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Back to Jerusalem
March 20, 2007 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Chinese Christians in House Churches throughout the country have heard "a call from God for the Chinese Church to preach the Gospel and establish fellowships of believers in all the countries, cities, towns, and ethnic groups between China and Jerusalem. This vision is no small task, for within those nations lay the three largest spiritual strongholds in the world today that have yet to be conquered by the Gospel: the giants of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism." They call this movement Back to Jerusalem.
posted by afu (79 comments total)

 
Their previous slogan, "Back to The Hotel," was thankfully shitcanned.
posted by basicchannel at 8:57 AM on March 20, 2007


Creepy.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:01 AM on March 20, 2007


Hearing about Chinese Christians always makes me sad. It's like reading about Native Americans killed by syphilis. Don't import the mind virus!
posted by DU at 9:04 AM on March 20, 2007


My mother and her family are rather devout Christians who happen to be Chinese. They're just as annoying have many of the same hangups and the associated fallout as Western Christians.
posted by porpoise at 9:08 AM on March 20, 2007


You've got to admire the traits within these people that allow them to keep doing their thing despite the attempts by the government to crack down on them.

I personally agree with DU that it's unfortunate that "doing their thing" means "worshiping the Christian god", but still, the resistance to authority is admirable.
posted by gurple at 9:18 AM on March 20, 2007


It didn't work so well going west-to-east; what makes them think it'll work going east-to-west?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:24 AM on March 20, 2007


Chinese Christians are dealing with two levels of authority. One, the authority of and by the Chinese government; two, the authority of and by benefactors and leaders in the west. This group has a lot of support from Paul Hattaway, who is practically a one-man crusade for evangelicalism in East Asia. Paul runs Asia Harvest. Evangelicals have never been able to get a foothold in Asia. I think it has to do with the John 3:16 and the role of converts as proselytizing evangelists. The base issue of religious freedom is complicated by the fealty of official churches in China to the Communist Party. But there are an estimated 60 million Catholics in China (figure cannot be cert'd). The Catholic Church appoints bishops in secret, but do not know half of the things that go on there. I have heard reports of women being ordained (not a bad thing, IMHO). I say this all with a grain of salt. I am a religion journalist and a recently disavowed Catholic. My break was not over sex issues, but over this issue: The church and the rest of world, and the lack of real local community in a church with an authoritarian structure.
posted by parmanparman at 9:32 AM on March 20, 2007


in places where the Gospel has long struggled to make an impact.

They conveniently omit that many of these places had Christians there before the spread of Islam (and continue to have Christians-- Christians who practice a form of Christianity more true to its roots than the kind of evangelistic cretinism these people espouse).
posted by Burhanistan at 9:53 AM on March 20, 2007


Mark my words: these people will never, ever be satisfied until every living human being bows before their god. Take a hard look at Christian "tolerance" before you decide to meet it with your own...
posted by vorfeed at 10:06 AM on March 20, 2007


this is fucked up
posted by growabrain at 10:07 AM on March 20, 2007


These tenets seem pretty sensible to me -- within the overall context of Christianity. These people aren't nuts or a cult. It'll be cool if they can pull it off. I can't see why anyone would wish them ill. Would you prefer that Central Asia be Moslem or continue to follow that gimcrack imitation of Christianty that passes for Bhuddism in Sri Lanka, Tibet -- or or that matter the rest of Asia?
posted by Faze at 10:10 AM on March 20, 2007


Hating Christianity on the internet is cool.
posted by The Power Nap at 10:14 AM on March 20, 2007


I can't see why anyone would wish them ill

Really? You can't see why anyone would wish them ill? Not competing religious groups? Not the Chinese government?

Not secularists? After all, they're all about stuff like this:

we are against any teaching or theories that regard the Bible as out of date, or as erroneous
posted by gurple at 10:19 AM on March 20, 2007


Yeah, they say "we are against any teaching or theories that regard the Bible as out of date, or as erroneous..." They're NOT saying, "We wanna kill anybody who doesn't agree with us." They're telling you what they believe in by telling you what they don't believe in (of course, they'll fall into the same trap as all other inerrancy advocates -- instead of learning to live with the Bible's many contradictions, they'll exhaust themselves and their credibility trying to reconcile them).

