Imagine a World without Forgiveness

cross of christ built into a brick wall

Recently, during a conversation over dinner in Japan, a Buddhist scholar told me that he believes John Lennon’s song “Imagine” was inspired by Buddhism’s Heart Sutra. Lennon’s song reflects upon a world without heaven, countries, possessions, religion, and war.  Perhaps the following lines from The Heart Sutra served as influences to Lennon in writing the song: Therefore, in the void there are no forms and no feelings, conceptions, impulses and no consciousness: there is no eye, ear, nose, tongu … [Read more...]

The Holy of Holies

Ise-Inner Shrine

Members of my family and I recently visited the central shrines of Shintoism in Ise in Mie Prefecture in Japan. Our gracious hotel host pointed out what he took to be Israel’s Star of David engraved on stone posts as we traveled to the inner shrine, where he introduced us to our official tour guides. Our host knew not why the Star of David-like symbol was engraved on these posts, or where such engravings came from. In addition to witnessing people cleansing themselves with water as they a … [Read more...]

The Rabbit Hole Revisited

rabbit in the deep hole

In a previous post, I wrote about Jesus going down the rabbit hole. He goes further than we would ever go if we were to try and save ourselves and further than we could ever imagine him going. The hole he goes down is the void of humanity’s fallen existence.Jesus alone could go the way he did as God’s Son—alone. There was no way in the world his first disciples could have pursued him down that hole the night of his passion unto death for our sins. Nor could we have borne his burden with him. … [Read more...]

Cosmic Mystery and Purpose


One of the values of the Japanese people I prize most is their sense of wonder in the face of nature. As one who spends most of my days in the Pacific Northwest, I find quite striking people’s love for the beauty and grandeur of the creation. Such love is by no means lacking in the Japanese psyche. Shrines involving nature, gardens—including garden temples, and the art of flower arrangement, among other things, reveal the Japanese preoccupation with the vast mystery of nature. Such fascination wa … [Read more...]

Uncommon Common People

Japanese flag

We all know the politicians and philosophers and powerful warriors shape a society. So, too, do the common people. The hard working farmers, artisans, government employees, school teachers, taxi drivers and train conductors, among others in societies like Japan, make a society run smoothly. I thought about this as we rode from famous historical site to site in ancient capitals by trains and taxis.Take for example the train conductor who apologized to the passengers for being late for two … [Read more...]

How Sorry Are We?

Japanese flag

Last night, I arrived in Japan with members of my immediate family. My wife, who is a Japanese national, and I lived here years ago. That does not make me an expert of Japanese culture, but I am an interested observer. We have also lived in England as well as the States. I was reminded of something soon after the plane landed in Tokyo. Japanese often display great humility in their greetings and various social formalities. Take, for example, the words “I’m sorry.” In Japanese culture, I have foun … [Read more...]

Jesus and the Rabbit Hole

rabbit in the deep hole

“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1993, 2-3)In Alice in Wonderland, curiosity gets the better of Alice. She pursues a talking rabbit … [Read more...]