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Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian Paperback – 1 Jul 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; 1ST edition (1 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851686738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851686735
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,070,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Radiates wisdom and warmth. Is it possible to become more fully Christian by taking most seriously the Buddhist path -- becoming Buddhist in order to live more fully the Christian life? Agree or not with Paul's answer, we can be most grateful to him for pressing the question and making so very clear the possibilities and risks along the way." --Francis X. Clooney, Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University<br /><br />"Knitter's rich book should be a source of fascination and guidance for seekers of all sorts. One of the finest contemporary books on the encounter between religions in the heart and soul of a single thoughtful person." -- Library Review, October 1, 2009<br /><br />"A compelling example of religious inquiry."
--New York Times, October 10, 2009

"The dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism is one of the most important conversations of our time, and Paul Knitter's new book shows why. It offers much more than words: religion at its best transforms us, and herein we see its fruits. If you want to know how religions can help to revitalize each other, this is the place to start." --David Loy, Besl Family Chair for Ethics/Religion and Society at Xavier University and author of Money Sex War Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution

"In this revealing retrospective, Knitter recounts very personally how his encounters with liberation theology and with other religions, especially Buddhism, challenged and transformed his Christian faith. This will be of interest to all who are concerned with religious diversity and social justice." --Leo Lefebure, Professor of Theology, Georgetown University and author of The Buddha and the Christ

Review

"The dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism is one of the most important conversations of our time, and Paul Knitter's new book shows why. It offers much more than words: religion at its best transforms us, and herein we see its fruits. If you want to know how religions can help to revitalize each other, this is the place to start."

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This is a very important book. It is also moving and powerful. Sometimes I wish Prof Knitter had had an easier journey: starting as a Roman Catholic when he did in the unreformed past (though the present isn't a lot of fun either) cannot have been easy for him. He is evidently a person of courage and supreme intelligence. He has needed those qualities as he has grappled first with theology as it was taught in the 60s and 70s, and then with clerical celibacy, wisely opting out and marrying his wife who has obviously been a great soul friend both to him and their children. Finally he has had to use both courage and intelligence in his encounter with Buddhism. This book is the fruit of all those encounters and meetings.

Although the book makes great demands upon the reader, I must confess that I felt a lot of sympathy with Prof Knitter. I have been an Anglican priest for more than 35 years though increasingly at odds with the whole business. At times this has resulted in considerable mental stress. Reading this book may take me (and you) onwards. Increasingly Prof Knitter found himself ill at ease with the Thomism he was taught by great men such as Lonergan and Rahner, though he retains enormous respect for both. He doesn't recount how he first encountered Buddhism but his involvement is clearly not been superficial at all. He has had to learn to pray again, under the influence of Zen. He has had to learn to think again, to feel again and his chapter on suffering is particularly moving, telling as it does of his in involvement in El Salvador.

There was a moment when my levels of frustration were rising considerably and I thought to myself why does he not just simply become a Buddhist, like his wife.
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I am not a theologian, and read this book as someone who grew up with experience of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions but who had become increasingly troubled coming to terms with Christianity in today's world and drawn towards trying to understand other faith traditions, especially Buddhism. This book brought me great joy and is one I have already read twice and will keep close to me. It is incredibly honest - or, to be fair, asked all the questions I had been asking and gave responses that resonated deeply with what I was seeking. It is simply so clearly written for someone who is not a theologian to understand, yet does not simplify answers to insult the intelligence. I do hope others read it and have a similar experience. For me - a book of rare quality.
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This book is a helpful contribution to a growing culture in which many people have more than one religious affiliation.
The author's experience is quite specific: it is based on his problems with traditional Christian belief. Others like myself have no difficulty with strict Orthodox Christianity (in my case, within the Orthodox Church) and yet we find ourselves deeply influenced by one or two other faiths. My difficulty was not with Christianity but with rejecting either Judaism or Buddhism.
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This is a truly excellent book. I have to admit my prejudices, that I like it because I can identify so fully with it. The questions he raises about his Christian faith are the very same questions that I raised and which troubled me so much. He then journeyed into Buddhism as I journeyed into Buddhism, both finding so much that was helpful. He then reinterprets his understanding of Christianity in the light of his experiences of Buddhism, and came to the same conclusions as I did. Amazing.

Perhaps the only difference is that he has returned to a Christian setting, his new insights overcoming the frustrations he feels at times with Christianity. I myself have seen less of the positives that he outlines, and have remained a Universalist Quaker. But it has been challenging to me to look at those positives and I have learnt some deep truths.

So, a wonderful book. One that in time will be seen as a classic. Not quite so easy if you are new to Buddhism. Dense at times, but this is not a simple subject, and he has an easy going style. And the final reminder, that this is something that is ultimately beyond words and can only be experienced, and then with practice.
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Paul Knitter makes no claims that this is other than his personal spiritual journey. My own opinion is that he seems to accept both Buddhism and Christianity in equal measure because they are not mutually exclusive. I found the book well written and thought provoking and especially interesting for those who are coming to terms with the realisation that the faith they grew up with no longer satisfies all their spiritual needs in today's world. Great stuff.
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I took this book on holiday thinking I'd read a little each day, instead I began reading first thing in the morning, took it to the beach, sat with a coffee in the evening, and read it like a novel until it was finished. Knitter writes with such an easy style, so human and accessible, yet with great clarity and profundity. The way he uses his understanding of Buddhist philosophy to enhance and deepen his faith as a Christian is illuminating. For the many of us who struggle with traditional Church teaching, he is a beacon light, revealing a new perpective of faith that speaks to the 21st century in a way that makes sense to the modern mind. A truely liberating book by a brilliant, but humble theologian and communicator. I simply can't recommend it highly enough. And no I've never met him! But how I wish I could!
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