Reformers, All

Essay by Rev. Gretta Vosper on 12 October 2017 12 Comments

We’ve been anticipating the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation for some time. Now that the month is upon us, it seems more like a private birthday party than something worthy of global attention. In truth, I suppose it is. With the global number of Reform Tradition Protestants diminishing, the celebration of the dramatic and cataclysmic leave-taking that was our birth seems of little interest to any but those enchanted by the history of such things and the few others taking advantage of the liturgical and party possibilities offered up by the date.

The Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues of the past few decades culminated in the document From Conflict to Communion, published in 2013. Within it, Five Ecumenical Imperatives are laid out, providing a base from which the two traditions could ramp up together for a joint celebration of the Reformation, a healing of the centuries old rift between them. Shoving a new foundation of respect under the violence and rancour of the past, the Catholic and Lutheran ecumenists have demanded a new and generous spirit from their adherents: choose unity over disunity; start from a place of agreement rather than focusing on easily spotted differences. They seem simple and wise choices. If only we had managed to get to this place four hundred and ninety-five years earlier. So much hatred, horror, and bloodshed may have been avoided.

There is no doubt that our great faith traditions have provided the human family much that has been of benefit. Perhaps their most important work was built of the evolutionary advantage provided humans by what we might nowadays call “group think”. Religion gave us a bigger and stronger clan than family. Members would die for us just as quickly as we would die for them; we were no longer alone but had the safety of our religious affiliates to add strength to our prejudices and personal desires. And those prejudices and personal desires were, in turn, further refined by our religious beliefs. Put in such a way, it is easy to see how, in the early 16th century, neighbours could turn against one another to the point of death, uncovering allegiances that damned an individual or family to the ultimate exclusion from God’s grace and forgiveness for all of eternity. Taking leave of an institution with that much power was a risky thing to do. The rhetoric continues to be chilling to this day.

Bishop Spong has presented visionary work on what a new reformation might look like, what it might provide humanity in the third millennium, and how we might get there. His forthcoming book will take that work further, providing much more than the meticulously negotiated but necessarily simplistic Lutheran Catholic Imperatives. I expect this book will crown the past four decades of his leadership in this progressive Christian landscape, a terrain still tragically unknown to so many.

CHOICE

At any point in time, a range of possibilities lie before us. We make the best decisions we can, given the information we have at the time. Decades later, we sometimes realize that a single choice resulted in a myriad of other choices, each circumscribed by the first, and all resulting in a reality that, had it been clear to us from the beginning, we may have refused. We cannot see what the future brings and we are very poor at extrapolating our possibilities out much further than our immediate creature needs. And so we end up in situations, relationships, jobs, communities, social structures, or a whole world we may not have chosen had we been able to see the extrapolated implications of our every choice.

But you don’t need to keep going in the same direction just because that is the direction you happen to be going. You certainly can and many do. But others, either because of a sudden reorientation of their perspective or because they were just born without a personal comfort zone, refuse to just keep on keeping on. To them, the cost is too high. In fact, it is idiocy.

Enter, the Reformer.

Many are the times I’ve heard Martin Luther compared to Jesus in the work they both undertook. They didn’t start dramatically; reformers rarely do. It may have been a conversation here or a private rant there. It may have begun in whispers and only risen to an audible level over many months or even years. It may have been with or without design, beginning with a broad, unfocused list of laments or emerging from the womb, so to speak, with a well-honed mission. But both Luther and Jesus, at some point in time, and very likely supported by the gifts of countless unnamed others who listened, shared, cajoled, and criticized, noticed that the faith traditions they cherished had veered in directions that were unacceptable to them. Choices made by those in leadership developed norms for the practices, thinking, attitudes, and prejudices embraced within the tradition, each chosen from the creative potentialities of time and place. For most believers, all was accepted as it was received.

But for Reformers, what is normal for the masses is anathema to them. Both Jesus and Luther honoured their traditions. Though we long assumed Jesus was Christian, we now know he wasn’t; he was a Jew. Luther learned the only acceptable religion of his day, a Rome-centred Catholicism. They were steeped in their traditional religions, born into and formed by them. Like everyone around them, they were supposed to fit in. Their education, far above the level of the average believer, was supposed to further hone their beliefs. It was not supposed to expose the little hypocrisies and gross abuses that had been so artfully woven into the everyday business of religion. Once noticed, however, the normal way of doing things became unacceptable. There were no options for Jesus or Luther but those that would bring about catastrophic change in their religious traditions. Even as others fought to maintain the status quo, forcing banishment or conspiring toward more final solutions, the Reformers laid out and presented their arguments. And the world changed.

LEGACY

We stand on the shoulders of great men and women. Countless Reformers dared challenge the norms of their day – religious, political, economic, and social. And they did it at great cost. We are grateful to them for their struggles, for their lives, for their blood, and for the first discomfort noticed that set them on their course. They created the world in which we live, the freedoms we cherish, the perspectives we are welcome to embrace or refuse, the right to make our own decisions, whether wise or foolish. They set in course the possibilities from which we have chosen our new realities and so have become, with them, co-creators of the world we know.

They also, however, created gross disparities and abuses that yet plague humanity and the planet: the economic enslavement of whole nations for the provision of privileges assumed by others; the legal jargons that entrap indigenous peoples in politically ritualized battles for sovereignty; the lines that set out who is worthy of the right to choose their own lifestyle and who is not; the notion that humanity is separate and above the natural world rather than enfolded within and vulnerable to it; the entertainments by which we anaesthetize ourselves to the truths that quake around us; the cruelties endured by herded, caged, and crated animals so we might pleasure our taste buds and sooth our sun-scarred skin. And we, in making our choices, remain co-creators, complicit in a litany of normals that, had we the heart of Jesus or Luther or the millions of unnamed men and women who have poured their lives out in the pursuit of justice and compassion and the building up of love in the world, would make every one of us a Reformer.

There is a legacy in the Reformation that I believe belongs in the middle of our work, calling out the power brokers, the hegemonists, the deceivers. Ours is not the work of complacency or settling for imperatives that take decades to conjure only because it takes that long to soothe the sensitivities of those still wielding ecclesial powers that make no difference to the challenges facing our world. Our reforms must be much bolder, our work in the world more creative than what those beyond our walls believe is all we do. It may be that humanity is facing the greatest crises of its too-brief history as it reels with the challenges of global warming and climate change, exponential population growth, and resource depletion. There may be no future moment for us to step up. Now may be all there is. Literally.

Change is our very birthplace. It is our right and responsibility as heirs of the Reformers, to stare down every comfortable “normal” that sings its siren song and refuse to be enchanted by it. It is our right and responsibility to count up every ease and privilege we enjoy and educate ourselves about its source – what makes it possible? Who pays for our pleasures and how? And when we find that “normal” is built on the subjugation of others – our tea, our chocolate, our party-ready shrimp rings – work to redistribute or limit those pleasures until all have access to shelter, security, food, clean water, and the joy of planning for their children’s futures.

