Sunday, July 23, 2006

 
The Christian Life
Between ass-kicking assignments to rewrite press releases regarding "really good yarns" (my dimwitted assignment editor's phrase) like the Hong Kong Observatory's new web weather cams, I've been trying on my own to research underground Christian churches in Shenzhen.
It's been fitful progress primarily due to the fact that so far my only two primary contacts are essentially right-wing, evangelical foreigners - one of whom who has only been in Shenzhen for about a month and a half and the other a guy with a lot more Asia experience but who also seems to believe that the Vatican is the puppet master behind much of the world's troubles.
"He's a member of Opus Dei, you know..." he told me referring to Lord Christopher Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong and someone I had covered last week between extolling the glories of the new west-facing Victoria Harbor weather cam.
"How secret can Opus Dei be?" I asked rhetorically, praying to any god that might be listening that he wouldn't steer the conversation into a discourse on The Da Vinci Code. "I believe they're listed in the New York phone book, address and all."
He gave me one of those "That's what they want you to believe..." looks and thankfully jump skipped back to the topic I was trying to focus on.
It's all involved semi-clandestine meetings, a fake name or two, sudden whispery phone calls that turn into nothing and me trying to do my best to put aside my viseral dislike for right wing evangelical agendas without compromising my own rapidly growing belief that, maybe, Mao might've been onto something when he established an aetheist state.
China has a long history of religious meddlers from outside and generally it's led to nothing but trouble for the meddlers as well as the powers-that-be. God help the innocent followers. I'm no expert now or ever, but currently - if my Opus Dei fearing friend is correct - you've got the State-approved churches, the "house churches" (split into many camps, some who are politically minded, others who are not and some who are just plain cults with leaders promising instant prosperity and/or saying they are the new Jesus, etc) plus the Catholic camps (State sanctioned vs the Vatican) and baying at the Hong Kong border door are the Mormons, Moonies, and ladies and gentlemen, let's give it up for the Falun Gong, among others.
Between it all C has served as a translator and is becoming increasingly curious about what all this Christian stuff is all about. With as much complete neutrality as I could muster I skipped John 3:16 and gave her a very simplistic, short primer from Justin 10:26.52 as we rode the 5:15 SZ subway train yesterday.
1. They believe that Jesus was the son of God.
2. He died for all the world's sins but rose again after three days so that mankind will be forgiven for its sins and receive eternal life after death.
"So you can be forgiven for anything?
"Well, supposedly, yes. But you have to be sincere."
"But you could live your whole life doing bad things and then say you're sincere and believe in Jesus and you would be forgiven?"
"Yeah, basically, except for maybe someone like Kenneth Lay or George Bush."
"Who's Kenneth Lay?"
(A few minutes and two MTR stops later) "So what is the difference between the Catholics and the Christians?"
"Catholics are Christians, the first ones, actually. But then things got too complicated and other Catholics formed their own churches. Eventually hundreds, maybe thousands of them if you count the ones who play with snakes and the Mormons."
"Snakes? You have to play with snakes if you are a Christian?"
"No, no...it's complicated."
"Why do they make it so complicated?"
"That's the problem. That's the problem... Here's our stop."
Comments:
It's odd that so many right wing bible thumping nut jobs go to China and risk serious trouble, or least confusion and rejection. As for Mao's "religion free state", he was a religion unto himself, not unlike Puritanicalism or Islam o'facists. This includes death for disobedience and a taste for blossoming young girls.

Eventually the west may see chinese guys in bad suits with bad hairdos preaching in multimillion dollar megachurches that God is going to call them home if everyone in earshot doesn't send a ton of money directly to them.
 
I can safely say as a confirmed (in the eyes of God, and through 4 years a Bible study) Lutheran that a solid 75% of Christian faiths have horribly lost sight of why the worlds masses need religion to keep them in line. Sadly, it’s the “secret” groups of these three-quarters who use religion as it was historically established: as a method of control.
The 25% of Christians that I’ve met and liked (none of which have been hardXXXcore Mormons – who spread with Nazi like fervor) realize they have found a method of dealing with the world that works mostly for them. The best Christians are the ones who can believe for themselves and not force their beliefs upon others. That’s why less evangelical Eastern religions have less of a negative stigma.
Long and short, tell C she’s not missing out when she’s trying to grasp the complexities of the dogma.
 
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