Sunday, March 8, 2009

Clergyman defends his Zen Buddhist practices

An Anglican clergyman elected as a bishop has defended his right to use the practices of Zen Buddhism to deepen his Christian faith.

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

For his election to be ratified, Dr Forrester will need the consent of a majority of bishops in The Episcopal Church as well as of diocesan standing committees.

Conservatives in the US, who have so far failed to unseat the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, have already begun an internet lobbying campaign in an attempt to undermine support for Dr Forrester by claiming he is a fully-fledged Buddhist.

They are also citing two other recent cases. In 2004, the Rev Bill Melnyk was inhibited by the Bishop of Pennsylvania for proclaiming that he was a practicing Druid as well as an Episcopal priest. In 2007, the Rev Ann Holmes-Redding was inhibited by the Bishop of Rhode Island being a practising Muslim as well a priest.

But in an interview with The Times, Dr Forrester said he was neither a Buddhist nor a Bhuddist priest and that he used Zen meditation simply to deepen his relationship with Christ. It was also a means to deepen understanding of the mystery of suffering, he explained.


Bruce Robison said...

Not exactly sure what he means by: "The work we are about is Christ moving through us," he said. "There is a Trinitarian aspect to it, in the sense of individuals working as one to support the baptismal ministry. I think the question that has been raised both by this story about his "lay ordination" and by the very odd teaching materials that have come from Northern Michigan in the last couple of years, apparently largely authored by him, is not whether he is a Buddhist in some ecclesial, institutional sense, but whether his beliefs can be said to fall even remotely within the boundaries of credal Christianity. To me the ability to describe meditation as "Christ moving through us" doesn't really help answer the question.

Jim Simons said...

Too strange. The paper work hasn't arrived yet. But as of now I wouldn't vote for consent.

Anonymous said...

His claim that he is not actually a Buddhist but merely utilizing Zen meditation techniques to enhance his Christian faith is belied by his own published words, where he said, "My soul-work entered a new stage on Pentecost, at Fortune Lake Lutheran
Camp, when I, as a Christian, received Buddhist “lay ordination” and a new name, to go
along with my Christian name: Genpo (Japanese, for “way of universal wisdom”). I now
walk the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism." I am encouraged to hear that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will not be consenting to this bishop "elect" (more like self-nominated and selected).