Warp, Weft, and Way

A Group Blog of Chinese and Comparative Philosophy

Confucians React to Planned Christian Church in Qufu

An open letter, signed by several prominent Chinese scholars and endorsed by numerous Confucian organizations, has been released criticizing the plans to build a large Christian church in Qufu, about 3 km from the Qufu Confucian Temple. The letter begins:

We have recently heard that a large, Gothic-style Christian church, more than 40 meters high and capable of holding more than 3000 people, is under construction in the vicinity of Qufu’s Confucian Temple. We Confucian scholars, organizations, and websites are deeply shocked and worried, and call upon all concerned parties to respect this sacred ground of Chinese culture and halt construction of this Christian church….

I paste the entire letter, including the list of signatories (many of whom have been prominently identified with “Confucian teaching” or “Confucian religion” [rujiao 儒教]), below. 

尊重中华文化圣地,停建曲阜耶教教堂
——关于曲阜建造耶教大教堂的意见书

近闻曲阜孔庙附近正在建造一高达四十余米、容众三千余人的哥特式耶教大教堂(详情见本《意见书》附录),吾等儒家学者、社团、网站深感震惊和忧虑,特郑重呼吁有关各方尊重中华文化圣地,立即停建该耶教教堂。

众所周知,孔子者,中华文化之象征;曲阜者,儒教文明之圣地;“三孔”者,中国五千年文化命脉与道统象征之所在,亿万海内外炎黄子孙心理情感与精神寄托之所系,并为东亚各国政要与民众文化朝圣之所宗。今在“三孔”之地建造耶教大教堂,无疑唐突中华文化圣地,伤害儒家文化信众情感,有违海内外炎黄子孙心愿,不合建设“中华文化标志城”和“中华民族精神家园”的初衷。

考索历史,今曲阜市范围内不曾有道教的道观;佛教的寺庙虽有若干所,但皆远离城区,且规模甚小。至于其他外来宗教,更不曾在曲阜建有任何道场。究其原因,一则在于这些宗教及其信众能尊重孔圣,故不会贸然在曲阜建造道场;二则在于外来宗教未如现今此般炽热,故其受众较少,影响较小;三则在于各级政府皆尊儒家文化为正统,故对其他宗教在曲阜建造道场会予以适当的限制,而对中华文化圣地则予以充分的保护。

将心比心,如若在耶路撒冷或麦加或梵蒂冈,建一超高超大的孔庙,力压其宗教建筑的气势,独领其城市建筑的风骚,有关宗教信众又会作何感想呢?其国家、其政府、其民众能接受吗?而且,吾等担心其他宗教会援引曲阜建造耶教堂的先例,竞相在中华文化圣地建造自己的道场。但是,大量历史上和现实中的案例却表明,不同宗教的道场在狭小区域内对峙并存,常会引发宗教对抗和文明冲突。

固然,吾等希望并相信包容性很强的儒家文化不会与其他宗教文化发生冲突,但无法确保其他宗教之间不会发生冲突。如此一来,中华文化的和谐圣地岂不成了诸神争斗的冲突场所?特别是,吾等强烈反对刻意用在中华文化圣地建造耶教大教堂的方式,来表明儒家文化的包容宽大精神和体现“和谐世界”的理念,因为这是对儒家文化的歪曲和利用,是在装饰门面和粉饰太平!

吾等认为,文明之间的和而不同,首要的原则是不同文明之间彼此尊重,尤其是外来宗教文化要入乡随俗、客随主便,而不能反客为主、喧宾夺主——对本土宗教及其信众而言,这是个天然的情感问题;对外来宗教及其信众而言,这是个基本的礼貌问题!

无论如何,鉴于在中华文化圣地修建耶教大教堂问题的敏感性、复杂性以及可能由此引发的激烈争议,吾等谨向曲阜市政府、济宁市政府、山东省政府、中央政府以及热爱并尊重中华文化的耶教徒提出以下意见:

首先,立即停建曲阜耶教教堂。具体原因,已如上述。需要指出的是,即使该耶教堂的建设符合现行法律,通过了宗教、民政、土管、城建、文物等相关部门的严格审批,资金来源完全正当,也难免于其伤害儒家文化信众的情感,有违海内外炎黄子孙的心愿,乖乎中华文化圣地的形象,既不合乎情理,亦不合乎传统和惯例,当立即予以停建,或迁往他处建造。即是说,这既不是一个法律的问题,也不是一个宗教信仰自由的问题,而是一个关乎中国人的文化情感和心理感受的问题。

