The Opposite of Rental-san

Shoji Morimoto

Maybe you’ve heard of people who hire dates to accompany them to weddings so that Aunt Sophie won’t look at you with pity because all the other cousins are married. (Note: I remember a wedding in which I was holding a champagne glass which my sister grabbed for preventative measures when an elderly great aunt wondered – out loud – whether or not I had a character defect since I wasn’t married at 30.)

Certain moments are hard when you are uncoupled. And Shoji Morimoto has made a business out of these moments.

He charges 10,000 yen (about $85) per session, and is most frequently hired to accompany people who are at a turning point in life, who want to rewrite traumatic memories or experience a vulnerable moment they feel uncomfortable sharing with friends or family.

Because Japan is a shame-based culture (as are most of our cultures) business is good for Shoji Morimoto. He will be with you when you sign your divorce papers, pick out a casket, tell your parents you’re queer or need a hemorrhoid consulation – all shameful events in many families.

I know how to save you $85. Find a Church that’s not about shaming people.

Your immediately response might be, “Our Church doesn’t do that” and yet, how well does it go when a stranger or a long-term church member blurts out that they are unemployed/dealing with alcoholism/sensing they are bi/not loving their newborn like they thought they would/drowning in debt? Most of our faith communities shame people whether we realize it or not.

  • The church that gives you attention when you are a young family but ignores you when you are a single person of a certain age.
  • The church that doesn’t sit beside you in worship or invite you to brunch afterwards because they don’t know your people.
  • The church that whispers about your job layoff.
  • The church that you’d never tell about the suicide attempt.
  • The church that doesn’t know that Child Protective Services took your children.

Please read the Bible.

Jesus spent time with hated people, whispered-about people, condemned people And he loved them not because he was “woke” but because he was holy.

I read this quote on Jim Kitchen‘s FB this past week from Georgia Tech professor Dr. Bill Drummond:

“If we do nothing different, by 2040, all of our current churches sized 100 and less will be gone.”

And all I could think about was Rental-san. If the Church cannot sit with/stand with/pray with/hold those who need someone, we will have failed. This goes for you “theologically diverse church” who actually only tolerates your LGBTQA+ people. This goes for you “friendly church” who actually talks only with people you know. This goes for you “we-want-young-people” church that only wants young people who can be molded into your idea of a Jesus follower.

We must be a completely different church well before 2040. And it’s not about survival. It’s about being The Church of Jesus Christ – literally – for the love of God.

We can hire strangers to fulfill our social and cultural needs. Or we can find – and be – authentic community.

Happy Monday to you.

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