Taoist/Hindu Christianity

For Chinese and Indians in Singapore, the main deities worshiped are Mazu (Taoist), Guanyin (Buddhist) and Murugan (Hindu) and their worship is deeply ingrained in our culture even when we convert to Christianity. 


Mazu and Guanyin

Mazu is the goddess of protection at sea and Guanyin is the goddess of mercy, both aspects of the feminine ideal, the motherly figure. Catholics might think of it as Mother Mary and Protestants as the Holy Spirit, and both are necessarily true, but i like to think about the Christian Feminine ideal as the Church, whom the Spirit moves through and is personified by Mother Mary.

We think of the world like the sea, it sustains us with food, being a southern fishing people, but we somehow as a culture agreed that it is also our greatest danger, which we need both protection and mercy from. Protection suggesting that it cannot be reasoned with and mercy suggesting that it can. Life can be reasoned with sometimes and to seek mercy ensures our survival and sometimes it cant be reasoned with and you just need someone who has mastered life to protect you from it.

As Christians, the Chinese people will then naturally look to the Church as our sources of both protection and mercy, an institution set up by God, his holy bride and the mother of us all, that has through her discipline and sacrifice mastered life before us and us both our greatest source of social and moral sustenance and danger. The Chinese people are particularly sensitive to the state of our religious communities and always hold in our minds the ideal of the great mother archetype, going to great lengths to maintain and develop our fellowship.


Murugan

Murugan is the god of youth, beauty and war, the picture of a man in his prime, the vedic equivalent to the god Mars or Thor, or the Chinese Weituo Pusa. These are aspects of God the Son, the Word of God who reveals himself in the liturgy of the Word and Eucharist.

So less focus on the people and more on the preaching and ritual of worship. Christ the King is the warrior that conquers the hearts of men, until his enemies are his footstool; the almighty creator and sustainer of all things. It is in accurately portraying and acting out these aspects in worship that the indians are inspired to face life as if it were a war for life against death; to bring the nations under his law and teachings and peace with God and mankind.

It is this youthful zeal that creates real beauty in this world. They are sensitive to the accuracy of the gospel proclamation in every aspect of worship and this striving for excellence in it is what brings them together to fight sin and death.


Why Bother?

I think it is in understanding our ethnic roots that allows us to really draw the strength to live a truly good Christian life, just using the weight and momentum of our culture alone. It also allows us to see where our lives may be lacking and what other cultures have in their favour.

I think that having Taoism and Hinduism intact for us is really a hidden benefit to us Christians, because it allows us to understand and build on the cultural knowledge of our ancestors that we integrated into as children, rather than have to build our faith from scratch, as if the spirit and knowledge of God is totally foreign to us.

I see Taoist and Hindu practices more like a veneration of personified attributes of God or our common historical ethnic heroes who have come close to demonstrating the heart of God, whom we worship in Jesus Christ, and is of immense value to me in my understanding of the Gospel.

You have to remember that ethnic religions are defined not by their books and moral teachings, but by the practices and traditions which the books attempt to explain. Christians and Buddhists have it the other way around where our practices are an attempt to explain our books. Sometimes the two go together very nicely, so while we may reject certain teachings of Buddha, Lao Zi and Confucious, their practices still hold value in dramatising the Gospel for us as a culture.

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