In saint's birthplace, Christian missionaries start a spiritual trip with Confucius (2)

16:01, September 27, 2010      

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Having had his China complex positively ignited by his Uncle Henry, a missionary to China in the 1930s, Schuller has devoted himself to building a spiritual bridge with the Chinese people by trying to learn more of the Confucian civilized culture.

He has had two of his books translated and published by the mainstream Chinese Press -- "You Can Become the Person You Want to Be" and "Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do".

Through a web site legally established through the California-based Dr. Robert Schuller Institute for Possibility Thinking, Chinese Internet users can also download his works.

When the rich Confucian environment inspired scholars to discover the commonality and disparities in the ancient wisdom of Christianity and Confucianism, history records show dramatic encounters between the two civilizations in earlier years.

During the Tang Dynasty, when emperor Taizong in 638 A.D. authorized Eastern Assyrian Christians to establish a monastery in the Capital city of Xi'an and to translate the Bible into Chinese, the two civilizations had their first encounter.

After the first two Jesuits - Michele Ruggeri and Matteo Ricci -- arrived in China from Macao in 1582 and 1583, a long period of real exchange and dialogue in respect and esteem opened between Christian and Confucian civilizations, as European Jesuits, scientists and scholars studied Chinese culture, while Chinese Confucian scholars studied European texts.

Unfortunately, this period came to an end due to internal Christian divisions and to a misunderstanding on the true cultural values of Confucian rites and tradition, the so-called "Controversy on the Rites" led to the Papal condemnation of the Jesuits' dialogical approach and to the imperial expulsion of the missionaries by Qing emperor Kangxi, according to the study of Pier Francesco Fumagalli, vice director of the Milan-based Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

The Central Kingdom closed its door to the West and a bloody war finally broke out between the two major civilizations in 1840. Holding guns and swords rather than the Bible, the Western powers intruded into China and forced the emperor to sign a series of unequal treaties.

The bad situation continued until 1949 when the People's Republic was founded by Mao Zedong and his comrades, who wiped all imperialistic forces together with their missionaries out of China.

In 1996, American scholar Samuel P. Huntington published his famous book The Clash between Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, saying that wars between different civilizations, particularly, Confucianism and Christianity, or Christianity and Islamism, would be inevitable in the contemporary world.

However, the Nishan tour is seen as an opportunity for the major civilizations to sort out an approach for coexistence, according to the organizers.

Dressed in a Mandarin suit, Fumagalli came to the forum with a thesis comparing the teachings of Confucius and Jesus on respect, dialogue and cooperation.

Du Weiming, a professor from Peking Universty, said that the time is mature for the Confucian and Christian civilized cultures to have a sincere dialogue and to avoid too many game plays.

For Stephen C. Angle from Wesleyan University, his interest as a philosopher is in the future of Confucianism as "an open, live and growing philosophy, rather than as something that people merely study in the museum".

Taking Nishan as the source of the Chinese culture, Roger T. Ames, professor from Hawaii University, was impressed by the Nishan Academy.

"This kind of academy takes us back to the past and it also takes us into the future. The Chinese culture over the next decades is going to change world culture in a way we have not seen before," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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(Editor:叶欣)

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