Thomas Michael is a researcher in the School of Philosophy at Beijing Normal University since 2016. He received his Ph.D. in History of Religions from University of Chicago. Professor Michael’s two primary fields of research are Daoist philosophy and Shamanism.
This course is a survey of various religions in China that may include, not only Confucianism and Taoism, but also Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Manicheism and popular or “folk” religion. The course will consider the function of these various religions in the development of Chinese society and their significance in Chinese civilization from ancient mythology to contemporary practices and developments.
We will spend time looking at the five authorized religions in China for insight, but this course will also use case studies to look at trends and directions away from the mainline spiritual establishment, as well as splits within the religious communities on what and how to worship. We will look at sects; at how worship has been practiced historically and locally; and why religious revival in China is occurring at the grassroots level more and more often. We will read relevant texts, and we will examine places of worship and speak with practitioners to arrive a more comprehensive understanding of religious renaissance in Chinese society.
Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the beliefs, practices, and institutions in varied contexts and historical periods in China, of various religions, both indigenous and “foreign.”