ECLESIA AS REFORMER

But change is costly and few have the strength or fortitude to bring about its grander accomplishments. That’s why those usually identified with the most highly evolved faith in James Fowler’s Stages of Faith, a Universalizing Faith, are so few, so well known, and all assassinated: Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. We aren’t that strong, most of us. We might start out heartily, but we then draw up far short of our goals, beaten by our own fears, our own comforts, our own weakness. We may be legion but we are ordinary, too.

Throughout the New Testament, the word translated to “church” is originally ecclesia. It’s a poor translation. Rather than “church”, it shared the idea of government. In Greece, the ecclesia was the council of elect elders who governed the city. It’s use in the early Christian writings was a radical refusal to live according to the rules of the day by a ragtag group of people who believed they had a better way. They believed they were called to a bolder and more perfect reflection of the dignity of humanity as they had seen it represented in or inspired by a heretical Jew who’d once moved among them and left a residual and radical idea of what community should look like.

Perhaps it is not we, frail and human as we are, but our ecclesia that can set out upon the sea of change and call us forward. Perhaps we can use the New Testament ideal of an alternative ecclesia to set the standards, the ideals, the vision by which the corrective to human destruction of the earth might be realized. Perhaps my United Church of Canada and your United Church of Christ, United Methodist, or Disciples of Christ could be called to this greater and most urgent vision that lies in the roots of all our Christian traditions. Perhaps the sacramental traditions, Reformed and Roman, might step up together in this celebratory year and cry out the words that need to be heard by all, challenging us to notice that normal isn’t acceptable, even if it is the culmination of all our choices. We need our religious institutions to be the ecclesia they were called to be, to be great for us and challenge us to be the reform we want to see in the world. Perhaps this is the year for our ecclesial institutions to step into the role of the Reformer and built a vision we can work toward. Isn’t this the nature of the gospel call, that our ability to notice provides us the challenge to change for the better, to take and make good news and not simply welcome it?

Like most, I’ve been largely indifferent to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It seemed to esoteric, to trivial in the face of what challenges us today. But perhaps it is exactly the opposite. Perhaps, like Jesus and Luther before us, it is time to challenge the traditions by which we have been formed. We would challenge them to reawaken to the purposes set out in their deep, deep roots: to bring the people together, to be the assembly of Christians and call us all to the frightfully challenging tasks ahead of us. To be sacrificial in their work, giving everything even if it leads to death.

Or perhaps the Reformation anniversary is, more personally, a reminder that to each of us that we are a people born of cataclysmic change and inheritors of its demand: notice what lies all about you, what humanity’s choices have led to, what a continued trajectory might mean. Notice, and then stand up and make your stand.

~ Rev. Gretta Vosper

 

Question

What are your views about so many Christians being in favor of gun ownership? Doesn’t that completely contradict the Jesus of peace we read about in the Bible?

Answer

Thanks for your question Lesley. This is a timely question for me as I was in Las Vegas during the recent shootings. Being so close to an event like that made this issue feel even more urgent than it already did to me.

What made the Las Vegas shooting so interesting to me is that it involved a large group of mostly white conservative casualties. It made a large demographic of people suspend their NRA sponsored talking points and deal with the reality of the situation in their own hearts and minds. And I should note here that I enjoy a good skeet shoot as much as the next guy, but that is not the issue at hand here.

I think it’s an absolute perversion of the U.S. 2nd amendment to allow nearly anyone who can fog a mirror to have a cache of assault rifles. In my mind, there is no way America’s founding fathers intended that. And even if they did, they may not have imagined what the world would come to hundreds of years later. People say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and I say fine “let’s not put the guns that kill people in the hands of those people that kill people…” There are many sensible steps we can take to find a more sustainable footing here.

The bottom line is that many Christians are not all that interested in Yeshua of Nazareth. Rather they follow a Jesus who has been morphed into a pawn of radical right-wing political agendas. I don’t think there is any way a disciple of Jesus, or someone who was brimming with love, compassion, and forgiveness in their hearts, would feel a need to accumulate military grade weapons and thousands of rounds of ammo. Disparate militias have no place in 21st century American politics, especially in a nation with over 325,000,000 people.

No hunter alive needs to take more than one shot per second to put dinner on the table. And even though full automatic weapons are now illegal in many cases, it is quite easy to master or manipulate a semi-automatic weapon to inflict mass destruction.

We need more stable progressive voices countering the NRA arguments within Christian circles. And as a side note, this was a key reason why I started the Progressive Christianity and Politics group on Facebook a couple years ago. It is now over 2000 members strong and we are propagating progressive principles out to compassionate and thoughtful people all across the world. If you or anyone else reading this would like to join, please feel free to register at www.JoinPCP.com

~Eric Alexander

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Bishop John Shelby Spong Revisited

The Bible, Corporal Punishment and Human Guilt - Part 2

SpongThe physical abuse of children under the guise of "proper discipline" has been practiced in western history so frequently as to be thought of as normative. It has had the approval of those recognized sources of cultural value - tradition, Bible, Church, School and family. It found expression in popular novels written by such noteworthy authors as Charles Dickens and Mark Twain in the 19th century and by no less a person than the 20th century's ultra-conservative political pundit, William F. Buckley. When some of these novels were turned into motion pictures, the corporal punishment scenes were quite graphic.

In the schools of western history, which were normally church-related parochial or church-influenced public schools, corporal punishment was regularly employed until quite recently, certainly within my lifetime. Almost always this discipline was administered with parental approval. In boarding schools of the 19th and early 20th centuries this disciplinary activity sometimes had about it a quality of a ritualistic act and even came to be thought of as a kind of "liturgical observance." That is, the act of discipline was carried out at a time-certain. It was scheduled on a particular day for all offenders during a specified period of time for which the school staff prepared the instruments to be used, such as a bunch of bound switches or a freshly prepared cane. It was followed through in a prescribed, unchanging and traditional manner.

The intended victim or victims would have to wait in fearful anticipation until the proper moment when the price of their misbehavior was exacted. The disciplinary act clearly defined boundaries and made all aware of where authority resided.

In my own experience, as a public school boy growing up in the Southern Bible Belt, corporal punishment was employed, but much less ritualistically. It was administered on the spot whenever it was deemed essential to control the classroom and as a response to a particular act of misbehavior. Yet it also followed a set form that we all recognized. It was not used frequently. I recall that in my seventh grade class, which was the last time I knew it to take place, only two of my classmates were subjected to this discipline during the entire year. The fact, however, that I can still recall both instances some sixty years later, indicates that each of these occasions made an indelible, albeit not a positive impression, upon my young mind. Most of us who were not the actual recipients of the punishment were in fact intimidated by it.

