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Chinese Wisdom Dialogues

Interfaith Sacred Texts and Communities Series
Chinese Wisdom Dialogues:
Religions and Philosophies
Faith Practices in Confucianism, Daoism, and Chinese Buddhism

UNIITE’s Spring 2008 series

Economically and militarily speaking, China stands tall as an undisputed world power today.  Chinese goods have long been sweeping US markets—is there any room in one’s house where something or other is not “made in China”?   Highly advanced contemporary China, which was traumatized by the Cultural Revolution as recently as 1966-76, has long boasted a well rounded, ancient civilization.  

UNIITE’s spring ’08 Community Dialogues series in St. Cloud brings to the fore the lofty ancient-and-modern heritage of Chinese wisdom.  The six dialogue sessions of this novel presentation will be hosted by various area churches and institutions.  It will be supported by SCSU’s International Chinese Student Association and the China Club, by other well wishers of the Chinese peoples, hopefully by corporate sponsors and funders, and people like you.  

UNIITE would like Central Minnesotans to appreciate St. Cloud area individuals, families, and businesses of Chinese origin, their philosophies and religions, especially Confucianism, Daoism, Chan Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism.  We honor St. Cloud’s Asian Americans who necessarily carry influences of these traditions by birth or upbringing—peoples with roots in China, Tibet, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, for example.

Of every six persons on our planet, one is Chinese.  The roughly 300 people of Chinese origin in the St. Cloud area play a quiet but solid role in area businesses providing Chinese medicine, restaurants, martial arts institutes, beauty salons, and information technology support among other services.  They also play integral roles in our area’s academic communities teaching at our colleges and universities.  St. Cloud State University had even completed a China Initiative in 2006-2007. And the year 2008 marks the Beijing Summer Olympics.

For several decades the magnetic pull of China has drawn Minnesota business executives, students, tourists, and politicians.  St. Cloud residents too, have been visiting China during the past five years in larger numbers than ever before.  UNIITE believes that an introduction to Chinese culture and spirituality would be a great way to take local citizens’ interests in China to the next level.



Every “Intro to World Religions” text carries at least one chapter on “Taoism and Confucianism.”  As in the case of Hinduism, and vastly different than western religions such as Judaism and Christianity for example, common western distinctions between religion and philosophy do not apply to ancient Chinese “religions” such as Daoism, Confucianism, and Mahayana Buddhism.  These “religious” traditions follow a wide range of approaches which diversely address questions pertaining to virtue, metaphysics, ritual, and ethics.  The three “religions” have strongly influenced central, eastern, and southeastern Asia and the entire planet following 19th-20th century migrations of peoples of Chinese ethnicity.

Presenter: Dr. Yiwei Zheng, Professor of Philosophy, St. Cloud State Univesity.
Dr. Zheng has research and teaching interest in existentialism, Chinese religions, and Asian art history. He served as the President of Association of Chinese Philosophers in America, and is the secretary of North American Sartre Society.  Recent publications edited by Prof. Zheng: Classic Chinese Charms (2004) and Sequel of Classic Chinese Charms (2006), both already out of print.  See http://web.stcloudstate.edu/yzheng/art.html



February 7, Session One (coincides with CHINESE NEW YEAR)
5.30-8.30 pm, Holy Myrrhbearers Orthodox Church
Life and teachings of Confucius--including a little background of ancient China (Warring States) in which Confucianism arose, life story of Confucius, with allusions to some of Confucius' teachings and Mencius' and Xunzi's modification.
February 14, Session Two
6.30-8.30 pm, Newman Center (Terrace)
Daodejing and the Origin of Daoism--including the legend of Laozi, some basic themes in Daodejing.
February 21, Session Three
6.30-8.30 pm, Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Confucianism in Imperial and Modern China--case studies of some of the lasting influences of Confucianism in ancient and modern China, including the primacy of family, women's foot binding, and the civil examination.
February 28, Session Four
6.30-8.30 pm, First United Methodist Church
Hiding the World in the World--discussion of some elements of Daoist wisdom.
March 13, Session Five
6.30-8.30 pm, Salem Lutheran Church
Popular deities in Confucianism and Daoism--introduction to some of the most well-known deities in Chinese folk religions, and their significance in the context of Confucianism and Daoism.
March 27, Session Six
5.30-8.30 pm, University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany
Chan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism--discussion of the influence of Daoism in the development in Chan Buddhism, and some themes in Tibetan Buddhism.

Special features:
-Chinese New Year celebration prior to opening dialogue session.
-Chinese dinner on closing night—fundraiser for UNIITE
-Daycare freely provided to those who pre-register at least 3 days prior to each session

-Special recognition to those who attend all 6 sessions plus dinner—don’t fail to sign in!


