- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne (September 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062078461
- ISBN-13: 978-0062078469
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 44 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China Hardcover – September 13, 2011
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“Liao’s coverage of Christians allows truth to shine in the darkness. That’s the beauty of his writings.” (Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner)
“There is the authorized version of life in China propagated by the Communist Party, and then there is the unauthorized version. Liao Yiwu is one of the foremost authors of the latter, for which he has paid a steep price.” (Wall Street Journal)
“God Is Red is the most wonderfully surprising report on the church in China I’ve seen, and Liao Yiwu is the best literary guide since Vergil.” (John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture)
“A subtle and sober account by one of the foremost banned writers of contemporary China. An irresistible read, pulsating with humanity.” (Lian Xi, author of Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China)
“It is very difficult to read Liao Yiwu’s work without being constantly reminded of Christian struggles in the ancient Roman Empire. . . . Who can tell how the story will play out this time round?” (Philip Jenkins, author of Jesus Wars)
“Beginning with a 100-year-old nun and ending with a recovering slacker, . . . the voices of individual believers are lively and immediate. . . . Though Liao’s subjects claim to have no interest in politics, the question of political change in China is the subtext .” (Wall Street Journal)
“This is a mesmerizing and amazing tale of courage. Author Liao Yiwu’s story, covering even the recent past, is especially powerful because he is not himself a Christian. The reporting is brilliant and the perspective dazzling.” (David Aikman, author of Jesus in Beijing)
“The author, himself an object of intermittent government harassment, is a deft interviewer. Not a believer himself, Liao empathizes with the Christians he encounters. These portraits of faithful Christians are beautifully drawn, neither triumphalist nor maudlin. Suffering, but also resilience and hope, are the common lot of these believers.” (Daniel Bays, author of Christianity in China)
“The heartbreaking tales of persecution and spiritual fervor speak for themselves.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“No writer does better than Liao Yiwu in revealing the texture of daily life for ordinary people in China. His characters walk off the page and into your heart. . . . Humanity oozes from every vignette, and every detail rings true.” (Perry Link, Professor emeritus, East Asian Studies, Princeton University)
From the Back Cover
When journalist Liao Yiwu first stumbled upon a vibrant Christian community in the officially secular China, he knew little about Christianity. In fact, he'd been taught that religion was evil, and that those who believed in it were deluded, cultists, or imperialist spies. But as a writer whose work has been banned in China and has even landed him in jail, Liao felt a kinship with Chinese Christians in their unwavering commitment to the freedom of expression and to finding meaning in a tumultuous society.
Unwilling to let his nation lose memory of its past or deny its present, Liao set out to document the untold stories of brave believers whose totalitarian government could not break their faith in God, including:
- The over-100-year-old nun who persevered in spite of beatings, famine, and decades of physical labor, and still fights for the rightful return of church land seized by the government
- The surgeon who gave up a lucrative Communist hospital administrator position to treat villagers for free in the remote, mountainous regions of southwestern China
- The Protestant minister, now memorialized in London's Westminster Abbey, who was executed during the Cultural Revolution as "an incorrigible counterrevolutionary"
This ultimately triumphant tale of a vibrant church thriving against all odds serves as both a powerful conversation about politics and spirituality and a moving tribute to China's valiant shepherds of faith, who prove that a totalitarian government cannot control what is in people's hearts.
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The brutality of Communist China especially under Mao towards Christianity was gut wrenching. The stupidity of the accepting common person and how easily led they are to perform public condemnation towards non government sanctioned persons generated both disappointment and anger.
Written by a non-Christian, this book provides an eyewitness account of the realities of life under a police State. Many layers of truth lie within its chapters. Truth you will not get from either the Chinese government nor the mainstream Western media.
Highly recommended if you are interested in an honest account of what it means to be not only a Christian living under brutal oppression, but what Communism is really like when it is applied and enforced. Scary but a warning to the wise. If you have an open and curious mind about the realities of religion under a Godless regime read this book.
That being said, this is written by a man who with an artists eye and heart, Liao YiWu graciously and accurately records some extremely unique tales. The author isn't himself a Christian, but he approaches these interviews, and these stories with a great deal of care and compassion.
While each narrative is mostly independent and separate, and could really be placed into any order, there are two general categories that these short interviews could be placed. The bulk of the interviews are of the last generation of Elderly Christians who remember the foreign missionaries, and found (and kept) their faith before 1949. Many of these are from people living in the physical (and spiritual) fringe of China, in the mountains of Yunnan province. For these interviews, i am profoundly grateful to the author. Many of these individuals will be gone (and some have actually passed away in between the recordings and the publishing of the book)soon, and honestly it is not a topic that outside of the "underground" church, many people in China are eager to record much less listen to.
The other group of Interviewees are for the most part younger, and have a different kind of story to tell. Typically their narrative is more about finding meaning in an empty post-communist society. while these are also enlightening, especially to those who wonder about modern China, the interviews that most people will focus on are the ones that feature the older generation.
If you are interested in how Christianity survived in China post-1949, then this is a good record of that suffering. If you, for some reason, are interested in the stories of Missionaries in China pre-revolution, then this is a must-read. There were a lot of remarkable foreigners living in China before the revolution, trying to convert people, as well as to help develop a modern China, and these are the stories of some of the fruits of their labor.
There are similarities between the stories, some of which are not a surprise such as the fierce indoctrination campaigns and the brutality of the regime. But I was intrigued by the random, capricious and even disorganized nature of the regime and also the spirit of open defiance the oppressed individuals demonstrated. Other accounts I have read portrayed the regime as a monolithic entity, and the repressed individuals cowering in the shadows to express themselves. Many of the stories are the opposite of that. The individuals are strong and portray the regime as not just evil, but even downright ridiculous.
My only improvement would be for the interviewer to have tied up a few loose ends, made it clearer in which year the interview occured and to have provided a brief background on the region and political history. But all in all, the interviews he elicits are terrific, and the epilogues that provide updates on the individuals was a very nice touch. A good read, very thought provoking.