Rita and Rebecca take turns sharing their stories in this combination of memoir and theology. Rebecca writes about growing up half Japanese in American — she was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a U.S. soldier. She explores the two cultures on pages 81-82.
Japanese culture values harmony in relationships and kinship. Being individualistic or self-assertive was seen as pathological in my Japanese home, which valued humility and generosity. Respectful behavior showed one belonged. Whether one actually believed personally in ancestor spirits was less relevant than participating in rituals that demonstrated one's gratitude and respect for those who have passed on.Rita, who the author of the award-winning Journeys by Heart, is a research associate at Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
The Western version of Buddhism emphasized personal meditation practices, rather than adoption of its Asian cultural forms. European American Buddhism tends to ignore kinship networks, formal ritual, and obligation to family members, living and dead. North American Buddhism prefers to focus on individual spirituality and / abstract values such as "respect for nature," or "enlightenment," as a means to help practitioners transcend themselves, their families, and their community obligations. Christianity functions in a similar way in Asia as Buddhism functions in the United States Converts to Christianity use it to transcend the limitations of family and culture. When religious ideas get separated from their cultural forms, they take on different meanings. They move against a society's norms and grant people more individual freedom.
(Rebecca's story, Aug 12, 2012)