Sunday, July 17, 2011

Father, Son, Holy Spirit.... and his wife

Today, I was accosted by a crazy Christian group. This was surprising for three reason:

(1) Firstly, the majority of Japan is not Christian but Buddhist with a Shinto flavouring.

(2) Secondly they kept asking me about Passover which, being a Jewish festival that occurred in April, didn't seem to have an obvious connection to the topic in hand. I tried to explain this, they looked astonished and it was only with the later help of wikipedia that any of this started to make sense[*].

(3) Thirdly, they asked if I knew Obama... I admitted I might have heard of him.

Nevertheless, it was an unmistakably Japanese experience as proved when one girl went looking in her bag for a Bible and produced her iPhone with the appropriate religious text App. Two of the others were also carrying open netbooks. The group consisted of four women; one older lady and three girls who looked to be students. Despite their enthusiasm for evangelising to random foreigners walking across Hokkaido University's campus, the small group's English was only slightly better than my Japanese. This meant than indepth philosophical discussions were even less likely to be successful than with your average megaphone wielding street preacher. To their credit though, they tried hard.

While they spoke Japanese and their iPhone Bible App appeared to be in Korean, the literature they had about their church was in English. Various parts of this were thrust under my nose from which I learnt that this was a Korean-based denomination and one of their main concepts was "God the Mother" as opposed to the more usual, "God the Father". They also held their religious day on Saturdays and were somehow involved with the United Nations and had donated to Haiti. Then I was shown a picture of millions of people all holding up their right hand.

... After which I concluded this was a Feminist cult with plans to take over the world who was not above political bribes and possibly had enough people to be successful.

Later investigations on wikipedia didn't immediately suggest world domination plans but explained that this church believes that there is both a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother which exist as two facets of the same God. Their current leader is a woman who is considered to be the one promised in the Bible. They also believe that the second coming of Christ has occurred but before you get too excited, you've missed it; he died in 1985. Additionally, they keep Passover which their interpretation of the Bible states is essential for salvation.

After many minutes of strained conversation, the group attempted to lead me to their church. I declined, explaining that I had to teach. The fact they believed me on a Saturday afternoon says much for the Japanese work ethic. They did try and persuade me to come back and then asked about what I was doing tomorrow... or next week ... or ... I evasively suggested I taught continuously; morning, noon and night. My commitment to education knew no bounds! In the end, I touched my eyes and told them I would look out for them in the future.

"毎日! We here everyday!" They assured me.

I must find an alternative way to work.

[*] This term is used lightly.
[Author note: I should add that I have a huge amount of respect for all religions and the denominations within them and have a strong set of personal believes, but I'm slightly perturbed by street recruitment.]

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