These are my realizations and insights from Yoshiko’s story that spark the feminist theology inside me. There were real sharing and stories from her that i put it here for others to read.
I actually became aware of Jesus, that is i knew that he accepted me as the person that i am, when i was introduced to the story about Jesus and the woman who anointed him with the costly ointment of nard. When others protested her action, Jesus stood by her, saying, “let her alone, why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me”. (Mark 14:6). As i came to understand the true and deeper meaning of this passage, it had great significance for me.
When i saw how Jesus unconditionally accepted this women, i came to realize with certainty that Jesus accepted me, as Japanese woman, in the same way. Without a doubt, this shows a feminist theological understanding of encounter. No matter how much women in Japan are pushed off in a corner and looked down on by the surrounding patriarchal environment, Jesus acknowledges our existence and take us seriously. It is our task to help other women in Japan realize that we are truly as important as anyone else is.
It was different on the outside,and even though i was just a child, i was aware of that difference. At school, i remember the teacher once telling us that we were going to grow up to be leaders. When i got home, i asked how this could be, since in church i had been told that i was supposed to serve others, and these two concepts seemed to contradict to each other. In this way, i began to develop an awareness of the society, and hazy though it was sense of responsibility, primarily from my teachers, not from home.
We learned from the textbooks our teachers had prepared for us that some countries were “haves” and some were “have-nots. With respect to natural resources, Japan elementary schools students were being taught only about Japan’s excellence. When i compare the two types of schools, i realize that we were being taught was very close to the real truth, and what other schools were teaching was far from it.
Within this isolated society of school and home, we all were equal. We were able to be free with our teachers, relating to each of them as individuals, and we often sat together chatting over tea. Although we were free to do so if we wanted, we didn’t play with the children who went to other elementary schools in the area. Our girls didn’t wear uniforms to school, but the boys had to wear navy jackets with neckties, so we were easily recognizable. We were often odds with the other students who picked on us and hit us with their indoor shoe bags. (The students at our school wore the same shoes both inside and outside, so we didn’t even have shoe bags. For us children, this was a “have not” that gave us a sense of outside group. We were free and equal.
It seems strange, but in contrast to the warring atmosphere prevalent outside, freedom was permitted us on the inside. In the Sunday School at the church near our house, it always seemed strange to hear them pray to “Our Father in Heaven”. We always prayed to God at our house. I wondered why God was our Father, when it seemed that my mother was the one i was closest to and who knew everything about me. (The word for God in Japanese has no gender attachment, and i felt that if a gender were attached, it would be more natural for it to be mother.) Perhaps this is a small part of my feminist roots.
A group of four or five of us who were closely bonded together in Christian friendship often went to the mountains or the sea to worship in the early morning or early evening. We would sing hymns, write Christian phrases and pray together.
I must say honestly that i preferred to go to church when i felt like it, listening and praying independently from others. I felt that i had faith, and thought i was a Christian. I didn’t however, see any reason to become a part of the organized church.
My life was mainly supported by “Outsider who become an “Insider”
Each and every women is a recipient of God’s love, and when we recognize our ability to respond to that love, we also become aware of how wrong it is to ignore the fact that we are being discriminated against. It is also an act of disloyalty to God not to exert an effort to do something about it. The mistakes of the discriminators, who have been in control of history, society, and all of life, until recently unnoticed, will become clear. These mistakes are also the basic sins of humanity.
As long as this society is governed exclusively by male principles, what females think will not be taken seriously. In becoming acquainted with people in Asia, i have come as woman to recognize our similarities and to value our diversities. Accepting the women’s viewpoint means to acknowledge diversity. Only after a person does this can she or he accept persons as they are, each with a different style of life. Those who have been accepted by Jesus can find their acceptance of others becoming alive. To bring about a peaceful society on our planet, humanity must move toward an acceptance of diversity, something that can be accomplished if women make clear their position and if the point of view of women is given a place and supported.
Yoshiko’s book : Putting down the water jar
Part 2 would be continue with story by Hisako Kinukawa