Sunday, November 26, 2006

Fake Priests in Japan

This is with regard to a BBC "news" story, Faking it as a priest in Japan, was published on the BBC Asia-Pacific site November, 2, 2006.

The first time I met Mark Kelly in the part-time university teachers' room, he mentioned his "side job" as a wedding minister. He seemed to do so almost apologetically and wasn't forthcoming about the details. I sensed, and later discovered, that he was not actually an ordained minister. That's why I'm surprised that he was so candid about his experiences with a freelance journalist, Kathleen McCaul.

I am even more surprised that, out of whatever news organizations she may have contacted, the BBC was the only one to accept her "story." From what I know, Mark only spoke to her casually when she travelling through Japan. Her whole report was anecdotal. She didn't get any statements legitimate sources, such as the wedding company for which Mark worked.

As far as I'm concerned, it was totally unethical of the BBC, as well as the reporter, to print anything that was off the record and dubious, at best. Going for the sensational is not up to former standards held by the BBC. Furthermore, since they are claiming they don't know who is telling the truth, the reporter or the source, they are not printing an apology or retraction of any sort.

Whether such fake priests are in existence is a whole other issue. While I would think there would be an appeal to traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies, couples these days seem to find it romantic to get married in a chapel with stained glass, a bell, ribbons on the pews, and foreign man [sic] dressed in a robe. Most aren't concerned with the Christian aspect. The decorative aspect is what counts, much like the colored lights, Santa Claus suits, and Christmas trees that start making an appearance in mid-November in department stores and supermarkets, along with such delightful numbers as "Jingle Rock" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." A bit of a return to Saturnalia.

This is not just an occurrence in Japan. There are certainly Americans who don't consider themselves Christians who celebrate Winter Solstice, not only with lights but perhaps even with an Xmas tree, and the exchanging of cards and gifts. As for weddings, my Unitarian Universalist minister in Racine, Wisconsin, was often asked by couples to perform ceremonies for those who wanted to be married in a church, but who didn't necessarily want a Christian ceremony. The only difference is that, in the U.S., someone with official standing must sign the wedding certificate, but it could be by any Justice of the Peace as well as someone was who had a "mail order" ordination.

What I'd really like to see explored is the number of fake English teachers in Japan. There are far more of them than there are fake priests!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

37th National Day of Mourning

Pilgrim: Illegal ImmigrantThe 37th National Day of Mourning was held on Thursday, November 23, 2006, at 12 Noon on Cole’s Hill (the hill above Plymouth Rock) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was sponsored by the International Action Center.

The explanation of the event on the website is: "An annual tradition since 1970, Day of Mourning is a solemn, spiritual and highly political day. Many of us fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon of that day (and have a social after Day of Mourning so that participants in DOM can break their fasts). We [the United American Indians of New England] are mourning our ancestors and the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. NDOM is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in political action. Over the years, participants in Day of Mourning have buried Plymouth Rock a number of times, boarded the Mayflower replica, and placed ku klux klan sheets on the statue of William Bradford, etc."

From a speech by Moonanum James on the 32nd National Day of Mourning, 2001: "The greatest single acts of terrorism to date were not perpetrated by Osama bin Laden, but by the US military when it dropped atomic bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fast for a World Harvest

"More than 850 million people suffer from chronic hunger," according to Oxfam America. "In the US alone, almost 36 million people live in poverty. Globally, 30,000 children under the age of five die every day, mostly from preventable causes, including malnutrition.

An email I received from The ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History stated, "The problem isn't a lack of food. We have more than enough to go around. The problem is the distribution, something we, with other countries around the world, can be the first generation to fix."

Suggestions to raise awareness include participating in a Hunger Banquet on the Thursday before Thanksgiving (in the U.S.).

If the banquet included 20 people at the table, representing the world’s population:

  • 3 would be served a gourmet, multi-course meal, while sitting at decorated table and a cushioned chair.

  • 5 would eat rice and beans with a fork and sit on a simple cushion.

  • 12 would wait in line to receive a small portion of rice that they would eat with their hands while sitting on the floor.

The true power of an Oxfam Hunger Banquet is that as you eat your meal, unlike the real world, you see what’s on everyone else’s plate.

Fast for HungerAnother suggestion is to Skip a Meal for Oxfam. This helps to make one more conscious of the number of people all over the world who go without meals. The money saved can be contributed to Oxfam.

A third option, that could be used by teachers for their students or parents for their children (as well as for themselves), is to play the Hunger Game. One "sits" at a banquet table, but the luck of the draw could mean either feast or famine.

The site also includes a Hunger Quiz and some "Recipes" for Change.

Although I accessed this information too late to bring it to the attention of my students in time to participate this year, I will certainly include the "games" in future lesson plans. In fact, in Japan the Hunger Game may be more appropriate at New Year's, which is generally a time for feasting on traditional food. Older generations, who grew up during or just after World War II, may well remember when there was little on the table besides course grain and pumpkin.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Peace Pulse

I have recently installed the Peace Pulse on my computer. Every hour on the hour, there's a chime as a reminder to pause for a minute of silence, contemplating peace in one's own life and in the world. Another chime rings at the end of a minute.

The chime, which can be downloaded at , can be kept open in a small window. Such a wonderful, simple way to keep us focused on peace!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Getting Vetted

The following post is written by Mac (the cat).

Mac at the Vet's This morning we had an adventure! We didn't know what was happening at first. Mommy put Tippy in our carrier, but he really didn't want to be there, so he pulled at the door until he got it open and escaped. Then she grabbed me and put me in, but when she put Tippy in again, I got out. Then she tried to put me in again, but we both escaped. Since Mommy's bigger than both of us, she finally got both of us in. Our adventure began!

First she took us into the hall and down the stairs, where we almost never get a chance to go, but we were in the carrier so couldn't run up and down the stairs playing. Then we got into the back of a car driven by a man who smelled a little like smoke. We haven't ridden in cars very much, and I think it's pretty exciting, but Tippy was scared so he buried his head under my arm.

Then Mommy took us into a small building and put us on a bench. There was a nice lady talking to Mommy, but on another bench was a dog. I've never been so close to a dog before, so I watched him closely. He was really quiet, for a dog, and just sat there with his person, but I was kind of glad we were in our carrier.

Soon a man in a white coat invited us into his room. I remembered him from the smells. He opened the carrier, so I had a chance to get out, but Tippy just stayed in a corner of the carrier. The man put me on a table where he was touching and pushing me, and then he put something in me that kind of pinched. It didn't really hurt much, and he seemed like a nice man, but I made a few noises just so he'd know I didn't like all that touching. Mommy and another nice lady were holding me and talking to me, so I felt pretty safe.

Tippy at the Vet's
Then they put me back in the carrier and made Tippy come out. I could tell that Tippy didn't like it, but he was really quiet. I was on the floor and couldn't see what was going on, so I made a few noises.

Tippy got back in the carrier with me and curled up against me. Actually, I curled up against him, too, because I was still a little scared and I didn't know what was going to happen next. We got in the back of another car driven by another man, and soon Mommy was carrying us up the stairs. We were home again! Tippy and I walked all over the room, sniffing and checking to see if everything was the same.

An adventure to another place can be pretty exciting, but home is the best place of all!
Mac & Tippy Curled Up Together