China will construct a “Chinese Christian theology” suitable for the country, state media reported on Thursday, as both the number of believers and tensions with the authorities are on the rise.
China has between 23 million and 40 million Protestants, accounting for 1.7 to 2.9 per cent of the total population, the state-run China Daily said, citing figures given at a seminar in Shanghai.
About 500,000 people are baptised as Protestants every year, it added.
“Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country’s religious policy,” the paper quoted Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, as saying.
“The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture.”
China’s ruling Communist Party is officially atheistic and keeps a tight grip on religion for fear it could challenge its grip on power. It requires believers to worship in places approved by the state and under government supervision.
I am not sure why the Chinese government is going through all of this effort. Â A look at church history in the west will show that the church itself will create a Christianity compatible itâ€™s surrounding culture all by itself
The cityâ€™s parklets guidebook [PDF], authored by Chasan and released in February, reads kind of revolutionary, at least so far as city infrastructure goes. With explicit goals of encouraging non-motorized transportation, eco-friendly design, and reshaping neighborhood interaction, these teeny parklets pack a big political punch.
â€œIn terms of changing the dialog about what the public realm can be, I think itâ€™s been really successful, both with the public and within the city bureaucracy itself,â€ says Chasan, who has headed up the program for two and a half years. â€œWhen you park your car on the street, youâ€™re essentially privatizing a public space. So when you turn it into something for everyone, it becomes a very literal metaphor.â€
Even when they take over that private parking spot, parklets still straddle an odd private-public line. Each one is sponsored and bankrolled by a local entity, most often a business, and can cost about $20,000-30,000 â€” a significant investment for what is truly a public space. Those parklets outside coffee shops and cafes may seem like an extension of the restaurant that ponied up that cash, but theyâ€™re really not. The city requires that parklets look and feel public and separate from the sponsoring business.
â€œSometimes people get upset if they feel like the parklet feels private, like it doesnâ€™t live up to the civic ideals of the program,â€ says Chasan. â€œLike â€˜This is supposed to be for everybody and it doesnâ€™t feel like itâ€™s for everybody.â€™ They should get upset about that if thatâ€™s the case.â€
One of my favourite places in Saskatoon was the deck at City Perk (I saw “was” because it is under construction) which was owned by City Perk but seemed like a town square in the heart of City Park. Â Along the thinking, I am always surprised that more churches (who have parking and buildings that are under utilized) don’t do this in urban areas. Â I have always thought that creating community amenities for the neighbourhood was a great idea whether you are a business or a non-profit. Â Sadly too many of these spaces are created but behind a locked fence and the opportunity is lost.