其次,如果该耶教堂建设地点仍选在曲阜附近,或仍在济宁市范围内,吾等建议它当满足如下五个条件:

甲、该耶教堂不宜在“三孔”、“三孟”以及周公庙视线范围内,至少须在孔庙、孟庙以及周公庙五十华里以外。

乙、该耶教堂高度不宜为四十余米,不宜超过孔庙、孟庙大成殿的高度。西方最具耶教历史象征性的梵蒂冈圣彼得大教堂,高度为45.4米,而曲阜建造的耶教堂竟然高达41.7米,与之仅差3.7米。相比之下,曲阜孔庙大成殿的高度为24.8米,该耶教堂竟然比之高出16.9米。考虑到曲阜城乡建筑较低,此高度的耶教堂即使在曲阜城外建成,也会成为曲阜市的标志性建筑。若此,则“中华文化标志城”就会变成“耶教文化标志城”。

丙、该耶教堂规模不可容众三千人。如此设计规模即使纯属巧合,也难免给人带来该耶教堂欲比拟孔圣有弟子三千人的印象或联想,有文化侮辱的含义。

丁、该耶教堂不宜建成中国最大的耶教堂。否则,会被人误解为该耶教堂是在比肩中国最大的孔庙即曲阜孔庙,有宗教对抗的意图。

戊、该耶教堂建筑风格只能为中国传统建筑风格,或至少为现代建筑风格,而不宜为哥特式风格。否则,此种风格不仅与曲阜中华文化圣地性质极不协调,也与曲阜乃至济宁市传统建筑风格极不协调。

第三,吾等认为,曲阜建造耶教堂的根本原因,不在于时下耶教在中国的炽热,而在于中华文化主体性的沉沦。“先立乎其大者,则其小者不能夺也。”当务之急,是重建中华文化的主体性,积极采取各种措施,全力复兴中华文化,守护中华民族精神家园,彻底解决当代国人的精神危机问题。若此,就不至于还会出现国人趋奉外来宗教和在中华文化圣地建造外来宗教道场的怪异现象。

第四,在种种复兴中华文化的呼吁和探索之中,重建儒教是一种重要的努力和尝试,且已在民间社会具备了一定的信众基础。吾等认为,政府宜尽快承认儒教的合法地位,赋予儒教与佛道回耶等宗教平等的身份,努力培育包括儒教在内的中国各宗教和谐相处的宗教文化生态。当务之急,是激活孔庙(文庙)等传统儒教道场的信仰功能,彻底摈除其现行商业和旅游的色彩。须知,古今中外尚未闻有任何一个国家与民族,其宗教信仰场所由文物部门或旅游部门把持,并向前来朝圣礼拜的人们收取门票费用的做法。

吾等基本主张在是,甚盼得到国人、海外华人与各级政府及耶教徒的尊重与采纳。

本意见书由以下十位学者联署发起(序齿排名):

郭齐勇(武汉大学国学院院长、教授)
张祥龙(北京大学哲学系教授)
张新民(贵州大学中国文化书院院长、教授)
蒋  庆(儒家民间学者)
林安梧(台湾师范大学中国文学系教授)
颜炳罡(山东大学哲学与社会发展学院教授)
韩  星(陕西师范大学儒学-儒教研究所所长、教授)
陈  明(《原道》主编,首都师范大学儒教研究中心主任)
康晓光(中国人民大学非盈利组织研究所所长、教授)
王瑞昌(首都经济贸易大学人文学院副教授)
本意见书得到以下十家社团首批支持:

国际儒学大会
国际孔教大会
马来西亚儒教会
印尼经典教育促进会
曲阜儒者联合会
深圳孔圣堂
珠海平和书院
北京苇航书院
浙江省儒学学会
江苏省孔子后裔联谊会

本意见书由以下十家网站首批联合发布:

中国儒教网(http://www.chinarujiao.net
儒教复兴论坛(http://www.rjfx.net
华夏复兴(http://www.hxfx.net
儒学联合论坛(http://www.yuandao.com
儒家中国(http://www.rujiazg.com
孔子二〇〇〇网(http://www.confucius2000.com
中国当代儒学网(http://www.cccrx.com
儒家气学网(http://www.rjqxw.cn
礼乐中国(http://www.liyuechina.org
孔氏宗亲网(http://www.kong.org.cn
说明一:本意见书自正式发布之日起,开放征集海内外儒家(儒教)社团、网站、学者以及社会各界签名支持。签名可登录上述网站,也可发信至:fengyuanfuxing@163.com