China Club, SCSU

International Chinese Student Association, SCSU

Department of Social Work, St. Cloud State

St. Cloud Hospital Diversity Committee

Multicultural Student Services, St. Cloud State

Creative Artistic Nuance

Wells Fargo Bank

DK Express


Coborns Inc.

Sam's Club


Chinese Wisdom Dialogues Brochure

Chinese Wisdom Dialogues Flyer




UNIITE’s Spring 2008 Dialogue Series: Chinese Wisdom Dialogues

Day/Date/Topic/Location Prayer Leader/Presider Respondent(s) immediately following Dr. Yiwei Zheng’s presentation Significance of Day; change in schedule
One: 2/7
Life and teachings of Confucius

Holy Myrrh-bearers Orthodox Church
601 7th Ave South
St. Cloud

Elder Dearing
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon)

Presider: Ric Studer
Johanna Armstrong
Clearwater, MN
St. John's Prep senior who spent a 2007 semester in China
Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean New Year (Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism)

5.30-6.30 pm
Celebration featuring Tai-ji and K’ung Fu by Yuan Lu of the China Club, SCSU;
6.30-8.30 pm
Opening dialogue
Two: 2/14
Daodejing and the Origin of Daoism

Newman Center Terrace
396 First Ave So.
St. Cloud

Rupesh Modi

Presider: Dr. Mary T. Howard
Dr. Steve Philion, teaches sociology at SCSU. He is fluent in Chinese. Valentines Day (Christianity)
Three: 2/21
Confucianism in Imperial and Modern China

Bethlehem Lutheran Church ELCA
4310 County Rd 137
St. Cloud

Jane Bennett
Presider: Dr. Mary T. Howard
Dr. Patrick Henry (former Director, Ecumenical Institute, Collegeville, MN) and Dr. Pat Welter (former Principal, North Junior High, St. Cloud) who toured for a month in China and Tibet fall 2007.  
Four: 2/28
Hiding the World in the World

First United Methodist Church
302 Fifth Ave South
St. Cloud

Bette Bartos
(Baha’i Faith)
Presider: Dr. Mary T. Howard
Karen Jentz, Sauk Rapids-Rice parent educator. Karen is a member of the Baha'i Community of St. Cloud. She, her husband Jeff, and their three then teenagers lived, taught English, and studied in southeastern China from 1998-2000. Intercalary Days
(Baha’i Faith)
Five: 3/13
Popular deities in Confucianism and Daoism

Salem Lutheran Church
90 Riverside Drive
St. Cloud

Vidarshana Bandara
Presider: April Lange
Dr. Malcolm Nazareth, Executive Director of UNIITE. L. Ron Hubbard Birthday (Scientology)
**Six: 3/27
Chan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism

University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany
390 4th Avenue South
St. Cloud

Presider: Fr. Dave Gallus Jim McNelly, former president of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, St. Cloud, and nationally known reader of the Urantia Book, who has visited China fourteen times since 1999 Khordad Sal: Zoroastrian remembrance of the birth of Prophet Zarathushtra on 3/26. (Zoroastrianism)
5.30 – 7.10 pm
Concluding dialogue (excluding documentary screening)
7.10-8.30 pm
Chinese Dinner, UNIITE fundraiser

** UNIITE fundraiser
Thursday 3/27, 5.30-8.30 pm
University Lutheran Church (4th Ave and 4th Street South, St. Cloud):

Pre-registration till 3/13:
$20/adult, $10/child below age 10.
At the door on 3/27: $30/adult, $15/child below age 10.
Students: $5 discount
(pre-registration till 3/13, $15 and, at the door, on 3/27, $25)
Delicious Chinese Dinner, 7.10-8.30 pm

This Fundraising Dinner is donated by China Star Restaurant and Dr. Jim & Dee Ma Chen

General Outline of Each Day’s Dialogue
(changes on Opening and Closing Days of series)


(6.30-8.30 PM)

What’s going on

6.30 – 6.50 pm

Screening of documentaries on Confucianism and Daoism

6.50 pm

“Invitation to Gather” by President of Series, Board member of UNIITE

6.55 pm

Welcoming words by leader of hosting institution

7.00 pm

Prayer to open the dialogue

7.05 – 7.35 pm

Featured main presentation: Dr. Yiwei Zheng

7.35 – 7.45 pm

Respondent(s) of the day

7.45 – 8.10 pm

Conversation and q & a open to all

8.10 pm

Concluding remarks by Dr. Zheng

8.15 – 8.30 pm

President of Series’ “Closing Word”; snacks and beverages