Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches and mosques–as well as cults, sects and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty–over what it means to be Chinese, and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is still searching for new guideposts.
Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer focusing on society, religion, and history. He works out of Beijing and Berlin, where he also teaches and advises academic journals and think tanks. Johnson has spent over half of the past thirty years in the Greater China region, working as a newspaper correspondent in China from 1994 to 1996 with Baltimore’s The Sun and from 1997 to 2001 with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered macroeconomics, China’s WTO accession and social issues. In 2009, Johnson returned to China, where he writes features and essays for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, National Geographic, and other publications. He teaches undergraduates at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, and also runs a fellowship program there. In addition, he formally advises a variety of academic journals and think tanks on China, such as the Journal of Asian Studies, the Berlin-based think tank Merics, and New York University’s Center for Religion and Media.