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Minister to lead series comparing Jesus to Buddha

August 07, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Jesus and Buddha might seem like the odd couple to some but Reg Rice says they have much in common. So much so that he's prepared to lead a three-week expedition into the similarities of Buddhism and Christianity and is inviting senior citizens to come along.

As one of two chaplains at Homewood Retirement Center at Williamsport, Rice focuses on providing activities designed to embrace and develop the spirituality of seniors.

"This is an experiment," Rice said. "Up to now, we have had the traditional Bible studies and prayer services and will continue to do so - this is just something different."

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Starting Aug. 12, a three-part lecture and discussion series will look at the common religious tenets shared by the two spiritual leaders who lived hundreds of years apart.

"We are going to see whether these two leaders would have been enemies or co-workers," Rice said. "I think this will stimulate some lively discussions."

The series will begin at 6:30 p.m. on three consecutive Tuesdays, Aug. 12, 19 and 26. Held in the Hilltop Activities Room at Homewood, it is free and open to all senior citizens whether they reside at Homewood or not.

This first foray into the world of interfaith discussion was chosen by Rice as a way to get things off the ground.

"Learning about another faith can only serve to strengthen our own," Rice said.

In his own religious studies and experiences, Rice said he has been able to see parallels between the teachings of Buddha and those expressed in the 23rd Psalm in the Christian Bible, for example.

He also pointed out that both religions have admonitions against killing and similar approaches to spirituality and prayer.

"We're just breaking the surface with this topic," Rice said.

Already he is hearing there is a lot of interest in the subject matter.

He says he will strive to keep the discussions on a positive track, although he encourages all opinions be expressed.

"We are just going to try to stay on the high road," he said.

While registration is not required, Rice encouraged those interested in attending to call 301-582-1750, ext. 297.

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