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Encountering Modernity

Encountering Modernity

Albert L. Park
David K. Yoo
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    Encountering Modernity
    Book Description:

    The story of Catholicism and Protestantism in China, Japan, and Korea has been told in great detail. The existing literature is especially rich in documenting church and missionary activities as well as how varied regions and cultures have translated Christian ideas and practices. Less evident, however, are studies that contextualize Christianity within the larger economic, political, social, and cultural developments in each of the three countries and its diasporas. The contributors to Encountering Modernity address such concerns and collectively provide insights into Christianity’s role in the development of East Asia and as it took shape among East Asians in the United States. The work brings together studies of Christianity in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan and its diasporas to expand the field through new angles of vision and interpretation. Its mode of analysis not only results in a deeper understanding of Christianity, but also produces more informed and nuanced histories of East Asian countries that take seriously the structures and sensibilities of religion—broadly understood and within a national and transnational context. It critically investigates how Protestant Christianity was negotiated and interpreted by individuals in Korea, China (with a brief look at Taiwan), and Japan starting in the nineteenth century as all three countries became incorporated into the global economy and the international nation-state system anchored by the West. People in East Asia from various walks of life studied and, in some cases, embraced principles of Christianity as a way to frame and make meaningful the economic, political, and social changes they experienced because of modernity. Encountering Modernity makes a significant contribution by moving beyond issues of missiology and church history to ask how Christianity represented an encounter with modernity that set into motion tremendous changes throughout East Asia and in transnational diasporic communities in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-4017-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Modernity and the Materiality of Religion
    (pp. 1-16)
    Albert L. Park and David K. Yoo

    The story of Christianity in East Asia has been told in detail and with verve, chronicling the introduction and practice of Catholicism and Protestantism in China, Japan, and Korea. The existing literature is especially rich in documenting church and missionary activities. It also relates how varied regions and cultures have translated Christian ideas, practices, and symbols. Less evident, however, are studies that contextualize Christianity within the larger economic, political, social, and cultural developments in each of the three countries and its diasporas. The contributors toEncountering Modernity: Christianity in East Asia and Asian Americaaddress such concerns and, collectively, provide...

  5. Part I: Economy and Religion

    • 1 A Sacred Economy of Value and Production: Capitalism and Protestantism in Early Modern Korea (1885–1919)
      (pp. 19-46)
      Albert L. Park

      This essay argues that Western missionaries contributed to the cultivation of new forms of economic thought and practice through the establishment of ideological and physical structures between 1885 and 1919. Ideologically, through the Nevius Plan, which encouraged the construction of financially self-sustaining churches throughout Korea, missionaries taught church members that they were each stakeholders in their church and had the duty to contribute money constantly to ensure its survival and vitality. This idea helped promote a view of money as a form of productive capital, while it also transformed the definition of labor for Koreans to mean an activity necessary...

    • 2 Taking Jesus Public: The Neoliberal Transformation of Korean Megachurches
      (pp. 47-68)
      Eun Young Lee Easley

      The Christi an population of Korea witnessed a dramatic growth in the 1960s and 1970s, when the number of believers soared from six hundred thousand to three million. The growth rate somewhat slowed there-after, but the absolute number still managed to more than double in the 1980s to seven million.¹ In marked contrast, however, the size of Protestant congregations started to decline in the 1990s. From 1995 to 2005, the Protestant population declined for the first time (by 1.6 percent), whereas other religions such as Buddhism and Catholicism showed growth during the same period.² This demographic shift in itself represents...

  6. Part II: Religion and Social Relations

    • 3 Guanxi and Gospel: Mapping Christian Networks in South China
      (pp. 71-94)
      Joseph Tse-Hei Lee

      Founded in 1849, the Yanzao church was the oldest Presbyterian congregation in the Chaozhou-speaking “Swatow (Shantou) mission” of South China. On October 17, 1999, the church held a thanks giving service to celebrate its 150th anniversary. The newly opened chapel was the tallest building in the village, and its walls were decorated with beautiful scrolls of Bible verses sent by the Yanzao natives from Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America. Local church leaders, government officials, and a British delegation led by George A. Hood, a former Presbyterian missionary in Shantou from 1945 to 1950, attended the celebration. The...

    • 4 Accidental Pilgrims: Modernity, Migration, and Christian Conversion among Contemporary Taiwanese Americans
      (pp. 95-116)
      Carolyn Chen

      One of the most striking qualities of East Asian immigrant communities in the United States is the remarkable growth of Christianity among Koreans and Chinese. The place of the Protestant church in Korean immigrant communities is already legendary. A total of 89 percent of Korean Americans claim a Christian identity in the United States.¹ Less well known is Christianity among Chinese immigrants. About half claim no religious identity. But among those who are religiously affiliated, Christians are the majority. Among Taiwanese Americans specifically, Christians comprise between 20 and 25 percent of the population.² Taiwan is unlike other East Asian countries,...

