Friday, August 20, 2010

"Annihilation of 'Self,' Divinization of Nature, Rejection of a Personal God"

"The cornerstones of the Japanese culture, explained by the ambassador of the Rising Sun to the Holy See," quoted by Sandro Magister — Why Christianity Is "Foreign" to Japan. (Such were never the cornerstones of Korean culture, which explains why almost half, as opposed to one-hundredth, of the population here professes belief in the Christian God.)

Quoted is "a lecture given last July 1 at the Circolo di Roma by the Japanese ambassador to the Holy See, Kagefumi Ueno," who "says he is Buddhist-Shinto in his outlook." More interesting than the lecture are these comments that introduce it:
    This is a difficulty that also involves other great Asian civilizations and religions. Cardinal Camillo Ruini – when he was the pope's vicar and president of the Italian episcopal conference – repeatedly identified the main reason for this impermeability in the fact that in Japan, in China, in India, there is a lack of faith in a personal God.

    It is for this reason – he added – that the challenge posed to Christians by Asian civilizations is more dangerous than that of another monotheistic religion like Islam. While Islam, in fact, at least prompts Christians to deepen and reinvigorate their own religious identity, the Asian civilizations "instead push in the direction of a further secularization, understood as the common denominator of a planetary civilization."

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Anonymous Pints in NYC said...

What would Shusako Endo have to say about this?

From what I recall from history, Japan came pretty close to converting whole scale to Christianity at one point - but when the powers that be in Japan saw the intrigue and infighting amongst various Catholic religious orders, and the Protestant denominations, they decided to reject Christianity whole-scale.

Or was that China?

Either way, the Church lost so much because of petty politics.

Serves us right, I guess.

7:46 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

The XVIth was called Japan's "Christian Century," when up to a tenth of her people had converted to the True Faith.

China, not Japan, was lost because of petty politicking, specifically a Jansenist overreaction to the Confucian ancestral rite.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Wolfe said...

Japan was lost to Christianity when the faction willing to tolerate Christians lost to Tokugawa. Japanese Christians just had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of history.

Southeast Asian paganism also believed in forest spirits and other manifestations of a "divinized nature", and do not have much of a notion of a personal God. And yet, you have the Philippines and East Timor.

2:00 PM  

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