ROGER W. LOWTHER

the broken leaf

Meditations on Art, Life, and Faith in Japan

ABOUT THE BROKEN LEAF

The Broken Leaf invites you to explore the beauty and gospel images found in Japanese art and culture. Through ten short meditations, discover for yourself just how God might be revealing his story in the everyday objects of your life wherever you may be. Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook. Audiobook coming soon!

The Companion Guide contains summaries of each chapter along with questions for reflection and discussion. It also includes a translation of the new Foreword by Makoto Fukuda, pastor of Grace City Church Tokyo, written for the Japanese edition to be published by Word of Life Press in 2021. Free download.

“God is not new to Japan. He was in Japan before the first missionary set foot here. So how can we see the God of the Bible clearly as he exists in this culture with all of its unique beauty? How can we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch God in a truly Japanese context?”

—The Broken Leaf

“As I gazed at it, I thought, this…THIS is the gospel!

—The Broken Leaf

“The way of brokenness is the way forward. The scalding violence of the world is answered with the scalding violence of the cross. A broken world is healed by a broken Christ on a broken tree. The broken tea leaves point us to Jesus, who must be broken for the world to be filled with the aroma and flavor of the gospel.”

—The Broken Leaf

“It amazes me that something so common can be such a daily witness of the gospel!”

—The Broken Leaf

“What if the brokenness of Christ on the cross is eternally celebrated through the ‘brokenness’ of the music of heaven? What if there is no music more fitting to greet and welcome us into the kingdom of heaven than the beautiful sounds of the traditional Japanese koto?”

—The Broken Leaf

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

“Roger Lowther is a cultural missionary to open up Japan as a treasure trove of God’s presence in wider cultures for all to learn from. This Juilliard-trained organist turns out to be quite an able cultural ambassador to unlock Japan’s hidden treasures toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”

—MAKOTO FUJIMURA, artist, author of Silence and Beauty, director of Culture Care Initiative at Fuller Theological Seminary

“The Broken Leaf is a gem of a book. It shines the light of the gospel through different facets of Japanese art and culture. It is in itself a work of art.”

—LLOYD KIM, coordinator, Mission to the World

“What a delightful read! Roger Lowther takes us on a journey into the beauty-drenched values of Japanese culture, revealing enigmatic, gospel-infused portraits of truth in everything from a humble tea leaf to gold-veined kintsugi pottery. This book creates a deep appreciation for how brokenness can reveal beauty and lead to heartfelt worship. It is the perfect collection of devotional reflections expressing the core idea of ethnodoxology—that Christ-followers in every culture can come to know and worship God through their own artistic expressions.”

—ROBIN HARRIS, president, Global Ethnodoxology Network; chair, Center for Excellence in World Arts at Dallas International University

“This is truly a beautiful little book, with power to open your eyes to the greatness of God in working through the brokenness all around you. Roger’s work in the arts continues to be a light shining on the unsearchable depth of God’s beauty. The book is a wonderful testimony to the power of art and beauty in the context of faith. Here you will find inspiration, encouragement, and awe. Take up, read, and prepare to have your perspective deepened and expanded.”

—PIERCE TAYLOR HIBBS, author of Finding God in the Ordinary and The Speaking Trinity

“’Artists in the church’ is a riddle for many these days and an oxymoron for others. Fortunately, The Broken Leaf gives deep and biblical insight—with wonderful influences from Japanese believers in Jesus. Roger brings refreshing biblical insight, especially through what he has learned from more than a decade of drawing together Tokyo artistic Christians for what they call ‘Art, Life, Faith’ conversations. This book is important, provocative, beautiful, and creative. You’ll be encouraged, educated, and envisioned.”

—BYRON SPRADLIN, president, Artists in Christian Testimony International

Q&A

Q: What is the message of The Broken Leaf?

A: We can worship God in the everyday life of the world around us. God reveals himself and leads us in worship through the art and culture of every nation. Meditations in this book are a journey of discovery while showing the heart of Christian worship.

Q: What prompted you to write The Broken Leaf?

A: Every month in Tokyo, a small group gathers to discuss a work of art, what it has to do with our lives, and what it shows us about the Christian faith in a Japanese context. We call these gatherings, appropriately, “Art, Life, Faith.” The themes are always different, given by artists who are experts in their fields: musicians, dancers, painters, photographers, and the like. We deliberately created a space where these gospel conversations could happen, and consequently opened ourselves to (sometimes) months of further conversations, emails, and texts. The meditations in this book are an attempt to record some of these conversations, share the excitement of the discovery, and draw others into them.

Q: For whom did you write this book? Will people who know nothing about Japanese culture find this book interesting?

A: While primarily focusing on Japanese redemptive analogies, the book is designed to engage people with the God of the Bible. Anyone interested in learning more about God will find this book helpful. It is my sincere hope that the meditations will spark everyone’s imaginations to see ourselves, the world around us, and God in fresh and exciting ways.

Q: What do you hope readers glean from reading The Broken Leaf?

A: God gave mankind thousands of languages and cultures for the sake of his glory. In each and every one of them, God reveals himself in unique ways. The Broken Leaf helps people discover some of them and encourages people to search for them themselves in their language and culture.

Q: What did you enjoy most about writing the book?

A: Many things! Putting the words on paper not only helped me remember the conversations but enabled me to think through them so much more deeply. It was also fun to think through the concepts in English. I did not realize how much I had abandoned reading and writing in English in order to focus on improving my Japanese ability. I really missed it!

Q: What other writing projects are you working on?

A: Besides a steady stream of articles, I am also working on a number of books. The Broken Leaf is just the first of a series of meditations. The next book will focus on the gospel and the tragedies surrounding March 11, 2011. I hint at some of my personal experiences in The Broken Leaf, but the next book will tell the story more fully. I hope it will be out in time for the tenth anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in 2021. I also hope to see my first children’s book Non-Chan and the Very Big Wave published within this next year.

Roger W. Lowther

is founder and director of Community Arts Tokyo, assisting church planting through the arts. Roger is also director of faith and art at Grace City Church Tokyo and coordinator for the MAKE Collective, a global network of missionary artists. He has been serving with Mission to the World in Japan since 2005. Roger received degrees from The Juilliard School and Columbia University and is currently studying at Reformed Theological Seminary. He lives in downtown Tokyo with his wife Abi and four boys.

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