alan wrote:Does it motivate him to read more? To question friends? In short, does it inspire people to take their first steps on the path?
I'd say no. In fact, I'm betting our guy or gal will just laugh along with Bill Maher, certain now that Buddhists are kind of nice but nutty, and not really worth their attention.
Whether Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or any number of like-minded folk... PBS isn't a round-table debate amongst religious leaders worldwide, nor is it a symposium on cutting-edge research trends in academia. It's PBS, and that means basics, basics, basics.
Sure it doesn't take up the mantle of textual analysis, it doesn't weigh the Dhamma against Xian Scholasticism, it doesn't introduce the burgeoning Secular Buddhist movement, it doesn't do a whole hell of a lot. But think back to what YOU first learned about Buddhism. Chances are, this bio was chapters one and two. Gotta start somewhere.
The whole program isn't even posted yet. I'm betting we at least get the Four Noble Truths by the end, but if we don't, it is then that I'd agree with your assessment.