Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, with about million adherents. There are more Buddhist texts in major bookstores than works dedicated to Islam or Hinduism, and there has been a steady stream of articles and books by and about the Dalai Lama in recent years. The simple answer is that I don't see God as separate from me. The great German Catholic theologian, Romano Guardini, wrote a profoundly insightful and orthodox meditation on the life of Christ entitled The Lord.
In it, he noted that no man in history ever came closer to rivaling the enormity of Christ's claim to transform human nature itself, at its roots, than did Buddha though in a radically different way. Huston Smith says in The Religions of Man that there have been only two people in history about whom others asked not "Who are you? And some later Christians Arians and Modernists de-divinized Christ.
The claims of Buddha and Christ are in fact so different that we may wonder whether Buddhism can be called a "religion" at all. It does not speak of God, or Brahman, as does Hinduism from which it emerged. Nor does it speak of Atman, or soul.
In fact, it teaches the doctrine of an-atta, "no soul"—that we are made of "strands" skandhas of impersonal consciousness woven together by causal necessity without any underlying substance, self or soul. Buddhism does not deny God. It is silent about God. It is agnostic, not atheistic. But it is not silent about soul. Its denial of soul has practical import: It teaches us not to be "attached," not to send our soul out in desire, not to love. Instead of personal, individual, free-willed agape active love , Buddhism teaches an impersonal, universal feeling of compassion karuna.
Compassion is something we often hear more about than agape in the modern West, for as Dostoyevsky put it "love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Both points are shown by the Buddhist story of a saint who, like St. Martin of Tours, gave his cloak to a beggar. But the Buddhist's explanation was not "because I love you" or "because Christ loves you" but rather: "This is the enlightened thing to do.
For if you were freezing and had two gloves on one hand and none on the other hand, would it not be the enlightened thing to do to give one of the gloves to the bare hand? The same end could be achieved without a recipient. For instance: A man, fleeing a man-eating tiger, came to the edge of a cliff.
The only way was down. He found a vine and climbed down it; but there, at the foot of the cliff, was a second man-eating tiger. Then he saw two mice, one black and one white yin and yang eating the vine in two above him.
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Just before it broke, he saw a wild strawberry on the face of the cliff. He plucked it and ate it. It was delicious! The "unenlightened" will wonder what the point is, or why he didn't distract the tiger with the strawberry. But the "enlightened" will explain the parable thus: "The man tasted to the tiger exactly as the strawberry did to the man. The "illusion" of individuality is seen through. There is no soul, so there is no fear—no fear of death because there is no one there to die.
For Buddhism, egotism selfish desire causes the illusion of an ego. For the West, secular as well as religious, a real ego is the cause and egotism is the effect. Agape is a different effect from the same cause: altruism from the ego instead of egotism from the ego. To the Buddhist, agape is impossible; there can be no ego without egotism, no self without selfishness, because the self is not a real cause that might conceivably change its effect. Rather, the self is the illusion—effect of selfishness.
There's nobody there to love or to hate. How can this apparent nihilism, this philosophy of nothingness, feel liberating to Buddhists? The answer is found in Buddha himself: his personality and the events of his life, especially his "great enlightenment. And, like Jesus, Buddha was believed only because of his personality. If you or I said what Buddha or Jesus said, we would be laughed at. There was something deep and moving there that made the incredible credible. The events of Buddha's life are dramatic and offer a clue to this "something. There could not, of course, be a Christianity without Christ.
It is his essential claim; for it means "the enlightened one" or "the one who woke up. Here is the story of how Buddha became Buddha, of how a man woke up. Born Gautama Siddhartha, son of a king who hoped the prince would become the most successful king in India's history, he was protected in a palace of earthly delights to make kingship irresistibly attractive to him. But curiosity led him to sneak away into the forbidden world outside, where he saw the Four Distressing Sights.
The first three were a sick man, an old man and a dead man. And is salvation universal? How can we deal with Jesus Christ as the way, truth, and life? How can Christ help us in our social justice efforts? How might we talk to evangelical Christians about Christ? What can we say to people of other religions or none about Christ?
