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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
SPRING 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 75 the pluralist camp of thinkers such as John Hick and Perry Schmidt-Leukel (who was her dissertation director at the Uni- versity of Glasgow). Pluralists find the most useful and coherent map for under- standing and engaging religious diversity to be one that pos- its multiple religions as different points of contact with one ultimate Reality (whether called “God” or “dharma”) that is always more than any one tradition can contain. (In affirming many, pluralists disagree with exclusivists, who hold to only one true religion; in denying the superiority of any one reli- gion, they disagree with the inclusivists, who claim that one religion is meant ultimately to fulfill all the others.) Drew uses her pluralist hypothesis as the starting point for her explora- tion of dual belonging, adjusts it where the data so require, but finds it ultimately confirmed by the testimonies of the practitioners she interviews. There are minor, though important, pieces in her plural- ist picture that might need adjusting. In stressing the need for integration as an essential quality of belonging to two different religious traditions, she holds that neither can be deemed superior to the other. Speaking broadly, yes. But in particular forms of practice (such as the Buddhist insistence on nonconceptual sitting) or in particular teachings (such as the Christian insistence on the centrality of social justice), one tradition can be cautiously assessed as “superior”—that is, it sees things more clearly or effectively than the other. Such differences make for the richness of dual belonging. Which leads, perhaps, to the need for some modification of her stress on preserving the integrity of each tradition. The results of dual religious identities—as of effective inter- religious dialogue in general—can be both to preserve and transform. Where one tradition appears “superior” over the other in a particular practice or teaching, the other might have to change. And such change will not be simply a deepening or a clarification or a retrieval. It can also be a reconstruct- ing—something truly new, but on the basis of the old. Drew indirectly recognizes this in some of the conclusions she draws for Christian dual-belongers in their understanding of Christ (no longer the one and only savior) or of the nature of God (no longer “totally other”). Such reconstructions and such enrichments seem much more plentiful for the Christian side of dual-belonging than for the Buddhist side. More simply, it seems that Christians have more to learn than do Buddhists. Which raises a ques- tion that Drew doesn’t adequately take on: Her interviewees all started out as Christians. Where are the Buddhist dual- belongers? That might be a topic for another dissertation. Whether one is primarily (or exclusively) Christian or Buddhist, this book, part of the Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism series, is one that will both inform and engage. For Buddhists, it can be an aid in understanding all those Christians knocking on their zendo doors. For Christians, it can be a guide and inspiration for what might happen when they pass through those doors. distance learning opportunities tibetan language courses: levels i, ii, and iii Fundamentals of Buddhism: a dharma course (No Tibetan required) tli Bookstore Best-selling Beginners’ package with effective instructional dVds Visit the tli weBsite Free study aids, info about classes, and more www.tibetanlanguage.org tiB etan language institute learn tiBetan & study Buddhism with daVid curtis Over 18 years’ experience teaching hundreds of students “Learning Tibetan from David Curtis is definitely one of life’s better experiences.” —K.J., VA David was named a Lama in 1992 and an Acharya in 2005. new!! Buddhism Courses