But the retort would be: there is still something
of a pragmatic value in simply emphasising commoditiy fetishism - it does tell you something quite insightful about the way people in these times embellish and reify and prioritise the accumulation of material goods. So returning to Batchelor, emphasizing particular Buddhist methods such as meditation and mindfulness are not without value, simply because rebirth is not playing a role.
you're arguing that there is some merit in what he does and i don't think anyone disagrees. the positions that people reject are his notions that he's (a) uncovered the real
buddhism and (b) that he's correcting
buddhism, and (c) that he's teaching Buddhism. none of these rejections implies that he's not doing something
of merit. in fact, i've often recommended him to people who can't stomach Buddhism, and who make claims to be hard-headed rationalists, precisely because his approach may still help, and even self-identified hard-headed rationalists need suffering reduced. so there is a place for it all.
the objection to (a) is grounded in the perceived arrogance of the adventure, and the perceived myopia of the adventurer. the objection to (b) is the same. these are valid objections that can usually be backed up and explained by the people making them and there are lots of examples in this thread, most of which are reasonable. i think these criticisms are grounded in truth, even though they sometimes veer into personal attacks on his presumed beliefs about Asians. their being true doesn't reduce whatever merit there is the exercise he's undertaking, they contextualize it and allow a judicious appreciation of it. lots of people have had blinkered views of others' intelligence and enhanced views of their own intelligence, and even not been aware of that, and still made important contributions.
the objection to (c) is definitional and is more tricky. by the normal definition he's not teaching Buddhism, he's teaching parts
of Buddhism. the problem runs deeper than that, though, because - as people have raised on this thread - he's sometimes teaching a species of materialism that the Buddha rejected, according to the same Pali Canon that he draws on. the reasons that people cry foul are all around that fact that when it's a Westerner doing this, we don't automatically just let it go, we privilege his activity and take it more seriously. i think it's worth looking at why we accord him a priviliged frame of reference that we don't accord early Indian materialists. it's worth looking at why when a white guy does the same thing, we all collectively take a breath and presume he's being VEWY, VEWY CWEVER
have good reasons, even though what he's doing looks the same as what other have done for thousands of years. this isn't exciting new ground. historically, different cultures have engaged with Buddhism in many common ways. one of those has always been to hive off a section of acceptable views and claim the others are poorly articulated. the views that are hived off as acceptable are, oddly enough, almost always equivalent to the views that the local clever people already had.
linked to that is a specific soteriological concern: if the Buddha expected people practicing to replicate his experiences, and that replication was effectively the complete cessation of suffering, and it had as its basis the first-person experience of a complete world-view, then the delimitation of that world-view has a consequent delimitation on the cessation of suffering. the nett result expected would be that the promise of such a delimited path would be much, much smaller than the promise of Buddhism. and it's very evident that there is a vast difference between things like complete enlightenment from a Mahayana view point, nirvana from a Sravakayana viewpoint and the (very middle-class) stress-reduction/existential calm that Stephen Batchelor's dharma offers.