Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jan 10 Speaker What it is like Growing up Unitarian

After a long series of speakers on other religions and cultures, the group is going to start off the new year talking about the group that has given us our name.

On January 10th, Skip Swanson will talk to us about what it was like growing up in a Unitarian Church. His parents were married in the church, were active and he grew up in Des Moines as a member before wondering off to Tokyo and searching for other alternatives, but still feels like that church is his church.

Skip is a 20-year resident of Japan, a great piano player, sings in the British Embassy choir and is a personal and relationship coach and teacher. None of that says much about what he will talk about, but it is all part of his charm. He also will be one of the younger speakers that the group has had for some time.

After the war, the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo had many members of all ages, with enough family members with children that care had to be provided for them. The participation of late has tended to an older group, but either through good luck or a response to reach out more, four totally new persons showed up last week and were very welcome. Hopefully, this will be the start of a trend.

If you need help finding the meeting place, please feel free to call the International House, as they are very helpful.

On February 14, the speaker will be Gene Reeves speaking on Women in Buddhism. Details to follow.

Seasons Greetings.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Visit to the Tokyo Camii Mosque, Yoyogi–Uehara Feb 21, 2010

Visit to the Tokyo Camii Mosque, Yoyogi–Uehara
Join Prof. Vivek Pinto on a study visit to this Turkish founded and oldest mosques in the Tokyoarea on Sunday, 21 February, 2010. It will be an unique opportunity to experience and learn about Islam in English.
2:15 Meet at the ticket wicket (kaisatsu) of Yoyogi-Uehara Station (Chiyoda and Odakyu lines).
2:30 Introduction at mosque (front lounge).
2:45 Observe prayers. Women must wear scarf head-coverings, provided, or bring your own. We will sit on carpets on the floor.
3:00 Mr. H. Durakoglu of the Tokyo Camii (a Turkish word which means “the place where people get together”)
TurkishCulturalCenterwill talk about religious practices and faith concepts of Islam (English translation).
3:30 Turkish tea and further discussion with Prof. Pinto, who will have provided a glossary. Photography of the splendid calligraphic
decoration inside the mosque and architecture will be permitted after prayers.

We will collect a small fee on the day as a donation and thank you gift.

This trip is organized by the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo and College Women’s Association of Japan.

Numbers are limited, please RSVP to:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dec. 13 2009 Mahatma Gandhi and violence:

Mahatma Gandhi and violence: Perspectives on an allegorical dialogue.

What would Gandhi say to the masterminds promoting a culture of violence in the Middle East.

Journalist and International Christian University research fellow Dr. Vivek Pinto, will discuss an article Lord Bhikhu Parekh's article on "Why Terror?"
"It is an allegorical dialogue between Mahatma Gandhi and the leading Islamic terrorist. It originally appeared in Prospect and was widely acclaimed by intellectual, scholars, journalists and the academic world.
It has since been published in a book, The Stranger's Religion: Fascination and Fear, ed. Anna Lannstrom (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004)."
Link to Article,

Dr. Pinto says, "Prof. Parekh's article has been required reading in many universities around the word and his Gandhian perspicacity is admired, as you will see when you read the article. It is gripping, seminal, and raises up many important issues of contemporary relevance."

As Dr. Pinto is a Ghandi scholar in his own right, having published "Gandhi's Vision and Values: The Moral Quest for Change in Indian Agriculture" (New Delhi, India; London, U.K.; and Thousand Oaks, Ca., USA: Sage, 1998). This was his doctoral dissertation which was turned into a book and has sold very well.

The Future of the Fellowship

October 11th Pre-Discussion
We had a good crowd for the future of the fellowship discussion at the Int'l House coffee shop, and the surrounding garden looked great as usual.

Peggy, Stan, Vivek, Bonnie, Ella, Elaine, and Chuck were there to figure out how we can continue to enjoy examining the world's religions, philosophies and ideas by listening and questioning invited speakers or talking among ourselves.

Searching for a Home
Eventually (after March) we will probably need to find a new home as the sustaining membership in I House will run out - unless we can convince them that our goals are similar enough that it would benefit them for us to continue meeting there. Our current room on the fourth floor has a great view of the garden, but if more than a dozen show up, it will be standing room only. And some of our speakers - authors, professors, scholars - perhaps deserve a larger audience. The modest size of the group, which makes it so easy for everyone to participate is also one of our strengths (and weaknesses). But we are looking to grow to see if we can attract even more interesting people in Tokyo looking for some thought provoking talk. There were several ideas of where to meet from mid next year, but we could use more.

Speakers We talked about ways to continue to attract new English language lecturers willing to join us for our 3 p.m. Sunday meetings to discuss topics of interest. Scholars (young and old) wishing to polish off papers just finished or in progress have been welcome and we will pump our university contacts for more. Some of us are connected to the Asian Society of Japan and other organizations, while the ecumunical society and Dojin Kyokai continue to be sources of interesting speakers. Anyone reading this blog who would like to speak, please contact Peggy at unitarianfellowshipoftokyo(At Mark)
In the last year we have had talks on the Heart Sutra (by a Catholic scholar), the Jewish view of death, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (by a priest in Tokyo), the Church of Latter Day Saints, Bahai, Buddhism and Nuclear Disarmament, and enjoyed music sung by a visiting Unitarian minister, a tour of India, and a slide show of photos of the American Southwest.

Currently we struggle to pay the room rent and dinner + transportation for the speaker with our voluntary 1000 contribution each week. Some of us, who can't make it every month, but don't want to leave Peggy dipping into her pocket to cover for us, would like to contribute Y10,000 or so/year to make this a little more stable. And keep it voluntary and weekly contribution for anyone else so that students and retirees are always welcome. Stan agreed to be treasurer. Chuck owes him some advice.

