Friday, November 13, 2009

"Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924"

New from the University of Utah Press: Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924 by Reid L. Neilson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1901 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent its first missionaries to Japan. Just over 20 years later, the Church temporarily retreated from evangelizing in Asia. In Early Mormon Activities in Japan, 1901-1924, author Reid L. Neilson sheds light on why those first representatives were sent to Japan, how they functioned as “strangers in a strange land,” and what led to the church’s brief withdrawal from Japan and the rest of East Asia. He argues that the same nineteenth-century LDS theology, practices, and traditions that gave rise to the early LDS Japan Mission in 1901 were paradoxically also responsible for the eventual demise of the mission in 1924.

Utilizing a case study of the equally ill-fated 1854 LDS mission to China, Neilson works to provide an understanding of why the standard LDS missionary approach of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was so poorly suited for evangelizing non-Christian, non-Western peoples. The unvaried sense of evangelic propriety and practices hindered Mormon missionaries from adapting their message to the new and incredibly different cultures encountered in East Asia. This floundering on the part of church leaders and laity to adapt to the linguistic and cultural differences of Japan resulted in fewer conversions than in other contemporary LDS mission fields, and caused the LDS Japan Mission to struggle in comparison with other Protestant missionary efforts among the Japanese.

Those interested in comparative mission history, the rise of Mormonism and the international LDS church, or early modern East Asian history will find that Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924 offers an extensive account of a not oft-mentioned point in Mormon history.