  7. Part III: The Sacred and Social Activism

    • 5 Christianity and Civil Society in Colonial Korea: The Civil Society Movement of Cho Man-sik and the P’yŏngyang YMCA against Japanese Colonialism
      (pp. 119-139)
      Kyusik Chang

      Protestantism, along with Marxism, was a foreign idea that had a profound influence on Korean society in the twentieth century. In the early modern period, Korean intellectuals accepted Christianity not as a religion but as a driving force behind the country’s push toward a modern society. Rhee Syngman, who, along with Ahn Chang-ho, was one of the most prominent leaders of the Christian nationalist movement, defined modern Western civilization as Christian civilization. He emphasized the need for achieving the same freedom and happiness that the United States had by making Christianity the basis of political, moral, and social reforms in...

    • 6 Between Mission and Medicine: The Early History of Severance Hospital
      (pp. 140-161)
      Yunjae Park

      In 1994 Severance Hospital, one of the leading hospitals in Korea, proclaimed its mission to, “with the love of God, free humankind from disease and suffering.” It also manifested its vision “to be the most reliable medical institution, following in the footsteps of Missionaries, Allen, Avison, and donor philanthropist Severance.”¹ As its mission and vision show, Severance Hospital has introduced itself as a Christian hospital and, to realize its vision, it established in 2001 a Center for Medical Mission that aims to support activities of Korean medical missionaries. It is clear that Christianity is the guiding spirit of the hospital....

    • 7 Kagawa Toyohiko (1888–1960) and the Japanese Christian Impact on American Society
      (pp. 162-194)
      Mark R. Mullins

      Studies of Christianity for most of the past century were dominated by a Euro-American “master narrative” and largely focused on the history and impact of the Western missionary enterprise. It has become increasingly clear that this approach is no longer viable given the emergence of new centers of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Many non-Western and independent expressions of Christianity emerged in a critical response to the modern missionary movement from the West. We can no longer ignore the fact that many dynamic forms of Asian and African Christianity (or “Christianities,” as Peter Phan recently reminded us) are...

  8. Part IV: Religion and National Identity

    • 8 Preaching Modern Japan: National Imaginaries and Protestant Sermons in Meiji and Taishō Tokyo
      (pp. 197-223)
      Garrett L. Washington

      Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Japan embarked on a feverish quest to reach the promised land of modernity. To more fully understand this objective and the means of achieving it, the country’s most sociopolitically active men and women looked to the advanced nations of Europe and the United States. Through encounters with Westerners and Western sources, they sought and found formulas and models for dramatically improving the condition of the Japanese people and their systems of governance. Taken together, several of the most frequently repeated elements of this blueprint emphasized that the teleological destiny, and pinnacle, of humankind was the...

    • 9 “Smelling of Pickled Radish, Not Butter”: The Wartime Search for a Christianity Viable in Japan
      (pp. 224-253)
      Gregory Vanderbilt

      The question of what might constitute “Japanese Christianity” came to the surface in the 1930s, at the time that military aggression on the Asian continent and increased political controls and mobilization of the populace, recognizable as fascism, were swept up into ideology that promised the “overcoming of modernity” and the purification of the national body. At that time, the first generation of Protestant Christian leaders, who had been born into samurai families before Christianity’s relegalization in 1873 and encountered the long-proscribed “foreign” religion within questions of how Japan might attain the civilization needed to survive in the world, were passing...

    • 10 Diasporic Korean Christianity in the United States, 1922–1941
      (pp. 254-277)
      David K. Yoo

      In October of 1922, Julian S. Park left New York City on a three-week tour of a dozen colleges and universities to visit with Korean and Korean American students. Park, who was a graduate of Methodist-related Bald-win-Wallace College in Ohio and had taken classes at the Presbyterian seminary in Princeton, knew the situation of his fellow students well. The tour christened his duties as the Korean secretary of the Committee on Friendly Relations among Foreign Students of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). The report of Park’s trip appeared in the inaugural issue of theKorean Student Bulletin (KSB)that...

    • 11 Protestant Christianity in Reform-Era China: Realities and Representations
      (pp. 278-308)
      David Ownby

      For several summers in the mid-1990s, I had the good fortune to carry out fieldwork in rural Henan with a Chinese colleague who taught at the Communist Party School in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. Although we were working on the resurgence of Chinese popular religion, we immediately noticed that in some parts of rural Henan, Protestant Christian groups were at least as active as those of native popular religions. Consequently, one summer we visited numerous villages where House Church Protestants were very active, and to this day I have vivid memories of my warm reception by the local Christians, who...

  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 309-328)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 329-330)
  11. Index
    (pp. 331-343)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 344-345)