Everyone agreed with the content of the proposed purpose statement - and that it was too long winded.

To develop an intellectually stimulating community based on a creedーfree examination of spiritual、moral、and existential aspects of religious、 philosophical、and cultural traditions and ideas through interaction with a broad range of interesting speakers in English.

We will work on making this "purpose" a little punchier. While enjoying our selves being stimulated. Everyone felt good after the discussion and the feeling carried through the speaker to the discussion and delicious food at Moti's, spiced up with Vivek's culinary commentary and tour of the kitchen.

We look forward to putting our ideas to work and expanding our little thoughtful English speaking community in Tokyo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October meeting, November Speaker

Dear Fellowship members,

On October 12th we shared memories and reflected on the generous lives of our two former members, William Parker and Shinichiro (Sam) Noda. It was wonderful to have so many join us.
Charles McJilton then gave an exciting talk about his work with homeless men in Tokyo and the food bank, Second Harvest. He said among many thought-provoking ideas that he considers himself like a baker, delivering a product to customers, not someone ^giving^ handouts.

November 8th, Sunday 3'00
International House (new fourth floor seminar room)

Speaker--Andy Game, of Alpha-- a program that tries to offer "in the workplace" a time and place to consider personal faith and moral issues. The program originated recently in England. As i understand it, some concerned Anglicans felt established churches did not address the hunger for spiritual experience and or even basic non-sectarian information amidst the alienation and over-busy lives of so many of us modern urbanites. Andy proposes to talk about the history and role of this approach-- including here in Tokyo, and to share how his faith has worked in his own life.

Also on Nov 8th -- at the International House Coffee Shop
Stan Yukavich, Peggy Kanada, Chuck Olson and ANYONE else who would like to meet briefly in order to discuss the FUTURE of the Unitarian Fellowship.
We hope to touch on finances, location, recruitment of new members, publicity, because the continuation of our tiny community is not clear.
If you cannot join us please call or email me with your suggestions.
Kanada-- tel/fax is 03-6240-1990

Please encourage even one person to come with you to try our fellowship discussion and comradary.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June and September meeting

Our June 14th meeting will welcome Denis Morrel who will show slides of his extensive hiking forays amidst the beautiful sites (like Monument Valley national park) of the American southwest.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meetings from May

The English-speaking International Buddhist Congregation (sponsored by Rissho Kosei Kai--the lay group dedicated in Nichiren's tradition to gleaning inspiration from the Lotus Sutra) celebrated the birth and Nirvana of the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Oshaka-sama).
--This annual Hanamatsuri or festival--was held this year on April 12th at the Niwano founder's hall out in Suginami-ku. It was a beautiful day and a colorful, inspiring, and flower filled ceremony with many other Buddhists and several embassies and many people (some in lovely traditional costumes from their countries like Sri lanka or Korea) also participating in thanksgiving and a general prayer for world peace. Delicious food and activities like a tea ceremony were also provided.
Gene Reeves (who preached the sermon or Dharma talk), Bonnie M. and Peggy from the Unitarian fellowship attended.

At 3:00 on 4/12 --on what was also Easter--the Fellowship met with Father O'Leary, a professor from Sohpia Univ, to hear his challenging presentation about Dostoyevsky (especially his 19th c novel Crime and Punishment) and the Resurrection.

Next Meeting:
May 10th 3:00-5:00
At International House (near Roppongi and Azabu Juban subway stations)
Our speaker will be the Rev. Katsuji SUZUKI (who has attended our fellowship meetings and actually studied and rec'd a degree at the Lombard Unitarian Divinity school in Chicago). He is with Rissho Kosei Kai and can answer questions about the ties of this group with Unitarians.
His topic: Buddhism for Sustainable Peace.

Our June 14th meeting will welcome Denis Morrel who will show slides of his extensive hiking forays amidst the beautiful sites (like Monument Valley national park) of the American southwest.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Schedule

Jan. 11 The Religious Situation in Iran - See note in blog
Feb. 8. Unitarianism and the Lotus Sutra - The Rev. Gene Reeves
Mar. 8 What is Unique about the Later Day Saints - Jim & Pat Hartzell
Apr 12? Mind and Body Connections - What is Health - Marianne Yamaguchi (member)
May 10 Speaker rom International Buddhist Congregation of Rissho Kosei Kai

Unitarians and the Lotus Sutra - February 8

The Rev. Gene Reeves will speak on Feb 8th 2009 to the Tokyo Unitarian Fellowship at 3 p.m. at the International House in Roppongi.

Probable topic related to "Unitarians and the Lotus Sutra" (working title -- he will expand any topic to suit the day ).

For some interesting links to the Rev. Reeves background see (mid way through)

The latter I found on the interesting UU Sangha page listing back issues of the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship

Anyone interested in a discussion in English of religion, culture and ideas is welcome to this small friendly multi-cultural group of long term residents of Japan and other interesting parts of the world

The Religious Situation in Iran Today

The next speakers for the Tokyo Unitarian Fellowship will be:

Jan 11 "The Religious Situation in Iran Today"--and its Historical Background."
Two Baha'i scholars from the Tokyo Bahai'i Education and Cross Culture Office in Tokyo will speak.

Two speakers: Kimiko Schwerin who was long based at the Bahai Center in Haifa, Israel and Sandra Fotos who teaches at Senshu University.

At the International House in Roppongi, at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon

Anyone interested in a good discussion of religion, culture and ideas is welcome to join.

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