Look, compared to Moslemism, "Hinduism" (a creation of the British Raj) and gimcrack Bhuddism, good ol' whitebread Protestant Christianity is virtually secularism by Central Asian terms.
posted by Faze at 10:33 AM on March 20, 2007


Would you prefer that Central Asia be Moslem or continue to follow that gimcrack imitation of Christianty that passes for Bhuddism in Sri Lanka, Tibet -- or or that matter the rest of Asia?

I think my biggest issue is not the creep of proselytisation, nor the Evangelical message. My issue is that these people continue to see themselves as the only persecuted minority religion in China. You should see what the Chinese are doing and have doing to Uighers in Western China; to the monastaries of Tibet; to their own classic Buddhist tradition; to Confucianism; to Toaism; to shamanism. The Chinese government reduced religion to a fantasy shell - like we westerners reduce religion to a simple sign-on-the-line statement of faith. These tenets do not create a community, nor build a church, nor encourage prayer. Tenets are the ground rules for the organization, not for the faithful.

Ask a Buddhist in Tibet if they can give you a statement of faith. What? They will ask.

We have to be adult in our religious practice, not childlike and unquestioning in our devotion.

The kindness of their hearts is genuine and encouraging. But to be powerful in faith you must recognize that there are those who do not want to be saved, and who have already saved themselves. Think of these tenets as a question to the leadership: How Do I Please God?

Buzz Thomas writes in "Ten Things Your Minister Won't Tell You":
Although entry into the Christian life has been reduced by many to a simple formula for spiritual success, serious students of the New Testament are struck by the multitude of answers Jesus gave to those who came to him looking for salvation. to one person he said, "You know the commandments. Do these and you shall live." To another, he offered the ethereal notion made famous by Jimmy Carter, "You much be born again." To one of the thieves crucified alongside Jesus, a simple request to be remembered elicited these unforgettable words, "Today, you shall be with me in paradise."
...The inescapable conclusion is that there is no single answer to religion's most vexing question. The road to salvation depends upon who's standing in the road."

Chinese Christians face the road each day: the struggle to conform to an evolving society, often pushed to poverty, the willingness to make it in a society with a distorted social strata where state involvement in religious practice is a given. But to say they are singled out, and that theirs is the only road to salvation betrays their ability to reach out to others who feel and know persecution. Not to be brethren in Christ, but to be brethren of humanity.
posted by parmanparman at 10:40 AM on March 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


There are enough Christians.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:00 AM on March 20, 2007


Well, we can agree to disagree on that, but I bet you'd agree with me that Christianity would be better served by emphasizing quality over quantity among its adherents -- it's give certain folks here in the blue one less thing to gripe about.
posted by pax digita at 11:18 AM on March 20, 2007


whoops...it'd
posted by pax digita at 11:19 AM on March 20, 2007


Pax - I'm in Chicago. There are 165,000 homeless people here and there's a church on every corner.

Either the Gospel message is wrong, or Christians are somehow failing to follow the instructions.

Full disclosure: I'm a seminarian in a mainline denomination.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:32 AM on March 20, 2007


LOLXI'ANS
posted by Alt F4 at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2007


Hating Christianity on the internet is cool.
I also hate it in real life.
posted by subtle-t at 11:45 AM on March 20, 2007


I was talking to someone on IRC once who mentioned that his some of his parents were going to Taiwan as missionaries to convert people to Christianity. I mentioned that Taiwan had tons of Christians, and he replied

"We'll keep going until it's 100%!"

Super creepy.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2007


Look, compared to Moslemism, "Hinduism" (a creation of the British Raj) and gimcrack Bhuddism, good ol' whitebread Protestant Christianity is virtually secularism by Central Asian terms.

I don't see how you could possibly say Christianity is less "secular" then Buddism.
posted by delmoi at 11:56 AM on March 20, 2007


The house church movement has also thrown up heterodoxies like Eastern Lightning.
Blogger Wu Hao who became an internet cause celebre was picked up while filming underground churches (plenty more on his site).
posted by Abiezer at 12:00 PM on March 20, 2007


Aw, face it, everybody. Christianity is the queen of religions. Worship is the default mode of the human soul, and if its gotta be something or someone, Christianity has it over all the feeble, half-baked, exploitative, insufficiently soul-satisfying, rattle-trap creeds practiced by bare-shanked shamans, turbaned blowhards, gyrating witch doctors in Central Asia.

