Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Living in the Bay Area and serving congregations in San Francisco, I am well acquainted with the phenomenon of "Buddapalians" - Episcopalians who also engage with one of the varieties of Buddhist spiritual practice. Living as we do at the western edge of the continental United States, which our President recently reminded us is a Pacific rim country, we can not helped but be touched by the wisdom of the "East." Some people are called to experience interfaith dialogue, not only with people from other traditions, but among the traditions they have internalized within themselves.
What are we to make of this phenomenon? Virginia Theological Seminary student Matthew Wright has written a short essay for the Shalem Institute that offers an interesting perspective. It raises a number of questions for me: How do we discern whether or not we are called to the interspiritual path? How might the Church support people in this discernment and practice? Should we treated ordained and lay ministers differently in this regard? I'm mindful of the bishop-elect who did not receive the necessary consents to be ordained and consecrated a bishop, in part, because of his Buddhist practice.
To date, the Church has tended to stick its head in the sand and avoid the reality of inspirituality, which will become increasingly common so long as the world continues on the path of globalization. Thank you, Matthew, for inviting us to live into these questions.