This post was written by Heath Robinson, the Project Archivist for the James D. Bales Papers project at the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections.
James D. Bales (1915-1995), was an author and professor of Bible and theology at Harding University for about forty years. Bales was also part of the National Education Program, an anti-communist group based in Searcy, Arkansas, and he produced much of the organizations written materials. The James D. Bales Papers will be open in late September 2017. Processed with the aid of a grant by the National Historic Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the collection will be of particular use to historians, political scientists, and religious scholars.
James D. Bales was invited to visit Taiwan (then Formosa) in 1958 by the Ambassador to the United States, Hollington K. Tong. Not one to waste an opportunity, Bales agreed to tour the country and decided to go on a “world tour” with stops in several Asian and European nations.
Bales unofficially began in January with stops in territorial Hawaii and San Francisco. From there, he traveled to the following countries, in order, over the next six months: Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Turkey, England, and Belgium.
Bales gave speeches and sermons throughout the trip. He spoke about Christianity and the efforts of Christianity against atheism and communism. He also took the opportunity to meet with locals to discuss their cultures and current events, gauging the status of Christianity and communism in each nation. Bales skipped trips to the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat stating, “I am not very much of a sight seer. It is better to meet people and learn what one can.”
Throughout his trip, Bales continued to write. He produced a column intended for the Gospel Advocate, “Flying West to the East,” and worked on his book Communism: Its Philosophy and Practice.
Bales also acquired materials for research purposes and for use in his classes at Harding College. He sent these items back to Searcy to his wife, Mary Bales, with whom he was coordinating the sale of his books throughout his trip. Bales ended his trip early due to illness with a final stop at the World’s Fair in Brussels.
For more information on accessing the James D. Bales Papers or any of the other substantial archives, rare books, and Arkansas Collection materials available in Special Collections, contact the department at firstname.lastname@example.org.