Zachary Baker Rodes
Today the Episcopal Church commemorates the life and work of one of 20th century’s most underrated Christian thinkers. Toyohiko Kagawa was born in 1888 and his parents died while he was still quite young and sent away to school by his family where he was taught by an American missionary couple.
He would eventually convert to Christianity, which would lead to his extended family disowning him. He would learn at Kobe Theological Seminary and then Princeton Theological Seminary. Upon returning to Japan, he would settle with his wife, Haru, in the Kobe slums, living among and working with the poor. He became a passionate defender of the poor and women’s suffrage, and a committed pacifist and labor organizer. In 1921, he founded Co-Op Kobe, the largest consumer’s cooperative in the world which still in existence today.
His classic is Brotherhood Economics, in which he lays out his belief in an economic order that transcends capitalism, communism, and fascism. He wrote over 150 books, most of which have not been translated into English. He was nominated for the Noble Prize in Literature in 1947 and 1948 and the Peace Prize in 1954 and 1955. He died on April 23,1960 at the age of 70.
"I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about."
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The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington