15 th Conference of the European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies
Human existence is bodily existence. In their reflections on the body and in their bodily related practices, Buddhism and Christianity engage a crucial aspect of our being. In both traditions the spectrum of views is extremely broad ranging from outright condemnation of the body to its highest praise: “They have realized the deathless who have realized mindfulness directed to the body” (AN I 46), says the Pāli Canon. And in the New Testament we read “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor 6,19).
In this conference scholar practitioners from Buddhism and Christianity will be in dialogue about central facets of the body as perceived in both traditions: The body and ecology, the body’s impermanence, its role in social relations, body, gender, and sexuality, the relation between body and mind, the body in contemplation, prayer and ritual, and the embodiment of transcendence. The dialogues will not only explore spiritual wisdom connected to the body but also explore how both traditions may learn and benefit from the insights of the other.
As always, the conference will also have two open sessions for papers regarding all aspects of current research on Buddhist-Christian relations.
Call for papers
The European Network of Buddhist-Christians Studies invites rising and established scholars to give short presentations (20 mins.) at the open sessions of the conferences. Papers can be on any topic in the field of Buddhist-Christian studies. For approval, proposals (150-200 words) need to be sent to Prof P. Schmidt-Leukel: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thu, 27 June
19.30-20.30: (1) Introduction to the Topic
Andreas Nehring (Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)
Elizabeth Harris (Birmingham, UK)
Fri, 28 June
09.00 – 10.30: (2) Body and Ecology
Michael von Brück (Linz, Austria)
David Loy (Boulder, USA)
11.00 – 12.30: (3) The Frailty/Impermanence of the Body
Perry Schmidt-Leukel (Muenster, Germany)
Sylvia Wetzel (Germany)
14.30 – 16.00: (4) Bodily Existence and Social Relations
Claudia Jahnel (Bochum, Germany)
Werner Vogd (Witten-Herdecke, Germany)
16.30 – 18.00: Open Presentations I
Sat, 29 June
09.00 – 10.30: (5) Body and Gender
Kajsa Ahlstrand (Upsala, Sweden)
Carola Roloff (Hamburg, Germany)
11.00 – 12.30: (6) Body and Sexuality
Sybille Fritsch-Oppermann (Hermannsburg, Germany)
Amy Paris Langenberg (Florida, USA)
Afternoon: Tour to Kloster Andechs
Sun, 30 June
09.00 – 10.30: (7) Body and Mind
Fabian Völker (Vienna, Austria)
Raquel Bouso (Barcelona, Spain)
11.00 – 12.30: (8) Body and Contemplation, Prayer and Ritual
Peter Tyler (London, UK)
14.30 – 16.00: (9) Embodiment and Transcendence
Thomas Cattoi (Berkeley, USA)
John Makransky (Boston, USA)
16.30 – 18.00: Open Presentations II
19.30: Closure of the conference
Mon, 1 July: Departures
Andreas Nehring is Professor for Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen and director of a Center of Advanced Studies on “Alternative Rationalities and Esoteric Practices in a Global Perspective”. He has been visiting Professor at The University of Salzburg, in Tanzania, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Myanmar. His fields of research are: Theories of Religious and Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Theologies, Transcultural Processes of Exchange and Communication between Europe and India, History of Missions, Mindfulness and the Reception of Buddhist Concepts in the West.
Elizabeth Harris is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Before she retired, she was an Associate Professor in Religious Studies, with a specialism in Buddhist Studies, at Liverpool Hope University, United Kingdom. She is currently the President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies and was a former President of the European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies. Her research interests are Theravada Buddhism, religion and conflict, religion and gender and interreligious studies. Her publications include: Theravada Buddhism and the British encounter: religious, missionary and colonial experience in nineteenth century Sri Lanka (Routledge 2006) and Religion, Space and Conflict in Sri Lanka: colonial and postcolonial contexts (Routledge 2008). She is currently co-writing a biography of the one of the first British people to become a Buddhist monk - Allan Bennett/Ven. Ananda Metteyya.
Michael von Brück is Professor of Comparative Religion. Until 2014 he was Head of the Interfaculty Program in Religious Studies at the University of Munich and since 2015 he is Honorary Prof. of Comparative Religion at the Catholic Univ. of Linz (Austria). He is a Member of Doctoral Program in Buddhist Studies, Univ. of Munich, was 5 years Visiting Prof. In Madras (India), Visiting Prof. at several American and Asian Universities, and a member of different academic institutions worldwide. He publishes widely in the fields of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue.
David Loy is Professor of Comparative Philosophy (now retired) and a teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Buddhism. His many books include Nonduality, Lack and Transcendence, and most recently Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis. He is especially interested in the encounter between Buddhism and modernity. He offers retreats and workshops nationally and internationally, usually focusing on the social and ecological implications of Buddhist teachings. More at: www.davidloy.org
Perry Schmidt-Leukel is Senior Professor of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology at the University of Muenster. Before, he taught at the Universities of Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Glasgow. His research focusses on religious pluralism, inter-faith relations, Buddhist-Christian dialogue and interreligious theology. He has published more than 30 books and received various awards. In 2015 he presented the prestigious Gifford-Lectures at the University of Glasgow. Currently, he is president of the European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies.