The offending student, in both cases, a boy 12-13 years old, would be asked to accompany the teacher who had ruler in hand, to the room adjacent to the principal's office, which was reserved solely for this purpose. That room also happened to be next door to our classroom, so even though we could not observe the act of discipline, we could not fail to hear it. The students remaining in the classroom sat in silence during the period of time it took the teacher and the pupil to reach the required location and to assume the proper positions for discipline. Then the noise of the ruler landing on its target resounded. No cries were ever heard because proving that "he could take it" preserved the pupil's last shred of dignity. Finally the blows would cease and in a few minutes the chastened student would return to the class, followed by the teacher, still gripping her ruler. The student would take his seat saying something about it "not hurting at all," a brave attempt to reestablish his place in the social fabric of the class. The teacher would then use this episode as a teaching moment by warning the other students that a similar fate awaited each of them if their behavior made it necessary. It seemed to me that it took the disciplined child a day or so to absorb the humiliation before he began to ease back into the life of his school community. The ever-present threat that the ruler would be employed again, however, instilled apprehension, fear and developed something of a herd instinct among us all. Instead of enhancing life, it seemed only to bruise a fragile ego. It certainly taught by example that physical force was a proper way to deal with those who are smaller and weaker. It surely issued in a more controllable classroom, but it was never, in my opinion, a pathway into maturity.

It is interesting to note who, besides children, have been subjected to corporal punishment in the history of our Judeo-Christian world. There were basically four types of adults on whom corporal punishment was deemed to be appropriate discipline, at least during some part of our history. The one thing each of these four groups of people had in common was that they were thought to be deserving of the status of a child.

The first category was adult prisoners. Those who had violated the rules of the society in such a way as to be judged a threat that must be removed, jailed and punished. I suppose the reasoning process was simple. If physical punishment made school children more pliable and obedient, to say nothing of being easier to control, then why should the same tactic not be used on those adults who consistently disrupted the well being of society's life? So the right to use corporal punishment was written into the penal codes of most Western, and by implication, Christian nations.

The public whipping post was a regular feature in the criminal justice system in nations like Great Britain and the United States until the 20th century. The last state to make it illegal in America was Delaware. It is still employed to this day in Singapore and in several Muslim nations like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The familiar jail diet of "bread and water" was just another form of corporal punishment; that is, the punishment of the body.

By extension from the penal codes physical discipline was used in situations where control was deemed essential to survival. It was a standard practice, for example, on the ships of the colonial powers in the 18th and 19th centuries when the whole world was shrunk to the dimensions of an individual boat, with the captain exercising the decision making responsibility for discipline, indeed sometimes for life and death, with no further appeal. Physical discipline was also employed on the Lewis and Clark expedition across the Continental United States on their journey to the Pacific Ocean, opening the West. The diaries from that journey describe what they thought were its salutary effects.

The second class of adults to be treated in this physically abusive manner during our history was the slave population. Christians must never forget that the institution of slavery was accepted as normal, even in the New Testament. Paul directs a runaway slave named Onesimus to return to his master Philemon, not with the request for his freedom, but with the request that he be treated kindly. In the Epistle to the Colossians (3:22), slaves are ordered to "obey in everything those who are your earthly masters" and masters are urged to "treat your slave justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a master in Heaven (4:1)." With no rights accruing to the slaves, who were defined as sub-human and therefore childlike, it followed that disobedience was to be punished in slaves in the same manner that it was deemed to be appropriate in children. It is worth noting that even the popes have historically been slaveholders.

No one denies that slaves were lashed in the United States for everything from disobedience to running away. The master had the right to do to his property whatever he wished. When slavery ended following the Civil War, these tactics of intimidation continued to be employed against powerless blacks in the South by quasi-religious organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. It is not as large a step as people now think to move from the corporal punishment of a slave or former slave with the bare back absorbing the lash while the victim was tied to a tree, to the ultimate act of corporal punishment called lynching, where the victim was hanged from the tree. Violence is always violence. The degree of violence is the only difference. What the inmate or prisoner and the slave had in common was that neither had power and no vestige of adulthood accrued to their status so they could be treated like children who had no rights. If it was the proper thing to do to powerless children, it must be appropriate for powerless adults. That was the reasoning. Violence is never contained. It always seeks new victims. Corporal punishment was and is legalized violence.

Corporal punishment has been used on two other types of adults in our history: women and people in religious orders. To their story we will turn next week.

~ John Shelby Spong
Originally published June 23, 2004

 

Comments

 

12 thoughts on “Reformers, All

  1. My comment about the needless shooting in Las Vegas or any place in a “peaceful” USA.
    There are terrorists in US, bur there are non in China any where. May I remind you how badly the Chinese people had been forcefully required to take opium from the British and by Japan less than 67 years ago. 80 years ago was the famous Rape of Nanjing in 1937 when 300,000 people were killed within 6 weeks time by the Japanese army soldiers. Later when 1.5 million Japanese troops surrendered to the Chinese people, China treated them well with food and clothing after taking over all there weapons and ammunition. They were safely returned to Japan within 3 years time from 1945. The Chinese civil war also ended with guns and heavy casualty until Chiang Kaishek left for Taiwan. But since then China has had no more foreign countries dividing our territories, and no more need for guns. China is the most peaceful country in the entire world. She has not fought in Iraq or in Afghanistan or somewhere else. We have no Black and White hatred in our country. Perhaps America could learn from China for once.
    Eugene, from Suzhou, China (My wife just came home after walking in the dark streets on the sidewalk for 2.5 Km in Suzhou. Many people walked with her and danced in the park not too far in total darkness.)

  2. Eugene,

    I do love a good joke. China has no guns because without foreign invaders, there is no need. Really, you think that is the reason?

    China is the “most peaceful country in the entire world.” Is that like Disney is the “happiest place on earth?” Do you enjoy the kool-aid?

    There seems nothing America can learn about the rights of its citizens from China …….. not from a country whose people are more subjects than citizens.

