This quiz on Beliefnet
is slightly less misguided than some of the flat-out gaffes I’ve seen about tantra in the popular media. But it’s another example of grabbing at the extremes of religion and eroticizing Eastern thought in a way that doesn’t really say anything about the core of Hinduism or Buddhism.
I don’t mean to single out Eastern philosophy with this example. The lifeblood of the nonfiction book business these days is examining the extremes of Christianity, Islam, and especially popular lately, atheism. Journalists like these otherworldly tales from the fringes, too; they take readers to a place most will never see. While these tales are fascinating and newsworthy, what does this do for our knowledge of how most people practice Christianity, Islam, or tantra at a time when we seem to be all to eager to see differences rather than similarities?