Saturday, February 27, 2016

"to him will I give power over the nations" - The End of the World for Christianity

Mt. Fuji

The End of the World for Christianity

What does the end of the world mean?

It is not so common that a religion includes the coming of the end of the world in its tenets.  In this regard, Christianity is unique to claim the coming of the world in its tenets.

However, since the rise of Christianity, the end of the world has not come in these 2000 years.  Today, no serious men seem to believe in the coming of the end of the world, though at the end of the 20th century some apocalyptic theories were widely taken up by the general public.

The 20th century was a century of wars.  Tens of millions of people were killed in wars in the 20th century.  Apocalyptic theories were widely talked about.  But the mankind survived the 20th century.  The Soviet Union collapsed and China adopted the market-based economy.  No large-scale nuclear war occurred finally in the 20th century.

The 21st century began with the 9/11 terror, but nobody today seems to believe that the end of the world will come sometime in the 21st century.

And, for any individuals what is important is his death but not the end of the world.  And in these 2000 years, many Christians died without seeing the end of the world if they had believed in the  apocalyptic theory.  What does the teaching about the end of the world in Christianity mean to those who died in these 2000 years?

There are some interpretations about the end of the world described in the Bible.  It might imply the fall of Jerusalem in the war against Romans in the first century.  Or it might mean the collapse of the Roman Empire.

It is also interesting that Christ Jesus described the situation when the end of the world came near.  It means that Christ Jesus requested us to believe in the theory of the coming of the end of the world.  He requested us to live with a notion that the end of the world would surely come.

So, to understand the meaning of the end of the world, we have to live believing the teaching of Christ Jesus on the end of the world.

Then we may see that the end of the world has come but people don't realize it and the world itself does not realize it, either.  If so, believers do not have to live in such a world being ended.  The minds of these believers would leave the world.

The end of the world might mean that this human world gets so deteriorated that it is no more worth believers' living in it.

The world today looks like sufficiently being deteriorated with so many Muslim refugees living and moving around Europe and the Middle East, the deplorable American Presidential election going on, China's intensification of military power, etc.  From a viewpoint of Christ Jesus, the world must be ending really in a global scale.

If you don't see this end of the world for Christianity, you may not be Christians at all.

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Rev 2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

"the Holy Ghost was upon him" - Tradition of Japanese Buddhism

Around Tokyo

Tradition of Japanese Buddhism

Once Buddhism was under direct and strong management of the imperial court in Japan.

Before political power of Japan shifted from the imperial court to the samurai class at the end of the 12th century, successive emperors and the noble class had real power not only in politics but also in religion.  In terms of religion, shintoism continued to belong to the imperial authority even after the shift of political power to samurais.  But Buddhism started to develop in various ways after the samurai class took over political power from the imperial court.  The imperial court lost most of its authority on Buddhists after this power shift, though some major schools and temples continued to keep close ties with the imperial court.

In the Japanese history, the era of the first samurai regime is called the Kamakura Period, since the head of samurai leaders who started to govern all over Japan in lieu of the imperial court placed their capital in Kamukura, 45 km southwest of Tokyo.  The Kamakura period continued from about 1185 to 1333.

Before the Kamakura Period was the Heian era that continued from 794 to about 1185.  In this era, the imperial capital was established in Kyoto.  Before the Heian Period, the imperial capital of Japan was situated mainly in Yamato, presently Nara Prefecture immediately south of the Kyoto Prefecture.  The period preceding the Heian Period is called the Nara Period when the giant statue of Buddha was built in Todaiji temple in Nara.  Nara Period continued from 710 to 794.

In the Nara Period, many great Buddhist temples were built by emperors living in Nara.  But, some great temples, such as Horyuji-temple, were also built even before this Period.  Great Buddhist temples started to be built in Nara in the late 6th century, since Buddhism was first introduced to Japan in the early 6th century. But the imperial court in the Nara Period built an official Buddhist temple in each local administrative area all over Japan.  It is said that as influences of Buddhists became too strong on the imperial court, an emperor decided to move the capital from Nara (Heijyo-kyo) to Kyoto (Heian-kyo).  As it suggests, Buddhism was so popular among the imperial court and in the noble class in the Nara period (though local farmers and the like seem to have still mainly observed primitive shintoism).  Even some emperors became believers of Buddhism, though the imperial court kept shintoism in parallel.

Therefore in the Nara Period and the Heian Period, to become high-ranked Buddhist priests is a way of social and political success for some people.  Many hopeful local youths went up to Nara or Kyoto to learn in big temples sponsored by the imperial court and become officially certified Buddhist priests.  This tradition continued even in the subsequent eras when the samurai class had hegemony over whole Japan.

