Is Chinese culture a religion?

i find many similarities between Chinese culture and what one might consider to be a religion. it seems to be a belief system in itself. there are prescribed ways of thinking and dealing with things. there are customs and celebrations that are rigorously followed. comments.

[quote=“ran the man”]it seems to be a belief system in itself. there are prescribed ways of thinking and dealing with things.[/quote]Yeah. Like people always feel they have to be sarcastic and flippant all the time, and can’t really show their true emotions. And everyone has to have an instant, definite opinion on everything, backed up with pseudo-scientific reasoning; there are no grey areas; there’s no space for quietly withholding judgement.

[quote=“ran the man”]there are customs and celebrations that are rigorously followed. comments.[/quote]Right! Christmas and wedding presents and Auld Lang Syne and turkey and Valentine’s Day.

Oh sorry, wrong culture. Carry on as you were.

joesnide…I love it!

Clear communications require that we distinguish between the meanings of different words, such as ‘religion’ (which involves worship, prayer, and belief in the supernatural) versus terms such as ‘customs’, ‘celebrations’ and ‘belief system’, which are not necessarily religious in nature. To put it another way, the latter three can be part of a religion, or just part of a culture. Just because both culture and religion can have customs and beliefs doesn’t make them synonymous.

[quote=“jdsmith”]joesnide…I love it![/quote] :laughing: I felt like having a little “rant” of my own!

so you can be a ‘rant he-man’ too?

There’ll only ever be one rant he-man. I could never hope to scale those dizzy heights of dudgeon! (At least not online. When I do have a rant, it’s usually just a very English kind of a rant to myself).

I agree with ran the mans premise. And I find it a worthy topic for discussion.

More worthy than a lot of the usual teen-age angst that passes for postings.

But hey…thats just my opinion.

I read that book that Kurt Vonnegut’s son wrote. Better than anything written by Kurt Vonnegut by half a dozen Indonesian train rides.

josax, you are my new idol. In fact, you might even be my new religion.

Is Chinese culture more prescribed in its thinking and actions than western culture? Are customs / celebrations more rigurously followed, or perhaps more blindly followed?

Do you have anything beyond opinion to back up these beliefs? Can you elaborate a little more?

I don’t know enough about the subject to come up with my own comments, but I read something on the Internet (to paraphrase Karen Black, there’s lotsa good things on the Internet) that made sense to me:

[quote=“Wolfram Eberhard”]Confucianism did not become a religion. It was comparable to the later Japanese Shintoism, or to a group of customs among us which we all observe, if we do not want to find ourselves excluded from our community, but which we should never describe as religion. We stand up when the national anthem is played, we give precedency to older people, we erect war memorials and decorate them with flowers, and by these and many other things show our sense of belonging. A similar but much more conscious and much more powerful part was played by Confucianism in the life of the average Chinese, though he was not necessarily interested in philosophical ideas.

While the West has set up the ideal of individualism and is suffering now because it no longer has any ethical system to which individuals voluntarily submit; while for the Indians the social problem consisted in the solving of the question how every man could be enabled to live his life with as little disturbance as possible from his fellow-men, Confucianism solved the problem of how families with groups of hundreds of members could live together in peace and co-operation in a densely populated country. Everyone knew his position in the family and so, in a broader sense, in the state; and this prescribed his rights and duties. We may feel that the rules to which he was subjected were pedantic; but there was no limit to their effectiveness: they reduced to a minimum the friction that always occurs when great masses of people live close together; they gave Chinese society the strength through which it has endured; they gave security to its individuals. China’s first real social crisis after the collapse of feudalism, that is to say, after the fourth or third century B.C., began only in the present century with the collapse of the social order of the gentry and the breakdown of the family system.[/quote]–[url=http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/17695]A History of China (3d ed., 1969), pp. 45-46[/url]

i would say that chinese sayings are their Bible. they look at the world thru those sayings. some of the sayings are misquoted without knowledge of where they came from or who said them, and taken as “gospel”. example:

“ren bu dz sz, tien dzu di mien”

“if people are not selfish, heaven would bow in shame”

this saying was NOT SAID BY A REAL PERSON, but a fictional person, in fact a CRIMINAL, in an ancient novel. of course a criminal would say this. but this has actually become accepted MO for chinese people’s behaviour. they quote it often as justification.but few people can tell you where this saying came from.

if chinese culture is a religion, it is an evil religion that allows for the worst in human behaviour as long as the basic tenants are kept, mainly pious devotion to dead ancestors and parents. nothing is said about cheating or lying. it even claims superior status for it’s members (superiority on the basis of being part of a 5000 year old culture) and exclusion to others (lao wai can never understand us).

does Satan have a grip on the Chinese people? i say yes. satan, AIT, and chung hwa ming gouh. they are the unholy trinity.