  3. Back to the Current Message:
    Dear Gretta: After suffering from a stroke in May this year I can only read your long paper very slowly now.But I am very interested in the proposed new reformation for the Progressive Christianity (By the way, the world only recognizes the Liberal Christianity, especially in China,as they make comments in the Internet messages.The Chinese religious community has not caught up with PC yet.). I have a question concerning the historical progression of Chinese medicine getting to the areas of Galilee or there about before the year 1 CE.There seems to be a great deal of stories about the treatment of illnesses by Jesus even in the book by Mark.
    I would like to tell the story of the famous Chinese Medical Doctor named 扁鹊(Bian3 Que4)(magpie; a happy and lucky bird)because he brought sick people back to health everywhere he traveled.His real name was 秦越人(Qin Yue Ren),was also Dr.Lu.(407BC to 310BC).In his youth 扁鹊(Dr. Lu)had worked as the owner of a guest house.A Mr.长桑君(Chang Sang Jun)lived at his guest house for a long time,and the two of them became close friends.One day Mr.长桑君spoke with Qin Yue Ren and told him that he owned a secret document containing some well-tested methods for the saving of sick patients.But now that he was getting too old,and he wished to teach his medical knowledge to秦越人(Qin Yue Ren) to keep from other people.Qin Yue Ren bowed down as his disciple and learned those methods with great diligence.Later he expanded the document papers into much more as he practiced and tested them well into his own old age. But Qin Yue Ren(Dr.Lu)believed in fully making his medical knowledge be used for all people and to teach more disciples.In his long years of working with different types of illnesses,Qin Yue Ren(Dr.Lu)used the four methods in his diagnostics, especially in 脉诊(pulse),问诊asking the patient、望诊watches them with eye and sound、闻诊breath、or taste、in the analysis of his patient if necessary.《史记•扁鹊仓公列传》(Chinese History) had recorded two famous Examples: No.1 was in Jin nation,looking at prime minister 赵子简’s 病-illness.At the time PM 赵子简 had worked too hard with his brains and had suddenly passed out and became unconscious for 5 days before Do.Lu arrived.Dr.Lu studied his pulse and came out of the room.The unknown officials followed with anxious appearance.So Dr.Lu told them not to worry because the pulse of the PM was weak but still jumping as normally. He might get well in two or three days. As it turned out about 2.5 days later TM 赵子简got well,good as new! So by accurately testing the pulse of a patient was Dr.Lu’s first success. Example No.2 was using his second method to 望诊or eye、sound、to diagnose the illness of齐桓侯(who was the Duke of蔡国,or Cai nation).When Dr.Lu arrived to visit the Duke of Cai,the Duke invited him to a feast to welcome him.But as soon as he saw the Duke,he said to him:“桓侯sir,you appear to be very sick, which I can already observe; it seams serious from your skin and muscles and will become worse within a short time, if you don’t ask for treatment.”The Duke was having a dinner feast,and was unhappy to hear of this bad report.He did not believe what Dr.Lu had said. About 5 days later, Dr.Lu went to see the Duke again and said:“Duke sir,I can see your sickness is in your blood pulse.You really need to be treated now, or it will just get even worse.”The Duke still would not believe, and was very unhappy. Then Dr.Lu saw him after another 5 days,and told him that his illness was already in his stomach and intestines.The Duke was very angry and said he did not like other people telling him about his illness at all.After another 5 days Dr.Lu simply avoided the Duke.So the Duke was very surprised and asked some one to find him.Dr.Lu told that man:“When the sickness was still in his skin and muscles, a hot (boiled) medicine could have cured him; when it reached his blood and pulse, I could have used Bianshi(a pointed piece of rock)or the needle method; by the time his illness had reached his stomach and intestines,I could have used some powerful strong wine to get him better; but by the time it reached his bone marrow area which is what it is now, I am no longer able to help him.” Sure enough, 5 days later the Duke was horribly ill, and his servants looked for Dr. Lu in vain. The Duke finally died.
    One Time,Dr.Lu passed by虢国(guóguó)the state of guo.He saw the people within a hundred Li were all in the process of praying for blessings from Heaven; so he inquired the nation as for whose illness the ceremony was held ? The leader of worship ceremony said that it was the Prince of the state of Guo, who had died just half of a day ago.After he asked about the details in the situation, Dr.Lu said the Prince was not dead.He said that it was“corpse syncope”. He believed the Prince most likely only fainted and passed out.So he went over to check and found the patient with very weak breathing yet,as if he were dead.After his accurate diagnosis,he asked one of his disciple named子豹to start grinding “a sharp stone”to pierce the“Baihui Acupoint”(The concave center at the top of his head)of the patient, and then continued with very hot medicine which could enter five cents thick into the body. Dr.Lu used drugs for reducing eight mixed prescriptions on the patient. The Prince sat up like a miracle. Then Dr.Lu continued giving him appropriate foods,and the Prince became completely well in another two days.From that day on,the people all thought that 扁鹊 (Dr. Lu) could cure a dead patient back to life. But Dr. Lu always denied it; he continued to say that he merely helped a weak bur a live person to get back health.
    In the ancient times the power of God was highest over all else. Such that witchcraft was in the leadership position among the people.Then by 400 BC medicine and witchcraft just began to get separated from one another in China.扁鹊 Dr.Lu had stayed firm on the medical research results and his effort.He had totally given up the dead end alley of the witchcraft to treat people.扁鹊 Dr.Lu declared that to give up medicine and in favor of the witchcraft is one of the six“No Cure”ending of the people.
    Dr.Lu had traveled over 2000 Km of the cities in China to not only look after the kings or princes, but also helped the patients of all levels in all villages.His name was all over China while his knowledge in medicines was in every field possible.When he went to the city of 邯郸(Han Dan),he heard how the women were well respected there, so he decided to work as a gynecologist.When he arrived in the 雒阳,the capital of Zhou nation in 350 BC (Later it became the city of 洛阳Luo Yang),where he found that they respected the older people,so he became specialized in helping the elderly.There he worked more on the ears,noses,eyes,teeth and throats them. When he went to 秦国(Qin nation),he found how the people there loved their children.So he became a great Pediatrician. According to records, Dr.Lu was also very good in surgical procedures.He even utilized medicines as well as acupuncture to help anaesthesia in the surgery.No matter where he went,扁鹊(Cr. Lu)’s name became well known in all of China. According to legend,he had 12 disciples during his 97 years.No.10 was a young lady and No.11 was that Prince of Guo nation whom he had saved.And when they died later,all of them were buried under cypresses.Other record indicates that he only taught 9 disciples. And every one of them was very good in the inheritance of his medical knowledge. Together they wrote many books based on what they had learned from their master. By Han Dynasty there remained 9 volumes of《扁鹊内经》(Internal medicine books)、12 volumes of《外经》(Surgical medical books)、and 13 volumes of《秦始黄帝扁鹊俞拊方》(Tracing back to Emperor Huang Di), All of which had been organized using master 扁鹊’s collections.
    When 扁鹊 (Dr.Lu) was 97 and very healthy, the King Wu Wang of Qin nation attended a physical contest to list the heavy wrought iron pot that was attached to three iron legs in support. But the King inadvertently hurt his waist. And he was under a lot of pains.The top medical Administrator of the court, a man named 李醯(Li Xi)gave some medicine to the King.His pain not only did not go away,it got worse! So some one went forth to invite Dr.Lu to come. The King Wu Wang asked for him to come forward right away.扁鹊 observed the King’s situation, and tested his pulse.Dr.Lu used his hands to move the waist of the King, and let the King to move himself back and forth a couple of times.The King felt quite a bit better already.Then Dr.Lu served the King some medication in a soup, which made him so much better that his pains all went away. The King was very happy, and gave an order for Dr.Lu to be one of his top Medical leaders. So when Li Xi learned of the new order, he was afraid Dr.Lu might soon go pass his leadership position.Li Xi made an effort to stop it by making remarks about Dr.Lu’s low level start from the field.He made the King getting some doubts, but the King did not stop wanting to use 扁鹊 as a medical consultant.Li Xi ordered two assassins to kill him, but his disciples discovered it and persuaded him to leave the the country.Although they left the nation of Qin and went north into some winding narrow roads, the assassins pretended as some hunters and followed them.That time the assassins succeeded in killing 扁鹊 Dr.Lu.Thus, not only the people in all countries mourned for him, bit his disciples vowed to take revenge on Li Xi himself. That made Li Xi to go into hiding for many years. One time the King of Wei Nation 魏文侯(472BC to 396BC) asked Dr.Lu as to
    which one of his three brothers would rank the best as a medicine man? Without hesitating he replied:“Naturally my number one elder brother would rank as the best, because is the best person in preventative treatment.As he observed the person who might have some initial sign of sickness, he would gibe him a potion to help that person from even getting sick.So he was not well known at all. My second elder brother would rank as the second vest because when he observes some sniffles in a person he could help him get well right away. Thus he was only known in the nearby country from our home and no farther.”With great surprise King Wei asked him,“Then how come you have become so well known in all China?”扁鹊 replied:“I am the worst one of all three of us because I often waited for those patients to get totally ill as no one else could help him any more.Then I came forward to go my best to help those people to get well.I often had to give those sick people the most horrible medicines and or treatment such that I must be the worst of the three.”
    In his humor and in his seriousness, Dr.Lu always tried to go for the prevention of health if at all possible.
    This has been selected and translated from the Chinese into English by Eugen,e Lo Wei, Suzhou,China 10/15/2017

