11:59 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Quote of the Day

"Gillian Anderson was so much hotter back when she was less hot." From: "I Am Frequently Asked Questions"
Go check it out, the whole blog is enjoyable.
|W|P|82585857|W|P||W|P|11:45 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Christianity in China

link to the Clayton Cramer blogpost that spurred this is on the way

We all hear about how religious thought is brutally repressed in China. We hear how you are thrown in jail if you admit you are Christian. We hear how the Christian churches are allowed to exist only under the close supervision and control of the government. We hear how there are all sorts of underground churches scattered throughout the nation that desperately need our help, or they will all be imprisoned and tortured.

The reality is far different.

My experience: My wife was raised in China by her Christian grandmother. Her grandfather was a minister. Before you suppose anything, my wife's family is fully Chinese, in all ways. My mother-in-law became a Christian about 6-7 years ago, and her older sisters are all Christian, as are many of my wife's cousins. I attended a Chinese Christian Church in Hawaii for 5 years. The congregation was 1/3 mainland Chinese (1/3 was from Taiwan, 1/3 from Hong Kong). Most of these were students who were studying in the US. Many stay, but many go back, bringing their new beliefs with them. The church existed as a social gathering focal point, and people would be converted by the fellowship and Christian love. The most interesting aspect was that while I attended church there, several sets of parents came to the US to visit their children and were converted specifically by the change they saw that faith had wrought in their children's lives. They would then return to China, and I assume they shared their faith with their friends and family back home. This probably has much to do with the growth in recent years.

I attended a church (the same one Pres. Bush 41 did when he was an ambassador) on one visit to Beijing. They were preaching the gospel there, without governmental overtones.

My curiosity aroused, I started looking into the governmental oversight of churches. Christianity has a long and complicated history in China. You can't forget that in (relatively) recent memory, during the early and mid-1800s, missionaries founded orphanages, schools and the like in China and other Asian countries. While many did a fine job, many were also publicly shown to be involved/associated with sexual exploitation of children and virtual slavery for many of the teens. Furthermore, semi-Christian millenialist heretics fled the US and found haven in China, among other places. They damaged the reputation of Christianity, and in one case, they convinced a Chinese peasant that he was Jesus' little brother and influenced him in his rebellion that ended up killing 30 million people (the Great Heavenly Peace Kingdom revolution, or "Tai Ping Tian Guo". Not to mention that Christianity was closely associated with (and often cited as a reason for) the colonial exploitation of China.

All this resulted in a general distrust of Christianity by the Chinese, particularly by those in charge. Communism is closely associated with atheism, so it is no wonder that they cracked down on Christianity. In fact, this is why my mother-in-law wasn't a Christian for most of her life (she was the only child in her family born after WWII and the 1949 Communist takeover). My wife's maternal grandfather, the Christian minister, died at age 50 sometime in the 1950s. Her maternal grandfather said that was God's mercy, because she was convinced he would have been imprisoned and tortured into renouncing his faith during the Cultural Revolution. Since the Cultural Revolution, Christianity has been associated with an overthrow of the government. ("Your government is composed of Godless athiest communists, you must rise up against them!"). Obviously, this upsets the government. The underground churches are as much hotbeds of political activism as they are places of the Spirit. In fact, I would argue more so, since there is very little discipleship in the underground churches. Someone will attend a church meeting in a private home, be "converted", then start preaching the next day in their own home, never having even read the Bible. Governmental oversight actually means that a governmental representative will listen to sermons in the registered churches to make sure there is no seditious or treasonous content, and the church must also 'recognize' that the government is at the very top, or 'government before God'. The assumption is that if a church doesn't WANT to be registered, they must be trying to hide something from the government, like treason. It's like our Search laws: Searches must have probable cause. Searches may be made without probable cause if consent is given. Not giving consent provides reasonable probable cause, so you get searched anyway. But I digress. My final conclusion on the issue of Christianity and government is this: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's render unto God what is God's." And, "You (Pilate/government) would have no power at all, were it not given to you from above". And, from Paul's writings (can't remember the exact words, or even the Book it came from): Be content in your life. If you are slave, stay a slave. If you are a shopowner, stay a shopowner, etc. This last point just shows me that Christianity really shouldn't be that concerned with politics or activism. On the other hand, even if the growth of Christianity does not lead to increased anti-governmental activism, I think the spread of Christian values itself throughout 1/3 of the population change the nation profoundly, and in such a way that would probably lead directly to a governmental reformation.

All the discussion about official and underground chrurches made me curious, so I asked one woman whose parents had converted before returning to China whether her parents attended an officially-sanctioned church or an underground church. The Pastor had praised the older couple of 'taking to Christianity like fish in water', so I trusted their faith to have discernment. Her answer would help me to finalize my impression that the official churches were not tainted by their association with the government, and that most underground churches were lacking in the discipleship that prevented heresy. Her answer? They attended both. I could tell she was a little perplexed by that as well. Which just goes to show you that the Word of God thrives in many places, and they could be fed from both ends of the spectrum.

