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Photos from the 2018 Parliament of World’s Religion

Sessions Related to the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies at

The Parliament of the World's Religions

Toronto, November 1-7, 2018

Scholar/Practitioners or Practitioner-Scholars?

Joel Daniels, Guttorm Gunderson, Leo Lefebure, Ben Van Overmeire, Judith Simmer-Brown

The academic study of religions is a strange field. As Jeffrey Kripal, among others, has pointed out, many of us have a double identity. Different perhaps than historians or literary critics, as practitioners many of us are part of the very phenomena that in our scholarship we try to explain. This puts us in an interesting and--we argue—productive position to question the stance of empirical objectivity and distance that some other fields in the humanities and natural sciences try to imitate. This panel attempts to explore that position for Buddhism and Christianity. Our presenters share their experiences “crossing” (if it can be called that) from scholar to practitioner and vice-versa. How academic perspectives enhance one’s experience as a practitioner? Vice-versa, how does a practitioner perspective alter one’s scholarship? How do both these perspectives affect our teaching? 

Multiple Religious Belonging: Promises and Perils

Ruben L.F. Habito, Kristin Johnston Largen, Eleanor Ponteriero, Jonathan Seitz

This session is a panel by practitioners who either identify with more than one religious tradition, are scholars of the phenomenon of multiple religious belonging, or both. Most panelists identify as Buddhist-Christian. They will share their personal as well as academic perspectives. Far from the "scandal" that some people think it to be, practicing in more than one tradition not only offers many modern people rich opportunities for spiritual growth but also has occurred in many cultures for centuries. Presenters will speak directly and intimately about the challenges and opportunities of sincerely engaging in more than one tradition.

The Planetary Environmental Crisis through Buddhist and Christian Eyes: A Conversation

Joel Daniels, Theodore Dedon, Nan Kathy Lin, Teng-Kuan Ng, Karen Sherlock

In the spirit of Buddhist-Christian dialogue, this panel brings together five voices to discuss the tremendous challenge of the ecological crisis. In an attempt to contribute to the Parliament’s 1993 Global Ethic, we will discuss the inter-connected issues of economics, media, population, technology, and models of decision-making from Buddhist and Christian perspectives. The conversation will specifically address the challenges of communication and dialogue around the problems of ecological care and responsibility for the future. 

Divinity with Respect to Love in Christianity and Buddhism

Sak Dhammadipa, Leo Lefebure, Matthew Regan, Wil Tyrrell

Buddhism and Christianity have a sharp focus on the teleological imperative of human existence. In Christianity a process of spiritual growth and in Buddhism a suitable path for general contemplation propose pragmatic methods for reaching the telos of final union with God in Christianity and for purifying the consciousness in Buddhism.  In this dialogue, we propose a framework by which Christians and Buddhists can explore and learn from each other’s respective paths to spiritual perfection without compromising the very different truth claims at the heart of Buddhism and Christianity. 

Examining the Deep Roots of the Ecological Crisis: Toward a Spiritual Ecology 

Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Maria Reis Habito, Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grim, Ruben L.F. Habito 

Spiritual Ecology is a developing field responding to the ecological crisis based on spiritual awareness. This panel will look into the deep roots of the ecological crisis, reexamining attitudes and world views shaped by our religious traditions that have contributed to the present crisis of our Mother Earth. It will explore resources from our spiritual traditions to find new ways of relating to the Earth, both as individuals and in community. A project in Myanmar initiated by Dharma Master Hsin Tao will be highlighted as a concrete way of addressing these issues and finding new strategies towards saving the Earth.

Cultivating Interfaith Understanding:  Three University Case Studies


Judith Simmer-Brown, Ruben L.F. Habito, Leo Lefebure, Students from Georgetown University, Naropa University, and Southern Methodist University

Essential to any global ethic is interfaith understanding.  In university and theological school settings, a variety of approaches are employed to engender understanding of religious diversity and dialogue, each with their own emphasis and pedagogies.  In this cross-university panel, we will explore how three religiously affiliated universities—Jesuit, Protestant, and Buddhist—engender interfaith understanding.  We will explore interfaith theology, social justice, dialogue, and contemplative practice, with interactive examples.  Presenters will be graduate students from Southern Methodist, Georgetown, and Naropa Universities.

