Post 15: The Religious Question in Modern China, Ch 10-11

Through this reading, l gained some insight into the different religious practices of various Chinese communities around the world. I found it particularly interesting that Chinese diaspora outside of Mainland China actually preserved Chinese traditions more effectively than within China. Because of the lack of religious institutions following the Cultural Revolution, I found it interesting that local religious groups were formed in the absence of temples.

While in China it seems that temple revival movements came in direct conflict with modernization, I found that communities outside of Mainland China were modern yet preserved their religious practices. When I went to Taiwan and the Mainland over the summer, I remember seeing “南无阿弥陀佛” (Namo Amitabha) plastered on walls and telephone poles throughout the countryside between Taitung and Hualien, and even throughout Taipei. This is particularly interesting to me because it seems that religious practice in Taiwan has generally grown despite the original KMT policies to ban “backward” Chinese traditions in lieu of Christianity.

It was saddening to read about the flourishing cultural practices of overseas Chinese in comparison to the lack of cultural identity within the Mainland. One example that stood out mentioned Han Chinese treating the cultural traditions of ethnic minorities as oddities while forgetting that Han traditions were at one point in time very similar. This behavior can be widely seen in any Chinese travel show in which celebrities gawk at the “strange” and “mystic” practices of ethnic minority groups.

As modern China continues to rediscover its cultural identity, it must find a way to develop modern resources while preserving its traditional practices.

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