When God Disappears

When God Disappears

Robert Kennedy SJ, Medio Media

Fr Kennedy is one of only a few Jesuits who are also acknowledged Zen masters. He was sent toJapanas a very young man to teach and found himself challenged to the core by a Buddhist civilisation and people “completely indifferent” to his Catholicism, to all that seemed to him crucial for orientation in life.

Yet, from this crisis, Kennedy learned lessons that changed his life completely.

This 4 CD set includes talks by and discussion with Kennedy from the 2009 John Main Seminar. This seminar is an annual event organised by the World Community of Christian Meditators to gather “Christian meditators into dialogue with other groups and communities” (see www.wccm.org/content/john-main-seminar).

The set comes in a sturdy case with a booklet reproducing the beautiful paintings by Amy Yee, with calligraphy by Kennedy, that accompanied his talks.

As a Jesuit, Kennedy affirms that service to the world entails that “evangelisation and simply humanisation go hand in hand. You cannot preach the gospel to people if you do not understand their language … their aspirations and their achievements and their expectations of you.”

So to understand demands a long apprenticeship, in which we move from tolerating the other, to admiring them, to listening to them, even before we say anything, to promoting their truth — to the extent it is true — as if it were our own, to practising with them, to walking in their shoes, united with them in their aspirations.

Emptiness — the classic Zen characterisation of ultimate reality — might seem entirely incompatible with Christian affirmations of the being of God. But Kennedy testifies that it is possible to find God in Emptiness and, moreover, that long apprenticeship to others beyond the church can help us to heal our own problems within the church.

Kennedy kindly shares from his own apprenticeship, inviting and encouraging his listeners to learn from Zen that “Buddhism … is not an enemy; it has another truth.”

Andrew Irvine

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