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The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism

, 2002
ISBN: 9780567088307

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Described as an “essay in radical postmodern theology,” The Unexpected Way is a record of one man's unexpected philosophical and theological pilgrimage from Buddhism to Catholicism. There are Christians who, in mid-life decide to abandon their Christian faith and become Buddhists. Paul Williams did the opposite. After twenty years spent practicing and teaching Tibetan Buddhism in Britain, scholar and broadcaster Paul Williams astonished his family and friends in 1999 by converting to Roman Catholicism. Williams explains why he joined a Church that many Buddhists and others might regard as a repressed and outdated way of life and belief. He argues that being a Catholic in the modern world is no less rational than being a Buddhist, and may in many respects, be more so. Williams’ conversion explanation interacts as much with the paramount intellectual thinkers of Western and Eastern philosophy as it does with his pet cat, doughnuts, and other seemingly innocuous artifacts of modern culture.

  • Paul Williams expresses the rationality behind his conversion to Christianity
  • Discourse on the differences in philosophy between Buddhism and Catholicism

Top Highlights

“We habitually tend to fix things that are by nature changing. That is, we reify them, and in reifying them we overrate them—even going so far as to project an implicit permanence upon what is in reality changing.” (Page 26)

“Through criticism, and then criticism of criticism by oneself or others, one actually comes to understand the subject better.” (Page 14)

“ if we are to appeal to final explanations then we shall need more than just a blind necessary being.” (Page 36)

“Buddhism for me appeared to be hope-less. But was I absolutely sure” (Page 15)

Gratitude and joy are the main threads in the fabric of this book… a book to be grateful for in times like these…

—Paul Griffiths, Commonwealth

...a heartfelt and sensitive account of God’s leadings…

—Lavinia Byrne, The Church Times

...a fascinating and original work… It is an account of a necessary journey, but one not made in vain, and the riches yielded from the account of a conversion so well made mark this as a modern classic of Catholic spirituality.

—Kieran Flanagan, Saint Austin Review

...richly fascinating and immensely readable, with insights and challenges on every page…

Second Spring

  • Title: The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism
  • Author: Paul Williams
  • Series: Christian Approaches to Contemporary Thinking Collection
  • Publisher: T&T Clark
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Pages: 264

Paul Williams is Professor of Indian and Tibetan Philosophy and Codirector of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Bristol. He is a former President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies. He has written five other books on Buddhist thought, the most recent being Songs of Love, Poems of Sadness.


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    Digital list price: $29.99
    Save $8.00 (26%)