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Can Buddhism strengthen ties to the church? An article in Sunday's Denver Post suggests that it does. Author Electa Draper investigates a growing interest in the meditative and spiritual aspects of Buddhism amongst Christian Americans, finding that many employ eastern religions as a tool to forge a deeper connection to their Christian beliefs.
For many Christians cut off from the past, or alienated from the faith of their upbringing, Buddhism has served as the bridge to ancient wisdom.
"The problem is the contemplative tradition in the Christian Church has had its ups and downs over the centuries," said Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk and leader in the Centering Prayer movement, a modern revival of Christian contemplative practice.
"We sensed that the Eastern religions, with their highly developed spirituality, had something we didn't have," Keating said. "In the last generation, 10 to 20 years, some didn't even think there was a Christian spirituality, just rules — do's and don'ts and dogma they didn't find spiritually nourishing. It's important to recover the mystical aspects of the gospel."
The new president of Naropa University, a school dedicated to Buddhist contemplative education, weighs in:
"There is growing permission to turn back to some of the early church practices and pieces that helped us to be whole," said the Rev. Stuart Lord, an ordained Baptist minister and new president of Naropa University, a Buddhist-founded institution. "I've been studying Buddhism and meditation for about seven years. I look at it as helping a person lead a fuller Christian life."
To read Draper's entire article, click here.