[quote=“Vorkosigan”]josax, you are my new idol. In fact, you might even be my new religion.[/quote]Not sure whether to feel flattered or disturbed! :wink:

RTM, I’m glad I didn’t manage to kill your discussion. That wasn’t my intent. In fact I was trying to make a serious point about perception. Our subjective perceptions colour heavily the world we see. Brought up in western cultures, we don’t see that in fact they have the same characteristics you talked about: certain particular ways of thinking and acting; certain customs and traditions. We only seem to notice these things about other cultures.

Of course in some ways the culture in Taiwan is more traditional than that of English-speaking western countries (though some continental European cultures are traditional in similar ways). I think there are good points and bad points to that.

But you only want to focus on the “differentness” of Taiwanese or Chinese culture, then I’ll leave you to it. To a large extent, people see what they’re predisposed to see.

[quote=“ran the man”]if Chinese culture is a religion, it is an evil religion that allows for the worst in human behaviour…

does Satan have a grip on the Chinese people? I say yes.[/quote]

OH, YEAH, AND DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BABY EATING. SATANIC WORSHIPPERS! BABY EATERS! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

understood. so maybe culture itself is/can be a religion? some people are saying that “americanism/patriotism” has ursurped christianity as the new religion in the states. the flag has become a holy entity. president bush is its high priest. rumsfeld was its false prophet before he got sacked.

joesax, are you familiar with ayn rand/objectivism? could you give me your thoughts on her?

[quote=“ran the man”]joesax, are you familiar with ayn rand/objectivism? could you give me your thoughts on her?[/quote]Not familiar, no.

My own views are quite simplistic about these things. I don’t think that the percieved object can really be separated from the perceiver. We all have a tendency to forget this, believing that what we subjectively perceive in any given moment is absolute concrete reality.

But on the other that doesn’t mean that I think that everything is relative. I’m not someone who thinks that people can do whatever they want, regardless of others, and it won’t really matter. I do think there are good actions and bad actions. I’m sure you and I agree on that general principle, though maybe not on some of the details. For example, I don’t think that any one culture has a monopoly on selfishness!

Sounds much the same as Christianity. Dead parents and ancestors is a lot more sensible than some “God” who created everything. Superior status - check. Believe/repent and you’ll go to heaven, otherwise you’re off to hell.

[quote=“cfimages”][quote=“ran the man”]

if Chinese culture is a religion, it is an evil religion that allows for the worst in human behaviour as long as the basic tenants are kept, mainly pious devotion to dead ancestors and parents. nothing is said about cheating or lying. it even claims superior status for it’s members (superiority on the basis of being part of a 5000 year old culture) and exclusion to others (lao wai can never understand us).

[/quote]

Sounds much the same as Christianity. Dead parents and ancestors is a lot more sensible than some “God” who created everything. Superior status - check. Believe/repent and you’ll go to heaven, otherwise you’re off to hell.[/quote]IMO…a short-sighted and incomplete example.
HOWEVER…it is good in bringing in the ‘Ancestor Worship’ aspect of the Chinese culture.(also a common aspect of other Asian cultures.)

A question - Is the Ancestor Worship used to ask the deceased Ancestor to intercede directly in helping things on the earthly plane or is the Ancestor Worship done to ask the Ancestor to bring the petition for help to the ‘Gods/God’ in residence where the Ancestor finds their self for ‘Them’ to intercede on behalf of the earth bound petitioner?

I’ve received mixed answers when asking this Q. Not really sure if there is a solid answer to this.It may vary according to the person doing the asking.

what i’m getting at is, maybe it’s possible for one culture to be morally worse than another?

the Chinese believe by and large that it is okay to lie and cheat in business. so may i say that on THIS ISSUE, Chinese culture is an immoral culture?

the dangers i see from “the chinese century” are as follows:

  1. spoiling of children- generation of selfish tyrants
  2. racial superiority complex with group think (holocaust 2?)
  3. idolatry and mysticism
  4. ammoralism in regards to monetary gain
  5. selfish disregard for the environemnt and ecology
  6. religious practices that mar the environment

if this century is the chinese century, the world is screwed. once every person in china can drive a car, we might as well prepare for greenhouse gas hell.