Confronting Mara and Mammon
Buddhist-Christian Dialogue for Spirituality and Resistance
Compassion, love, wisdom, and liberation. How can we embody these values in our globalized world where the cries of sentient beings have become more widespread? Millions of refugees have fled their homelands due to life-threatening violence. Dire socio-economic conditions bar many people from living decent life. The global ecological crisis only adds more suffering on Earth. On of many causes of suffering on Earth is religion. In tracing the roots of suffering, Buddhists and Christians point to Mara and Mammon. Mara is the Buddhist personification of the Three Poisons―greed, ill-will, and ignorance―and Mammon the Christian personification of material greed, which also breeds ill-will and ignorance. Many name neo-liberalism or the global free-market economy as the institutionalized form of Mara and Mammon, which prioritizes competition over cooperation, private wealth over public welfare and ecological wellbeing, and the possessive individual over community. The system spreads greed to have more and is fed by the collective fear to not have or lose. The values and human attitudes that breed Mara and Mammon might constitute the most powerful religion. This religion knows no borders and boundaries; it is omnipresent. Since Mara and Mammon concerns both structural and spiritual matters, this conference calls for socio-spiritual resistance by first bringing socially engaged Buddhists and Christian liberationists to the dialogue table. The renowned religious scholars and activists in Buddhism and Christianity cultivate interfaith and transnational solidarity that is strong enough to dismantle Mara and Mammon, both within ourselves as well as in social institutions. You are invited to be present in this exciting dialogue for social transformation through compassion, love, and wisdom.
Inspiring Scholars, Activists, and Spiritual Leaders: Engaged Buddhists and Liberation Theologians
Jan Willis is Professor Emerita of Religion at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and now Visiting Professor of Religion at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. She has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland and the U.S. for five decades, and has taught courses in Buddhism for over forty years. She is the author of The Diamond Light: An Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation (1972), On Knowing Reality: The Tattvartha Chapter of Asanga’s Bodhisattvabhumi (1979), Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition (1995); and the editor of Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet (1989). In 2001, her memoir, Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey was published and re-issued in 2008 by Wisdom Publications as Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist—One Woman’s Spiritual Journey. In December of 2000, TIME magazine named Willis one of six “spiritual innovators for the new millennium.” In 2003, she was a recipient of Wesleyan University’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Newsweek magazine’s “Spirituality in America” issue in September of 2005 included a profile of Willis and, in its May 2007 edition, Ebony magazine named Willis one of its “Power 150” most influential African Americans.
Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University and Acharya in the Shambhala lineage of Chogyam Trungpa.. She serves on the Board of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies and has been active in interreligious dialogue internationally since the 1980’s. Currently she co-chairs the American Academy of Religion’s Contemplative Studies Unit, and lectures and writes on Tibetan Buddhism, American Buddhism, women and Buddhism, and interreligious dialogue. Her books are Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism (Shambhala) and Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy in the Religious Studies Classroom (SUNY).
Joerg Rieger is Distinguished Professor of Theology, Cal Turner Chancellor’s Professor of Wesleyan Studies at Vanderbilt University, and Director of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. His books include Jesus vs. Caesar: For People Tired of Serving the Wrong God (2018), No Religion but Social Religion: Liberating Wesleyan Theology (2018), Unified We are a Force: How Faith and Labor Can Overcome America’s Inequalities(with Rosemarie Henkel-Rieger, 2016), Faith on the Road: A Short Theology of Travel and Justice (2015), Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude (with Kwok Pui-lan, 2012), and No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future (2009). Lecturing nationally and internationally, his books have been translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, Korean, and Chinese.
John Makransky is Associate Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College, past President of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies, and co-founder of the Foundation for Active Compassion and Courage of Care Coalition. John’s research focuses on connections between wisdom, compassion and devotion in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, theoretical bases for interreligious learning, and issues in current adaptation of Buddhist meditation practices. John is the developer of Sustainable Compassion Training, which aims to help people in all kinds of helping roles cultivate inclusive care and compassion for action while avoiding empathy fatigue and burnout.
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center
David R. Loy is a professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy, a prolific writer, and a Zen teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. His BA is from Carleton College, his MA is from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and his PhD is from the National University of Singapore. His publications include eleven books, most recently Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis (Wisdom Publications, January 2019). He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. In addition to offering workshops and meditation retreats, he is one of the founders of the new Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, near Boulder, Colorado.
