Old wisdom in the New World: Americanization in two immigrant Theravada Buddhist temples
University of Tennessee Press
, 1996 - Religion
- 181 pages
Focusing on two well-established institutions - one in Chicago, the other in Los Angeles - Old Wisdom in the New World is the first systematic examination of the growing presence of Theravada Buddhist temples in the United States. Paul David Numrich's socio-historical analysis highlights a number of classic Americanization themes of establishment, growth, and adaptation. These have surfaced, the author shows, in debates over the retention of Old World culture and language, the "problem" of the second generation, and the role of the laity in religious institutions. Going beyond such familiar themes, Numrich also uncovers the intriguing phenomenon of ethnically defined "parallel congregations" in these temples, as he reveals the ways in which Asian-immigrant Buddhists and American converts pursue substantively different expressions of the Theravada tradition under the direction of a shared clerical leadership, the resident monks.