Podcast Interview – “An American Missionary in Wartime China”

“Ultimate Concerns” podcast interview with Ron Mourad, Professor of Religious Studies, Albion College, Michigan, and Charles Bright, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Michigan.

Robert McMullen was working as a Presbyterian missionary in eastern China when Japan invaded the country in 1937. His letters describing the chaotic period that followed are presented in a new book by Charles Bright and Joseph Ho. Its title is War and Occupation in China: The Letters of an American Missionary from Hangzhou, 1937-1938. Ron Mourad asks Bright and Ho about their book in this episode.

We discuss the goals and methods of American Protestant missionaries in modern China, with a special focus on McMullen’s career. Then we explore McMullen’s attempts to mediate between the Chinese residents of Hangzhou and the occupying Japanese forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Last, we touch on some contemporary topics raised by McMullen’s experience, including public memory of Christian missions in China and the ingredients necessary for religious communication between cultures. (Photo-postcard below from Ho Collection).