June 17, 2024

Event Coverage Highlight

Shaping the Soul of China: Religion & the Search for Meaning in the Middle Kingdom

China has a long and complicated history with religion. Centuries before Christianity existed, China gave the world Taoism and Confucianism, and embraced and absorbed Buddhism from India. Jesuit scholars entered in the 16th century, and Protestant preachers followed in the 19th. Mao Zedong took all this as a threat to belief in the Communist Party, and tried to shut down religious practice in China, sometimes brutally. But once Mao was gone, many Chinese renewed their search for meaning, and more than one-third now say they are active practitioners of a religion – with as many as 100 million calling themselves Christian.

In conversation about this complex history are Ian D Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao and Jennifer Lin, whose new book Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family tells the story of the role her own family played in China’s embrace of Christianity over the past 150 years. Moderating will be former NPR & PRI China correspondent Mary Kay Magistad. This event will be recorded for Mary Kay’s Whose Century Is It? podcast.

Ian D. Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, focusing on society, religion and history.  He has spent over half of the past thirty years in the Greater China region, first as a student in Beijing and Taipei, then as a correspondent for Baltimore’s The Sun, and The Wall Street Journal, and most recently as a contributor to The New York Times, The New York Review of Books,The New Yorker, National Geographic and other publications.  He teaches undergraduates at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, where he also runs a fellowship program.

Jennifer Lin is an award-wining former journalist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and former China correspondent for Knight-Ridder news service. She has long been intrigued by the story of her Chinese father’s family, from the Fujian fisherman who first encountered Christian missionaries, to the evangelical leader Watchman Nee, still revered by some underground Chinese Christians, to cousins in her generation who lived through the tumult of the Cultural Revolution. After years of retracing their steps in China, her book Shanghai Faithful tells their story.

Please RSVP to mkmagistad@gmail.com. Friends and partners welcome.