Sylvia Wetzel studied Politics, Russian and English, and since 1977 was a student of the late Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984). She served as director of his German Centre in the 1980ies and founded the Buddhist Publishing Company Diamant Verlag in 1983. She served as board member of the German Buddhist Union (1984-1999) and as co-organizer of International Buddhist Teachers´ Conferences 1993-2015. Since the mid-1980ies she taught Buddhism in public talks, weekends and retreats and since then is engaged in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. With her interest in European Philosophy and the history of culture, psychology, psychotherapy, politics and gender issues she is a pioneer of Buddhism in Europe. She has translated and written several books on Buddhism. More at: ww.sylvia-wetzel.de
Claudia Jahnel is Professor for Intercultural Theology and the Body at the Ruhr-Universität in Bochum. Among her research interests is the interdisciplinary, intercultural and intersectional study of the body and its transgression of social boundaries in the dynamic field of late modern transcultural spirituality. Her approach navigates at the crossroads of discourse theory, phenomenology (Leibphänomenologie), practice theory, intersectional and postcolonial theory. She has published widely on body concepts in African theologies, the body in “black theology”, the “Pentecostal body”, and a body sensitive ecology.
Werner Vogd is Professor of Sociology at the University of Witten/Herdecke with main research interests in systems theory, body-oriented phenomenology, embodiment. His doctoral thesis was on "Radical Constructivism and Theravada Buddhism". Among his current research projects is a six-year study on Buddhism in the West (researching six schools from Zen, Tibetan and Theravada Buddhism). Among his recent publications (co-authored with Jonathan Harth) is: Die Praxis der Leere. Zur Verkörperung buddhistischer Lehren in Erleben, Reflexion und Lehrer-Schüler-Beziehung (2015).
Kajsa Ahlstrand is Professor of Theology, Church and Mission Studies, World Christianity and Interreligious studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. Her research focusses on various forms of interfaith relations and on the question of how Christian groups and thinkers relate to religious diversity. She has also researched the religious change processes that contradict fundamentalism and has interested in the phenomenon of religious multilingualism, especially in relation to Buddhism and Christianity.
Carola Roloff is Visiting Professor for Buddhist Studies at the Academy of World Religions of the University of Hamburg since 2018. She studied Tibetology and Classical Indology, focusing on Buddhist Studies at the Asia-Africa-Institute of the University of Hamburg (M.A. 2003, PhD in 2009). Her current focus in research and teaching is “Buddhism and Dialogue in Modern Societies.” Other research topics include gender-religion interactions in Buddhism and their significance in social dialogue processes. She is also a Tibetan Buddhist nun known as Ven. Jampa Tsedroen.
Sybille C. Fritsch-Oppermann is a Protestant minister and an independent scholar of intercultural philosophy, encounter between religion and natural science and Buddhist-Christian studies. She is now living and working in Hanover and Petershagen (Germany) as a writer (lyrics and prose) and teaches part time at Technical University Clausthal and at The University of Applied Sciences for Intercultural Theology (FIT) Hermannsburg. She received her PhD in Religious Studies/Mission Studies at the University of Heidelberg.
Amy Paris Langenberg is Professor of Religious Studies at Eckerd College, Florida. She specializes in the study of gender and sexuality in pre-modern South Asian Buddhism and contemporary Buddhist feminisms. She is the author of “Birth in Buddhism: the Suffering Fetus and Female Freedom”, published by Routledge in 2017. Her current research focuses on sexual abuse in contemporary North American convert Buddhism, a collaborative project with Ann Gleig (University of Central Florida) that will result in a co-written study to be published with Yale University Press.
Fabian Völker is Lecturer (Post-doc University Assistant) at the Department of Intercultural Philosophy of Religion at the University of Vienna (Austria) and member of the research centre "Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society". He is specialized in transcendental, intercultural and interreligious philosophy with an emphasis on Hinduism and Buddhism. In 2020 he published a detailed study of the work of David Loy (Philosophie der Nondualität).
Raquel Bouso is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at UPF and Vice-rector for Culture and Communication at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain. Besides various articles, she has published El zen (Catalan, 2008; Spanish, 2012), coedited Cross-Currents and Confluences (2009), La filosofía japonesa en sus textos, with J. W. Heisig, T. P. Kasulis, and J. C. Maraldo (2016), and Tetsugaku Companion to Ueda Shizuteru: Language, Experience, and Zen, with A. Loughnane and R. Müller (2022). Her research interests include intercultural philosophy, aesthetics and religion, East Asian religions and thought, particularly Japanese Zen Buddhism, and the Kyoto School.
Peter Tyler is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality and Director of the Centre for Initiatives in Spirituality and Reconciliation (InSpiRe) at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London. He has had a long interest in the Christian mystical tradition and has written extensively on the subject, his most recent books being The Living Philosophy of Edith Stein (Bloomsbury 2023) and John of the Cross: Carmel, Desire and Transformation (Routledge, forthcoming). As a practising psychotherapist he is particularly interested in how the Buddhist and Christian traditions can be of relevance to heal the souls of contemporary people. This work was well demonstrated in his 2018 book Christian Mindfulness: Theology and Practice (SCM).
Thomas Cattoi is Associate Professor of Christology and Cultures at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. His research and writing focus on early Christian theology, Eastern Orthodox thought, and interreligious dialogue, focusing on Buddhist-Christian dialogue and the Tibetan tradition. Since 2015, he has served as co-editor of the journal Buddhist-Christian Studies, and has recently co-edited the Handbook of Buddhist-Christian Studies (Routledge) and the volume Eastern Orthodox Christianity and World Religions (Brill). He is also the author of Seeking Wisdom, Pursuing Compassion: A Philokalic commentary to Tsong kha pa's 'Great Treatise'" (Brill)
John Makransky has been Associate Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College, Senior Academic Advisor for the Centre of Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal, president of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies, Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, and Senior Editor for the Buddhism section of the St. Andrews Encyclopedia of Theology. John's writings focus on connections between devotion, compassion, and wisdom in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, on adapting Buddhist practices to meet contemporary minds, and on theoretical issues in interfaith learning. John has been one of the leaders of a scholarly movement in the American Academy of Religion dedicated to Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection (“Buddhist Theology”).