A sneak peek at longtime China journalist Ian Johnson soon-to-be-released new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao. A must-read for those who want to deepen their understanding of Chinese culture and religious life.
I once had a discussion with my Chinese professor about the influences of Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism) in the worldview of Chinese people. “You have to understand,” he told me, “that we are Confucian when things are going well, when we have position and authority, and when life is hard for us and we are ‘down and out,’ we are Daoists.”
A few years back I was talking with a Chinese scholar friend of mine about Islam in China. In what has to be one of the clearest examples of pragmatic religiosity I’ve encountered, he told me, “Islam has no future here because Han Chinese will never give up eating pork.”
Is Islam the most popular religion for China's youth?
Christianity in rural China is heavily influenced by concepts of Chinese folk religion and functions in many ways like a folk religion. This is due to the influence of traditional religious concepts and the limited education among most rural people. Folk concepts observed in rural Christianity include predilection for the mysterious including evidence of supernatural power, obsession with objects (the evil of unspiritual objects as well as the benefit of spiritual objects like pictures of Jesus or crosses), an intuitive desire for ritual to express one's faith and other aspects to be discussed below.
Eastern Lightning is a Chinese cult that proclaims that Christ has already returned as a Chinese woman. The cult started in Henan Province in the early 1990s and reportedly has one million followers in mainland China.1
The article translated below is a testimony from a Christian man who lost his wife to the Eastern Lightning Cult. It is posted on a Mainland-based website called Kuanye Zhi Sheng (Voice in the Wilderness).
Current evidence is that religion is flourishing in China. However, practical problems make statistical statements for the number of religious believers in China quite hazardous. The author cautiously examines the evidence that exists for each of the five, major, officially-recognized religious faiths in China.
China's Eastern Lightning cult is back in the news again, thanks to the ancient Mayans. It seems that their calendar comes to an end on December 21, causing millions to believe that the day will mark the end of the world. The "doomsday" craze has hit China big-time and the Eastern Lightning cult (which, for some reason, media outlets have taken to calling the Almighty God cult) has used the opportunity to launch an "evangelistic" offensive in China, telling people that the only way to be saved from the coming apocalypse is to join the Eastern Lightning group.
As the new year began in China, the Mayan prediction that the world will end in 2012 was a hot topic of conversation, for both Christians and non-Christians alike. This article, published in the Gospel Times on January 6, 2012 addressed the question from a Biblical perspective.