Review: Nagaoka Takashi, Shinshūkyō to sōryokusen: kyōso igo o ikiru (2015) [Tenrikyo, 2017]

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Review: Nagaoka Takashi, Shinshūkyō to sōryokusen: kyōso igo o ikiru (2015) [Tenrikyo, 2017]

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  8  J󰁡󰁰󰁡󰁮󰁥󰁳󰁥 R󰁥󰁬󰁩󰁧󰁩󰁯󰁮󰁳 42 (1 & 2) Nagaoka akashi Shinshūkyō to sōryokusen: kyōso igo o ikiru 新宗教と総力戦 — 教祖以後を生きる (New Religions and otal War: Life after the Death of a Founder)Nagoya: Te University of Nagoya Press, 2015. 353 pp. Japan’s academic study of new religions, or shinshūkyō , began in a postwar environment where major ideological problems of modernity seemed unresolved. Te total war was over, but urbanization and homogenization continued, directed by the absolute, central authority of the state. It was obvious to all who had lived through the war that criticism had been silenced by fanatical faith in the divine  Japan’s mission, but to preserve the basis for future criticism, intellectuals would need to discover an alternative center. For some, notably Maruyama Masao, this alternative center was the “universality” of the European Enlightenment. But others took a more cosmological, metaphysical approach. Academic evaluation of new religions such as enrikyo observed positive traits they had exhibited in their early periods, which could at the very least contribute to civil society to counteract the authority of the state. In the words of influential scholar Murakami Shigeyoshi, enrikyo foundress Nakayama Miki exhibited “realism, equality, humanism, pacifism, a view of the family centered on parenthood, anti-authoritarianism, an independent creation myth” unrelated to the official myths taught by the prewar Japanese state, and so on. For 1950s intellectuals, all of these aspects of Miki’s teachings offered hope for a less violent and more complete modernity. (15)Over the decades, rather than questioning these assumptions, believers and scholars alike built up a “binary construct” around them which absolutized the “true intentions” of religious founders as total opposition to state authority, and sometimes—for example, in Yasumaru Yoshio’s later work—in opposition to modernity itself. For this binary construct to work, not only did changes to religious doctrine have to be interpreted moralistically as “deviation” from the srcinal ideals of the founder, but cooperation with the state’s colonialist and militarist programs was minimized as the product of state coercion, or omitted entirely. In enrikyo’s case, criticism of the construct has been overlooked, while history writing that perpetuates it persists both in the enrikyo organization and in the academy. (24)Selective cultural memory has been in no way unique to Japan. Robert P. Ericksen has written, most recently in Complicity in the Holocaust  (2012), about a similar tendency to cast Germany’s Christians as persecuted men and women of conscience, forced to cooperate with the fascist state. (Analysis of war (This is an author's proof. Page numbering will be fixed in print edition)   B󰁯󰁯󰁫 R󰁥󰁶󰁩󰁥󰁷󰁳  9 responsibility narratives in American church history is comparatively lacking.) In this study of enrikyo’s relations to the state, Nagaoka akashi shares with Ericksen a concern for resurrecting the actual voices of period spiritual leaders, not to cast them into a mold of “cooperation” versus “resistance,” nor to moralize from a perspective that religions must be apolitical or pacifist, but to understand how enrikyo’s attitude towards authority developed following the death of Nakayama Miki, and how believers saw their own religious and secular ideals being fulfilled.Chapter One rediscovers the story of how enrikyo continued to rapidly grow after Miki's death. Te creator god Oyagami descended into Miki’s follower Iburi Izō, first telling him that revelations would end with Miki, then that revelations would continue. Nagaoka posits a situation akin to the Latter Day Saint movement after the death of Joseph Smith, where the very fact of continuing possession experiences among Miki’s followers segregated them from mainstream society, formed them into a separate community, and paradoxically necessitated that these experiences be simultaneously continued and regulated to keep the community united. (87) Iburi was given the position of “Honseki” or Main Seat and underwent mystical experiences in public, ritual settings, impressing believers with the appearance of a man directly in contact with the divine. His illnesses were interpreted as divine initiation, and his pronouncements on matters of faith were attributed to the continued presence of