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« on: July 27, 2013, 12:32:25 AM »

I was a Buddhist for a majority of my life before coming to Orthodoxy. In fact I still have my passport that I never used because I bought it to move to Sri Lanka to be a Buddhist monk. By the grace of God I am now in the Orthodox faith.

I saw this story below and wanted to share it.



Why A Chinese Buddhist Became an Orthodox Athonite Monk

By Fr. Libyos

On my last trip to Mount Athos I visited the Monastery of Simonopetra. It is a majestic monastery and the sky was fully blue. There I met a graceful novice monk from China. In truth, he surprised me by his presence. An Orthodox rason on a Chinese man? I was moved somewhat. I had never seen this before up close, only in pictures of missions. An inheritor of a great cultural tradition and for him to embrace Christianity? My friends and I got curious to ask him about this.

"Brother, how did you, a Chinese man, embrace Orthodox Christian monasticism coming from such a great cultural tradition? Were you a Buddhist?"

"Yes, of course, I was a Buddhist."

"What won you over to Christianity?"

"Divine companionship!"

"Excuse me?"

"Yes, yes, Father, hahahahaha!", he laughed, since with every three words the Chinese seem to laugh at two. "In Buddhism, my Father, you are very very much alone. There is no God. Your entire struggle is with yourself. You are alone with yourself, with your ego. You are totally alone in this path. Great loneliness Father. But here you have an assistant, a companion and a fellow-traveler in God. You are not alone. You have someone who loves you, who cares about you. He cares even if you don't understand Him. You speak with Him. You tell Him how you feel, what you would have hoped for - there is a relationship. You are not alone in the difficult struggles of life and spiritual perfection.

I realized things in those days. A severe cold bound me to bed. No doctor could find anything wrong with me. The clinical picture was clear, at least the doctors couldn't see anything. The pain was unbearable and there was absolutely no pain killer that could stop it. I changed three different pain killers and still the pain was not alleviated.

At this time I got the news that the brother of my father, whose name I bear, had an advanced form of cancer in the vocal cords and larynx. He had a largyngectomy. It was the result of chronic alcohol consumption and smoking. Generally he lived a bad life, without any quality.

Then I felt something a former Buddhist and now a Christian monk on Mount Athos told me, that you need to have a God you can talk to; to perceive and to feel someone besides yourself Who hears you.

I don't know if it's wrong or right. I only know it is a deep need of man. This is evidenced by life itself. Even these Buddhists, who are from a non-theistic religion, created various deities. Even in dream language and worlds. But they have a need to refer to someone, to something, someone beyond and outside themselves, even if it's dreamy. Besides, reality and truth is something very relevant and will always remain so. It is an enigma, a mystery."

At this I remembered the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, who had a sensitive and melancholic nature, when he said: "When you are not well, or not feeling so, speak. Speak even if it is to the wind."

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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2013, 07:12:54 AM »

Very nice story and I relate because even though I was baptized Orthodox as an infant, I did not practice till later in life, after I actually went through a Buddhist (and New Age) phase. Part of the reason was indeed wanting to find God Himself and His companionship. Buddhism is absolutely great in many ways, but you are alone and estranged from God...
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2013, 08:26:14 AM »

I'm fairly ignorant about Buddhism but doesn't Pure Land Buddhism include a sort of divine companionship?
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2013, 09:35:46 AM »

I'm fairly ignorant about Buddhism but doesn't Pure Land Buddhism include a sort of divine companionship?

While the Amida Buddha isn't exactly "divine" in the sense we often think, I'd still say there is more a sense of companionship.
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2013, 10:33:24 AM »

I'm fairly ignorant about Buddhism but doesn't Pure Land Buddhism include a sort of divine companionship?

While the Amida Buddha isn't exactly "divine" in the sense we often think, I'd still say there is more a sense of companionship.

Bodhisattvas are revered in all branches of Mahayana. 

All Buddhists seek "refuge" in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma/teaching & the Sangha/community).   
 
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2013, 04:36:36 PM »

THis an excerpt from an article: http://www.examiner.com/article/buddhism-and-christianity  Please remember that when usig quotes of more than 4-5 words credit needs to provided and site where the entire article may be found rather than quote a long passage such as this. thanks, Thomas Convert Issues forum moderator.


The first issue that must be addressed, I realized, is that when we say Christian or Buddhist there is an assumption that all Buddhists and Christians practice their faiths homogeneously.

