RE: virus: Re: AIDS Meme

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Thu, 24 Oct 96 09:42:00 PDT

One particular case of mass martyrdom that made an impression
on me. I got this from a college survey course in Japanese religion:

When the Portuguese first got to East Asia, some of them were
missionaries, and some of those missionaries wound up in Japan.
At first, the Japanese government welcomed them, in part because
of a confusion: they were thought to be just one more variety of
Buddhist (this was partly because of some of the Chinese words
used to translate Christian concepts), and the Japanese were used
to welcoming Buddhist sects from China. After a while (I think about
20 years), the Shogun decided that Christianity was a threat to his
government. (This was part of a reaction against all things European,
from traders to guns.) He gave his Christian subjects a choice: they
could either renounce Christianity--by a ceremony that included
grinding an image of Jesus into the dirt--or be executed. Thousands
chose to be executed, confident in the teaching that anyone who died
for the faith was guaranteed a place in Heaven. (Others renounced
Christianity, some of whom continued to practice it very secretly;
some of their descendants don't quite trust the open Christians of
present-day Japan, since they "know" that you can't be a real
Christian in public.)