Religious Diversity News

A Burning Devotion

Author: Tiffany Hsu

Source: Los Angeles Times,1,1023546.story

Cars, bank notes and TVs were going up in flames one chilly winter morning in the parking lot of Universal Chung Wah Funeral Home in Alhambra.

Thirteen white-clad relatives of Dam Lam, 87, formed a circle, each cradling a stack of paper models: a foot-long 747 jetliner, a black-and-gold car sitting in the courtyard of a 2-foot-tall, red-tiled paper mansion. One by one, the items were thrown into the fire licking out of a 4-by-4-foot wheeled container, charred from years of use.

Asian Arts Fairs Offer Something for Everyone

Source: International Herald Tribune

On March 31, 2006 the International Herald Tribune reported, “Two substantial Asian art fairs have taken over the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue and the Gramercy Park Armory. About two dozen special gallery exhibitions are spread around the Upper East Side. Timed to coincide with the fairs and mounted by local and visiting dealers, some are sublime.

But this year the movable feast that is Asia Week is more in flux than usual, jostled by changes from all sides. These include the exploding economic growth of China, which has created a market there for Chinese art of all kinds, driving up prices and limiting the dwindling amount of top-quality historical material coming to the West. Adding to the overall shortages are the complex issues of legitimate provenance and new attitudes regarding exports.

Locally, the impetus for it all – the uptown International Asian Art Fair, before which Asia Week did not exist – is very much in transition. The fair’s purview has been expanded to include art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, much like its less patrician rival, the New York Arts of Pacific Asia Show. The fair this year also includes unprecedented quantities of contemporary Korean, Japanese and Chinese art.”

Asian Youth Day Explores Interfaith Dialogue

Source: Indian Catholic

On August 5, 2006 the Indian Catholic reported, “Participants of the Fourth Asian Youth Day (AYD) have learned about the family values of different religious traditions and how interreligious dialogue can start within the family.

Leaders and young people from Anglican, Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Muslim, and Taoist faiths spoke to about 800 Catholic participants of the AYD on Aug. 1 during a session of ‘Interfaith Dialogue.’

Most speakers came from other Asian countries and accompanied the Catholic participants from their countries to the event. The meeting, whose theme is ‘Youth, Hope of Asian Families,’ began on July 28 and is to close on Aug. 5.”

Asia’s New Gods

Author: Kishore Mahbubani

Source: MSNBC/Newsweek International

Most Asians are unaware that Christian evangelical movements have gained enormous political power in America. And if they were to learn this, they would be mystified. Their images of America remain the old ones: scenes of Hollywood and sexual permissiveness, secularism, money worship and devotion to modern science and technology. None of these squares with an America under the sway of fundamentalist or evangelical Christianity.

Asian intellectuals would be especially mystified. They have fully absorbed the Western narrative that modernization should be the fundamental goal of contemporary societies. Deng Xiaoping chose his words carefully when he launched his economic reforms, dubbed the Four Modernizations, in 1977. “It does not matter whether a cat is white or black,” Deng said famously. “If it catches mice, it is a good cat.” With modernization was meant to come a pragmatic and secular state that focused on economic and social development. Both China and India, each in its own way, decided that they needed to shed their ideological straitjackets and work pragmatically to lift up their societies.

The big lesson that Asians thought they’d learned from the West was that reason and faith should be kept in separate boxes. Many Asians believed that religion and superstition had held their countries back while the West leaped ahead, even if few would have been as outspoken as Kemal Ataturk when he said: “The fez sat upon our heads as a sign of ignorance, fanaticism, obstacle to progress and attaining a contemporary level of civilization. It is necessary to … adopt in its place the hat, the headgear used by the whole civilized world.”

As East Asians moved decisively toward secularism, they were helped by the cultural fabric of their societies. Neither Confucianism nor Taoism inspires deep religiosity. The Confucian culture is attached to the world of today, not tomorrow. By contrast, West Asians (despite Ataturk’s lead) have found it harder to emulate the West. Islam penetrates more deeply into the souls of its adherents. In recent centuries, many of its followers have moved away from the spirit of skeptical inquiry that inspired the scientific revolution (even though the Islamic caliphates nurtured this spirit). Hence, the spread of fundamentalist movements in the Islamic world is not surprising.

Bangor Churches Look to the East, Teach Courses Such as Tai Chi

Author: Judy Harrison

Source: The Bangor Daily News,162933

Once a week a small group of men and women gathers in the parlor of the Hammond Street Congregational Church for group meditation.


A block away at Grace United Methodist Church on Union Street, a retired pastor often teaches tai chi to a group of senior citizens.


China Official Explains Religion Policy


Source: AP

A senior Chinese official is trying to calm U.S. misgivings ahead of Beijing’s coming Olympic Games about what the Bush administration sees as religious intolerance.

In Washington, the director of China’s religious affairs bureau met with U.S. officials and spoke at Georgetown University.

Ye Xiaowen told reporters Wednesday, after talks with Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, that China’s peaceful development depends upon its respect for human rights and religious beliefs. Ye said he also met with President Bush’s ambassador for international religious freedom, John Hanford, and with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington.

China to Build Harmonious Society with Wisdom of Taoism

Source: CCTV

XI’AN, April 22 (Xinhua) — China’s high-ranking officials have called for adopting the wisdom of ancient Taoism to build a harmonious society.

Tao Te Ching, or the Classic of the Way and Virtue, was written by Lao Zi about 2,500 years ago, around the time when Buddha was expounding the Dharma in India and Pythagoras was teaching in Greece.

“It is not only a precious gem in the treasure house of Chinese culture but a common spiritual wealth of the mankind,” said China’s senior official Jia Qinglin at a congratulatory message to the International Forum on Tao Te Ching, which started Sunday in Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

The principle of being modest and peaceful in the book would provide an inspiring reference to China’s ongoing construction of a harmonious society, said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

China to Hold International Forum on Taosim

Source: People’s Daily Online

China is scheduled to hold an international forum on Taoism in Hong Kong and Xi’an from April 22 to 27 next year.

The forum, co-sponsored by the China Religious Culture Communication Association and the Taoist Association of China, is expected to attract more than 300 delegates from around the world.

Jiang Jianyong, vice president of the China Religious Culture Communication Association and the State Administration of Religious Affairs, said invitation letters had been sent to candidates from 19 countries and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

“The purpose of the forum is to carry forward China’s splendid culture … and Taoism has many positive thoughts that can help people solve conflicts,” Jiang said. “It will embody a spirit of openness and tolerance.”

He said the forum would also be helpful for the construction of a harmonious society in China and a harmonious world.

According to statistics from the country’s religious authority, China now has more than 50,000 Taoist priests and more than 5,000 religious sites.

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