Conclusion Sources of Epigraphs Notes Index. Less than 20 percent of us identify as Christians. But more than 70 percent of Americans identify as Christian, and we UUs are only 0. So this is primarily a book to help us talk intelligently about Christ with our Christian friends. We Unitarian Universalists actually have had a lot to say about Christ over the years as well that is, centuries, and perhaps even millennia , and we have generally done that in dialogue with mainstream Christians.
But not much anymore. This book is meant to encourage us to do so again, not just by referencing our history, but also by speaking freshly as Unitarian Universalists in the twenty-first century. Why in the world a book on Christ for Unitarian Universalists, when we virtually never use that title for the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth? They refer to themselves and others who stand in the tradition of Jesus as Christ-ians, not Jesus-ians.
Because they tend to be less interested in the Jesus of history than in the Christ of their present faith. Jesus lives with them in their daily lives now as the Christ. Even Christians outside of Unitarian Universalism will find in these pages a refreshing perspective on their faith. I cannot recommend Rev. While it is not intended to convert Unitarian Universalists to UU Christianity, it may well open some doors to spiritual exploration and growth that had previously been impenetrable to people who thought Jesus or Christianity had nothing to offer them. This book offers a wonderful opportunity for Unitarian Universalists to open our own internal dialogue about Christianity and its dynamic, living place in our tradition.
Unchallenged, this cuts many of us off from needed spiritual healing, from deeper dialogue and interfaith collaboration. Even those of us who think we know the heart of those trying to embody the spirit of the living Christ will gain much from this gracefully written, profound apologetic. I know I did. Dare yourself and your atheist friends to read and discuss this book! Written for both Christian and non-Christian Unitarian Universalists, this book is a goldmine of history, theology, and wisdom from his lived experience as college chaplain, Unitarian Universalist minister, and practicing Christian.
Kathleen C. Rolenz, editor of Christian Voices in Unitarian Universalism As a Unitarian Universalist and a Christian, as a sceptic and a believer, Scotty McLennan has brought together his disparate worlds in a remarkable book. His clear, sensible writing and irenic intelligence make this a must for any Unitarian Universalist interested in moving beyond caricatures to real people, however different from most of us. Editor: Kathleen Rolenz. Availability:In stock. Author: Erik Walker Wikstrom. Author: John A. Author: Deborah Jian Lee.
So why would God deliberately blind his Chosen people, and why might he choose to blind us even today? Great Question! The music, the preaching, the bonhomie. It was a good gospel message on a day when a good gospel message is somehow even more appropriate than ever. We went to a crowded restaurant after a Baptist nap, the usual Easter. It is about our perceptions of people. Or at least, my perceptions of people.
I am surprised by how shallow I am. I went to a party and I knew that someone at that party had recently had a particular augmentation, actually two of them. I came up with a little joke in case they were. I knew she would want a compliment, if possible, and I wanted to be ready to change the expectation if need be.
I wanted to be nice without lying. When I saw her at the party she was absolutely stunning. She had not gone overboard. I thought I would use my joke anyway. I asked her if young men still looked her in the eye and she told me not so much. She was pretty before but now she was exotically beautiful. Like a model. How could the change she made make her face prettier to me? I thought about when somebody loses a lot of weight, how their skin folds because the fat is gone but the skin that covered the fat is still there.
Maybe her facial skin was tauter and that made her prettier. She had ordered colored contact lenses from Italy. The total effect shocked me. The hair, the makeup and the eyes, the …. I have known this normal, modern American middle-class girl for years. She has brains and drive and a kind heart.
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But suddenly today she seemed like an angel, noble and courageous, and every other trait one could wish for in someone they knew well. She was still the same girl I have always known. He picked another man instead. I guess I have to face the fact pun intended, but only as an afterthought that I am not as good at reading faces as I thought. Because when the face changed ever so slightly, my opinion of which character traits were predominant in the person changed drastically, until reality corrected my forming opinion.
Perversely, I like it when I discover I am wrong about something I was sure of. Maybe I enjoy the novelty. Or maybe we all like learning new things. Especially when the new things are about us. Really, I think it is a confirmation that my mind is still functioning.
