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Thứ Bảy, tháng 11 25, 2006

No.1255 (Minh Chau dich)

Flags raise complaints

Saturday, November 25, 2006

By SEAN C. McCULLEN

Staff Writer

BRIDGETON A recent visit from a code enforcement officer had Belford Blackman worried he was soon going to be ordered by the city to take down the colorful flags that adorn his property.

The city code enforcement office had received several complaints about the bright and plentiful flags, the officer said on Wednesday, prompting her visit.

What many of the complainants may not realize, though, is the flags across Blackman's Railroad Avenue property represent his religious beliefs.

The flags are Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags, which Buddhists believe to carry prayers up to the Buddhist gods, or Buddhas, in the heavens.

The 73-year-old linguist he speaks 10 languages and has taught at universities around the world has been practicing Buddhism for about 28 years, he said at his home on Friday.

After suffering through depression in his mid-40s, the result of a number of "significant losses" in his life, Blackman looked to religion to further his recovery.

The religion he's looked to for spiritual guidance ever since has been Buddhism, which he was drawn to, in part, due to its belief in reincarnation that living creatures' souls are reborn in other living creatures after death, rather than going to heaven or hell for all eternity.

"What god would make something that would end like that?" he rhetorically asked.

Blackman's been flying the prayer flags at his Railroad Avenue home for a little more than a year now.

The prayer flags, which are covered with Buddhist scripture in the Tibetan language, are red, white, blue, yellow and green.