Recently The Japan Times ran an article on the topic of Japan’s failure to convert to Christianity.
“What are the Christian themes?” the article begins. “Love. Forgiveness. Meekness. Turn the other cheek. The kingdom of heaven.” It goes on to summarize some of the historical topics you can find on this blog: St. Francis Xavier’s appreciation of the Japanese; the Keicho Mission; the Hidden Christians.
The article then proposes that the reason for Japan’s rejection of Christianity can be found in Endo Shusaku’s fictionalized account of the Keicho Mission, The Samurai. Endo’s view of Catholicism, as suggested by the excerpts from the novel printed in the article, sound for all the world as if he had put down the Gospel in disgust after the Crucifixion and never read so far as the Resurrection. He seems to think that not only do the Japanese not believe in the supernatural, but are incapable of believing in it. Furthermore, he seems to suggest that Rome might share this view and have given up on Japan as hopeless. I’ve written about my encounters with a similar attitude in Japan, that of “We can’t know that.”
According to Endo, where the Christians and Japanese differ is that Christianity proposes eternity as the solution to evanescence (talk about reductionism!), whereas the Japanese simply celebrate evanescence. And the article ends there, suggesting that the Japanese decided they have no need for their twisted Gospel-minus-Resurrection view of Christianity, because they “already have cherry blossoms.”
“Love, forgiveness, turning the other cheek–one scans the native tradition in vain for examples,” says the article of Japan. Well, hmm. You don’t suppose there’s more to Christianity than cherry blossoms after all?
You can read the full Japan Times article here:
Christmas approaches. Christian or not, the mind turns to Christian themes. What are the Christian themes? Love. Forgiveness. Meekness. Turn the other chee