Saturday, January 11

A very interesting article about the growing acknowledgment of the role of Zen in Japanese military training and philosophy during World War II

From its beginnings in Japan, Zen has been associated with the warrior culture established by the early shoguns. But the extent of its involvement in World War II has stayed mostly submerged until recently. Many people in the United States and Europe know Zen's indirect traces through the poetry of the Beats or the quietist aura of contemporary architecture and clothing.

Even John Dower, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of modern Japan at M.I.T., whose early interest in Japan was kindled by Zen-inspired architecture, said that Mr. Victoria's works had opened his eyes to "how Zen violated Buddhism's teachings about compassion and nonviolence."....

Mr. Victoria subsequently conducted numerous interviews with aging priests and plumbed Japanese military archives to detail how military figures and Zen leaders had jointly shaped Zen meditative practice into forms of military training.

"Zen was a large part of the spiritual training not only of the Japanese military but eventually of the whole Japanese people," he said in an interview. "It would have led them to commit national suicide if there had been an American invasion."

"Zen War Stories" quotes from manuals for battlefield behavior that Mr. Victoria says drew on Zen. It tells how the military modeled eating utensils on those in monasteries, how kamakazi pilots visited for spiritual preparation before their final missions.

A profile of Monsignor Edward Kavanagh, the Sacramento priest who told Governor Davis to stay away from his orphanage.

Each side accused the other of using the children as political pawns. Davis staffers said the priest knew of and approved the scheduled event. Kavanagh said his staff had been misled. The event was moved to the state Capitol. Details about who-knew-what-when are in dispute, but the priest made his point.

It was classic Kavanagh.

"I wasn't surprised when I heard about it. If he thinks someone is wrong, he'll tell them. He doesn't care who it is," says the Rev. Richard Doheny, pastor of St. Mel's parish in Fair Oaks and Kavanagh's closest friend. The two grew up together in Urlingford, Ireland, and have known each other all their lives. Doheny adds: "He's always been like that."

Taking on the governor did not bother Kavanagh.

"Was I intimidated because he is the governor? What kind of question is that? Of course not," says Kavanagh, sitting in the school library last Sunday after Mass. "I have nothing against the governor personally, and I'm not going to pass judgment. But I think the man has to re-examine his conscience."

This does not go over well with the governor's staff.

"It's unfortunate the monsignor continues his political attacks on the governor," says Russ Lopez, a spokesman for Davis. Lopez says the governor is a practicing Catholic who regularly attends Mass. "With all due respect, I think the monsignor needs to get a reality check."

32 bishops to reach retirement age in 2003

Catholic Relief Services withdraws support from CROP walk


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