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

By Margaret Prang

A really notable individual, Caroline Macdonald (1874-1931) was once a Canadian lady who spent nearly her complete operating lifestyles in Japan and who performed an important position there in either the institution of the YWCA and in felony reform. a local of Wingham, Ontario, she was once 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 stick to a tutorial occupation, 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 international lady in Tokyo. In ’A middle at relaxation from Itself’ Margaret Prang follows Caroline Macdonald’s existence and profession, targeting her paintings in Japan on behalf of incarcerated criminals. operating more often than not with male prisoners and their households, Macdonald grew to become a global interpreter of the flow for legal reform paintings for which she remains to be warmly remembered in Japan. She appeared herself as a missionary yet was once additionally hugely serious of a lot missionary endeavour, her personal paintings being extra within the functional than non secular realm. Her loss of life in 1931 elicited tributes from world wide, relatively from Japan. might be the main becoming got here from Arima Shirosuke, the criminal governor with whom Macdonald labored such a lot heavily. Reflecting on her existence, Arima saw that he concept it used to be her absolute conviction that each man or woman used to be a toddler of God and her ’effortless’ perform of that religion that put Macdonald ’beyond each prejudice’ of faith, race, or type. She used to be, he stated, ’a center at relaxation from itself.’ This booklet throws gentle on Japanese-Canadian family members within the first few many years of this century. Macdonald’s occupation finds the cross-cultural impression of the YWCA in Japan, the function of the Protestant church buildings there, and the evolution of felony reform in Japan and the folks concerned with it.

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Despite their eagerness to adopt the science and technology of the West, the fierce determination of Japan's leaders to preserve their distinctive culture was seen by the missionaries as a formidable barrier to their work. B. Peery, an American Lutheran who saw little to enjoy or admire in Japan. He found in the Japanese character 'a lack of seriousness and stability,' an intense nationalism, and a materialism that was almost impenetrable. '42 Although most missionaries stopped short of such despair, there was general agreement that the Japanese lacked a sense of sin, and thus it was difficult for them to believe that they needed a Redeemer to save them.

Christians had founded and edited for a decade Rikugo Zasshi (Cosmos), one of the most influential journals of social criticism in the country and widely read by nonChristian intellectuals as well as by Christian leaders. From 1887 discussion of Christianity had also been promoted among intellectuals in Kokumin No Tomo (The Nation's Friend), edited by Tokutomi Soho. 27 In 1900 a conference of 435 missionaries representing forty-two mission boards and agencies, the largest of its kind ever held in Japan, celebrated the beginning of the new century, took stock of their position, and made plans Christ and the Empire of the Mikado 29 for the future.

29 Now, a year after the Toronto quadrennial, it was Caroline's task to follow up the impact of that gathering in visits to universities and normal schools in central Canada and the Maritimes, and then in Manitoba, where like every other visitor she became enthusiastic about the future of the booming city of Winnipeg and its hinterland, the vast Northwest Territories, where the process of creating the new provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan was beginning. Her long train journeys showed her more of her own country, most of it under a blanket of snow, than she had ever seen before.

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