CompleteMartialArts.com - The Way of the Christian Samurai: Reflections for Servant-Warriors of Christ
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Binding: Paperback EAN: 9780977223466 ISBN: 0977223469 Label: R.A.G.E. Media Manufacturer: R.A.G.E. Media Number Of Items: 1 Number Of Pages: 116 Publication Date: 2007-06-15 Publisher: R.A.G.E. Media Studio: R.A.G.E. Media
The Samurai were soldiers of feudal Japan who dedicated their lives entirely to their lords. In fact, the very title of samurai means "one who serves." Legends of their skill, sacrifice, and service have been passed down for hundreds of years. As Christians, we are called to be both servants and soldiers of Christ. As this book demonstrates, there is much we can learn from the teachings and example of these legendary servant-warriors of Japan. We can respond to the call of our Lord, Jesus Christ, as Christian Samurai.
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Customer Rating: Summary: A most interesting read Comment: Being a Christian, I know I alienated my family when I decided to take up martial arts. I am sure that my parents believed that I embraced, if not endorsed, an Eastern mindset to the exclusion of my Judeo-Christian principles. I never really had the heart to explain that Judeo-Christian principles more closely align with an Eastern mindset than our Western way of thinking.
Perhaps I should mail my parents a copy of Paul Nowak's The Way of the Christian Samurai. When I first heard that title, I mused, "How could Christianity and the way of the Japanese Samurai ever parallel?" When I read this little devotional, I was very pleased with the author's comparisons.
The Samurai were the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. The very name means literally "to serve" and militates against the mindset of entitlement that pervades society today. Applying the various writings from the Hagakure, one can easily see how the Samurai's teachings of supreme loyalty and servitude are easily attributable to the Christian's relationship with Christ. In this way, I was very pleased to read Nowak's discussion that Samurai's actually lived as if they were already dead. Since the fear of death was eliminated - they were free to live for the lord and sovereign. By analogy, how much freer would a Christian be if they lived as if already "alive," since eternality exists currently - not at some future date.
Furthermore, Samurai's would meditate upon loss - so that its eventuality wouldn't be all encompassing. To live a life free from the encumbrances of life allowed total devotion to their master. Reading this devotional reminds Christians of the total devotion we are supposed to have for our Lord and Master.
Anyone looking for a good devotional will benefit from reading this book. Christian martial artists, on the other hand, need this book. As we navigate our various martial arts, we take inspiration from accurate depictions of these ancestral warriors. Nowak empowers us to be inspired by their selfless dedication to their master that serves as an excellent model for the dedication we should show to Christ.
Armchair Interviews says: Unique look at martial arts. Customer Rating: Summary: Holy Warriors Comment: A lot of people will get nervous about a book that suggests Christians have something to learn from the Samurai about how to serve the Lord. After all, weren't the Samauri pagans? And doesn't all of this reek of the sort of syncretism that attempts to equate all religions? It might except for two facts: Not all pagans were monsters and the modern West (including most of the Christians living there) have a lot to learn from the Samauri about the time honored concept of willing servitude.
Paul Nowak attempts to remedy that situation with The Way of the Christian Samurai. Consisting on excerpts from noted samauri masters (the samurai were a class of elite warriors in feudal Japan) with commentary noting applications to the Christian life, the book demonstrates how much modern society has lost in its quest for unrestrained egalitarianism. Certain passages in the New Testament - particularly those showing the deference given by the Apostles and others to Jesus (even before they knew His true nature as the Son of God) - can be misconstrued without understanding the cultural milieu wherein a respected figure was shown honor by those he visited and subservience by his followers. This is at odds with our own tradition on self-reliance to the point of self-centeredness that has led to the highly individualistic form of Christianity that has taken root in America (both on the liberal and conservative ends of the spectrum). The result is the claim of Jesus as Lord without fully grasping the import of claiming someone as Lord.
The samauri may not have been Christian but they did understand concepts that are applicable to the Christian life - often better than we. Integrity, loyalty, honor, service, courage, and self-sacrifice are all things that the samurai were instructed to live. Naturally, many failed in their personal lives but that is as true of Christian clerics as of samurai warriors. The important thing was that they understood the standard for which they strived while in many cases we in the postmodern world are oblivious to the existence of standards.
