- Beyond Dialogue: Toward a Mutual Transformation of Christianity and Buddhism by John B. Cobb, Jr. (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 48, Number 4, October 1984
- pp. 704-708
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- Additional Information
704 BOOK REVIEWS administration of another diplomat: "Consalvi failed because the problems were insoluble, not because he lacked wisdom." The book would have been best ended with the reign of Pius XII, giving it more cohesion and thematic unity. Instead, Holmes tacks on a hasty and superficial assessment of the pontificates of John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul I. Printing shortcuts also mar an otherwise excellent book: the Index includes only proper names, and the footnotes are Bellocian, i.e. there aren't any. When Pius XII was crowned in 1939, the German ambassador was heard to remark about the ceremony, " Very moving, but it will be the last." These two books, in their different ways, suggest that the "last" may be a long time in coming; that the papacy is in intimate union with the Church; and that not rationalism, not revolution, not totalitarianismno , not even the gates of hell-will prevail against it. Ohio Dominican College Columbus, Ohio JOHN VIDM.AR, O.P. Beyond Dialogue: Toward a Mutual Transformation of Christianity and Buddhism. By JOHN B. CoBB, JR. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982. Pp. 176. $8.95 (paper). In an age of recognized pluralism and of increasing affirmation of the integrity of cultural traditions, there is also found, and not surprisingly, another and perhaps counter effort to move beyond cultural boundaries to the establishment of new patterns of understanding which reflect instead the accessibility and vulnerability of one system to another. John Cobb's new book is just. such an effort. Clearly written for a Christian audience and not, for instance, in spite of chapter 6, for a Buddhist one, Beyond Dialogue has as its hope a contemporary Christianity with "a Christology which avoids both imperialism and relativism" (p. viii). The achievement of this, which would rectify the oftentimes authoritative posture of historical Christianity, can be done, argues Cobb, by moving beyond mere conversation between positions of fixity to a point in which each partner in conversation is ready and willing " to hear in an authentic way the truth which the other has to teach us ... [and] to be transformed by that truth" (p. ix). One is, in other words, so open and vulnerable to another way that one risks conversion, but, instead of one's being converted, one's own tradition, at least as one has appropriated it, may be transformed (perhaps even radically) by the new insights gained from another. His stance, therefore, is that "dialogue has amissional goal" (p. 50). While BOOK REVIEWS 705 Cobb's vision and intent are commendable-for, as he points out, the health of any religious tradition is bolstered by contact with another (p. x) as is shown by the history of religion-his treatment of Buddhism is a bit thin and at times misdirected, and his subsequent discussion of the implications for Christianity does not fulfill his initial promise, pal"ticularly in the area of Christology. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of this book is Cobb's description of an authentic posture for religious man. He is not calling for a believer so firm and established in his faith that he is immune from refutation or, for that matter, from the appeal of non-traditional wisdom, but rather a believer so trusting in truth, and in particular the truth of his own tradition, that he can open himself up to have that vision of truth re-formed. He would be one who, having heard the truth of a religion not his own, could not remain the same (p. ix). This stance is intriguing, intellectually as well as psychologically. Not only is this the lesson about religious change we find in history, but in a world such as ours today, in which traditional systems seem helpless in responding to disorder and meaninglessness, such openness to new symbolic patterns is welcome (pp. 84-85). The dangers of this stance, however, must be kept in mind. A pluralistic society is not an atraditional or acultural one; rather, it is one in which groups live together with an unanimity of thought but with an acceptance and affirmation of the right to exist and authenticity of other systems. A stance beyond dialogue may not...