Joseph Campbell is one of my gods. Or should that be kami….
He wrote perceptively about Shinto, describing it as a religion of awe and pointing out that it enables us to reach back to mankind’s earliest religious impulses in the face of a vast and unknowable universe. One of his favourite anecdotes according to Bill Moyers was about an incident during a meeting of the Ninth International Congress for the History of Religions, which was held in Tokyo in 1958. It concerned a dialogue between a Western sociologist and a Shinto priest, which he relates in his book on Japanese Mythology.
“You know, I have now been to a number of these Shinto shrines and I have
seen quite a few rites, and I have read about it, thought about it; but you
know, I don’t get the ideology. I don’t get your theology.”
(polite, as though respecting the foreign scholar’s profound question;
pausing a while as though in thought; looking at his friend)
“We do not have ideology. We do not have theology. We dance.”