Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Former Marxist Promotes Christianity In China

The Chinese Faith

An article in The New York Review of Books has an interview with Yuan Zhiming, a prominent figure during the the 1989 Tiananmen protests; he was the creator of the much-watched series on Chinese television called River Elegy, which spoke about the need for Chinese to look outward. Yuan himself has changed views, from a devout Marxist to a devout Christian:
After the Tiananmen crackdown, Yuan became one of the country’s most-wanted dissidents, fleeing to Paris and eventually making his way to Princeton. It was there, in 1992, that he converted to Christianity and later started his US-based charity, China Soul for Christ Foundation. Although banned from entering China, he has become one of the country’s most influential spiritual figures through his documentaries and videotaped sermons. This summer, I met Yuan at his offices north of San Francisco, where we talked about China’s moral crisis, the future of communism, and the problems Christianity has in adapting to its new home.
Such is not surprising in a nation where Marxism and Christianity have been living side by side for decades. Equally important, as China becomes more wealthy and its citizens acquire more things, it is expected that they will look to religion—in this case to Christianity—for answers to life's questions. In contrast to Mao's xenophobia, the Christian narrative with Jesus as a central figure of "love and acceptance" might go a long way to soften Chinese culture and its distrust of foreigners. 

Moreover, since Christianity has had a long presence in China, it can easily fill the need for answers that Marxism has not provided. The appeal is great, as Yuan points out: "But it was only when I got to the West that I realized that the root of this was Christianity. It was the Bible. It creates something more important than rights given by a constitution or a government. It creates God-given rights—endowed by our creator. This made rights something permanent and not dependent on a leader." This change in thinking, if it takes root in China, might also improve and deepen relations with Israel, the People of the Book.

You can read the rest of the interview at [The New York Review of Books]