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Editor: John Lagerwey
From the fifth century BC to the present and dealing with the Three Teachings (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) as well as popular religion, this nine-volume Early and Modern Chinese Religion explores key ideas and events in four periods of paradigm shift in the intertwined histories of Chinese religion, politics, and culture. It shows how, in the Chinese church-state, elite processes of rationalization, interiorization, and secularization are at work in every period of major change and how popular religion gradually emerges to a position of dominance by means of a long history of at once resisting, adapting to, and collaborating with elite-driven change. Topics covered include ritual, scripture, philosophy, state policy, medicine, sacred geography, gender, and the economy.
Author: John Lagerwey
From the fifth century BC to the present and dealing with the Three Teachings (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) as well as popular religion, this introduction to the eight-volume Early and Modern Chinese Religion explores key ideas and events in four periods of paradigm shift in the intertwined histories of Chinese religion, politics, and culture. It shows how, in the Chinese church-state, elite processes of rationalization, interiorization, and secularization are at work in every period of major change and how popular religion gradually emerges to a position of dominance by means of a long history of at once resisting, adapting to, and collaborating with elite-driven change. Topics covered include ritual, scripture, philosophy, state policy, medicine, sacred geography, gender, and the economy. It also serves as the basis for an on-line Coursera course.
Author: John Lagerwey

It first occurred to me some thirty years ago that Shenzhou 神州, translated “continent of the gods,” was a perfect way of talking about “China in the Daoist mirror.” It made it possible to think of China as a series of concentric spaces, going from the self to the cosmos, all structured in the same away around nodal points occupied by gods. Because it revealed a dense organization at every level, this space-based approach led me as well to call into question the classic distinction between “diffused” and “organized” religion. Subsequent work, both historical and in the field, gradually enabled me to see this as a long evolutionary history which begins with elite attacks on spirit-medium religion in the Warring States and culminates with the emergence of popular religion in the Song. This religion includes popular versions of the Three Teachings, but it is built around the local, anthropomorphic gods whose primary task was the protection of bounded territory and whose natural servants were the ever-maligned spirit-mediums.

In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Author: John Lagerwey

Early Taoism showed remarkable stability in its basic ideas of the origins of evil and how to deal with it. Basically, evil is seen as anything that undermines or is antipathetic to life. Life is the supreme good, and everything must be done to secure it and even to extend it. However, a moral dimension was added very early on to what it meant to be devoted to life: a notion of sin, guilt, debt, and personal responsibility. Adherents imagined an immense bureaucracy spying on human beings and reporting their acts to a central archive. What happens to one, illness or bad luck, is a matter of one’s own responsibility. The guilt-inducing faults must be confessed and repair or compensation made. Confession and compensation may be said to be the primary ways of coping with negative events that threaten life. But the defining attribute of a Taoist was his doing all he could to sustain and nurture his life forces.

In: Probing the Depths of Evil and Good
In: Modern Chinese Religion I (2 vols.)
In: Paradigm Shifts in Early and Modern Chinese Religion
In: Paradigm Shifts in Early and Modern Chinese Religion
In: Paradigm Shifts in Early and Modern Chinese Religion
In: Paradigm Shifts in Early and Modern Chinese Religion