Mar 18, 2008

China's Increasing Christians

Hu Jintao [the engineer] has been reelected Chinese President and also Chairman of the Central Military Commission. I often watch the English language Communist China TV station, and alternatively feel mildly optimistic or somewhat pessimistic about the future of that country. What intrigues me is that China now calls for the advancement of "socialism with Chinese characteristics."--a strange dragon if I've ever seen one. Zenit just published a comprehensive picture of China.

The truth is that China definitely seems to be embracing their ancient heritage and history. The Chinese TV network constantly covers anything in their country that recounts or emphasizes their old traditions and culture.

Today is a day for some optimism due to the March 18, 2008 report by the Wall Street Journal.
Christianity of the unofficial kind is winning Chinese converts in huge numbers. Not only that, it's winning them among every class of Chinese: farmers, urban migrant workers, professionals and intellectuals.

What is the appeal of Christianity to so many Chinese -- or, for that matter, of Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, the old-time peasant religions and the newfangled Falun Gong? In "smashing" organized religion, Mao Zedong also destroyed the traditional institutions of charity and social support that used to provide succor to the lonely and the needy. Now that succor is desperately in demand, and the churches are there to meet it.

The party also helped destroy traditional morality in the name of an ideology it has itself largely abandoned. To a degree that alarms even Chinese rulers, morality and ideology have been replaced by corruption, opportunism and widespread indifference to life's ordinary decencies. Religion offers a corrective to this, too, as it does to the quandaries of 21st century existence.

...Just as remarkable is how all this is slipping beyond Beijing's grip. The repression of Tibetan Buddhists and the Falun Gong has been severe, mainly because both dared to challenge the Party directly. Most Christians pose no such obvious challenge, particularly Protestants who belong to no formal organization, have no connections to outsiders, and do not openly question government policy. Some party leaders even see Christians as model citizens, patriotic even if they are not members of a "patriotic association."

Yet precisely because the party's captains and engineers tend to assess threats and opportunities in purely utilitarian terms, they tend to miss the real threat that a religious revival poses to their power. As French essayist Guy Sorman notes in his brilliant book "Empire of Lies," religion operates "in the realm of beliefs and conscience, where the party has no control." Mr. Sorman, who spent the year of the rooster (2005) traveling the length and breadth of China, recalls that one religious uprising, the 19th-century Taiping rebellion, destabilized the Manchu Dynasty, which in turn was succeeded by the Republic of Sun Yat-Sen, a Christian.

Might the same happen again in China?
I'll be even more optimistic when the Hammer and Sickle Red Flag of China is replaced with a flag showing a beautiful Chinese peony. Better yet, a cross!


Anonymous said...

John C. Wright has posted on his journal that he has entered the Catholic Church just this Easter. Unrelated to the post but I did not know if you were already aware of this.

Dust I Am said...

Wright has written so many things that sounded like a Catholic that I assumed if he thought like a Catholic, talked like a Catholic, and walked like a Catholic, he MUST be Catholic!

Frankly, I don't believe anyone writes a better blog than John D. Wright. Visit and wish him the choicest of God's graces in his future life.