TO BE TWO THINGS AT ONCE

Sei Iesu Kai and the Negotiation of Japanese and Christian Identities

Allison Kade, Columbia University

ABSTRACT


Sei Iesu Kai (Congregation of Jesus) is a Japanese Christian group that has been credited with attempting to create a more "Japanese" version of Christianity in Japanese society. This article examines whether Sei Iesu Kai strove to assimilate Christianity into Japanese culture, to what end it may have done so, and through what means. Mark Mullins describes Sei Iesu Kai as an indigenous movement, as it took root in Japan without the direct impetus of missionaries or outside forces. While Mullins and other scholars may view Sei Iesu Kai as assimilated into mainstream Japanese culture since it broke free of the mantle of so-called Western Christianity, the author argues that it has not succeeded in doing so. The main focus of Sei Iesu Kai is not to syncretize "traditional" Japanese cultural traditions into Christianity, but to create a sect of Christianity accessible to the Japanese people by virtue of its freedom from the boundaries and limitations of national labels.

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