The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism. By Paul Williams. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2002. Pp. xx, 240. Paperback $22.95.
At a time when Buddhism continues to appeal to European and American seekers, when significant dialogue continues to occur between the Buddhist and Christian traditions, Paul Williams's account of his conversion to Catholicism after more than twenty years as a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner is an exceptional contribution. University of Bristol professor of Indian and Tibetan philosophy, head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and codirector of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, Williams has authored four books on Buddhist thought. All the more, then, does his highly informed understanding of Buddhist belief and practice and his rejection of it to embrace Catholicism make compelling reading.
Williams expresses his position through some thirty-eight "analytic meditations" (p. 15), which are grouped under three major topics: (1) God, Buddhism, and morality; (2) the resurrection; and (3) Catholicism. Contending that from very fundamental perspectives, Buddhism and Christianity are "exactly opposite" (p. 79), Williams probes each distinction with a scholastic inquiry into which position is more rational, preferable, and obvious.
The central opposition, in which Williams finds Buddhism ultimately …