What happened to those times when folks worked hard to convert people?
In MMW4, Prof. Matthew Herbst talks about the time when Jesuits converted 300,000 Japanese to Christianity in 1600 CE. The Jesuits, members of the Society of Jesus formed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, emerged from Paris to spread Catholicism.
They did it the hard way. They adopted local dress instead of staying in robes like the Franciscans or Dominicans. They learned the local language. They learned the classical texts. Then through the local language, using the classical text as a bridge, they spread the “good word.”
But this story had a tragic ending – for the Jesuit priests.
The Tokugawa shoguns who ruled Japan after 1600 knew their history for they had seen what happened in Philippines: first came the missionaries, then the army.Â There was also the question of loyalty. When someone became a Christian, the Tokugawa wondered, were the converts loyal to Tokugawa or the priests.?
Realizing that the Jesuits would undermine Japan, the Tokugawa asked Jesuits to leave. Being Japanese and Christian was outlawed and Christians were asked to convert back to Buddhism. Even Jesuit priests were made to convert and forcedÂ to take an oath declaring Christianity was evil.
For couple of centuries the Japan was free of missionaries. But they came back again, in the 19th century.(Hat tip: Ranjith, Dheeraj)
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