I was in China 19-27 May, attending a major conference in Jining, the Second Nishan Forum on World Civilizations, and with only occasional access to the internet. So, I haven’t been able to respond to comments or offer any posting on this blog site till today. This was my third visit to China, and my second invitation to take part in the Nishan Forum events, sponsored by a committee that includes representatives of Shandong Province, the central Chinese government, several universities, and other bodies. I’m very grateful to be given these opportunities to visit that fascinating nation, and to engage with other scholars on questions about China and the world, and about the internal dynamics of China as well. The conference presenters included a number of Chinese scholars (many of them specializing in Confucian studies) and a much smaller number of others specializing in Christianity.
After the conference, with my Edinburgh colleague, Professor S.J. Brown, I went to Beijing for a couple of days, as guest of Renmin University. In March this year, Renmin University and the University of Edinburgh signed an agreement that calls for developing such things as staff and student exchanges, and perhaps collaborative research projects. The time in Beijing included some site-seeing, the highlights being a few hours in the Forbidden City, and also a visit to the Temple of Heaven.
Chinese people we met were hospitable, cordial, and eager to get to know us. The university students we met were bright, articulate and were all doing advanced studies in literature, philosophy and religious thought. Interest in the academic study of religion, including study of the Bible and early Christianity remains very strong, with courses and programmes in a number of Chinese universities, among which Renmin University is prominent.
I’m just back, recovering from the long flight, and sorting out my impressions again. So, I don’t have anything profound or particularly noteworthy to say at this point. Now that I’m back home, I will hope to post again on some of the things I’ve been writing and reading.