The common ground for Buddhism and Christianity is not then found in texts or philosophical musing. It is found in the hungry, the poor, the suffering, the sick. Suffering is not an abstract principle. It is the result of too few having too much while too many have almost nothing. Sakyamuni Buddha recognized this in the First and Second Noble Truths: that life is marked by suffering and that suffering is caused by attachment. In the cases described at the conference, the suffering of the Global South is caused by the attachment to wealth of the Developed World. Jesus Christ recognized this in preaching “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of Heaven…but woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Lk 6:20, 24 NRSV). If we can think and write the kind of creative, pluralist, and liberationist theology we want, then maybe–just maybe–we’ll have a chance to make a better world. Maybe this is what the reign of God looks like. Maybe this is Nirvana. Maybe there’s no difference between the two. I hope that we younger theologians are up to the task and the legacy we’ve been left. — Peter Herman

 

 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-herman/finding-common-ground-between-buddhism-and-christianity_b_3143133.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Please allow me to frame my reflections through the lens of Paul F. Knitter’s farewell address. The speech was a retrospective tour of the veritable “Who’s Who” of his interlocutors and friends in theology. He arrived in Rome to study at the Pontifical Gregorian Institute one week prior to the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Nostra Aetate, the document produced at that council on the relationship of Christianity and non-Christian religions, lit a fire in Knitter which still burns. He longed to create a theology which responsibly and respectfully dealt with the world’s many faiths, as opposed to the classical Roman formula extra ecclesiam nulla salus: “outside the Church, there is no salvation.”

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Both in Rome and later in Meunster, Germany, Knitter learned from Karl Rahner, who helped him frame Christian faith claims in the way he’d dreamed. After becoming active with CRISPAZ (Christians for Peace in El Salvador/Cristianos por la Paz en El Salvador), Knitter’s conversations with Jon Sobrino, SJ pushed him toward Liberation Theology. It was Aloyisius Pieris, SJ, Raimon Pannikar, and John Cobb who convinced Knitter that his urges in the realms of both liberation and pluralism could be complementary. This is the theme which became apparent throughout the conference: to be liberative, Liberation Theology must be pluralistic; to be pluralistic, Dialogical/Comparative/Pluralist Theologies must be liberative. The two concepts — liberation and pluralism — mutually enfold each other in Knitter’s thought. When he reflected on his departed friend, John Hick, Knitter sounded a note that rings true of this understanding: “Theological revolutionaries, if they are to have any success, must be hard-nosed thinkers and deep spiritual seekers.”

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This is, I believe, the challenge and the promise of Knitter’s legacy. We must be hard-nosed when faced with resistance from entrenched and power-seeking forms of religion. We must, however, temper the urge to become only social prophets with deep spirituality. At times, the steady stream of criticism leveled against late capitalist economics seemed to belong more at a session of the Left Forum than at a seminary. Speaker after speaker thought deeply and compassionately about the real material suffering of human beings and of the Earth itself and realized a common theme: capitalism — at least the capitalism we have now — is at the root of this suffering.

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The common ground for Buddhism and Christianity is not then found in texts or philosophical musing. It is found in the hungry, the poor, the suffering, the sick. Suffering is not an abstract principle. It is the result of too few having too much while too many have almost nothing. Sakyamuni Buddha recognized this in the First and Second Noble Truths: that life is marked by suffering and that suffering is caused by attachment. In the cases described at the conference, the suffering of the Global South is caused by the attachment to wealth of the Developed World. Jesus Christ recognized this in preaching “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of Heaven…but woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Lk 6:20, 24 NRSV).

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What do we do, then, when we recognize this common ground? While the conference was long on critique, it was short on constructive suggestions for positive next steps. Bearing in mind the charge at the opening — that this was a time of reflection before action–that’s not too surprising. This is what Knitter’s career has left a younger generation of theologians and activists: a strong critique of suffering and injustice and a plea to work out an alternative. If we can think and write the kind of creative, pluralist, and liberationist theology Knitter suggests we must, then maybe–just maybe–we’ll have a chance to make a better world. Maybe this is what the reign of God looks like. Maybe this is Nirvana. Maybe there’s no difference between the two. I hope that we younger theologians are up to the task and the legacy we’ve been left.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-wallis/stories-that-change-the-w_b_3157912.html

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Stories which change the world

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Stories are what change the world, more than just ideas. And that’s what I am seeing and hearing on the road — stories that will change people for the common good. Nobody outside of Washington trusts Washington because there are no more human stories — just money and the calculations of power.

But even Washington can be affected by the stories outside of Washington — take immigration reform for example, which will happen despite the political paralysis. People of faith are telling their stories of conversion to what their Bibles say about “the stranger.” They are telling stories of new relationships with their “undocumented” brothers and sisters. And their stories are changing Washington.

So rather than just offer you more “ideas” about the common good, we are going to offer you some stories about how ordinary people are creating it.

Some talented young filmmakers have created stories to inspire you. This first video tells in beautiful scenes, the story of how a group in the Dominican Republic is using a recycling program to fund senior services. It’s about community and about serving our neighbors. It is a real inspiration for working within our own spheres of influence for the good of all.

Watch. Listen. And then create your own story for the common good.

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2 Responses to The common ground for Buddhism and Christianity is not then found in texts or philosophical musing. It is found in the hungry, the poor, the suffering, the sick. Suffering is not an abstract principle. It is the result of too few having too much while too many have almost nothing. Sakyamuni Buddha recognized this in the First and Second Noble Truths: that life is marked by suffering and that suffering is caused by attachment. In the cases described at the conference, the suffering of the Global South is caused by the attachment to wealth of the Developed World. Jesus Christ recognized this in preaching “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of Heaven…but woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Lk 6:20, 24 NRSV). If we can think and write the kind of creative, pluralist, and liberationist theology we want, then maybe–just maybe–we’ll have a chance to make a better world. Maybe this is what the reign of God looks like. Maybe this is Nirvana. Maybe there’s no difference between the two. I hope that we younger theologians are up to the task and the legacy we’ve been left. — Peter Herman

  1. Pingback: High levels of education make atheists and agnostics a more influential political force — for example, they vote at much higher rates than seculars or unattached believers. And their relative wealth will allow them to have a more sustained cultural

  2. Pingback: High levels of education make atheists and agnostics a more influential political force — for example, they vote at much higher rates than seculars or unattached believers. And their relative wealth will allow them to have a more sustained cultural

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