From time to time I'll be posting news and things of interest and I look forward to meeting you here and the things we’ll be discussing.
I’ll start by introducing myself and take you back to where I grew up playing basketball on the edge of the Turtle Mountains in North Dakota. The indigenous peoples named them the Turtle Mountains since “they looked like a herd of turtles moving across the prairies.” They are barely hills but they were my home. I lived in nearby St. John (500 people) and then Rolla (1200). Our basketball team – the Bulldogs – won the State Class “B” Basketball Championship in 1960. I had a great seat on the bench.
I went to College, discovered philosophy and religious studies, and I’ve never been the same since. It became my passion and still is today more than 50 years later. Those studies continued at Harvard Divinity School (1964-67) in Boston and at St. Michael’s (1970-73) in Toronto. In between I taught at Waterloo Lutheran University (now Wilfrid Laurier University) and participated in the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington DC, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s last project. I also spent a year working for the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland, organizing the WELY (World Encounter of Lutheran Youth). This involved my traveling across Latin America setting up programs involving a week in a rural setting and a week in an urban centre on the themes of hunger and student unrest. I wrote a little book entitled A World Broken by Unshared Bread for this program. I was able to meet a remarkable group of Catholic and Protestant Christians engaged in social transformation (ISAL) before this movement was widely known in North America.
In 1973 I was appointed an Assistant Professor of Religion & Culture at Renison University College in the University of Waterloo. I became engaged in “interfaith dialogue,” the efforts to promote dialogue and co-operation among people of the world’s faiths, in the late 1970s. I have taught courses in traditions both East and West. In the mid-1980s, a sabbatical with my family in India had a huge impact on my life and teaching as I encountered the living religious traditions of India: Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Tibetan Buddhist, and Christian. I have since returned to India more than 20 times, always deepening and extending my experience of these living traditions. And I have also taken groups of students for a semester to explore and encounter these living pathways to the divine.
I have also been able to visit Korea and Japan where I was able to stay in Buddhist monasteries – Kum-san-sa in Korea and Eiheiji in Japan. I have also been to China three times in recent years and when there visited Buddhist monasteries and temples, Confucian sages and shrines, Daoist temples, priests, and recluses and Christian Churches, pastors and priests. This has given me a different view of China than what we have through the mass media. These travels and encounters have transformed and extended my understanding of the world religions.
In 2007 I officially retired from Renison University College. However, the College allowed me to establish a Centre for Dialogue and Spirituality in the World’s Religions to continue my research and effort to promote cross-cultural and cross-religious dialogue and understanding.
And this site is my invitation for you to join me in this never-ending exploration.
Now why “Traveling Guru?” This phrase comes from the documentary film with that title by Marjonneke, a Canadian film maker. The film was shot on the run during my 2009(?) traveling study tour with students from Canada and the USA. The term “guru” means “teacher” or in the context of India, one “who brings one from darkness to light.” Obviously, I do not consider myself the “Traveling Guru.” I rather see our journey together into the world’s traditions and spirituality as one in which we might gain more light and respect for living traditions of humankind.