HIROKAZU MIYAZAKI: This is the inaugural event for our new speaker series, called "Faith, Hope, and Knowledge, Interfaith Dialogue for Global Justice and Peace." And this is a new joint initiative of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and Cornell United Religious Work, and it is supported generously by the office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, the office of Vice Provost for International Affairs has a strategic priority to promote a global-at-home for learning, and this is part of that initiative.
And I'd really like to thank Vice Provost Laura Spitz for her courageous decision to support this experiment of collaboration among Cornell faculty, staff, students, and administrators surrounding inter-faith dialogue.
And this particular event-- today's event is also co-sponsored by the East Asia Program, and also thank that Father Dan McMullin, who has more profound things to say about this initiative than I.
I would like to offer some of my own personal thoughts and hopes for this initiative. So, from my perspective, there are two goals for this initiative. First, I think this is really to reaffirm and extend Cornell's long-standing commitment to inclusiveness, openness, and social justice, and to combat all acts of divisiveness, exclusion, and injustice at home and abroad.
And two, to create an inter-faith space for all of us, administrators, faculty, staff, and students to explore together thoughtfully as well as safely the delicate relationship between our government and religious or spiritual pursuits. These are admittedly challenging goals, but I hope that in pursuing these goals we will be able to create conditions for us all to become whole persons in the context of this secular institution.
And I would like to thank members of the student committee for this initiative, for thoughtfully planning this semester's initiative. This semester focuses on peace. And I would like to especially thank Jane-Marie Law, who is associate professor of Asian Studies, Matthew Evangelista, the director of the Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in our Einaudi Center. Heike Michelsen, associate director for academic programming for Einaudi Center. And Father Dan McMullin, director of Cornell United Religious Work and associate dean of Students for Spirituality and Meaning-Making. And at this point I would like to invite Father Dan to say a few words of welcome.
DAN MCMULLIN: I don't have to introduce myself-- thank you-- because that's a mouthful of words. We had a wonderful opportunity last night where we met together-- students, staff, faculty, and some chaplains as well. And if the conversation last night was any indication of what is yet to happen, we are in great hands here. The conversation was far-reaching about how to integrate the conversation about our religious experience along with our academic experiences here, and it adds a richness to our identities. And I think everybody left that room being a little more aware, and also looking for the next opportunity for this to happen.
So today-- this afternoon we have this remarkable opportunity to hear Father Antoni. Will you introduce yourself or do we get to do it all? Oh, you're going to do all that? That's good, because I have an anecdote. We sat down next to each other last night, and of course you say to another priest, well, you know, I know some Jesuits. OK, fine. Big deal. And I said, my best friend actually is a Jesuit priest who is the chaplain, or the pastor, of Saint Ignatius Church out in San Francisco. Voila, they live in the exact same house, because the Jesuits live together in community.
So it was a wonderful, serendipitous moment, which I hope that kind of friendship is what we will generate here in our conversations throughout this semester to come, and through the years that unfold as we continue to look at the fullness of our identity, not just as people who are academically astute, but also are very-keenly-aware of our own spirits and souls as well. So thank you for being here tonight. Thank you.
HIROKAZU MIYAZAKI: So our inaugural speaker, Dr. Antoni Ucerler, is a Jesuit, a member of the society of Jesus.
ANTONI UCERLER: No one is perfect.
HIROKAZU MIYAZAKI: I chose Father Ucerler as our inaugural speaker because I thought that this initiative would benefit from a Jesuit perspective. And I must admit, I'm a little biased here. I had many years of Jesuit education. But I want to make a case, nevertheless. So in his well-known 1937 speech, men and women travelers followed Pedro Arrupe, who was a transformative figure for the Society of Jesus. At that time he was the Superior General of the Society. He offered a striking image of complete effects produced by the nation's spiritual exercises, which Jesuits said those they educated in spiritual guide after school in the sanctuaries.
I'd like to quote from that speech. "These exercises, are essentially a method, enabling us to make very concrete decisions, in accordance with God's will. It is a method that does not limit us to any particular option, but spreads out before us, the whole range of practicable options in any given situation, opens up for us a sweeping vision embracing many possibilities, to the end that God himself, in all his tremendous originality may trace out a path for us. It is this indifference, in the sense of lack of differentiation, this not being tied down to anything except God's will, that gives to the society and to the men and women it has been privileged to educate what we may call a multifaceted potential. Their readiness for anything, any service that may be commanded of them by the signs of the times."
I think We can substitute the term "love" for "God" or "God's will" in these paragraphs. "It is this Jesuit pursuit of multiple perspectives and the accompanying practice of [INAUDIBLE], guided only by the principle of love and of commitment to serve others. I think that I think is particularly pertinent to this initiative and what we are trying to achieve together in this time of profound divisiveness and confusion.
Father Murat Antoni John Ucerler is currently the director of the Ricci Institute for Chinese and Western Cultural history at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit university in San Francisco. Father Ucerler received his doctorate from University of Oxford, and his Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.
He previously taught at Sophia University in Tokyo, Georgetown University, and Oxford University. His research has focused on the relationship between Europe and East Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries, with emphasis on Christianity in Japan and comparative studies of the Jesuit mission in China and Japan. He has authored and edited many books, including Christianity and Cultures, Japan and China in Comparison, 1543 to 1644, and [? legacies ?] of the book Early Modern Painting and Visual Arts in Asia and [INAUDIBLE].
As his three names-- Murat, a Turkish name; Antoni, a Polish name; and John, an English name-- may suggest, Dr. Ucerler's life has been truly international. Dr. Urcerler speaks many languages-- I don't know how many languages you speak.
ANTONI UCERLER: Seven, eight? Nine, ten?
HIROKAZU MIYAZAKI: Nine, ten. He has traveled extensively and has lived and has been educated and trained in many countries, including Canada, Poland, Italy, and Japan. The title of Dr. Ucerler's lecture today is "Christian Encounters with Early Modern East Asia, Lessons in Cultural Accommodation and Dialogue. Please join me in welcoming Father Ucerler.
ANTONI UCERLER: I have a bit of a bad back, so sometimes I may sit, sometimes I may stand. So please bear with me.
Well, first of all, I'm delighted to have this opportunity to address you this afternoon. It's truly a privilege to be here at Cornell University for the very first time, so let me begin by expressing my thanks to the Einaudi Center-- a very famous Italian, Einaudi-- to Professor Hirokazu Miyazaki, Heike Michelsen, the staff at the Einaudi center, Father Dan McMullin, and all those who helped to arrange this day.
