Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Without Buddha I could not be a Christian

It appears that there is an outbreak of Buddhist Christianity following a reading of Ross Thompson's 'Buddhist Christianity: A Passionate Openness' (http://ncolloff.blogspot.com/2011/07/buddhist-christianity.html), I have finished reading Paul Knitter's 'Without Buddha I could not be a Christian'.

They cover similar territory and both weave into their spiritual-theological accounts pertinent autobiographical detail.

But Knitter's last chapter stakes out very different territory. If Thompson's book is characterized by inwardness, Knitter seeks to expound why Buddhism allows Christianity to more deeply occupy its 'unique' territory - that radical concern that God is perceived to have for those who are most deeply marginal, suffering or poor. God in Christianity is biased - we find God when we attend to the needs of those whose need is greatest. This vitally contrasts with Buddhism's universalizing compassion. Compassion does not take sides, justice does. Knitter beautifully suggests how both are necessary and both enable each other.

If we are to pursue justice, we need to understand how our capacity to be peace, to wait upon opportunity, helps us achieve justice.

Knitter has a fascinating discussion of anger - that it drives us towards pursuing justice but must be contained within a capacity to be detached, to let go. To bring us to a space where we can allow ourselves to release anger, and move towards clarity.

Christianity is the intention of justice, Buddhism is the practice of peace. To achieve justice, we must be peace, but individual peaceful attainment must be suffused with the need to transform the structures of injustice. Christianity and Buddhism from radically different perspectives dance towards a common transformation, enabled by each other.

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