Category : China

A Haaretz Article on Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

On October 15, 1906, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, the Jewish-born, rabbinical school-trained, former Anglican bishop of Shanghai, died in Tokyo, after a lengthy illness, at age 75. Apart from the novelty interest of a converted Jew becoming a church official and serving in the exotic East, Schereschewsky is remembered for having produced a much-respected translation into Mandarin Chinese of the Hebrew Bible, among other sacred texts, which became the standard 20th-century translation.

Samuel Schereschewsky was born on May 6, 1831, in Tauroggen, a Jewish shtetl in the Russian empire, in what is today southwest Lithuania. Both of his parents ”“ the former Rosa Salvatha, of Sephardi-Jewish heritage, and Samuel Joseph Schereschewsky ”“ died when he was very young. Samuel was apparently raised by a much older half-brother, a timber merchant who was the product of his father’s first marriage.

At age 15, he left his brother’s home, and held jobs as a glazier and as a Hebrew tutor before entering the rabbinical seminary in Zhytomir, in Ukraine.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Church History

(NYT) Is a Buddhist Group Changing China? Or Is China Changing It?

…five years ago, a Buddhist organization from Taiwan called Fo Guang Shan, or Buddha’s Light Mountain, began building a temple in the outskirts of…[Shen Ying’s] city, Yixing. She began attending its meetings and studying its texts — and it changed her life.

She and her husband, a successful businessman, started living more simply. They gave up luxury goods and made donations to support poor children. And before the temple opened last year, she left her convenience store to manage a tea shop near the temple, pledging the proceeds to charity.

Across China, millions of people like Ms. Shen have begun participating in faith-based organizations like Fo Guang Shan. They aim to fill what they see as a moral vacuum left by attacks on traditional values over the past century, especially under Mao, and the nation’s embrace of a cutthroat form of capitalism.

Many want to change their country — to make it more compassionate, more civil and more just. But unlike political dissidents or other activists suppressed by the Communist Party, they hope to change Chinese society through personal piety and by working with the government instead of against it. And for the most part, the authorities have left them alone.

Read it all.

Posted in Buddhism, China, Religion & Culture

Ian Johnson’s book ‘The Souls Of China’ Documents Country’s Dramatic Return To Religion

SHAPIRO: There is such an interesting relationship between these emerging religious practices or returning religious practices, I guess we should say, and the government. There are several instances where you talk about sort of local government observers sitting in the back of a religious ceremony, and the preacher trying to thread this needle where he can deliver a message that might be a little bit barbed but deliver it not so explicitly that the government agents will shut down the ceremony.

JOHNSON: Yeah, especially with Christianity. There’s a suspicion of it from the government side. They see Christianity as foreign-influenced. So in that particular case, yeah, there were plainclothes police at the back of the hall – this was a big Christmas service that I attended – and they were listening in. And I think they were eager to find an excuse to shut it down, but they didn’t.

On the other hand, the so-called traditional faiths are often really encouraged by the government. And we can see this under Xi Jinping, that he’s given a lot of money and support to traditional religions like Buddhism and Taoism.

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Posted in Books, China, Religion & Culture

More for Eric Liddell's Feast Day–The Second Life of the Man Who Wouldn’t Run on Sunday

Liddell lived life to the hilt, but not in the modern “I am tenaciously dedicated to my own hedonic brand” kind of way. Liddell’s vision of an all-out life was to assess his options, count the cost, and then take the most risky step in the name of Jesus Christ. The calculation was a simple one: “Each one comes to the cross-roads at some period of his life,” Hamilton quotes Liddell as preaching, “and must make his decision for or against his Master.” This Christocentric logic made great sense to Liddell, even if it made little sense to the world. Liddell faced fierce skepticism for his attempts to live out his faith, whether in his famous decision not to run on Sundays or his withdrawal from competition in order to answer the missionary call.

This example can help inform contemporary engagement for believers. Much effort is made today by younger evangelicals to get the cultural backflip just right, to strenuously befriend unbelievers while never offending them with over-stressed Christianity. Liddell’s was a more straightforward approach. Drafting off of the Sermon on the Mount, his favorite section of Scripture, he stood for his convictions without flinching while loving his neighbor without hesitating. The resulting model of Christian witness is as simple as it is inspiring.

