Do Not Confuse Confucius with Santa Claus... But Why Not?
In a way, China is already sponsoring the global X-mas fete. If the Chinese really wanted, they could make Christmas in their own image.
Dr. Thorsten J. Pattberg (裴德思 Pei Desi) is a German writer, linguist, and cultural critic.\r\n
He attended Edinburgh University, Fudan University, Tokyo University, and Harvard University, and earned his doctorate degree from The Institute of World Literature at Peking University. He studied under the guiding stars of Ji Xianlin, Gu Zhengkun, and Tu Weiming, whom he considers his spiritual masters.
Dr. Pattberg is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo; and a former Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Peking University. He is the author of four monographs 'The East-West dichotomy,' 'Shengren,' 'Holy Confucius,' and 'Inside Peking University,' and some of his representative articles are 'Language hegemony – It’s shengren, stupid!,' 'Long into the West’s dragon business,' 'China: Lost in Translation,' and 'The end of translation.'
Ding dang, ding ding dang…
THE CHRISTMAS that we used to know was essentially a Pagan tradition taken by Christianity and exploited by Capitalism. The Christmas tree is clearly a pagan element; Saint Nicholas is a biblical saint; and the gift-giving culture is pure commercialism. So what’s in it for China and Confucianism?
China doesn't officially celebrate Christmas, although Confucianism has always been favorably compared to Christianity: Confucius is a shengren; The Bible is shengjing; Christmas in China is shengdanjie, and so on.
A Christmas with Chinese Characteristics?
Historically, many Western scholars still regard Confucius as a (biblical) “saint.” Master Kong is known as a ‘Heiliger’ (a holy man) in the German-speaking world. (The Germans should know – they are the descendants of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.) So, why doesn't Saint Confucius team up with his colleague Saint Nicholas (alias Santa Claus) and create a ‘Christmas with Chinese Characteristics’?
“The CHINESE nation was not long after the flood […] This being so, it must necessarily follow that the first inhabitants of CHINA had likewise the true knowledge of GOD and of the creation of the world.” –Randal Taylor, 1691
Needless to say, China is the biggest manufacturer of toys and Christmas decoration, largely for export to the West. So, in a way, China is already sponsoring the global X-mas fete. If the Chinese really wanted, they could make Christmas in their own image. Master Confucius was there first, of course. He lived long before Jesus Christ. All China has to do is to rejuvenate its old affinity with the European mission - and even create some kind of benign competition for the future of Chinese Christmas.
Superpowers Do Have Super Powers, No?
Now, you may treat rujia de shengdanjie or "Confucian Christmas" as a bad joke and dismiss the seriousness of it. But mind you, the Christmas celebrated in the US is already a very different one from its European original. That’s because superpowers do use their global influence to their advantage, and with China slowly turning into the world’s largest economy, Chinese elements are going to influence the way we celebrate global festivals anyway.
So while in awe, why not start in small steps, say, by decorating your Christmas tree with holly tianlongs (heavenly dragons), or by buying lovely chocolate terracotta warriors, or even a white-chocolate Confucius? I’ll buy one, first thing in 2014. Shangdanjie kuai-le!
Image credit: Elwynn/Shutterstock.com
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- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
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Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
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