Sunday, March 08, 2009

Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan appoints Bishop who learned meditation and compassion from Zen Buddhists. The fucking conservatives get uptight

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan has elected Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester to be their bishop. Ruth Gledhill has good things to say about the new Bishop-elect on her blog for the Times in the UK. Sadly, some people are not happy.

Kevin Thew Forrester, The Episcopal Church's latest bishop-elect, is in trouble with the conservatives in the Anglican Communion because he has used the practices of Zen Buddhism to deepen his relationship with God and Jesus. He has also taken part in a ceremony that in the world of Buddhism is described as a 'lay ordination' but in which there is no laying-on of hands and which is a ceremony about embracing a life of compassion that bears absolutely no resemblance to ordination as Christians understand it.

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.

The conservatives at Stand Firm are making a huge issue of this. Perhaps I should visit with the Zen Buddhists, but what the fuck is their problem?

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