Zen Among the Magnolias explores the integration of some of the practices of Zen and of Christianity. Benjamin Lee Wren discusses the possibilities as people from different backgrounds seek a deeper meaning for their lives, without destroying their heritage, through experiences such as zazen, tai chi, ikebana, folk dancing, and the celebration of the liturgy. He focuses on living in the present rather than in the past or the future. Wren explains a merging of asceticism and aesthetics which leads to a philosophy and theology that appreciates less as more, asymmetry, simplicity, tranquillity, and the beauty of aging. He shows how through parallels between the Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Path of the Buddha and the Eight Beatitudes of Jesus, people become more sensitive to the problems of social justice. The result of an understanding of Zen through the nonverbal and nonimage form of pure contemplation called zazen, Wren demonstrates, is an experience of depth and breadth into the root of one's own being. This practice does not discount a Christian background; instead, it leads to a deeper understanding of all aspects of life.
The author's background certainly prepared him well for the multicultural approach that this type of book demands...the book undoubtedly reads like a fascinating testimony of his own investigation as a Catholic of the 'silent form of prayer' that Zen represents.--Franca Bellarsi "Nova Religio: The Journal Of Alternative And Emergent Religions "