It is perhaps fitting that the season of Lent each year begins as Japanese Americans commemorate Day of Remembrance, recalling the day the President of the United States signed an executive order that saw our lives forever overturned. Only in recent memory have many of these stories begun to be shared out of silence: my uncle Lenny’s dad was a successful businessman before the war. Like so many, he “lost everything” when the camps were raised. Shortly after his release he drank himself to death. My auntie Sasaki was born in one of the open-air prisons. She still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, more than seventy years after being born in a place she can’t even remember.Read More
Filtering by Category: Kenji Kuramitsu
In my dreams I am frequently met with all manner of bodily calamity – teeth falling out, piping hot lava, exhaling steam pipes swallowing me up in fine, chalky mist. These dreams have been accelerating lately – there have always been zombies, but now they’re butcher-proof, the triggers on my pistols don’t work or the barrels spray only water.
I would be surprised if this back-order of spontaneous nightmares had nothing to do with November's election, or with the wider climate of fear and hatred that seems to be growing around us. I recently preached on the marked increase of hate crimes affecting Muslim, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities since the election. In December, our Japanese Americans in Chicago held a press conference with Arab and Muslim American groups condemning recent rhetoric seeking to justify a mass detention or profiling of these groups on the basis that, well, “we did it to those Japs.”Read More
White supremacy is the foundational organizing principle of American public life, and for centuries has held the distinction of being the most consistent animating force in our national history. This reality affects every social institution, certainly including our most visible Christian gatherings. In the Christian tradition, we see this problem in both "multiethnic churches” and in more progressive Emergent circles to the point where people of color are actually emotionally hesitant to participate in these communities, or are sidelined when they do. Although the structural racism embedded in these spaces—whiteness—is an enormous stumbling block, relatively simple changes can be put into motion to make it less lethal at your progressive Christian gathering.Read More
A friend posted on Twitter the other day: “the person that relies on culture for interpretation of the Bible will never be stable.” His tweet raised for me a few larger questions that I have been thinking about recently while studying here in Barranquilla, Colombia.
As James Cone has posited, the awful violence of the cross is simply more viscerally communicated by witnessing a lynched black body than it could ever be by words from someone “sitting up in some mansion somewhere.” In the same vein, my friend Cláudio Carvalhaes has described how we will write theology very differently depending on whether we’re writing about God from a calm seminary office or from a cantankerous, clamoring refugee camp. In climates of immediacy, our theologizing necessarily takes on a sharper, more tenacious tone.Read More
by: Kenji Kuramitsu
Japanese immigrants are living in global diaspora – from the Andes to Los Angeles, from Sao Paulo to Seoul, Nikkei nomads (referring to people of Japanese origin) have settled into a vast constellation of countries in the 150 or so years since Japanese isolationism was officially quashed.
One of the many beautiful countries into which Japanese expatriates have assimilated – while boasting a great diversity of thought and unique culinary delicacies – is also internationally known for its barbaric penal systems and the sky-high rates at which it imprisons more people than any other society in history...Read More