Geez -- that day that Hinduism, Moslemism or gimcrack Bhuddism produces a Samuel Johnson, a Bach, a John Updike, Michelangelo, Raphael, Handel, J.R.R. Tolkein, John Donne, Flannery O'Conner, Rosetta Tharpe, Swan Silvertones, Leo Tolstoy, Dante, or even a Stephen Colbert (the real guy, who is also a Sunday School teacher), give me a call.
posted by Faze at 12:05 PM on March 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Baby_B., if that's how you're spending your time, you can probably tell better than I can which side of your rather artificial either/or to come down on. I'm just a pewsitter in a mainstream denom, possibly the same as yours. I agree we don't do enough. I don't do all I could, I admit.

You certainly provide a context to what you meant by "enough" Xtians -- but if that's what's going on in Chicago, does it really matter one way or the other how many new ones come to China? Maybe we're agreeing about quality vs. quantity per my earlier snark. In a whole 'nother thread today I was responding to people trashing Xtianity because they didn't understand it, and your anecode suggests that many of the churched don't either.

delmoi, yeah...way to miss the point, huh?
posted by pax digita at 12:06 PM on March 20, 2007


I was also Googling for something from neo-Confucian scholar Kang Xiaoguang who's written on this - see he's quoted in this relevant story and in part of this series of articles at ESWN. He's ritten on other new religious movements here, including Falun Gong, and I'd recommend him for putting this into a wider social context though I don't always agree with his take.
posted by Abiezer at 12:07 PM on March 20, 2007


After an intense inner seeking I have realized my ardent hatred of american christianity (rampant in the blue for sure) is actually based on what i perceive as a lack, not an overabundance of christian sentiment among the bretheren. B_B, I lived in chi for 10 years and feel the same. The basic tenents of giving and humility -so beautifully illustrated by say the bread sharing ritual in Mathew- are just not happening among mainstream christianity, which instead seems to enjoy blaming the poor and minorities for sin rather than reaching out in empathy. Hence, I call on the religion to be destroyed in order to preserve its best elements.

As such, this kind of mindless prosyletziing is like illiterates trying to teach literature, or the English trying to "civilize" India; needing others and to believe and obey in concordance comes from a deficit, not an overflowing of spiritual wellness.

I always love the story of missionaries among the Iroquois, who after seeing the image of a dead god strung to a pole bleeding from his hands feet and sides asked the black robed strangers what they wanted from them, to which the missionaries replied -unironically- "your souls!"
posted by sarcasman at 12:08 PM on March 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


delmoi, yeah...way to miss the point, huh?

*blink* err... I meant to say more secular. Pretty big error. As in, I think Buddism is more secular then Christianity. I mean obviously there are ranges of secularity in buddism and Christianity, but on the balance Buddism is more secular from a theological standpoint. I'm not a religious scholar or anything.
posted by delmoi at 12:10 PM on March 20, 2007


Geez -- that day that Hinduism, Moslemism or gimcrack Bhuddism produces a ....

Ok, you're aware that without the work done centuries ago from the religions you just blithely dismissed you wouldn't have the foundation for any sort of modern ingenuity?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:13 PM on March 20, 2007


the balance Buddism is more secular from a theological standpoint. I'm not a religious scholar or anything.

Here is where we get into just piddling with semantics. I've been to my share of buddhist practical activities and while they don't go around saying "God this and God that" they are usually far more in tune with their own inner functions (ie. spirit) than most every Christian I've met. So, while the language doesn't say religion, the intent is otherwise. But I probably misrouted your thread with that.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:16 PM on March 20, 2007



Geez -- that day that Hinduism, Moslemism or gimcrack Bhuddism produces a Samuel Johnson, a Bach, a John Updike, Michelangelo, Raphael, Handel, J.R.R. Tolkein, John Donne, Flannery O'Conner, Rosetta Tharpe, Swan Silvertones, Leo Tolstoy, Dante, or even a Stephen Colbert (the real guy, who is also a Sunday School teacher), give me a call.