2016 Society for buddhist-christian studies annual Conference Schedule

November 18-19, 2016

Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas

In Conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion

Panel I: Is Spirituality Intrinsically Communal? Spirituality and Revolutionary Love

Friday - 4:00 PM-6:30 PM

Hilton Palacio del Rio-La Vista A (Conference Center - 22nd Level)

Spiritual practices have been an important part of both Buddhism and Christianity since their inception. In the 21st century United States context, many people have a strong interest in spirituality—including many who are not a part of any organized religion. Today, the categories of “spirituality” and “spiritual practices” have been expanded significantly, and in many cases left to the interpretation of the individual. In such an environment, it is helpful to interrogate the concept of spiritual practice from both Christian and Buddhist perspectives, asking specifically to what degree spirituality is or should be inherently communal vs. individual in orientation. Responses to that question also will consider the relationship of spirituality to revolutionary love as it bears on the communal vs. individual dimensions of spiritual development and embodiment in the world.


Alice Keefe, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point


Elizabeth Monson, Harvard University

Daijaku Judith Kinst, Institute of Buddhist Studies, Graduate Theological Union

Charlotte Radler, Loyola Marymount University

Kristin Johnston Largen, Gettysburg Seminary


John Makransky, Boston College

Panel II: Honoring Jim Fredericks, Pioneer in Buddhist-Christian Studies

Saturday - 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Hilton Palacio del Rio-La Condesa (Mezzanine Level) 

Jim Fredericks has had extraordinary influence in the fields of Buddhist-Christian Studies and Comparative Theology. This panel examines Fredericks’ influence in a number of different venues, and celebrates his pioneering work. His friendship with Masao Abe and many other Buddhists has influenced his views on the importance of interreligious friendship. This led to his critique of theology of religions and his own approach to comparative theology, as well as understanding interreligious dialogue as solidarity. His book, Faith Among Faiths: Christian Theology and Non-Christian Religions (Paulist Press, 2001) won the Frederick J. Streng Book Award in 2002.


Michelle Voss Roberts, Wake Forest University


Francis X. Clooney, Harvard University

Hugh Nicholson, Loyola University, Chicago

Karen Enriquez, Xavier University

Ruben L. F. Habito, Southern Methodist University


James Fredericks, Loyola Marymount University


The SBCS business meeting begins at 11:30 am in Hilton Palacio del Rio-La Condesa (Mezzanine Level) immediately after this Panel. 

Related panels (at the American Academy of Religion/Society for Biblical Literature meetings)

Friday - 2:00 PM-3:15 PM

Convention Center-006D (River Level)

The journal for Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology features the following panels on dynamics of change and transformation within the fields of interreligious studies and intercultural theology.


Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Seminary of the Southwest

Torah and the Engaged Commentator: Transformations in Theology and Practice


Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, University of Birmingham

Lived Religion in Sikh Studies: Interfaith Marriages


André van der Braak, VU University, Amsterdam

Buddhist-Christian Belonging and the Nature of Religious Belonging


Pim Valkenberg, Catholic University of America

How Has My Engagement with the Religion of Islam – or Rather, with Muslims and Muslim Theologies – Influenced My Interpretation of My Own Catholic Tradition?

Comparative Studies in Religion Section and Contemplative Studies Group


Theme: Reflections on Louis Komjathy’s (ed.) Contemplative Literature (SUNY Press, 2015)

Sunday - 5:00 PM-6:30 PM

Grand Hyatt-Texas E (4th Level)

In recent years, the emerging field of Contemplative Studies has achieved a new level of maturity. One manifestation of this development is the appearance of Louis Komjathy’s edited volume titled Contemplative Literature: A Comparative Sourcebook on Meditation and Contemplative Prayer (SUNY Press, 2015), an anthology unprecedented in its scope, depth, and sophistication. After two extensive chapters by Komjathy situating the field, the text uses an array of experts to survey and contextualize a wide variety of classical and modern expressions of contemplative literature, including discussions of both theory and practice. While there is much to praise, one might also ask which traditions, approaches, and critical analyses have been left out or not done justice? How does this book relate to studies in comparative mysticism or in modern science? How might it be used in the classroom? The panelists represent, and will respond from, a variety of traditions and theoretical perspectives, including comparative religious studies, comparative theology, critical subjectivity, and interreligious dialogue. After their brief presentations, there will be questions from and discussion with the audience.


Andrew O. Fort, Texas Christian University



Francis X. Clooney, Harvard University

Ruben L. F. Habito, Southern Methodist University

Anne C. Klein, Rice University

Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University



Louis Komjathy, University of San Diego

Photos from our 2015 Annual Conference              in Atlanta, GA

The Society meets concurrently with the American Academy of Religion, in the same city as the AAR.  The round of meetings begins with a Board meeting, followed by two sessions with papers and discussion and a general business meeting at which Board recommendations are voted on. The Society’s vice president is charged with organizing the annual program.  The Society does not engage in a general Call for Papers.