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|CHRISTIANITY AND CHINESE CULTURE AND SOCIETY
AN INTERNATIONAL YOUNG SCHOLARS' SYMPOSIUM
December 10-14, 2004
Chung Chi College Campus,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, P.R.China
The goal of this symposium was to provide young scholars with an opportunity to share and exchange ideas with other scholars in the field. At this symposium, 38 young scholars from China, England, and France engaged in discussions concerning Christianity in modern Chinese Culture and Society.
Abstracts of Keynote Presentations:
The Relationship Between Church-and-State: Another Approach to Studying Christianity in China by Prof. Peter Wang Chenmian, Ph.D.; Graduate Institute of History, National Central University, Taiwan
Church Studies has become more and more popular in China. Its popularity can be seen from its abundant publication of articles and books, organization of numerous conferences, and formation of many academic societies and institutes all over China. Yet, even with such a hundred-flowers-blooming phenomenon, there has been a notable deficiency in the study of the relationship between Church-and-State. This is understandable because the early generation of Chinese scholars did not have an opportunity to understand Christianity and its theological aspects in politics. Furthermore, the relationship between Church-and-State, which has been tested and adjusted both in theory and practice for more than a thousand years in the West, has a completely different picture in China. The clash of these two systems was doomed to bring about many conflicts and misunderstandings in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
An approach that studies the relationship between Church-and-State is a better instrument to evaluate Christian missions and Chinese Christians, as well as the reaction of native people and government of China. As history shows, not all the missionaries and Chinese Christians followed the right standpoint in politics as stipulated in the Bible. Moreover, the Chinese government, the gentry and local people might also be trapped in emotional agitation without appealing to established laws and regulations. Therefore, the study of the relationship between Church-and State will serve as a useful tool to examine the merits and defects both in the church and the secular world. Based on this approach, we are sure it will bring new light to the long history of Christianity in China and will also reflect unique and distinguished part of Chinese church history.
政教關係 - 研究中國基督教史的重要途徑
Christianity and the History and Society of Modern China: Changing Attitudes in Scholarly Approaches in East and West by Prof. R G Tiedemann, Ph.D.; School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Although the missionary enterprise in China was extensive and varied, for many years its historical records were largely ignored by the scholarly community in China and the West. To some extent, the prevailing political and ideological climate precluded any meaningful and objective investigation of the Christian Church in China. Indeed, for several decades after 1949 the work of foreign missionaries during the preceding century was heavily criticized in often highly polemical attacks by the authorities on the Chinese mainland. In the West, too, those scholars who did venture to study the Christianization of China tended to focus on the confrontational aspects of this encounter between foreign religion and Chinese society. In this connection – and in a more general context –, the longstanding and often acrimonious feuds between anthropologists and missionaries are well known. But historians, too, tended to neglect the missionary enterprise and its archival resources. For many the voluminous material preserved in various repositories in China, Europe, North America and elsewhere was regarded as not worthy of serious scholarly consideration. Such works as did appear in print were in the main produced by members of missionary societies or theological seminaries, but rarely by secular academics.
However, in recent years the important role played by missionaries in the interaction between China and the West has been increasingly recognized by historians as well as scholars from other disciplines interested in historical developments in their specific fields. As this paper endeavours to demonstrate, the Christianization process itself is now subjected to serious investigation. While the confrontational aspect of this obviously deserves further attention, the missionary’s role both as agent of change, especially in the area of education and medical services, and as cultural mediator between China and the West, as well as keen observer of life and events in China should also be recognized. In the 1920s and 1930s a number of missionaries were engaged in agrarian developments and rural reconstruction. The writings of a diligent and conscientious evangelist, when used with care, can thus make important contributions to knowledge in a variety of fields. For instance, missionary observations on local events and developments, particularly in the countryside, can usefully supplement Chinese material. Indeed, in many cases the missionary record is the only one available. At the same time, by studying Chinese Christianity a better understanding of Chinese folk religiosity may be gained. The missionary’s involvement with minority peoples contributes to knowledge in the field of historical anthropology.
These examples are intended to show that the missionary enterprise and its records can provide a field for fruitful research. Young scholars ought, therefore, to be encouraged to seek out and sift through the rather voluminous material on the missionary enterprise and Christianity in China. Needless to say, such material and the information it contains must be preserved for posterity as valuable resources for comprehending more adequately the past in China and the West.
Letting People Tell their Own Story: Oral History and Research on Christianity in China by Prof. Jean-Paul Wiest, Ph.D.; Research Director, The Beijing Center for Language and Culture; Distinguished Research Fellow, Ricci Institute, University of San Francisco
Oral history far from being a poor imitation or inadequate substitute for history is an essential element of what history is all about. Our own personal stories played an essential role in shaping who we are. The same can be said of groups of people. All have stories of their own kept alive in the shared memory of the people. These stories are what sustains a collectivity’s beliefs and mores, fashion its identity, and illustrate its history. As years go by, new stories are preserved that continue to reflect the ongoing life of the group.
It is in this context that I first discuss oral history and look at its strengths and weaknesses. I then describe how to make use of it by itself or in combination with another academic discipline for research on Chinese Christianity. Difficulties, obstacles, and changes within the present national and local political and social contexts are addressed. Examples, based on my own experience and that of Chinese colleagues, illustrate the presentation.
Because Christianity in China spans over many centuries, many aspects still needs to be further researched. For obvious reasons, until recently many scholars from the PRC shunned the second half of the twentieth century. The few Chinese publications that discussed Christianity during that period have been more than often politically motivated rather than objectively conducted. Today academic freedom and research possibilities have greatly improved. Despite the persistence of pitfalls, I believe time has come for PRC scholars to approach the study of Christianity during those fifty years with an open mind and in a professional manner. Collecting the stories of Christian individuals and communities will be an important step in that direction.
Co-sponsored by Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, University of San Francisco
Centre for Study of Religion and Chinese Society, Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
JESUIT ASIA, PAST AND PRESENT: INDIA, CHINA, AND JAPAN
February 4, 2004
5:45 PM, Program; Reception follows
USF Lone Mountain Campus, Room 100
(2800 Turk between Masonic & Parker)
Join Professor Rule as he discusses early Jesuit encounters with indigenous religions and cultures in Asia, including special missions to tribal people in India— the Jesuit sannyasis, to the villages of minority peoples in rural China with sinologists and teachers of Sino-Christian meditation; and to Japan where the exponents of Zen Christianity have continued the Jesuit tradition.
Paul Rule is currently Honorary Associate in the History Department at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, where he retired as senior lecturer in history and religious studies in 2002, having taught there since 1973 as a specialist in Chinese history and religion, Aboriginal religion, peace studies, and modern Catholicism. Since 2001 Rule spends part of each year in residence at the USF Ricci Institute as EDS-Stewart Distinguished Fellow where he is spearheading a research project on the Chinese Rites Controversy.
The Charles W. Stewart Distinguished Lectureship was established at the USF Center for the Pacific Rim to honor the memory of the late Charles W. Stewart, former CEO of Blue Shield and a friend, benefactor, and board member of the Center and its Ricci Institute.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Reservations recommended; call the USF Center for the Pacific Rim at 415.422.6357.
Co-sponsored by the USF Center for the Pacific Rim and its Ricci Institute and the USF Jesuit Community.
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