I've already been introduced so I won't say more than that, except that Japan is very much at the center of my life. I went there is a missionary in 1985. I worked there for many years. I lived there for 12 years on and off since 1985. So I'm 53 years old, and now I realize that for 32 years Japan has been part of my life. And it's interesting how living in a different country and culture is not just an experience of you going into it, but it actually transforms who you are. So it's not just two sides meeting each other, but it's a three-dimensional experience.
And so I teach courses in Japanese and Chinese culture and history, and I'm going to try to talk to you today about, in a way, an impossibly-complex subject, which is to give you a short introduction to this whole question of Christianity in Japan and in China, which is truly an arduous task. But I'll try my best to give you an overall picture of the religious situation and this extraordinary encounter that took place between East and West.
Boy, that's very big. I hope you'll forgive me if my narrative weaves in and out of Japan and China as the story unfolds, but I'm convinced that it's most meaningful to treat them together as we ask the key question, what lessons can we learn from the past? Cicero said that the past, history, is "magistra vitae," so it is the teacher of our lives. And that's a very Western concept, which is also honored in China and in Japan where history is very important.
Why was-- why is cultural accommodation so important for the life of Christianity in a pluralistic and multicultural society and in societies across the world? What does dialogue actually consist in? How did the missionaries in East Asia understand it and attempt it-- as imperfect, at times, as their endeavors actually may have been? And what role did the missionaries play in this, including those who first set out such as Francis Xavier and his successors Alessandro Valignano and Matteo Ricci? What did they hope to accomplish as they left Europe thousands of miles behind them, never to return to their native shores?
In order to understand their approach to other cultures we must explore the nature of this missionary enterprise. And that was a word they used, [PORTUGUESE] in Portuguese and in Spanish. It was an enterprise. What means did they employ to introduce Christianity to ancient civilizations with very different traditions?
Were the beginnings of Christianity in Japan and in China, both as a faith with its specific doctrines as an organized religion with its particular institutions and external forms of expression and religious practice simply the imposition of an alien religious and cultural tradition and set of values by uninvited Western intruders upon unsuspecting East Asian peoples? Or did Christianity, in the process, take root and became a Christianity at least in part made in Japan and made in China rather than just imported or transplanted unnaturally into those countries?
Well, the most famous of all the missionaries in the Middle Kingdom was, as you might know, the namesake of my Institute, Matteo Ricci, who arrived in China in 1582. So we ask, what exactly inspired him to do what he did?
We know that he came to be regarded and respected as an upright man of virtue and a gentleman scholar who had traveled thousands of leagues from the Great West-- as the Chinese referred to his homeland, the [CHINESE]-- but what he continues to remember it for to this day was that he befriended the Chinese people in a spirit of openness and respect, and was willing not only to learn from them but also to be transformed, as I just said, at a deep personal level by the encounter. And therein, perhaps, we shall uncover his greatest legacy.
So to comprehend Ricci's way of proceeding in his dealings with the Chinese we must first consider the historical and cultural context in which Ricci arrived in China, which is why I shall call upon Ricci himself to say some things to us and tell him from his own correspondence, and that of others with whom he was in contact, what he thought about all this, what actually inspired him to adopt the somewhat-peculiar method of preaching the gospel in the Middle Kingdom that we today referred to as cultural accommodation or inculturation. A method that in great part, thanks to him and to his successors, we now take for granted in a multicultural society. But it was not an obvious choice in the 16th century, which was, of course, riddled with conflicts.
The story of Ricci's journey to China begins with another great Italian missionary, Alessandro Valignano, who died in Macau, China in 1606 just as he was preparing to embark on a journey to the Chinese mainland to visit Matteo Ricci. In fact, Ricci would call him the "father of the mission."
In August 1573 the new general superior of the Jesuit order, Everard Mercurian, the first non-Spaniard, appointed Valignano to be his "visitor"-- that means his personal delegate-- to all the Jesuit missions in the East Indies under what was then called the royal patronage of the Portuguese court in Lisbon. Which, at the time, included places and cultures as diverse and as distant from each other as Mozambique, Goa, Malaka, Macau, and Nagasaki.
So he departed for India in 1574 and arrived in 1579 in the Japanese archipelago, where he spent two years, mostly on the island of Kyushu. Thereafter he would travel between Japan, Macau, and Goa for several decades until he died in 1606.
In a letter to Claudio Acquaviva, the new Superior General, Valignano looks back and he reflects on all this. And he tells the story of how Otomo Sorin, who was known as Don Francisco, or King Francisco-- he was the King of Bungo after his baptism. He was this lord of Bungo and a very powerful [JAPANESE] on Kyushu Island.
So Sorin and a number of other Japanese Christian lords insisted that the Jesuits respect their customs. Valignano makes no effort to hide the irritation these Japanese warlords expressed to him about his fellow missionaries' demeanor. He says the following in this letter.
- Lord Francisco of Bungo told me how often he was so infuriated and disgusted when leaving one of our houses that he was determined never to come back. And he also told me that if we wanted to attempt to convert Japan, we would have to learn the language well and live according to their cultural norms. Moreover, he noted that it could only be taken as a sign of diminished intelligence to imagine that a handful of foreigners could possibly induce all the samurai and their Japanese lords to abandon their own time-honored customs and civilized forms of courtesy in order to accommodate themselves to our foreign ways, which appeared to the Japanese to be most barbaric and lacking in civility."
ANTONI UCERLER: Thank you, Mr. Valignano. As a result, what happened? He convoked the first general meeting, which took place in and around Nagasaki. This process of meetings started in 1580 and ended in 1582, the end of his first stay. Then he wrote a long report to Rome, and he came to certain decisions about how the mission should function. And these were called [PORTUGUESE] or resolutions, that he had compiled for the governance of the mission.
In the opinion of the majority, the only way to ensure the survival was that they create a native clergy. It has to be the Japanese who do this themselves. So they needed to give this native clergy a proper training. And, in fact, their conclusion was--
- This is the only remedy for the conversion and conservation of the Japanese mission. There is no other way to sustain the mission without this means of education.
ANTONI UCERLER: So as a result of these deliberations, a college of higher learning, the first Jesuit Western-style college in East Asia, was established. The College of Funai, which is present-day Oita City in Kyushu, was established thanks to the [JAPANESE] of Otomo Sorin-- who you just heard a moment ago-- who gave the Jesuits the land and the permission to build it in his kingdom in the midst of civil war.
The aim of this college in Funai, which was later transferred to Nagasaki and elsewhere, was to provide a higher level of studies in both the European and the Japanese humanities as well as in philosophy and in theology for those who were training for the priesthood and had already completed their basic studies at the [PORTUGUESE].
