China Beat conducts a short but interesting email interview with Chicago Tribune and New Yorker writer Evan Osnos on his participation in a soon-to-be-released documentary from Frontline WORLD on Christianity in China.
CB: Do you think of the rise of Christianity mainly as a subset of a larger phenomenon, such as a turn toward spirituality more generally that has also seen an increase in the popularity of other imported and local religions? Or do you see it as something that is completely distinctive?
EO: The rise of Christianity in China is part of a broader spiritual awakening. People are seeking new sources of guidance everywhere, from mystical Taoist sects to B’hai temples. Among the measures of that, a survey by East China Normal University found that nearly a third of those polled described themselves religious. In particular, the rising middle class seems to be searching for a kind of moral reference as they confront new social and economic choices. One of the interesting things about Chinese Christians is that we don’t yet know what kind of social positions they will endorse: Will the mainstream of Christianity in China be a form of liberal Protestantism familiar in some American churches or will it be closer to the conservative brand that is thriving in the developing world?
See an video diary by Osnos, plus other pre-release materials related to the documentary, here.