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Buddhist-Christian Studies 25 (2005) v-ix

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In Memoriam


David Wellington Chappell died of heart failure on December 2, 2004, in Laguna Hills, California. He was a well-known teacher-scholar in Buddhist Studies and the principal founder of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies (1987), as well as the founding editor of the Society's journal, Buddhist-Christian Studies. He received his B.A. degree from Mount Allison University, his B.D. from McGill University, and his Ph.D. in history of religions from Yale University. David's academic specialty was the Chinese Buddhist tradition. He published significant work on T'ien-t'ai Buddhism, including Buddhist and Taoist Practice in Medieval Chinese Society, T'ien-t'ai Buddhism: An Outline of the Fourfold Teachings, Buddhist Peace Work: Creating Cultures of Peace, and Unity in Diversity: Hawaii's Buddhist Communities. He was emeritus professor of religion at the University of Hawai'i, where he taught for more than thirty years, before assuming a position as professor of comparative studies at Soka University of America in 2000. Always interested in balancing scholarship and teaching, David was the recipient of a number of grants in support of his work, including grants from the Hung-Wo and Elizabeth Lao Ching Foundation, the University of Hawai'i Institute for Peace, the Japanese Studies Foundation, the Niwano Peace Foundation (Tokyo), and the Lilly Foundation. In the last few years of his life he was also actively engaged in Buddhist-Muslim dialogue in Asia, Europe, and North America, working with Dharma Master Hsin Tao, founder of the Museum of World Religions in Taiwan.

David is survived by his wife, Stella Chappell; daughters Cindy Rice, Laura Demitria, Gwen Demitria, and Jeanne Barnes; and son Mark Chappell. He is also survived by five grandchildren and his brother, Gordon Chappell.

A celebration of David's life was held during the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies Seventh International Conference at Loyola Marymont University, Los Angeles, June 3–8, 2005.

* * *

There are many reasons to remember David W. Chappell, who died too young on December 2, 2004, at the age of 64. Some readers of Buddhist-Christian Studies will remember David solely because he was the founding editor of this journal and edited it faithfully for the first fifteen years of its existence. Under his guidance Buddhist-Christian Studies became a standard feature of the American Academy of Religion meeting each year—it usually was published about the time of the annual meeting of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies. [End Page v]

Remarkably few of the readers of this journal, however, will remember David solely because he was the editor. That was part of David's magic. David wasn't interested in writing books or articles, or editing journals, for people he didn't know. He wrote books and articles of course. He edited this journal well. But chances are that David knew more of the readers of this journal that any one of us can imagine. Many, if not most of you, are listed in David's incredibly long and detailed address book.

David's magic was his ability to bring people together. He brought people together by making them feel good about themselves and important to the cause of Buddhist-Christian dialogue. Interreligious dialoguers often talk about drawing the circle wider, to include more and more people. All who were willing are invited to join. David was the premier circle-widener. Perhaps my experience of becoming part of the circle will resonate with some of you.

I attended the first organizing meeting of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies at an AAR meeting in Anaheim, California. I did not know David, but somehow he knew me. He introduced himself, welcomed me, and asked me what appealed to me about the proposed society. I told him, and in that brief interchange realized we would become friends.

Although the chronology is a bit fuzzy, I believe the next time I saw David was at a meeting of a...


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