It is not what it once was, a marvelous tool that was truly a gift from the Lord. Time sands away the once-sharp edges. Time, of course, is a euphemism for older age and a rotten lifestyle. But though I squander his gifts, he remains lavish in his gift giving. Awareness of my own mortality, perhaps the source of all sin Hebrews , turns out to be a great gift as well. It focuses my attention on the more important tasks that remain uncompleted.
I watch progressively less TV. I think more. I try to serve my family and friends better. I am learning — ever so slowly — yet life has enough time in it for the tasks and for the learning. So thank you Lord for all of the gifts you have and continue to bestow on me. The gift of life, of breath, of understanding, of love and being loved.
And thank you that you, more aware of your own mortality than anyone ever, you who knew the time and the place and the means of your own death, still did not sin. More than that, more improbably than that, you did it for the joy that was set before you, which can only be the salvation of people everywhere.
Because of love, the very love of God for us. And more yet, you rose from the grave and appeared before us. Not because you needed to, you could have ascended directly from the tomb, but because we needed you to do it, to demonstrate that it could be done. As a tacit promise, a broad stroke comprehensible to all: one man rose from the dead and promised we could all likewise arise from the dead. He changed the lives of about a dozen common men who followed him, the resurrection made them capable of more than they had ever imagined for themselves.
Today he changes lives in the same way, in every minute of every day. We all have our perceptions about people, right or wrong, and we all have our perceptions about Jesus. But every perception about Jesus revolves around one thing.
The Bible in no way contradicts science — and vice versa. Thanks to Dr. I just believe they are the same when we take perspective into account. On the one hand, the words science uses to describe the measurements and theories they have found are only that — words. On the other hand, when Christians try to use those words and concepts, they appear foolish to actual scientists. In celebration of these two ideas, I think an occasional blog poking fun of my own scientific inadequacies might be in order.
I think of myself as a reasonably intelligent being. I like to think I understand many of the latest ideas and observations from within the fields of cosmology and quantum physics, and yet in some areas my own ignorance astounds me. This post like my last with the same title about the spring equinox is about one of those areas. First, the phases of the moon. During a new moon phase Why do we call it a new moon? Is the new moon an eclipse that just lasts longer than the event we think of as so spectacular and noteworthy?
By the way, there will be a lunar eclipse Saturday night visible in the western United States. It is one of four this year. But can it be significant to Israel if Israelis are unable to observe it? All of this has been a little tongue in cheek, as I said, to poke fun of my own ignorance. But there is one thing about the moon that really does puzzle me. Back to the crescent moon, it is a sliver shaped like a fingernail clipping because the moon is round and the earth is round. So what about a half moon? Why is the delineation between light and shadow a straight line instead of curved? Does the earth suddenly change shape, becoming a square without its inhabitants being aware of the fact, and so casting the edge of a square shadow over half the moon?
There is some type of conspiracy at work. There is a huge square extraterrestrial spaceship that blocks half of the light that would otherwise reflect back off the moon.
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The intentions of this alien race, besides giving us a half moon every 28 days, is unclear to me. The moon is self-illuminating from within. Every 28 days someone or SomeOne turns off the lights in half of it.
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It is some type of conspiracy by the NSA or the Trilateral commission, in which mass hypnosis is employed to bring us under the delusion that half the moon is no longer there. Those are the only possibilities I can imagine. Perhaps someone else has a better idea. Today is the anniversary of the Last Supper. I think. Or maybe the last supper was eaten on a Friday. Definitely one or the other. Unless they started eating while it was light Jewish Thursday and ended the festivities after dark Jewish Friday. I read that this year our days of the week sync up with the days of our year 33CE, the year Jesus died.
So he was resurrected on April 5th, 33CE. Christianity was somewhat like a form of Judaism without the nationalistic exclusivity, even the Common man could be saved. Hence, the Common Era. During the rest of the year, the Cross is one element of many. How he has laid his life down for the many because of love.
The crucifixion is Jesus jumping on top of the grenade.