I once did business with a Chinese national who only knew the Kumbaya aspects of Christianity. He'd never heard of Hell or fire and brimstone. I'm not even sure he was aware that Jesus was crucified. It was all "Michael row the boat ashore" and buttered hot-crossed buns as far as he was concerned. In fact, he might have thought that chocolate eggs and cream-filled bunnies are featured in the Bible.
Still, that's more than I know about Taoism or Buddhism. My knowledge of the great Asian religions amounts to about half an I Ching hexagram thrown into a puddle of spilled sake. In other words, I don't get the whole picture and what I do get is somewhat blurred. For me, Eastern religion is mostly exotic festivals, sandalwood incense, and dumpy idols with more limbs than is absolutely necessary.
I've never met a right-wing Westerner who professes an Eastern faith. There must be some, obviously, but most American adherents of the Eastern way tend to hold liberal views. An interesting state of affairs because in social terms Asian religious dogma must be equally as conservative as Western religious dogma, if not more so.
What, for instance, did Confucius think of gay rights? What were the Buddha's views on abortion? I don't know. If asked, I imagine they would fix your eyes with theirs and mumble something enigmatic. The great advantage of profound inscrutability, of course, is that practitioners can always change their minds with the prevailing cultural winds by pretending that what they said was clearly not what they meant, as any truly enlightened person would surely comprehend.
But that might just be my rather limited and cynical Western idea of serene guru Q&A, which, I must admit, was largely formed by single panel cartoons in Punch magazine wherein cross-legged and heavily bearded sages dispense snarky wisecracks instead of spiritual succor.
Anyway, as Easter approaches, I often think of my old Chinese friend and his happy-clappy concept of Christianity. And then I ruminate on my smelly-belly notion of Eastern theology and wonder what the Taoist equivalent of a buttered hot-crossed bun is because I might enjoy it.