Book Plunge: From Pearl Harbor To Calvary

What do I think of Mitsuo Fuchida’s book published by Verdun Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was going through 100 Bible Verses That Made America, I got to the section on Pearl Harbor and heard a fascinating story. The man who led the attack on Pearl Harbor wound up becoming a Christian later on. Not only that, he wrote a book about his life and how he became a Christian. His name was Mitsuo Fuchida.

Japan is an interesting country with religion. It’s not really secular as Buddhism and Shintoism have two major influences on birth and death. Their weddings are Christian normally, but Christianity has a bad history to the Japanese. There is one seminary at least in Japan and I understand one Greek New Testament manuscript, but movies like Silence show that there is bad blood between Christianity and Japan. Is it any wonder that when the church shows up in a Final Fantasy game that you can pretty much guarantee that it’s evil?

Fuchida’s tells about how he wanted to go into the military of Japan and eventually was picked to lead the attack on Pearl Harbor. He tells about that day of listening to the radio from Hawaii to know what the weather was like and what to expect. At this point still, no one saw them coming as far as we know.

Years later, Fuchida is searching for something more in his life and decides he needs God. He reads a book that someone gives him about Christianity and begins a journey. One idea that influenced him greatly was the account of a lady whose family suffered at the hands of her family’s enemies and yet she showed forgiveness.

How could this be? In many Eastern ideas, your family’s history is also your history. You are required to bear a grudge and you are to make sure the enemy suffers for the damage that was done to the family. Such was not the case. Why? This person knew the love of Christ and knew that Christ calls us to a higher standard.

Eventually, Fuchida found himself in Christian service and praying that God would use him wherever he went. He tells accounts of traveling around the world and using aircraft now in a missionary capacity. That includes coming to America. It’s amazing that when Fuchida first came to America, he came bringing destruction. When he came later on, he came bringing life.

I was amazed to hear about this story as I never knew the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor had become a Christian. The account is very readable and short. You can read it easily in a day if you really want to. Those with an interest in American history and/or an interest in missionary work in Japan, a place we need to reach greatly, should read this work.

We can also realize with this that Christianity can truly change anyone. There are still Damascus Road experiences that can happen. It could also happen just by sharing a book with someone in need of Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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Book Plunge: Console Wars

What do I think of Blake Harris’s book published by Dey Print Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is not a book about apologetics.

This is not a book about Christianity.

This is a book about video games.

Yep. Video games.

And yet I think it’s a book helpful for apologetics and Christianity.

A friend gave me this book as a Kindle gift and I always like to try to read books that are gifted to me. It’s about the battle that took place in the late 80’s and early 90’s between Nintendo and Sega. How is it that Sega wanted to take on the giant of Nintendo? What worked? What didn’t? Why is it that Nintendo eventually emerged from that battle and now Sega makes games for Nintendo?

My bias right at the start. I grew up a Nintendo guy. I always favored Nintendo. The time I began bending that was to get a Playstation and that was for only one game. Final Fantasy. The series had moved over to the Playstation and I wanted to be able to play the games.

It was fascinating to read this book and realize about all that was going on behind the scenes when I was growing up that I had no idea about. Why was it that I never saw commercials for Nintendo games when I was growing up? I figured it was because word of mouth and the magazineĀ Nintendo Power were far better ways of advertising. What was going on when Howard Phillips left the company? How did Nintendo and Sega come to be?

There are a number of main characters in here. There was Howard Lincoln, the lawyer who joined up with Nintendo and eventually became their chairman. There’s Peter Main who was vice-president of sales and marketing. Minoru Arakawa was the president of Nintendo of America and the son-in-law of the main company head Hiroshi Yamauchi. Other characters at Nintendo were Bill White, who eventually went to Sega, and Tony Harman.

At Sega, you had Tom Kalinske who was the president of Sega of America. He was hired by Hayao Nakayama who was president of Sega of Japan. Kalinske had several working with him like Ellen Beth Van Buskirk and Al Nilsen and for awhile, Steve Race, before he moved over to work with Playstation.

Other characters show up as well. Emil Heidkamp is one who was a noted Christian presence at Konami and if you ever played Castlevania, you owe it to him. Olaf Olafsson was one of the main people instrumental at Sony in getting them in the video game industry in the mid-90’s. There are more people overall that were involved in everything.

So what kinds of things did I learn? For one thing, I went through this realizing that I had never thought about marketing the Gospel. Now by that, I’m not at all saying we tone it down or change it. Not for a second. I am saying we need to consider how we present it. Someone out on the streets with a bullhorn is giving out the Gospel. Someone making an informed presentation at a church on the resurrection of Jesus is also doing that. Who is likely to have more results? It’s not changing the product. It’s doing what we can to present the product in a way people will like and respond to and catch their attention.

This is especially essential to do today. If you are making a presentation and within the first few moments you do not grab your audience’s attention, you will probably not get it back. They’ll go to their IPhone or anything else at the time. We have to find a way to present the message in a way that reaches them, informs them, and convicts them.

