News & Current Events
gao_lu — 2017-01-27T01:36:39-05:00 — #1
For those of us who use a lunar calendar, I wish you a prosperous family, joy-filled days, a blessed year, and good health in the year of the rooster. Blessings to you even if you use some other calendar.
bkmitchell — 2017-01-27T08:46:30-05:00 — #2
We,(not me personally but many in this country and the company I work for) use the 十二生肖 (十二支) as well as(or rather combined with) the western Calendar.
Happy Lunar new year and Grace & Peace!
lu1 — 2017-01-30T16:13:14-05:00 — #3
Now here is a thought... Celebrating the Traditions of Chinese New Years, is there anything contradictory to what a spirit filled follower of Christ should engage in? An example.
Fireworks are used to drive away the evil in China. Right after 12:00PM on New Year's Eve, fireworks will be launched to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as to drive away the evil. It is believed that the person who launched the first firework of the New Year will obtain good luck.
Considering that Luck derives from a pagan concept...
1. The word "luck" does not appear in the Bible (except in the paraphrase The Message which uses it as slang or to mean "blessing").
Luck has two somewhat contradictory meanings. The original term is related to destiny as pre-determined by a deity or force—what we might call providence. Eastern religions in particular believe luck can be somewhat controlled by superstitious actions. Religious rites are performed (like rubbing the stomach of a Buddha statue or lighting incense) to induce supernatural powers to change the fortune of an adherent.
2.GOD OF GOOD LUCK, GOD OF DESTINY
The apostate Jews in the time of Isaiah were involved in worshiping “the god of Good Luck” (Heb., gadh) and “the god of Destiny” (Heb., meniʹ). The worshipers of these deities set a table of food and drink before them. Jehovah said to such worshipers that he would destine them to slaughter by the sword.—Isa 65:11, 12.
The Assyrians and Babylonians frequently prepared food and drink for their gods. People in Haran made vows and hoped to be accepted by the “Lord of Luck.” In his comment on Isaiah 65:11, Jerome wrote that “in all cities, and especially in Egypt and Alexandria, there was an ancient idolatrous custom, that on the last day of the final month of their year they would spread a table covered with various kinds of foods, and a cup mixed with sweet wine, ensuring good luck for the fertility either of the past or the coming year.”—Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, LXXIII A, S. Hieronymi presbyteri opera, Pars 1, 2A, Turnhout, Belgium, 1963, p. 754.
bkmitchell — 2017-01-31T09:52:02-05:00 — #4
I never, said anything about 'luck' nor about personally celebrating Chinese News Years (after all I do not live in China!). However, many in the country I live in and work with (including my current boss) do use a traditional Asian calendar mapped over a western one to plan meetings and appointments. And, they also recognize something similar to the Chinese Zodiac. Now, I do not do these things, because for one I consider Rosh Ha-Shana to be the real New Years day.
On, the other hand is it really unchristian for me to say "Happy New Years" to others who have different new years days?
However, what about celebrating news years on January? which is sometimes said to be named after the god 'Janus', and is nowhere to be found in the Bible! What of the 'western' Christian celebration of Easter with easter eggs and a bunny (which are also said to have pagan connections), rather than Pesach(Heb) / Pasca(Greek) ? Or, What about Christmas another holiday not mentioned in the Bible and probably placed around the winter solstice on purpose.
I find it very interesting that Jesus (at least according to the NT) never really criticized the Greek/Roman spiritual/religious beliefs even though it is clear he would not have supported those beliefs. And, that in turn helps to instruct me in how I too should live in the non-Christian environment I find myself in.
lu1 — 2017-01-31T17:08:13-05:00 — #5
Bk, you make some interesting points... I guess my question was directed more towards Christians from that culture... In the Indonesia for example, Indonesian Chinese would not only celebrate it which is their right to do so but incorporated the Zodiac system into their Christianity. They saw nothing wrong with doing do. Basically wanted people's thoughts on the subject... Thanks
bkmitchell — 2017-01-31T18:32:40-05:00 — #6
Either way, I think the question(s) you ask are very interesting and challenging
(Thank you for asking and keep doing so. I struggle with your question because it is a very important one and it ties into the great commission).
I find myself in a lot of situations where I have to think very carefully about what is right choice is and sometimes I probably do not think enough about what is the right Christian thing to do and make excuses for myself since I am neither a minister nor a missionary. One, of my bosses, schedule our meetings according to the 六曜 RoKuyo system. And, some families I know offer every food item or gift that comes into their house to their ancestors first on their household Butsudan.So, basically, anything one might eat in those traditional home would have been offered to idols.
The above to is interesting. Some Christians here have created 'Christian Butsudan' in order not upset their family and relatives by not having a family altar at all. I am not sure if people can tell the difference between a Christian Butsudan and a normal one or not as they look almost identical and were probably meant for the purpose of keeping the social status quo.
lu1 — 2017-02-03T05:17:52-05:00 — #7
So, what comes to mind is this question. Is this a form of synchronicity of Christianity with Zen Buddhism? Do we make the complete break or incorporate belief systems into Christianity? European ( Catholicism seen in the Italian and Spanish, constructs come to mind and Protestantism Germanic and English constructs also come to mind. Also I'm not excluding North, South American & African constructs ) Christianity has or is being accused of that. Is there any difference? If there is, why?
gao_lu — 2017-02-03T05:24:57-05:00 — #8
Another sort-of related question: When guests come, do you take them to visit temples? Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist--whatever?
bkmitchell — 2017-02-04T09:51:25-05:00 — #9
A fair question.
