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The Taiping Revolution: A Failure Of Two Missions (Book Report Sample)


The taiping revolution: a failure of two missions, Robert h t lin, John Jay College of criminal justice, city university of NY, university of America. ISBN 0-8191-0734-4. Withs citation and page numbers of everything that was used much be given.


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The Taiping Revolution: A Failure of Two Missions is a book written by Robert Hsiang Teng Lin in 1979. The monograph was published in two editions in the year 1979 in the English language. This book is held by ninety-four libraries worldwide. This monograph interrogates the history of Chinese Civilization since the Taiping revolution. Lin holds a Ph.D. in Sociology. Earlier in 1977, Lin had also published an archival publication; The Taiping Revolution: A Comparative Historical and Sociological Study of a Movement from the Perspective of Intercivilizational Encounters and Missions. The publication is available in two editions held by three universities worldwide.
Lin’s monograph attempts to examine the role of religion in the revolution. By adopting a” comparative historical and civilizational frames of reference in the analysis of the Taiping Revolution”, Lin interrogates the role of different religious orientations as a result of the encounter between the East and the West. Lin attempts to attach the modernization of China as a consequence of the religious influence particularly comparing the traditional societies and their religion with apparent external forces that have an impact on the society. In his monograph, Lin advances our understanding of the Taiping Revolution by analyzing the various phases that occurred during the revolution. The encounters of the Confucianism-Taoism religion and that of Christianity form the basis of comparison to the effects in the modernization of China.[Robert Lin, The Taiping Revolution: A Failure of Two Missions. University Press of America, 1979.]
Lin indicates that the previous works relating to the Taiping Revolution lacked necessary emphasis as well as lacking comparative historical references. Lin argues that the previous efforts to uncover the causes and effects of the Taiping Revolution were being clouded by other factors such as ethnic and class conflict, corruption perpetuated by the political class in the society. Lin, therefore, endeavors to explore the causes and effects of the revolution often by incorporating a comparative analysis of the West and the East. Through his monograph, Lin puts together various aspects that were partly covered by the previous authors and while holding comparative analysis to the core. It is the analysis of the religious encounters between the West and the East that put China on the track to “modernization and universalization”.[Ibid. v] [Ibid. v] [Ibid. vi]
Lin sought to illuminate on the changes that took place in China for over a century and a half following the Taiping Revolution. In his thesis, Lin describes the Taiping Revolution as “an extraordinary, powerful, short-lived and internally turbulent revolution. Lin is keen to prove the emergence, cause and the short life of the Taiping revolution that had laid the foundation of future revolutions in China that aimed at modernization and universalization of China. In his monograph, Lin describes the political and economic desperation that the Chinese society had to endure until the eventual revolution that meant to overturn these events. Thus Lin sets out to prove the initial endeavors of the Taiping Revolution, a powerful revolution that sought to “change and uproot the social-cultural and political structures of traditional China...” to a new modern China as well as the subsequent events of the revolution.[Ibid. 15] [Ibid. 5]
Chapter 2: The Taiping Institutions
Lin devotes his attention in this chapter to the religious, social, economic, political as well as the military institutions that played a vital role during the Taiping Revolution. The revolution started out as a religious movement. The Taipings modeled their organizations and institutions through the inspiration of the God Worshiper Society organization which was headed by Feng Yun-shan. Lin describes the God Worshiper Society as a religion modeled to conform to the Christianity monotheism practice. The religion was to foster brotherhood with each other with members practicing some primitive communism activities such as the morning and evening prayers as well as other forms of ritual.[Ibid. 17]
For the God Worshiper Society, initial political activities were also camouflaged as religious activities. However, the constant attacks and threats by the local authorities and the government troops pushed the God Worshiper Society to fight for survival emerging as a religious, political and military organization. The God Worshiper Organization had transitioned into sectarian, rebellion movement. The institution also had a hierarchy composed of God, Jesus Christ the son of God, Hung Hsiu-Chuan the brother of Jesus Christ as well as Hsiao Chao-Kuei, the messenger of Jesus in that order. Despite their brotherhood nature, the God Worshiper Society would use force to propagate religious extremism. Traditional religious groups, i.e. Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism were now under attack.[Ibid.18] [Ibid. 21]