At the same time, we can’t be overly aggressive. One of the big mistakes that Sega made was they tried to overstep and do too much. In the end, that doing too much cost them because they focused so much on the style that substance was lost. Thus, when it came time for a product of substance, it wasn’t ready to go out. I could say more about this, but there would be spoilers for those who haven’t read.

Nintendo, by contrast, had an idea of slow and steady wins the race. Despite the increasing power of Sega, they never really saw them as a threat. Nintendo was focused on substance more than anything else and they believed that time-honored tradition focused on good games was what would win the day.

We must also be working together. When you look at Nintendo of America in their relationship with Nintendo of Japan, there are some disagreements, but overall, everyone is on the same page. Not so when it came to Sega of America and Sega of Japan. These two were often working against one another. Japan always had the final say which often would cripple the American company. We in Christianity must not be so caught up in internal debates that we aren’t working as a unified front. Had Sega of Japan and Sega of America actually been working together, things might have turned out rather different.

Honesty must be a large part of all that we do. When Nintendo released Super Mario Kart, there was talk about it having something called Mode 7. This was a real thing which allowed for some 3-D imagery to take place. Sega had to find something they had that Nintendo didn’t. They found it buried in their games somewhere and it was called Burst Mode. They decided to name it Blast Processing. What did Blast Processing do that was so unique?

Well, nothing.

I mean, it had an effect, but the effect was miniscule. That didn’t stop Sega from making commercials about it acting like it was this great big innovation. The sad thing is that they knew that it wasn’t.

I was very surprised when moral issues came into play. Emil Heidkamp met Tom Kalinske at a show once and talked about how he had become a born-again Christian. Heidkamp worked with Konami and had a standard for the entertainment they would produce and was concerned about where the industry was going. He ultimately left when he saw Mortal Kombat. Kalinske heard his concerns, but when it came time to push the envelope into areas that Heidkamp would not have liked, Kalinske decided to do it. That included finding a way to cheat the system on Mortal Kombat so that Sega could have the blood and violence that Nintendo wanted toned down. Throughout the book, Kalinske will then have issues of conscience, but push them away.

Eventually, some companies started looking into video games and being concerned about the effects on children and such. When Kalinske got a call about this, he seemed to go into a panic mode and tried to explain things the best that he could. When Howard Lincoln of Nintendo got that call he just said “It’s not us.” The difference was remarkable.

By the way, a word about Howard Lincoln. At the end when Kalinske does retire, he gets a very nice letter from Howard Lincoln. This was something that really showed me the character of the Nintendo people. They weren’t saints to be sure, but I think they always tried to play by the rules.

While the lessons I learned were good, ultimately, this was also just a fun read. I could hardly put it down. In many ways, I got to relive my childhood and see so many games mentioned and events that I had forgotten about. I remembered the World of Nintendo centers that I always looked for in the department stores as a kid and I remembered the Play It Loud campaign. It was amazing reading about what was going on that I had no idea about. (Unfortunately, that also included some brief reliving of the travesty that was the Super Mario Brothers movie.)

I understand there’s a documentary being made based on the book. I eagerly look forward to seeing it. Console Wars was a wonderful read and anyone who grew up and saw this battle owes it to themselves to learn what all was going on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


Book Plunge: Strange Tales About Jesus

What do I think about Per Beskow’s book published by Fortress Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the benefits of reading books is usually you can get the clue to one of the next ones to read. When I read David Marshall’sĀ Jesus Is No Myth, I saw him talk about Per Beskow’s book about strange ideas about Jesus like Him going to India. That is an area of interest to me so I decided to look it up at the local library.

Beskow’s book is quite short, but it says enough. There are a number of different myths in there. I was quite surprised to see him even being willing to take on the Book of Mormon. Others include the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Peace, leaflets from Heaven, and the idea that Jesus was a magician.

Beskow will go through each of these and give a brief historical account. Then he’ll give the reasons why he thinks that it is a forgery. He will also explain the impact that each of these works has had and who has used it as if it was an authoritative source.

If you have heard a bizarre claim about Jesus that was before the publication date of 1983, it could be in here. Some of them are put together. There is a chapter on whether Jesus went to India or not. At the end of that, Beskow gives a paragraph that along the same lines, there is a claim that Jesus went to Japan and married and had kids and died at the age of 106 and to this day, that is still celebrated annually by some in Japan.

Most of these were done by amateurs, but one possible exception is the Secret Gospel of Mark. The only person who has seen the manuscripts that describe the account is Morton Smith. Today, we have more information that leads some scholars to think not only is it a forgery, but one done by Smith himself.

Chances are, you will also find one that’s new to you. I had not heard of the Leaflets from Heaven for instance. It also shows us that our day and age is not really new. It’s nothing new that people are going around sharing ideas without checking their validity. The danger is that it’s now all the easier to do so.

