Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Christian Buddhist?

Debra posted an article on EU entitled Buddhism Strengthens Ties To Church.  The article begins with the following excerpt

Buddhism is not only accepted as a mainstream American religion, it is a path increasingly trod by faithful Christians and Jews who infuse Eastern spiritual insights and practices such as meditation into their own religions.

The article very much resonates with me.  Contained in the article are a few quotes here and there from Rev. Stuart Lord, an ordained Baptist minister and new president of Naropa University, a Buddhist-founded institution.

"I've been studying Buddhism and meditation for about seven years. I look at it as helping a person lead a fuller Christian life."


Lord said the interdenominational yearning for meditation and deeper spiritual experience is not reflective of a desire for different doctrines or ethos — or a taste for Asian cultural trappings.

"It's about cultivating an inner life, not the outer appearances," he said. "You don't have to shave your head."

And from Judith Simmer-Brown a Buddhist scholar and a professor at Naropa. She has several podcasts on Buddhist Geeks.  About those "yearning for a deeper spiritual experience" she says:

"They literally have rebuilt their Christian meditative forms," Simmer-Brown said. "Some borrow heavily from Buddhism."

The article mentions Methodist Rev. Toni Cook, a founder of St. Paul's Buddhist Christian InterSpiritual Community in Denver who was challenged about the "gangs" within Christianity while trying to help find a way to keep young people out of gangs.  

In doing some google research for this post (what a delightful way to spend an afternoon...if I could just get my mind off the bed that needs making and the family pack of ground round in the refrigerator that needs "pattying") I came across some really interesting quotes.  One in particular by Thomas Merton applies to this topic.   

"I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity.... I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can." --Thomas Merton

Well, that is pretty plain, don't you think? 

And there is even a book about Merton's views on Buddhism...and for an article that deals with it in depth, check out  What Was The Christian Monk Looking To Find In His Dialouge With Buddhism?

I am going to end this post with a few other quotes by those who call themselves Christians yet who embrace a similar view of interfaith spirituality. The following quotes, while not addressing Buddhism specifically, go along with the gist of this post.  

"For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained."Donald Miller, author of the popular Blue Like Jazz

"I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts." - Brian McLaren

"I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions: --Rick Warren

"Allah is not another God ... we worship the same God.... The same God!  The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews--and the Muslims--worship." --Peter Kreeft


Okay...the rabbit trail is getting too long.  More the Merton-Buddhism connection tomorrow....


Reverend Tom said...

Hi Cindi,

Regarding Christian-Buddhism. Come on in, the water's fine. You can check some of my postings on the subject at my St.Mary's site on Wordpress. Specifically check out the post of August 21 about Thich Nhat Hanh.

Many Blessings, Rev.Tom

Cindi said...

Hi,Rev Tom...

I visited your site after you posted this comment but did not get a chance to read much there. I went back for a bit this morning and see that the whole blog is devoted to the Christian Buddhist tradition. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the comments.