book-cover-cultural-and-theological-reflections-on-the-japanese-quest-for-divinity(Graymoor, Garrison, NY-December 5, 2016) Father John Keane, SA, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, has published his first book. Fr. Keane was born in 1935, in Philadelphia, PA. After completing studies as St. Pius X Seminary (affiliated with New York State University) and Atonement Seminary (affiliated with the Catholic University of America), he was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1962. Soon after ordination, he went to Japan, working there for 18 years as Pastor of parishes in Kawasaki, Yokohama and Tajimi cities as Regional Superior for his Community. In 1974, Father Keane received a Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of Ottawa, Canada, where he completed a thesis entitled “The Kami (Divinity) Concept: A Basis for Understanding and Dialogue,” which was published in 1980 as a series of five articles in The Japan Missionary Bulletin. They were reprinted later in the year as a monograph by the Oriens Institute for Religious Research in Tokyo.

In Cultural and Theological Reflections on the Japanese Quest for Divinity, (ISBN: 9789004321229) John J. Keane offers an explanation of Japanese divinity (kami 神) using sociology, anthropology, linguistics, literature and history. He presents an overview of how the Japanese have sought to love and serve their kami – a quest that rivals the interest that the West gives to God. The principles of interreligious dialogue are applied to the meaning of kami and a plea is made for a dialogue that respectfully accepts differences between the cultures and the theologies of Eastern and Western thought. Important cultural themes are discussed as a part of this quest, such as the emperors of Japan and the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The work also challenges the understanding of kami as highlighted by Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Endo Shusaku, the Japanese Catholic author of the novel Silence, which director Martin Scorcese has made into a film in 2016.

Father Keane was a member of the National Association for Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (NADEO) Faiths in the World Committee from 1984 to 1988 and he participated in the preparation of the second revised edition of the Handbook for Interreligious Dialogue, to which he contributed an article on Japanese religious traditions. In 2005 his article, “Religious Influences in the (Japanese) Tea Ceremony”, appeared in The Japan Mission Journal, Winter Issue. He has written another article in One in Christ, Vol. 41, No. 2, April, 2006, concerning the Second Vatican Council Decree on Religious Freedom and its impact upon ecumenical and interreligious work for the Roman Catholic Church. On May 9, 2006, the Executive Board of the National Association for Diocesan Ecumenical Officers bestowed on Fr. Keane the Annual James Fitzgerald Award for Ecumenism during its annual meeting in San Jose for “outstanding contribution and services in the work of Christian Unity.”

Fr. Keane’s work is part of Brill’s peer-reviewed series “Theology and Mission in World Christianity,” which looks at theology, mission, and the interface between them in view of the development of world Christianity as a world religion which is globally widespread, locally rooted and interconnected. The series recognizes the shift in the center of gravity of Christianity so that Christian communities and mission movements are increasingly in and from Latin America, Africa, Asia and other regions outside the West.

Brill is a leading, internationally operating publishing house in the domains of the Humanities and International Law and in selected fields in the Sciences. It has published scholarly works for over 300 years and is based at Leiden University, Netherlands, founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange.

The paperback book can be purchased online at, a ministry offering religious and ecumenical books of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement.




The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are a Catholic order of brothers and priests, founded in 1898 by Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor in Garrison, New York. Since that time, the Friars have worked for reconciliation and healing through “at-one-ment” — the unity of men and women with God and with one another — so that the prayer of Jesus “that they all may be one” might be fulfilled. Through their mission and ministries they serve people of every race, religion, and walk of life. Their social ministries help the poor, the needy, and the homeless; people living with HIV; frail and elderly in hospitals and hospices; those in prison; and people seeking recovery from alcoholism and chemical addictions. They are part of the international movement to heal divisions within Christianity and among all faiths through their ecumenical outreach and research of Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII), in New York City, Centro Pro Unione in Rome and serving as diocesan ecumenical officers. Through their prayers and pastoral ministries, they bring spiritual renewal, unity, harmony, and reconciliation throughout the world and carry the Gospel’s message to three continents. For more information about the Friars, visit