The "Show And Tell" God
The bold, brush-painted Chinese character, or “kanji,” that graces Iwa’s home page, as well as other web pages, is not just a visually stunning piece of calligraphic art. It is also a symbol that has special meaning to Iwa, especially in this phase of Iwa’s ministry in which “The God Man” seems to be the defining theme.
Designed by the artist, Yoshihiro (“Yoshi”) Ishida, who also created the images of Iwa’s God Man Poem, the kanji was Yoshi’s unique entry into a calligraphy contest sponsored by a Buddhist temple. It is the word “kami” or “God” envisioned anew, painted in a contemporary style.
What makes this interpretation of the character for “kami” so fascinating is that the two parts of it look like two crosses coming together at their base, making it a very Christian re-imagination of the character, perhaps never executed or seen before. Of course this intriguing feature very likely was completely lost on the judges, or completely offensive to them, because they ended up not rewarding Yoshi for his creative rendering. But it certainly wasn’t lost on us at Iwa, who find it a perfect symbol for our God Man theme.
The “kami” kanji can be seen as being made up of two parts. On the left is the character for “show” (shimesu). And on the right is the character for “say” (moosu). So the “kami” kanji characterizes God as someone who both acts and speaks, for whom both deed and word are essential. Thus this God is not inanimate or silent, but reveals and communicates. And so the “kami” kanji can be thought of as depicting a “show and tell” God.
We believe that “show and tell” is such a fitting way to describe the God Man. It makes us think of how he is called “the Word.” According to the Bible, before the beginning of time, “the Word was God.” But then the Word entered our time and space and became a flesh-and-blood human baby (an occasion we celebrate at Christmas) who grew up and lived among us until his untimely death (an event we commemorate at Easter) (John 1:1, 14). And so, the God Man is also known as the Living Word, who resurrected from the dead and is alive today, and who by his life and his words, showed us and told us who God was.
We at Iwa consider it a great honor that Yoshi has given us permission to use his “kami” kanji as a symbol representing the God Man. Not only is it serving as a kind of branding for the God Man resources Iwa is producing, it is also giving Iwa a new icon to represent Iwa’s current ministry.
Like Iwa, Yoshi’s “kami” calligraphy is out-of-the-box, contemporary, artistic, Japanese/Asian, and “Christian.” So it is a perfect image for bringing together these qualities of Iwa and visually representing the descriptive phrase we are using to characterize Iwa: “where faith, art, and culture meet.”
We want it to be a constant reminder of what God has called Iwa to do—to help people of Japanese and Asian ancestry, and the world, know and understand that our “show and tell” God—the Living Word—didn’t just tell us in words, but also showed us by his life and death, that he loved all of us human beings in general, and Japanese and Asian people in particular, so intensely and passionately that he made the ultimate sacrifice to bring us back into his family forever.