Do you think that much of the structure of the OBC was developed in order to address equality challenges in a society that was still greatly influenced by the Christian religious instutions and structures?
As the years went on, have some of these structures been reformulated in light of an increasingly secular society?
I would say that the reason for the development of some
of their structure, was to address equality challenges in Buddhist structures, in the context of, a society that was (and is) still greatly influenced by the Christian religious institutions and structures.
But I don't think Christianity is or was a primary motivating factor, the equality challenges in Buddhism are are quite enough without adding Christianity's problems into the mix.
But I do think they were (and are) mindful that many people in the west come out of a Christian, or Abrahamic background, and it certainly still influences our culture. It's a great (in the sense of being large) part of our western history. And they definitely studied both that history, as well as Buddhist history, in order to help them better understand how to both bring monastic practice back into Zen, as well as how to adapt that to the west.
I also think they simply wished to be historically accurate in how they used terms and words.
I don't think they're going to start using the term "nun" any time soon if that's what you're asking. It's still a religious term with a religious history. History doesn't go away simply because people become more secular.
If you're asking if they're going to become more secular in their wording of things, then no, I don't think that's likely, Jiyu-Kennet was taught a religious form of Buddhism, and so she wished to present a religious form of Buddhism to the west, as an alternative to the many secular presentations that did and do exist. A religious practice is very helpful for some people so I don't think they have any intention of teaching a secular Zen.
There are plenty of alternatives if someone wishes for a more secular type of practice.
The decline of religion in general in the west, I believe has much to do with the decline of Christianity, which has essentially tied itself with sortof being a form of social birth control for much of it's history. As the need for that has declined with the advent of real birth control, I think their membership is dropping, and that's effecting other religions for a while, as well. Particularly those that have included various forms of sexual chastity and gender inequality as part of their forms and feels.
There seems to be a direct correlation with how much fighting against the birth-control and women's rights issue means to the religion, and how much those particular religions are declining. It seems to be directly related.
I rather expect Buddhism to get some of the backlash against religion over that for a while, like getting splashed with waves, but I do expect it to die down after a while, and when the waves calm, for people to settle down, and continue with religious practices of some sort. Only I don't think it will be a culturally enforced mono-religion, but rather people individually choosing for what's right for them as an individual.
People do have spiritual needs to be met, it may not be with Christianity, but it has to be met somehow.
The the essential nature of the human condition, and the nature of suffering has not changed, simply because large social changes are taking place.
There will always be a need for sincere practitioners, and for a practice to be offered to those who discover they need it, and for the sake of all beings.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer
" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy