- Editors’ Introduction
Traditionally, the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies has had two co-editors for Buddhist-Christian Studies: one Buddhist and one Christian. Last year’s volume, however, was edited by Rev. Wakoh Shannon Hickey, PhD, of Alfred University, who is Buddhist (ordained in Sōtō Zen). This year, the Society welcomed aboard a new Christian co-editor, the Rev. Canon Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough, an Episcopal priest, director of religious and spiritual life at the University of Rochester, and an adjunct faculty member at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS). We had begun collaborating in 2011 by developing a co-taught course on Buddhist and Christian contemplative practices and dialogue for CRCDS. We describe that course in an essay in this volume. Although the Society board prefers to have male and female co-editors, our working relationship has been so congenial that they made an exception. We are delighted to be collaborating again in the production of this journal.
The bulk of this year’s volume is devoted to contemplative pedagogies: efforts to integrate contemplative practices—Buddhist, Christian, and nonsectarian—into academic courses of various kinds. Four of the papers here, by Judith Simmer-Brown, Andrew Fort, John Copenhaver, and Kristine Utterback, were presented on a panel sponsored by the Society at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Chicago. Three other papers on this topic, by Barbara Newman, Douglas Christie, and Deborah Haynes, were presented on other panels at the AAR Annual Meeting. All the papers are very briefly described here, in order of appearance. Newman, a professor of English, emphasizes the necessity of cultivating memory and attention in the “age of Google.” Christie offers a lyrical reflection on “slow knowledge,” inspired by a remarkable work of performance art he witnessed. Fort argues persuasively for the value of contemplative pedagogies in liberal education, and addresses a variety of issues that arise when such pedagogies are employed in academic classrooms. Simmer-Brown shows how interreligious dialogue can be a form of contemplative practice. Copenhaver describes several practices he has introduced into religious studies courses he teaches from both confessional and phenomenological perspectives. Utterback describes what students in her medieval studies courses gain from engaging in medieval contemplative practices and responds to ethical concerns about the appropriateness of teaching such practices to people who are not devoted to and mature in religious life. Haynes reports her experiences of using contemplative practices in undergraduate classrooms over the past eight years. These have been well received by her students, and her study illustrates some of their academic benefits. We have also included a discussion of our own dialogue course, a considerable portion of which was devoted to Buddhist and Christian contemplative practices. [End Page vii]
Because most of the voices represented here are professors teaching in various academic disciplines, we thought it important to include some student voices as well. So we are happy to have a reflection on our co-taught course by one of our CRCDS students, Deborah Sprague, and reflections by two undergraduate students of Hickey’s, Jillian Guizzotti and Lauren Rodgers, both of whom participated in meditation as part of a course on Buddhism taught by Hickey at Alfred University. Interestingly, the undergraduates express more ambivalence about contemplative practice in the classroom than the professors or the graduate student. The undergraduates found meditation uncomfortable, although ultimately worthwhile.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to help prepare and offer these contributions to the literature on contemplative pedagogies. We have been inspired as well by the pioneering book Meditation and the Classroom, edited by Judith Simmer-Brown and Fran Grace (SUNY Press, 2011), which we recommend to readers of this journal.
Another group of essays in this volume were first presented on another panel sponsored by the Society at the 2012 AAR: “The Ethics of Wealth in a World of Economic Inequality: Buddhist and Christian Perspectives.” Papers from panelists Carol Anderson and Joerg Rieger and from respondent Mark Wood are included here. Regrettably, we were unable to include panelist Alan Richard’s paper this year, although it may be available for a future volume. Wood’s paper...