Love in China
An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor looks at the new book by Liao Yiwu and at Christianity in China:
Mr. Liao is a “nonbeliever,” as he puts it, but he became mightily impressed with China’s estimated 70 million to 100 million Christians. (By comparison, the Communist Party has about 75 million members.) Their heroic tales of a reliance on the “life-sustaining” message of Jesus Christ “exhilarated me, lifting me out of my drunken depression,” he writes.
When they all go to worship on Sunday – either at a state-approved church or, more commonly, in private homes – China’s Christians tally more than all the churchgoers in Europe. But their influence as the largest formal religion in China (about 5 percent of the population) extends far beyond their numbers. Christian concepts, such as unconditional universal love, are now also seeping into Communist Party policy.
Published by HarperCollins, Liao’s book is called “God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China.” Its 18 interviews and essays are a journalistic chronicle of how Christians survived the repressive Mao era as well as a glimpse into why their numbers are rising so rapidly.
One clue: China suffers a spiritual crisis, caused by the collapse of communist ideology and a pell-mell race toward Western-style material prosperity. And China’s native religions, from Confucianism to Taoism, are not sufficient to meet the challenges facing Chinese youth.
“In our society today,” Liao writes, “people’s minds are entangled and chaotic.”