Review: The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901-1968

takagiIn The Trek East, Dr. Shinji Takagi has produced a masterful treatment of Mormonism’s foundation in Japan. Dr. Takagi takes an approach that informs us of Mormonism in Japan in a manner that focuses on inputs and results, environmental conditions in Japan and cultural biases of a Mormonism informed by western assumptions.

Mormonism arrived in Japan at the first possible opportunity, yet at the worst possible time. Westerners were ignorant regarding Japan and unconscious prejudice against non-whites manifested in scant resources initially devoted to the Japan Mission. Yet the Mormon presence in Japan has blossomed based in no small part on early actions and decisions that contemporary peers felt were misguided.

I am delighted by this book for several personal reasons. First, Brother Takagi was my family’s home teacher when I was a teenager in the DC area. Second, I see this history of the Church in Asia through the lens of being a daughter of the first missionary convert in Taiwan. Finally, my work in recent years has involved significant travel to Japan, so the history and geography described in this book are somewhat familiar to me.

The Trek East is nearly 600 pages long, of which the primary text comprises 440 pages organized into 12 chapters. Each chapter can be read as a stand-alone work. Yet reading the entirety of the work produces a synergistic level of understanding that is not achieved by solely considering chapters in isolation.

Below I give a broad overview of the structure, but I cannot do justice to the gems that are scattered throughout this extensive work. Dr. Takagi’s economic background produces a respectful and rational discussion of the cost individuals pay to accept Mormonism or any new belief system, which ultimately undergirds the growth of any organization of individuals. For example:

The “characteristics of early Mormon converts are consistent with what has been observed in other cultural contexts among various [ideological] traditions… The cost of conversion is expected to be lower for someone who is already a Christian and can therefore use part of the same human capital [already invested in their prior Christian system of belief.]

“[A] younger person is likely to possess a smaller stock of capital… the cost of giving up the current religion… is smaller [and] the benefit of switching to a new religion will be enjoyed over a longer period, making its expected net present value greater.” 1

This informs my understanding of my own history, where my young father and his two siblings embraced the gospel in Taiwan in the late 1950s, prepared by the Christian faith of their mother. Similarly, such “macro” level explanations can help us see our own day, when ideologies such as unbelief and gender-agnostic sexual liberalism are claiming some of our youth. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Shinji Takagi, The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901-1968, Greg Kofford Books, Salt Lake City, 2016, pp. 131-132.

A plea for help

I don’t normally ask for such assistance on M-Star, but felt this was a good opportunity to allow friends and members to help.

In the Indianapolis West Stake YSA branch, we have a young woman named, Deo Tari. She is from Africa, and is here on a student visa.

Unfortunately, circumstances in her native land are not good right now, and the country’s money value is collapsed.  IOW, the money she thought she had for schooling has basically disappeared.  Being here on a student visa, she is not allowed to work, so she’s in a Catch 22 situation, where she has to have money to attend school, but can’t earn it. Without assistance, she will be forced to return home, without a college degree.. Our stake president set up a Go Fund Me site for her, and many in our stake have begun to help. I would ask those who would like to help Deo, to help as much as you can.

https://www.gofundme.com/collegetuitionn

If you personally cannot help financially, please consider sharing this link with your friends and others on social media.  She is a neat young lady, and I would love to see the Saints step in and rescue her.

Thanks in advance to all who help.

Rameumptom

My Conservative/Libertarian Wish List

Having been a Never Trump during the past year, I’m giving president elect Trump a clean slate and a chance to show what kind of president he’ll be.

Here is a beginning list of things I’d like to see from him and Congress.

