Just one country?

Kosuke Koyama – RIP

The late Japanese Christian theologian Kosuke Koyama (click HERE for NYT obituary) said, “There is only one sin, and it is exceptionalism.”  Koyama was baptized during the bombing raids of Tokyo in WW II. As the bombs exploded and the building burned around the church, Kosuke’s pastor looked him in the eye. “Kosuke,” he said, “You are a disciple of Jesus Christ. You must love your enemy… even the Americans.”Koyama first saw the myth of exceptionalism in the Japan of his youth where the Emperor and the Divine were hand-in-glove. Japan was an exceptional people that could not fail. In his later years, following his retirement from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, “Ko,” as his friends called him with great affection moved to Minneapolis.

During the 15 years I knew him, he shared his greatest sadness that the ideology of exceptionalism he had experienced as a  boy in Japan he now saw in the United States.

Today in 2012 political candidates cunningly appeal to the myth, believing that doing so  will rally true believers to cast their votes for them as the truest believers in America. Steve Shoemaker sent this piece today.

Verse – Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL May 2, 2012

The U.S.A. actually  is just one

country out of quite many “under God.”

It would be wrong to think the summer sun

shines only on our farms.  In other lands

the children grow as strong and bright as here,

and elders have respect around the world

(in fact, in many places they don’t fear

such loneliness and high cost of health care.)



Other countries are also free and brave, and have fine soldiers ready to defend

their shores.  It’s sweet and seemly that we give

our lives to save our families,  friends and land,

but we must not think we’re exceptional

and forget, too, the international.

7 thoughts on “Just one country?

  1. Pingback: Our Only House — John Lewis and Kosuke Koyama | Views from the Edge

  2. This is perhaps long, but beautiful. One of the heroes in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings speaks of his city (country): “…beautiful as a queen among other queens, not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of many slaves. [War is a necessity for self defense, but my love is not for the arts of war, nor for the glory of the warrior.] I love…[my] city…; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man old and wise.”
    Well it needs some revision for the newness of our country, but the spirit is wonderful, I think.


    • Hi Carolyn, Always enjoy a comment from you, and this sharing adds the wisdom of Tolkien to the dimension. As for length, you may have noticed :-), yours is short by way of comparison with my commentaries.


    • Giving up is death. As long as we have breath and have a life to live, we either live it to the full and take our lumps, or we might as well not be here at all. Giving up is a deadly option. Hanging in for justice, peace, and love feels like life itself. Anything less ia a betrayal.


  3. What an important concept – that we are not the world, but only one part of it, like one of the little round nubs on a blackberry – just one of many that makes up the whole berry. In our times nationalism is so rampant. It is hard to remember that only a few hundred years ago we weren’t even here. Our claim to fame is perhaps our newness, and not our greatness. If we all remembered that fact – I think we would be less prejudiced.


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