October 8th, 2021


Japan and Religion, Part 1


I'm gonna get religious on y'all.

Starting with a question - what makes a religion a religion?
I think we had to answer that on some essay in high school, and I sat there really thinking about it until my mind hurt. These days, as an adult, someone asks me a question like that and I just pass it off, "Nice question. Who knows." End of story.

But I recently went on a pilgrimage. I didn't know I was on a pilgrimage until halfway through my journey, despite the fact that people started calling me, "pilgrim." And that made me sit there thinking about what this thing "religion" really is.

Imagine you're back at the beginning of recorded history and the gods are sending rain or shine, helping your crops grow, and bestowing good and bad luck among people. It was their form of science. You would have no luck going down among those people and saying, "Stop believing in those gods!" That was just the way the world worked in their eyes and there was no question of "belief." In that kind of society, does religion differ from culture?

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