A heart at leisure from itself: Caroline Macdonald of Japan by Margaret Prang

By Margaret Prang

A very outstanding individual, Caroline Macdonald (1874-1931) used to be a Canadian lady who spent virtually her complete operating existence in Japan and who performed an important function there in either the institution of the YWCA and in legal reform. a local of Wingham, Ontario, she used to be one of many first girls to wait the collage of Toronto, the place in 1901 she graduated with honours in arithmetic and physics. yet instead of keep on with an educational profession, she opted in 1904, via her connections with the Presbyterian Church and the YWCA in Canada and the USA, to maneuver to Tokyo to paintings as a lay missionary and social employee. in the course of the Nineteen Twenties, she was once the best-known overseas lady in Tokyo. In ’A middle at relaxation from Itself’ Margaret Prang follows Caroline Macdonald’s existence and occupation, concentrating on her paintings in Japan on behalf of incarcerated criminals. operating ordinarily with male prisoners and their households, Macdonald grew to become a world interpreter of the circulation for criminal reform paintings for which she continues to be warmly remembered in Japan. She seemed herself as a missionary yet used to be additionally hugely serious of a lot missionary endeavour, her personal paintings being extra within the sensible than religious realm. Her dying in 1931 elicited tributes from around the world, fairly from Japan. maybe the main becoming got here from Arima Shirosuke, the criminal governor with whom Macdonald labored such a lot heavily. Reflecting on her lifestyles, Arima saw that he suggestion it used to be her absolute conviction that each man or woman used to be a baby of God and her ’effortless’ perform of that religion that put Macdonald ’beyond each prejudice’ of faith, race, or category. She was once, he stated, ’a center at relaxation from itself.’ This e-book throws gentle on Japanese-Canadian relatives within the first few many years of this century. Macdonald’s profession finds the cross-cultural impression of the YWCA in Japan, the position of the Protestant church buildings there, and the evolution of legal reform in Japan and the folk fascinated with it.

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Apart from that, it was possible to find more objective reasons for believing that in the past five decades Christianity had been firmly established in Japan and would continue to advance. Typical of the most optimistic missionaries was John H. De Forest, an American Presbyterian who believed that despite the relatively small number of converts, 'no other nation has ever been so rapidly permeated with Christian knowledge as has Japan. There has never been in all the history of missions so great a victory for Christ in so short a time as we see to-day in that beautiful island Empire.

5 In this new era, designated as the Meiji period, with the emperor as the symbol of national unity and aspiration, the leaders of the new government acted on their conviction that Japan's survival could be assured only by extensive reforms to make their country a modern industrial and military power. One early initiative toward this end took place in 1871, when a large group of the new oligarchs was sent abroad to seek revision of the foreign treaties that restricted Japan's capacity to compete in foreign trade.

45 In common with missionaries everywhere, those in Japan had a natural bias toward positive and enthusiastic reporting, dictated by the demands of fundraising at home and their own need for affirmation of their labours. Apart from that, it was possible to find more objective reasons for believing that in the past five decades Christianity had been firmly established in Japan and would continue to advance. Typical of the most optimistic missionaries was John H. De Forest, an American Presbyterian who believed that despite the relatively small number of converts, 'no other nation has ever been so rapidly permeated with Christian knowledge as has Japan.

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