  4. Thomas: You said:“I do love a good joke” But all you’d need to do is to come here for your self as to the peace and safety in my city of Suzhou where I have been since 2008. This city has about 20 million people with perhaps over 4 million or more cars and 5 million electric bikes plus well organized and frequently run public buses every where.I am over 70 and I get free rides on buses and subways.With the subway stations requiring people to have their bags checked at the entrance, there unarmed security services are around, you might find the traffic police at the traffic lights and some motor cycle cops running from street to street. But there is no rifles and no guns any where. We have read about a few thieves driving with higher levels of under world drugs and their secretly purchased weapons being caught by the police. But that is all. There are laws concerning the acquisition and use of firearms in Hong Kong and in China. And I have not seen a single firearm being shown any where in Suzhou. Children are safe every where all day and all night.
    Now you can try the same thing in south side Chicago some time.
    Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violence (BBC)

    5 January 2016: The US has approximately 300 million guns – nearly one for every member of the population
    US state to allow armed teachers; Unic.of Texas allows students to hold guns in their bags at school.
    Mass shootings: There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogue such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.
    School shootings: There were 64 school shootings in 2015, according to a dedicated campaign group set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut in 2012. Those figures include occasions when a gun was fired but no-one was hurt.
    All shootings: Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured [those figures exclude suicide]. Those figures are likely to rise by several hundred, once incidents in the final week of the year are counted.
    Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK.
    The home front: So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country. According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.
    So, Thomas: Do you really like this Joke?
    Eugene, from Suzhou, China

  5. Eugene, my friend, the joke is not the guns, it is your declaration (sadly not tongue in cheek) that China has no guns because it has no foreign invaders, that it has not been in a war since its civil war, and that it is the most peaceful country in the entire world. You can bring a critical eye to the US, a country you lived in for years, and to Christianity you bring a very critical eye – yet you do not bring the same perspective to China.

    As to wars. there was Korea and China’s involvement in Vietnam. To this most peaceful place, how many tens upon tens of millions died under Mao? Then there is the Feminist Five, domestic surveillance, 1 Belt, 1 Road (dominating the region), your leaders ‘corruption campaign’ extended to the elimination of political opponents, the silencing of intellectuals, the build up of reefs and the claiming waters as China’s around them and we could add not exerting its considerable pressure on N. Korea not only for the calming of regional and international tensions but for the people of N.Korea. I have no problem, critiquing the US, especially under the current President, but we are talking about the China, “the most peaceful country in the entire world.’

    I have no blinders about the number and kinds of guns in the USA or how they are used by many and misused by too many others. Nor do I agree with the positions of the NRA or its politicians. I think they hide behind the 2nd Amendment and the majority of Americans believe laws should be changed – yet we live in a free society and it should be obvious we need to put more men and women in power who can follow through on the majority opinion.

    But to compare us to China, to suggest we can learn from China is absurd both on its face and with further study. You live in an authoritarian society. it is not the hard work and wishes of the Chinese people who have lead to a gun free society, it has been imposed from the top few down. It is not because there is no foreign invader, it is because the Leader(s) has dictated this way. You can walk and dance in the dark with ‘many others’ but this is not an accomplishment of the Chinese people, it is not their insight, their struggle, it is not the embodiment of their values – though they benefit from it – it is the ruling of those in power. It, along with the surveillance, the stifling of other political positions, the silencing of criticism, is your rulers imposing order on its subjects.

    America is composed of citizens, not subjects. The suggestion that we can learn from a dictatorship is the sad joke – and what is amazing is that such a bright, educated man doesn’t get it but rather, tells the story that comes with the cool-aid. You have been involved in biblical criticism and critique a bygone world view, you need to do the same with the current ‘worldview’ and story that China tells.

    As a final note: we too can walk in the dark and go to parks, festivals, dances; go to restaurants, clubs, museums and movies. I don’t live in Chicago (which has, as should be obvious, more problems than guns) but I have walked at night over the decades in NYC, Newark, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, LA, SF, Charleston, Miami, Morristown, NJ, Milwaukee, Columbus, Boston, Amherst and on and on. We, as you might remember, have laws and I don’t know anyone, except my cop friends, who own or have ever touched a gun – but again, despite your stats, you should know that my experience is like that of many, millions of Americans.
    The thing is Eugene, many of us want saner and better gun regulation (but even I would not want to lose the 2nd A) to protect each other, to protect the citizens of the US – the Chinese leaders, given their history and their other controls on the people, want to protect themselves. One wonders if the educated, critical Christian in China, really believe that China’s way “is the way it should be?” If they do, like Chicago, there are more problems than meets the eye.

