For a Christian, divorce was just not something that was supposed to happen, in Ou Yang’s mind, because God is the mutual idol and neither party should be subject to question, apart from their loyalty to God. But, unfortunately, they are not God; they are humans, people who have been trying to live up to God but will never be God himself. Even though no one can be the invented God, his qualities have always been there to encourage believers to exceed human intelligence and abilities, which have been constantly subjected to interference and hindered by both obvious and hidden factors. Nevertheless, His qualities have helped at least those who truly believe in Him, and the light of God has provided guidance for their short, confused, and miserable journeys.
Elizabeth’s husband Jonas Larson was tired of the United States in the late 1980’s. His life there seemed like it was starting to reach a dead end. He taught in a high school full of young men and women, the majority of whom seemed unwilling to learn anything more than just the bare minimum required to pass their exams. This modern world had become a place where the average person just dragged themselves through their petty worm’s existence and slogged along with their fish’s pleasure, and no dreams. Quite a few people had left Christianity. Some had been attracted by Asian wisdom, feeling very cool with their knowledge of “Taiji” and “Gongfu,” and the rest lived happily ever after without any set beliefs. They set their feet on the grand path of losing an ability of understanding a completely incomparable thinking system that they had never truly gained, with its power of emancipation for creation, invention, and wellbeing. For most western people, renouncing their Christianity was probably a way to get back into the system via other doors and regain its values in a big reset of conscience.
Maybe the ends justify the means. And yes, the unique language of belief in different vernacular forms is disappearing, the churches are closing, since it seems that our purposes are different now and our way of life is changing. Martin Luther could translate anything, yet he could not go farther than just providing an opportunity. Montreal, where Ou Yang and Ge Wen lived, was the North American city with the most Catholic Churches, where “You can’t throw a stone without hitting a church*,” but saw half of those churches close over the past 40 years.
The US seemed intelligent enough to survive this “Quiet Revolution” that happened in Quebec and some European countries started in the 1960’s. This “Revolution” in Quebec shut the Catholic Church out from politics and people’s personal lives completely, giving freedom back to the people who relied on the system which was established with faith for fulfill His good intentions. It is appalling how confident in our conscience we can become, and how boldly we have grown to trust in our human nature and abilities. It seems that we no longer need better, more challenging goals, that wellbeing can be achieved purely with the scientific mind.
No matter how intelligent the USA had become, the world was changing. Besides the many charming technical gadgets, there was something else that Jonas did not like. Maybe Jonas knew that belief would go after ambition, either for improvement or power, and that it would favor a place like China; or that it is only necessary for the people that need it as confirmation of success and supremacy, or for some people in miseries. Maybe he should agree that the best thing in the world only belongs to people with different visions, the kind that could not be taught in ordinary schools with traditional language. There has always been a hidden school, taught in a different language for people with different visions. This school has always made more of a difference in the classification of people than any other type of schooling and their diplomas. There is no diploma to measure the depth achieved by thinking.
Education is all about enlightening ourselves and evolving into conscious beings, so that we can keep calm and balanced through difficult times and keep the wisdom of the world among changes of values and styles. Christianity, in western cultures, has achieved its primary purpose of lifting humans above their ignorance about themselves and the scary world around them, full of misery and threats to their early existence and development. Unfortunately, part of it slowly became an obstacle to the questioning of the truth about the universe and to the progression of human thinking. Some Christian believers and many others began to question and blame God instead of questioning their own minds, although their brains could be just as infinite and almighty if they were used together with a proper thinking system.
Understanding the Bible is a question of classification of genre. It is not a documentary based on facts that could be proven, it is more like a fable with hidden meanings, a fiction with some truths and many experiments with the use of symbols in an attempt to give support and console the scared and miserable masses that were in great need of comprehension and compassion. It is hard to eliminate what Christianity has done as an early form of education just because some people, institutions, or nations have been using it for their own ungodly purposes.
Nonetheless, the wonders of the universe and the shapelessness of wisdom have made The Institutions, any institution, instantly obscure, incomplete and in inevitable default. Such is also the fate of men and women: curious but stubborn, intelligent but dumb, courageous but cowardly, inventive but conventional, diligent but lazy. But most of all, at times too passionate and ambitious to be against their own God’s will, but too cool and detached as Daoism and Buddhism out there in the “emptiness,” far from our little people’s hearts that will always need warmth to survive and shoulders to cry on.
Humans have tried many ways to reach for their gods, including adherence to naturally impaired institutions run by a mix of both enlightened and evil men. Yet, some little minds were able to break through the thick walls of the Institutions and went outside for a “better” view of the world, a sort of inversion of the Christian God sending his son Jesus to break though the ignorance, to be patient, and to include the totality of man, and even to die for his love of mankind.
Jonas was bored with teaching. He was not sure what he wanted to teach anymore, because he was no longer convinced that most of his students loved what he taught. They lacked discipline. They felt free to put their legs up on their desks and chew gum while talking to him. He felt that the United States was becoming a different country, a country that was turning away from his God and the God of Americans, as it slid into a Kingdom of Freedom to disrespect and be ignorant. He felt that the nation was getting old and its youth were turning themselves into mute donkeys with no dreams, goals beyond basic necessity, or spirit, and who had the tendency of staying with their parents long after their age of independence.
As his ancestors had moved to America from Sweden, Jonas had an adventurous spirit, and he began to feel the pull of China. He wanted to get out from US, which he felt had already started its decline from the world’s greatest superpower in politics, economy, culture, and spiritual status. His first teaching experience had been in Xi’An in 1990, and it had persuaded him to go back again after spending a few years teaching in Singapore and Malaysia, and he spent a few years there following 1996.
He liked Chinese students, really loved them for their sponge-like minds, always absorbing knowledge, and the hungry open pores on every inch of their skin. He was happy to answer their endless, child-like questions. He loved to stay in China where his body was energized, his soul revived, and his spirit nurtured by the willingness and curiosity of the students of this “young” nation.
* Mark Twain‘s Description of Montreal, Canada
To Be Continued…