When good people die, they…

a) [insert vague reference to eternal peace and happiness here].
b) “… become the grass. And the antelope eat the grass. So we are all connected in the Great Circle of Life…”
c) become ghosts that help you get rich.

We’re grading English homework part-time over the internet for PEI in Taibei. One class is reading an abridged version of Les Miserables. I thought what one of the 14-year-old girls wrote about the soldiers was interesting:

…they are very great when they died I think they will be a kind of god and they will help manypoor people to getting rich.

This brought back so many images of Taiwan religious activity – the food offerings, incense, casting lots, candles – all of which is virtually non-existent here in Tianjin, by comparison. One of my old high school friends (whom I haven’t seen since high school but who’s now in China and has a blog that I happened to stumble upon this week) calls what many Chinese do with incense and candles “wishing” rather than “praying.” I think it’s both, but I do wonder which one it’s closer to, and if Westerners would perhaps have a better understanding of some common traditional Chinese religious practices if we thought “wishing” as well as “praying” when we saw people wave their incense and bow before the altars.

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