I had my first Christianity Today class of the term. It was really nice! I had a lot of people there (nine) and they were quick to join in with thoughts and comments from the Bible passage we were studying. I'm taking my students through the Old Testament this term, and today was creation. I was relieved that they didn't focus on the different perspectives Christians have on evolution or anything like that...the discussions we got into (about human authority and responsibility and God creating the world good) were far more productive. But one thing happened that was really, really interesting.
A man I hadn't met before came to the center just before my class, and asked if he could join coffee hour. I explained that Coffee Hour came after Christianity Today, but that he was welcome to either wait or join us for Christianity Today. He instantly walked into the room and said, "I need to read Corinthians, do you have a Bible?" I handed him a Bible and helped him find the verse he was looking for about the body being the temple for God. Once we had found it, I asked him why he was looking for it, and he said it reminded him of something in Zen. Class was starting, so we dropped the conversation.
I had students introduce themselves at the beginning of class, and the man said, "I'm actually not sure I'm allowed to be here, because I'm a Zen priest."
...I have a Zen priest (or monk...we weren't sure about the English) in my Christianity Today class.
He was an interesting character. Somewhat soft spoken, but with a pleasant sense of humor. He knew a lot about the Bible. He joked at the end of class that he was a heretic for coming to my class.
I've never met any student at Hongo who had a strong religion aside from our few Christian students. Much of Japan is self-proclaimed "no religion" or "interested in many religions" It will be very interesting to see what kind of conversations his presence brings about, assuming that he comes back again.