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In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program
Participants become familiar with Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, and explore the importance of ancestors and forebears in their own lives.
Say, in your own words:
Shinto is the indigenous faith of Japan, with an estimated 4 million to 100 million current followers. Believers respect animals as messengers of the gods, recognize nature as sacred, revere geographic locations such as mountains and springs, and practice cleanliness as a religious rite. Followers of Shinto aspire to have makoto—or, sincerity—brightness, and purity of heart. Another feature of Shinto is the worship of ancestors.
Tell participants Shinto adherents greatly honor their elderly and revere their ancestors who have died. Explain that to a follower of Shinto, the thought of all their dead ancestors watching over them is profoundly comforting, giving their life meaning and depth. Ask participants what they think of that idea. Lead a discussion about attitudes toward elders and ancestors with questions such as these:
Ask participants to imagine a ritual that could express the way their family honors ancestors. Suggest they either think of ways to enrich an existing family practice or envision a totally new ritual.
Give them a moment to reflect. Then, ask them to pair up and share their ideas with their partners. Reconvene the large group and ask a few volunteers to share their ideas.
Tell participants Shintoism is not the only faith with a belief that our ancestors are looking out for us. Many indigenous faiths and other religions share this belief. Many also share the Shinto belief in other spirits, such as the animal spirits of Native American religions.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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