Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Unlikely conversation, conservative Evangelicals and Zen Buddhists hold interfaith meetings

By Kyogen Carlson at Pantheos

"In what might seem an unlikely conversation, conservative Evangelicals and Zen Buddhists in Portland have been meeting for potluck dinners, serious dialogue and the cultivation of friendship since 2005.

People on both sides have found the experience to be eye-opening, refreshing and rewarding. With some humility, not claiming to have all the answers, we have found common ground. We have learned we don’t have to come to complete agreement in order to find areas of agreement.

The most recent series wrapped up April 18 at Portland’s Multnomah University, a Christian college, graduate school and seminary, and plans are already in the works for another series next fall and winter. In 2011 we added vajrayana Buddhists, and this year theravada Buddhists, while the Christians involved have a connection to the university’s Institute for the Theology of Culture. How did this unlikely arrangement come about?

After a phone conversation with a distraught sangha member who was deeply angry, particularly with Christians, I thought of Dr. Paul Metzger, a professor of theology and culture at Multnomah. I had met Paul in a dialogue group that brought religious leaders together with the Portland Police Bureau personnel to discuss social issues, and I had been impressed with his thoughtfulness and understanding of other perspectives.

I got in touch with him and asked if he would be willing to come speak to senior members of our sangha. He said he would.

It is amazing to me now to remember how much fear and anxiety there was on both sides as we first approached each other, with our strong concepts about one another..."     Read it all    



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