Now, let's take a look at this beautiful map of Japan by Mercator-- although parts of Japan are missing, and Korea is unfortunately an island-- but if we look at Kyushu, here, and now over to some details-- here is Funai, which is Oita City. And then if we look at a modern map, here is Funai, or a modern rendition of warring states Japan, Funai, and here is Nagasaki. Just for your orientation.
So being a pragmatist, Valignano knew that the curriculum had to be adapted and could not simply be taught in the same way as it had been taught in the Jesuit colleges at Evora or Coimbra in Portugal, or the universities of Paris, Alcala and Salamanca. So what did he do? Well, he decided to combine texts-- this is very interesting. Remember, this is 1580-- that represented the best of Western learning, with those that were part of the eastern tradition, which he refers to as "gakumon," which is still today the word for learning or scholarship.
So he first opted for a selection of classical literary texts and also patristic Christian texts. And what he did was-- and this is really his great innovation-- he replaced the study of Greek with the study of classical Japanese and Chinese texts, including literary works such as the Wakan roeishu, the [? Kinkashu ?] and the Heiki Monogatari, all of which were published on the mission press in the 1590s. I don't have time to talk about it, but he also brought a printing press-- a Gutenberg printing press-- from Lisbon in 1590.
So another priority was the study of Buddhist doctrine, or [NON-ENGLISH]. The aim was, chiefly and admittedly, not to dialogue so much with Buddhism as to prepare the students to engage competently in philosophical disputations with the adherence of the various Buddhist sects. And again, I don't have that much time to talk about this. This is a very important text. It is a theological compendium that one of the Jesuits, Pedro Gomez, specifically wrote in Latin first and then in Japanese translation, and it's called A Compendium of Catholic Theology, but also included a partial translation of Aristotle. And it was the first time such philosophical and theological concepts were translated into the Japanese language.
It has a rather curious title, for those who understand classical Japanese. And here it is. So it's, [SPEAKING JAPANESE].
You all you all got that, right? Maybe you didn't. So here is the English. "The Compendium of Catholic Faith, compiled by Father Pedro Gomez, Vice-Provincial of Japan, and Wise and Learned Master of the Group of Brothers of the Japanese Region. Translated into Full into the Language of the Japanese Region by Father Pedro Ramon," who also helped him. And there were many Japanese, also converts from Buddhism, who helped in this translation. This was a team project. It wasn't just done by the missionaries themselves.
Now, what's interesting is the main thrust of Gomez's work was not that of refuting heresy and defining orthodoxy, which is what was raging in Europe at the time. But rather, as the Japanese historian Obara Satoru has pointed out, his main consideration was to tie Christian dogma with the issues of morality and the inner life rather than to engage in the abstract refutation of heresy. This explains the emphasis on praxis and the detailed exposition of Christian virtues and their opposite vices, an approach quite different from the traditional curriculum in Europe.
Now, as for Valignano's ideas-- how this could also be done in China-- he was well aware at an early stage that, just like in Japan, so too in China, no success could be hoped for without adaptation and accommodation to Chinese culture. In fact, he would be the first to embrace-- and not only to embrace this idea, but to articulate this idea.
Valignano expressed great appreciation for Chinese culture early on, and reported back from Japan to Rome in 1580 in the following terms. Here you see a piece of the original manuscript.
- The Kingdom of China is very different from any other kingdom or eastern province, and upon setting foot in it, one gets the impression of entering a totally new world. It is very similar to Europe, and yet it is more advanced in many ways."
ANTONI UCERLER: Quite something for an Italian nobleman to say in the 16th century. It's more advanced than Europe. What else does he say?
- First of all, China is very vast and has only one king, who is the richest and most powerful king anywhere in the world. And the whole kingdom, with all its towns, cities, and even villages all belong to the king of China, who has officials in every part of the country who are known as "mandarins."
These mandarins achieve their positions of dignity only be merit of their virtuous conduct and learning, which is held in even greater esteem in China than in Europe. And, as official positions of honor and government, are only granted to the literati, all strive to excel in letters-- which is why China is the best governed kingdom of any in existence."
ANTONI UCERLER: Years later Ricci himself would echo sentiments and convictions very similar to those of his mentor. Valignano knew that it would be impossible to engage such a society in a meaningful way without mastering the Chinese language. And this was the arduous task that he set two Jesuits, one who came before Ricci, Michele Ruggieri.
And Ruggieri arrived in Macau in 1579 and he set the same task to Ricci, his fellow Italian who joined him there in 1582 after having worked for four years in India, in Goa, in Cochin as a teacher.
In a report to Rome on the Jesuit missions in Asia, first written in 1580 and revised several years later, Valignano had the following to say about what he had just decided for these two fellow Italians to do.
- There are already two fathers, Ruggieri and Ricci, here in Macau studying the language, and they are making great progress. We can confidently hope that their efforts will not be in vain. For this purpose I've provided them with teachers and with a separate house and with all the necessary means and leisure to dedicate themselves wholly to this task.
ANTONI UCERLER: Now, one of the great treasures in the Jesuit archives in Rome is this dictionary that Ruggieri and Ricci started to compile together. This is the first time that they were studying Chinese. And you see this dictionary. It's called the Dictionarium Lusitanicum Sinicum, Portuguese-Chinese dictionary. And this is actually in the hand of Richie himself. And here also you see how he's practicing Chinese characters, and also creating a system of transliteration for the pronunciation of the different characters. So this is really very interesting.
So we have this attempt to learn Chinese. But even before Ricci arrived Ruggieri was already trying to create a compendium of Christian doctrine. In fact, what we see is, three years after he arrived-- that is, in 1584-- Ruggieri composed a catechism that was printed with the title, The True Record of the Lord of Heaven, Tianzhu shilu.
This would include a folio added at the end as an appendix with the very first translation of the 10 commandments and of prayers, such as the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary," translated into Chinese. Valignano was delighted. This is what he had wanted to do. And immediately saw its potential utility, not just for China but also for Japan.
In fact, in his report to Acquaviva from Cochin, Valignano went back and forth between Japan, India, and Macau in China, because he was responsible for all three. Now he's writing-- he's heard about this and he's writing now from Cochin. And he has the following to say.
- The catechism that was composed in the Chinese language will also be of great help to the learned Bonzes, and that is why I have written to China instructing them to send numerous copies to Japan.
ANTONI UCERLER: We know that copies of Ruggieri's work were, in fact, sent to Japan in later years. But the visitor eventually became disillusioned with Ruggieri's linguistic abilities and ordered Matteo Ricci in 1595 to prepare a new catechism. In fact, he sent Ruggieri packing back to Europe. Why did this happen, we may ask? Why this sudden negative evaluation of Ruggieri's linguistic deficiencies?
Well, it didn't have only to do with language. Let's just say Valignano was being a bit Jesuitical. So he sent Ruggieri back because there was a disagreement over how much-- how far the Jesuits should accommodate themselves to Buddhism. In fact, the visitor-- so, Valignano-- found it unacceptable for the Jesuits to start wearing Buddhist dress and start adapting, or adopting, their customs and language. Because one thing was accommodation, another one was to be identified completely with Buddhism.
In fact, this brings us to the colophon. So the last part-- a colophon, as you know, is the last part of a book. And here we have the colophon of The True Record of the Lord of Heaven, Ruggieri's catechism, where Ruggieri deliberately notes that this work was composed by whom? [? Mingjian. ?]
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- [SPEAKING CHINESE]
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- So, [CHINESE]. What does this mean? It means that this was the word for "monk," and it was obviously a monk who had come from India. Ruggieri had come from India on the way to China. Well, a monk who had come from India-- obviously you are a Buddhist. That's where Buddhism comes from. So people were delighted. They thought he was a Buddhist monk.
So as a result of this fundamental disagreement-- between Ricci and Valignano on the one hand and Ruggieri on the other-- Ricci composed, as I said, a new catechism-- which was called The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, Tianzhu shiyi-- which was finally published in 1603 after a lengthy process of revision, compiled as a dialogue and a debate between a Western scholar and a Chinese scholar. So this debate-- or also not only a debate, but it was a dialogue, a conversation. Of course, this also followed certain Renaissance models.
And what was its purpose? To explore the nature of the divine, introduce the idea of a unique god or Lord of heaven-- this word that Ricci used is still used today in Chinese worship, "Tianzhu" is "Lord of Heaven"-- and to help the Chinese understand how human beings possessed an eternal soul related to the Godhead as creator and Redeemer. So he wanted that distinction to be made. And he wanted also to offer an alternative to the traditional Buddhist anthropology of reincarnation and the transmigration of souls, As well as what he considered pantheistic tendencies in Buddhist cosmology.
So three years later Ricci confirms these efforts on behalf of both missionaries in a letter to Acquaviva from the court, when he writes--
- It gave us great consolation to know that many of our works written in Chinese characters were useful in Japan on account of their use of the same characters. For this reason Father Valignano reprinted my catechism in Canton in order to have it send to Japan, and Father Francesco Pasio has requested that I send him many of these books, for they have great authority in Japan insofar as they come from China.
ANTONI UCERLER: Now, it is quite likely that this policy of disengagement with Buddhism, which could also extend to Taoism-- the other important religion in China-- can be traced back to a famous incident that actually took place in Japan, in Yamaguchi, several decades earlier in 1551. And what happened there? Well, in his preaching Francis Xavier had repeatedly employed the word [JAPANESE], the abbreviated form of [JAPANESE], taken from Shingon Buddhist terminology in order to express the concept of a Christian god.
Again, Francesco Xavier had come from India, and people knew that. He soon realized that his listeners had been misled by his use of Buddhist terms into believing that Christianity was a new Buddhist sect. This conviction was compounded, of course, by the fact that he came from India.
The parallels with China are quite striking, and the inherent dangers of a repetition of this misunderstanding-- linguistic, cultural, and religious-- were not lost on Valignano or Ricci. What Ricci then decided to do was to present himself not as a monk but as a literatus, or as a scholar, in order to engage in dialogue with Chinese scholars, Confucian scholars, on their own terms in interpreting and reinterpreting their own classical writings in search of the gospel's seeds.
So that was his approach. That's how he thought he might accomplish this. Now, in a letter he wrote from Beijing-- and it took him about 18 years to get permission to live in Beijing-- he makes-- and here you see again, Ricci's manuscript-- a poignant comment on the importance of writing books-- and here we are in a university-- as a privileged means of proclaiming the Christian faith in China.
- And it is for this reason that I do everything so that our Fathers study very well the books of China and learn how to compose in Chinese, for, to tell the truth-- which may be hard to believe-- one accomplishes more in China with books than with words.
ANTONI UCERLER: Here we are.
- [SPEAKING ITALIAN]
ANTONI UCERLER: And this, of course, refers to the difference of rhetorical traditions. The Greek and Roman rhetorical tradition was mainly oral, and the Chinese rhetorical tradition was mainly written. So this is a very interesting fact.
It is also interesting to note, you have these Jesuit catalogs with all the names of all the missionaries. Now, if you look at this-- this one was composed in the late 1600s, so about 50, 60 years after the mission had started-- what does it list? Well, let's take a close up look here.
It records the following data. The year of arrival, name and surname, country of provenance, the Chinese name, and the number of books they wrote. So these people could have easily gotten tenure at Cornell University because they wrote a huge, huge number of works. And remember, they were writing in classical Chinese, not in Latin or in Italian.
So he spells out-- that is, Ricci spells out his thoughts even more fully in another letter, this time to Francesco Pasio, the Superior of the Japanese mission. Written from Beijing on the 15th of February, 1609. This is already three years after Valignano has died in Macau. And so now Francisco Pasio, another Italian, is the Superior of the mission.
This letter is really worth quoting because it summarizes what Ricci has learned in over a quarter of a century in China as a missionary.
- There is great hope in the abundant fruit that is to be gained from such a vast kingdom, for in this kingdom learning-- and consequently all sciences and opinions founded on reason-- are held in high esteem. And thus there is no nobility here that is given any consideration except for learning, and no one is noble but those who are learned and hold degrees. And that is why it would be simple to persuade the rules of this kingdom with our holy faith through evidence provided by reason. And if they concede, it will be easy to convert everyone else.
ANTONI UCERLER: He may have been a little bit over-optimistic there, but still the gist of what he's saying is truly very interesting.
- What follows is the ease with which we can spread our Holy Christian Religion with books, which can enter everywhere without any obstacles. And so it is that, as these books spread, they speak to more people and with greater consideration and precision than we can by word of mouth, and of this we have undeniable experience. In fact, our Holy Law, or at least a good opinion of it, has spread further by means of the four or five books that we have printed than by mere words or any other means hitherto employed by us.
ANTONI UCERLER: So, now if we look back at how Ricci began to engage his Chinese counterparts soon after his arrival, we come to his other cultural endeavors. And what was one of those endeavors? Well, they discovered that the officials who served in China's complex imperial bureaucracy looked upon themselves as guardians, of course, of the celestial kingdom at the center of the world community, encompassed by the four seas, the [CHINESE], which is a reference to all of the world.