Other thoughts...South Korea is pretty much a Christian nation, with 49% of the nation being Christian, and the other 51% divided between various creeds. Taiwan remained atheist for many years, but has recently experienced a resurgence of buddhism. I have one friend in China who ended up a devout buddhist, but I'm still waiting to hear about her experiences that led her to that point (she's been busy...I'm not actually positive she's devout...Chinese buddhism is a curious thing, it's not actually about the divestiture of desire that I was led to believe that buddhism is supposed to be). My father-in-law is not Christian, but it is the assumption of my wife and sister-in-law that he will "come out of the closet" after he retires. He is high up in the oil industry hierarchy. It doesn't hurt him a bit to have his wife and kids be Christian, but it is clearly a 'career killer' to be a Christian yourself in China.

I think we will continue to see a huge growth of Christianity in China. I feel that 30% within 20 years is not only not impossible, it is also not unlikely (I hate using the double negatives, but I can't actually say it IS likely). I think that as a nation, the Chinese are hungry for something to believe in. Buddhism failed in the 1800s, Communism failed in the 1900s, I think they are ready to embrace Christianity.

Final comment: Christianity has ALWAYS fared better under persecution than without it. Most religions promise earthly success if you adhere to their beliefs. Christianity's underlying message is that you will must be willing to endure hardships on Earth to gain Heavenly reward, and I think that has much to do with it. I know that personally, it would be easier in some senses to be put under torture to renounce my beliefs rather than face the daily near-imperceptible erosion of faith that occurs as we go about our daily lives. For example: Curse at the guy that cuts you off on the highway, your faith erodes a little bit...sneaky attacks on our faith are all over the place. Sometimes it seems to be easier to KNOW where the assault on your faith is coming from....

So to the extent that underground churches ARE following God and ARE being persecuted, maybe it's a good thing.
|W|P|82585585|W|P||W|P|11:28 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

About China

I may end up writing several apologetics on China. It is my opinion that many people have a skewed view of China, due to issues like the Tian'An Men Square massacre, the totalitarian "Communist" government, the 'One Child Policy', an apparent prosecution of Christianity, and so forth. The reality is somewhat different. I have been to China twice and am fluent in Chinese. My wife was raised in China, and her parents still live there. I really love the people of China, and I hope that through some of the things I write here, you can come to a better understanding of this foreign and exotic land.

The most basic message I want to leave you with is this: 1.3 BILLION people live there. Most people there do not live in fear of the government, despite the scare stories you hear. Most are just like us, living, loving, laughing. Life is life, and no matter where you live, there are joys and there are obstacles to joy. Theirs are just different than ours.
|W|P|82585223|W|P||W|P|11:13 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Things I need to figure out

-How to add links to my favorite blogs. CHECK
-How to add a visitor counter. NEXT ON THE LIST
-How to modify the text a little more dynamically UMMM...LOW PRIORITY
-How to add a 'Comment' link at the bottom of every post CURRENTLY WORKING ON IT
-the drag coefficient of Edge Gel shaving cream. No, you may not ask. YOU STILL MAY NOT ASK
|W|P|82584827|W|P||W|P|11:09 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

...since you asked

I'm not really ready yet to share my full view on Chinchillas. Or as I say, Chinchillas. It is a very sensitive issue, is it not?
|W|P|82584707|W|P||W|P|11:02 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Coming Attractions

Okay, I've got three posts on the way:
Abortion, which will evolve as I do research
Christianity in China
Why I am a Christian

Don't worry, not everything I write will be related to my faith. I've got many interesting things to say about China, music, love, etc. My biggest problem is that I am still engaging in debates on other people's blogs (not that there's anything wrong with that), which leaves me less time to write stuff for this. On the other hand, these other debates will help me write better stuff for this. My understanding of abortion issues has already deepened significantly over the last few days.

|W|P|82584506|W|P||W|P|11:57 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|
Ground Rules
I will put my opinions up on this website. Some opinions will be fully considered, logical, and reasonable. You wll have a hard time budging me from these positions. Some will be hastily conceived and thrown out there for debate. Some will be designed to provoke reaction and discussion. I hope it will be easy to tell the difference.

I'm doing this mainly for the enjoyment of any readers I may ensnare. If you aren't enjoying yourself here, you probably shouldn't stick around. I don't make a policy of judging who is enjoying themselves.

Finally, I realize that there will probably be only three reactions to anything I write. 1) Those who agree with me and like my thought process will not be overly impressed and leave unchanged. 2) Those who agree with me but do not like my thought process will leave a note telling me I'm stupid for not using their thought process and leave unchanged. 3) Those who disagree with what I post will consider me a complete idiot and leave unchanged. But I'm going to have a good time not affecting anyone.

Bear with me
I'm going to try to post every day, maybe several times a day. This will be a hobby, and I hope to improve as I go along.