Which leads us to a need for today. We need some more people like Per Beskow to deal with the even newer strange tales about Jesus. Keep in mind we’re not just talking about false beliefs about Jesus that are well within the field of scholarship. We’re talking about ideas that are sensational and depend on isolated “discoveries” that strangely never seem to get to be seen by anyone else. Many of our new age accounts of Jesus today would be included.

The book is a good short read. Each chapter could be read in a few minutes and if you just want to go to one claim in particular, that can be done. A work like this could help end a lot of the nonsense that one sees regularly shared on the internet.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


Thoughts on Silence

Is this a film worth seeing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, Allie and I used a gift card from my sister to the movies and we went to see Silence. This is a film based on the novel of the same name. The story is about Christians first coming to Japan to do evangelism. The persecution was quite severe and Christianity was an outlawed religion.

I’m going to try to avoid giving spoilers but, one aspect that I want to deal with is what tempted people to apostatize their faith. In the movie, the main way to do so was to have a picture that would depict a Christian image and then the person was to step on it. Often it was presented as a formality, but it was never a formality. It was always greater than that.

The theme of silence is also prevalent in the film. Silence opens it up and aside from some people singing hymns at times, you will not think about music in the film. The question also arises about the supposed silence of God in the face of suffering and persecution. Where is God? Why is He not stepping up for His church in a new land?

I kept thinking throughout how comfort seems to rank so high in our world. We would like to say love is our highest good, but could we not seek love because of the comfort and not because of the love? After all, we rarely ask people to love us in ways that are painful to us.

My wife did write a review of the movie. One thing she did not get right about my stance is not that I am sure I would not apostatize. I would hope I would not. I do not want to say definitely because there was a man in the Bible who made such a proclamation and it did not end well. I think his name was Peter.

Yet every time, it was an appeal to comfort. Either the person could be released and freed if they apostatized, or else the person could be responsible for the freeing of others and hey, do you want on your conscience that others died because you refused to apostatize? The problem is that one idea that wasn’t mentioned that would be huge in Japan was the idea of honor. Who is worthy of the greatest honor? What would it cost to go against the honor of God?

The movie left me also thinking about our evangelism to the people of Japan. It’s my understanding that less than 1 percent of Japan is Christian. Consider how much of an impact Japan has on the world. If you know someone who loves anime or video games or both, you know someone who has been influenced by Japan. As a Final Fantasy player, it’s something I’ve come to expect that the church will always be evil if it ever shows up in a game. There’s a reason for that.

Despite all of this, we are not doing that much to evangelize the people of Japan. There are millions of people living in this island country and all of them need to hear about Jesus. Hopefully, something like this will lead to Christians over here getting more of their materials ready for a Japanese audience.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Japanese People Love Jesus

How far has the gospel reached? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My mother-in-law recently got an IPhone and thus, no longer needs the ITouch that she’d got for Christmas. She sent it to my wife instead. Now my wife, Allie, has a love for most everything Japanese, except their food. She can’t stand their food. One app she downloaded was a Japanese radio app. She was surprised to find a Christian station on there and one that included hymns. Allie doesn’t care for hymns too much, but she knows that I love them.

So last night as we’re going to sleep we hear these Japanese singers singing hymns and I am just moved with amazement. Japan is a religious country in many ways and a highly technological country, but Christianity does not have too much of an impact there sadly. It’s because of my wife’s great love for the country that we pray God will bring the gospel there every night and we’d love to get to be a part of that somehow. (I have this great dream still that someday I’m going to get to take my wife to Japan.)

The weddings in Japan are usually Christian, but births and deaths are more done in Shinto and Buddhist style. It’s not the case that Christianity is unheard of. It’s just not ranked well, although there actually are Japanese seminaries which makes me glad to know that even there, young ministers are training for the gospel.

It’s also an honor based system which would make it even harder to go outside of one’s family lines and take on a different religion. I heard these singers last night and thought that these people are getting no recognition most likely for what they do. Many of our singers in even Christian music today can go on concert tours and be recognized. Probably not so over there. I wonder how a radio station supporting hymns and other Christian music even stays open.

But what’s incredible the most about this? They love Jesus. I just thought last night about how cool it is that in this country out in the ocean so far away in time and space from where the story of Jesus took place, that there are several people who love Jesus. As Allie pointed out, they probably love him more than many of us do, and their great reason could be that they sacrifice so much more to love Him.

Often times, skeptics of Christianity tell me that if God wanted to get His message out, He chose a poor way to do it. Yes. It’s a way that’s so poor that here, 2,000 years later, in our own neck of the woods (Here in America at least), greatly separated by time and space, we are still talking about this subject constantly to this day. It was such a bad method that today in America, there are numerous people who would be willing to die for Jesus at this moment and you’ll find millions more, if not billions more all over the world.

Some you’ll even find in Japan.

Because some Japanese people love Jesus. How cool is that?

In Christ,
Nick Peters