Yeah, 'cause no other theological tradition on the planet besides christianity has ever produced people talented in the arts or philosophies. Either you are a humongous troll, or you are woefully ignorant of nearly every culture on earth.
posted by anansi at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aw, face it, everybody. Christianity is the queen of religions.

Also the religion of queens. Haggard, Guckert, Shrubie, etc.
posted by telstar at 12:40 PM on March 20, 2007


I am the King of Religion.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:41 PM on March 20, 2007


Or more accurately, "I am" is the King of Religion.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:42 PM on March 20, 2007


...no other theological tradition on the planet besides christianity has ever produced people talented in the arts or philosophies.

That's a pretty fair statement. Who listens to Bhuddist music, or reads a Moslem novel, or can stomach a whole Hindu musical (funny as the clips are)? Christianity has not only produced the most marvelous advocates (G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis) but the most brilliant enemies (G.B. Shaw, Richard Dawkins). The story Christian culture, it rapid spread, its official adoption, its flourishing in the Middle Ages and then the heroic effort of the past few centuries to throw if off, is the big story of humanity. It's given us everything: Music, science, humanism. The sterile insect wrigglings of billions of Moslems and Hindus has produced murder and ignorance -- just like Christianity -- but no cultural product of any interest.
posted by Faze at 12:46 PM on March 20, 2007


I am so sorry that I fell for the bait. Troll on. . .
posted by anansi at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2007


You know faze, I regularly get to hear Chinese nationalists recounting the mirror-image of your argument, where the long, long list of giants of Chinese culture is held up against what they see as the poverty and shallowness of the West. Like you, they are merely displaying their ignorance of the other. Because you haven't read it, heard it or seen it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
posted by Abiezer at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2007


delmoi, I was not snarking at you but at your correspondent who wanted 100% "market penetration." A multilevel-marketing sort of zeal feels like the wrong sort of attitude to take toward guiding people's faith journeys -- yet another reason I don't like fundies any better than the staunchly anti-Xtian crowd around here, even though at times I feel like I'm being tarred with the same broad brush.

I freely admit I wouldn't know enough about Buddhism or the cultures which it's practiced to evaluate whether they're any more or less secular than putatively Christian ones. I surely hope your average Buddhist is better about living his/her faith than way too many Christians I've met -- myself included, much of the time.
posted by pax digita at 12:56 PM on March 20, 2007


I'll take Rumi over Tolkien any day of the week.
posted by malocchio at 12:56 PM on March 20, 2007


Don't feed the troll. Let him relish his own fecal ramblings.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:57 PM on March 20, 2007


"That's a pretty fair statement. Who listens to Bhuddist music, or reads a Moslem novel, or can stomach a whole Hindu musical (funny as the clips are)?"

Oh, oooh, me! Pick me!

About 81.7652% of this thread is "queen" of the "shit."
posted by jdotglenn at 12:58 PM on March 20, 2007


Abiezer:
Chinese culture exists. It just blows. That's why China's musical conservatories produce tens of thousands of brilliant pianists and other instrumentalists who play almost exclusively Western (Christian-based) classical music. That's why the current generation of Chinese painters all work in the Western tradition. It's why China has to ban the import of American movies. It's why there's no market for Chinese novels in translatin, while there is a constant worldwide market for Western novels in translation.
posted by Faze at 12:59 PM on March 20, 2007


Don't give it any food...
posted by Burhanistan at 1:01 PM on March 20, 2007


Geez -- that day that Hinduism, Moslemism or gimcrack Bhuddism produces a Samuel Johnson, a Bach, a John Updike, Michelangelo, Raphael, Handel, J.R.R. Tolkein, John Donne, Flannery O'Conner, Rosetta Tharpe, Swan Silvertones, Leo Tolstoy, Dante, or even a Stephen Colbert (the real guy, who is also a Sunday School teacher), give me a call.

Hey, Mr. Innocent. I see you've led a sheltered existence. Here, let me chip in.

First, it's "Islam", not "Moslemism". I'm sure you're not doing that on purpose.

