The Center For Progressive Christianity
Buddhism In Progressive Christianity How An Open Path Can
Free Us From Suffering
May 2009
in this issue
:: Quick Links
:: Jesus and Buddha- Kindred Spirits
:: The Lotus and The Cross
:: Feature Book: Mind in the Balance
:: Feature Review
:: Confessions of a Cowboy and Practicing Buddhist

Fred PlumerI think I have always been a seeker. Even as a young child, in my Sunday school classes, I asked a lot of questions. I took church attendance very seriously, seldom missing a Sunday and participated in all of the special events. I sang in the children's choir and eventually in the adult choir every Sunday. I assumed leadership positions when asked and even attended regional and national events as a youth representative for our Presbytery.  But more than once, I was told I asked too many questions, suggesting I did not have enough "faith."  One of my favorite Sunday school teachers even set up a meeting with our rather strict minister once "so he could deal with all of my questions." He was certainly nice enough, but in a rather patronizing way he suggested that my questions would someday seem rather childish when my faith matured. Little did either of us know at that time, that they would never end.

I don't think my experience was unique for those of us who were growing up in small communities in the 1950's. Some people just shut down and quit thinking about those ultimate questions. Others just quit going to church. And a few people like me kept looking for answers and the answers we did find seem to lead to other questions. That is probably why I ended up taking so many philosophy classes in college. That is why I drove all night to hear a talk by the "radical" Bishop Pike in the 1960's.  And that is why I have sought out every opportunity to expand my understanding of the meaning of life and how to live it ever since... 

Read On
Quick Links
Feature Sermon- Jesus and Buddha-Kindred Spirits!
By Ian Lawton

laughing buddha
What I want to do this morning is bring Christianity and Buddhism together and show that the essence of the two are one and the same. There are all sorts of parallel teachings, but I would like to set those aside and go straight to the heart of the matter. The one thing that they are both doing is bringing together laughter and sorrow, to the point where the boundaries between them are blurred.
In the Proverbs it says, "Even in laughter the heart is sad and the end of joy is grief." I believe we could turn it around, and it would make just as much sense- "Even in sadness the heart is glad and the end of grief is joy." Christianity, from the wisdom tradition, through the axial age, and in the teaching and life of Jesus, understood this bringing together of laughing and suffering.

Read On
Jesus Was A Liberal
By Rev. Scotty McLennan

Review by Jim Burklo

Jesus Was A Liberal
JESUS WAS A LIBERAL is the best introduction to theologically and socially progressive Christianity that I've read in the past several years. McLennan offers a concise definition of "liberal" Christianity, and applies it concretely to hot-button social issues and common confusions about biblical interpretation. He describes what is right about the long, venerable liberal religious tradition more than he argues against what is wrong with atheism or biblical literalism.

Read On
The Lotus and The Cross
By: Jon Zuck

Buddha and Jesus At first glance, Buddhism seems vastly different from Christianity. Christianity is a religion about God, while the Absolute in Buddhism is never personalized, and seldom described, except as being beyond description. Most Christian denominations see the Bible as being of paramount importance (particularly in conservative Protestantism), while the vastly larger collection of Buddhist scriptures are seldom considered as an infallible authority except for a handful of smaller sects.
But delving deeper, the differences become much smaller. For instance, many of the early Church Fathers taught that in his true essence, God is unknowable and unfathomable, beyond all words and all descriptions. This inability to speak of the divine nature is known as apophatic (unspeakable) mysticism, which recognizes God is beyond all words and concepts, and anything we use to say what God is falls short. God's essence (ousia), is within all things, but ever beyond all. Similarly, the Buddhist scriptures refer to the ultimate reality as "the Uncreated," or "the Unmanifest," an absolute Reality which is everywhere present, but beyond this perceived world, resulting from no cause, and limited by no conditions.