In June 2014, David received an honorary degree from Carleton College, his alma mater, during its 2014 Commencement. In April 2016 David returned his honorary degree, to protest the decision of the Board of Trustees not to divest from fossil fuel investments. (More at www.davidloy.org)
James Madison University
Sallie B. King is Professor Emerita of Philosophy and Religion at James Madison University and Affiliated Faculty, Professor of Buddhist Studies, Department of Theology, Georgetown University. She is the author, co-editor or translator of numerous works on Buddhism, Engaged Buddhism, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, interfaith dialogue, and the cross-cultural philosophy of religion. She is a Quaker and a Buddhist. In her work for inter-religious friendship and understanding, she has served on the Christian and Interfaith Relations Committee of Friends General Conference, as Trustee of the international, interfaith Peace Council, as President of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies, and as a Scholar with the Elijah Interfaith Institute.
International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP), Thailand
Ouyporn Khuankaew started her social work in the refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border. Since 1995, she has been working with marginalized groups in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and India. Committed to the Buddhist path, she incorporates mindfulness, non-violence, and feminist anti-oppression in her trainings with activists working on a range of social issues. In 2012, she co-founded International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP), an organization and training center allowing the expansion of her work to other parts of Asia and North America. Ouyporn writes, speaks, and teaches socially engaged Buddhism. She uses core Buddhist teachings and a variety of mindfulness practices as a framework for peace and justice work, to support and sustain activists, and to transform personal and structural suffering.
W. Anne Joh
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/ Northwestern University
Anne Joh is Professor of Theology and Culture at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is also the Director of Asian American Ministry Center as well as Associate Faculty Affiliate in the Departments of Religious Studies, Asian American Studies at Northwestern University and member of the research faculty cohort on Religion, Race and Global Politics of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University. Her publications include, Heart of the Cross: A Postcolonial Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. Engaging the United States as a Military Empire: Critical Studies of Christianity from Asian/Asian North American Perspectives. Ed. Anne Joh and Nami Kim. New York, NY: Palgrave, 2016. Forthcoming from Fordham University Press is Trauma, Affect and Race: A Postcolonial Theology of Hope, along with In Proximity to the Other: Decolonial Theological Anthropology from Westminster John Knox in 2020, and, Feminist Praxis Against U.S. Militarism edited with Nami Kim forthcoming from Lexington Press, 2019. Joh’s areas of teaching and research interests are in constructive theology, transpacific Asian American studies/theologies, empire and post/decolonial studies, war, migration, militarism, carcerality, race, gender, sexuality, cold war, trauma studies, affect theory, global anti-colonial movements and emergent political theologies.
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)
Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., is a feminist theologian who is co-founder and co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. A Catholic active in the women-church movement and on LGBTIQ religious matters, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to liberation issues. She is an editor of A Guide for Women in Religion: Making Your Way from A to Z (Palgrave, 2004, 2014) and co-editor with Diann L. Neu of New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views (SkyLight Paths, 2010).
Texas Christian University
Melanie L. Harris is Founding Director of African American and Africana Studies and Professor of Religion and Ethics at TCU. She also serves as Visiting Professor of Ethical Leadership and Global Environmental Studies at the University of Denver. A graduate of the Harvard Leadership Program, and a former American Council of Education Fellow, her research focuses on finance and budgeting in higher education, access, equity and ethical leadership. Her scholarship critically examines intersections between race, religion, gender, interfaith dialogue and environmental ethics. She is the author of many scholarly articles and books including Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics (Palgrave), Ecowomanism: Earth Honoring Faiths (Orbis) and co-editor with Kate M. Ott of Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation(Palgrave). A community leader whose passion for education is linked to a commitment to social justice, she has also served as an educational consultant with the Ford Foundation, the Forum for Theological Exploration, and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. She is on the executive board of the Society for the Study of Black Religion and has served on the Board of Directors of KERA-TV/Radio, the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. Dr. Harris has been awarded several prestigious awards and academic fellowships including the AddRan College of Liberal Arts Administration Fellowship and GreenFaith Fellowship.
Loyola Marymount University
Karen Enriquez is Assistant Professor in Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. She received her Ph.D. in comparative Theology from Boston College where she focused on the comparison of spiritual practices in Buddhism and Christianity and its role in the transformation of the self and society, and dialogue among religions. She has taught courses on Buddhism, comparative theology, systematic theology, and introduction to Catholicism, and religion, gender, and violence. Before coming to the U.S., Karen lived in the Philippines and taught at the Ateneo de Manila University. Apart from her comparative theology, she also works in the field of Philippine and Philippine-American theology with a focus on the intersection of social justice and spirituality and examining popular religious practices of Filipino women and men globally.