Any and all foreigners granted the privilege of entering this kingdom must pay obedience and tribute to the Son of Heaven, the emperor. But first they must declare where they had come from in this cosmology and in the geography of the world. Where are you from? We've been talking a lot about this over the last two days. Not unlike the demand for information an immigration official makes before granting or denying entry to a foreigner at a national port of entry, it was in order to answer this pressing question, where are you from, that Ricci decided that he had to make a map.
But there was also another reason for Ricci's pursuit of maps. Because officials could not adequately administer such a vast realm without proper geographical surveys, the literati had a keen appreciation for cartography and geography and its importance for imperial governance. After all, how could the Son of Heaven, the [CHINESE], effectively rule his entire realm-- or, in Chinese, all that is under heaven, the [CHINESE]-- if that divine link between heaven and earth, the Son of Heaven did not understand the geography of his own kingdom? Well, then what sort of emperor are you anyway?
As soon as Ricci grasped this Chinese concern, he embarked on producing a number of maps of the world. Now, the most famous example of his cartographic labors was completed in 1602, soon after his admittance to the imperial court the previous-- well, two years before that, actually. And he arranged for wood blocks to be carved for the printing of a large, six-panel map of the world, or [ITALIAN].
This is a copy that was acquired a number of years ago by the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. We borrowed it and put it on display at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco last year.
It's the first map where practically all the names of places are translated for the first time into Chinese. This map also contained astronomical data and other pertinent geographical information based on the Mercator projection, and it astonished the Chinese and became so popular that it influence Japanese and Korean cartography for centuries thereafter.
Here you see the astronomical data that is also given. So all the European data on astronomy and geography is represented in this map.
So here what you see is a beautiful colored edition printed in Japan. It would also become very popular there.
Now, Ricci's [ITALIAN] placed Africa and Asia to the west, whereas the Americas appear on the eastern half of the map. Now, produced 1604, just two years after the original, it duly copied Ricci's title, which is here, "A Complete Map of the Myriad Countries of the Globe," or [CHINESE].
This map became a model for Ricci's successors who also worked on other maps-- including a number of maps that were done by Giulio Alenio, another great missionary in the 1620s-- some of which included also explanations that went together with the maps.
Now, Ricci's world maps were also part of a reference for another missionary who came later, the Flemish missionary Ferdinand Verbiest, another among Ricci's illustrious successors. His map was different in that it divided the world into two hemispheres.
Now, what's interesting here is that all these maps adopted a geographical perspective, and that is the placement of the Pacific Rim at the center of the map, an innovation that placed China if not at the very center of the world, then practically quite close to it. Though not close enough in the eyes of some of Ricci's more conservative and vociferous critics in China, who didn't like this pesky foreigner who was changing the entire view of the world. That famous German world, [GERMAN], whole perspective of the world was changing by including all of these countries that the Chinese didn't know existed.
So, be that as it may, his cartographic projection was certainly a major departure from European maps of the period. Such as, of course, this paradigmatic world map, or the "Typus Orbis Terrarum" of 1570 we printed hundreds of times, compiled by the great Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius. We know that Ricci had a 1595 edition of this map when he was in China.
These projections invariably centered the world on what we might call the Atlantic Rim, thereby relegating Japan and China to the so-called far east, at the very edge of the world. See how these visions of the world changed the whole way you represent things.
So besides cartography there were many other endeavors. And one of the famous ones was, of course, the pursuit of the natural sciences, and more specifically astronomy and mathematics. With this immense subject it really, in a way, exceeds the scope of this lecture and also my expertise, but it is worth quoting one example that illustrates Ricci's oft-misunderstood motivations for engaging in scientific debates. Some skeptics have labeled the scientific pursuits of Ricci and his successors as the bait with which they attempt to hook their Chinese interlocutors in order to render them more amenable and docile to the missionary agenda.
But of course their interlocutors were no fools. They were great scholars themselves. The truth is, therefore, much more complex and subtle. And I think that one of the problems with that approach is, it makes the missionary active and the other completely passive. Well, they were not passive. It was Otomo Sorin in Japan who told Valignano, shape up or ship out. And in a way the same thing will happen in China.
So let's introduce somebody who has something to do with Ricci on this matter. In 1607 Ricci set about translating the first six books of Euclid's Treatise on Geometry, following the text and commentary of his famous teacher at the Roman college. And who was that? Well, that was Christopher Clavius, one of the great astronomers and mathematicians of the day in Europe, who is responsible for the reform that led to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, and with whom Galileo maintained friendly scholarly relations to the very end.
Clavius's text was reprinted in numerous editions throughout the 16th and early 17th centuries and was used extensively throughout the Jesuit colleges in Europe. In his extended History of the Beginnings of the Christian Mission in China, or in Italian, [ITALIAN], seen here in the sole extant manuscript copy, Ricci notes how he translated Euclid orally while his first convert, the brilliant scientist and humanist scholar Doctor Paul Xu Guangqi, recorded it in writing in Chinese characters. They'd spend three to four hours together every day between August and October of 1606 and February and April of the following year, and they worked on three different drafts, correcting and refining the language of the translation.
Here we see a rare copy of the cover page and the preface from the Roman archives of the Jesuits of the 1629 revised edition of Ricci's original 1607 imprint. The word in Chinese for geometry, or [CHINESE], is used to this day not only in China but also in Japan and in Korea. So [JAPANESE] in Japanese and [KOREAN].
So these editions clearly indicate that this was a joint venture of Ricci and of Xu. As we find in Ricci's own account, he dictated the translation, or [CHINESE], while Xu Guangqi recorded it in writing, [CHINESE], literally, "to receive it with your brush." So an arduous task that pushed both scholars to the limit of their abilities.
The printed version also includes geometrical diagrams that accompanied the exposition of theorems. But perhaps what is most notable is Ricci's explanation in his aforementioned History of the Beginnings of Christianity in China of how he came to embark upon this project.
- Doctor Paul, who sole concern seems to be to find a way for our Fathers and the culture of our lands to be accepted with authority, in order to promote further Christianity, consulted Father Matteo on how to translate some of our books dealing with the natural sciences. He thus hoped to demonstrate to the literati of this kingdom the extent of our diligence in investigating all phenomena and the solid foundations on which we base our affirmations and proofs.
And in this way they would come to understand that, also with regard to our Holy Religion, we had not been moved to follow it without reason. And as we spoke of various books, we decided that for now it would be best to translate the Elements of Euclid.
ANTONI UCERLER: So that we had not followed this religion without reason. In the words of Dr. Paul Xu, we can also hear the echoes of Anselm's famous dictum about faith seeking understanding, or [LATIN].
