Religion in Postwar China: A Critical Analysis and Annotated Bibliography

Religion in Postwar China: A Critical Analysis and Annotated Bibliography

Religion in Postwar China: A Critical Analysis and Annotated Bibliography

Religion in Postwar China: A Critical Analysis and Annotated Bibliography

Synopsis

This book discusses selected works on Chinese religion in the People's Republic of China (PRC) published since World War II. The work begins with brief overviews of religion in premodern and modern China, first by scholars in China, and then as understood by Western scholars. The bulk of the book consists of 1,005 annotated bibliographic entries--works by Chinese writers from the PRC and Western writers from East Asia, North America, and Europe. Though many entries deal with pre-1970 China, the emphasis is on the past two decades, which have been the most productive in the history of Western publications. The inclusion of some 200 entries for this time period by authors from China makes this an important work for students and scholars in contemporary Chinese religion.

Excerpt

There were many other categories of religious specialists in China: monks, fortune tellers, temple keepers, masters of esoteric arts and educated priests who devoted themselves to the study of classical texts. the religious beliefs that these practitioners represented are so complicated and so heterogeneous that they defy attempts to make sense of them as a unified system of thought.

- Encyclopedia of Modern China

If one were to amend this statement to the present tense, it could well represent the religious situation in postwar China. One of the world's oldest extant civilizations, and its largest geo-political entity, China also enjoys the dubious reputation of having perhaps the most diverse religious tradition of any nation. the classical Eastern religions, of course, have long been present -Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism. So also have the Semitic religions -Judaism, Christianity, Islam. But there have been countless localized religious societies, syncretistic religions, folk religions, local cults and state cults. These religions taken together have exerted a profound influence on Chinese society and culture over the centuries; not merely religious practice but also the state, family life, society, the arts, literature, science and technology have at one time or another been affected by religion.

Within China the major 'international', religions have experienced many unique developments and conflicts. Confucianism, for example, was long opposed by Daoism, which viewed Confucian standards as artifical and inferior to the Daoist values of wuwei and ziran --' action that is uncontrived, and 'that which is spontaneous'. Even within a single religion there have been varieties of expression and often disagreement in China. Thus in Buddhism the Qingtu (Pure Land) School, once the most popular Buddhist tradition in China, gave particular allegiance to Amitabha Buddha, believing that sincere invocation of his name would result in deliverance to the Pure Land. in contrast the Chan School, essentially an indigenous form of Buddhism, reacted against the external manifestations of religion, including those espoused by followers of Qingtu, and stressed the need for internal religion, especially meditation, as the way to self-

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