Friday, November 03, 2006

The apotheosis of Mao

I was half-listening to an ABC News story last night about Chinese billionaires (and now I cannot find any link on their site. Help!) that mentioned one man whose mansion had something like a mosaic of images of Mao Zedong.

The reporter seemed bemused, since Chairman Mao (1893-1976) was after all a Communist.

Coincidentally, I was reading Jordan Paper's The Deities are Many: A Polytheistic Theology where he writes of visiting China in the late 1980s:

[At that time] a new deity of wealth was needed, one that would be effective in the new economy. Who was the most powerful dead not yet with a divine specialization? Why, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) of course! Small icons of his image, with a plastic version of a Chinese gold ingot hanging from it, were on sale everywhere. They were variously hung, such as from automobile rear view mirrors, including government vehicles. When I asked a bureaucrat, a member of the Communist Party, why it was hanging there, the answer was succint: "Ta shi shen" (He's a Deity.)

The old Greeks had a word for it.


Blogger Steve Bodio said...

I am linking this!!

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Shawn Arthur said...

This is quite interesting! Yes, Mao is being afforded minor deity status as the father/ancestor of "modern China" - even though he ruined China in many ways (from the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution) and caused great starvation, death, and the loss of many historical artifacts. Many Chinese still venerate his image, which is found almost everywhere. They see Mao as instrumental in ridding China of 'feudal and superstitious' practices and beliefs of the past and ushering in an 'era of opportunity', which is just now becoming a reality. I think China is a great example of how much people want their gods - no matter how others try to convince them otherwise!

11:07 AM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

I wonder when we will see them here. Makes more sense than Che Guevara T-shirts.

12:02 PM  

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