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December 23rd, 2010
04:33 PM ET

Christmas blossoms in China

Editors note: "Jaime's China" is a weekly column about Chinese society and politics. Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and served as TIME Magazine's Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000).

Inside Beijing's Immaculate Conception Cathedral more than 1,000 parishioners gather to say mass.

A young Chinese priest conducts the service, which is punctuated by hymns and Christmas carols sung by a choir. The priest enjoins the congregation to "pray for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and the Chinese bishops."

It is a stark change from Chairman Mao's time in the 1960s and '70s, when religion was banned in China as the "opiate of the people" and Christmas was taboo.

In the early 1980s, years after Mao died, the government began loosening its religious restrictions. Back then, some Catholic friends and I would bike to Immaculate Conception for midnight mass. At the gate, wary church officials screened people who wished to enter.

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: China

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. regertz

    Elderly? Those ladies? Anyway, right on girls, you look great.

    December 24, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  2. shamgar50

    Like the Chinese don't have enough problems. If China were a christian nation, they'd have twice the population, and be on the verge of collapse.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
    • Gary

      shamgar50, correct!!! but China is really celebrating all the jobs from U.S.A. soaring into their country.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • David Johnson

      @shamgar50

      You said: " If China were a christian nation, they'd have twice the population, and be on the verge of collapse"

      Ummm... Not if they looked like the girls in the picture.

      Remember: Virgin wool comes from ugly sheep.

      Ugly is the best birth control a girl can have.

      Just sayin' – anybody remember her?

      December 24, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  3. Reality

    Saving Christians is quite easy:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    December 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • ghorwood

      Interesting insights into the resurrection. reality states that we are continuous, but not necessarily aware of such. you could wake up dead and not even know it. I see dead people. there is no heaven or hell. just the continuum. Or maybe you are just DEAD, and feed the frigging worms. This would mean that your whole life has been a waste of time, and your body is now just useless worm food. What would be wrong with that? Why can't we admit that we are/mean NOTHING! What is wrong with being a part of the "continuum" of nature, the ruler of all things natural, and discharging your useless, meaningless self into the dirt?! I say HOO-RAH! dirt!

      December 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.