Friday, August 8, 2008

China & the Olympics

A wonderful article on China and what the Olympics, as shown on television, will reveal to us about the still mysterious Middle Kingdom, all woven through a Catholic perspective.

An excerpt.

“Among the nations, China has long fascinated Christians. Half of the lore of the Society of Jesus, it sometimes seems, has to do with Ricci, Schall, Verbeist, and the glory of a failed mission. The Middle Kingdom records many dynasties going back before Christianity itself. The Xia and Shang Dynasties are before Abraham.

“Most scholars think Confucianism is more of a philosophy than a religion. Things like style, propriety, manners, beauty, pervade our images of China. A student of mine sent me a postcard the other day on which was a picture of the Great Wall. She wrote: “Greetings from China! I am having a wonderful time living in Shanghai and learning Chinese. This week I am visiting Beijing. Yesterday I hiked up to the Great Wall which was even more impressive than in photographs. I am looking forward to your Aristotle class this fall.” It is already all there, East and West.

“Thomas Boswell, in a fine article in The Washington Post sports page (August 3), wrote that there are two Olympics. One has to do with games and races, the other with China presenting itself before the world as the new Middle Kingdom. The “authoritarian capitalism” is there, with its Marxist background that takes us back not to China but to Germany itself and a man who was originally a Jew and read Hegel.”