Text: Stephen G. Covell. Japanese Temple Buddhism.
Extract from Chapter 7 (“Money and the Temple”) pages 140 and 141:
“I have identified a variety of difficulties in maintaining a world-renouncing institution while continuing householding practices. I will now explore the difficulties of maintaining a nonsecular institution, the temple, in a secular world. Much of the criticism currently aimed at Temple Buddhism stems from the economic activities of priests. Religion and money, it is commonly assumed, should not be overly familiar partners. And yet religious organizations, like the people who create and join them, need some measure of financial stability. I begin by reviewing the history of temple funding in Japan and then go on to examine the economic activities of temples today in this chapter and the next through the lenses of taxes and death, two things even Buddhist temples in Japan seem unable to escape. An examination of the taxation of temples will demonstrate how temples have come to be viewed as businesses and touristic sites rather than as religious organizations. Such an examination leads to a con- sideration of the changing nature of religious association in contemporary Japan.
Approaching the temple from the perspective of death, and in particular, the granting of posthumous precept names, allows further exploration of the problems temples face today as they seek ways to remain financially solvent and to perform traditional ritual roles (despite changing perceptions of the meaning of those roles) while at the same time combating images of professionalization, privatization, and commercialization.”
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Some elements of this text to consider:
- What kind of an individual is interested in a book on this fairly narrow topic?
- Although the text is a bit on the dense / heavy side it is definitely not written for a purely academic audience.
- The start of the paragraph refers to an earlier part of the book and then gives an overview of what is to follow.
- The text uses the first person which not all texts of this type would do.