I was born in 1969 and raised in the Maritime province of New Brunswick, Canada by a Scots-Spanish-Filipino mother and Irish-Dutch-Canadian father. Half of my paternal ancestors were Anglo-Dutch Loyalists who fled to Canada during the American Revolution, the other half Scotch-Irish immigrants who left the Belfast area during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. On my mother's side, I have deep roots in the Glasgow area of Scotland, along with ties to a young Gallegan adventurer named Don Juan Antonio de Aenlle y Rocha, who sailed to the Philippines in the mid-19th century and married into a prominent Filipino family, the Burgoses. My parents ultimately met in Montréal, Canada, in the early 1960s, a city that remains, with Kyoto, Japan, my spiritual hometown. Please see the link to my personal website to learn more.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., McGill University
  • M.A, McGill University
  • M.Phil., University of Cambridge
  • B.A., McGill University

Teaching Areas: 

  • Modern Japanese Buddhist thought
  • Buddhism
  • Shinto
  • East Asian religions
  • Asian and comparative philosophy
  • Sexuality and gender  

Selected Publications


Spring and Asura: Modernism and Progressivism in Japanese Buddhism, 1886–1936, book-length manuscript to be submitted to the University of Hawai‘i Press.

“Carrying Buddha into the Streets: Buddhist Socialist Thought in Modern Japan,” chapter solicited for inclusion in a volume onModern Japanese Philosophy, edited by Gereon Kopf, Springer Press, 2011.

"Of Bombs and Bodhisattvas: Political Use of the Lotus Sutra n 1930s Japan,” article solicited for inclusion in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Contemporary Buddhism, edited by James Mark Shields and Patrice Ladwig, 2011.

“Seno’o Girō: Life and Thought of a Radical Buddhist,” chapter solicited for inclusion in a volume on Understanding Buddhism through the Lives of Buddhists, edited by Todd Lewis, Wiley-Blackwell Press, 2012.

“Building a Buddha Land in the World: Politics and the Lotus Sutra,” chapter solicited for inclusion in a volume entitled, A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy, edited by Steven Emmanuel, Wiley-Blackwell Press, 2012.

"After the Fall: Tsuji Zennosuke (1877–1955) and the Creation of Bukkyōshugi kokushi,” article to be revised and resubmitted to the peer-reviewed Journal of Japanese Studies.

“Reflections on Buddhism in US Popular Culture,” chapter to be submitted for inclusion in A Companion Volume to Religion and Popular Culture, edited by Eric Mazur and John Lyden, Routledge Press, 2012.

“Ethics at the Limits of Culture: Reconsidering Tanabe’s Wartime Essays,” chapter to be submitted for inclusion in a volume on the Ethics of the Kyoto School, edited by Gereon Kopf, Lexington Books, 2012.

An Introduction to Buddhism through Film, book-length manuscript to be included in a series on Introduction to Religion through Film, to be published by Fortress Press in 2013.


Critical Buddhism: Engaging with Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought. London: Ashgate Press, 2011.

Teaching Buddhism in the West: From the Wheel to the Web. Edited by Victor Sōgen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Routledge Curzon Press, 2003.

Show All


“‘Land of Kami, Land of the Dead’: Paligenesis and the Aesthetics of Religious Revisionism in Kobayashi Yoshinori’s Neo-Gōmanist Manifesto: On Yasukuni,” in Manga and the Representation of Japanese History, edited by Roman Rosenbaum. London: Routledge, forthcoming 2011.

Zange and Sorge: Two Models of Concern in Comparative Philosophy of Religion,” in Polyphonic: Thinking about the Divine, edited by Jim Kanaris. Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, forthcoming 2011.

“Awakening between Science, Art & Ethics: Variations on Japanese Buddhist Modernism, 1890–1945,” in Rethinking Japanese Modernism, edited by Roy Starrs. Leiden: Global Oriental Press (Brill), forthcoming 2011.

“The Lotus Sutra,” in Milestone Documents of World Religions, edited by David M. Fahey. Dallas: Schlager Group, 2010.

"Sexuality, Exoticism, and Iconoclasm in the Media Age: The Strange Case of the Buddha Bikini,” in God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture, revised 2nd edition, edited by Eric M. Mazur and Kate McCarthy. London: Routledge Press, forthcoming, 2010.


“A Blueprint for Buddhist Revolution: The Radical Buddhism of Seno’o Girō (1889–1961) and the Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism,” currently under review by the Journal of Japanese Religious Studies

“Smashing the Mirror of Yamato: Sakaguchi Ango, Decadence and a Postmetaphysical Buddhist Critique of Culture,”Japan Review 23 (forthcoming 2011).

“Beyond Belief: Japanese Approaches to the Meaning of Religion.” Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses 39: 2 (2010): 133–49.

"The Pursuit of Tangible Happiness: Religion and Politics in a Japanese New, New Religion.” Culture and Politics [Kultura i Polityka] 6, special edition on Religion and Politics [Religia i Polityka] (2009): 45–64.

“The Art of Aidagara: Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Quest for an Ontology of Social Existence in Watsuji Tetsurō’s Rinrigaku.”Asian Philosophy 19: 3 (November 2009): 265–83.

“Marx and the Bible: José Miranda’s Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression.” Journal of Religion & Society 10 (2008): 1–19.

“The Social Principles of Jesus: A Critical Re-examination of Walter Rauschenbusch’s Social Gospel.” Journal of Liberal Religion 8: 1 (Winter 2008): 1–8.

“Faith and the Sublation of Modernity: Kierkegaard and the Transformation of Fideism.” Philosophy, Culture, and Traditions 4 (2007): 231–47.

“Parameters of Reform and Unification in Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought: Murakami Senshō and Critical Buddhism.” The Eastern Buddhist, New Series 37: 1–2 (2005): 106–34.

“Blowing up of the Buddhas by the Taliban.” Peace Research: The Canadian Journal of Peace Studies 33: 2 (2001): 99–101.

“Eros and Transgression in an Age of Immanence: Georges Bataille’s (Religious) Critique of Kinsey.” Journal of Religion & Culture 13 (2000): 175–86.

“Córdoban Discourses: A Drama of Interreligious Dialogue.” ARC: The Journal of the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University 27 (1999): 137–59.

See James' full Vita


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