Posts in Oct 1996 a

Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 12:17:42 -0700
From: DJ Chuang
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: Re: What is Chinese culture?

DJ said:
>> So if indeed (or just assuming) Chinese culture has been infused with
>> significant influence from Confusianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, how do these
>> measure up to the framework and mandates of Scriptures? Or to ask it another
>> way, does the Bible mandate certain behaviors, values, and thought patterns?
>> Can the Bible influence culture just as significantly, and what would a
>> Christian influence upon Chinese culture look like?

Fenggang said:
> Let me put this in a sharper comparison: Chinese culture and American
culture,
> which one is closer to biblical principles or teachings? This way of
> raising questions may make some people uncomfortable.

That is an uncomfortable question, but one worth wrestling with.. Let me ask it
this way: if Chinese culture is influenced primarily by Confucianism, Taoism,
and Buddhism, what has influenced American culture?

Fenggang said:
> During my study, some Chinese lay leaders
> expressed that the Chinese way of dealing with church conflicts was
> closer to biblical teachings, whereas a white American pastor said that
> the American way — confrontation and open discussion– is closer to
> biblical teachings.

On what basis does one consider proximity to biblical teachings regarding
conflict resolution? Is Matthew 18 sufficient or significant as a basis for
conflict resolution? The diversity of denominations and cultures seem to show
that we all work with the same data, the Bible, the Word of God, but we each
may prioritize certain passages over others.

DJ

— End —

Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 12:14:33 -0700
From: DJ Chuang
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: re: fwd: reframing

> From: “Peter Szto” , on 10/3/96 4:23 PM:
>
> Dear friends,
> The attempt to capture the essence of any culture, let alone Chinese
> culture, is a worthwhile yet elusive effort. Too many
> variables to consider. “Chinese-ness” is very dynamic.
:
> “Chinese”. Maybe the Chinese culture is a process rather than a
> historical construct?

Yes, the effort to understand culture is elusive because any culture is in a
process of development and change, even Chinese culture [although it can be
said also that Chinese culture is very diverse also, with many ethnicities in
each province, and within each province even].

However, to begin defining the culture in language is to give us a point of
reference, so that we can build understanding and appreciation, not to put into
a box or limit the people statically. Every person is individual and certainly
free to deviate from behavior or values of any culture or cultural label, and
to do that would not mean denying identity with a cultural label.

Yes, some may say that you can’t use any language to define because in that
definition it is inherently limiting and constraining, but the consequence of
this would be a refusal for examination at all; or is there another way to
introduce cultural understanding?

DJ

— End —

Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 11:08:34 -0700
From: DJ Chuang
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: fwd: reframing

From: “Peter Szto” , on 10/3/96 4:23 PM:

Dear friends,
The attempt to capture the essence of any culture, let alone Chinese
culture, is a worthwhile yet elusive effort. Too many
variables to consider. “Chinese-ness” is very dynamic. In my
limited experience, it seems that as soon as a descriptive langauge is
constructed
and applied, it makes who we are very static. For example, my trips
to China have recently made me “more Chinese” but not “completely”
Chinese. I keep changing. On the other hand, my wife, who is from
China, is also becoming “more Chinese” even while in America because
of more varieties of Chinese she has met here than in China. In
addition, being in America has made her more self-consciuosly
“Chinese”. Maybe the Chinese culture is a process rather than a
historical construct?

Peter Szto

— End —

Date: Fri, 04 Oct 1996 13:40:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: 54YANG@CUA.EDU
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: Re: What is Chinese culture?

Hi, Sam,

I’m still contemplating about the experience dimension of Chineseness.
It is true that those who sojourned overseas often became more conscious
of their Chineseness, and overseas Chinese who suffered discrimination
and anti-Chinese violences (both in the U.S. and in Southeast Asia)
became strong supporters of Chinese revolutions. In this sense immigrant
Chinese become more Chinese. However, put these racial/nationalist
sentiments aside, overseas Chinese very often become less Chinese
in terms of inheriting Chinese culture. Some Chinese cultural values
/rituals they find no more applicable or useful in the new environment,
some cherished values will die out as time and generations passing-by.
They learn some new values of the host society which other Chinese
(say, Chinese in China) would regard as non-Chinese. Some Chinese
descents even marry out. Thus, they became less and less Chinese
in their life and values, even blood ties. Aren’t these true?

