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9. Chinese Religions


Subject Religion » Chinese Religious Traditions

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631182757.1996.00011.x


Religion, in the modern Chinese context, is festive, celebrating the passage of men and women in the Chinese community through the cycle of life and death. Chinese religion is traditionally defined by the rites of passage, i.e. birth, maturation, marriage and burial, and the annual cycle of calendrical festivals. Membership of the Chinese social community is demonstrated by participation in the rites of passage and the annual festivals, rather than by intellectual assent to a body of revealed scripture. Chinese religion is therefore a cultural rather than a theological entity. All of the religious systems coming from abroad into the Chinese cultural complex found it necessary to accommodate to the religious and cultural values of China in order to survive and function. The success of Western religions especially has depended upon acceptance of the strong Chinese values of family and social relationships, and adaptation in some way to the customs of the Chinese people. The seasonal festivals as well as the rites of passage have equally survived the iconoclastic rigours of the socialist state of mainland China and the even more devastating secularized education and industrial revolution of maritime China. (‘Maritime China’ and ‘diaspora China’ are almost synonymous: maritime China refers to all Chinese living outside of mainland China on the Pacific basin or the islands of South-East ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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