When talking about Hindu musicals, do you mean Indian movies? Because—you know—they're usually made by Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Secularists working together.

You seem to be confusing 'Western culture' with 'Christian culture', as well. You realize that much of it was shaped pre-Christianity, right?

I'm not even going to continue, really—a statement like "who reads a Moslem novel" just shows how offtrack you are. Hint: there's no such thing as "Muslim novels". There are novels written by Muslims, sure. They are products of artistic temperaments and cultures, not of religions. Same with Christianity, you realize, yeah?

Are you just trolling? I don't think you'll find a "traditionally Muslim" Michelangelo/Raphael/Bach/Handel because painting animate beings and music was de-emphasized under traditional Muslim empires. Instead they focused on architecture and calligraphy and such like. Ever heard of the Taj Mahal?

It takes a true fucking idiot to pretend there are no 'Hindu' novelists of par. R.K. Narayan? Arundhati Roy? More?

By the way, ever heard of Rumi? Ghalib? The "Moslemist" cultures have produced way better poets (in my opinion) than the "Christian" ones have, but again, I don't think that calling a culture 'Christian' or 'Muslim' really does justice to its character, and a cross-comparison of thousands of artists always ends up being subjective.

See the wonderful thing about all these people involved in the creation of great Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist art is that very few toiled in cultural isolation from other faiths.

Dude, you're an anachronism. Go bury your head back in the sand.
posted by Firas at 1:07 PM on March 20, 2007


Don't give it any food...

Oops. Sorry, as an Indian Muslim, the "insect wrigglings" part just got me. Jackass, regardless.
posted by Firas at 1:09 PM on March 20, 2007


Yes, it seems there's no discussion to be had here. Not one of that last set of assertions would appear possibly true to a person with even the most cursory of familiarity with the subjects.
Though you write your responses sometimes with impressionable persons reading in mind, who might make the mistake of taking such drivel seriously and waste time with a wrong view.
posted by Abiezer at 1:11 PM on March 20, 2007


By the way, ever heard of Rumi? Ghalib? The "Moslemist" cultures have produced way better poets (in my opinion) than the "Christian" ones have.

Not to join in this farce, but I doubt this opinion is common among most serious students of poetry. This is not to say that Rumi and Ghalib are not excellent and significant poets.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:29 PM on March 20, 2007


Rumi's poetry is astoundingly beautiful, but the beauty can be a distraction if the reader isn't seeking the Reality contained therein.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:31 PM on March 20, 2007


Also, I think it's very funny that Faze lists Stephen Colbert right after Dante. Way to end strong!
posted by kid ichorous at 1:33 PM on March 20, 2007


I had a laugh at his (?) "there's no market for Chinese novels in translatin" as that's what I do for a living and all the publishing houses are out here in force snapping up manuscripts, despite the fact that a lot of 20th century and contemporary lit is bollocks, for reasons other than the failure of the heathen Chinee to get down with God and the glories of the West.
posted by Abiezer at 1:39 PM on March 20, 2007


I dig Omar Khayyam, myself. Like, really dig him. I'm memorizing the Rubayyat for no apparent reason; I'm about 35 quatrains in.

No doubt it's Fitzgerald's English translation that I'm so in love with, though, rather than the source material. Because, according to Faze, those brown people just never create anything interesting.
posted by gurple at 1:39 PM on March 20, 2007


It's why China has to ban the import of American movies. It's why there's no market for Chinese novels in translatin, while there is a constant worldwide market for Western novels in translation.

And don't forget Christian food, jeans, sneakers, hairstyles and cosmetic surgery.
posted by stirfry at 1:45 PM on March 20, 2007


I truly believe that something as wonderful as NASCAR could never have been invented by non-Christians. Truly. And how sad it is that billions of Asians will never be awestruck by the sheer profundity of VeggieTales.
posted by gurple at 1:48 PM on March 20, 2007


Burhanistan, I suppose so. I wouldn't class myself as a "serious student of poetry" so I like him 'straight up', without too much pondering :) None of that messy stuff about the philosophical nature of the beloved divine or how one achieves ultimate transcendence getting in the way.

gurple: Although to be fair, Fitzgerald does take a lot of 'translator's license' and weilds it exceedingly well. That's what happens when creators go behond the "omg which religion is this work from" and collaborate on the ultimate humanity (a ploddingly simple one in the end) that seeps through all these works.
posted by Firas at 1:53 PM on March 20, 2007


Firas, as a complete aside, I've just spent some quality time with a translator of Rumi who took on the entire Divan-i Kebir. Here's a sampling.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:59 PM on March 20, 2007


unhappy, ignorant, and proud of it. white man's burden for the 21st century.
posted by ryanfou at 2:28 PM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


gurple: Although to be fair, Fitzgerald does take a lot of 'translator's license' and weilds it exceedingly well.

