I’ve mentioned how one of the eye-opening things about living in Japan is the chance to see the world from a point of view outside my own culture. I’ve also gotten to see the West from Japan’s point of view, experiencing their open admiration for all that is romantic and beautiful in the West. And one of the most interesting parts of that is Japan’s view of the Church.
Specifically, they don’t hate it.
Now why should I have been surprised by that? I suppose because there is a lot of hate directed at the Church in America. In fact, I often find myself clamming up about my religion, expecting to be pounced on the moment I say anything that sounds even vaguely Christian. Then I’m always a little bit surprised to find, once again, that the prevalent attitude in Japan is one of polite curiosity.
In fact, one of the most striking differences I’ve observed between Japan and America is the lack of hostile divisions in Japanese society. Japanese people are not divided into two camps out for each other’s blood the way Democrats and Republicans seem to be these days. A lot of Japanese people are truly tolerant in the sense that they don’t attack others for their beliefs. Whereas a lot of “tolerant” people in America are actually anti-Christian. Rebellion against Christianity is quite a different animal from plain old paganism. The former has an emotional vendetta.
Japan doesn’t have that contrary spirit that is bent on upending everything that appears the least bit Catholic. I think that may be the reason for the refreshing lack of cynicism here. However ambivalent they may be about religion in general, the Japanese are not out to prove that they don’t have a loving Father in Heaven.
Because that would be enough to drive anyone crazy.