Secular Buddhism and Secularizing Christianity


Saw this online today:

“Vince Horn, of the podcast ‘Buddhist Geeks,’ ponders that question and raises several more in this Beliefnet essay.  

A snippet: ‘Are we so embarrassed by certain components of Buddhism — the adherence to strict moral codes, the magical and mythical pantheon of Buddhist cosmology, the metaphysics of enlightenment, etc. — that we feel the need to throw them all out without further discourse? Or, can we hold the pain of knowing that all the amazing teachings that come out of the Buddhist tradition also come with things that we might not like or understand? … Can we really trust that things like the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction movement are carrying the full potential of the Buddhist tradition forward? Is it that by secularizing Buddhism we are running the very real potential of losing something of incredible importance, while trying to ditch what we consider the ‘non-essential?'”

You can find the full article here.

Reading this, I find a great deal of similarity with the same questions I’ve asked of those within the Christian tradition who want to jettison the miracles or heavenly cosmology of biblical narrative.

Is it possible that there’s teachings contained in the miraculous and the cosmology that goes beyond mere thaumaturgy? Might we in our rush to find rational mundane explanations for the mystical portions of the Canon be missing pieces of important midrash, teaching and insight?

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Nick. It’s somehow comforting to see that it’s not just Christians who are struggling with these issues.

  2. Nick, can you give us an example of what you mean by “missing pieces of important midrash, teaching[,] and insight?”
    A few years back I quoted John Polkinghorne’s comment, “I have great sympathy with David Pailin when he says that ‘Attempts to defend theism by ignoring the question of truth . . . are fundamentally atheistic. They worship human wishes rather than ultimate reality.'” (The Faith of a Physicist, Fortress Press paperback ed., ch. 2, p. 30.) One would think the First Commandment therefore enjoins us to seek out and identify any portions of the canon that inaccurately recount events.

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