  6. Thomas: You are proud of being a citizen of USA, so am I for at least 50 years while I was continuloting, and I was glad President Obama goy in the first two times. He fulfilled his promise in 2008 by bringing the American soldiers home from Iraq. So I voted for him again. I had also voted for Mike Honda in my district in CA. But this time I simply wrote in my vote for Berniously living in the states. I have voted in 2008, 2012, and in 2016 by bale Sanders in a lost case. Then Mike Honda also lost to the bigger money maker in his district, after a great run starting from the year 2000 when I walked in his district by manning the telephone calls and walking in the streets that year. Yes, I was proud of USA in many ways. But I am not proud of many other things happened in US, including the big money political control of the senate and the US Congress, etc. I have read the books by senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders which are concerning the deteriorating rate of bankruptcy and the condition in the overall poor state of the union in the USA, respectively. I am glad that you agree with me on the bad part of the Second Amendment and the power of money and control by the NRA.
    Other than what I have mentioned earlier, I want to show my sorrow over the lost of precious lives in President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, among other lesser known people (Also some Chinese students in the American universities more recently.) With strong Air Force, Navy, and Army plus the Chinese Marines and the Coast Guard such as what US has today, there is really no need for the personal use of rifles and hand guns any more in the country. What America needs are better education for all people. We must get rid of bigotry, ignorance, and prejudice in America. The Two Party political system needs to be reformed as well. Apparently you don’t known much about China.
    First let me tell you that the 19th (Once every 5 years)Chinese People’s Congress of their primary meetings. It is going on right now(October, 2017). I have the entire list in the 2287 real names of all China People’s Congressional representatives, from all provinces and districts, and from all different ethnic background. There are 432 women representatives among them. (What is the percentage of women in the US senate and Congress combined?) Every one of them has been well educated , many of them have taught in schools or colleges and have served in local cities or provincial districts before. My uncle in Guangxi province was one of them 30 years ago (The 13th China People’s Congress), but he had obtained his Masters degree from the University of Washington in Seattle in Civil engineering and had been a professor in Nan Ning, Guangxi province. I visited him in 1987 and was proud of him.
    In each and every city in China there are 500 local member of the CPPCC(Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee). There are about 340,000 members of local CPPCC in all 681 cities(2017).They are meeting in the local city councils, considering all the cases and working proposals for there cities large and small right this minute.(Similar to a city council meeting in San Francisco or in Cupertino, CA.) They would send teems to represent them in Beijing in the National meeting.
    You asked,“how many tens upon tens of millions died under Mao?”It was part of the many movement activities including in 1958 when the entire country went into making more steel out of lack of educated individual“furnaces”of the farmers replacing all the regular crops in the fields.It was one man’s ignorance which failed miserably.Then in 1959 and 1960 there was no food in the barns or rice in the savings, and millions of the people died of hunger. (My wife was 5 at that time in 1960, and had greatly suffered from hunger. So everyone learned it from real experimentation.) They would not do it again, I assure you.
    The birth rate in China during Mao’s era (1946-1963)
    1946-1957:steady increase to 19,250,000 in 1957
    1958 17,500,000 Great leap forward (Making steel), lower farming
    1959: 13,000,000 No Food from the farms Lowered Birth rate
    1960: 15,250,000 Hunger in China (Increase food Produce ordered)
    1961: 10,854,500 Lowest birth rate, ordered causing raise of birth
    1962: 20,000,000 Increase in birth rate continued
    1963: 27,750,000 (First Baby Boom)
    1964 to 1972: > 24,800,000 Continued increase, Mao ordered
    1972: 18,030,000 lowered (Limitation to one child per Family)
    1973-1986 lowering rate (Mao died in 1976)

    As you can see, China has not been a dictatorship for a long time.It has become a democracy socialist since at least 35 years ago.
    You said, “it is not the hard work and wishes of the Chinese people who have lead to a gun free society, it has been imposed from the top few down.”You are completely wrong about that because it has been the working people themselves who have made that decision to keep the civilians from owning guns without any real good reason. China has very strong Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as its own equivalent of USMC and Coast Guard services.And there has been mo more foreign domination.
    I will list a few real military action cases in the recent years below.
    The personal hero worship in Chairman Mao (died in 1976), and the 10 years of Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) are long gone now. The current Chairman Xi Jinping was also the victim of Mao’s own release in the“dogs”even as early as 1962, when the“dogs”had accused another writer of a book criticizing Mao, but the father of Mr.Xi who was a deputy Vice PM, got implicated in editing that book. Mao later admitted that he had never even read that book himself! But the deputy Vice PM was falsely put in jail (Lack of freedom in the farm factory for 16 years.) As a result Xi JinPing went to work in a poor farm country for 7 years (living in the cavern at night) until he got a break and went back to college in Beijing. His father was released in 1978 (Thanks to Chairman Deng Xiao Ping who was put away for 3 years himself.)and contributed in the Industrial revolution along the coastal regions in south eastern China under the new Chairman Deng. The Chinese people have now totally regenerated the entire China.

  7. Thomas: You mentioned “1 Belt, 1 Road (dominating the region)”,but what you don’t know about is really a Silk Belt and a Sea and Ocean going“Road”Initiative issued by the China National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.It is truly a Win-Win recommendation for every country along the Silk Belt and those along the ocean way in the hope of improvement for everyone. China has already spent money and work on this initiative that has begun to benefit other countries as well as China’s own commercial progress. And a win-win situation will never dominate anyone by force.
    You said, “You live in an authoritarian society”which is far from the truth in China today.(See above material for the current People’s Congress.)
    Korean War: 25 June 1950–27 July 1953 (3 years, 1 month and 2 days)
    In the U.S., the war was initially described by President Harry S. Truman as a “police action” as it was an undeclared military action, conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.It has been referred to in the English-speaking world as “The Forgotten War” or “The Unknown War” The Result: A Military stalemate!
    China-North Korea: Total Strength: 1,642,600
    Casualties and losses (Police Action?)
    China-N-Korea Total: 398,000–750,000+ dead and 145,000+ missing Total wounded: 686,500–789,000 (Mao’s own Son was killed in it)
    Total civilians killed/wounded: 2.5 million (est.)
    US-South-Kprea: Total Strength: 929,765 (Death and wounded: You have the numbers.
    The Vietnam War:(PRC almost no involvement)
    Johnson was vice president to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas in November of nineteen sixty-three. Johnson served the last fourteen months of the president’s term. Then he won a full term of his own starting in January nineteen sixty-five.
    The Vietnam War began in 1955 and ended in 1975 when North Vietnamese forces captured Saigon as the US withdrew in chaos and in a hurry.
    Deaths in Vietnam War (1965–1974)
    Allied military deaths 282,000
    NVA/VC military deaths 444,000
    Civilian deaths (North and South Vietnam) 627,000
    Total deaths 1,353,000
    People’s Republic of China 1,446 KIA; (Practically Not Involved)
    Sino-Vietnamese conflicts, 1979–90
    Date 1979 – 1990 (11 years)
    Location Sino-Vietnamese border
    The conflict subsided without the outbreak of war. During the 1980s, around 600,000–800,000 Vietnamese regulars and paramilitaries were estimated to have been present in frontier areas, confronted by some 200,000–400,000 Chinese troops. Throughout the conflict, the Vietnamese Vị Xuyên District had become the most violent front, which had entangled many interchanged units from both sides. During the 5-year period from 1984 to 1989, the Chinese had fired over 2 million artillery rounds in Ha Giang Province, mainly in the area of 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi). (No enlargement,no occupation of land.) China and Vietnam negotiated the normalization of their relations in a secretive summit in Chengdu in September 1990 and officially normalized ties in November 1991.
    Date 1979 – 1990 (11 years)
    Location Sino-Vietnamese border
    ~200,000–400,000 PRC ~600,000–800,000(including irregular units)VN
    Casualties and losses: Several only Thousands Killed in 11yrs

