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Stalin at the Movies

From left: Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, and Steve Buscemi in The Death of Stalin (IFC Films trailer/YouTube)

Weakness and evil are all too often partners.

Toward the end of The Death of Stalin, two Communist Party bosses size up Joseph Stalin’s immediate successor, Georgy Malenkov. “Can we trust him?” one asks.

“Can you ever really trust a weak man?” his comrade answers.

Good question.

Last week brought the news that the head of Shambhala International, the largest Buddhist organization in the West (his title, sakyong, translates as “king,” approximately), has been dethroned after confessing to a number of sexual relationships with his followers, some of whom have come forward to accuse him of misbehavior ranging from drunken groping to sexual extortion. He is not the only fallen Buddhist leader, and Shambhala is not the only Buddhist organization that has been obliged to come to terms with allegations of sexual abuse.

The Catholic Church has had its turn in that barrel with its ongoing sexual-abuse scandals, which in many cases were made even more destructive by the efforts of Church authorities to keep things quiet — which is part of the nature of scandals. The Catholic practice of clerical celibacy is an obsession of the kulturkampf Left, and at the height of the revelations of clerical abuse it was common for critics (many of them quite ignorant of Catholic thinking and Catholic practice) to blame celibacy for all that priestly misconduct, the argument being that men denied ordinary sexual outlets will seek out extraordinary ones. But similar scandals have cropped up in Christian communities that do not practice clerical celibacy, in Jewish congregations, in Muslim communities, and in the Buddhist world, too. From the New York Times:

The downfall of a Buddhist leader in the

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