Of course, this is not true. Ask a Orthodox Christian about their faith and it becomes clear that there are very significant differences between that belief system and that of a Roman Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Baptist, etc. Even within the overall acceptance that Jesus is the Son of God, there is a profound difference in almost every other aspect of practice and understanding. The same can be said about Buddhism, ask a Theravada Buddhist and you'll see differences between that and Mahayana,  Tibetan, Shingon, Tiantai, Zen etc.

So while some Christian faiths are less fundamental and open to diverging concepts being incorporated into their daily religious practice, there are other sects of Christianity that are more strict in their understanding of Christ.

I really cannot profess to know much about which particular non-denominational Christian group my family follows but it was not open to ideas of a separation of secular and spiritual practice. Orthodox try to reject the world and all it's attachments because it causes nothing but suffering (much like Buddhism, but our suffering is being away from God) for the person and they try to live a more spiritual life. As they asked more about my practice, it was obvious to me that my family did not believe in their own concepts of free will. That is not to say that they didn’t believe in free will, but in their eyes all decisions were guided correctly through a divining rod in their soul to the right directions and choices they make.

But this is not the case of all Christians.

As we discussed our faiths during a family picnic, I had to acknowledge that my sect of Buddhism was also very different than other traditions. As a American Theravadan Buddhist, my practice and understanding of Buddhism does differ in flavor.


WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA AGREE

There are many books on the topic of where Buddhism and Christianity agree in philosophy. The same can be made of most (if not all) religions. Some of the key factors of what is best of the Bible and Buddhism both converge on the areas of ethics, kindness, giving, and love.

Even the concept of sin, depending on how you interpret the Bible, is the same.

On the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus states many concepts that would agree with many Buddhist traditions:

Be humble
Be compassionate (a possible translation of sympathy through mourning)
Live simply (a possible translation of meek)
Be ethical (a possible translation of righteous)
Be merciful
Be pure of heart
Be a peacemaker
Do not live in fear to do what is right
Be an example to others (“the light of the world”)
Do not murder (the Buddhist First Precept)
Do not commit adultery (The Buddhist Third Precept)
Sin is not only found in action but in intention (the Buddhist concept of volitional action creating karma)
Keep your promises (The Buddhist Fourth Precept)
Turn the other cheek (The Buddhist concept of compassion or karuna)
Do charity because it is in your heart to do so (the concept of dana)
Do not judge ( The Buddhist concept of the three poisons: hatred, greed and delusion)
Always be seeking and questioning ( “seek and you will find .. “)
Beware of false prophets and judge them by the fruit they bare (the sutta of the Kalamas)

In many ways, this seminal talk of Jesus encompasses almost all of the major concepts of Buddhism.

 WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA DISAGREE

The definitive dividing line for Christianity and Buddhism is also set out in the “Sermon on the Mount.” While Buddhism is a faith of self-realization, Christianity is a faith of God’s revelation.

In order to be Christian, you must believe that there is a God and that Jesus was his only begotten son who came to Earth. (Well for most Christians).

But the Buddha purposefully did not speak of a creator God. He also lived 500 years before Jesus and would not have known him (although there is speculation that Jesus would have known Buddha’s teachings). Buddha not being a theist or atheist left alone the issue of God as irrelevant to his practice.

“I teach only the understanding of suffering,” said Buddha, “and the end of suffering.”

However, if Jesus is the way to salvation, can you believe in the practices of the Buddha and still be Christian? Isn’t Jesus the only way to the end of suffering?

For those who follow a Christian Buddhist path, Jesus himself could best present the answer. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said Jesus, “and unto God what is God’s.”

Buddhism is a faith in the practice of here and now. Christianity is a practice for the afterlife.

BUT WHAT ABOUT NIRVANNA AND HEAVEN?

For those Buddhists who practice for an understanding of the afterlife, a Christian afterlife for them would be almost impossible. The concept of rebirth precludes the idea of an eternal heaven. Although it is interesting to point out, although Buddhist believe in reincarnation they don't believe in a complete death like Atheist do. Even when a Buddhist reaches enlightenment the mind will still exist forever, but where it is reincarnated, who knows, many debates about this. Also, Buddhist do not believe in a soul, they believe in the mind. But the way they believe in the mind is very much how we believe in a soul, in the sense that it has a nonbody form and can move after death.

