13 September 2011

Email from Matlock – 5 September 2011

Dear 家族

       The beginning of this week while we were still in a 3 man companionship we went to see the daibutsu (大仏) which means big Buddha. And it was big. As it pointed out in 15 different places on the daibutsu ground it is 2-3 times bigger than the statue of liberty. They just didn't want anyone to leave without knowing that. You would think that would mean that tourists would be flocking to this place but much to Buddha’s chagrin that is not the case. In fact I didn't know about it until I went to Ushiku and from the apartment on the 7th floor looked out the window and said "hey what’s that giant statue way out there?" For a sacred religious site it was amusingly blasphemous. Near the base of the daibutsu is one of those cutouts that you can stick you head into and take a picture. Hard to take Buddhism seriously when they aren't taking themselves seriously! The inside of the guy is pretty interesting as well. It’s like a museum. This place is 3/4ths museum/ Attraction Park and 1/4th a place of worship. Some people pay the 800 yen to go in and pray. Just felt weird.
       While in the company of a Brother from a different ward we had a long discussion on how Buddhism is Christianity that apostatized and lost most resemblance of Christianity. He has done extensive study on the subject and brought up some fascinating points. I requested a copy of his book and hope I eventually get it. Buddhism itself has broken into many many different sects but the older Buddhism has beliefs eerily similar to ours. There are stories of the sun disappearing for three days and stuff like that.
        Well back in the Christian world, we still don't have any people to teach. (Maybe we should focus a little less on other religions and get back to preaching our own...) We do however have some activities getting up and going. One is a family home evening which will start tonight, and then an English class on Sunday morning before church. This will focus on topics like loving your neighbor and Christ like attributes. The idea is that it’s easier to get people to these activities than to church which doesn't have the best image among the Japanese people. More than that though it gives the members something to invite their friends to that isn't intimidating and mysterious like an hour of singing and listening to stories about the gospel. That’s just terrifying isn't it?
       The great accomplishment of this week however took place in a bike store. I reached my limit and bought new grips for my handles. Now my hands don't stick to it! Riding away from the shop I was startled when I pulled the brake and I stopped! Forgot that the brakes aren't a handle for you to hold on to as you drag your feet on the road trying to stop. Also while in the shop I rode a unicycle for the first time in a year and a half. I can still do it!
           Love you all! Keep it real

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