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Chinese Ancestor Worship
A Study of Its Meaning and Its Relations with Christianity

By James Thayer Addison
Assistant Professor of Religion and Missions
in the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Published by the Church Literature Committee of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui
By the Help of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1925.


The author of these articles on "Ancestor Worship" has visited China three times. The first was in 1909 when he served on the faculty of St. John's University for a year. The third was in 1922 when he spent a half year lecturing at Boone University, Wuchang, and St. John's University. Shanghai, and made further investigations in regard to the religions of China. His strong interest in the subject of ancestor worship has led him to devote much time to its study.

Of course there is a large amount of literature on this subject and it has been much discussed. The ordinary reader, however, has not the time to go to all the sources and spend the time requisite to get a comprehensive view. The author has accomplished the very useful work of gathering together the important facts and views in regard to this mooted question and thus has accomplished a most useful piece of work.

As has often been said, caste in India and ancestor worship in China have stood out as two almost impregnable fortresses to the missionary work of the Christian church, and a hot debate has been waged over the question as to whether ancestor worship was or was not idolatrous.

The introduction of Western thought brings with it the development of individualism and individual rights and this has caused a reaction against the idea of clan and family solidarity. The West has perhaps gone to [v/vi] one extreme and the East to another, and a synthesis of the two ideas would seem to be necessary.

Even if the question of ancestor worship does not loom as largely in the minds of Christian missionaries as formerly, yet we know that the belief is deep-rooted in China, and that we cannot understand the religion of this country without a thorough study of this very ancient religious cult.

F. L. Hawks Pott.
March 27, 1925.

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