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Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  215 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Being a Christian isn’t easy. Sustaining belief without any doubts for one’s entire life is a very rare accomplishment. Indeed, many would say that examining one’s faith at least once is a central part of the Christian condition. In this landmark work, esteemed theologian Paul Knitter explains the unique path that he took to overcome his doubts, becoming a stronger Christi ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Oneworld Publications
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Brett
Feb 28, 2010 Brett added it
This book was written for people like me. By that, I mean people who have been born and raised in the Catholic church, but who also feel drawn towards Buddhist philosophy. Knitter weaves the two traditions together beautifully, and readers will feel both comforted by his thoughts (you're not crazy for being drawn towards these two traditions!) and vindicated by his convictions (your spiritual obstacles are not illegitimate!).

Knitter's method in each chapter is simple: identify a way in which he
...more
Edward
Knitter makes it clear that Buddhism has much to offer Christianity - insights and truths that Christianity doesn't express as well as it could. Christianity frequently stumbles over its own self, being far too wordy and, worse, taking those words literally, not as the symbols they are meant to be. One example, the Christian God is too often seen a being separate from ourselves, but in Buddhism what approaches "god" is a realization of universal transience and change. The realization of that can ...more
Joe
I am attracted to this book, to Knitter, and to his "style." It is the kind of stuff I like. He starts with questions and personal challenges, shares them honestly, fairly, and straightforwardly...then works at them and shares that pilgrimage with us. He speaks my language.

I thought of this book when a few days after finishing it (Jul 24) I read Frederick Buechner's comment on writing (Listening to Your Life, HarperColling: New York, 1992). "The writers who get my personal award are the ones who
...more
mahatma
sudah lama pengen buku yang seperti ini.
tapi baru dapet ebooknya yang dijual murah.
[teknologi informasi telah membikin murah mediumnya, sementara contentnya yang berharga itu terdistribusi tanpa berkurang mutunya.]

buddhism menarik saya karena teman-teman saya yang menganutnya hidupnya pantas diteladani. baik di sini maupun di jepang sana. juga perjumpaan saya dengan mahatera pannavaro di sela-sela pembukaan pameran sahabatnya. mereka golongan orang baik-baik.

segi-segi tertentu ajaran buddha jug
...more
Lorraine
Paul F. Knitter, author of "Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian," was born in 1939 to working class Roman Catholic parents in Chicago. When he was 13 years old he got the “calling.” In 1966 Paul was ordained in Rome and in 1975 he was granted a leave to the priesthood. Paul married in 1982 and has two children. He taught theology for 30 years at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. His wife who was a Catholic became a Buddhist. Paul now considers himself a Buddhist-Christian and a Christ ...more
Anna Dourgarian
Though his writing style is clean and enjoyable, Knitter's presentation is abrasive. As a Christian with a curiosity about Buddhism, I perceive an attack on my faith through crude generalizations and narrow-mindedness. While it would be acceptable for him to explain cause-and-effects about his opinions (i.e. "This event happened to me, so I struggle to believe this fact"), he denounces the entire faith tradition ("Christianity is bad because it does and says these things"). If his intention is t ...more
Benjamin
i guess i kind of liked it since i read it every morning on the way to work and finished it relatively quickly. i still don't think the title (or the idea behind the title) works though. i can understand the idea of passing over from christianity to buddhism as a way to glean insights into similarities for the sake of practice before passing back. however, the notion of *completely* passing over doesn't really allow you to pass back like knitter claims. he also treats buddhism more like a philos ...more
Jon
Knitter holds the Paul Tillich chair in theology at Union Theological Seminary, but thankfully this book doesn't "open a can of theology" on the reader. He has been personally active in working against the Reagan-supported Contras in Nicaragua and in attending peace conferences involving Israelis and Palestinians. He has personally confronted death squads and had friends disappeared. He has spent an evening conversing with nuns and then watched them pick up their AK-47s because it was their turn ...more
Mary
I loved this book! It offers insight into the human experience of divine presence and the ways that different religious traditions can enrich one another. I also enjoyed its personal style that is almost like memoir at times. The author's way of relating traditional religious ritual and practice to a progressive theology resonated with me as well. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the dialogue between different religious traditions.
Jason
Insightful, honest, and encouraging. Religion's power to guide and improve our personal and social circumstances is stregthened if we can respectfully and honestly "cross over" to the Buddhist tradition and then "cross back" to Christianity. Or as Knitter puts it using a Buddhist bucket to draw fresh water from a well of Christian mysticism.
Aric
What I appreciate about Knitter's book is that he addresses questions that are specific to people approaching Buddhism from a Christian background. This is not a well-rounded intro to Buddhism, but it is helpful for those of us who have questions about how Buddhist thought relates to theologies we were brought up with.
Ymfoo1
I would strongly recommend that both Buddhists and Christians alike read this book, and read with an OPEN MIND. It's interesting to see how Paul intepretes 'GOd', "Heaven" and "hell". i agreed that we should not inteprete the Bible and the Sutra word, for word, and take the meaning 'literally'.
Ann
An honest look at how passing over to Buddhism and back to Christianity can strengthen a Christian's faith.
Paul Forste
...quite awake theology.
Joe Cummings
My friend Brisa asked me not too long ago what my religious affiliation was. I replied that you could probably say that I was a Christian and a Buddhist, but in both cases not a very good one. It’s more complicated than that, but nevertheless it’s an accurate description, and for me there have been no conflicts with following both beliefs. After all I’m just a layperson.
I came across Paul Knitter’s “Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian” [2009] last spring and thought it might be an interes
...more
Theresa
Very useful reading for me. Knitter is a Christian theologian, brought up in the Catholic tradition . He knows this stuff professionally and as a practitioner for a lifetime. So he is familiar with popular versions of Catholic belief and practice as well as theological formulations. He also knows and practices Buddhism, although it seems to me more in its pure or 'theological' form than in its popular iterations. This book is concerned with his personal spirituality. He finds it very fruitful to ...more
Steve Goble
This is an odd, but interesting look at Christianity through a Buddhist lens. The author describes himself as a Christian who struggled with many aspects of his belief, and who found ways to reconcile those struggles through study of other religions. He says he found value and help in a variety of religions, but found Buddhism to be the most helpful.