> all these [experiences in America in different periods]
> contribute to what a Chinese-American/Asian-American person IS.

Yes these experiences contribute to what individuals or groups are.
But in what sense can we say these experiences Chinese? While I’m writing
this last sentence, I realize that these are Chinese experiences.
Then the question is, what values/rituals have these experiences
produced (crystalized experiences?) ? Can these values/rituals be
defined as Chinese? Will other Chinese accept or share them? Any example?

> In leaving China, the immigrant Chinese becomes MORE Chinese, not
> less. (Fenggang, help me here, which author am I alluding to now?
> Joseph Levenson?)

I’ve read similar ideas here and there, but do not know a well-versed
theoretical statement about this. But this seems very important to
my dissertation themes. Could you dig out the reference? I’d appreciate it.

Fenggang

— End —

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 14:35:55 -0700
From: DJ Chuang
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: Re: What is Chinese culture?

> From: “Dr Samuel Ling” , on 10/3/96 7:46 AM:
> For DJ, I would say, now is the time to move on from asking pure
> theoretical questions as to what is the ESSENCE of Chinese culture,
> to take some of the lists anthropologists have put together

Dr.Ling,
My intent in driving at the essence of Chinese culture is important, at least
to me, because I want to go behind the “symptoms” of what characterizes Chinese
culture, which would be those lists of behaviors which people have compiled
over time.. the behaviors are modeling a certain type of “root” assumptions and
presuppositions which people hold dear in a culture, or to use another term,
the “core values” of a Chinese culture.

In working toward understanding the formation of these core values, the essence
of a culture, then we can move beyond “behavior management” and toward what I
hope to be a deeper understanding and appreciation that may lead to teamwork
and appropriate transformation.

DJ

— End —

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 07:46:34 CST6CDT
From: Dr Samuel Ling
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: Re: What is Chinese culture?

Dear Fenggang, DJ and CAC’ers:

I added a “fourth dimension” to “What is Chinese culture”, i.e., the
immigration/assimilation experience. Fenggang, YES, I do have Tu
Wei-ming’s center/periphery and 3 symbolic universese in mind! (The
Living Tree, which is now in book form; originally the Deadelus
Journal, an issue around 1991?)

My point is: which wave of immigration did the Asian immigrant (or
his/her parents) come from Asia? The historical context in both Asia
and in America (in American society as a whole, and within the Asian
American community in America at that time), plus the church context
(church in China, church in America, Chinese-American church), all
these contribute to what a Chinese-American/Asian-American person IS.

In leaving China, the immigrant Chinese becomes MORE Chinese, not
less. (Fenggang, help me here, which author am I alluding to now?
Joseph Levenson?)

For DJ, I would say, now is the time to move on from asking pure
theoretical questions as to what is the ESSENCE of Chinese culture,
to take some of the lists anthropologists have put together (I did a
crude one in my article, “The Chinese Way of Doing Things,” 1984,
which is in A WINNING COMBINATION published by CCM), and go down the
list, compare ABCs with OBCs etc. We can probably do a lot of good
for ministry if we can shed light on these nuances, one
value/behavior/symbol at a time (so to speak).

This discussion is getting better every day!
Sam Ling

— End —

Date: Wed, 02 Oct 1996 09:44:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: 54YANG@CUA.EDU
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: Re: What is Chinese culture?

Sam,

you said,
> I would like to add a fourth dimension to what Fenggang has pointed
> out — In addition to language, rituals and values, the fourth
> dimension is the very immigration/assimilation experience of being a
> Chinese on North American soil. The very experience of the immigrant
> or the 2nd/3rd/4th/5th generation Asian-American growing up in
> America qualifies as “Asian culture” or “Chinese culture,” inasmuch
> as this experience includes some conscious or subconscious attempt to
> integrate, sort out, resolve, etc. Chinese and American cultural
> values, symbols and language usage. What do you think?

This is a very interesting idea. Could you elaborate more or give
some examples to illustrate what you mean by immigration/assimilation
experience? Is this what you called “the third culture” in your article?
In what sense these experiences are “Chinese”? Do you think about
this issue with the angle of “center and periphery” and three
universe of cultural China proposed by Tu Weiming?

