Connecting Mandarin and English,
Viewing China in America
(July 7, 2008) (return
in mind that I choose the topics for comments based on my observations particularly
as they contrast with my memories and prejudice. For the past two Sunday
the group of international scholars have attended our church. We have sat
with them and given some explanation to what 's happening. They particularly
enjoy the music which in our church varies from tradiational, to guitars
and instruments to modern. This week communion was served and the invitation
as it is every time we serve communion to everyone. About half of them participated.
The desire for Christianity is not dead in China or at least not among all
There has also been a little exchange of ideas
about living arrangemments and sharing appartments. Those who ahve lived
here awhile enjoy some private space and those who have such come over are
willing to sleep together in a 12 foot by 12 space. The newcomers being
older think that what they say should go as it does in China, the younger
students with more American experience say that respect in America is earned
and doesn't just come with age.
Also on Sunday the service was designed so
that a half dozen members of the congregation spoke about what they felt
that "freedom" meant to them. Some of the Chinese were impressed
at the strength of the value of freedom among these persons. Freedom is
not discussed in China and certainly not exercised in the schools or families.
Students are to obey without questioning. One speaker did mention, and I
feel it is so true at this point, that we certainly take our freedoms for
A note about Chinese respect:
From what I gather through observations and discussions, respect
of other individuals in China is very closely connected to age.
You always respect and listen to your elders which, of course, includes
parents and teachers. Because this is so strongly embedded in the
culture, enforcement is implemented by an elder merely talling others
to "blacklist" the disrespectful youth. This appears to
be very powerful even among the Chinese as they visit America. Of
course, since I am typically the oldest in most gathering, I should
cherish and embrace this custom.
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