Both the missionary and the literatus from the West, as well as his eastern counterpart, the first Chinese scholar to become a Christian, thus expressed their jointly-held belief in a common human nature, universal truths, and in the universal ability of human reason to comprehend them. If Ricci chose to engage so much of his time and energy in scientific discourse, it was on account of the urging of a Chinese scholar who had grasped this underlying foundation for meaningful and mutually beneficial dialogue between East and West.
Yet not all Chinese scholars would accept this approach. In this way Ricci found himself at the acrimonious crossroads of different philosophical schools, some of which would favor his approach to science and morality, while others would denounce him as a promoter of heterodox ideas.
In the end, these difficulties notwithstanding, Ricci and his companions decided to engage the learned in Chinese society, namely the Confucian literati and the mandarins, who became Ricci's principal interlocutors, while Confucian philosophy became a privileged medium through which to attempt to express the tenets of the Christian faith.
It was a truly radical experiment, but not without precedent. We find here the reflection of a fundamentally Pauline intuition, namely the belief that the so-called Gentiles-- in this case, the Chinese-- could be, and were, in fact, being called to come to an understanding and acceptance of the faith by way of their own culture, language, and philosophy rather than through the medium of a foreign language, unknown cultural norms, and an alien way of thinking.
This reminds us of Paul's strong disagreement with Peter on whether Gentiles needed to observe Jewish norms to be followers of Jesus, and the pivotal decisions of the first council of Jerusalem that settled the matter in favor of the Gentiles on condition that they abstain from idolatry.
If we may refer to this-- and I like to call it "the Jerusalem compromise" reached between Peter and Paul, we find a similar compromise-- if we may call it that-- in East Asia on the part of Ricci, Valignano, and many others among their companions. This was founded in their reflection on the nature of the primitive church. So that's a reference to the Church of the first centuries, which they repeatedly called upon as a key, as a template, a model, to understanding their mission among the peoples of Japan and China.
Surprisingly, the polytheists and pagan languages of ancient civilizations, like that of Greece and Rome, which became the languages of the Gospels, of the Fathers of the early church, and of the ecumenical councils that defined the very foundations of Christian doctrine during the first millennium.
So the idea was this. If such an extraordinary cultural shift had taken place at the beginning of the Christian church, then surely it must be possible to do the same thing in high civilizations such as Japan and China.
Let's now listen once again to what Ricci has to say about why he believes that China is so similar to ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, and perhaps even more morally-advanced than those civilizations.
- In ancient times they-- that is, the Chinese-- followed the natural law more fully than in our countries. And 1500 years ago this people was not inclined to the worship of idols, and those they did adore were not like the evil idols worshipped by the Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans, but rather men whom they considered virtuous and who had performed many good deeds.
On the contrary, the books of the literati, which are the most ancient and authoritative among their writings, do not adore anything but heaven and earth and the Lord of both. And if we examine these books, we will find little therein against the light of reason and much that is in conformity with it"
ANTONI UCERLER: So whatever distinguishes Ricci as a theologian was this willingness to take a similar step to the one that the apostle Paul had taken, who declared to the learned Greeks of the Areopagus in Athens-- who were not willing initially to listen to him when he started talking about the Resurrection-- that he would tell them about this unknown god.
And similarly to Paul, whom Ricci took as a model and who had not accepted Greek polytheism, so too Ricci was not willing to accept everything in Chinese thought. In fact, he'll reject the tenets of the Neo-Confucian school founded by Zhu Xi and his successors, whose interpretations of the classics was very influential during the late Ming period.
They interpreted heaven as an ultimate principle, Li, and this as an impersonal force, or energy, Qi, that formed and governed the universe. Not surprisingly, Ricci considered such a way of comprehending heaven as eminently pantheistic and thereby atheistic. He was convinced, on the other hand, that Confucian thought had never been atheistic and therefore Neo-Confucianism was an aberration, an unauthentic interpretation of the central philosophy in Chinese society.
Now, his revisionist-- because he was a revisionist-- his revisionist solution was to call for a return to what he calls "original," and therefore orthodox, Confucianism, as it was expressed in the writings of the ancient Chinese sages of the Zhou dynasty. And he compared this to the stoics in the west.
So he refers to the "Lord of Heaven," and on this basis he's going to try to convince the literati that this is the authentic interpretation, and the Neo-Confucian school is not the authentic interpretation. Because you had in the Zhou dynasty a reference to [CHINESE]-- well, to [CHINESE], and also to a "Lord on High," [CHINESE]. And this was more personal. It was the god of the clan.
So with these reflections Ricci situated himself literally in the midst of these debates. And it's remarkable that a foreigner could even enter into these debates. And even when they criticized him, they acknowledged that he had the sufficient knowledge to do this. And, of course, Paul Xu Guangqi was also very concerned about Buddhism and said that one must "repudiate Buddhism and draw closer to Confucianism," otherwise this is not going to work as an experiment.
Remember that also at this time Buddhism was in quite a confused state in terms of its political position within China, vis-a-vis the Confucian scholars. So they were not in an easy situation. So he sums up this approach, what is it that I've been doing. And this is what he says.
- While this sect of the literati has little to say about the supernatural, when it comes to morals, the code is almost entirely in for accord with our own. Accordingly, in the books that I have written, I I have undertaken to praise the teachings and to make use of them in order to confute the others-- that is, Buddhism and Daoism. I have sought not so much to refute Confucian teachings outright but to reinterpret them wherever they appear to contradict our Holy Faith.
ANTONI UCERLER: So now to very briefly sum up everything I've been saying. He was trying to walk this fine line between a sympathetic interpretation of the Chinese classics on the one hand, and a polemic rejection of some of its tenets that he found incompatible with Christianity. So we might say that he engaged in a new Chinese rhetoric of pre-evangelisation. That's a coherent discourse that was not only comprehensible to the Chinese, but something that was much more than that, a proclamation of his faith that was rooted in and based on a tradition and terminology that was already an integral and indelible part of their own history and culture, whether they agreed with it or not. But it was a cultural experiment.
Educated in Europe in an age that looked to recover the wisdom in erudition of classical antiquity and holy scripture-- the time of Erasmus, the Devotio Moderna, and others-- the missionaries came to view Japan and also China as a new primitive church, thereby a new Athens and a new Rome, which they repeatedly called upon as a key to understanding their mission among the peoples in Japan and China.