However, as shintoism was also deeply rooted not only in the imperial court but among the general public, both shintoism and Buddhism were well observed in Japan.  And they sometimes shared same facilities in Buddhist temples or shinto shrines.  Some doctrines of Japanese schools of Buddhism were influenced by shintoism.  It was when the last samurai regime collapsed in 1860s that separation between Buddhism and shintoism was carried out in a compulsory manner.  Modern Japan started to put emphasis on shintoism.  Even the imperial court virtually avoided its linkage to Buddhism.

Today, there are no Buddhist temples in the Imperial court and no Buddhist temples are sponsored by the imperial court.  On the other hand, a shinto shrine is placed in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and the emperor occasionally sends imperial envoys to some shinto shrines located in various regions all over Japan for ritual purposes.

So, Buddhist temples foreigners today see in Kyoto and Nara reflect the past strong ties between Japanese Buddhism and the imperial court, which is not observed today.  Put simply, as Buddhism was once officially and enthusiastically supported by the imperial court, those great temples were built and preserved to date mostly in Nara and Kyoto.

In modern Japan since the Meiji Restoration when the imperial court was shifted from Kyoto to Tokyo, no new temples have been built by the imperial court.  But revolutionary samurais who carried out the Meiji Restoration taking over power from the last samurai regime started to use shintoism as a kind of state religion, thus upholding the imperial authority and then consolidating their power base.  (On the other hand, the last samurai regime used Buddhism as a means to govern people.  Therefore, the modern Meiji government carried out the separation between shintoism and Buddhism so enthusiastically.)

Therefor Buddhism is more deeply rooted in the Japanese people than modern shinoism promoted after the Meiji Restoration.  The modern shitoism was passionately promoted by the Imperial Government before and during WWII as a main spiritual pillar of the state.  Especially the Imperial military a kind of abused this religious authority to mobilize people to wars.  The emperor was positioned by the then Japanese leaders as the central figure of shintoism.  The emperor had never been regarded more sacred than in this period between the Meiji Restoration and the end of WWII.  Some right-wing politicians requested people to regard the emperor as a god.

However, the modern shintoism linked to the state virtually disappeared with the defeat of the Empire of Japan at the end of WWII.  Most of funerals of fallen soldiers were conducted following Buddhism.  Buddhism became a kind of emotional support for many unhappy Japanese living in the post-war society and rebuilding the nation.  (American Christianity was also spotlighted for some time after WWII, since the US offered huge aid to post-war Japan and many American soldiers were stationed in Japan after WWII.)

But as the first official history of Japan, called Nihonshoki established in 620 was also a book of shintoism, this religion is older than Buddhism in Japan.  In other word, old Buddhist temples today sightseers see in Kyoto and Nara were rather symbols of the advanced culture Buddhism of the Heian and Nara Periods.  However, influences of Buddhism that deeply penetrated into the souls of the general public, including local farmers, of Japan since the Kamakura Period can be seen in the minds and hearts of today's Japanese as well as some big and small temples situated in various parts of Japan.

So, the Japanese mentality has long and complex historical backgrounds that Western scholars cannot easily comprehend.

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Luk 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"why do they on the sabbath day" - A Tragic Samurai in Edo

A Tokyo Railway Station

A Tragic Samurai in Edo

Once in a samurai era of Japan, called the Edo period, there was a young samurai living with his parents in Edo, presently Tokyo.

He did not take any part in service for the Edo samurai government while his father was a samurai who directly served the Tokugawa clan whose head was the shogun of Japan presiding over the samurai government.  The family was living peacefully in Edo with the population of one million residents, including samurais of the Tokugawa clan and those of local feudal lords as well as merchants, craftspeople, and other townsmen.

In those days, Edo was the center of consumption, since the Tokugawa regime requested local feudal lords to live in Edo with their subjects, though they were allowed to return to their home territories periodically.  Therefore in Edo, there were many samurais coming from various regions all over Japan.  And, in the 18th century, one million people were living in Edo, which made Tokyo the largest city in the world at the time.

In Edo, various cultural products were created for amusement of citizens.  Some of those cultural products are today highly appraised as Kabuki play, Ukiyoe painting, cartoons, suhi foods, etc.

The parents of the young samurai got anxious about his son who didn't go out for training of swordplay in a training hall run by a master of swordplay or learning in a school where classic literature, etc. were taught by a scholar.   The young samurai studied classic literature in their home day and night.  And he mainly read books of Confucianism that taught obedience to the parents.  Indeed, he loved his mother especially.