Liddell was not a perfect man, of course. Hamilton covers his lengthy separation from his family with a clear eye. Married in 1934 to the untiring Florence, Liddell fathered three children. He loved his wife and kids, but as Hamilton notes, his first priority was the work of missions. This meant lengthy periods of separation as Liddell worked in Siaochang and later Tientsin. The work was always grueling, and China in the 1930s and 1940s was a very fearsome place indeed. Liddell was often robbed, frequently hungry and dirty, and regularly accosted by officials seeking to impede his work.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Church History, England / UK, Missions, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Church History, England / UK, Missions, Scotland, Spirituality/Prayer

(Economist) Divorce is on the rise in China

With his slick navy suit, silver watch and non-stop smoking, Yu Feng is an unlikely ambassador for Chinese family values. The office from which he operates, in Chongqing in western China, looks more like a sitting room, with grey sofas, cream curtains and large windows looking out on the city’s skyscrapers. Women visit him here and plead for help. They want him to persuade their husbands to dump their mistresses.

Mr Yu worked in family law and then marriage counselling before starting his business in 2007. He charges scorned wives 100,000-500,000 yuan ($15,000-75,000); cases usually take 7-8 months. He befriends both the two-timing husband and the mistress, encouraging them to find fault with each other, and gradually reveals that he has messed up his own life by being unfaithful. Most clients are in their 30s and early 40s. “This is the want, buy, get generation,” he says; sex is a part of China’s new materialism. But changing sexual mores and a rocketing divorce rate have prompted soul-searching about the decline of family ties. Mr Yu claims a 90% success rate.

The ernai, literally meaning “second wife”, is increasingly common. So many rich men indulge that Chinese media sometimes blame extramarital relationships for helping to inflate property prices: some city apartment complexes are notorious for housing clusters of mistresses, paid for by their lovers, who often provide a living allowance too.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sociology, Theology

[DW] Is Hong Kong's 'one country, two systems' status in jeopardy?

In an unprecedented move, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) intervened in a Hong Kong High Court decision, effectively banning two pro-independence legislators – Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching of the radical anti-China Youngspiration party – from office.

During the swearing-in ceremony in October, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching reportedly altered their oaths. Both lawmakers used derogatory terms for China and draped themselves in banners reading “Hong Kong is not China.” On Thursday, Hong Kong’s High Court ordered an investigation into the legality of their oaths. A day later, China decided to step in.

Unsolicited intervention

Beijing has interpreted Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, or the Basic Law, in the past, but not without a formal request from Hong Kong’s government or its judiciary. It is also the first time that the Standing Committee has stepped in during an ongoing judicial process, undermining the independence of Hong Kong’s legal system. The move is seen to have put Hong Kong’s special “one country, two states” status in jeopardy which is protected by the Basic Law.

Read it all and there is more from The Economist

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

A Haaretz Article on Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

On October 15, 1906, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, the Jewish-born, rabbinical school-trained, former Anglican bishop of Shanghai, died in Tokyo, after a lengthy illness, at age 75. Apart from the novelty interest of a converted Jew becoming a church official and serving in the exotic East, Schereschewsky is remembered for having produced a much-respected translation into Mandarin Chinese of the Hebrew Bible, among other sacred texts, which became the standard 20th-century translation.

Samuel Schereschewsky was born on May 6, 1831, in Tauroggen, a Jewish shtetl in the Russian empire, in what is today southwest Lithuania. Both of his parents ”“ the former Rosa Salvatha, of Sephardi-Jewish heritage, and Samuel Joseph Schereschewsky ”“ died when he was very young. Samuel was apparently raised by a much older half-brother, a timber merchant who was the product of his father’s first marriage.

At age 15, he left his brother’s home, and held jobs as a glazier and as a Hebrew tutor before entering the rabbinical seminary in Zhytomir, in Ukraine.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Church History, Japan

China's Zhejiang Bans Religious Activities in Hospitals as Crackdown Widens

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals in an ongoing crackdown targeting the region’s burgeoning Protestant Christian community.

A public notice posted at the Central Hospital in Zhejiang’s Wenzhou, a city that has been dubbed “China’s Jerusalem” because of its high concentration of Christians, made patients and their visitors unequivocally aware of the new rules this week.

“Religious activities are banned in this hospital,” the notice said. The Wenzhou Central Hospital was originally set up as a Protestant hospital.

