After dark


When Jesus met Buddha

When Jesus met BuddhaFollowing the ideas of Pope Benedict XVI, though, the church refuses to give up its fundamental belief in the unique role of Christ. In a widely publicized open letter to Italian politician Marcello Pera, Pope Benedict declared that "an inter-religious dialogue in the strict sense of the term is not possible." By all means, he said, we should hold conversations with other cultures, but not in a way that acknowledges other religions as equally valid. While the Vatican does not of course see the Buddha as a demon, it does fear the prospect of syncretism, the dilution of Christian truth in an unholy mixture with other faiths.

Beyond doubt, this view places Benedict in a strong tradition of Christianity as it has developed in Europe since Roman times. But there is another, ancient tradition, which suggests a very different course. Europe's is not the only version of the Christian faith, nor is it necessarily the oldest heir of the ancient church. For more than 1,000 years, other quite separate branches of the church established thriving communities across Asia, and in their sheer numbers, these churches were comparable to anything Europe could muster at the time. These Christian bodies traced their ancestry back not through Rome, but directly to the original Jesus movement of ancient Palestine. They moved across India, Central Asia, and China, showing no hesitation to share - and learn from - the other great religions of the East.

Just how far these Christians were prepared to go is suggested by a startling symbol that appeared on memorials and stone carvings in both southern India and coastal China during the early Middle Ages. We can easily see that the image depicts a cross, but it takes a moment to realize that the base of the picture - the root from which the cross is growing - is a lotus flower, the symbol of Buddhist enlightenment.

There's a lot more to this fascinating article at Boston.com.

When Jesus met Buddha.

Comments

Non sequitur

I'm sorry, but I just have to say, Rick Martinez is a freakin' jerk. Does the Prince of Puppets actually think school teachers are over-paid, or (as Chris Fitzsimon suggests) is this just another attempt by the free-market extremists to undermine public education?

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We are not amused.

Good article

I studied for a year in California with (then) Dominican Fr. Matthew Fox of creation spirituality fame. At the time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—now Pope Benedict XVI—was the prefect of the euphemistically named Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition). Because Matt chose to invite a Wiccan, a Native American holy man, and other such folk to teach with him at the institute, Ratzinger and his Congregation officially silenced him for a year. The experience confirmed for me what a dysfunctional family of God is this thing called the church.

I'd love to hear more about your study

and thanks for the comment. I find this intersection of religion and politics to be a fascinating (though unsettling) space.

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It was fun

My "work study" job that year was hauling red hot rocks for the Lakota medicine man's sweatlodge.

Res Ipsa Loquitur

That said, James, you have asked me to discuss my undergrad Catholic school education as well.

May I recommend an open thread for religious discussion. An honest discussion betweem people of all faiths and those who have none or oppose all.

I have stories about a nun brushing back Protestant literalists and a literalist who refused to grade my papers unless they conformed to his dogma.

You start the thread and I would be happy to join in. I will even steer some of my Christianist friends and family to join in.

But while it does not have to be front paged, it would require a constant link.

Whadda you think?

Will do.

Tis the season!

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Sounds like a forum to me!!!!!!!!!

This is exactly what the forums were designed for, yes?

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Yep, except I can't figure out how to start one!

Where's Betsy!

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It's under "create content"

But I'm showing "access denied". Don't know why - but is Betsy okay? I know she had been sick. Hope she's okay.