Zen and Christians, afraid to love?

Clergyman defends his Zen Buddhist practices.

Conservatives in the Episcopal Church of the US are demanding that Rev Kevin Thew Forrester, a priest of the diocese of Northern Michigan, be barred from the episcopate because he received a “lay ordination” from a Buddhist group.

Strange how so much misunderstanding stems from when we see something as “new.” When something new arises in our world, we can become startled by its presence. Not familiar with its features, we become frightened and unwelcoming to the new presence. This is a base defense mechanism within the human being, and while it may have helped formulate tribe and culture, it no longer has a place in our world today.

The importance is to recognize that “different,” is not dangerous. This requires a certain degree of psychological maturity- to not lash out any anything that startles you; physically, emotionally, mentally, spirituality. By abiding in the present, without judgment, you are no longer bound by fear and instinct. You can now act and engage the new force, whatever it may be! Why would you do otherwise? This whole idea of “self and other,” is a destructive and coercive force in the world, arising from ancient impulses that could not accept change and unknown.

That is my initial reaction, at least, to this story. Zen Buddhism has a lot it could give Christianity, and perhaps vice versa, if the minds and hearts of both cultures can meet halfway, challenging their fear (that many animals have) with an even more human trait: love. Isn’t that a Christian thing to do, anyway? To recognize humans are blessed with particular unique abilities and traits?

“Shadow over everything, I dream as the other.

Shining back as everything, when dreaming is over.”

-Stuart Davis, Dirty Purity.


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