Monday, July 14, 2008

What do you think?

One day a couple of weeks ago I was looking at YouTube videos of different bon dances and came across a video taken at a bon dance in Kona. People were dancing to an Usher song (Usher is a popular contemporary R&B artist). One of my pet peeves is the Westernization of Bon Dance so I wrote a comment saying so.

The other night while checking one of my many email boxes, I found that someone had replied to my comment explaining the origin and intent of having Usher played at a bon dance. Apparently it originated in a Honolulu temple and was created or supported by the temple's bishop: "Bishop Dean also received numerous complaint letters basically questioning why he would make a dance with 'that kind' of song. He basically shrugged them off saying if they don't like it, too bad because there were many deaths of young members of the church and he wanted to do something in their honor."

I appreciated that the emailer, a 23-year-old, took the time to explain this to me and it did make me feel a tiny bit more comfortable with the idea, but basically I'm still against Westernized music creeping into bon dance. This was my reply to him:

Thanks for explaining the origin and intent of that dance. I feel slightly better knowing the motivation, but I still don't care for the precedent it may set. It's bad enough the way Western music is creeping into the mix, with "Beautiful Sunday", "Shiawase Samba," and the worst was "Elvira" which we saw in Honolulu. Ugh! It's very sad if this trend continues. Of course the first two are Japanese versions, but if each year brings another new Westernized song, when will it end? What's more, the dance choreography to these songs are also not traditional. On Kauai, where I am, the choreography to "Sunday" and "Samba" are mostly clapping, turning, and Western type footwork. It saddens me to see the older, traditional dances being replaced with what resembles Country Western line dancing. Maybe I'm reacting to bad, untraditional, and/or oversimplified choreography more than to the music itself.

I'm not sure how the introduction of the Usher dance was handled, if people were still upset even knowing the purpose of it. It's unfortunate that controversy marred what should have been a happy occasion. Frankly I think someone should've anticipated what would happen and found some other way to honor the young who passed, rather than to choose that situation to "push the envelope" and annoy people. Being Buddhist, however, I try to see every perspective and understand there's no answer.

I acknowledge that the Buddhist churches in Hawaii are facing a very uncertain future and I'm sure the leaders are struggling to find ways to get the youth involved and committed. IMHO, they should concentrate on attracting the 30 and 40-somethings because that's the age where people become more spiritually aware plus have the time and resources to support the church. Most younger people have too much living to do or they go off to college, etc. (That's how I first left my church and I never really returned until my 40's and only for bon dances and an occasional service). I'm sure that many church leaders are torn between mimicking the Christian methods of attracting the young and remaining true to their Buddhist principles.


I'm a bit torn between wanting to cling to tradition and accepting inevitable change. On one hand I want to say, "Hey, did you see our generation introducing disco music into bon dance? Nope! Surely there was a year where several of our young peers passed away. Did we insist on bringing the BeeGees into the ring?"

In Buddhism, life's transient nature is a core understanding as is acceptance, so it would be "un-Buddhist" of me to expect things not to change. I don't think, however, that it is "un-Buddhist" to be a bit bummed.

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Tonight we went to see "Hancock." I went in knowing that this movie was rated low on RottenTomatoes.com In my experience a highly praised movie doesn't necessarily mean I'll like it. (And yet I always check out their tomato-meter before seeing a movie...duh!) I liked the movie, although I do agree with the critics that the movie took a weird turn. At my age, however, I appreciate unpredictable plots and dislike formula "I saw THAT coming!" movies. I forget those two days after seeing them.

I'm off to bed! I'm fighting a cold that Jordan gave me. She had her last day of school after 17 years of schooling (from age 3) on Friday and would you believe she came down with a cold that morning? She was all set to go out to wait for the bus when suddenly she said she was sick and had to run to throw up. I went out to the bus to tell them she was sick and wouldn't go to school.

I wondered if it was psychosomatic, but she DID have a slight fever. Imagine, on her very last day! They had a little party planned for her too! I think I was more heartbroken than she was. I wasn't the only one, though. Luckily her personal aide, Bonnie, felt the same way and since Jordan wanted to go, we decided to let her attend class for the last hour. Jordan was happy, her teacher was happy. (Although she had to be careful not to spread her germs, let's face it, she probably got the cold germ from school in the first place!)

At this time, I would like to thank the makers of ZICAM. Our family has been using this wonder drug for years and it works consistently. It often stops an oncoming cold in it's tracks (if you use it early enough) or at the very least, shortens the length/severity of a cold. Try it, you'll thank me!

NOW I'm off to bed!

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