An employee who answered the phone at the same hospital…confirmed the new measures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) Yu Jie–China's Christian Future

Since the dawn of the new millennium, Christianity in China has redirected its growth toward a hundred or so central cities throughout the country. Groups of young, well-educated, active professionals have gathered in urban churches, smashing the stereotype in many Chinese people’s minds of Christians as elderly, infirm, sick, or disabled. These churches are unable to register with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and acquire legal status, but they are a first step toward Christians assuming leadership in the development of a Chinese civil society independent of government control. They have websites, assembly locations, schedules, listservs, communiqués, and even publications, which cannot be sold but can be circulated among church members.

China’s urban churches will be a major force in its democratization, for a free society requires a civil society capable of standing up to tyranny and the abuse of power. First, though, they will have to remedy the erroneous notion, present even among some churchgoers, that religion should be a private matter. What is needed is a political theology underscoring the sovereignty of God’s law rather than separation of church and state.

Christianity has transformed how I see myself as a dissident. Over decades of involvement with the Chinese democracy movement, I have seen so-called dissidents think the same, talk the same, act the same as those from whom they are supposedly dissenting. Too often the Communists and dissidents are kindred spirits. I have also seen personal ambitions and power struggles drive friends apart and turn those who should be working with one another against one another. My fellow dissidents attach great hopes to democracy, but it is simply a better method of public management and division of powers””the least worst, as Churchill said. It is not the horizon of all human hope and longing. If one does not believe in something other than democracy, one is no better off than the Communists, making a god of a ­political system.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(NYT) The Story After ”˜Chariots of Fire’

In the following years, the director said, his initial idea of telling Liddell’s story in a film expanded into a more personal project devoted to understanding Liddell’s life in China. He and his collaborators consulted with Liddell’s daughters, who live in Canada, as well as the Eric Liddell Center in Edinburgh. They tracked down survivors of the camp ”” most were children at the time ”” and interviewed Chinese people who had lived nearby.

Eventually, in addition to making “The Last Race,” they also produced a documentary and compiled a book using the material they had gathered.

The film first shows Liddell, played by Joseph Fiennes, trudging into an internment camp in 1943, then flashes back to the eastern port of Tianjin and his years in the city as a teacher and missionary after his Olympic victory. After the Japanese invade, he sends his pregnant wife (Elizabeth Arends) and their two daughters to Canada.

At the camp with hundreds of other civilians from Allied countries, including Americans, British, Canadians and Australians, he becomes a quiet but steadfast leader, helping to obtain food and supplies for other prisoners with the assistance of some sympathetic Chinese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, England / UK, Missions, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Sports, Theology

(Reuters) China protests at US accusations of abuse of religious groups

China has lodged a diplomatic protest with the United States after a U.S. government commission said Chinese violations of religious freedom last year remained “severe,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan U.S. federal government body, said in a report this week that there were “systematic, egregious and ongoing abuses” in China against Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and others.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday (May 5) that China fully respected religious freedom but that year in, year out, the United States attacked China on religion, ignoring the facts and distorting the situation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

[Foreign Policy] Forecasting the aftermath of a ruling on China's Nine-Dash Line

The arbitration tribunal of five impartial experts that has been considering the Philippines suit against China under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will soon hand down its final decision. Although the tribunal will not decide territorial sovereignty questions or set maritime boundaries, it may well determine, among many other issues, whether there is a legal basis for China’s notorious “Nine-Dash Line” that ambiguously claims over 85 percent of the South China Sea and whether any of the islands in dispute are entitled to a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

If, as it promises, Beijing rejects the outcome, it will harm the UNCLOS system that Beijing, which has ratified the agreement, played a significant role in negotiating. It will also hurt Beijing’s own interests by reinforcing the image of lawlessness that it has acquired by its expansive territorial claims and assertive maritime actions ”” including a relentless drive to convert disputed submerged features, low-tide elevations, and rocks into islands, airfields, and ports.

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

Lord, for Thy tender mercy's sake – Richard Farrant

Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake,
lay not our sins to our charge,
but forgive that is past,
and give us grace to amend our sinful lives.
To decline from sin and incline to virtue,
that we may walk in a perfect heart before thee,
now and evermore.
Amen

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

The Umbrella Man – Hong Kong 2014

‘The “Umbrella Man” photo as police dispersed peaceful demonstrators with tear gas’

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China