Shinto Commandments?

Long day and I’m working on some things that will take me away from the weblog until next week. Not the least of which is wanting to attend the Japanese Festival at the Botanical Gardens this weekend, thanks to the tip from Jack Such in my comments.

I didn’t know about the Festival but after Jack’s comment, I checked the schedule and there are some fascinating events planned. With the weather improving, I should be able to attend several, either Sunday or Monday, or even both if I can be productive tomorrow and Saturday.

Among the sessions is one titled “Zen”, which I’m assuming is a discussion of Zen Buddhism. I don’t want to guess further than that, because I know little about Japan and each time I make what I think is an accurate statement, I’m almost always proved wrong; so, less said the better. Perhaps next week, I’ll be a little more knowledgeable. If nothing else, sounds like a terrific opportunity for some photos.

I plan on attending the Zen session, as well as the cooking and Bonsai demonstrations, the dances, the traditional tea ceremony, Hinode Taiko (drums), martial arts and theater. I’ll pass on the Karaoke, though. In the evening the Festival is showing Anime films, in addition to providing candlelight walks through the extensive gardens. Doesn’t that sound lovely for a warm summer evening?

Speaking of Zen and Japanese religions, Joi Ito writes on being Shinto, especially in regards to the recent fiasco here in the States about a certain huge cement granite statue of the Ten Commandments in a certain court house in Alabama. (Why do these things always happen in Alabama?)

Frank Boosman also comments on the problem with the “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me” commandment.

Like I keep saying, all of you “I only have one God, and my God is the best” people seem to be a bit insecure about your God. As Christopher Hitchens says, “The first four of the commandments have little to do with either law or morality, and the first three suggest a terrific insecurity on the part of the person supposedly issuing them.”

As we Shintos like to say, you can put your god over there next to our other gods. While you’re at it, why don’t you get of your high horse and quit defining Good and Evil as Us and Them.

Not everyone agrees with Joi, as you can see from his comments. In particular, Charlie Whipple wrote, …If ever anyone defined things in terms of “us and them,” it’s the Japanese.

Move carefully around this issue — as you write visualize your words as walking about, bare ass naked, among opinions prickly as cactus and crowded very, very close. This goes beyond separation of church and state in our country and goes into the culture of religion, of nationalities, as much as the belief of religion. Race, culture, nationality, and religion, all rolled up into one issue.

This will not surprise you, and it’s lowering to me to present such an uncomplex persona, but I must place myself in the camp of those who found the statue to be appalling, not the least of which was Judge Moore’s own admitted bigotry against other religions; explicitly apparent when asked about displaying a statue of the Koran:

Asked on CNN whether he would support an Islamic monument to the Koran in the rotunda of the federal building, Moore replied, “This nation was founded upon the laws of God, not upon the Koran. That’s clear in the Declaration [of Independence], so it wouldn’t fit history and it wouldn’t fit law.”

Freedom of religion aside, Judge Moore seems to have at best a confused notion of law, at worst a completely missing notion of law, and on what principles our laws are based. Islam Judaism, and Christianity all share the same roots, and even much of the same history, and yes, even moral code. And I believe our legal system was not based on the Ten Commandments, and not on Christianity, either.

There is a point missed in all of this fuss about Judge Moore that goes beyond this basically uninteresting man, and the point is hypocrisy. It is hypocritical to prevent Moore from having that really ugly piece of cement granite (I mean, couldn’t they do a better job of the statue?) in the court house when ministers are asked to open sessions of Congress with a prayer, our coins have “In God we Trust”, we swear on the bible in court, we legislate against gay rights, and the Supreme Court opens with “God save the United States and this Honorable Court”.

All in all, I like Joi’s Shinto beliefs, with the concept of there being room for all gods. Yeah, hard to fight about that one.

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