Cultural and Theological Reflections on the Japanese Quest for Divinity, John J. Keane offers an explanation of Japanese divinity (
kami 神) using sociology, anthropology, linguistics, literature and history. He presents an overview of how the Japanese have sought to love and serve their
kami - a quest that rivals the interest that the West gives to God. The principles of interreligious dialogue are applied to the meaning of
kami and a plea is made for a dialogue that respectfully accepts differences between the cultures and the theologies of Eastern and Western thought. Important cultural themes are discussed as a part of this quest, such as the emperors of Japan and the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The work also challenges the understanding of
kami as highlighted by Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Endo Shusaku.
John J. Keane, M.A. (1974) University of Ottawa, is a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, Garrison, NY. He has written several theological articles and a monograph,
The Kami Concept: A Basis For Understanding and Dialogue (Tokyo, Oriens Institute for Religious Research, 1980).
"From the beginning to the end, the book offers a comparative view not only how the Japanese defined and understood “divinity,” but also how it was manifested in Japanese life. (...) the author clearly exhibits his commendable familiarity with scholarly works in English and Japanese. The scholarly erudition, acquired from his training as a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement and from years of his teaching and ministry in Japan, is a great asset of this book."- T. James Kodera, Professor of Religion,
Wellesley College, in:
Ecumenical Trends Volume 47.7 (2018).
Part 1 -
The Japanese Quest for Divinity
Chapter 1. Kami (神): The Japanese Word for Divinity
Chapter 2. Early History of Japanese Divinity
Chapter 3. Later Development of the Word Kami
Chapter 4. Twentieth Century Developments
Part 2 -
Cultural and Theological Reflections
Chapter 5. The Emperors of Japan
Chapter 6. Japanese Tea Ceremony
Chapter 7. Kami: A Key to Japanese Thought
Chapter 8. Implications for Interreligious Dialogue
Chapter 9. The Need for Dialogue
Chapter 10. Final Words?