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28 April 2007

BOO! dhist big world cheese is coming to Northampton

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, walks past the Tibetan flag during the official opening of the International Tibet Support Groups Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, in this 10 October 2003 file photo. A plan to honor the Dalai Lama by flying the Tibetan flag over City Hall during his May 2-4, 2007, visit to Madison, Wisconsin, is drawing flak from an atheist group and China's ruling Communist Party. (Associated Press photo)

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Let's take a holiday from being terrified of Muslims.

Today we'll be terrified of BUDDHISTS!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Daily Hampshire Gazette
Northampton, Massachusetts USA
Saturday 28 April 2007


Christians counter
Dalai Lama's May visit


by Casey Welch

NORTHAMPTON -- Next month, a visit here by the 14th Dalai Lama will attract hundreds of devout Buddhists, excited students and curious onlookers.

But the renowned Tibetan religious leader has some doubters. Today, conservative Christians will gather in Northampton to plan ways to assure that their faith is not overshadowed by the visiting spiritual leader.

"We welcome the Dalai Lama here, but we also want to have a chance to reach Tibetan Buddhists with the gospel," said Doug VanBronkhorst, executive director of a group called Interserve USA, in a written statement.

Interserve USA is part of an international and interdenominational organization that seeks to minister to the peoples of the Arab world and Asia. It will hold a conference on Tibetan Buddhism today at the College Church. Interserve USA is scheduling conferences in other cities where the Dalai Lama will speak this spring, including Maui, Hawaii; and Madison, Wisconsin.

The conferences aim to present a view of Tibetan Buddhism to participants and to teach Christian congregations ways to explain their faith to followers of the Dalai Lama.

Christian anxiety

The conferences reflect the anxiety of some Christians who are concerned about the impact of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States.

"Some Christians are perplexed by the growing popularity of Buddhism in America and feel a need to further spread the message of Christianity in response," said Abraham Zablocki, visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Hampshire College.

The Buddhist concept of enlightenment and practice of meditation are popular in American culture.

Jamie Hubbard, the Yehan Numata Professor of Buddhist Studies at Smith College, said Buddhism has become mainstream in the United States during the last 20 years.

Since the exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959 and the ensuing immigration of Tibetan Buddhists to India and other parts of the world, the Eastern religious group has become more accessible to different groups in the United States, including Christians.

Another cause of the popularity of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States, Hubbard said, is the Dalai Lama's efforts to connect with Western political leaders and scientists and his interest in modernizing his country.

"The Dalai Lama himself has made so many efforts at outreach and dialogue. Who hasn't heard of the Dalai Lama these days?" Hubbard asked.

But some Christian leaders worry that the popularization of Tibetan Buddhism has blurred the line between what is trendy and what contradicts Christian teachings.

"Tibetan Buddhism is growing in the United States, and a number of Americans are enamored with or influenced by it," VanBronkhorst said in an Interserve statement. "Our goal is to give people an understanding of that religion and inform them of the many differences and few similarities between Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity."

David Householder, one of the speakers at today's event, said in a phone interview that besides teaching Christians about Tibetan Buddhism, the conference will discuss how Christians can interact with those attending the Dalai Lama's May 9 talk at Smith College and how Christians can more effectively share their own beliefs with Tibetan Buddhists. Householder, Interserve's 'ethnoserve' director, lived and worked with Tibetan Buddhists for 27 years in South Asia.

He will speak during the event today, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon. The conference costs $10 to attend. The church is located at 48 Pomeroy Terrace in Northampton.

VanBronkhorst said he hopes the conference will improve communication. "When people talk out of ignorance, not a whole lot gets done," he said.

Understanding difference

The Rev. Donald Lundgren, minister of missions at the College Church, said he believes that while Tibetan Buddhists have had an increasing influence in the United States, many American Christians are uninformed about Buddhism.

Zablocki, the Hampshire College anthropologist, said there has been a rich tradition of interfaith dialogue between Christians and Buddhists.

The Dalai Lama wrote "The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus," for instance. But Zablocki adds that there are fundamental philosophical differences which make it hard for Christians and Buddhists to understand each other.

Christians believe there is an all-powerful creator, he notes, while Buddhists believe that all people have the capacity within themselves for enlightenment. Christians believe human beings have souls, while Buddhists believe that people are always changing, so there can be no permanent essence or soul.

Hubbard said that the philosophical differences between the two religions do not mean they are incompatible.

Hubbard said some Catholic priests are lineage holders in Buddhist traditions -- meaning they are certified to have learned Buddhist teachings and can teach as Zen masters -- and that Buddhist contemplation practices have been adopted by nonreligious and Christian groups.

Zablocki said the Dalai Lama believes people can learn from Buddhist teachings without converting.

"It is worth noting that the Dalai Lama himself discourages people from converting from their own religions, whether they be Christianity, Judaism, or others," Zablocki said. "Indeed, the Dalai Lama has said that his own religion is simply kindness, thereby attempting to find common ground with other religious traditions like Christianity, which also teaches kindness."

Hubbard said it would be nice if people learned more about Buddhism as a result of Interserve's conference today. "It can only contribute to more tolerance between different kinds of religious people."

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from Interserve:
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News & Events

March 22, 2007

Tibetan Buddhism workshops to precede Dalai Lama’s USA visits this April

Tibetan Buddhism. It’s ancient. It’s complex. It’s trendy. And its leader, the Dalai Lama is visiting your city this spring.

Join with other Christian believers for a half-day workshop sponsored by Interserve and learn how you can share the gospel with Asian and Western followers of this world-wide religion. Led by experts who have lived and worked among Tibetan Buddhist peoples around the world, it will be a time to learn, share, and pray.

Workshops will be April 14 at First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA, and April 28 at West Houston Chinese Church, TX, College Church, Wheaton, IL, and College Church, Northampton, MA. Cost is $10 per person.

For more information, call 800-809-4440 or email info@interserveusa.org.

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Who We Are

Interserve USA is part of an international and interdenominational fellowship of Christians committed to each other and in partnership for service to the people of the Arab World and Asia.

We are made up of Christian professionals and highly trained personnel who use their professional skills to minister holistically to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the people they serve.

What We Do

Some examples:

1. Need credit for medical school? We offer medical electives in Central Asia.

2. Use your engineering skills in the mountainous region of Nepal.

3. Teach foreign language in the foreign land of East Asia.

4. Serve the people of Bangladesh as a nurse or physician in a rural hospital.

5. Help some families with home schooling in South Asia.

6. Come spend your summer in Mongolia teaching English to local students.

7. Are you a skilled Ophthalmologist? Use your skills in an eye hospital in Pakistan.

8. Work with the deaf and blind in the Arab World.

9. Called to serve, but not overseas. Check out EthnoServe, a ministry within Interserve in the United States.

Our Aim

We aim to make Christ known across cultures by word and action in countries where otherwise He wouldn't be known. By placing Christians with skills in these areas to serve individuals, churches and communities holistically they are being the real salt and light of this world.

Our History

Interserve began in 1852 when a group of teachers, Christian women from England, showed great love and compassion to the women and children of India. Orphanages and women's hospitals and school were founded in India and the good news of Christ shared.

What We Are Today

We now are made up of branches in 19 countries who send cross-cultural workers to countries in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Asia. We work in partnership with other agencies to ensure the work of our Partners reach those who need it the most.

Support us as we pursue our mission!


1 comment:

Abbas said...

why are religious people so scared of their religion? i wonder if it's the guilt trips of going to hell.