- Editors’ Introduction
Returning to be guest editors of this journal for a short period of time, we are delighted to present such a rich 2014 issue. In April 2013, Union Theological Seminary in New York City welcomed a distinguished international group of scholars, theologians, and other commentators to a gathering of engaged Buddhists and Christian liberation theologians. Those of us who attended were invited for a conference that also celebrated the career and retirement of Paul Knitter, of the Union Seminary faculty and one of the great voices for Buddhist-Christian interchange in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We were delighted when Paul took up a suggestion from Sallie King, the conference keynote speaker, that this journal publish some of the papers from that conference. Paul agreed and quickly expedited Sallie’s suggestion, clearing the way for this journal to publish the comments found in these pages. We are grateful to Sallie, Paul, and everyone else who made this a smooth and easy transition into our guest editorship. They made possible a wonderful issue.
The conference itself, which Rita attended as one of the invited speakers, was a wonderful celebration of collegiality and friendship across continents, religions, generations, disciplines, and social concerns, as the table of contents for this issue will quickly demonstrate. Friendship and collegiality were enhanced by the fact that participants lived together in guest rooms at Union Seminary and ate together there, dining on a variety of ethnic cuisines. In addition to many distinguished speakers, only some of whom are represented in these pages, the event featured music, dance, liturgy, and meditation from a wide variety of religious and cultural traditions. The print medium of this journal cannot begin to capture all the richness provided by this conference. Nevertheless, we are delighted to bring some flavor of the conference to you through the papers selected for this issue of the journal.
This conference also demonstrated what many would regard as a significant advance in what Buddhist-Christian interchange involves from standard fare in the earlier days of that encounter. Some will remember that this journal, founded by David Chappell in 1980, grew directly out of one of the first large English-language international gatherings dedicated to Buddhist-Christian interchange, which took place in Hawai’i and was also organized by David Chappell. That first issue of this journal published some papers from that early conference, including Rita’s. That paper was one of the very earliest statements on feminism and Buddhism, but papers dedicated to joint pursuit of solutions to large-scale social problems were much less [End Page vii] in evidence in those early years. The field has grown, such that subdisciplines within Buddhist-Christian interchange are now commonplace and no one is surprised that we can easily dedicate a whole issue of this journal simply to Engaged Buddhism and Christian liberation theology. We also take pride in the fact that both that very first issue and this issue, as well as many issues in between, contain articles and essays on gender and feminism. We take pride in this fact because even engaged Buddhists and Christian liberation theologians often forget that sexism in its many varieties, including heteronormativity, ranks very high among the causes of human misery.
In addition, the conference and contributors to this issue took on issues of economic injustice, racism, and environmental degradation. Others spoke directly out of and about the experiences of those who suffer from those types of injustice. Theological and spiritual responses to those injustices are also presented. Conference organizer and newly minted PhD Kyeongil Jung and keynote speaker Sallie King present overviews of the conference itself and of interchanges between engaged Buddhists and Christian liberation theologians. Honoree Paul Knitter closed the conference with a moving tribute to his many friends in the worlds of engaged Buddhism and Christian liberation theology and an account of what he has learned from them over the many years we have all worked together. This set of conference papers is followed by a varied collection of book reviews and the News and Views section, thanks to Sid Brown, book review editor, and Jonathan Seitz...