The Christian faith requires the concept of heaven (although not historically a concept of hell. Orthodox Christians never and still don't believe in Hell as a place, but it's a state of being in the presence of God.). There is a God, a Heaven, and Jesus. So Buddhists who embrace the cosmology of certain sects of Buddhism or atheism, could never entertain the idea of Christians and Buddhists believing in the same God let alone Buddhist believe in the Christian God. Buddhist believe in 6 realms of existence and two of which have little gods and big gods, but these gods have long lifespans and will eventually die: just as Christians who believe God is continually participating in every thought of their life could never believe in a happiness that is caused by their own free will.


But what of God being in every aspect of the world? Effecting every action? Some Christians, not all but the majority that are seen with the public eye think that no movements are made in the universe without God’s intervention. We know about providential and divine authority of God, but for those who think of only divine authority I would direct them to Kings 19:11-13

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In this understanding of God, the Creator would be one that does not interfere with the world in which we live, but only touches the heart of man to let him know he is there. It is up to man to make his volitional choices using his free will, and making his own happiness.

The story of Job tells of the story of a faithful man who is beset by all sorts of misfortune, but he “chooses” to keep his faith. While Jesus performs miracles and teaches his gospel, he always leaves these parables as tools so that his followers can make their own choices towards happiness.

The Buddha does the same as Jesus, but without the need to exclude the idea of other faiths. The Buddha said for us to always question and practice and see the truth by the fruits of our efforts.
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2013, 11:28:06 PM »

I'm fairly ignorant about Buddhism but doesn't Pure Land Buddhism include a sort of divine companionship?

While the Amida Buddha isn't exactly "divine" in the sense we often think, I'd still say there is more a sense of companionship.

Bodhisattvas are revered in all branches of Mahayana. 

All Buddhists seek "refuge" in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma/teaching & the Sangha/community).   
 

I was aware of Boddhisatva-veneration, but I wasn't sure if the devotions were as intimate (outside of the syncretic-folk varieties I suppose) as it seems to be with the Amida Buddha in Pure Land.
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2013, 06:56:36 PM »

Very interesting, Peacemaker.  Thanks!
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2013, 07:05:22 PM »

Welcome to the Orthodox Church. God bless
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2013, 02:40:27 AM »

THis an excerpt from an article: http://www.examiner.com/article/buddhism-and-christianity  Please remember that when usig quotes of more than 4-5 words credit needs to provided and site where the entire article may be found rather than quote a long passage such as this. thanks, Thomas Convert Issues forum moderator.


Not a full excerpt, I added my own thoughts and experiences to it so it would relate.

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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2013, 11:11:37 AM »

May I suggest reading the book: "Born to Hate Reborn to Love, a spiritual odyssey from head to heart" by Klaus Kenneth.  It chronicles Klaus' journey as a young angry Christian, born in Prague, through his mistrust of all things Christian and Christianity itself to Hinduism and Buddhism and finally to Orthodoxy itself. 
The publisher is Mount Thabor Publishing
www.thaborian.com   
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2014, 10:05:34 AM »

Ancient Faith Today, with Kevin Allen: Orthodox Christianity and Buddhism (9 March 2014)
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2014, 11:49:52 AM »

Yeah, Orthodox Christianity often appeals to Buddhists more than Western Christianity. When certain Orthodox try to baptize certain aspects of Buddhism I find some Westerns quick to throw out terms like "hipster" or something like that. I think there are a lot of good points in Buddhism, just like I like the Stoic philosophy of the Romans. But I think Buddhism, which sometimes gets hijacked by Western liberals if you will, has some Christian aspects, that reactionary conservatives immediately reject as completely heathen. But like Stoicism it can be baptized to a degree, the natural wisdom that is. Actually if there is anyone in Western philosophy that might be likened to Buddha it is Socrates. His way of life was the simple idea of always do right and never do wrong and never do injustice for fear of death or public opinion.
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2014, 01:41:43 PM »

Peacemaker,

I am reading a text on Buddhism (here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,56833.0.html).

The author of the text tried Christianity before committing to Buddhism. He doesn't go very deeply into why he rejected Christianity, but based on the few words he says on the matter and what he emphasizes to my surprise in the text about Buddhism and what attracted him to it, I can't help but wonder what he would've done had he been exposed to Orthodoxy rather than what sounds like evangelical Protestantism.

Not suggesting you read the text and mess with your mojo or anything, just passing along a comment about how I could see how a Buddhist of the stripe he describes could find truth in Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2014, 01:44:44 PM »

THis an excerpt from an article: http://www.examiner.com/article/buddhism-and-christianity  Please remember that when usig quotes of more than 4-5 words credit needs to provided and site where the entire article may be found rather than quote a long passage such as this. thanks, Thomas Convert Issues forum moderator.


