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Carl Bielefeldt, Donald K. Swearer, Wendy Cadge, Jan Nattier, and Charles S. Prebish
"Tensions in American Buddhism," cover story in the July 6, 2002, edition of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. (PBS/WNET New York)
A good basic overview of Buddhism's development in America, describing the wide variety of traditions and approaches, as well as the trends these scholars see happening and the issues involved.
I particulary enjoyed Jan Nattier's analysis, in which she points out that
  • "The major monotheistic religions of the Middle East -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- all share, on some level, the idea that there is a single correct way to be a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim. And both Christianity and Islam make the additional claim that all people should adhere to these teachings. But with Buddhism this is not the case. On the contrary, a central theme in Buddhism from its earliest days is that different teachings and practices are appropriate for different people."
  • Efforts some Americans have made toward ecumenism among the diversity of Buddhist traditions ... reflect an American "need for consensus" but not traditional Buddhist thinking.
  • The fact that Buddhism is undergoing changes in America is not a problem for Buddhism, because "one of the core teachings of Buddhism -- found in all Buddhist cultures, including those of North America -- is that all conditioned things are subject to change."

... and was interested by the list of issues Charles Prebish identifies as "key factors in the development of American Buddhism in the next century." Although some of what I understnad as feminist issues in Buddhism are there, I also hope to see a broader appreciation of several he omits.

© copyright Catherine Holmes Clark, 2001; last updated 23 July 2002