    The Battle of the Paracel Islands, disputed between the PRC, ROC, and Vietnam.In January for only a few days (01/18 to 01/20/1974),but very important. History From 1405 to 1433, Zheng He commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and East Africa in Ming dynasty of China. In 1421, Zheng produced the printed Mao Kun map,usually referred to by Chinese people as Zheng He’s Navigation Maps (simplified Chinese: 郑和航海图; pinyin: Zhèng Hé hánghǎi tú), which included all South China Sea Islands. Map of South China Sea Islands, made by Territory Department of The Republic of China (ROC) named 132 of Ministry of the Interior, Republic of China in 1947, after its sovereignty transfer from the Japanese.
    1974 (1/18)The Battle of Paracel Islands:
    On 1974年1月18日at 9 PM,The Chinese Navy intercepted an important Vietnamese Naval Code. They immediately translated it to read the order from Vietnamese president 阮文绍 (Nguyen Van Thieu) to Naval flagship 陈平重(Chen Pingzhong ):“Your Naval ships shall recover the Island of琛航岛 (西沙  Chen Hang Dao Island or Chēnháng Dǎo 16°27’ 111°43’) –“The Plan is to be gentle” “But if the Chinese ships should open fire, you must immediately destroy them. “Ordering No.10 and No.16 Destroyers to follow the Chinese ships of Soviet type,and ordering No.4 and No.5 Destroyers to support the BH landing boat getting on the Island and destroy the Chinese fishing boats and smaller boats; “Your starting time shall be at 06th hour on the 19th day.”
    This translated message was sent to every Chinese naval commanders.
    As of January 15 to 18th,1974,the VN Navy Destroyers“陈庆瑜”(Chen Qing Yu),“陈平重”(Chen Ping Zhong),“李常杰”(Li Chang Jie),and the escort ship“怒涛”(Nu Tao)had quietly snuck into the“West Sands”islands Group area.They first started blocking and chasing the Chinese fishing vessels No.402 and No.407 and killed and injured a few with VN weapons.
    Then they used Naval weapons on Ganquan Island(甘泉岛),and killed and wounded several fishermen and armed civilians.On the morning of the 17th the VN Navy occupied the Treasure Island (金银岛)and then the Ganquan Island as well.These actions were reported to China in Beijing.(All these things took place before declaration of the VN President.)
    Altogether there were two minesweepers 396、389 and four submarine chasers 281、282、271、274 being sent from Chinese Naval groups in south China to those three islands.The submarine chasers 271、274 gave warnings to the VN Destroyers“李常杰”and“陈庆瑜”at Ganquan Island 甘泉岛 for them to leave.But they refused.
    The total weight of the Chinese six Naval ships numbered about 35 percent of the total weight of the four VN Naval ships which were about 6000 tons. So on January 19th morning,the VN Destroyers and their smaller (570 tons) Escort ship“怒涛”(Nu Tao)started shooting the smaller Chinese ships with much bigger cannons. But the smaller Chinese ships could move at 15 knots to 18 knots of speed with quicker turn around time as well.In the end all three Destroyers received damages while their VN Escort ship was sunk in the ocean due to the much faster Chinese ships,one of which did receive serious damage as well. But the VN Destroyers ran for the hills at the end. The fierce sea battle took a total of 13 minutes before the conclusion.
    Several of the Chinese ships were of 1924 vintage.Nut the quicker speed,good training, great cooperation,plus bravery and courage gave the Chinese naval ships the final victory. (The damaged VN Escort Ship“怒涛”was left to fend for itself as those bigger damaged Destroyers all ran for their lives.That spoke for itself.)
    After the Sea Battle of January 19, the VN Government tried to cover up its shame in the losing encounter against a much smaller navy from China,plus the sinking of their“怒涛”ship.They lied by making up a shocking news story of the powerful Soviet made Korma Destroyer using Chinese guidance missiles in that Battle.
    Following the Battle of the Paracel Islands, now occupied by the PRC (西沙群岛) Xisha (Paracel Group)in the South China Sea.
    Eugene, from Suzhou China

  8. Eugene,

    The bottom line has not changed: China is an authoritarian society run by a Leader with the ‘backing’ of the party. You are subject more than citizen and what comes is imposed from above. I am not denying the ‘good’ that is taking place for the people of China, just the source and the motive. Again you should turn your critical skills on your government and country as you have done, so well in agreement with Spong, on Christianity.

    This started with your assertion of what the US could learn from China. The answer is, given its form of government, suspicion of its people, and the elimination/censorship of opposition – nothing, there are better places to look.

  9. Thomas / Eugene – A very interesting exchange. Let me add a bit of my own thoughts:

    a) China made much progress mainly because it adopted a political system that was more suited to their social conditions. Like India, where the Maharajahs and landlords exploited the general population, I suspect situation was no different in China. And for things to change, there was a need for a strong form of centralized govt. India chose to function as a democracy – but then we have so many political parties resulting in chaos, tremendous misuse of resources and corruption.
    b) China saw what happened in Soviet Union and very wisely decided to maintain a strong centralized govt else it would break up the way Soviet Union did.
    c) Economically China will come to rule the world and given its vast population together with a hard working mentality, Chinese will make greater progress than other countries. We must not judge them based on Western standards.
    d) I think Eugene was referring to private citizens owning guns; no guns no bloody violence. In India, people quarrel and fight also but since guns are not allowed, chances of people being killed are very low.
    e) British played a key role in destroying and exploiting China. Well what goes around comes around.
    f) International standards and boundaries, rules and regulations often were setup by the West to their advantage. Can’t blame China for trying to do the same now that they are becoming economically strong.
    g) What do Chinese Christians think? What did the European Christians think when they divided Africa, colonized nations (abused women, exploited resources, etc.) and establish some form of “slavery” to their advantage – all done because they had a mandate from Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom on earth?
    Can one blame the Hindus and the Muslims who chose to believe that Lord Krishna and Allah sent them to bring salvation to the Christian heathens?
    h) China may have a Communist govt but from what I hear / read / see, they follow a strong capitalist economic system.

