This post presents a bit of an excursus but a welcome and helpful one. It is in reference to some discussion questions that were posed by a reader named Mark. See the bottom of the page on Chapter 4 to reference them. I apologize that my video isn’t the best, especially when I am fiddling with whatever was on my desk. Won’t do that again! The video was impromptu because I wanted to respond in a casual way.
Mark’s questions helped us to wade a little bit further into interreligious dialogue and make some important clarifications and distinctions. I am grateful for this. I hope the video makes sense to those who weren’t already part of the conversation, I think it will. And if you are one of the few who has had the patience and generosity to read my work on a Christian response to Centering Prayer in its entirety, it will have even more context.
One issue I failed to address was Mark’s statement that the Centering Prayer community and the Catholic Church may have different aims. Without actually saying much more I think he hit the nail on the head there – if this is true, then it probably isn’t accurate to call Centering Prayer Catholic-Christian prayer as such (and thus there should be discernment in respect to uncritically offering it as Catholic Prayer).
And that was the purpose of my essay, to make that distinction and then to develop a Catholic understanding of Christian Prayer that could apply to various methods of meditation and prayer, including Centering Prayer. I also wanted to add, just because meditation as such isn’t Christian, i.e. it is natural, or in reference to human nature, experience, Creation, etc., doesn’t mean it is bad or wrong, just that it isn’t Christian by virtue of not being in reference to Divine Revelation. I hope that makes sense. As Catholics we recognize the value of both natural theology and sacred theology, both reason and faith, with both working together we ascend to the One who is truth as such.
For those interested in some of the themes I have explored in this essay, and especially for references in academic Buddhist Studies, I have provided some citations and links below to peer reviewed articles that have relevant themes.
Western Interpretations of and Cultural Appropriation of Buddhism
Borup, Jørn. “Branding Buddha – Mediatized and Commodified Buddhism as Cultural Narrative.” Journal Of Global Buddhism 17, (January 2016): 41-55. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed December 23, 2016).
Huntington Jr., C. W. “The Triumph of Narcissism: Theravāda Buddhist Meditation in the Marketplace.” Journal Of The American Academy Of Religion 83, no. 3 (September 2015): 624-648. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed December 23, 2016).
McCoy, Daniel, Winfried Corduan, and Henk Stoker. “Christian and Buddhist approach to religious exclusivity. Do interfaith scholars have it right?.” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 72, no. 3 (July 2016): 1-8. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed December 23, 2016).
Schedneck, Brooke. “Constructions of Buddhism: autobiographical moments of Western monks’ experiences of Thai monastic life.”Contemporary Buddhism 12, no. 2 (November 2011): 327. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed December 23, 2016).
Sun, Jessie. “Mindfulness in Context: A Historical Discourse Analysis.” Contemporary Buddhism 15, no. 2 (November 2014): 394. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed December 23, 2016).