Best known for his novels and short stories, Charles Johnson is also a screenwriter, cartoonist, martial arts teacher, Zen practitioner, and last but not least, Tricycle contributing editor. His celebrated writing includes Middle Passage (the recipient of the National Book Award in 1990), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice. Whether the subject is creative practice or Black life in America, his work is steeped in his studies of philosophy and Buddhism. For a taste of Dr. Johnson’s writing, read his rich retelling of the classic Zen tale “Is that So?,” here.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth K. Tanaka
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Tanaka got an early start on his Pure Land studies as a 13-year-old “Sunday school” attendee at Mountain View Buddhist Temple in Mountain View, California. He went on to become a Jodo Shinshu priest and scholar whose academic career spanned the US and Japan. After working for the Institute of Buddhist Studies, in Berkeley, California, Rev. Tanaka taught at Tokyo’s Musashino University for 20 years before retiring. His books include Ocean: An Introduction to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America and Amerika Bukkyo (American Buddhism). In this issue, Rev. Tanaka addresses what liberation, or shinjin, means in Shin Buddhism, breaking down popular misconceptions along the way.
Frederick M. Ranallo-Higgins
Frederick M. Ranallo-Higgins is an associate editor at Tricycle and a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Buddhism Public Scholar. Ranallo-Higgins earned his PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2019 under the guidance of Robert E. Buswell Jr. His main academic interests are doctrinal and textual studies, translation, and Won Buddhism, and his doctoral research explored the real-world challenges of Buddhism and its institutions. In this issue, Ranallo-Higgins recommends Buddhist places to visit in Seoul and interviews Princeton Emerita Professor Jacqueline Stone on Nichiren Buddhism.
Karen Armstrong is one of the most popular voices in comparative religion. Although she left religion for over a decade after a grueling experience as a Catholic nun, she returned to it as a writer with works like the best-selling book A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. She has addressed world leaders, advised policy makers, and is the founder of the global collective Charter for Compassion. In an excerpt from her most recent book, Sacred Nature: Restoring Our Ancient Bond with the Natural World, she investigates what myth offers us that science can’t and how it can help us take action for the sake of our world’s future here.