SELECTED PRAISE FOR BE THE REFUGE
“In this impressive debut, [former] Buddhist chaplain Han offers an illuminating analysis of the intersection of race and privilege within American Buddhist communities.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Chenxing Han writes with a singular grace, missing nothing in a work that draws from a well of academic origins, while merging cultural critique and luminous voices into a moving memoir. No doubt many an Asian American Buddhist will find themselves heard and championed here, even as the book’s careful sifting of histories and possibilities makes it valuable reading for future scholarship. Above all, Be the Refuge lives up to its name.”
—erin Khuê Ninh, author of Ingratitude: The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature
“In this vivid and nuanced presentation of Asian American voices, Han offers what many of us have been longing for: young voices grappling in deep and caring ways with one of the central issues of our time: how we might build a more inclusive Buddhist community—one big enough to hold our multiple identities, whether of race, ethnicity, and culture, or of gender and tradition. This book is both impressive and necessary.”
—Jan Willis, author of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist and Buddhist
“Be the Refuge brings us stories of complexity and multiplicity from Buddhist Asian America. Reflected in this net of jewels is the heart of the American sangha—a transmission of culturally engaged Buddhism.”
—Duncan Ryuken Williams, author of American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War
ABOUT THE BOOK
A must-read for modern sanghas—Asian American Buddhists in their own words, on their own terms.
More than two thirds of U.S. Buddhists are Asian American. But you’d never guess this from mainstream representations, which all too often whitewash the racial and cultural diversity of American Buddhist communities.
Be the Refuge is both critique and celebration, countering the erasure of Asian American Buddhists while uplifting their stories and experiences. The Oriental monk, the superstitious immigrant, the banana Buddhist: dissatisfied with these tired tropes, Han asks, Will the real Asian American Buddhists please stand up? Her journey to answer this question led to in-depth interviews with a pan-ethnic, pan-Buddhist group of eighty-nine young adults.
Weaving together the voices of these interviewees with scholarship and spiritual inquiry, this book reenvisions Buddhist Asian America as a community of trailblazers, bridge-builders, integrators, and refuge-makers. Encouraging frank conversations about race, representation, and inclusivity among Buddhists of all backgrounds, Be the Refuge embodies the spirit of interconnection that glows at the heart of American Buddhism.
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