While politics and religion are not to be discussed in polite company, as the saying goes, the topics of labor and class may well be more troublesome yet. In this article, reflections on labor, class, and justice help deepen ongoing interreligious dialogues between engaged Buddhism and liberation Christianity that began with the work of Paul Knitter and others. Although neither the topic of labor nor the topic of class is commonly studied in theology or religion, our investigation reveals deeper affinities with Christian and Buddhist traditions, broadening the conversation to include voices not often discussed in the West like that of B.R. Ambedkar, the prominent convert from Hinduism to Buddhism and father of the Indian constitution. Moreover, the topics of labor and class invite new engagements with the notion of justice, which is contested in the religious and cultural traditions of the West as well as in many Buddhist discourses, which tend to question its usefulness altogether. In the process of engaging not only the topics of labor and class as abstract categories but also related movements—in particular the labor movement and other global social movements—new possibilities for religious discourse and interreligious dialogue emerge that broaden contemporary understandings of religion. This leads to rethinking concepts such as reconciliation, nonviolence, solidarity, and social action in various contexts around the globe and in their usages in Christian and Buddhist traditions.


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pp. 133-146
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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