Further, the Taipings proposed for a communal ownership of land as the land was considered a public property to be shared by all. The sharing of land was to ensure economic equality for all people. Additionally, Taipings also proposed the idea of equality in sexes. The programs proposed Hung Jen-Kan were to run throughout China. His nationalistic approach marked first attempts to modernize China. Although his reforms in social-economic, political, religious and military spheres formed the basis of later revolutions, Taiping Dynasty ended without witnessing the fruition of these programs.[Ibid31]
Chapter 5: The tragedy of Taiping: A Failure of two Missions
Lin examines both the Taiping mission and that of Christianity which had a great influence on the Taipings. Hung Hsiu-Chuan leads the Taipings to a new China by freeing them from the Manchu government. The actions of the Taipings are an apparent response to the external and internal political and social-economic conditions of the time. Hung Hsiu-Chuan vision is to establish a dynasty that embraced his vision for modernization and universalization. Unfortunately, Hung Hsiu-Chuan had an extremely poor grasp of the orthodox principles of Confucian-Taoism. The failure of the Taiping Revolution is further attributable to Hung Hsiu-Chuan's superficial knowledge and understanding of the Christianity principles.[Ibid 79]
Lin depicts Hung Hsiu-Chuan as an unqualified leader who lacked adequate knowledge of either Western Christianity or Chinese civilization. The faint and miscellaneous elements of knowledge possessed by Hung Hsiu-Chuan and his followers could not have been sufficient to lay a strong foundation for the China he envisioned. In addition, Lin argues that the Taipings, i.e. both Hung Hsiu-Chuan and his followers were not part of the Chinese mainstream. They were also not part of the scholar-gentry class. Lin clearly depicts the Taiping Revolution as a revolution headed by clueless leaders and one destined for failure.[Ibid. 79]
The Christian missionaries were also at a shock because failure in a bid to spread Christianity in China. The Taiping Revolution led by Hung Hsiu-Chuan tried to incorporate the teachings of Christianity to China. However, Lin points out to the inadequate knowledge of Christianity displayed by the leader, Hung Hsiu-Chuan. On the other hand, the Christian missionaries gave high priority to the religious goals and ideals. They advocated for high standards in a bid to spread their missionary Christian teachings to a Chinese. Consequently, the missionaries both in China and in England had lost the faith in the Taiping Revolution.[Ibid.80]
Use of Primary Data
Lin uses the primary sources, albeit scarcely, to intelligently prove his point. However, several excerpts can still be singled out to indicate his use of the primary sources of data. The primary data has been recorded by Jen in Studies of the Institutions of Tai-Ping Tien Kuo Vol iii pp. 1665-1666. Hung Hsiu-Chuan, for example, prepared his intellectual rationales confirming the Christianity influence in the Taiping Movement. The three works include; “principles of world salvation”, “Enlightenment of the Age” as well as “Awakening of the Age”. The author uses the writings of Hung Hsiu-Chuan to formulate the basic formation of the Taiping movement. In the first principle, the principle of world salvation, the author Lin illustrates Hung Hsiu-Chuan’s own understanding and interpretation of Christianity. Hung Hsiu-Chuan declared that the origin of the way was from Heaven; that the principle of the Way is righteousness and integrity. Hung Hsiu-Chuan further adds that God in heaven was to be worshipped universally by everyone seeking the Way. The second principle was also derived from the writings of Hung Hsiu-Chuan. The Enlightenment of the Age that Hung Hsiu-Chuan believed that generosity of the heart was the key to universal peace and harmony.[Ibid. 43] [Ibid.47,48]
Additionally, the Awakening of the Age was the third principle that Hung Hsiu-Chuan emphasized the importance worshipping one true God of the Universe. Clearly, the author uses the original writings of Hung Hsiu-Chuan to present ideas that gave life and thrust to the Taiping Movement. These writings clearly demonstrate the poor foundation Hung Hsiu-Chuan had on Christianity, the religion that inspired the creation of the revolution.
Further, the author relies on primary data to display the inadequacy of knowledge by Hung Hsiu-Chuan when he relied on Liang A-fah’s work ‘Good Words of Exhorting the Age’ prepared in 1832. Lin describes the work of Liang A-fah’s as insufficient to provide the teachings as provided by the Bible. The superficial knowledge...
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