Monday, June 27, 2011

Syncretism: The Relevance of Buddhism, Christianity and Other Religions in the Twenty-First Century

In answering the question of whether Buddhism and Christianity can remain relevant for the twenty-first century, panelists Lloyd Geering, a noted theologist and critic of Christian and Islamic fundamentalism, and Stephen Batchelor, a self-professed "secular or agnostic Buddhist," make the case that the twenty-first century is a "continuation" of both Christianity and Buddhism, together with the syncretism of Islam, Hinduism and Greek philosophy, each of which has influenced all others over the course of history.

"The future is in our hands," notes Batchelor. "Buddhism is just a concept. If Buddhists are able to revive and restore a vitality to its critical tradition of thinking, to find a way of engaging more directly with the contemporary issues of the world, then we can say that Buddhism could be relevant. If Buddhists do not rise to that challenge, then it probably won't."

In a somewhat ironic nod to Richard Dawkins, Geering observes, "Christianity might also hold us back. That is the problem of fundmentalism, whether Christian or Islamic," he notes. "It is, in fact, working against the aims (providing meaning and solutions for the twenty-first century) we have been talking about."

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