This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Travels in China

It’s been a while since I’ve done a real blog post. Life’s been a bit out of control, I’m afraid. I’ll continue posting links to articles, but I thought I’d begin a series of short reports based on a trip I took recently to China.

I went under the auspices of the America China Civic Exchange (ACCE). This is an organization that fosters cooperative ventures between American and Chinese individuals and institutions. I was there through a connection with Bill Redmond, a former congressman from New Mexico and a graduate of the Centurions program. My role was to help lay the groundwork for a worldview training program in China. That was only a small part of the trip, but I was able to participate and sometimes contribute to meetings on a wide range of other subjects as well.

How wide a range? We spoke with the woman who is in charge of developing a unified e-commerce system for all of China. We negotiated with a state-run television station for the first joint US-China television series, surrounding the building of the transcontinental railroad. We did a lot of meetings surrounding various ventures of Lincoln Christian University, including talking about online courses, translating textbooks into Chinese, setting up exchanges, even looking into the possibility of a branch campus in China. We spoke to people about hospice care and special education. We met with house church leaders and Christian publishers. We spent an afternoon at a school that produces music ministers for both the government run Three Self churches and the house churches. And that’s not even everything.

It was pretty intense.

I’ll write about some of the meetings and the things I learned about China in later posts, but for now, I wanted to make two general observations about China. First, everything you’ve heard about the air pollution is true. Everywhere we went, from the Great Wall and Beijing to Guangzhou in southern China, there was dense smog. The only sunny day we had was after a rainstorm had cleared the air; the next day, though, it was back to smog. I got a cough almost from the time I arrived, and it is only going away now, a week after I got home.

Second, driving anywhere in China is like being in a slow motion action movie. I’ve seen some crazy driving before—Italy comes to mind here—but the Chinese have got them beat. Lanes are suggestions at best; even driving on the right hand side of the road is a suggestion at times. And all this is with cars, trucks, buses, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycle-rickshaws, handcarts, etc., all vying for space on the road. I was in buses that did K-turns at major intersections. And despite this, there were almost no accidents that we saw, and none of them major.

Akira Kurosawa did a movie called Ran. It’s essentially King Lear set in feudal Japan. At one point, there was an enormous and graphic battle, but all the sounds were replaced by classical music. It was intentionally jarring and disturbing. In Wenzhou, where the school for music ministers was located, I was in the front seat of the car of one of the instructors there, travelling across the city to the Brandenburg Concertos. I couldn’t help but think of the battle scene in Ran.