Chapter

Contentious Faiths: Questioning Confucianism and Christianity in the Fiction of Shirley Lim

Andrew Hock Soon Ng

in Intimating the Sacred

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083213
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209831 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789888083213.003.0005
Contentious Faiths: Questioning Confucianism and Christianity in the Fiction of Shirley Lim

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This chapter considers the shared ideologies embedded in Confucianism and Christianity, and how they are played out in the lives of the middle-class Straits Chinese characters that people the fiction of Shirley Lim. Confucianism is viewed as a deeply patriarchal-inflected belief system, and when a Chinese (especially woman) trades this faith for Christianity, she often finds that her position in her new religion is not unlike that of her old one, thus perpetuating her sense of helplessness and inferiority. Lim's narratives persistently reveal the ideological entrapment experienced by Chinese women in either religion, and the difficulty they face when negotiating their increasing modern outlook with belief systems that reify traditional, patriarchal values. However, this chapter concludes with a criticism of these stories, and directly Lim herself by asking two related questions: how is Lim helping modern Chinese women escape their ideological positions if her stories continuously plot them as deeply embedded in these structures without offering any alternative perspectives? And is it always the case that religion necessarily circumscribes women by reifying their sexual/gendered position as inferior; is religion not also possibly a way in which women can escape such a position?

Keywords: Confucianism; Christianity; Chinese women; Shirley Lim; sexual position; gendered position; religion

Chapter.  14025 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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