How ironic that the church could produce such moments of transcendence, while committing a continuous sin against humanity throughout history. I’ve seen and heard in real time, as well as in stories and pictures, of the brutality that we human beings have committed, often in the name of God. I’m sad at Christmas because I miss my parents, and I feel sad that I love the Christmas story but distrust the churches that claim custodianship of it. Many of their teachings set my teeth on edge because I see so much injustice in them. I can’t stand injustice. Especially my own judgmental nature, based as it is on a sense of right and wrong. I don’t deny there is a right and wrong. I just don’t see a way of living without dealing personally (following Dostoyevsky’s lead) with crime and punishment.
I became aware of Japan in grade-school because growing up I was told the Japanese were doing terrible things to Americans. I hated them for their attack on Pearl Harbor, which I saw pictures of in magazines and newspapers. I was petrified with fear of such evil people. In my child’s mind I was afraid they were coming for me. But later, when I saw the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in newsreels, I cried for the Japanese. I went to the local library in December of 1945 and asked for all the books on Japan they had. Those books turned me into a student of that country for the rest of my life. I learned a lot about Japan. In 2011 the Japanese government, on behalf of Emperor Heisei, awarded me a medal for my fifty years of teaching about Japanese history.