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Buddhist-Christian Studies 22 (2002) iii-iv

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The editorials that appear in this journal must be written months before they actually arrive in our subscribers' offices and mailboxes. That schedule makes it difficult for us to comment on any contemporary events. Events that occurred closer to the time of our writing will be quite far in the past by the time this journal is printed and distributed; likewise any comments we might make in our editorial could have been rendered irrelevant in the extreme by events that occur between our writing and the appearance of this journal.

We have faced this problem with every editorial, of course, but this is the first editorial we have written since the jarring events of September 11, 2001—events that should deeply trouble all people who have serious religious commitments and must trouble those of us who have committed our lives to interreligious understanding and who believe that religions can live together and foster each other's well-being, despite major differences in theological beliefs and ethical norms. As we write, the situation seems both better and worse than it could have been. As yet, there have been no further incidents on the scale of 9-11, but there is also no letup in dangerous confrontations and political rhetoric that ignores the complexity and tragedy of deep mutual frustration between groups who seem unable to forge solutions that enable all concerned some measure of peace and dignity.

While it is clear that more than religion separates these partners in hostility and willingness to kill each other, nevertheless, the complicity of religions and people who claim the protection and sanction of religion in promoting terror and mayhem, not only in our day but throughout history, are among the most troubling aspects of religion. Any trace of differing religious positions is elevated into justification presented to God to argue that deity should prefer us to them. Nothing is more incomprehensible than different groups of people asking God to help them gain victory over each other, whether it is the hometown sports team or the home nation-state making such requests. Those of us who have committed ourselves to the conviction that differing religions have no choice but to live together in harmony must redouble our efforts to promote that practice. Religious people cannot let religion be sabotaged by those who would use it to promote simplistic versions of good and evil, territoriality, and vengeance.

Extreme events have finally brought to center stage in popular culture proposals that some of us have advocated for years, and have tried to integrate into college curricula, sometimes with greater and sometimes with less success—the seemingly obvious requirement for religious literacy concerning the major religious options abundantly [End Page iii] present in our religiously pluralistic world and society. I rejoiced when a popular news weekly advocated, after September 11, 2001, that all religions needed to do two things—to develop a theology that could positively account for the existence of religious pluralism, and to educate their members to understand at least one other religion almost as thoroughly as they understand their own.

Our journal, as well as the lives of many of us who write for and read this journal, is dedicated to such goals. Because we have long experience in the difficult tasks of interreligious dialogue and cross-cultural understanding, we cannot afford to become discouraged or tired at this difficult point in history. Although we know that the impact of one small journal on world events may not be large, we nevertheless continue to do what we can and what we know how to do.

In this issue we conclude our comparative inquiry into Christian prayer and Buddhist meditation, with the Buddhists' reflections on Christian prayer. (The Christian reflections on Buddhist meditation were published in our last volume.) These essays are part of our ongoing attempt to comment on each other's traditions and practices in a mutual attempt to clarify not only our similarities but our differences as well. For truly finding the wherewithal to live with religious pluralism requires...