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August 18, 2006 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Collection of Divine Messages, vol. 1. In 1926, Vietnamese intellectuals tried to unify the religions of the world. After a year of intensive seance, here's what they came up with: Spiritist mediumship, Taoist cosmology, Christian rhetoric, Catholic structure, Buddhist/Confucian morality, .....Masonic imagery? Their take on vegetarianism: "An impure physical body will create an impure spiritual body, which cannot conduct electricity well. As a result, it will then be struck by lightning and be destroyed in the atmosphere. Even if the impure spiritual body is wise and remains on the earth to avoid the lightning, it will remain an Immortal and never proceed to Buddhahood. This is why I recommend the practice of complete vegetarianism before attempting meditation." More via Sydney Centre for Studies in Caodaism.
posted by Laugh_track (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is very interesting. My show has been trying to find a Caodai devotee or expert in the WDC area for some time to do an informational interview but it's slow-going. I find the idea of religions based on conceptual unification very interesting, from a purely journalist point of view.
posted by parmanparman at 6:47 AM on August 18, 2006

The Scuzzlebutt of religions?
posted by Hypnic jerk at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2006

Their center in Tay Ninh is possibly the most sweltering place on earth. Keep this in mind when considering their cosmology; they created it while sweating their ass off in unholy heat.

...I'm just sayin'
posted by aramaic at 7:12 AM on August 18, 2006

Here we see the very colorful Choadist temple eterance in California, which depicts dragons honoring the round yellow pokemon's victory over the spikey red pokemon.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:14 AM on August 18, 2006

PBS on Cao Dai.

An Introduction to Caodaism
, by Ralph Smith (originally in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies)

Obligatory quote from Graham Greene (start of Part II, Chapter 2 of The Quiet American):
Caodaism, the invention of a Cochin civil servant, was a synthesis of the three religions. The Holy See was at Tanyin. A pope and female cardinals. Prophecy by planchette. Saint Victor Hugo. Christ and Buddha looking down from the roof of the cathedral on a Walt Disney fantasia of the East, dragons and snakes in Technicolor. Newcomers were always delighted with the description. How could one explain the dreariness of the whole business: the private army of twenty-five thousand men, armed with mortars made out of the exhaust-pipes of old cars, allies of the French who turned neutral at the moment of danger?...
posted by languagehat at 7:27 AM on August 18, 2006

Caodaism always seemed, to me, something out of a William Gibson novel. In our minds it seems a bit ludicrous, but who knows what those crazy people in the future might think? Get on the bandwagon now!
posted by thanotopsis at 8:12 AM on August 18, 2006

The word for this kind of melting pot approach to religion is called syncretism.
posted by jonp72 at 9:15 AM on August 18, 2006

Finally a religion with the courage to make concrete predictions about electrical impedance.
posted by Humanzee at 9:19 AM on August 18, 2006

posted by sonofsamiam at 9:33 AM on August 18, 2006

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