It may seem odd to find a fellow on the Friday list who was "defrocked" after only six years as an Episcopal deacon/priest, but Alan Watts was very much a product of his time who, sometimes indirectly, taught us much of what prayer and meditation could do in the contemporary age.
As with many of those whom I admire in the Episcopal Church [such as Muhlenberg, who was originally a German-speaking Lutheran, and Schereschewsky, a German-speaking European Jew], Watts came to the Church through a rather un-conventional route. Although, as far as I know, he wasn't German-speaking.
Alan Watts was born in
While still an adolescent, he published an essay in a reputable journal of Buddhist studies. After moving to
He was ordained to the Holy Order of Priests in the Episcopal Church in 1945 and served for five years as the chaplain for
Why, you might wonder, did a man of intellect with specific interest in Asian religion and philosophy seek ordination as a Christian, not to mention an Episcopalian? Well, that's the interesting part.
Clearly, having been raised in the Church of England,
But, there is another reason, and that's what makes
Watts had never experienced the like in a Western religious setting and realized that there were common elements to human spiritual expression that need not be constrained by cultural barriers or labels such as "East" or "West". This realization lead him to continue his studies within the Episcopal Church and to serve as a very interesting university chaplain. He was deposed [the actual canon law term for the vulgar "defrocked"] as his wife left him and sued for divorce. Yes, in
His time as an Episcopal priest did produce a very interesting work, Myth and Ritual in Christianity; a book that explains in an uncommon manner the intention behind the things we do in church. It's one of my favorites.
After being liberated from the Episcopal Church,