The first issue that must be addressed, I realized, is that when we say Christian or Buddhist there is an assumption that all Buddhists and Christians practice their faiths homogeneously.

Of course, this is not true. Ask a Orthodox Christian about their faith and it becomes clear that there are very significant differences between that belief system and that of a Roman Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Baptist, etc. Even within the overall acceptance that Jesus is the Son of God, there is a profound difference in almost every other aspect of practice and understanding. The same can be said about Buddhism, ask a Theravada Buddhist and you'll see differences between that and Mahayana,  Tibetan, Shingon, Tiantai, Zen etc.

So while some Christian faiths are less fundamental and open to diverging concepts being incorporated into their daily religious practice, there are other sects of Christianity that are more strict in their understanding of Christ.

I really cannot profess to know much about which particular non-denominational Christian group my family follows but it was not open to ideas of a separation of secular and spiritual practice. Orthodox try to reject the world and all it's attachments because it causes nothing but suffering (much like Buddhism, but our suffering is being away from God) for the person and they try to live a more spiritual life. As they asked more about my practice, it was obvious to me that my family did not believe in their own concepts of free will. That is not to say that they didn’t believe in free will, but in their eyes all decisions were guided correctly through a divining rod in their soul to the right directions and choices they make.

But this is not the case of all Christians.

As we discussed our faiths during a family picnic, I had to acknowledge that my sect of Buddhism was also very different than other traditions. As a American Theravadan Buddhist, my practice and understanding of Buddhism does differ in flavor.


WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA AGREE

There are many books on the topic of where Buddhism and Christianity agree in philosophy. The same can be made of most (if not all) religions. Some of the key factors of what is best of the Bible and Buddhism both converge on the areas of ethics, kindness, giving, and love.

Even the concept of sin, depending on how you interpret the Bible, is the same.

On the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus states many concepts that would agree with many Buddhist traditions:

Be humble
Be compassionate (a possible translation of sympathy through mourning)
Live simply (a possible translation of meek)
Be ethical (a possible translation of righteous)
Be merciful
Be pure of heart
Be a peacemaker
Do not live in fear to do what is right
Be an example to others (“the light of the world”)
Do not murder (the Buddhist First Precept)
Do not commit adultery (The Buddhist Third Precept)
Sin is not only found in action but in intention (the Buddhist concept of volitional action creating karma)
Keep your promises (The Buddhist Fourth Precept)
Turn the other cheek (The Buddhist concept of compassion or karuna)
Do charity because it is in your heart to do so (the concept of dana)
Do not judge ( The Buddhist concept of the three poisons: hatred, greed and delusion)
Always be seeking and questioning ( “seek and you will find .. “)
Beware of false prophets and judge them by the fruit they bare (the sutta of the Kalamas)

In many ways, this seminal talk of Jesus encompasses almost all of the major concepts of Buddhism.

 WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA DISAGREE

The definitive dividing line for Christianity and Buddhism is also set out in the “Sermon on the Mount.” While Buddhism is a faith of self-realization, Christianity is a faith of God’s revelation.

In order to be Christian, you must believe that there is a God and that Jesus was his only begotten son who came to Earth. (Well for most Christians).

But the Buddha purposefully did not speak of a creator God. He also lived 500 years before Jesus and would not have known him (although there is speculation that Jesus would have known Buddha’s teachings). Buddha not being a theist or atheist left alone the issue of God as irrelevant to his practice.

“I teach only the understanding of suffering,” said Buddha, “and the end of suffering.”

However, if Jesus is the way to salvation, can you believe in the practices of the Buddha and still be Christian? Isn’t Jesus the only way to the end of suffering?

For those who follow a Christian Buddhist path, Jesus himself could best present the answer. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said Jesus, “and unto God what is God’s.”

Buddhism is a faith in the practice of here and now. Christianity is a practice for the afterlife.

BUT WHAT ABOUT NIRVANNA AND HEAVEN?

For those Buddhists who practice for an understanding of the afterlife, a Christian afterlife for them would be almost impossible. The concept of rebirth precludes the idea of an eternal heaven. Although it is interesting to point out, although Buddhist believe in reincarnation they don't believe in a complete death like Atheist do. Even when a Buddhist reaches enlightenment the mind will still exist forever, but where it is reincarnated, who knows, many debates about this. Also, Buddhist do not believe in a soul, they believe in the mind. But the way they believe in the mind is very much how we believe in a soul, in the sense that it has a nonbody form and can move after death.

