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Abstract

Religious pluralism is a central value of contemporary Unitarian Universalism. This is enshrined in the current hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, which among its many sources includes several selections from Buddhist material. This article considers the use of Buddhist material in Unitarian hymnals from the late 19th century to the present day. A slow growth in the amount and diversity of such material can be discerned. However, the sources used are quite limited, and the selections have the effect of creating a new Unitarian “Buddhism” rather than accurately representing Buddhism as it is. The reality of pluralism may be somewhat muted, therefore, but nonetheless bringing Buddhist material into their hymnals allows Unitarian Universalists to perceive themselves as tolerant and multicultural.

Author Biography

Jeff Wilson is Professor of Religous Studies and East Asian Studies at Renison University College, University of Waterloo. He is the author of Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Mourning the Unborn Dead: A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America (Oxford University Press, 2009).

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