I have read much of his work, he writes highly academic stuff about Chinese religion and this book is no exception. It is a necessary update to much of his work because of the recent publications of Mark Meulenbeld’s Demonic Warfare (which I reviewed for the first issue of Martial Arts Studies Journal). I am only 25 pages in to Barend ter Haar’s book, but since the free give away is for only a limited time, I thought I would give my readers a heads up.
I am both delighted and disappointed. It is a great discussion, but I’m afraid that outside of religious studies, people will not be able to follow it. It requires too much specialized knowledge. In a way that is great for me, because much of the material is covered in my book for the general reader. What disappoints me is that in the introduction he decides to dodge martial arts. This another example of the YMCA Consensus ruining everything, it has been going on for too long. In the intro he even acknowledges the problem from the religious scholar point of view. He refers to the work of David Palmer and Vincent Goossaert who have pioneered explaining the imposition of the Christian Secular Normative Model on Chinese peoples ability to think about religion, and how that has affected scholarship in general. But the subject of this book is violence, so it is truly sad that he would dodge discussing martial arts. But again, that is a great reason for people to read my book.
Barend ter Haar does refer to Nezha’s role in Daoist martial rituals, which is exciting, but he calls him Third Prince Li, with no other reference. Which is a good example of why people may find his work difficult to follow. Anyway, I am enjoying it. Check it out.