One day, the parents asked a son of a neighbor samurai family to take their son to a Kabuki theater.  They wanted his son to enjoy some cultural aspects of Edo.  So, the two young samurais went out to a Kabuki theater to watch a Kabuki play.  And they enjoyed the play with other audience.

But at once scene, an actor violently treated his mother played on the stage following a scenario.  It looked so real.  Then the young samurai suddenly stood up and went back to the entrance where he had put his sword to a theater clerk when entering the hall, as it was a custom observed by samurais when they entered a theater hall.  He retrieved his sword and returned to the hall.  Then he walked up to the stage and began to attack the actor playing the violent son with his sword.  The actor was cut to death.  The audience and actors got panicked.  But, finally samurai officials came in to arrest the samurai.

In the subsequent investigation, the young samurai confessed that he had not been able to bear to see the actor hitting his mother on the stage.  And he said that he could not recall what had happened subsequently.

The samurai authority gave a sentence on the poor young samurai of one year imprisonment and then harakiri suicide.  Harakiri suicide is to cut one's abdomen with a small sword by himself as a means of suicide.  And it was regarded rather as honorable death for samurai.   Severe punishment was to have one's head cut off with a sword by an executor samurai.

Before modernization and Westernization of Japan that started in the middle of the 19th century, there ware some samurais who were absorbed too much in study of Confucianism to commit a crime for his love to his mother.  But the rule of law was needed especially in Edo with the population of one million even in the 18th century.

Anyway, love to the mother and the rule by law seem to be still well observed in modern Japan of today.

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Mar 2:24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
Mar 2:25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"written in the law of the LORD" - Japanese Radar in WWII

A Tokyo Railway Station

Japanese Radar in WWII

In WWII, the Empire of Japan could not well compete with the US in terms of development of new technologies.

A young man learning in a high school in Tokyo in 1945 started to work in a technical development center of the Imperial Navy.  As US air raids intensified, the Navy started to relocate the center to local regions by separating each division.  The young man belonged to the wireless technology division that moved to Nikko, a sightseeing spot 100 km north of Tokyo.

(At the time, then crown prince Akihito was evacuated from Tokyo to Nikko to avoid US air raids.)

The wireless technology division was stationed in a tourist hotel where Navy engineers brought in various equipment.  They concentrated in development of radar.  The Empire was behind the US, the UK, and even Germany in this field.  Most of US Naval ships mounted advanced radar systems, but Japanese war ships had only a primitive type of radar systems.  Even Japanese cities were not defended by radar systems, so that US air raids gave great damage on many Japanese cities.

(The Imperial military stationed its radar systems only to some locations suitable for observation of the Pacific Ocean as the figure below shows.

Specifically, the US military used all bands of electric waves for radar to secure reliability.  Japanese engineers also aimed at realizing such a radar system.  The division the young man belonged to started to assemble a new radar system,  They even referred to a German radar system brought into Japan by a submarine from Germany though the Atlantic, Indian, and the Pacific Oceans.

But, the young man found that vacuum tubes manufactured in Japan had poor quality, though the devices were essential for radar.  The failure rate of Japanese vacuum tubes was 50%, meaning five of ten tubes did not function well.  Observing this data, the young man realized that the Empire would lose the war.

And, months later, when he was listening to US radio broadcasting with co-workers, he heard that a US radio station announced that the Empire of Japan was going to surrender by accepting the Potsdam Declaration.  Then, three days later, the Emperor announced the surrender of the Empire to the US to the Japanese people through radio broadcasting.

Today, Japanese products are enjoying reputation of high quality, but at the end of WWII, Japanese engineering quality was a half of America's as this episode told.

Indeed, it is estimated that if the Empire of Japan had had a radar system advanced as much as America's, the Empire should not have been defeated only in four years after the Pearl Harbor Attack of 1941.

In this context, WWII was a war where electronics came to take a decisive part.  However, WWIII might be featured by something more horrible.

In other word, as technology and science have advanced so much globally today, the mankind might not dare to fight the Third World War.  Or at least we have to claim that as technology and science have advanced so much globally today, the mankind must not launch WWIII.

(Incidentally, one of the co-founders of Sony, Akio Morita, was a young engineering officer of the Imperial Navy of Japan in WWII.)

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Luk 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Luk 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Luk 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

Monday, February 22, 2016

"by works was faith made perfect?" - Observation and Responsibility


Observation and Responsibility

If a man believes that he is always watched by God, he does not surely commit a crime.

