A “Fruitful Meeting” Between Civilizations – Part 1/2

May 11, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI (born 1927 – ) has called Matteo Ricci [a 16th century Jesuit, 1552 – 1610] a model for a “fruitful meeting” between civilizations. Source: Catholic News Agency

America and the other Western democracies could learn much from this man, who is being considered for beatification by the
Vatican.

This wasn’t the first time I heard of the Jesuit missionary. In 1999, while my wife and I were on our honeymoon in China, she told me about Ricci. At the time, I was busy learning of Sir Robert Hart, the protagonist in my first two historical fiction novels, “The Concubine Saga”.

When we first visited Book City in Shanghai, I searched for information of Ricci but the only copy I found was in Mandarin, which I do not read.

Over the years, I forgot about Ricci until a commenter, Y Chan, reminded me when he left a comment for The Connection Between Opium, Christianity and Cannon Balls in China , a post republished March 1, 2011.

Here’s what Y Chan first said in his comment.

“You may want to be more specific when using the word “Christianity” in your article.”

Continued on May 12, 2011, A “Fruitful Meeting” Between Civilizations – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

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Religion’s “Cold War” with China – Part 3/3

December 20, 2010

Another reason that China’s government does not want the Pope to rule over China’s Catholics is because of the Catholic Church’s political meddling and bloody history.

In 1088, Pope Urban II was responsible for launching the First Crusade to rescue the Holy Land from the Turks.

In 1147, King Louis VII was enlisted by Bernard of Clairvaux, a French abbot in the Catholic Church, to lead the Second Crusade.

Pope Gregory VIII proclaimed the Third Crusade in 1188.

During the Fourth Crusade in 1202, European Christians sacked Constantinople, a Christian city in Turkey.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Church waged war against the Christian Cather religious sect in the Languedoc region of France and in other parts of Europe. The last known Cathar leader was executed in 1321.

Then there were the four Inquisitions from 1184 to 1860 along with the religious wars that followed the reformation.

Protestants and Catholics shed each other’s blood in national wars and in civil wars from 1562 to 1648.

Then there is the fact that the Pope issues edicts for his followers and some of them go against Chinese law such as the one-child policy designed to control the growth of China’s population.

In addition, China has never had a religion that dominated its culture as in the West and the Middle East.

Moreover, if you are one of those people that believes the Church has changed its evil ways consider how it has shielded priests accused of molesting children or the money laundering by the Vatican’s bank.

Although Chinese believe in heaven and God, most do not believe n God and heaven the same as Christianity and Islam do.

In China, the people are raised to honor the ancestors and obey the central government’s laws not the laws and edicts of a religion.

Catholics in China are free to worship but not free to have the Pope be their spiritual and political ruler since the Pope often issues edicts that influence political beliefs leading to civil unrest and more pressure on China to change.

In fact, China is often depicted as an atheist nation, which is far from the truth.

In China, it is believed by many that Heaven is said to see, hear and watch over all men (sounds like God to me). Heaven is affected by man’s doings, and having personality, is happy and angry with them. Heaven blesses those who please it and sends calamities upon those who offend it.

Heaven was also believed to transcend all other spirits and gods, with Confucius asserting, “He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.”

If anything, most Chinese are guilty of being Deists (as many of America’s Founding Fathers were) or nonreligious since they do not belong to or believe in religions.

Since both Christian and Islamic sects believe they must convert nonbelievers, it must be frustrating to the Catholic Pope that he cannot have freedom to convert as many as possible in China.

It is obvious that the Catholic Church and other world religions want China to change its culture to accept religion as the rest of the world does.

Return to Religion’s “Cold War” with China – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


The State of Religion in Today’s China

December 19, 2010

The U.S. Department of State reports that China is officially atheist (and has been for thousands of years). However, Taoist, Buddhist, Christian and Muslims are allowed to worship in China and these religions have a significant role in the lives of many Chinese.

A February 2007 survey conducted by East China Normal University and reported in China’s state-run media concluded that 31.4% of Chinese citizens ages 16 and over are religious believers.

While the Chinese constitution affirms “freedom of religious belief,” the Chinese Government places restrictions on religious practice outside officially recognized organizations. The five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

Singapore, another nation in Asia, has similar restrictions.

Historically, China has not been accepting of cults, and there is a difference between a religion and a cult.

Princeton.edu says, cult members are “followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.”

All one has to do is study China’s history to understand the Middle Kingdom’s sensitivity toward cults and political activists. China’s struggle with pagan cults reaches back almost a thousand years. Source: The Millennium Cult

There are no official statistics confirming the number of Taoists in China.


Fascinating discussion of how Chinese culture interacts with religions.

Official figures indicate there are 20 million Muslims, 20 million Protestants, and 5.3 million Catholics; unofficial estimates are much higher.

According to About Chinese Culture.com, there are more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.

Buddhism, the most popular religion in China with about a 100 million followers, has a 2,000-year history in the Middle Kingdom and there are about 13,000 Buddhist temples.

Taoism, native to China, has a history of more than 1,700 years with over 1,500 temples.

Islam, which was introduced into China in the seventh century has more than 30,000 mosques.

At present, China has about 4,600 Catholic churches and meetinghouses.

Protestantism first arrived in China in the early 19th century. Today there are more than 12,000 churches and 25,000 meeting places.

Although Judaism is not listed as one of the officially recognized religions in China, there are Jewish synagogues in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Jews first settled in Kaifeng, Henan Province in 960 AD after arriving along the Silk Road. The Jews were welcomed by the Imperial government, which encouraged them to retain their cultural identity by building the Kaifeng synagogue, which was finished in 1163 AD.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.