Saturday, 26 April 2014

Which Foreign Gods are most 'Chinese'?

In terms of historical seniority, arguably considered to be a very important criterion in defining Chinese culture among Chinese who are proud of their long history, it is not unreasonable to assert that Christianity is more Chinese than Communism, as its history can be traced all the way back to the 19th century missionaries. The rulers of the sect called the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace who rebelled against and nearly toppled the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century (a foreign Manchu dynasty that had invaded and conquered China in 1644) were a quasi-Christian force whose leader, Hong Xiuquan, claimed to be the brother of Jesus Christ. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China (and considered by the Communist Party of China as the father of the nation) who helped to finally end foreign Manchu rule in 1911, was both a Confucian and a Christian. His successor and subsequent leader of China in the Nationalist era, Chiang Kai-shek, also converted to Christianity. All of this Chinese destiny with Christianity happened before the Chinese Communists ever took power in China. 

Thus, if the Chinese Communists can worship their foreign gods, demi-gods and heroes such as Lenin, Stalin, Marx, Bethune and Genghis Khan (Russian, German, Canadian and Mongolian respectively) then what is wrong with Chinese Christians worshipping Jesus, the King of the Jews or an Argentinean Pope Francis? 

Buddhists have been worshipping their Nepalese-born leader Siddhartha Gautama for milllennia in China, a foreign religion which spread to China from Central Asia. Yet another legendary Buddhist figure Bodhi Dharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism in China, was from India and was quite possibly one of the greatest single historical figures to promote China’s cultural influence in the world next to Confucius and Lao Zi (the founder of Daoism). 

Therefore, in terms of historical seniority and cultural influence, we should conclude that Gautama Buddha and Bodhi Dharma are the two most ‘Chinese’ foreign gods in Chinese history. After all, even though Genghis Khan looked kind of Chinese, he was a barbaric and cruel invader who raped and pillaged China then wiped it off the map. Although that is precisely why the followers of a Russian pseudo-religion called Communism in China still revere their ancient foreign barbarian hero; because he brutally dominated the ancient world. Maybe that qualifies Genghis Khan as the most ‘Chinese Communist’ foreign god.

Image compilation and text by Chris Harry