12/27/2017, 14.28
CHINA
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For Chinese Priest, boycotting Christmas makes no sense

by Peng Jian Dao

Party forbade members and their families from participating in “Western religious activities", including Christmas dinners. Some universities banned Christmas gatherings. For the Party, it is necessary "to consciously resist the invasion of Western religious holidays". However, the future lies with intercultural dialogue, not "blind” populism. In world culture, Christianity is distinct for teaching to "love one’s enemy". Young people show interest in Christianity.

Weizhou (AsiaNews) – The campaign launched this month in various part of China against Christmas, seen as a “Western” religious practice that pollutes “Chinese culture” is a form of "narrow-minded nationalism", "blind” populism, and "meaningless” resistance, this according to Fr Peng, a Chinese priest.

In view of this, China’s Communist Party ordered its members to boycott Christmas parties. For example, in the city of Hengyang (Hunan), the Party told its cadres and their families not to indulge in "any religious activity from the West”, warning them against participating in Christmas dinners and other Christmas-themed events.

In Shenyang (Liaoning), the Communist Youth League at the Shenyang Pharmaceutical University accused many young people of "blindly following western holidays, especially Christmas Eve, Christmas and other religious festivals". It therefore invited its members to "consciously resist the invasion of Western religious holidays" and banned any group in the League from "holding any event related to Christmas Eve, Christmas or other Western religious holidays". Other universities followed this "advice" and banned students’ Christmas parties.

The boycott appears to have taken off also in civil society. In Guangdong province, Christmas-themed gifts have been removed in stores, especially those that have Christian symbols. In Gansu, a company removed Christmas trees from its online catalogue, following a warning by the local Department of Commerce and Industry, China Christian reported.

Based on official documents, the aim of boycotting Christmas as a "Western holiday" is to build “cultural self-confidence”, separating it from all others.

Fr Peng notes that "the Confucius Institutes scattered around the world" also pass on Chinese culture to other peoples. The future is therefore one of intercultural dialogue not "blind” populism, especially since Christianity alone offers an important teaching: to love one’s enemies and end the "culture of hatred".

For some experts, the nationalist wave against Christmas is also an attempt by the Party to defend itself from the fascination exerted by the Christian religion among Chinese, especially the young. The huge participation in Christmas Masses by non-Christians is an indication of this (picture 2).

Every year, when Christmas arrives, there are always some narrow-minded nationalists who create an unfriendly atmosphere. They launch messages like ‘Boycott Christmas’ and "the Chinese cannot celebrate foreign celebrations" and other such slogans, and some people follow them blindly. In a global world, Christianity has become a part of universal civilisation. Christianity’s Good News of Love and holiness is recognised around the world as one of mercy and help to one’s neighbour.

Christ’s brotherhood is similar to the concept of benevolence in Confucius. Doesn’t the Chinese people, through the Confucius Institutes scattered around the world, make other people aware of the culture and philosophy of Confucianism? Isn’t there some wonder in Confucian "benevolence", the "brotherhood" proclaimed by Christ, and the "compassion" proclaimed by Sakyamuni (Buddha), which are called to awaken good virtues in people’s conscience? All that is true and perfect comes from God!

As long as beauty guides religion, culture and thinking, they deserve to be respected and deepened. Narrow nationalism and the ideology of self-gratification are leading history backward, getting people to renounce their ideas.

After the culture of boycotting between East and West, we came first to [a situation of] tolerance, then to acceptance through a long historical process. Can we, who are the Chinese of the 21st century, especially the so-called "PhDs" who have a higher education, not escape from this petty populism?

The Christian religion has influenced the world for two thousand years. At present, there are 2.3 billion people in the world who believe in it. Many dynasties and empires have tried to eliminate it, but no one has succeeded.

On the one hand, Christianity is projected towards man; on the other, it transcends man. Being projected (humanistic) towards man means that it leads man to discover his true nature; transcending him means that Christianity can change a person's heart and make spiritual life richer, especially on the basis of Christ’s teaching on loving one’s enemy.

The notion of revenge has followed man in his long history; only Christ’s teaching to "love one’s enemy" can defeat this notion and "the culture of hatred". In a world full of wars, there will be no peace if we continue to spread the culture of hatred and hostility.

Christmas is a peaceful family-oriented holiday. Although it has totally different concepts from Confucianism, Taoist culture, Mohist culture and even the so-called materialistic thought, the good idea that it brings to the world is worthy of praise and promotion. Resistance and opposition is not only blind and restricted populism, but also meaningless.

Friday, 22 December 2017, Peng Jian Dao, Wei Zhou

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