Saturday, April 18, 2009
The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott
Largely forgotten in his own country, the first American convert to Buddhism, Henry Steel Olcott, is still revered as a religious hero in Sri Lanka. Having played a key role in the revival of Buddhism there, he also championed Hinduism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism in India and was co-founder of the influential Theosophical Society. In an insightful portrait of the man and his mission, religion scholar Stephen Prothero proposes the concept of religious "creolization" in regard to Olcott's unconscious merging of Indian spirituality with American Protestant methodology.