  1. Repeal Obamacare. If replaced, then replace it with a basic voucher or HSA for all families. This would be a Yugo level of basic coverage, with a catastrophic illness coverage after a deductible based on wealth status.
  2. Pass a national concealed and open carry right.
  3. Eliminate several departments, including Education and Agriculture, and zero fund base all else. Reduce the size and change the scope of the EPA and IRS.
  4. Eliminate or at least audit the Federal Reserve
  5. Replace the income tax with the Fair Tax. Going to a flat tax leaves the door open to create loopholes. Eliminate all loopholes.
  6. Send welfare and other issues not specifically given to the Fed in the Constitution back to the states.
  7. Reduce overseas military bases by 50 percent. Tell Europe, Japan, s. Korea and most other western nations to prepare to more defend themselves, as we focus more in the Americas
  8. Revoke NAFTA, GATT and other treaties that are not truly free trade
  9. Reject global warming treaties as scientifically and economically impractical, not making any difference in future global temperatures.
  10. Term limits for Congress. In fact, enact a Constitutional Convention to fix some court decisions, returning power back to the states, like on Roe v Wade, and on the Commerce Clause
  11. Fix immigration. Make it easier for Hispanics to legally immigrate. Give illegals a 2year work permit, during which new rules can be made to replace the current system. Allow illegals to earn a work permit, but not citizenship. No welfare for illegals.
  12. Protect our borders from drug dealers, terrorists and bad people.
  13. Stop being the world police force
  14. Shine the light of freedom and invite other nations to join us in liberty when they are ready. Don’t force democracy onto anyone.
  15. Decriminalize drugs. Allow judges to use corporal punishment and experiment with  other methods, and leave prison only for the most violent and dangerous.
  16. Return most federal lands back to the states. Alternatively, give acreage to the poor, and to Native and African Americans as reparations
  17. Place strict constitutionalists on the Supreme Court

That is my current wishlist. What would be on your list?

 

Brother of Jared’s Barges

I’m teaching Ether 1-3 in Primary tomorrow, but wanted to share some adult thoughts

In Ether 2, we read that from a Nimrod Valley, a place already named previously that lay north of the great tower, the Jaredites prepare and then take their journey.

We do not know for certain whether they traveled east or west. Verse 6 only tells us they traveled in the wilderness. Many scholars assume they went east, as did the Nephites. However, I believe they went west.

Chapter 2 tells us they built barges on more than one occasion to cross large bodies of water. This includes the “Sea in the Wilderness”. After crossing this sea, they stopped for 4 years, pitching their tents. They called this place Moriancumer, and is where the brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord.

It is from this place they prepare to cross the ” great sea”,which divides the lands. I propose they went west from Nimrod.  Going north from the tower takes one to modern day Georgia. Barges would be needed to cross the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea (the Sea in the Wilderness).  Landing near the Rock of Gibraltar, either in modern Spain or Morocco, they could then prepare for their ocean voyage. Going east, the only large body of waterr is the Sea of Japan, and requires years of land travel through areas that were more populated at the time of Babel. This does not suggest the water going people the text suggests of the Jaredites.

The Lord instructs them to build barges similar to the ones previously built. However, there are important differences to be considered. To cross the ocean, the new barges need light. Unlike before, they cannot have windows or use fire. They need a way to make it “tight, like a unto a dish”, and larger-the length of a tree. They will need a way to replenish air, as they may be submerged for periods of time.

We’re talking major changes to the barges made previously. Some issues require the Lord’s guidance in changes to the blueprints, like adding holes in the top and bottom, which can be plugged.  Other plans require ingenuity and new design, such as the 16 shining stones.

I think these thoughts make for a better picture of the Jaredites travellers. Thoughts?

 

A quick analysis of what Trump plans to do in office

Friends, this election season has been the worst of my relatively long lifetime.  I first voted in 1982, so I have some experience.

I would venture to say that very few of the permabloggers at M* voted for Trump.  I would also venture to say, based on the comments we get on this blog, that most readers also did not vote for Trump.  I did not vote for him.

But he is the president-elect, and it is time to consider what he would actually do in office. Here is a quick analysis.  I am sure there will be other analyses, but my feeling is that few people have actually considered what Trump has said he will do.  I will grade his plans based on my opinions of them.  If you don’t like my opinions, you can politely disagree or you can go write a post stating your own opinions.

But first, let’s consider how Trump in the White House might affect the Church.  Mormons did not support him in large numbers compared to Republican candidates of the recent past, although most Mormon dominant states did vote for him.  My guess is that Trump will treat the Church much like other recent presidents, ie, respectfully.  But I am willing to be proven wrong, and we at M* will be on the lookout for evidence of Trump administration bigotry toward Mormons.

So here goes, an analysis of Trump’s plans:

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