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Report: Seminar with Professor Leo Lefebure

On the 27th March 2019, Profesor Leo Lefebure (Georgetown) guided staff and students through a fascinating discussion on recent developments in Buddhist-Christian dialogue, peppering his talk with many anecdotal stories and on-the-ground experiences from his own extensive work. He began with the seminal intermonastic Buddhist-Christian dialogue meetings at Gethsamani Abbey, of which he was a participant. He shared many of the key moments and dialogical encounters between principal leaders, especially the Dalai Lama, and how the memory of Thomas Merton brought them all together. After providing succinct, clear overviews of various Buddhist traditions, practices, and groups throughout the world and their encounters with Christianity, he then turned to Pope Francis' Laudato si, which highlights the need for interreligious partnership and dialogue to tackle the global problem of global warming. Ecological awareness has always been a major concern of Buddhists. Professor Lefebure ended his talk by examining what he feels is the most challenging obstacle in Buddhist-Christian dialogue: namely ethno-nationalism, as seen in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. While this nationalism often is anti-Muslim in its focus, Christians and others are also at risk of violence. A lively question and answer session concluded the seminar.