And it was this rhetoric that they wanted to use, and they needed to begin by looking for the right words. And this required them to engage in a serious study of the classical languages of Japan and China. For the Jesuits in East Asia the proclamation of the Christian faith thereby became part of a process of reinventing the Christian message. Whereby invention we take its original Latin, meaning in classical rhetoric as discovering, [ITALIAN], the persuasive arguments with which, as Cicero had taught, the missionaries should employ the three rhetorical appeals. Ethos, to move the hearts of their listeners; logos, to instruct the mind; and pathos, to delight the emotions of their respective Japanese and Chinese audiences.
So perhaps we can say this. Instead of trying to plant a fully-grown tree from another culture in an unknown soil and transplant it into China, such as these enormous sequoias from the Pacific Northwest which are alien, what did they do? They tried to seek and discover these seeds-- the seeds that had been present-- this is the way Ricci thought-- of the Christian faith in the fertile soil of Japanese and Chinese culture, and thereby promote this mission.
So as we finish this, I just want to say-- can we speak of a global legacy of missionaries like Valignano, Ricci, Verbiest, and others? Well-- and if so, in what would it consist? The question of whether east and west were two separate, and therefore incompatible, worlds with little or nothing in common was the central question that the Jesuit missionaries in Japan and China had to grapple with Among those who saw them as intruders from the borders of the known civilized world.
And to this day there is this whole debate about universal or common values and whether they exist or whether they don't. Men like Valignano and Ricci knew very well that, in order to be able to dialogue with and debate with the Japanese and Chinese interlocutors, they had to gain their trust and respect. And in order to do this, they had to befriend them.
In fact-- and I'm going to conclude with this-- it's not surprising that the first book that Ricci published in Chinese-- and it was sort of a bestseller among the literati who read it-- was this presentation of ancient Greek and Roman maxims on the importance of friendship. This work-- who's Chinese title reads, [CHINESE]-- was printed in 1595. It soon became an enormous success and was reprinted many, many times.
Here was a man who knew their language, who had proven to be learned, and had something genuinely worthwhile to say about virtue, the pursuit of virtue-- which was very important in Confucianism-- human relations, peace, and harmony of society, an ideal they were supposed to strive for as officials and loyal Confucian subjects.
The eighteenth sentence of his treatise on friendship captures this dilemma of the Jesuit missionary and scholar from the west who saw his mission as that of becoming a friend of the Chinese people while at the same time proclaiming the gospel he had come to preach, many of whose tenets were not always easy to understand or to accept by those who had never heard the gospel he claimed to bring. Ricci took the great risk of asserting that there was a common ground of humanity that was the starting point for any and all forms of intercultural and interfaith exchange.
So let's now allow Ricci to have the final word this evening, as he describes to us what he considered to be the ideal friend, which is a little bit humorous, but it is a classical maxim.
- [SPEAKING ITALIAN]
ANTONI UCERLER: That's the original Italian.
- [SPEAKING CHINESE]
ANTONI UCERLER: That's the classical Chinese translation.
- Proper friends do not always agree with their friends, nor do they always disagree with their friends, but rather agreeing with them when they are reasonable and disagree with them when they are unreasonable. Direct speech is therefore the only responsibility of friendship.
ANTONI UCERLER: Thank you.
HIROKAZU MIYAZAKI: We've got 15 minutes or so for discussion.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. Really fascinating discussion. I wanted to ask you about some of the passages from Matteo Ricci to Francesco Pasio when he's trying to argue that China and Confuscionism are compatible with our faith. He points to the light of reason and morals, and then only at the end, our faith. And I was expecting to hear more-- they recognize our god, or something more about belief in our god.
And so my question is, is it particularly characteristic of Ricci or of the Jesuits to focus on reason and morals as well as belief in God, or would it have been more common to missionaries of other groups, or-- where does that come from? Was it a product also of the time to focus on reason? If you could just say more about that. And I can't remember who Pasio was. So was it also a function of to whom he was writing?
ANTONI UCERLER: Well, Pasio was Valignano's successor in charge of the mission. It was certainly-- in this early period of the Christian mission in China, it was the so-called Ricci approach, which is the approach from below. You start with culture and you look at the commonality of reason, the commonality of the pursuit of the good. We were talking about this yesterday evening, actually, at dinner.
Pursuit of the good. What is the good of the commonwealth? For the Chinese this was very important, because they were all officials in the service of the emperor. And Confucian writings, of course, have to do with the pursuit of virtue, justice, humaneness, humanity or benevolence-- that famous word-- Confucianism, in the four books, [CHINESE], which has all these different connotations. It can be translated "humanity," "humaneness," "benevolence."
So what is that? What is justice? And the idea that those are, in fact, divine values. Because if you look at a theology of creation and believe that the divine being has created all of humanity, then the pursuit of wisdom and the pursuit of virtue is that first step towards understanding the truth of the divine.
So it's an interesting hybrid combination of the Greek classical idea of the one, the beautiful, the true. These ideas taken from Greek philosophy that come into express Christian philosophy. And then this idea of the pursuit of virtue.
Did all Jesuits agree with this? Not everybody, because often where there are two Jesuits there are three opinions. But you do have a certain consistency among the early missionaries.
This would later be challenged 20, 30, 40 years later. For example, whether Chinese translations of the word "God," [CHINESE], should even be used. There was a big debate over this. And then there were different missionary ideas.
And very often the Dominicans and the Franciscans who came later disagreed. They said, no, the preaching has to be much more direct. You start with God and everything comes from there. And Ricci and Valignano and others said, no, you can't do that. They're just going to reject it because it's incomprehensible, and so it doesn't make sense.
So there was a huge debate, which later led to the Chinese rights controversy. Because the Chinese rights controversy is about whether certain rituals, such as, for example, paying homage to your ancestral tablets, is this an act of idolatry or is it a cultural show of respect? That is going to-- you know, Ricci was lucky enough to die in 1610, and he didn't have to deal with it.
And when the French came much later on and they started criticizing the Jesuits and they said, no, we are not going to allow this, the emperor was just flustered. And it was amazing that he was even engaging in this debate. And he just told one of the Frenchmen-- he said, either you follow Ricci or you're out of this kingdom. And at that time the Jesuits no longer controlled the mission, and they were expelled. The missionaries were all expelled, except for a few that could remain at court, who were all Jesuits. So it became a European cultural conflict transplanted to China.
AUDIENCE: First I wanted to say, thank you so much for the presentation. Secondly, a lot of what you said reminded me of the first Christian mission in China during the Tan dynasty. And given that the Tang dynasty monument was uncovered in the 1620s, do you see any evidence in-- since it was brought to the attention of the Jesuits--
ANTONI UCERLER: Yes, it was.
AUDIENCE: Do you see anything internally that the Jesuits-- where they're seeing how Christians had previously engaged with Chinese culture? Is there any evidence of learning? How do they dialogue with other Christians, non-Catholic Christians previously in China, and what does that bring to the table in this discussion?
