Sunday, August 16, 2015

Nagasaki Christianity and the A-Bomb

During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945 and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only active deployments of nuclear weapons in war to date. This is the ultimate tragic relationship that highlights a collective karma pertaining to the vile institution known as Christianity and the fate that awaits America if we do not stop WAR!.

Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity because the city had the largest concentration of Christians in all of Japan. St. Mary’s Cathedral was the mega-church of its time, with over 12,000 baptized members.

Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier founded the mission church in Nagasaki. The Catholic community at Nagasaki grew and eventually prospered over the next several generations.

Unfortunately, it eventually became clear to the Japanese that the Catholic Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests were exploiting Japan. It only took a couple of generations before all Europeans – and their foreign religion – were expelled from the country.

From 1600 until 1850, being a Christian in Japan was a capital crime. In the early 1600s, Japanese Christians who refused to recant their faith were subject to unspeakable tortures – including crucifixion. But after a mass crucifixion occurred, the reign of terror expired, and it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity was extinct. There have been various epochs where Christians were doing the persecuting of non-believers (see Inquisition).

However, 250 years later, after the gunboat diplomacy of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptized Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in secret in a catacomb-like existence, completely unknown to the government.

With this revelation, the Japanese government started another purge; but because of international pressure, the persecutions were stopped and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground. By 1917, with no financial help from the government, the revitalized Christian community had built the massive St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki.

So it was the height of irony that the massive Cathedral – one of only two Nagasaki landmarks that could be identified from 31,000 feet up – became Ground Zero.

At 11:02 am, during Thursday morning mass, hundreds of Nagasaki Christians were boiled, evaporated, carbonized or otherwise disappeared in a scorching, radioactive fireball that exploded 500 meters above the cathedral. The black rain that soon came down from the mushroom cloud contained the mingled cellular remains of many Nagasaki Shintoists, Buddhists and Christians. The theological implications of Nagasaki’s Black Rain surely should boggle the minds of theologians of all denominations.

Most Nagasaki Christians did not survive the blast. 6,000 of them died instantly, including all who were at confession that morning. Of the 12,000 church members, 8,500 of them eventually died as a result of the bomb.
Many of the others were seriously sickened with a highly lethal entirely new disease: radiation sickness.

Three orders of nuns and a Christian girl’s school nearby disappeared into black smoke or became chunks of charcoal. Tens of thousands of other innocent, non-Christian non-combatants also died instantly, and many more were mortally or incurably wounded. Some of the victim’s progeny are still suffering from the trans-generational malignancies and immune deficiencies caused by the deadly plutonium and other radioactive isotopes produced by the bomb.

And here is one of the most cruelly ironic points: What the Japanese Imperial government could not do in 250 years of persecution (destroy Japanese Christianity) American Christians did in mere seconds.

Even after a slow revival of Christianity since World War II, membership in Japanese churches still represents a small fraction of 1 percent of the general population, and the average attendance at Christian worship services across the nation is reported to be only 30 per Sunday. Surely the decimation of Nagasaki at the end of the war crippled what at one time was a vibrant church.

Horrendous Effects of the A-Bombs

  • Over 90% of persons within 500 meters (1,600 ft) of ground zero in both cities died.
  • Anyone in the open air was either vaporized or turned to carbon in an instant.
  • "Little Boy" was detonated over the center of Hiroshima, 140,000 people killed.
  • "Fat Man" exploded over the outskirts of Nagasaki, 70,000 people killed.
  • Temperatures one the ground reached 9000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • People near the hypocenter were instantly vaporized.
  • Winds from the explosion reached 1000 mph.

Even today, half a century later, many after-effects remain: leukemia, cataracts, thyroid, breast, and lung cancer, birth defects including mental retardation, and disfiguring keloid scars.

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