Author(s)Faries, Nathan Charles
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AbstractABSTRACT This study engages Chinese Christianity from a literary perspective and analyzes texts that have largely been ignored. The twenty-first century promises to be a time of great change for the Christian Church in the Peoples Republic of China. The relationship between Chinese Christians and their government is complex and controversial. This situation has elicited a great deal of scholarly interest in recent years, but studies of the literature of Chinese Christianity are practically nonexistent. Our focus here is limited to the present-day situation in China, specifically to the literature of the last quarter-century. The U.S. and China continue to have strongly contrasting meta-narrative national visions. This difference in how the two nations tell themselves seems an insuperable barrier to effective international communication and compromise on human rights. At the same time, the Christian and Marxist underpinnings to their respective nationalisms give these nations a common ground that makes their competition even more fierce and more closely tied to religion: the U.S. and the PRC both have missionary ideologies inextricably linked to their nationalisms. Religious narratives, therefore, will continue to be fundamental to matters of grave international concern. Many recent fictional narratives by U.S. and Chinese writersthis study covers Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Mo Yan, and Bei Cun among othersprovide, at the most basic level, mimetic accounts of Chinese Christianity, but these texts also reveal meta-narrative levels of meaning. Like political and missionary narratives, these works of fiction partake in and are shaped by national, racial, and religious meta-narratives. Western readers have often been given incomplete and distorted narratives about religion in China and are only beginning to adjust their notions of authentic Chineseness to include the reality of indigenous Chinese Christianity. How this Chinese Christianity looks, of course, is sometimes different from American Christianity and different from what many Americans would expect or prefer. Chinese Christian identity in the mainland today, even more uniformly than American Christian identity, is bound up with national pride and normally too (admitting a strongly dissenting minority voice) with at least a modicum of support for Chinas ruling authorities.