Supporting Smarts Everywhere

“Israel to host ‘genius camp’ for aspiring scientists”
Size Doesn’t Matter
August 16, 2012

Israel will be bringing together 250 top young scientists from around Asia at the Asian Science Camp at the end of August.

Great to see Israel building these kinds of relationships, but more important it is great to see that somebody is doing all they can to prevent science in Asia from devolving into nationalist silos.

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Is China in a Spiritual Crisis?

An interesting article in the BBC Magazine today talks about the matter of the growing number of Chinese who are turning to faith. The story echoes many points I have made here, so it is worth quoting at length.

What must unsettle the authorities most is the reason why so many are turning to the churches.

I heard people talking again and again of a “spiritual crisis” in China – a phrase that has even been used by the Premier Wen Jiao Bao. The old have seen the old certainties of Marxism-Leninism transmute into the most visceral capitalist society on earth.

For the young, in the stampede to get rich, trust in institutions, between individuals, between the generations, is breaking down.

As one of China’s most eminent philosophers of religion – Professor He Guanghu, at Renmin University in Beijing put it to me: “The worship of Mammon… has become many people’s life purpose.

“I think it is very natural that many other people will not be satisfied… will seek some meaning for their lives so that when Christianity falls into their lives, they will seize it very tightly.”

via BBC News – Christians in China: Is the country in spiritual crisis?.

I cannot disagree. What it means, though, is that the Party is going to have to come to an accommodation with religion in the same way it did with capital.

What the story tactfully avoided was telltale stories about the slow disintegration of ethics and morality in China. While those would have been illustrative and entertaining, such apocrypha merely serve to remind us that ethical rot and moral decline are not limited to a single society, but are, indeed, pervasive.

The Sino-Hebraic Connection

Adam Daniel Mezei asks via Twitter:

What’s your read on the connections between Chinese and Jews. Beyond obvious factors, what do you think our connections are?

After wondering aloud if I could answer that in 140 characters, I though about it and gave him this precis of an answer.

I think Chinese and Jews look each other in the eye and see something comforting and familiar. It comes not necessarily from a shared set of values, but of common experience: each is the ancient and seminal culture of a civilization, has endured unspeakable hardship/persecution, and each has emerged from the crucible of history with great depth beneath the hardened exterior shared by all survivors.

Therein, I believe, lies the heart of the mutual respect and admiration – and in my household affection – between the two great cultures.

Thoughts?