This book is at turns confusing and helpful. I had it at three stars until I got to the chapter on Christology and depictions of the Buddha; I thoug
...more
Kris
I should write a longer review, as this book means quite a bit to me. It took me so long to read because I wanted to really digest it.

[Disclosure: I know the author and his wife. We were on a weeklong retreat together in 2010, and will be again soon. We share a teacher: Lama John Makransky. And I really admire Paul & his wife Cathy.]

If you are a Christian (esp. Catholic) who has found yourself thinking and of the following thoughts, you may also like this book:
- "huh, what is this Buddhism
...more
John
For the most part, I found this a very thoughtful and engaging book. If you are looking for a book that describes how one scholar lives with both his Christianity and his Buddhism, this is a good place to start. I do thing that this book could have been edited in places to avoid repetition, but that aside, it was very thought-provoking. The author is very respectful of both traditions and takes care not to simply blend them together. Instead, he keeps the integrity of each tradition and provides ...more
Tania HH
I'm a Quaker and Buddhist who just finished reading "Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian". The author clearly expressed struggles I've also had with Christianity (I was raised Catholic) and his experiences with Buddhism resonated with my own.

I was, however, disappointed with his discussion of the "Sacrament of Silence". Quakers, who have their roots in Christianity, have been worshipping in silent communion with the Spirit for over 300 years.
Lynn
Mar 09, 2014 Lynn marked it as to-read
I am finding this hard going...and I really really want to like it. Sigh.
Ellen Keener
Loved this book. It helps me to answer many of the questions I have as a practicing Buddhist feminist with Christian roots on how to renew myself and the world.
I liked how he wove his life experiences into his evolving beliefs not just from a rational perspective but a broader feeling mystical one.
I would recommend this book for anyone of any religious perspective.
Bishop Bergland
Very well done. Although I don't agree with the author on every point, our points of divergence are a matter of personal experience more than philosophical difference. This book is an excellent exploration of the interspiritual journey and demonstrates how two religions can complement each other. I recommend it highly. One of the best books I have read in a long time!
Beth
Author was a Catholic priest who left the priesthood over the issue of celibacy but remains a practicing Catholic. At some point he had a 'crisis of faith' and this book tells how his study of Buddha and Buddhism helped him through his faith struggle. The book was a little too 'wordy' for my taste and I skimmed through much of it but I did find some good insights.
Tom
This student was ready when this teacher appeared.
Rachel
while the book is very readable, it's not an easy read. this is a book you'll really want to read and absorb, it is after all nuanced points from 2 different theologies. it's an absolutely wonderful book, a book i believe can be meaningful for anyone regardless of faith/religion. such an important contribution to inter-religious dialog and understanding.
Mary
I just started reading this title and it is excellent. Knitter distills difficult concepts lucidly and in an informal style that belies his Harvard University credentials. If you enjoy comparative religions/philosophy, and if you are one of the many "Christians" who also embrace Buddhism, you'll find much to ponder in this title.
David Roberts
If there ever was a book that opens on to the idea that there is no one religion that holds a lock on the absolute truth, this is it. Full of brilliant, poignant, and practical examples, it has changed the way that I think about religion forever.
Rivqah
It's rather interesting to see how this author compares the two belief systems, showing what Buddhism can do to clarify and expand some of his beliefs, seeing a deeper meaning beyond the traditional interpretations.
Tammy
Jan 08, 2010 Tammy marked it as to-read
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“To put it bluntly but also imploringly: we Christians need more silence in our services and liturgies. Just how this might be realized, just how we” 1 likes
“As some theologians have commented, if we’re convinced that the starting point for our individual lives, or for the human project in general, is marked “original sin” rather than “original blessing,” it’s going to be all the more difficult to move on.” 1 likes
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