A Christian in the Land of the Gods: Journey of Faith in Japan

A Christian in the Land of the Gods: Journey of Faith in Japan

by Joanna R. Shelton

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Overview

In November 1877, three months after Emperor Meiji's conscript army of commoners defeated forces led by Japan's famous "last samurai," the Reverend Tom Alexander and his new wife, Emma, arrived in Japan, a country where Christianity had been punishable by death until 1868.

A Christian in the Land of the Gods offers an intimate view of hardships and challenges faced by nineteenth-century missionaries working to plant their faith in a country just emerging from two and a half centuries of self-imposed seclusion. The narrative takes place against the backdrop of wrenching change in Japan and Great Power jockeying for territory and influence in Asia, as seen through the eyes of a Presbyterian missionary from East Tennessee.

This true story of personal sacrifice, devotion to duty, and unwavering faith sheds new light on Protestant missionaries' work with Japan's leading democracy activists and the missionaries' role in helping transform Japan from a nation ruled by shoguns, hereditary lords, and samurai to a leading industrial powerhouse. It addresses universal themes of love, loss, and the enduring power of faith. The narrative also proves that one seemingly ordinary person can change lives more than he or she ever realizes.

"It would be hard to imagine a cultural adjustment more severe or more dangerous than traveling in 1877 from the Tennessee mountains to become a Christian missionary in Japan. Joanna Shelton's family story is a reading adventure well worth taking and enjoying."
-Senator Lamar Alexander, Governor of Tennessee 1979-1987, Maryville, TN

"I grew up in a church culture in which my heroes were missionaries; while my contemporaries were awed by athletes and movie stars, missionaries were the ones who held my attention. They still do. . . . In this memoir of her great-grandfather, Shelton adds one more riveting story to my scrapbook of risk-taking and courageous witnesses to the Christian faith."
-Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, BC

"Joanna Shelton's impressive research reveals the amazing story of Itagaki Taisuke's invitation to her great-grandfather and his fellow missionaries to preach Christianity in Itagaki's native Tosa region. Itagaki, who was on Japan's 100 yen bill in the past, was leader of the democratic movement in the early Meiji era and created Japan's first major political party, ancestor to the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, of which I am a member."
-Yoriko Kawaguchi, Former Foreign Minister and Environment Minister of Japan; former member House of Councilors (upper house of the Diet); Professor, Meiji Institute for Global Affairs, Tokyo

"Shelton's highly engaging narrative about her great-grandfather opens a window into Japan's turbulent transition from rule by shoguns to its status as Asia's first constitutional democracy. . . . This fascinating, often poignant story should be read by serious scholars and general readers alike."
-George R. Packard, President, U.S.-Japan Foundation and Dean Emeritus, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

"Anyone interested in how one person can have a significant impact across borders and boundaries in today's world will be impacted by this book."
-The Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson, President, Auburn Theological Seminary

Joanna Reed Shelton lives with her husband in Montana's Rocky Mountain Northwest. For more than twenty years, she was intimately involved in US-Japan relations in increasingly senior positions of government and diplomacy. A quest for knowledge about her great-grandfather's life and work in Japan launched her on a new path. After long holding religion at arm's length, she now serves as an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Please visit her website: www.joannashelton.com.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498224918
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 01/04/2016
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Joanna Reed Shelton lives with her husband in Montana's Rocky Mountain Northwest. For more than twenty years, she was intimately involved in US-Japan relations in increasingly senior positions of government and diplomacy. A quest for knowledge about her great-grandfather's life and work in Japan launched her on a new path. After long holding religion at arm's length, she now serves as an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Please visit her website: www.joannashelton.com.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Alexander Family xii

List of Abbreviations xiii

Author's Note 1

Chapter 1 Leaving Home 4

Chapter 2 The Early Years 11

Chapter 3 Stranger in a Strange Land 24

Chapter 4 The Last Samurai 32

Chapter 5 A Time to Prepare 48

Chapter 6 Firestorm 60

Chapter 7 Into the Heart of Buddhism 66

Chapter 8 A New Calling 80

Chapter 9 An Opposition Leader Reaches Out 92

Chapter 10 Planting Seeds 102

Chapter 11 A New Badge of Honor 110

Chapter 12 Home to America 119

Chapter 13 You Can't Go Home Again 129

Chapter 14 A Death in the Family 138

Chapter 15 Nationalism on the Rise 148

Chapter 16 Unsteady Ground 161

Chapter 17 Worlds Apart 173

Chapter 18 An Independent Spirit 186

Chapter 19 A Happy Reunion 199

Chapter 20 Papa Went to Heaven 208

Chapter 21 He Gave His Life for Japan 218

Epilogue Part I A Living Legacy 227

Epilogue Part II My Own Journey of Faith 239

Appendix I Whatever Happened To…? 257

Appendix II T. T. Alexander Letter Defending Uemura Masahisa 273

Appendix III T. T. Alexander Publications (partial list) 277

Acknowledgements 281

Picture Credits 285

Selected Bibliography 287

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