Read On
More- TCPC May Picks

Kaila smiles
Video: B. Alan Wallace speaking on Mind In The Balance

New Website: Patheos
Understand the origins, histories, and beliefs of the world's religions

Music with Buddhist aspects: Mandala

DVD: The Future of Christianity Featuring Ken Wilber and Father Thomas Keating

Event: Ashana Live in Concert June 5, 2009 Fox Island, WA

Facebook discussion: Perplexed Discussion

Feature Organization: Cherokee Park United Church, Saint Paul, MN
Feature Book- Mind in the Balance
By B. Alan Wallace

book cover
By establishing a dialogue in which the meditative practices of Buddhism and Christianity speak to the theories of modern philosophy and science, B. Alan Wallace reveals the theoretical similarities underlying these disparate disciplines and their unified approach to making sense of the objective world.
Wallace begins by exploring the relationship between Christian and Buddhist meditative practices. He outlines a sequence of meditations the reader can undertake, showing that, though Buddhism and Christianity differ in their belief systems, their methods of cognitive inquiry provide similar insight into the nature and origins of consciousness.
From this convergence Wallace then connects the approaches of contemporary cognitive science, quantum mechanics, and the philosophy of the mind. He links Buddhist and Christian views to the provocative philosophical theories of Hilary Putnam, Charles Taylor, and Bas van Fraassen, and he seamlessly incorporates the work of such physicists as Anton Zeilinger, John Wheeler, and Stephen Hawking. Combining a concrete analysis of conceptions of consciousness with a guide to cultivating mindfulness and profound contemplative practice, Wallace takes the scientific and intellectual mapping of the mind in exciting new directions.

"This work is replete with lucid argument and wonderful, (nearly breathtaking) detailed explanation as to the congruencies and parallels between Eastern & Western contemplative traditions and modern, that is to say: quantum physics. "Mind in the Balance" is now in my top three favorites of all time, easily a must read 5 plus star effort." ~Matthew J. Schimpf

Click here for more info and to purchase Mind in the Balance
Feature Review
Children Praying a New Story
By Michael Moorwood

Review by Fred Plumer

book cover
We have a new book in our store that I think many of you have been waiting for. It is called "Children Praying a New Story" by Michael Morwood. Morwood has written a wonderful book that is designed for parents, grandparents and teachers who want to tell their children the Christian story from positive, progressive perspective that takes into consideration a new world view. He starts his book by explaining what it is he is trying to accomplish and then goes into specific theological and Christological subjects that every parent or adult finds themselves trying deal with when we are questioned by our six year old child, grand child or student. Oh how I wished I would have had this book 40 years ago when my oldest daughter asked me about "God." You may be assured that I will have some better answers for my grandchildren.

After he comfortably weaves his way through the meaning of God, where we came from, who and what was Jesus, and why and how to pray (Morwood believes that teaching children to pray is very important) he then takes on the Holy days one by one. After that he covers the sacraments as separate chapters with clear and easy reading.   Although this book was intended for adults teaching children and I think it will fill a huge gap doing that, I suspect it will be used but a lot of adults who are struggling to find a better way to describe their beliefs and their understanding of their own Christian faith. We used the book in a recent small group gathering of adults recently and several people asked where they could buy a copy of the book.

Confessions of a Cowboy Christian and Practicing Buddhist
A Poem by Ron Starbuck

cowboy on horse
Beyond miles and miles of Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert
Criss-crossing the Southwest and Northern Mexico,
Where local folks know how to stand "tall in the saddle" as they say
Across a landscape that seems to go nigh on to forever
Even beyond the Boundlessness of you, O' God,
Here imaginations may touch the beauty of all creation
And horizons meet the very edge of eternity.
Here you may see from Terlingua to Tuscon, Marfa to Manhattan,
Edna to El Paso
Across vistas of high desert plains,
Mountains, valleys, arroyos,
Streams and rivers merging together.
Where fingers of saguaro cactus
Point upwards in prayer,
While honey and velvet mesquite,
White-thorn acacia,
Althorn, ocotillo, lechugilla,
Agave and creosote bush
Bow with grace when touch by the breath of God
Traveling on windblown currents.
O Lord, let such a landscape echo back through each of us,
Expanding our sight, to become a vision
That comes to see heaven reflected
Through your divine made eyes.
May such a vision arise in us each
As it did for Christ and the Buddha
To echo, again and again
As we view heaven
Through divine made eyes.
Spring Give Away- One Week Left!
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Last week to receive a FREE copy of So You're Not Religious, by Jim Adams- TCPC Founder.  Any order placed in the TCPC Store by the end of May will include a free copy (no extra shipping).  Shop today and support the work of TCPC.  Thank you!

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Thank you for taking this journey with us as we continue to encourage the growth and understanding of a Christianity that is open, inclusive, just, loving and compassionate.  As you delve deeper into the heart of this beautiful and authentic spiritual path, we hope you share it with those around you, educate those who desire to learn, and most importantly let it fill you with light and loving kindness.
Fred Plumer
and the Team at The Center For Progressive Christianity, (253) 303-0022

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