Sunday, May 14, 2006

1.3 billion Potential Believers

Last night my ZhangChi asked me if I wanted to come with him to church. I have to say that I was rather surprised.

Sunday morning we slept in until 11 something and then slowly got up and out. When we entered the mass it had already started. Some 15 people, all Chinese, were sitting listening to the priest. Since I'm not very familiar with religious terms and because a pretty strong accent I can't say that I understood even half what he was saying. After the preaching there was some singing backed up by some music from a laptop and an overhead with the lyrics (I must say it was a little karaoke-like). When it was about to get really boring, it ended and it was time for the reward: food. Well, more like the usual church grub, such as sandwiches, cookies, tea, and coffee.

Kyrk-fika


There is a mass every Sunday for the Chinese students in the Eklanda church. Here is how it works. People from the church let ask senior students pick up the new arrivals when they come to the airport in Göteborg. They will be the first people they meet in Sweden. Later on they will be invited to the church, of course with the promise of some free food. Some students join, and according to the priest there are now groups of former Swedish students in major cities in China. Pretty good missionary tactics I must say.

ZhangChi made Mr Li, the priest, very enthusiastic when he said my dad is a pastor, that I can speak Chinese, and are going back to China. He started talking about makeing plans together and cooperate. It sure looked like he had great hopes for me and he looked very disappointed when I finally managed to get out the fact that I am not a believer.

Well, the whole thing was quite nice and I wouldn't be surprised if I turn up next week as well. If not for the preaching, maybe for the good coffee. I suppose that is what they all say at first... :0

13 comments:

Uma said...

Hehe.. I ve been to something like that too.. the people there were all chinese, or Hongkongese or Taiwanese.. they were really pious..and they really tried to convince me to believe in it..

However, i think it is rather hard for 99% of the chinese to REALLY believe in God. I talked about it with Dan, my former colleague in SIPRI, the institute, she is a really pious believer rightnow, but she had gone through great hesistation for almost 2 years. We talked a lot about it the night I stayed with her after joining the mass.. We agreed that since we have a communist government, and we are educated from we are very young that there exists no God in the world. It could be really difficult to change people's believes,especisally from a communist perspective to a Christain one..

Johan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wen said...

Is religion (particularly Christianity) declining in Europe? Is Europe going through a sort of "crisis" of religion?

Uma said...

Hehe, having a spirtual vacuum doesn't mean that China has to take any kind of religion to solve it. China actually has never had any strong religion in its entire history, neither Dao or Buddism were a main belief in China, the ancient chinese mostly believe in some kinda 'local God'(which was actually really weak). To be honest I think all religions has pretty little market in China rightnow since people care much more about earning money and the reality, and in my opinion Christianity has even smaller market in China since it even doesnt have any history.. at the same time, you still cant ignore the influence by the communist party and the materialism education in China.

Johan said...

Uma,

I find Chinese to be very concerned about supernatural or spiritual things, such as ghosts, ancestors, supernatural powers etc.

It would be interesting how you explain the very rapid growth of faluñ d@fa before it was banned.

When you say that China has never had any strong religion in its history, I first of all assume that you don't count Tibet as a part of China.

I don't know that much about Chinese history, but I have my doubts about what you are saying. Basically I have serious doubt about Chinese history writing as a whole since it has always been very politicised.

Johan said...

5/15/2006 11:40 AM Reposted

Other people talk about a spiritual vacuum in China these days. After communism destroyed much of other believes there is not much else. Nobody believes in communism anymore, so what is left? I believe that could be one of the reasons why the government were so afraid of the faluñ d@fa and now the underground churches. I believe the churches are actually expanding rapidly. It is nice to believe in something, no?

Anonymous said...

people who have religious believe just because they have a empty brain. They will follow the riligious doctrine unquestionable without considerating the real role of religion. I think if a person can do verything according to the religious doctrine he is qualified to claim that he is religiou. however, sometimes people believe somthing and join some associations just because they can get some profit from it. The profit not just means coffes and cookies after the mass but some help when they need it.They can get help from their religiuos friends of searching jobs, accomodations, financial garantees, and so on. the behavious of that kind of people is disgusting.

Johan said...

Pretty harsh comment.

people who have religious believe just because they have a empty brain.

Yeah? Do you know these people? Are they all the same? Is my little blog post enough for you to make that judgement?

They will follow the riligious doctrine unquestionable without considerating the real role of religion.

So what is "the real role of religion"? Is that something that you have determined, or is it something that each and everybody has to make up on their own?

I think if a person can do verything according to the religious doctrine he is qualified to claim that he is religiou.


Who cares? I didn't know there were some official standard that you had to live up to to be able to call yourself religious. I think that is highly individual and a pretty pointless distinction.

however, sometimes people believe something and join some associations just because they can get some profit from it. The profit not just means coffes and cookies after the mass but some help when they need it.They can get help from their religiuos friends of searching jobs, accomodations, financial garantees, and so on.

So? Seems pretty smart to me. Is it something wrong about that? I suppose the church could kick them out if they wanted. They don't. Even if they were like that I believe the church would still like them to come.

the behavious of that kind of people is disgusting.

Who does it harm? They are corrupt officials who appoint their cousins for government positions and then get fat on poor people's money. I think throwing such insults on people you know nothing about is pretty disgusting and empty headed.

If you are a "real religious" Christian and so concerned about these fake ones, I still believe Jesus would still have a word or two to say about your compassion and ability to forgive people for their faults. I guess you must be completely without sin to be able to pass these judgements?

Anyway, the people I met were really friendly and I will go there again.

Johan said...

Wen:

I don't know. Maybe religion is in some sort of decline, but that is a long slow process with a lots of ups and downs.

I do believe some institutions are loosing authority and have done so for a long time (churches, the Vatican, the Bible etc.), but I think this is in much replaced by other things (personal faith, personal God, new churches etc). I think the reason we have religions are deeply connected with human traits. We will always think out some belief system to place ourselves in the world.

Hug!

wen said...

My dear,

Thanks for trying to answer my questions. You mentioned that it's replaced by other things, and I believe that include new beliefs in science, rationality, Marxism, meditation and nowadays even consumerism, fashions, football clubs, and computer games, and these may be regarded as religions as well, because people devote most of their time on them and to a large extent they influence and direct people's acts in their lives.

After many years of secularization process, the public significance of religion has been constantly diminishing. However, some people claim that this declining only happens in the influence of religious authority and institutions but not in the private level, "Europeans believe without belonging (to the churches)". How much do you think this statement is true? Do you think people also stop believing when they stop belonging?

Hug!

wen said...

People do sometimes expect to get something from a religion and that's why many non-church goers still would like to keep the churches. When they need to baptise their new-born baby, when they need to get married and when they need to bury their beloved. They need such a place for those ceremonies even though maybe they don't claim they believe in God or simply don't go to church on weekends. Because that's their tradition and part of their memory, and they don't want to lose it. Also, when they feel vulnerable and desperate, they need to confess or pray and hope to get help and comfort from some invisible supernatural being that is superior to them thus can provide (or can be relied to provide) such care.

I don't think that's something to blame or contempt or to insult. Indeed, a longing for community, tradition and consolation is our human trait.

Anonymous said...

It's fine for religous people to believe whatever they believe - as long as they do NOT try to convince others to believe what they believe. It is annoying!!

Johan said...

I don't agree when they try to IMPOSE or FORCE their believes on other people. I think they should be free to try to convince anyone they want. I think we have to live with that annoyance.