Here is the Talk I gave!
Brand New Book: TAI CHI, BAGUAZHANG AND THE GOLDEN ELIXIR, Internal Martial Arts Before the Boxer Uprising. By Scott Park Phillips. Paper ($30.00), Digital ($9.99)
Also buy: Possible Origins, A Cultural History of Chinese Martial Arts, Theater and Religion, (2016) By Scott Park Phillips. Paper ($18.95), Digital ($9.99)
Daodejing Online Open for New Members - Click for Info: Next meeting, Sunday May 19th, 8am to 10am (MT) (5/19, 6/16, 7/14, 8/18)
Portland, OR—June 1-2 PURE ANIMAL Workshop
Los Angles: 5th International Martial Arts Studies Conference (May 23rd-24th)
Los Angles: 13th International Daoist Studies Conference (June 20th-23rd)
Here is the Talk I gave!
Some of the conclusions derived from the serious study of Chinese popular culture in the postwar decades are relevant to our understanding of the embeddedness of Boxer religious experience in... [Northern Chinese] culture. One such conclusion is that, at the village level, the sharp boundaries between the "secular" and the "sacred," to which modern Westerners are accustomed, simply did not exist. The gods of popular religion were everywhere and "ordinary people were in constant contact" with them. These gods were powerful (some, to be sure, more than others), but they were also very close and accessible. People depended on them for protection and assistance in time of need. But when they failed to perform their responsibilities adequately, ordinary human beings could request that they be punished by their superiors. Or they could punish them themselves. "If the god does not show signs of appreciation of the need of rain," Arthur Smith wrote toward the end of the nineteenth century, "he may be taken out into the hot sun and left there to broil, as a hint to wake up and do his duty." This "everydayness" of the gods of Chinese popular religion and the casual, matter-of-fact attitude Chinese typically displayed toward their deities doubtless contributed to the widespread view among Westerners, both in the late imperial period and after, that the Chinese were not an especially religious people. It would be more accurate, I believe to describe the fabric of Chinese social and cultural life as being permeated through and through with religious beliefs and practices.
But not always with the same degree of intensity and certainly not with equal discernibleness in all settings. This is another facet of Chinese popular religion that, because it does not entirely square with the expectations of Western observers, has occasioned a certain amount of confusion and perplexity. Sometimes religion appears to recede into the shadows and to be largely, if not altogether, absent from individual Chinese consciousness. But at other times it exercises dominion over virtually everything in sight. Thus, the martial arts, healing practices, and the heroes of popular literature and opera often inhabit a space in Chinese culture that seems unambiguously "secular." But it is not at all unusual, as clearly suggested in the accounts of Boxer spirit possession transcribed at the beginning of this chapter, for these selfsame phenomena to be incorporated into a fully religious framework of meaning.
A place to train and learn about traditional Chinese martial arts, which are a form of religious theater combined with martial skills.