Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Will the writer of these doctrines become a bishop in the Anglican Communion?

Kevin Thew Forrester has been elected to be bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. To actually become the bishop his election requires approval from diocesan standing committees in TEC. Will they or won't they confirm?

What would your decision be as your read this kind of thing from a candidate for the episcopacy publicly espousing views of a mixed Christian-and-Buddhist kind?

"And yet, it has not been easy for me to see this belovedness in my own life, or in all of God’s creatures – such as those who flew planes into the Twin Towers. I seem to thrive on setting-up conditions for God’s love. My fear and ego needs have been blinding all too often. Sin is another word for such blindness. Sin has little, if anything, to do with being bad. It has everything to do, as far as I can tell, with being blind to our own goodness. And when we are blind we hurt ourselves and others – sometimes quite deeply.

Zen Buddhism, for me, is about learning how to see the bedrock truth of our baptism – we are beloved. To say this may sound odd, at first. But 2,500 years ago, an Indian prince became known as the Buddha, or the Enlightened One, because he courageously sat and faced his fears, and after years of facing them, saw this basic truth about life: we are one, utterly one, yet we do not know it. We suffer because we fearfully cling to this or that thing (for me, trying to be perfect) in the hope that it will bring us happiness."

Jesus died, apparently, because we are blind to our own goodness.

(Read the whole account of Kevin Thew Forrester's amalgam of Christo-Buddhist beliefs here. You might like to compare it with this more recent, after the fact of the election, apologia for being Christian and sympathetic to Buddhism here. Do the two statements gel?)

Let's see if TEC confirms this election or otherwise. Either way we will learn something about TEC's commitment to a common, orthodox, Christian theology for the Anglican Communion.


Anonymous said...

I would have thought his Christian commitment was pretty explicit ,an explicit commitment coupled with a willingness to be open to the insights and perspectives of the "other" (whether that be Zen, the arts, social-sciences etc); perspectives that carry within them the possibility to enrich and deepen ones commitment to following Jesus, and to embodying and enacting gospel in ways that are liberating, freeing and loving of God (revealed in Jesus),self and others.

He's explicit in his desire to enter more deeply into the Christian contemplative tradition.

Surely there are precedents within the Christian tradition of people who have likewise valued and been open to the insights of the other, insights that have enriched their both their humanity and their experience of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Forrester sights a couple of Catholic examples...

As you say though, it will be interesting to see how the TEC votes.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Paul
I see some variance between his two statements, but accept that the more recent one is more explicit in its Trinitarian commitments.

I have no problem with learning from other religions (in general terms) but struggle with the idea that (say) I might be some kind of adherent of two distinctive faiths at once, or I might define 'the God of Jesus Christ loves me' in terms of the presuppositions of a religion which neither believes in God nor majors in love!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I hear what you're saying. Many would argue that "zen" or "buddhism" aren't really "religions" per se, but are rather philosophies.

Bottom line, I don't know the guy, so it really makes it difficult to make any thing other than superficial comments.

I agree too in respect of your last comment about "presuppositions". I guess, for me, my primary descriptors, presuppositions etc are Christian, but they're often enriched and nuanced by the perspective of the other. That doesn't change my fundamental commitments; it just enriches them.Although I accept that others on the Christian continuum might not always see it that way.

Please pass on my best wishes to Teresa and her family.

Take care

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Paul, and for your greetings!