The excerpts on serving one's lord are eye-openers for any Christian with a "soft" view of service that rarely goes beyond activities at their local church. The willingness of a warrior to give himself completely to his lord underscores what it means to make oneself part of the "body of Christ". The Church, in this context, is not an abstract collection of like-minded individuals, but a concrete force sent out to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ a dying world.
To Nowak's credit, he constantly emphasizes that the Samurai are not in any way Christian and the Samurai way is infinitely inferior to the Way of Christ. The samurai way is at times at odds with the Christian way and in these instances we are to reject the samurai teaching. However, we can learn how we are to serve our lord by the standards the samurai set in serving theirs. It is not a direct application of samurai teachings but one by analogy. It in a sense becomes comparable to how the early Church was able to utilize classical pagan philosopy in systematizing its own theology.
In all this talk of service, one might ask: What about freedom? Indeed, the Christian faith is certainly about freedom. It is about being freed from the bondage of sin but this freedom is found in placing oneself under the headship of Christ. Christians find freedom in becoming part of Christ's body the Church when we place ourselves in service to Him. This does not at all correlate with the modern idea of freedom that insists we must follow our own desires, but looks back to a time when willingly placing oneself in the service of a great leader was considered a virtue not a vice.
The Way of the Christian Samurai is truly an unusual book among the many published that seek to link Christianity to various Eastern religions or philosophies. It's uniqueness lies not in any success in doing so, but in its insistence that any such linkage must be judged by the known truths of the Christian faith. Given the limited focus of the book, its acknowledgment of the superiority Biblical teaching, and its usefulness in shedding light on often ignored facets of the Christian way, it is an important book that can be read with profit by those in the Church. Customer Rating: Summary: Unique, Sound, and Very Practical Comment: "If one were to say in a word what the condition of being a samurai is, its basis lies in seriously devoting one's body and soul to his master..."
This quote, taken from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, appears on the back cover of WCS. As the quote illustrates, the teachings of the samurai are extremely relevant for Christians, for their single purpose in life was to serve their master and those around them. As the author points our in the book's introduction, the title "samurai" literally means "one who serves." The relevance of such a philosophy is obvious for Christians. We are called to deny ourselves and to serve God and our neighbor. However, in our selfish, individualistic culture, the idea of servant hood is entirely foreign to us and we tend to minimize the emphasis on the selfless nature of such servant hood.
The value of this book is in its ability to show us what true servant hood is by examples of the writings of the samurai of old. Of course, we have the perfect example of servant hood in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, it seems like we mythologize his selflessness because of the fact that Jesus is God. Its true that he is God, and that we can't live up to his perfect display of sacrifice is undeniable. Nonetheless, we are called to live by his example and promised that the trials we face by imitating his self-denial will mature us to be more like him. I'm afraid that we Westerners have trouble living by Christ's example because the mythological nature that we attach to his servant hood. What would help us is to see examples of people throughout history who lived by the philosophy of being servants who deny themselves on a daily basis to better serve their masters. God has provided us such examples in the samurai of the feudal period of Japan.
In the book, Paul Nowak deals with three main works written by the samurai and shows how their philosophy is practical to Christians. He also shows Scripture passages that parallel these teachings. Amazingly, many of the excerpts from the samurai works are basically rewordings of passages of Scripture. Quickly after I began reading the book I was absolutely amazed by the level of devotion that they aimed to live by. By no means am I more impressed with their example than I am by our Lord's example. Rather, I was encouraged to see that these men actually displayed the self-denial and loyalty to their master that we are called to do. Keep in mind also, that the samurai were this committed to a fallen human. Our master is the perfect risen King who helps us by sending us his Spirit! How much better should our example of servant hood be? To me, it should be much better. Yet from the examples given in this book, we have a lot of work to do in order to surpass the pagan samurai in our devotion to our master.
After reading it, I have a much better sense of what service and self-denial is. More importantly, it has helped me see more clearly the example that Jesus set, and has encouraged me that I can do much more in imitating it. Also note that this is not one of those lame self-help books. It is thoroughly Christ-centered. It is also a very unique book. I'm pretty sure that it will be a while before I come across a book this unique in content, yet this sound in its message. I suggest this book to everyone but especially to people who are interested in Japanese culture, because it deals a lot with the writings of the legendary samurai who helped make the culture famous.