Fenggang Yang

— End —

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 16:55:47 -0700
From: DJ Chuang
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: News re: Churches in China

CHINESE PASTOR CLOSES HOUSE CHURCH
RATHER THAN REGISTER WITH GOVERNMENT

HONG KONG (EP) — One of China’s best-known
Christian leaders has closed his house church in response to
pressure to register with government authorities. Alan Yuan
informed the 100 members of his Beijing house church on
Aug. 6 that he would no longer continue to hold meetings.

Yuan told Compass Direct news service that he was
“theologically unwilling” to register his church.

Yuan, 82, said, “I have not registered now for the same
reason I did not join the Three Self church in the 1950s —
because politics and religion should not mix.” Yuan said he
had been pressured by the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB)
to register, and explained, “To register means the RAB and
the Three Self church would have control over us. Since
neither agency has any believers, we cannot yoke with
nonbelievers.”

Yuan added that it was “practically impossible” for his church
to meet the three conditions for registration. A registered
church must have a specific place of worship, but Yuan’s
church meets in various places. There must be an approved
pastor, and Yuan insisted, “I am not the pastor of this church,
we are all pastors.” Finally, all financial transactions within the
church must be reported to the RAB; Yuan said, “We have
no finances in this group. No one receives money from
anywhere, and we pay no one.” He concluded, “We do not
constitute a church that can register under these conditions.”

Yuan was jailed for 22 years for his refusal to join the Three
Self church. In December 1995 the Chinese government
instructed the RAB to ask every religious group that is
meeting without official government sanction to obtain that
sanction by registering. For a Protestant church like Yuan’s,
registering would mean coming under the supervision of the
Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), which is China’s
official Protestant church.

A senior RAB official told Compass Direct, “If they register
and come under a TSPM church with an evangelical pastor,
they are likely to be left alone. But if their local TSPM church
does not have evangelical leadership, they could be seriously
interfered with, even closed down or have their pastor
replaced.”

-eom-

— End —

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 11:15:46 -0700
From: DJ Chuang
To: Multiple recipients of list cac
Subject: Re: What is Chinese culture?

> From: 54YANG@CUA.EDU, on 9/26/96 5:26 PM:
> Based on readings of some scholars, I would like to approach the question
> of Chinese cultural identity in three dimensions:
>
> 1. Chinese language. This is the most apparent symbolic marker.
> 2. Chinese cultural symbols and rituals. Some Anthropologists argued that
> the core of Chinese culture is orthopraxy (correct behaviors) more than
> orthodoxy (correct beliefs).
:
> 3. Chinese cultural values. Some humanities scholars argue that the core
> of Chinese is orthodoxy, particularly, Confucianism (Tu, Weiming). In
> other words, to be Chinese is to be a Confucian, or hold Confucian values,
> such as “jen” and filial piety, etc. Other Chinese philosophers also
> argued the centrality of Daoism (Taoism) and the importance of Buddhism
> (Buddhism became an integral part of Chinese culture).

Thank you, Fenggang, for your commentary; that is indeed the question I want to
wrestle with, first to identify the essentials of what comprises Chinese
culture, so that we can get a handle on it, in order to talk about it tangibly
instead of stereotyping. Now Dr. Ling adds a fourth dimension, the assimilation
experience, but for the sake of this topic, I will prioritize #3, cultural
values, as the central focus (as explained below).

>From my brief study in missions, language and culture are very closely related,
and some would even say you can’t separate the two. Right here we have the
challenge of thousands of dialects among the Chinese people, and for many of
them, Chinese people can write to each other, but not talk to each other.

As I read your commentary, I thought to myself.. what would the Chinese people
say? What are the values and behavior in a person that a traditional Chinese
person would embrace as Chinese? If I were to be among Chinese people, what all
would I have to do or say to be accepted as being Chinese for them? I would
need to have biological descent (I do), I would have to speak a Chinese
language, I would have to have certain behaviors, values, and thought patterns.
I would NOT have to grow up or to have lived in China or related countries.

My particular interest is defining and parsing the “behaviors, values, and
thought patterns” so that we can create dialogue, cultural understanding, and
progress in Chinese church life, particularly in America. As a sociologist, I
would think that this aspect of culture would be of an interesting study as
well.

So if indeed (or just assuming) Chinese culture has been infused with
significant influence from Confusianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, how do these
measure up to the framework and mandates of Scriptures? Or to ask it another
way, does the Bible mandate certain behaviors, values, and thought patterns?
Can the Bible influence culture just as significantly, and what would a
Christian influence upon Chinese culture look like?

DJ

— End —

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