María Teresa (MT) Dávila
María Teresa (MT) Dávila, Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at Merrimack College is an activists scholar whose publications include works on race, racial justice and theological ethics; Latino/a and mujerista ethics and public theology; Latino/a ethics and the ethics of the use of force; immigration; and the use of the social sciences in Christian ethics. Along with Agnes Brazal, she is the coeditor of Living With(out) Borders: Theological Ethics and Peoples on the Move (Orbis, 2016). Her main scholarly and activist concern is the question of Christian discipleship in the US context. On this front, MT integrates her scholarly production with homeless ministries, community organizing, and local advocacy efforts around issues of family homelessness, refugee welcome and care, and racial justice. MT is a Roman Catholic laywoman.
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
Cláudio Carvalhaes, theologian, liturgist and artist, is Associate Professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Carvalhaes has taught a class called “Comparative Buddhist-Christian Liberation Theologies” with Dharma teacher Greg Snyder. He has published on the Christian-Buddhist relation: “Wandering and Wondering: Unimaginable Interreligious Border Crossings,” in Pilgrimage(Taylor & Francis, 2017). He has also worked with the relation between Brazilian African religions and Christianity. His books are Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality (Wipf&Stock, 2013); Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives – Only One is Holy, (Palgrave, 2015); What Has Worship Got To Do With It? Interpreting Life Liturgically (Cascade Books, 2018). He edited Forms of Speech, Religion and Social Resistance, and Black Religions in Brazil by CrossCurrents.Recently he has been working on a global project called Re-Imagining Worship As Acts Of Defiance And Alternatives In The Context Of Empire amidst the poor in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe.
*Planning Committee/ Union Theological Seminary in New York City
Paul Knitter is the Emeritus Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions, and Culture at Union Theological Seminary, New York, as well as Emeritus Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. He received a Licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1966) and a doctorate from the University of Marburg, Germany (1972) Since his 1985 book, No Other Name?, he has been exploring how the religious communities of the world can cooperate in promoting human and ecological well-being. More recently, his writing and research have focused on Christian-Buddhist dialogue, which is the topic of Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian (2009) and the co-authored book with Roger Haight, S.J. Jesus and Buddha: Friends in Conversation (2015). Since 1986, he has been serving on the Board of Directors for CRISPAZ (Christians for Peace in El Salvador).
*Planning Committee/ Southern Methodist University
Ruben L.F. Habito is Professor of World Religions and Spirituality at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. He also serves as Guiding Teacher of the Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas. Author of many books in English and Japanese, including Be Still and Know: Zen and the Bible (Orbis 2017), Healing Breath: Zen for Christians and Buddhists in a Wounded World (Wisdom 2006), he is married to Maria Reis Habito, and together they are blessed with two adult sons, Florian and Benjamin.
*Planning Committee/ Saegil Christian Institute for Society and Culture
Kyeongil Jung is the director of Saegil Christian Institute for Society and Culture in Korea. Jung received a Ph.D. degree in Ecumenics and Interfaith Studies from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. His work is centered on “social spirituality” that transforms both society and the mind. Jung has published several essays concerning interfaith—especially Buddhist-Christian—Dialogue, Minjung Theology, and socio-spiritual matters.
K. Christine Pae
* Planning Committee/ Denison University
K. Christine Pae is Associate Professor of Religion and Ethics and Chair of the Religion Department at Denison University. Taking social ethics as a discipline, Christine researches and writes about war, genocide, militarized prostitution, and Asian/Asian American ethics. Her publications include “A Politics of Empathy: Christianity and Women’s Peace Activism in U.S. Military Prostitution in South Korea” in Women and Asian Religion, ed. Zayn Kassam (AFL-CIO, 2017), “Faith-Based Popular Resistance to the Naval Base in Gangjeong of Jeju: Transforming Militarized U.S.–Korea Relations for Peace and Justice” in Critical Theology against U.S. Militarism in Asia, eds. Nami Kim and W. Anne Joh (Palgrave, 2016)”Peace and War” in Asian American Christian Ethics, eds. Grace Kao and Ilsup Ahn (Baylor University Press, 2015). She is currently working on the manuscript, titled, The Prostituted Body of War. Christine is a co-chair of the Women and Religion Unit at American Academy of Religion and Episcopal priest.