Oyagami. Rather than Iburi “deviating” from the message of Miki, his religiously authorized attempts to keep his community coherent and adapt it to the demands of state authorities cannot be seen as anything but a continuation of the movement.Following Iburi’s passing, the community attempted to continue the line of revelation, but the next choice of “Honseki” was considered to have an unstable personality, and the position was discontinued. In Chapter wo, we examine the life of Miki’s great-grandson Nakayama Shōzen, who as enrikyo’s administrative leader or “Shinbashira” came to assume central authority. According to the present-day church’s “binary construction” narrative, Shōzen’s “reforms” that sent the enrikyo faithful to work for militarist projects were not made by choice but were imposed by the government. (119) In contrast, Nagaoka shows that Shōzen was not a blindly obedient imperial subject, but a highly intellectual and creative thinker who from the beginning of his career as Shinbashira had carefully navigated the growing tension between text and doctrine, emphasizing the centrality of the Nakayama household to enrikyo’s central authority, while refusing to impose a single interpretation on believers. Although Nagaoka only touches on this briefly, the “Oyagami community,” again like the Latter Day Saint movement, would fracture when individual members claimed access to new revelations. It split over a dozen times after 1865, and Shōzen’s attempt to establish a line of succession around the Nakayama  10  J󰁡󰁰󰁡󰁮󰁥󰁳󰁥 R󰁥󰁬󰁩󰁧󰁩󰁯󰁮󰁳 42 (1 & 2) household met with considerable resistance and the birth of independent sects. (172; Yumiyama 2005) Shōzen had to walk a delicate line between internal and external resistance, and from this grew the desire for a new purpose to organizational unity. He showed an eagerness for colonialist missions that could sanctify the “foreign countries” judged as dangerous in enrikyo’s sacred texts, and make them into part of “Japan.” Te ties of hierarchy that Shōzen used to link Miki to himself also made him spiritually superior to “foreign” targets of his missionary work, providing a theological basis for the colonizing process.Chapter hree discusses the srcin of Shōzen’s “reforms,” nationalist redactions of sacred texts and rituals which were implemented at the end of 1938—100 years after Nakayama Miki’s initial possession experience, and about 75 years after she began to expound the teachings of Oyagami. Shōzen’s generation reimagined Japan as the “root of the world,” home of the center of the world at enrikyo headquarters as determined by Miki, with the rest of the world as the “branches” to which a civilizing and spiritualizing mission needed to spread. Already in 1934, enrikyo began actively participating in the Japanese government’s colonization programs in Manchuria. enrikyo families in north Manchuria faced life-threatening dangers in a hostile colony, and quickly their sense of spiritual mission became bound up with the colonial mission of the state and its promise of law and order. Tis brings us to Chapter Four, the heart of the argument about enrikyo’s involvement in war.Te most familiar teaching of enrikyo for the Japanese public at large is probably hinokishin , the belief that service to others brings the “joyous life” to oneself as well. enrikyo theologians have identified this as an altruistic teaching, with its history marred only temporarily by its use in mobilizing enrikyo believers to serve in coal mines and factories during World War II. Nagaoka shows that rather than hinokishin  constituting a “superhistorical truth” with temporary errors in implementation, it first emerged as a spirited affirmation of capitalism and colonialism, with a close continuity to its wartime use. Hinokishin  was used to actively promote the repetitive stress and poverty of factory labor as a virtue in its own end, and was suggested from an early stage as a way for the state to educate and civilize “shiftless” Korean peasants. (209) Quite apart from the emphasis on the spiritual dignity of the individual affirmed in the Catholic Worker movement, enrikyo’s hinokishin  “altruism” sought from the beginning to totally transcend the desires of the individual body, in service to higher ideals which happened to match the interests of the imperial state as much those as of believers and the public.By the middle of World War II, the military needs of the state had completely sublimated the believers’ hinokishin , sending them into the coal mines in search of the “joyous life.” After the end of the war, rather than rejecting this religious expression, Nakayama