ANTONI UCERLER: It's a good question. I'm really not a specialist of that period, but it was a shock for the Jesuits to discover this. They didn't really have contact with any other Christians in this time. Whether there were any, really, who had survived is a big question. It's interesting because they did know about-- I don't know-- not Ricci, I think. But in later decades they did find out about the ancient Jewish community at Kaifeng. And there was, I believe, some contact later on, but not with the Christian community.
But I think it would probably have just added to this idea that those seeds had been planted, or were somehow present. And, in fact, it was the Syriac Church of the East that had come to China, and it was called, in Chinese, [CHINESE], "the teaching of light." So there had already been an adaptation also in translation to refer to it as "the teaching of light." So they saw that this process of accommodation had already started. So, yes, that would have probably reinforced the idea. It didn't influence Ricci because he was dead before this was discovered, but it certainly, I think, reinforced it later.
Yes. Any other questions?
AUDIENCE: They've exhausted you.
AUDIENCE: I have a question.
ANTONI UCERLER: Yes.
AUDIENCE: I realize this is kind of a grander claim that [INAUDIBLE] makes, so I don't know if you could just say, as a historian, you don't wanna go there. But I wonder if you would point to anything from this larger experiment that you would argue has changed the nature of Christianity or Jesuit thinking or generally beyond-- I mean, this was a very, very important mission for the Jesuits at that time and there's a lot of knowledge about it back in Rome. So to what extent can we say that the encounter with either Confucianism or the art of ruling in China has changed the understanding of what the [INAUDIBLE] is beyond the question of how one converts people in China?
ANTONI UCERLER: Well, I think the answer to that question is a little bit my conclusion today. Which was, in a situation where you have sort of a European triumphant church, you know, expanding, and also colonies are being formed at this time all over the world-- I mean, Spain is at the peak of its power in the late 16th century. Not for nothing, they called it the [SPANISH], "where the sun never sets." And it was true, because you were always in a time zone where the sun was still shining in the Spanish empire. But, of course, it also had a more rhetorical flourish to it about power.
So in that vision of the world, and especially with the colonization of the Americas, which was more while we're bringing civilisation to the savages-- so with that idea, which was again challenged by different people-- including Bartolome de las Casas and also the Jesuit mission in new France, which was, of course, part of Quebec and now Ontario-- and actually, part of that was also in what is now New York State.
So this was a contrast. And it was this idea of the primitive church, I think. I think if there's one thing I've learned from all of this-- studying this for over 20 years-- it was their cultural shock of discovering, we can go back to the primitive church and start again. We can put aside, to a certain extent-- not completely, of course-- but we can put aside Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and we can re-- as I said, reinvent-- so rediscover-- Christianity in the classical cultures and languages of China and Japan. And that was shocking, because that's not what they expected.
AUDIENCE: I'm curious about-- thank you very much. I really appreciated your talk about Ricci and his sensitivity to Confucianism and acculturation. I'm confused about this novel, Silence. Maybe I misunderstood. I had a sense-- and I'm wondering if you would comment on it-- that the Jesuits there actually were trying to bring a European perspective, and they were not able-- they weren't sensitive to acculturation, but I may have misread what that novel was all about. Because it was this great conflict, it didn't seem to have the seed in Japan, like in China.
ANTONI UCERLER: Well, actually, the Japanese mission was much larger than the Chinese mission. By the time the persecution in Japan starts there were at least 400,000 Christians-- the same number as there are today-- in a country of only 12 million people, in 1600. If we start talking-- and I wish we could, because I was involved with Scorsese's film, and I'd love to talk about Silence, too. But it's a very complex issue of, well, why was there persecution. And I don't think I can get into all the reasons here.
It's true, there were some who perhaps did not adapt completely, and that is one issue. But it's also an issue of reason of state. Japan, from a warring states culture where you had 66 separate kingdoms, had been finally unified in 1600. And you had the Tokugawa, and the Tokugawa shoguns, and they were now in charge.
And this idea-- this is my theory-- this idea that you could be-- and you had all these Christians around, both farmers and high-level Christian lords, like Otomo Sorin, who was a very powerful Lord-- the one who gave Valignano advice. And these lords claimed there was a greater loyalty than any man. It was a loyalty to the divine. This was not acceptable to the Tokugawa regime. The shogun is absolute.
And I think it really was a threat. It was a threat to a new social order that had been created with great difficulty. Just a little anecdote, which I think you will enjoy as we come to a close-- just today, of all days-- today, September 12, is-- actually, it's the anniversary of my arrival in Japan 32 years ago. I arrived in Japan on September 11. And what happened this September 11? Not 11. 12.
On this September 12 our provincial superior of the Jesuits in Japan, father Renzo De Luca-- who is Argentinian, and with whom I arrived in Japan. We studied Japanese together-- went together with the person in charge of our Nagasaki Museum of Martyrs, Mr. Miyata, who is a good friend of mine who represented me-- he was my ambassador. They went to meet with the Tokugawa family.
And the Tokugawa family is very interested in having a relationship with the Jesuits and showing us a number of their treasures, including an entire treasure trove we discovered of Christian artifacts. So it took 400 years, but we are going to-- so I'm going to meet the Tokugawas in December in Japan. So it's-- and I got news. The meeting went very well, so I got an email before this lecture. So it's kind of interesting that now they're still very influential, culturally if not politically, as a family.
They still control the archives. There are three branches of the Tokugawa family-- main branches. This is the Mito branch, the intellectual branch, that introduced Neo-Confucianism, actually, as the ideology of the state. And it was an ideology that required complete obedience to one source of authority. So this is quite an interesting issue. Much more could be said, but I can't really get into it now.
HIROKAZU MIYAZAKI: [INAUDIBLE]
ANTONI UCERLER: Thank you.
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Fr. M. Antoni J. Ucerler, S.J. delivered a public lecture titled, "Christian Encounters with Early Modern East Asia: Lessons in Cultural Accommodation and Dialogue," on September 12, 2017 in 120 Physical Sciences Building. Ucerler received his doctorate from the University of Oxford and his Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. His academic focus is on the relationship between Europe and East Asia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with an emphasis on Christianity in Japan and comparative studies of the Jesuit mission in Japan and China. He has authored and edited multiple works, including Christianity and Cultures: Japan & China in Comparison, 1543–1644 (2009) and Legacies of the Book: Early Modern Printing and the Visual Arts in Asia and the Americas (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).
The event was organized by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and Cornell United Religious Work with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, and cosponsored by the East Asia Program.