Michael Daley writes in Anglican Comment that “Ruth Gledhill [of the Times] asks for a little calm in Michigan.” Daley’s message is important enough to warrants full repetition here:
No doubt many of us have been watching with interest the ongoing problems in the United States of the Americas (Anglican Americans tend to be navel gazers, and Canadians seem to let them run the show, hence the name…but we’re going off topic, here). There have been rather profound outcries from some members of the religious-American-right regarding the newly elected Episcopal Bishop who happens to use Buddhist meditation techniques.
It seems to me rather inconsistent to on the one hand condemn this fellow and on the other heartily endorse Nostra Aetate, which states that the “Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.”
While conservatives in the Episcopal Church of the Americas clamber over each other to be first in line to crow about how awful this chap is, Ruth Gledhill makes a very good point – which seems to be missed in this self-righteous melee.
“Back in the 1970s, my own father in his ministry as a deeply-orthodox Anglican clergyman used to go for study retreats to Mirfield, the UK’s main centre at the time of Anglo-Catholic contemplative spirituality. His spiritual director there suggested he learn Zen techniques of meditation to help him on his Christian spiritual journey. For three years, at my request he took me with him to the Zen yoga classes in a little school hall outside Uttoxeter. I started at about 12. This was the 1970s in remote Staffordshire, so there were no candles, no incense, just dusty bare floorboards and baking oil-fired radiators. We had an exotic young woman teacher with mirrored skirts who seemed to come from another planet. Our silences were punctuated by the sounds of mooing cows clomping by at milking time. The practices I learned there serve me to this day.
And it is the case that many clergy and laity from England, Wales and Scotland make pilgrimage to Northern Michigan to learn from the Episcopalians there how to use these techniques and others in their own church lives, and how to use them while staying true to the Gospel.”
One can almost feel the ghastly silence from the religious-American-right. What to do about this woman who has been championed as their ally in the fight against the evil hordes of pointy-hatted heretics threatening their very lives, who has now come out positively about their latest whipping-boy?
I think Ruthie’s take on the whole situation is entirely rational, faithful to the Gospel of Christ and – well – so very English. So bravo to her for sharing something that may upset her readership – though one hopes it would, rather, challenge them to think just a little more about what that gentleman in Rome had to say. And – perhaps – what this fellow in Michigan is really all about.
I don’t know the man, but it seems to me that if you’re going to condemn someone, you should at least have a little more than “we don’t like him because he meditates like a Buddhist.”