Very true. Actually I first got interested in the Rubayyat because of the drawings of Elihu Vedder. The combined work is a collaboration of three very different people across centuries, continents and religious traditions.
posted by gurple at 2:30 PM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seems like all the replys to faze have served only to prove his point.

And for the record, stating a contrary opinion is not necessarily a troll. Especially if it is true.
posted by vronsky at 3:49 PM on March 20, 2007


vronsky, what point are you referring to exactly?

feeble, half-baked, exploitative, insufficiently soul-satisfying, rattle-trap creeds practiced by bare-shanked shamans, turbaned blowhards, gyrating witch doctors in Central Asia.

this one? or the theory that since you can't intimitely become acquainted with a region or its people by ordering something off amazon.com, it is somehow worth less.

what is more foolish, living a life that fails to produce 'cultural artifacts', or spending a life worshipping said artifacts without knowing exactly why.
posted by ryanfou at 4:05 PM on March 20, 2007


I grew up in China and Borneo ryanfou. And I love them with all my heart. But comparing the artistic and literary canons is what it is.
posted by vronsky at 4:30 PM on March 20, 2007


Seems like all the replys to faze have served only to prove his point.

Er, I don't think anyone can take his/her remark seriously. Especially after sandwiching John-effing-Updike between Bach and Michaelangelo. It's like someone trying to demonstrate the primacy of the American automobile by name-dropping the illustrious Ford Taurus.

Anyways, a lot of the great "Western" Literature was written before the Christian era, no? Wasn't it the Church that gave us the Dark Ages, and the resurgence of pre-Christian classicism that marked their end? Shouldn't Faze be thanking the Greeks, if anyone?

Okay, now I've fed the troll.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:36 PM on March 20, 2007


You obviously haven't read much Updike.
posted by vronsky at 4:37 PM on March 20, 2007


Seems like all the replys to faze have served only to prove his point.

And for the record, stating a contrary opinion is not necessarily a troll. Especially if it is true.


I really don't see how any of the replies to Faze have proved his point (unless said point is that people will respond to trolling). And for the record, making a blanket statement without any evidence to back it up and that reeks of cultural ignorance, essentially "all things x are better than anything y or z", is hardly stating a contrary opinion. Said statement maker is either 1) trolling or 2) unfathomably ignorant of said topic.

As others have already mentioned, being ignorant of the existence of the arts of cultures that sprang from the wells of Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic thought does not negate the existence of said arts. It just means that you are ignorant.
posted by anansi at 4:50 PM on March 20, 2007


Vronsky, I'm not saying it's bad, but it seems ridiculous when someone's trying to use it in a cultural pissing match. Let me put it this way:

In five centuries, it's fairly safe to say we'll still have Hindu literature like the Rig Veda. It's safe to say we'll still have Greek classics like Homer. But John Updike?
posted by kid ichorous at 4:57 PM on March 20, 2007


not simply comparing literature or the arts, vronsky, but rather using such metrics to prove a more broad point. crass imperialism, bigotry. if it was simply about the arts, you'd have a point.
posted by ryanfou at 5:02 PM on March 20, 2007


if it was simply about the arts, you'd have a point.

