Listen and Fill-in. Put these words in the blanks below and answer the questions.                                                                    

religious concept  influence    jailers yourself 
weapons neighbor   rally testimony inspiring
conflict by no means do  showed up  compassion

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Commentary: Buddhists join Quakers as activists for peace
October 30, 2003

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host: The Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers, have played a consistent role as pacifists for much of American history. And now, says commentator Gustav Niebuhr, another 1) _______________ group is joining them as activists for peace in this country.

GUSTAV NIEBUHR: From my perspective, it looked as if a peace 2) _______________ took place in Central Park recently. Tens of thousands of people showed up on a sunny afternoon to hear a speaker say some very tough things about violence. He said the 3) _______________ of war is outdated, that one's enemy is a 4) _______________. `Destroy that person,' he warned, `and you destroy 5) _______________.' OK, the event was called a teaching, not a rally. The speaker was the Dalai Lama, and his message was consistent with the non-violence he regularly preaches. But therein lies a point. At a time of terrible 6) _______________ around the world, talk of peacemaking is distinctly countercultural. And on this subject, some Buddhist leaders have achieved a very high profile.

Two major figures have crossed paths in the United States recently, the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen monk who lives in exile from his native Vietnam. Both men speak from the depths of their beliefs about seeking peace, practicing mindfulness and cultivating 7) _______________. To be sure, other religious leaders speak out for peace, but these days, I wonder what other movement than Buddhism has become so publicly identified with that call.

Recently, I heard a Protestant minister speaking from the pulpit approvingly cite the story of a Tibetan Buddhist monk, long imprisoned by the Chinese, who nonetheless spoke with great compassion for his 8) _______________. It's incidents like this that make me think a certain image of Buddhism is sinking in among Americans. Could it be that Buddhists are developing a reputation as the new Quakers? I'm not saying I think these two different faiths are the same or even similar. But thanks to the 9)_______________ of figures like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, I wonder if people increasingly identify Buddhists  as the ones with the peace 10)  _______________.

That concept has been central to Quakerism since the early Friends wrote to King Charles II in 1660, declaring they rejected all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward 11)  _______________ for any end or under any pretense whatsoever. The Quakers would, they said, do only that which worked for the peace of all, a radical stand that has earned them admirers and critics ever since. Today, Quakerism remains a vital movement, widely 12) _______________, but small in numbers.

By contrast, Buddhism has been growing rapidly in the United States. In its various schools and traditions, it counts an estimated two million adherents, meaning there are nearly as many Buddhists as there are Episcopalians. 13) _______________ all of them take their cues from the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh, but those two have large followings, including many non-Buddhists who regard them as moral leaders. The last time the Dalai Lama came to Central Park in 1999, he drew 40,000 people. This time around, 65,000 14) _______________. That increase makes a nice trend when you've got a message to spread.

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SIEGEL: Gustav Niebuhr is a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University.

 

Questions:

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1.      What religious group has long played a consistent role as pacifists in American history?

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2.      What religious group new to the U.S. is beginning to play that role in many Americansf minds?

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3.      Why is the concept of war becoming obsolete, according to one speaker?

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4.      In 1640, the Quakers told King Charles II of England that they would not fight or engage in any violence. What did they say they would work for?

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5.      How is Buddhism doing in the U.S. compared with the Quakers? Is it becoming more or less popular?

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