说明二:本意见书已清楚表达联署发起者的观点,故不再设答辩人。任何儒家社团、网站、学者接受媒体采访,其意见与本意见书无关。

说明三:本意见书欢迎任何网站转载,但请务必保持意见书的完整性。同时欢迎各类媒体刊布,联系信箱为:fengyuanfuxing@163.com

孔子二五六一年十一月十七日
耶稣二〇一〇年十二月二十二日

 

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December 23, 2010 - Posted by | Contemporary Confucianism, Philosophy in China, Religion

11 Comments »

  1. Oh, My God – I don’t know how much money the local government is going to make out of the land for the church building. But considering the scale and location of the church, it sounds more appropriate to title the Chinadaily article as “Jesus to dominate Confucius as Qufu plans church” instead of “Jesus to join Confucius as Qufu plans church.”

    Well, with some reservations, I do think the Confucians’ appeal make very good sense. Confucianism certainly has an important dimension to co-exist with other religious and spiritual traditions such as Christianity. But the manner of this Christian intrusion did sound worrisome in some ways.

    And for these worrisome prospects, I trust the ones who should be accountable are less the Christians with good intentions than the thoughtlessness and ulterior motives (I have to presume so) of local officials… strange that such a sensitive project has been approved without any public and scholarly debates in China – don’t know if that is the bless of communism or capitalism.

    Comment by Huaiyu Wang | December 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. There’s been a lot of discussion of this issue in the Chinese blogosphere! It seems to me that a key issue is contestation within China over whether “Rujiao” is a live religion, and if so, who can speak for it. For example, see this posting on the “Revival of Confucianism (Rujiao Fuxing Lun)” website. It argues for a connection between the new church and the Nishan Forum held near Qufu last September, because the Forum purposely excluded active adherents of Rujiao (like Jiang Qing); instead, says the author, the Forum put mere researchers on Confucianism and New Confucianism (which he equates to “dead Confucianism”) into dialogue with Christian adherents (“live Christianity”).

    In contrast, see this op-ed which argues, among other things, that (1) the authors of the original open letter are calling for a stricter sort of hierarchy among buildings than was practiced in imperial China, and (2) the letter’s authors should learn from the open-minded attitude of Qufu officials and of the Kong family descendant who is a Christian pastor in Qufu.

    The AP also has a story out about the controversey, which is based in significant part on information they’ve obtained from our blog! One good source for information in Chinese is this website; see the 最新发表 section on the right.

    Comment by Steve Angle | December 26, 2010 | Reply

  3. I should have added that while the question of in whether Confucianism (rujia OR rujiao) is or can be “live” is an excellent one, I would not accept the simple characterization of the Nishan participants offered in the webposting I cited above, nor would I accept its version of what counts as “live.” At the very least, there are two other versions of live Confucianism that need to be considered: (1) Confucianism as a live and developing philosophy, and (2) Confucianism as a live (and perhaps developing) moral practice. Both of these might or might not be connected to (3) Confucianism as an institutionalized/organized religious activity, depending on how all of these three come to manifest themselves in the contemporary world. Certainly I take some of the theorists most interested in (3) also to have interesting things to say abut (1) and (2).

    Comment by Steve Angle | December 26, 2010 | Reply

  4. Okay, hold on. People are getting their knickers in a knot about a church three kilometres away from the Confucian temple? That sounds even more ridiculous than the people upset about a Muslim community centre built several city blocks away from the World Trade Center site. Is there something I’m missing?

    When you build things, they will be relatively close to other things. Get over it, people.

    Comment by Amod Lele | December 29, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thanks for the update on the issue Steve and your well directed inputs for the AP report.

    I believe your analysis of the live Confucianism is especially clear and sensible. There are many dimensions of Confucianism indeed and they may well overlap with each other in real practice. Let me add that the author of the post you cite may be unsatisfied because he/she took the government to be “insincere” in its efforts to organize the debate – this might be true though I need more information to affirm it.

    Thanks for your opinion Amod – I guess the thing you may be missing is the grand scale of the church beside Confucian temple. This would be like, in my imagination, to build a Muslim mosque that towering the Christian church in Vatican in close distance.

