New Books on Christian-Buddhist Dialogue

Three new books have recently come to my attention, all of which look quite tasty; all of which are concerned with the great conversation between Buddhism and Christianity. I’ve begun reading the one by Alan Wallace, and so far it’s wonderful. I plan on blogging more about these titles as or after I read them, but I thought I’d post them now to recommend them to all of you who share my interest in interreligious dialogue and in the spiritual practice of learning about other faiths as a way of deepening one’s own.

Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism and Christianity by B. Alan Wallace (Columbia University Press, 2009) — Wallace is a former Buddhist monk with advanced degrees in physics and the philosophy of science; now he’s the director of the Santa Barbera Institute for Consciousness Studies. This book, written for his stepdaughter, seeks to affirm the practice of meditation in a manner that is scientifically informed and adaptable to either Buddhist or Christian religious observance.

Compassion and Meditation: The Spiritual Dynamic Between Buddhism and Christianity by Jean-Yves Leloup (Inner Traditions, 2009) — Leloup is an Orthodox priest; his approach to Buddhism and Christianity emphasizes complementarity, seeing the Buddha as symbolizing awakening through meditation, while Christ calls us to awakening through love. But he also unpacks the role of compassion in Buddhism, as well as the hidden meditative traditions within Christianity.

Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian by Paul F. Knitter (OneWorld Publications, 2009) — Knitter is a Catholic theologian who now teaches at Union Theological Seminary, and who has long been outspoken in his advocacy of religious pluralism. This confessional book explores how he resolved a personal crisis of faith by finding inspiration in Buddhism, which in turn led him to a “a more person-centred conception of Christianity, where individual religious experience comes first.”

Talking about "Befriending Silence"
Catholic Meditation and Contemplative Prayer: What's the Difference?
Sanctity and Struggle, or, Why Saints Have Chaotic Inner Lives (Hint: It's Because We All Do)
Pentecost and Ecstasy
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • Micah

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  • A Free Spirit

    I suppose the question might involve how two parties can learn to disagree. I must admit the rigidity sanctioned under the rubric of religion would not be acceptable in other domains. Perhaps this means there is a larger problem…

  • Carl McColman

    I think “rigidity” is in the eyes of the beholder. Certainly the law, science, and even business are all domains with certain measures of “non-negotiable” beliefs or principles. No one thinks it is rigid to say that 2+2 does not equal 5. Religion, meanwhile, at its best includes considerable amount of internal criticism and self-reflection: the reason why Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, Martin Luther, and many others are considered cultural heroes is precisely because they initiated reform or renewal in religious traditions. Something that is helpful here is spiral dynamics: a theory of psycho-social development that links religious fundamentalism not with anything inherently wrong with religion per se, but with a particular, empirically observable, stage in human growth and development. It’s most enlightening.