If the dual roles put too much stress on Forrester, he has a good way to relieve it. He has been instructed in Zen Buddhist meditation and incorporates what he’s learned into his duties.
“It’s not a matter of holding two faiths. There’s one faith and it’s Christianity,” Forrester said. “The gift is that that faith is deepened by my meditative practice and I’m eternally grateful to Zen Buddhism for teaching me that practice and receiving me as an Episcopal priest.”
Not everyone sees it that way. Jeff Walton, a member of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Religion and Democracy, said Forrester’s Zen Buddhist theology conflicts with traditional Anglican belief.
“Buddhist theology emphasizes the accumulation of experiential knowledge. Adherents work to gain awareness of the universe, by which they attain a synthesis with nirvana,” he said. “Christianity emphasizes the importance of grace, that which God gives freely but is neither earned nor deserved. You cannot with integrity resolve a system in which salvation is earned, and one in which it is freely given.”