Sound like anybody around here?

When I was searching online for information about Lutheran-Buddhist relations, I found an article by Michael Reid Trice in Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education on the outlook for ecumenical relations.

Along the way, he said:

For Jesuit colleges and universities, this is a very bright moment. The decrees of General Congregation Thirty-Four of the Society of Jesus encourage ecumenical and interreligious commitment in a global context. This directive aligns well with a university context because students represent a demographic today that thinks less about ecumenical doctrinal considerations, and more in terms of encountering faith embodied in the lives of others. Even as a broad category, students today consider their core identities in hybrid or hyphenated terms, between religions that appear more porous.

When I taught at Loyola University in Chicago, I recall one of my students who spoke with me after class of being a Lutheran even as she simultaneously spent years as a practicing Buddhist. She understood her core identity as Lutheran-Buddhist within the liminal and relational hyphen between traditions. This student represents many students in Jesuit colleges and universities today who were raised under the cultural mantra of diversity. They interpret multi-culturalism and religious pluralism as the rule rather than as an exception. These same students resonate deeply with the Ignatian spirituality of self-awareness (examen), effective love (love through action) and varying expressions of spiritual direction. (45)

As far as I can tell, I’m within that liminal and relational hyphen myself. (I’ll admit I had to look up “liminal,” though.) Turns out the Oxford dictionaries have two definitions, and they both fit: 1. “Relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process”; and 2. “Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.” At my age, I relate more to the part about boundaries, but they both fit the author’s context to at T. And I love the idea of straddling the hyphen between both sides of a boundary or threshold.

Background on author: Trice says in the author’s note, “For over seven years I served as one of the ecumenical executives for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Today I serve alongside exceptional faculty as the assistant dean for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry (STM).” He also a 2001 graduate of Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he wrote his thesis on Heidegger and Rahner (Th.M., Systematic Theology). A CV is available on the Seattle University website at

Citation: Trice, Michael Reid (2012) “Ecumenical, Interreligous and Global: the Future is Lutheran Buddhist?,” Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education: Vol. 42, Article 25.
Available at:

4 thoughts on “Notes on a ‘Lutheran-Buddhist [identity] within the liminal and relational hyphen between traditions’ at a Jesuit college

    1. Full disclosure: I wasn’t sure what a “liminal hyphen” is till I Googled it, but it looks like I’ve been straddling one all my life. Haunting various borderlands, to use another metaphor. (For example what we called a “TVA brat,” kind of like an army brat, northern parents growing up in the South, now a southern expat in the north, etc., etc.) In my old age I’m finding out, or beginning to suspect, we all haunt one borderland or another. Yes, theological, too. Which is why I responded so to that article. I felt like it was talking about me! Or to me. About people very much like me, right down to the Lutheran, Buddhist and Ignatian details, at any rate. Anyway, I couldn’t agree with you more — seems like there’s ample room on this particular liminal hyphen.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Have you read James Fowler on the stages of faith? I found him very helpful when thinking about various people in my life and where they are on their faith journeys.


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