    I won’t be surprised if China will rule the world economically and politically. Not only that the Chinese will be “true followers of Christ” instead of the West and many other countries where Christianity has become a business.

  10. Jawaharlal, good to hear from you – it has been too long.
    Not sure what is meant when you say that China “adopted a political system that was more suited to their general population.” Were there no other systems that could be imagined to have succeeded or that could succeed in China? And how about, even with a much smaller population, the success of the Taiwan Chinese population? There is no doubt that the system has worked for the Chinese leadership (especially with the Leader now ‘written into’ the constitution) – but for the people? Even with Eugene’s excuse about the mistake of one man, that man, Mao, was still the leader and the people suffered. Even now, the Leadership continues to want and gets ‘control’ over the people. I can’t speak to the Indian situation but in China, ‘communism’ has become (perhaps inevitably) an authoritarian regime. A strong central government is one thing, a ‘dictatorship by party’ is a whole other reality. BTW, are you saying the Indians would prefer communism?

    We can’t make a judgement that people should not live under an authoritarian regime? We should not question if people can reach their human potential under such a system? Even in Christianity, there was and is the Protest against the authority resting in one man, the Pope and even Catholics, more and more, pick and choose what to follow. Progressive Christianity is also an effort to have the right, the freedom to understand and live as one decides. Economic growth, success and even dominance is one thing – not the only thing when it comes to human life and progress.

    I assumed Eugene was talking about private citizens and guns, yet the point holds: it is not the accomplishment of the Chinese people, it is a dictate from on high and one suspects it is also something that protects the leadership (along with all their other controls on their people. India and the UK seem to be better countries to look to for greater sanity over guns in the US (I admit though, again, I am not familiar how ‘no guns’ came to be in India). But is should also be noted that, even with the horrific and too often slaughter that some unleash upon innocents – it is not the norm. Again, gun violence is not our normal: I have lived in different cities in the US, lived in the city, the suburbs, the country and have never experienced or known anyone who has experienced such slaughter. I went to school where I could hear the guns of the hunters (fellow students and professors), my first boss and my favorite uncle (a WWII Fighter Pilot) were big into recreational shooting and my cop friends always have their guns – but I know no one else, in 60+ years, who owns or fires guns. Doesn’t mean guns violence should be accepted, doesn’t mean we should throw out our constitution – but it must also be recognized that it is not the experience on many/most of us.

    What is coming along with Britain and China, are the latter planning an attack? We are not talking about “International standards and boundaries, rules and regulations” – we are talking about a society that ‘controls’ its people, silences its intellectuals, eliminates its opposition. Are you saying this is the best for the people? Are you comfortable with this as a Christian?

    Of course Christianity ‘sinned’ when it supported and when it still supports (see evangelists and Trump) exploitation, colonization, slavery, white/western dominance! And the Chinese Christians want to emulate this example? If so, it becomes their sin. And of course one can recognize similar sins in Hindus and the Muslims. If one doesn’t accept this, then one is on the ‘other side’ of what progressive Christianity aims for in accepting and valuing the faith and rights of all people.

    Finally, we are not talking mere economics – to focus on that misses the larger human reality. I doubt China or better communism will ever rule the world – too many have tasted freedom (with all its limitations and problems) to give it up and accept the many being the subjects of the few, or the Leader. Wars have been fought over this before, if there is a next war over it, it will probably be our last.

    I don’t think a ‘true follower of Christ’ – even ‘giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s’ would ever be comfortable – if they truly understand Love/Abba/God – ever be content if the true ‘freedom to be’ bestowed on humanity is denied, whatever the pretext.

  11. Appreciate your comments Thomas. I will touch on a few:

    a) At the time of independence, India like Pakistan could have gone towards a military dictatorship (or towards Communism). The chances in India were low as there are too many languages, religion, cultural differences, etc. to contend with. However what kept India democratic was that the large number of leaders at the time of independence had a Western style education. And they were very committed to democracy. Despite political / social mishaps, the leaders chose to continue the path of democracy.
    b) Regarding Communism, you may be aware that the first generation of communist leaders in India were children of wealthy landlords! They also got educated in the West but genuinely believed that Karl Marx and Lenin were suited to agrarian Indian society. Unfortunately, most people were poor or of low income and they often belonged to the lower castes. The communist leaders despite their lofty ideals could not get over casteism and so their appeal was mainly limited to upper castes. Which is why in India, the Communist movement is an upper caste movement. The momentum continued because even though their ancestors were wealthy, in time they lost their wealth/land holdings and ended up working for someone else (multinationals, banks, etc.). They were now at the mercy of market & hidden forces.
    Because of large poor / low income population, India could not go the Communist way.
    c) Regarding freedom, China has a long way to go. Both India and China were ruled by kings, maharajahs, landlords whatever they be and so the people often obeyed, did not think too independently. Society was very hierarchical and this was also evident during Mao’s time as mentioned by Western scholars. This will continue for sometime; I get reminded of how democratic or autocratic or hierarchical the Vatican (Catholic) is.
    d) Regarding boundaries, rules, etc. – when British ruled India, the British on whatever basis decided the boundary lines for India/Tibet. China does not accept these and so boundary dispute with India continues. At one time, Vietnam, Korea if I am not mistaken paid tribute to China. China is desirous of being the center of the world per their vision. And so, they will continue to challenge.
    e) Large number of Chinese are practicing religion (Christianity, Buddhism, etc. even the Hare Krishna are there now). It is a matter of time, China cannot continue ignoring human aspirations.
    f) I am baffled by the gun violence in this country. I am unable to comprehend; I suspect it is due to too much stress.
    My young nephew (13 yr old) loves outdoor. He loves hunting and is so skilled that he has won six guns as trophies (real ones) in competitions. He is a responsible kid and I pray he continues that way.

    Hope I have clarified some points!

  12. Thanks Jawaharlal.

    China does have a long way to go. Indeed the Church, Catholic, is a bit too heavy at the top but its foundation is more inspirational than communism. It’s structure, too, has a long way to go.

    China’s aspirations will continue to be pressed against others and could cause serious problems in the future. If N. Korea goes nuclear, so too Japan, S. Korea and others?

    I believe that Eugene said or at least my take away was that most Chinese have the ‘old time’ understanding of Christianity. So, could be a long way to go until it moves to a more progressive understanding and if the government will allow that – given what it means.

    The gun violence is baffling: stress, mental illness, drugs, turf wars, lover’s quarrels, etc. but won’t be much movement with leaders beholden to the NRA money.

    Nice clarification.

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