A SEED SHALL SERVE by Charlie May Simon


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A highly one-sided perspective pervades this biography of Toyohiko Kagawa, Japanese teacher, missionary, and philanthropist. Writing of the times which gave birth to this man, the author is forced, since her subject is still alive, to evaluate them in his terms, interpreting the opening of Japan to the west as an act of grace, unselfishly perpetrated by Europe and America for the singular benefit of the primitive Japanese. Although Charlie Simon's account of Kagawa's activities is adequate, the book as a whole is handicapped by the fact that out of respect for Kagawa it presents a historical picture which is altogether biased. In treating his Christian viewpoint, the complex and meaningful traditions of the Samuarai, Buddhists, etc. are casually dismissed or presented as reactionary currents. Doubtless this is the opinion of Kagawa, an opinion which out of politeness, the author dares not criticize. This maneuver of diplomacy, unfortunately, acts to distort the perspective of the book, a distortion which is acceptable in autobiography but of dubious advantage in a biographical work, where it would seem that if two opposing philosophies are inadvertently involved, they both must be approached with equal objectivity. Only with this commitment in mind can a book of this nature serve a sound purpose, that of enlightening.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1958
Publisher: Dutton