The Christian faith requires the concept of heaven (although not historically a concept of hell. Orthodox Christians never and still don't believe in Hell as a place, but it's a state of being in the presence of God.). There is a God, a Heaven, and Jesus. So Buddhists who embrace the cosmology of certain sects of Buddhism or atheism, could never entertain the idea of Christians and Buddhists believing in the same God let alone Buddhist believe in the Christian God. Buddhist believe in 6 realms of existence and two of which have little gods and big gods, but these gods have long lifespans and will eventually die: just as Christians who believe God is continually participating in every thought of their life could never believe in a happiness that is caused by their own free will.


But what of God being in every aspect of the world? Effecting every action? Some Christians, not all but the majority that are seen with the public eye think that no movements are made in the universe without God’s intervention. We know about providential and divine authority of God, but for those who think of only divine authority I would direct them to Kings 19:11-13

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In this understanding of God, the Creator would be one that does not interfere with the world in which we live, but only touches the heart of man to let him know he is there. It is up to man to make his volitional choices using his free will, and making his own happiness.

The story of Job tells of the story of a faithful man who is beset by all sorts of misfortune, but he “chooses” to keep his faith. While Jesus performs miracles and teaches his gospel, he always leaves these parables as tools so that his followers can make their own choices towards happiness.

The Buddha does the same as Jesus, but without the need to exclude the idea of other faiths. The Buddha said for us to always question and practice and see the truth by the fruits of our efforts.

Thomas,

Are we allowed to discuss some of the points above in this section, if we promise not to be polemical and the like? Or should such a discussion exist within a thread on its own.

Thanks again for your patience with us who forget the rules specific to this forum and for your clear and level headed moderation of this forum.
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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2014, 03:46:45 PM »

The author of the text tried Christianity before committing to Buddhism. He doesn't go very deeply into why he rejected Christianity, but based on the few words he says on the matter and what he emphasizes to my surprise in the text about Buddhism and what attracted him to it, I can't help but wonder what he would've done had he been exposed to Orthodoxy rather than what sounds like evangelical Protestantism.

Yin Shun has an essay, "How I came to follow the Buddha's path," in which he describes his religious journey, including his interest in Christianity. The English translation is online here:

Quote
I was in a state of agitation and emptiness when I was introduced to Christianity. I became deeply interested in it. This is a religion with a fully socialised character. It was from Christianity that I learned the relationship of devoutness and a pure faith to the true meaning of religion. Christianity, which had faith, hope, and love had something that Confucianism had not. I studied the Old and New Testaments, and Christian periodicals such as True Light and Spiritual Light. I practised praying, and attended revival meetings. Nevertheless, I could never bring myself to be a Christian.

The external causes for this included the fact that there was an anti-Christian movement at that time. Although this had no connection with the Christian faith itself, yet the Christian Church, relying on an international background, could not avoid the sin of cultural aggression. My main reason however, was the difficulty I had in accepting certain aspects of Christian thought, such as the promise of eternal life for believers, and eternal fire for un-believers. Human behavior and actions (both in the heart and externally) were not taken as measures for this judgment. The standard of judgment was simply whether one had faith or not. The slogan "Let live the believer, condemn the unbeliever" exhibits a fiercely monopolistic and exclusive attitude. All are to be destroyed except for those belonging to one’s own side. Underneath this "class love" was revealed a cruel hatred. There is also the view that a man’s spirit comes from God and that this spirit is united to flesh and thus becomes man. According to Christian doctrine, a human being can only be saved if he is born again. This implies that the great majority of people are walking on the way to Hell. To say that an omniscient and omnipotent God is willing to treat all mankind, which He calls His sons and daughters, like this, is beyond imagination and unreasonable. I could not believe that Jesus was able to atone for my sin and redeem me.

The light I received from Christianity lasted less than two years and rapidly disappeared. The feeling of emptiness and hopelessness descended upon me, just like a tiny ship in the midst of violent waves. I became emotionally depressed and at times perplexed and troubled. In this state of deep depression I read anything to pass the time.

I don't know the history of the periodicals True Light and Spiritual Light but it sounds like he was dealing with some form of Protestantism. His point about "cultural aggression" is very interesting. My understanding is that Orthodoxy appealed to some Kenyan nationalists in the 50's and 60's because it was not connected to any colonialist power at the time.
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