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Portland theologian & Buddhist priest host interfaith discussion

September 27, 2012

New Wineskins,
A program of Multnomah Biblical Seminary.

On Monday, September 3rd at 7:30 PM, Powell’s City of Books (1005 W. Burnside in Portland) hosted an interfaith dialogue/exchange between evangelical theologian, Paul Louis Metzger (Ph.D., King’s College London), and Zen Buddhist priest, Kyogen Carlson (ordained Shasta Abbey; certified teacher, Dharma Transmission and inka).


Dr. Metzger and Abbot Carlson talked about Dr. Metzger’s newest book, Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths (Thomas Nelson, 2012) and how it relates to their longstanding relational connection. They spoke about how they approach one another through their respective faith traditions and seek to model civil discourse during times of severe tension and distrust in political and religious affairs involving the left and right in America today.


Photo by Jennifer Brinkman, Tricycle Magazine

Dr. Metzger and Abbot Carlson are close personal friends and partners in interfaith discourse and civic affairs. Their work together has been featured in various settings, including the Buddhist magazine, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and the Christian journal, Cultural Encounters: A Journal for the Theology of Culture. In addition to Prof. Metzger’s exchanges with diverse religious leaders in his Connecting Christ volume, Abbot Carlson responds to Dr. Metzger’s essay on Buddhism in the book. They recently wrote an op-ed article in The Oregonian that focused on how religious leaders and politicians can and should connect with one another over the common good rather than crash into one another and burn through heated rhetoric. Dr. Metzger and Abbot Carlson recently concluded a year-long study on hospitality and neighborliness through a grant provided by the Association of Theological Schools and which involved constituents of their respective communities, Multnomah Biblical Seminary and Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland.

Here are 12 thoughts that Dr. Metzger and Abbot Carlson engaged at the event:

#12 What can an Evangelical Christian theologian and a Zen Buddhist priest learn from one another?

#11 What do a Zen Buddhist priest and an Evangelical Christian theologian have to teach us?

#10 Are “odd couple” relationships key to living normal lives? Buddhist priest and Evangelical theologian say “Yes.”

#9 How did the Evangelical theologian and Buddhist priest cross the road to get to each other’s side?

#8 Buddhist priest and Evangelical professor declare: We’ll all lose if we try to win at the other side’s expense.

#7 Evangelical professor and Buddhist priest assert: It’s more “difficult” to be thoughtfully moderate than to be on the far right or left.

#6 Evangelical professor and Buddhist priest discuss how religion has a vital place in the public square.

#5 Buddhist priest and Evangelical theologian agree: Without tradition we are like a tree without roots; we will soon fall down.

#4 Evangelical professor and Buddhist priest claim: we are losing the art of compassionate living.

#3 Buddhist priest and Evangelical theologian share: For the sake of all beings, be self-aware.

#2 Evangelical theologian and Buddhist priest exclaim: be inquisitive, not inquisitional in approaching the religious other.

#1 Buddhist priest and Evangelical theologian discuss how “tolerance” can be a cop-out for the hard work of compassion.

If you couldn’t make it to Powell’s on September 3, check out the audio (linked above) and let us know what you think in the comments!

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