    Comment by Huaiyu Wang | December 30, 2010 | Reply

  6. Actually, I do have a reaction similar to Amod’s. I am neither a Confucian nor a Christian, though I’ve no doubt been influenced in subtle ways by both. But the influence that runs deepest is a a classically liberal attitude toward religions and other sets of beliefs and practices. So long as the Christians aren’t interfering with the activities of the Confucian temple, I don’t have a lot of sympathy with the people who are protesting the church. It’s part of living in a modern world, whether you live in Qufu or New York City, that you will have neighbors who don’t agree with everything you believe. Nor can you count on everyone regarding your, or even their own, cultural heritage as sacred. China may not be a liberal society, but it will probably have to face such issues locally as it gradually opens itself up to economic and political globalism. This might be a good moment for a symbolic “leap forward” to borrow a phrase from China’s recent past. Tolerating pluralism is an important step toward a more open society, and something Confucians should consider as an important part of modernity to integrate into their attitudes.

    Comment by Manyul Im | December 30, 2010 | Reply

  7. Huaiyu, will the church be visible from the Confucian temple, and visibly larger from the sight of the temple? At a distance of three kilometres, that strikes me as highly unlikely, but possible. If people standing one metre away from the temple could see a visibly larger church on the horizon, I could see some good reason for being uneasy with it.

    Comment by Amod Lele | December 30, 2010 | Reply

  8. It is a little ironic that I seemed to turn myself to defend the Confucians’ position on this issue – for I had exactly the same kind of feelings as Amod and Manyul as I first read the report. My attitude switched, however, as I dug a little deep. Not that I am to speak for the “Confucians” – for first though I regard myself sympathetic with the Confucians on this issue, I do not regard myself a Confucian in the “religious” sense; and second, I don’t at all know this issue well enough to be able to hold any solid argument.

    But maybe I am in a better position to explain the “Confucians’ position, given my fluency in Chinese. First to Amod, the petition reported the church to be around 48 meters tall – I am no architect but suppose that would be around at least the same height of a 40 story building – So, yes it must be “visible” given its size and one of the petitions requirements is exactly to have it built in a place far enough that it won’t be “visible” from the Confucian temple…

    That being said, I guess it may be clear to Manyul that this does not sound like an issue of cultural pluralism, at least to me, but how to protect a country’s cultural heritage from dominant foreign invasions…

    Well – an answer to be best of my knowledge, though my knowledge is not much 🙂

    Comment by Huaiyu Wang | December 30, 2010 | Reply

  9. I appreciate the thoughtful response, Huaiyu. And I certainly won’t hold you responsible for Confucian apologetic. However, I think the fear that the Christian church in question represents an invasion of a dominant foreign power is a hollow fear. China’s cultural heritage is nowhere close to being so fragile that it suffers a blow from the mere proximity of a Christian church to the Qufu temple. That strikes me as quite fanciful in the same way as it would to think that the Catholic tradition could suffer a serious blow from the Vatican having to share skyline with a mosque. More convincing would be a scenario in which a very vulnerable culture — a native American one, for example — was to have a shopping mall erected on top of one of its sacred burial grounds. I think as analogies go, that isn’t a very good one for the situation in Qufu.

    “Foreign invasions” also brings up a rather bad memory of China’s past when Buddhism was excoriated, with hyperbolic language, by the movement that brought us Neoconfucianism. Christianity, like Buddhism, can seem foreign from some perspectives and just a part of the culture from others’ — for example, from the perspective of Chinese Christians.

    Comment by Manyul Im | December 30, 2010 | Reply

  10. Thanks for your insightful remarks, Manyul.

    I know what you mean when you described the Chinese culture as “not fragile.” But from another perspective, it could also be regarded as one of the most endangered tradition (esp. the Confucian tradition). One should not forget that the grand-scale cultural and spiritual vandalism throughout the 20th century (much of it orchestrated by the Communist government itself)for which the Confucian tradition was the biggest victim.

    Your reference to the Buddhist history in China was interesting. I think ideological conflicts were often in human history and we might not take too much offense when certain neo-Confucians criticized some aspects of the Buddhist teachings – as long as they were not malicious. I do notice the large scale destruction of Buddhist temples in some part of Chinese history – they were not led by the Confucians though, but a sad outcome of religious conflicts with Daoism.

    Apparently, conflicts could be inevitable between various spiritual traditions and I believe what is crucial is the “Proper management” of concrete issues and proper respect for each tradition. For the current issue, I don’t think the core of the matter has to do with a debate between the “Confucians” and the “Christian” than the proper management of the matter by the local government, whose performance seems to leave much to be desired.

    Comment by Huaiyu Wang | January 2, 2011 | Reply

  11. Please feel free to continue to post comments here, but let me also note that some related discussion has started to take place on the “Confucian Fundamentalism” thread….

    Comment by Steve Angle | January 5, 2011 | Reply


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