Jude Lal Fernando
Trinity College Dublin
Jude Lal Fernando is Assistant Professor in the Irish School of Ecumenics, School of Religion, Trinity College Dublin and the Coordinator of M.Phil. in Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Programme. Prior to his arrival in Ireland he worked as a member of Tulana, the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue and Research in Kelaniya, Sri Lanka (1989-2004), and engaged in Buddhist-Hindu-Christian-Muslim dialogue under the mentorship of Aloysius Pieris. He was a key proponent of a non-militaristic solution to the national question of that country and has published extensively on issues related to religions, conflict and peacebuilding. He is currently the Director of Trinity Centre for Post-Conflict Justice and Coordinator of the Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka.
Confronting Mara and Mammon
Pre-Conference Event: Why Buddhist-Christian Dialogue for Now? Interfaith Dialogue for Social TransformationBurton Morgan Lecture Hall (BM 101)/ OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Presider: Phoebe Myhrum (Chaplain, Denison University) Panelists: Paul Knitter (Professor Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, NYC), Sallie King (Emerita, James Madison University), Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University), John Makransky (Boston College), Ruben Habito (Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology)
Evening Panel: Confronting Mara and Mammon: Buddhist-Christian Dialogue for Spirituality and ResistanceOpen to the Public/ Slayter Auditorium Presider: K. Christine Pae (Denison University) Panelists: Jan Willis (Professor Emerita, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT) Joerg Rieger (Vanderbilt University, Divinity School) Judith Simmer-Brown (Naropa University) David Loy (Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center) María Teresa (MT) Dávila (Merrimack College)
Original Ignorance or Original Sin? –Tracing the Roots of our Global Malaise—Buddhist and Christian Views of our Human ConditionBurton Morgan Lecture Hall (BM 101)/ Open to the Public Presider: M.T. Davila (Mamerrick College), Panelists: Sallie King (James Madison University), Claudio Carvalhaes (Union Theological Seminary, NYC), K. Christine Pae (Denison University)
Confronting Greed: Economic Disparity and Ecological Crisis: Toward a Just and Sustainable Economy: Buddhist and Christian ContributionsBurton Morgan Lecture Hall (BM 101)/ Open to the Public Presider: Ruben Habito (Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology) Panelists: Jude Lal Fernando (Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland) Ouyporn Khuankwae (International Women’s Partnership for Peace) Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University)
Community LunchBurton Morgan Knobel Hall (Open to the Audience)
Confronting Ill-will: White, Male, Class, Religious Supremacies: Buddhist and Christian Insights on Addressing Hierarchies and ExtremismBurton Morgan Lecture Hall (BM 101)/ Open to the Public Presider: Jan Willis (Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT), Panelists: Karen Enriquez (Loyola Marymount University), Paul Knitter (Union Theological Seminary, NYC), Anne Joh (Garrett Evangelical Seminary)
Toward Global and Personal Well-Being: Transforming Individuals and Structures: Buddhist and Christian Perspectives on Spiritual Practice and Social ActionBurton Morgan Lecture Hall/ BM 101 (Open to the Public) Presider: Judith Simmer-Brown (Naropa University), Panelists: John Makransky (Boston College), Mary Hunt (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual), Kyeongil Jung (Saegil Institute, Seoul, Korea)
Day 4 Compassionate Love Meditation and RetreatSilent Meditation and Mindfulness Retreat led by John Makransky and Ruben Habito (Open House at 204 North Mulberry Street/ Open to the Public) Lunch at 12:30 PM (All the participants are welcome.)
All events are Free and open to the public. Please RSVP to help us plan for the event.
Denison University, Granville, Ohio
100 West College Street, Granville, OH 43023
Denison University, Department of Religion Knapp 310, Granville, Ohio 43023
Denison University, Department of Religion Knapp 310, Granville, Ohio 43023
Denison Campus Map
100 W. College St. Granville OH 43023
Department of Religion
Blair Knapp Hall 310
Burton Morgan Lecture Hall
Burton Morgan 101 (Connected to the Visitors' Parking Lot)
Slayter 4th Floor (Connected to the Visitors' Parking Lot)
Open House (Saturday Morning Retreat)
31 Mulberry Street, Granville, OH 43023