A good book

File:Inazo Nitobe (crop).jpg
Portrait. (Image/Wikimedia Commons)

Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933) was born in Japan to a samurai family. He converted to Christianity while studying under Western professors, and went on to be influential in multiple fields.

He wrote Bushido: The Soul of Japan in 1900, hoping to bridge the gap between his culture and ours. Among it’s most enthusiastic fans was Theodore Roosevelt, (raised Dutch Reformed, later an Episcopalian) for whom Nitobe’s thoughts about honor and chivalry resonated deeply.

If you read this book, and I hope you do, please notice how much Nitobe stresses the egalitarian nature of Japanese etiquette. Then, as now, it was not treated as snobbery, but as a universal, prescriptive code of conduct that governed every aspect of every life.

We would do well to learn from a society in which a code of conduct is so deeply ingrained.

Nitobe further tells us that Christianity, separated from the matrix of individualistic Western culture, would be deeply amenable to his people. For example, Our Lord was not a freethinker who found his truth and went against the grain. Instead, he was a loyal son and retainer who committed honorable suicide out of filial piety to the Father.

 

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