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The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China Paperback – December 18, 2016
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About the Author
Joann is a consultant, trainer, and teacher who focuses on helping people prepare for effective cross-cultural living. She went to China in 1984 to teach English for one year, but ended up staying for 28 years. During her time in China, she wore many hats: English teacher, Chinese language student, educational program director, and cross-cultural trainer. She has also taught Chinese language and history at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN), Wheaton College (IL), and Taylor University (IN). She currently makes her home in Minnesota, and serves as the Senior Vice-President of ChinaSource.
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Top Customer Reviews
In her book she shares her discoveries with the reader as she visits in other parts of China. The bells' inscriptions give the date and location they were made. Aligned with these discoveries we learn something about Chinese history, both about the country as well as Christianity and the Church in China. The steeple bells look down upon decades of China's turbulent history and Joann, who lived in China 28 years, shares parts of that history with the reader. Her command of Mandarin Chinese, her warm relationship with her Chinese colleagues and those she met along the way clearly indicate her unique advantage in searching out the story of the bells she discovered.
Having known Joann from her birth I had problem visualizing her climbing the narrow and sometimes rickety stairs leading to the steeples that housed the bells. Her adventures kept me interested all the way through the pages of this special book. (Bettie Rose Addleton)
Pittman is clearly a historian, a cultural maestro, and a China expert. What’s more, she is very funny, and this comes through in the book. Referring to the communist party’s ability to mobilize community members to keep an eye on people’s coming and going during politically sensitive times, Pittman writes in reference to 2012 Communist Party Congress meetings, “Nothing was being left to chance. Everyone was mobilized to maintain stability and social order. Neighborhood grannies were deputized to keep an eye on the comings and goings in the hutongs, the small alleyways that make up the old city.” Deputizing neighborhood grannies, now that’s funny! Describing the complexity of the Chinese language, Pittman writes, “When I was studying Chinese I was told that I would be able to read a Chinese newspaper when I had learned 2000 characters. Ultimately, when I hit that mark and opened up a newspaper, it seemed to me as if I had learned the wrong 2000!” Hilarious!
When describing her visit to the panda center in Sichuan, she made the astute observation, “The irony was not lost on us that, despite the hardships of history, it is not the church that is endangered, but the pandas.” And this gets to the heart of this charming little book. Using her witty and upbeat style, Pittman brings together the cords of history, culture, and Christian missions, and ties them into a beautiful braid, that leaves one feeling informed and inspired. It is a unique way in which to describe the church in China and how it has come to be. I highly recommend this delightful 100-page book.
By Mark Strand