To be very generous, this is debatable, at best.
posted by subtle-t at 5:31 PM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


vronsky - I really see no point in, as kid ichorous puts it, cultural pissing matches, and I'm a lover of the Western canon, but growing up in China did you not find equals of the Western greats in writers like Zhuang Zhou, Bai Juyi, Su Dongpo, Cao Xueqin or Shen Congwen? I'm only a learner of the culture and am less intimate with it than I am with my own, so I won't pretend to make a matching list, but I've scratched enough of the surface to know there's much more beneath. I'm even more ignorant about the visual arts, but again I've seen enough to know how little I do know.
posted by Abiezer at 5:42 PM on March 20, 2007


Seems like all the replys to faze have served only to prove his point. -- vronsky

What the hell are you talking about? His point was that Christianity produces better culture. Almost all of us are from the same culture. Anyway, it's no coincidence that "the dark ages" started when the popes took over Europe. Christianity set back the human race a millennium.
posted by Paris Hilton at 9:35 PM on March 20, 2007


There are actually some Chinese Christians who would agree with Vronsky and Faze. I've even met some non Christian Intellectuals who think that Christianity is somehow responsible for the the vitality of Europe and the lack of Christianity is responsible for the decline of China. I think this is merely the result of after effects of the cultural revolution and the need for a new Ideology.

Historically it is very hard to argue that there has ever been a country as Culturally dominant as China. For most of the past 3000 years it has been well ahead of the west and has only lost ground in the last 300 years (which it is quickly making up again). The problem is that it's historical culture is so dense and self referential that it is very difficult for outsiders to understand. Su Dongpo may be one of the greatest poets of all time, but even most Chinese can't completely understand his poems.
posted by afu at 1:29 AM on March 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Historically it is very hard to argue that there has ever been a country as Culturally dominant as China. For most of the past 3000 years it has been well ahead of the west and has only lost ground in the last 300 years

Yeah, I heard they invented the National Inferiority Complex first.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:16 AM on March 21, 2007


"Conquered", you say?

Interesting word choice.
posted by Target Practice at 4:30 PM on March 21, 2007


Actually, it did work West-to-East the first time [Medieval History Sourcebook, Wiki].
posted by trinarian at 8:04 PM on March 21, 2007


The Hindus will eat burn them alive.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:25 PM on March 21, 2007


I find faze's comments to be well-balanced & fair.

One minor correction though: Bach is probably a bit overrated, since he never really showed much understanding of the raga system of Indian classical music, nor of the dastgahs of Persian classical nor the maqams of Arabic music.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:46 PM on March 21, 2007


The hollow set of psychological problems cobbled together into what passes for Christian dogma signally failed to 正名, advance or nor create and in the benighted lands of the western barbarians.
Although some brave and great persons struggled against the constricting framework of scholasticism in their long Dark Ages to be something close to 君子 without the benefit of any of our three Ways; it was really only when they returned to the thought of the pagan Greeks and Romans that we saw any technical progress or true signs of in their backward, divided and war-torn lands.
Alas! Who was to think that the long years of peace and stability in Great Qing would have left us ill-prepared when their greed-crazed frenzy of butchery brought them to our shores?
Their mass of squabbling petty kingdoms had put their energy into the honing the arts of killing and the perfecting the bureaucracies to support them; centuries of endless war had given them ample opportunity to practice their millenarian Way of Death. The venal weakness of their creed meant its canting of peace and love was belied by blood shed in its name and its signal failure to correct the lusts of earthly powers.
Like a cancer in healthy tissue, their corruption spread with a vigour that was startling to behold, and I fear it will long years before the balance is restored to All-Under-Heaven.
posted by Abiezer at 5:05 AM on March 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


Abeizer, where is that quoted from?
posted by Firas at 9:16 PM on March 24, 2007


Firas - pulled out of my arse I'm afraid.
Chatting with a friend, there were similar things written by Chinese scholars back when they had the cultural self-confidence to measure others by their yardsticks, but I was more riffing off a thought that came up in a conversation I had with and editor once. We were getting frustrated by a lot of the western research on China that seemed to wilfully refuse to take any of the local context into consideration, and joked of writing similar exercises in arrogance looking at the failures of the West to be Chinese. The above was my feeble version of that theme.
posted by Abiezer at 9:23 PM on March 24, 2007


well, you know that when the british tried to open up trade with china during the industrial revolution, they proudly showed them a whole bunch of manchester fabrics & whatnot, & the chinese effectively said "why the hell would we want to buy any of this utter rubbish? fuck off, you degenerate, backward swine!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:35 PM on March 26, 2007


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