I think it is highly un-probable being that only 4% of the Japanese hold to Zen Buddhism. The rest of Buddhist sects combined make up about 30% of the population of Japan.
The Japanese Christians who have a Butsudan(and or a Christianized kamidana) family altar, as I take it, are not doing so because of 'some' Buddhist /Shintoist philosophy but rather because having a family altar is the expected norm even of those who do not claim to be religious. I would say that 義理/Giri (filial piety & Japnese social obligations) and a marketing scheme that has tried to shame people or prey on their fears of not fitting in/disrespecting their ancestors has a lot more to do with this. However, I would like to make it clear that the Christian I know who have a Butsudan/Kamidana are not venerating a buddha or a god, but are using it much in the same way some Catholics / Orthodox Christians use their family house altars and/or icon corners.
This is a really good question. I believe that in general western Christians missionaries/ministers here have attempted to teach that people must make a complete break from all traditions/cultural systems which in turn has lead to many here believing that to become a Christian means to become a westerner, stop being Japanese, and turn their back on society and family. This I think is at least part of the reason why Christian hasn't made inroads here.
knowingly I wouldn't. However, in Japan shrines are basically everywhere. Even in the secular company, I work for there is a shelf shrine in the main office.
lu1 — 2017-02-04T11:20:10-05:00 — #10
Interesting analysis. Knowing the cultural importance of Japanese society, I'm not surprised... Another thought is the stronghold of the spiritual world in Japan... Centuries of demon worship. An example: The Emperors in the past had this ceremony of that involved a type of spirit copulation with the spirits. The Emperor before Emperor Abe who I can't remember his name didn't participate in this ceremony... However there is talk that this Emperor engaged in the ceremony... If true and I have no reason to say it is not true... That would be a primary reason for the spiritual blockage seen in Japan... Thoughts?
bkmitchell — 2017-02-05T04:50:41-05:00 — #11
In my opinion, missionaries who did not know enough about the culture, the various social hierarchies, nor the various registers of the language have done unknowingly miscommunicated the gospel message for centuries here. And, some have unwittingly preached western-European sensibilities and culture rather than the Gosple message.
Here. is an example of something that seems rather innocent and subtle but can be hurtful: some missionaries families choose to homeschool their children rather than putting them in the public school system. The law here is somewhat vague on the issue, but the average non-lawyer citizen here is under the impression that homeschool is illegal. But, a bigger issue is that such missionary families look as if they are shunning the Japanese society out of some feeling of superiority. I do not know many missionaries here so I do not know what their opinions and reasonings are on the issue, but as a member of the PTA and a neighborhood council, I do know how the Japanese view the issue when they learn of foreign nationals who are not sending their children to school.
Not sure what you mean by 'stronghold'?
But, My feeling is that in general most people are either indifferent or are weary of religious institutions(groups) and philosophies.
However, traditional superstitions and folktales are often referenced in pop cultural, and anime, and many young children carry around small amulets/charms called Omamori that contain written prayers/blessing inside. I think this is similar to use of fake rabbit's feet keychains, horseshoes, wishbones, picking salt in the west
I haven't been privy to the "talk" that you have heard...
but as for concepts such as official ceremonies of 'spirit copulation' and 'demon worship,' I am or rather remain skeptical till I actually see evidence and or literature about this subject in Japanese
Of, course I have no doubt that superstition and the occult are well and alive here as it is everywhere.
Here is one article (actually a webpage) on the subject of "Why Christianity is bit widely believed in Japan"
lu1 — 2017-02-05T08:45:36-05:00 — #12
I saw this in seminary a few years back. Take it for what it is worth... Not sure what to do with it.
bkmitchell — 2017-02-05T21:47:03-05:00 — #13
Thank you for the link to Bruce Wilson's article on the TALK to Action website.
I do not know much about the Pentecostal movement but apparently, Bruce Wilson, the author of the article is critical of some branches of the movements more famous leaders like Jack Hayford and C. Peter Wagner. Despite the biases, I sense from the author I think he does a decent job of critiquing some of the things they said about Japan and providing links to some of his sources. And, it was enough for me to guess/conclude that back in 1990 neither Jack Hayford nor C. Peter Wagner were involved in any serious research about Japan, but rather they most likely go their information from 2nd or 3rd hand popular media sources like Steven R. Weisman's article in the New York times ( Tokyo Journal; Emperor's Ceremonial Bed Still Keeps Its Secrets (link)) on the 8th of October 1990 which mentions in passing three different theories on the subject. Of, course I do not know anything for certain but this is what I suspect at the moment.
Also, in 1990 a famous English language Journal article on the subject was published:
"The Shinza or God-seat in the Daijosai: Throne, Bed or Incubation Couch?”
Blacker, Carmen. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1990 17/2-3
lu1 — 2017-02-05T22:06:30-05:00 — #14
Well this is an interesting article...