Shin Interacting with American Religious Culture

Shin Interacting with American Religious Culture

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 | 4:00 – 5:00pm | Student Union Building, Room 215

Richard Payne (Institute of Buddhist Studies) “Pure Land or Pure Mind?”

This essay considers the nature of North American popular religious culture, where religion is a consumer product, on the reception of Shin. That culture is primarily internalized, experientially oriented, and therapeutic. This contrasts with the self-representation of Shin as non-meditative, devotional and oriented toward the post-mortem state. In contrast to the familiar sudden and gradual categories, we propose examining the “locus of awakening,” either internal or external. Internal locus traditions fit better with the dominant religious culture. Shin’s external locus of awakening means that it runs contrary to the dominant strain of popular, therapeutic religious culture in the US.

Kristin Johnston Largen (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg) “Appreciation and Appropriation: Christian ‘Borrowing'”

This paper examines several examples of the uncritical incorporation of practices employed throughout the Buddhist tradition, including Shin and Pure Land, into a Christian religious context, such as mantras, beads (mala, ojuzu), and meditation. I argue that behind this “borrowing” are several problematic assumptions regarding Shin specifically and Buddhism generally by a Christian culture, including the idea that Buddhism isn’t a “religion” per se, but only a philosophy, that it primarily teaches self-improvement practices that easily can be adapted to another religious tradition, and that the growing practice of Christian-Buddhist “double-religious belonging” is unproblematic from the Buddhist side.