Aso Sticks his Foot in his Mouth Again.

9 01 2009

Taro Aso the supposedly Catholic Prime Minister of Japan should really just shut up.

World religions can learn from Japan: PM

TOKYO (AFP) — Prime Minister Taro Aso said Thursday some of the world’s major religions could learn from Japan’s work ethic.

The conservative leader, who is known for his controversial remarks, told a parliamentary committee that Japan’s belief in hard work contrasted with that of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

“Our values in Japan regard hard work as important,” Aso said during a discussion on the global economic crisis.

“To work is good. It’s completely different thinking from the Old Testament,” Aso said.

Aso, who is a Catholic, was apparently referring to the Bible’s description of work as God’s punishment of Adam for disobeying his commands in the Garden of Eden.

He made a similar argument in a speech on December 7 in southern Japan, according to the Nikkei newspaper.

“In the Old Testament, God gave Adam punishment: labour. The Old Testament, Christianity, Islam — if you add them up, what percent of the world is that? About 70 percent of religions hold a philosophy that work is a punishment.”

full article

Someone hit him over the head with a Bible please maybe it will sink in better because whatever he has being doing to understand it so far has failed.   Why does it seem that that some of the loudest condemnations of Catholicism are said by so called Catholics themselves?  Someone hit him over the head with a Catholic history book detailing all the work Catholics have done in terms of art, architecture and science for example, and all the work Catholics continue to do today in their daily lives as regular people, or in saintly lives like that of Blessed Mother Teresa.

Furthermore Japan should learn from Catholicism how to rest, and that drinking in moderation is ok but getting drunk every night after work with colleagues, even forced company outings are not “work” and should not be put ahead of more important things like going home to spend time with the family.  The older generations here have the idea that work and the company come first and family second.

I could go on and on but I wont because Im lazy and I dont like to type too much it is awefully hard work.

Pray that Aso receives the spirit of wisdom.




6 responses

9 01 2009

Well it seems that politicians who think they understand theology are not limited only to the united states. This has got to be some of the worst biblical exegesis I have ever seen. Maybe some of why he is saying this might come from his desire to not seem too Catholic in a country that is decidedly not Catholic. It’s sad to watch someone turn their back on what is eternal for an Island in the Pacific (let alone any piece of land or worldly power). Perhaps this is the time when Japanese bishops should step in, though I highly doubt it. During my time in Japan the bishops struck me as being more concerned with not hurting feelings than proclaiming the truth.

11 01 2009

In terms of how Catholics and Christians view work, Mr. Aso is simply wrong. We know that Jesus Christ, being God, sanctified work by spending years humbly working beside St. Joseph in his shop. So when a Christian works, and offers this work to the Lord, his work has become sacred…One cannot fully understand the Old Testament without looking at the New Testament.

11 01 2009

Whoa, that’s going a bi too far. Let’s hope and pray that someone corrects this misguided notion…

13 01 2009

Mr. Aso also forgets that one of the reasons man was put in the garden, explicitly, was to tend it. According to the NSRV (Gen. 2:15): “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” The punishment was just that the work became difficult and tedious. And lest we rely solely on the second creation story, God himself “rested on the seventh day from the work (again, the word is used explicitly) he had done. (Gen 2:2)”

The misreading is rather fundamental, and incidentally the worthiness of the vocation to work was something hit pretty hard in my Catholic Doctrine class in school– so it’s not like this is any big secret. The idea that work itself is evil or to be spurned is alien to Judeo-Christian ethics.

(By the way, I am checking back in here after a rather prolonged break: been busy bringing my own part of Japan back to the States, but hopefully will read more regularly from now on. Keep up the good work.)

14 01 2009
Viator Catholicus

Actually, by the classical era it was the pagan Greeks and Romans who despised work. Their gods on Olympus led lives of leisure with no care for the plight of human beings. The goal of the pagan was to avoid work.
Pagan samurai certainly disdained work and looked down on both farmers and artisans as subservient classes.

But, as dbp points out Genesis shows the true God “working” 6 days and calling upon the man made in His own image to do the same. The “toil” involved becomes a punishment but also sort of expiation (albeit insufficient)for sin.
I believe the motto of St. Benedict was “ora et labora.” (pray and work)
Aso should read John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens. By now that encyclical is about 25 years old!

2 03 2009

Gee, if Japan is focused so much with work, no wonder it has one of the highest rates of suicide among industrialized countries.

If work is sanctified, and put into proper context, and not just an approval of rampant materialism, I am certain that not only will Japan prosper, but the Japanese will be happier.

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