So, one of teachings of Christ Jesus is related to this issue.  Even the number of man's hair is counted by God.  And what a man says in the darkness behind the door is heard by God.

This teaching means that God created the universe and the mankind, and He continued to watch them.  God must be observing every phenomenon in this universe at every moment.  God must be observing every work and change in the mind of every man.

Accordingly, if He judges a man, He is absolutely right, since His judgment is based on truth of the man.

So, continuous observation by God of a man is linked to His judgment of the man.  If you observe something, you have to take some action based on results of the observation.

But God may appoint somebody to a watcher of the world for Him, though there is no such a need considering His infinite ability.  So, there have been many authors, reporters, and witnesses in history who have informed later generations of the truth of various events and incidents.

God must have once appointed some disciples of Christ Jesus to watchers of Christ Jesus, so that later Gospels would be written.  Christ Jesus was accompanied by His disciples 24 hours per day and seven days per week.  And, information from those watchers must have led to the establishment of the Gospels.

Since the establishment of the Gospels, God must have continued to appoint somebody to a watcher of each era.  What they wrote actually constitutes history.  And, today as we can read those books and reports, we can observe the past history and especially the history of these 2000 years.  And, it must suggest how God has observed the mankind in these 2000 years since the emergence of Christ Jesus.

If we observe the world, we have to take some actions.  And, God provides us with ability to observe the history, through those past watchers, with expectation that we might take some right actions.  Then, people today living are responsible for not only situation of the world today but also the history of the mankind for these 2000 years.

The more you know, the more you are held responsible.

God is observing us who are expected to observe today's world and the past history and then take some actions in line with the teaching of God.

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Jam 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Jam 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
Jam 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

"and she repented not" - Conditions of the Next US President

Around Tokyo

Conditions of the Next US President

The first elite member in the US establishment who became US President after WWII was George H. W. Bush.

He succeeded Ronald Reagan who was a former actor and was not from the American elite community or establishment.

But H.W. Bush was defeated in the 1992 presidential election by Bill Clinton who was from a fringe of the American elite community or establishment.  Vice President Al Gore is also from a fringe of the American elite community or establishment.  But Gore is very intellectual.  He is close to the academic elite circle as he has later become a strong advocate of anti-global warming movement.

In the 2000 presidential election, Gore was defeated by George W. Bush, though the result of the vote counting in Florida, which decided the victory of W. Bush, was so dubious.

W. Bush is from the American elite community or establishment like his father but is not so intellectual.  In the presidential election, Bush appealed his somewhat humble personality as an ordinary man unlike arrogant Gore who did not hide his intellectual capacity.

But the one who succeeded W. Bush was Barack Obama who is African America.  His racial feature counted much in the 2008 presidential election which was carried out in the middle of the Financial Crisis and the War on Terror for which the Bush Administration was highly responsible.  American voters lost confidence in the American elite community or establishment.  So, the African American lawyer-turned senator was elected on the rebound.

This trend clearly shows that American voters have chosen presidential candidates who are not from the the American elite community or establishment or who possess some strong merit or characteristics that ordinary American can accept even if the candidates are directly or indirectly linked to, or from a fringe of, the American elite community or establishment.

All the major presidential candidates of today meet this condition.  Hillary Clinton is female, which means she is from a fringe of the establishment.  Sanders is a kind of socialist.  Trump is a unique billionaire who is also a TV personality.  Rubio is of Cuba origin.  But who has more merit than others to receive more empathy from voters?  And who takes more advantage in domestic and global situations?

The key is how voters judge the seven years of the Obama administration.  In the past seven years, the US economy has recovered and the US has not faced terror of the 9/11 class.  However, IS has been killing some American citizens in Syria, and Iraq and Afghanistan show clear failure of American diplomacy and strategies against Islamic terrorists.  China has become a economic power, though it is now placing a distance from the US, while China is aggressively expanding its military activities in the South China Sea.

Maybe ordinary Americans might like to have a new President who can redefine the American position in the world.  In this case, Hillary can take a sophisticated strategy based on her experiences, but Trump might do something wildly to make America strong again.  Sanders and Rubio do not look like so proven in this context.

But, the next US President should meet the condition that he or she is not directly from the American elite community or establishment, which means the new president is not a white male with higher academic or long elite public-life background and rich financial resources.

However, Jeb Bush might come back in the 2020 presidential election to compete with possible President Hillary Clinton.

Anyway, South Carolina and Nevada have chosen Trump and Hillary today as you all know in the world.

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Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.