Shōzen affirmed that it had been a pious work in the eyes  B󰁯󰁯󰁫 R󰁥󰁶󰁩󰁥󰁷󰁳  11 of enrikyo, and that the system that had commanded it would continue. (242) Nagaoka contends that there was never any postwar discussion of the ethics of hinokishin , and those who had questioned it during the war generally left enrikyo of their own volition. Te final chapters of his book examine postwar theology and its direct continuity with wartime self-justifications. Shōzen constructed a new, “restored” enrikyo canon that superseded both his “reforms” and the state-influenced scriptures of prior generations, but at the same time, he affirmed the validity of these earlier redactions. For many around him, “restoration” implied restoring the prewar status quo. (279f) A concluding chapter reflects on enrikyo’s “movements of reading” and how they have failed to offer a critique or apology for having embraced the imperialist message of “holy war.”Nagaoka is to be commended for his groundbreaking methodology and research which pushes straight into critical reading of contemporary theology. Te true challenge of his work is his desire for enrikyo theologians to respond to it. Te sympathy he expresses with their interests earned him an amused review from Yumiyama atsuya, who good-naturedly concurs with confused enrikyo authorities who have wondered aloud whether Nagaoka is a believer. Yumiyama writes, Deconstructive reading is, “for the believers concerned, able to dig out the basis of their beliefs.” So, by this method, will the author able to continue to accompany the theologians blocking the path, “swords drawn”? Even if he develops his research enough to catch up with the heart of their faith, given the difficulties of totally encapsulating the beliefs of another, can he keep piling on the days, staying afloat amidst the believers’ growing waves of “movements of reading?” (Yumiyama 2016:254) Perhaps Nagaoka’s project is not so much an unending “deconstructive reading” struggling to keep up with the faith of his research targets, but rather a “reflexive modernization” aiming for the same goals as the postwar modernists, only with closer attention to detail. A shared desire for modernity might enable believers to appreciate an academic reassessment of enrikyo’s theology. Te problem, of course, is that the main goal of enrikyo leadership in recent years been to protect the fragile space that remains for faith within the “deconstruction” of Japanese society. Integrating Nagaoka’s narrative will prove a real challenge.For comparison, Robert Ericksen’s studies of religious and academic collaboration with Nazism have obvious relevance to modern German society, where both academia and Christianity continue to be generally held in high prestige. (Ericksen 2012:230) New religious movements in 21st century Japan are in a very different situation: blindsided by the 1995 Aum Shinrikyō sarin gas attacks, their public perception has taken a major hit, and their influence on modern society as independent sources of power is decidedly declining. (McLaughlin 2012)  12  J󰁡󰁰󰁡󰁮󰁥󰁳󰁥 R󰁥󰁬󰁩󰁧󰁩󰁯󰁮󰁳 42 (1 & 2) I have been fascinated by enrikyo ever since I first learned about their history and sat in on their ritual dances almost a decade ago. I have also heard, for almost a decade, that enrikyo will not last another decade in its current form. It seems to be constantly on a precipice, attracting a trickle of young recruits and putting them to work for theological goals imagined in ages long past. It is encouraging that one theologian so far, Kaneko Akira (2017), seems willing to rise to Nagaoka’s challenge, daring even to reexamine material that Nagaoka would not touch about the life of Nakayama Miki herself. I hope that this book will continue to inspire such reimaginings. Bibliography Ericksen, Robert P. 2012. Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Kaneko Akira. 2017. “Shingaku shisō to enrikyō ni kan suru minshū shisōshi-teki ikkōsatsu: ryōsha ga kyōyū suru ‘kokoro no shisō’ no henyō kanōsei ni tsuite.” Tenri Daigaku Oyasato kenkyū nenpō  23.McLaughlin, Levi. 2012. “Did Aum Change Everything? What Soka Gakkai Before, During, and After the Aum Shinrikyō Affair ells Us About the Persistent ‘Otherness’ of New Religions in Japan.”  Japanese Journal of Religious Studies  39(1).Yumiyama atsuya. 2005. Tenmei no yukue: shūkyō ga bunpa suru toki   天啓のゆくえ — 宗教が分派するとき  (“Where Revelation akes Us: When Religions Splinter”). okyo: Nihon Chiiki Shakai Kenkyūjo. — . 2016. Review of Shinshūkyō to sōryokusen: kyōso igo o ikiru. Shūkyō kenkyū  90(2). Avery Morrow Te University of okyo
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