Priest.

Embracing the Core Values of Comcast

Our company, reputation, and true success are founded on the following core values:

  • Ethics – We will be true to the highest standards of honesty, fairness, and integrity.
  • Quality – We will commit ourselves to excellence in our products and personal relationships.
  • Diversity – We will respect and reflect the customers, communities, and cultures we serve.
  • Employee Focus – We will invest in people with the belief that our company can only be as strong as its workforce.
  • Flexibility – We will maintain our ability to adapt to an ever-changing world.
  • Enthusiasm – We will work with an unbridled passion for our business.  (Comcast.com)

So, reading this, are these values that we can embrace?  I believe these are values that are compatible with Christianity and I would promote their use in a Christian company.

So, why does Comcast use a Buddhist Monk in its advertising to show the wisdom of choosing Comcast?  Are Christians known for the values above?  Are Buddhists more cool?  Are they known more for the values above?  I would argue that Christians value honesty, but that Buddhists are seen as having nothing to lose by being honest.  North American Christians would lose a lot if they were completely honest about what they do with their taxes, with how real they are with each other on a Sunday (Attending churches based on anonymity with little introspection).  Haggard is not a model for the honesty in Christianity, but he is well known.

What about fairness?  On a national scale, in the USA, Christians are known for making sure that our kids get the best medicine, schooling, and best paying jobs.  Evangelicals are known for trying to take away wellfare.  We are known for a patriotism that places America first.  Buddhists aren’t known for that.  Although the ying-yang is Daoist, we tend to equate that symbol of balance with all far-eastern faiths.  We Christians, we’re just black and white!

Integrity?  Does the month go by without a compramised pastor, Christian school teacher, or drunk film-maker getting publicity for Christianity that we could well do without?  How many Tibetan Buddhists do you see shaming their faith each month?  We seem to have tainted our public persona here, too.

Quality.  Megachurches pursue quality in their productions and they get mocked, or smaller churches sigh and say that quality is not what matters.  It’s the heart that matters.  However, didn’t the Bible say something about our works showing our faith?  If we are judged by our fruit, the majority of Christendom is shoddy and amateur with its attitude to drama, art, language …  We just don’t have time to dedicate to quality in the faith when we have worn ourselves out prostituting ourselves for the material possessions we accumulate.  Broken marriages, consumerist ‘MeChurch’, entitlement issues have given rise to the impression that we are bad at quality relationships and productions.  The prevelance of Buddhism in Hollywood, the presentation of a public persona of Buddhism that is at peace with everyone:  How do we respond to this?  Well, some retreat into their shell telling us Hollywood is of the devil and that their peace comes when there is a lack of integrity.  Hollywood can be redeemed and we are followers of the Prince of Peace.  I just don’t think many Christians have the quality to compete.

Diversity.  It is Christians who are known for wanting to send every last Spanish speaker back where they came from.  They are not so vehement about Polish speakers, but Bosnians are a bit suspect.  We’re known for defining our differences so clearly that we run off to found the 378th Baptist Church if our brethren differ on their opinion of which brand of bread we should use for communion.  We worship as Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and everything else we can segment ourselves into.  11:00 on a Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.  We have learned to work together, but not to worship together.  If a community changes its racial makeup we let the church die rather than change.  No, Comcast could not come to us to see how Greeks, Jews, Scythians, men and women could all worship as one.  They could read our Bible and find it, but not our churches.

Employee Focus.  It would seem that efficiency is what Protestantism known for and the value of the dollar.  We emply CEO’s who can update the workforce by slicing it in two.  Maximizing profits keeps shareholders happy.  We outsource to India.  We steal from the pension funds.  Do the CEO’s who do this attend Church or the Buddhist Temple?

Are Christians able to change with the ever-changing world?  Paul said something about becoming all things to all men.  He was able to change from culture to culture.  Paul used roads improved by Rome.  Rome improved communications and Paul used what he found.  Paul used the rhetorical training of the classical schools.  And Christians in churches like Saddleback and Willow Creek are seeking to stay current with the tools of the times and use them effectively.  Most of the churches I have visited though, stopped the clock ticking sometime in the past.  Of course, the message is always the same, but the wrapping can change.  A church that just prefers what its members prefer does not reach out to a world that is changing how it listens.  I am not sure that Buddhists are known for being cutting edge.  I do know that Christians are labeled conservative as opposed to liberal.  The interpretation of that is that we are afraid to embrace change.

Enthusiasm is something we so seldom see on the faces of our congregations.  I guess that charismatic and Pentecostal churches look enthusiastic to some, but Christianity is defined by the evangelical mainstream.  Is it true that the stallwart defence of the truth leads to a miserable facade?  Is it true that enthusiasm is shallow?  It seems that Christians are known for sour faces and a hatred of pleasure.  How did that happen?

So, why did Comcast choose a Buddhist to advertise rather than a Christian?  What foundations are we building on when the Buddhist is known for upholding our values better than we are?


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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3 Responses to Buddhist Wisdom (Axiology)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great write Pilgrim! (Said in my best impression of a “possibly redeemable Hollywood” actor named John Wayne)… There is a lot to process in your write up. As I type this; the one thought that comes to my mind is the percentage of Buddhists on this earth is something around 6% and Christianity is 33%… (is that still accurate?) So maybe the creative marketing execs at Comcast (possibly the same execs who might “steal from the pension funds” just wanted to be on that cutting edge of marketing (although given that percentage, you would think they would want to “cater” to the Christians! MORE PROFIT! Ahhhh, the almighty dollar! (It’s a shame many Americans care more about $$$$ than God). There are not enough Buddhists in this world to make money off of! In closing I ask one question; if we reversed those statistics to 33% Buddhists, and 6% Christians just how many bad Buddhists would be those bad apples that spoiled the bunch? Just a thought…

  2. kbbd, I think that of the 33% a large number are nominal.  That needs to be acknowledged along with the fact that 66% would identify as something other than Christian.  I would hazard a guess that of those 66% feelings run high against Christianity more than Buddhism.

  3. alexgoreham says:

    I think the only reason that did not choose a Christians priest, they would get a hard time for promoting Christian value. Its ok to use other religions,s just not Christianity. I think people and companies are always going to be more embarrassed to be vied as “promoting” Christianity.

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