“You Wrote Books About Paganism?!?”

The late Kenneth Leech used to tell the story about giving a lecture at a seminary in America on the topic of race relations, and afterwards a seminarian seemed surprised to learn that he was the "same Kenneth Leech" who wrote books on spirituality. Apparently, the mind of this seminarian couldn't equate a social-justice Christian with a contemplative-prayer Christian.But yes, Leech-the-expert-on-racism and Leech-the-expert-on-mysticism were one and the same.I often have a similar c … [Read more...]

The Mystical Body

How do we embody the contemplative life? And how does the contemplative life make a difference in our bodies (both as individuals and collectively)?Fran and I had dinner the other night with a charming couple named Ray and Lee. We had met Ray a few weeks earlier when I spoke at a UU Church here in Atlanta; like so many spiritual seekers of our time, Ray has been a wanderer, setting forth from his conservative Protestant upbringing to explore eastern spiritual paths such as Tibetan Buddhism … [Read more...]

Interfaith-Friendly Christianity?

Jesus, following the law of his people, instructed his followers to "love your neighbor as yourself."But then he upped the ante by telling the story of the good Samaritan — in his society, the Samaritans were the social outcasts. Yet here was a parable in which the social outcast was a better neighbor to a man in need than the community and religious leaders who didn't want to get involved.The message is simple: Our neighbors are not just the people who look like us, act like us, or en … [Read more...]

Concerning Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia

Contemplative spirituality is a spirituality in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, "everything belongs." It's a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls. To me, this is part of the towering beauty of contemplation. But we live in a world where not everyone sees things the same way, and contemplation, like anything else, has its critics. Generally speaking, my experience shows that the critics of Christian contemplation reject it for two … [Read more...]

Interfaith Dialogue, Interspirituality, and Holy Daring

Recently I spoke at a church located about an hour north of where I live. As I drove to the church, I chatted on the phone with my brother who lives in Florida. We were making plans for me to come visit him on the weekend of our birthdays (his is a day later than mine). I mentioned that while I was there, I wanted to attend a training weekend at the local Shambhala Center.My brother, who is a confirmed agnostic, surprised me with his response. "Are you sure that's wise?" he asked."What … [Read more...]

101 Books for Buddhist-Christian Dialogue

Are you interested in exploring the richness of dialogue and interspiritual practice between Christianity and Buddhism? If so, then here's enough literature to keep you going for a while. Each of the books on the following list has some sort of connection with both Christianity and Buddhism.Some of these titles are academic studies, some the writings of monastics, others geared toward the laity. Some are books by Christians about Buddhism, or by Buddhists about interfaith dialogue; by … [Read more...]