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God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China
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God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  331 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
In God is Red, Chinese dissident journalist and poet Liao Yiwu—once lauded, later imprisoned, and now celebrated author of For a Song and a Hundred Songs and The Corpse Walker—profiles the extraordinary lives of dozens of Chinese Christians, providing a rare glimpse into the underground world of belief that is taking hold within the officially atheistic state of Communist ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2011)
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Ramsey Hootman
Oct 24, 2013 Ramsey Hootman rated it liked it
This is a strange little book. The audience would logically be Christians, since the book is about Christians and Christianity in China, but it's written by a non-believing Chinese dissident. So the tone and perspective is not at all "churchy." It's essentially just a number of interviews with various Christians in China, from house churches as well as the three-self church. The majority of these folks have seen and suffered a great deal, and their stories are worth reading. It's a definite coun ...more
Lee Harmon
Sep 29, 2012 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Powerful stuff, here.

Liao is not a Christian, he’s a Chinese rebel. That is, he’s a critic of the Chinese regime, for which he has been imprisoned and his works have been banned. Says Liao, “I will continue to write and document the sufferings of people living at the bottom rung of society, even though the Communist Party is not pleased with my writing. I have the responsibility to help the world understand the true spirit of China, which will outlast the current totalitarian government.”

Oct 21, 2011 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you feel sorry for yourself, read this book. If you think American politics are bad, read this book. If you need some inspiration for your faith, read this book.

Liao Yiwu mostly lets the people he interviews speak for themselves (offering some rather poetic introductions and descriptions along the way) in this fascinating look at the people who gave everything they had to help grow the Christian church in China.

It focuses mostly on rural areas and the villages that embraced the Christian fait
Books & Culture's Book of the Year

"Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave."--G.K. Chesterton
Dottie Parish
God is Red is a brilliant account about Christian missionaries and the Christian Church in China which survived in spite of indoctrination and persecution. In fact Christianity thrived in Communist China! There are now seventy million practicing Christians in China.

God is Red describes the author’s travels throughout villages in southwestern China and his interviews to document the stories of persecuted Christians or those who knew them. Liao, not a Christian, but a critic of the Chinese governm
Sep 13, 2015 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening account of the realities of Christianity in China

Once I got rolling with this book, I found it hard to put down. It brings to light several layers of truth about life under an atheist Communist regime.

The brutality of Communist China especially under Mao towards Christianity was gut wrenching. The stupidity of the accepting common person and how easily led they are to perform public condemnation towards non government sanctioned persons generated both disappointment and anger.

Liao Yiwu is a Chinese dissident writer and thinker, and in this book, he writes a series of vignettes, mostly based on interviews, of the experiences of Chinese Christians over the past century and a half. What makes the book particularly interesting is that he himself is not a Christian. Thus, while he shares their often-antagonistic view of the Chinese government, he writes about their communities as a sympathetic outsider. These vignettes portray a Chinese Christianity whose relationship wit ...more
Very interesting assortment of life stories about Chinese Christians. The author is admittedly not a believer but he is impressed and inspired by the struggles and hardships endured buy those he interviews. He finds himself on common ground as a person subjected to much scrutiny by the government. The author for his political views, the subjects for their religious views. One idea that comes out of the interviews is that Christianity is not a foreign religion in China. It has endured through WWI ...more
Post-martyrdom. Liao Yiwu's book God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China bears beautiful and tragicomic witness to this relatively small group of people often oppressed and ostracized and overlooked--that is, seemingly unimportant and irrelevant according to market currency--in modern Chinese history as officials would tell it. Every single page bleeds, pulses with the blood-soaked and blood-stained faith of that particular humanity in the face ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
The title caught my eye first. I had read something about the "house church" movement in China of the 1980s, but then someone tried to put their own template over the top of it and make it work in Europe, basically by treating the church like any growing business, which I'm pretty sure is not what the original house church movement was about...but anyway...I had also come across the "Three-Self Patriotic Church" mentioned in God's Smuggler many years ago; but I didn't really understand what it w ...more
Jul 18, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liao's has compiled interviews with Chinese Christians from Catholic, Protestant, underground and Three Self churches. Many of his sources lived in Yunnan Province (as well as Chengdu and Beijing), not a few of them were elderly, some were clergy and others parishioners, and a number of them had been imprisoned for their faith (although the official charges against them were construed differently). The strength of the book is its first-hand accounts of the struggles, liveliness and faith of Chin ...more
Jan 27, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is not a comprehensive book relating the history of Chinese Christianity, instead it is a personal and journalistic book as Chinese dissident Liao Yiwu comes to meet and know various Christians, both in rural China (especially Yunnan Province) and around Beijing and Chengdu. Seeking out elders he hears the stories of Western missionaries and their positive influence and the enormous suffering individuals experienced through the years of Communism (and the repression even to today). Protestant ...more
Jan 06, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a compelling read for Christians and non-Christians alike. I appreciated the author, a non-believer, kept an objective and respectful stance.

I was moved by the testimonies of the many faithful Christians who persevered through extreme persecution for the sake of the gospel. I was most moved by those who endured until the end; still fighting, still working, still faithfully serving. They are choice examples of Christians who ran and finished the race well. I can only hope to be as single
Lee Bertsch
Nov 24, 2012 Lee Bertsch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought the book expecting to read an analysis of how the church in China survived. What I got was a compilation of stories of 18 individuals, all but one a devout Christian, who lived through the Japanese occupation, the civil war, and the persecutions brought on my the communist regime. The author, who is not a Christian, but deeply respectful of them, personally interviewed all of the individuals or where that was impossible, those most closely associated with them. The stories are told simp ...more
Written by of the most subversive writers in China, Liao Yiwu, this book on Christians in contemporary China was a thought-provoking read most of the way through. What I liked most was that the author, an atheist, was able to keep his own system of beliefs out of the people’s stories. Truly. He did. And in doing so, he let these courageous and controversial people speak for themselves without interpretation. The stories of these persecuted Christians were shocking and awe-inspiring. I felt both ...more
Stephan Stücklin-wightman
Liao offers a collection of fascinating glimpses into the lives of Chinese Christians. Many of the testimonies are moving in their simplicity and inspiring in the model of forgiveness they offer. Those interviewed have lived their faith in so concrete terms and against such cruel opposition that theological quibbles fade to insignificance. The only interviewee who strikes a dissonant chord is the young guy who's a Christian because it's cool.

The book's also a reminder that despite free-trade ag
Sep 13, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
The idea that the Christian church is growing significantly in Communist China is a somewhat unbelievable claim. How can it be possible, with such strict regulations against religion, gathering together, and preaching. In spite of obstacles, the church is flourishing. Liao Yiwu's book, God is Red, is an account of the church in China, told through personal interviews. Liao talks to intellectuals, grandfathers, college students, doctors, and pastors to really encompass the Chinese church.

I reall
Jun 11, 2012 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joanne by: Tim
I liked these interviews with Chinese Christians, though really wish that Liao Yiwu had taken the time to pull them together in some coherent way, especially at the end, where the book just peters out. I was looking for some kind of summary chapter, I suppose.

We read this in a book group, and one of our questions was how much Liao might have missed, given his unfamiliarity with Christianity, about the differences among Christians that he was interviewing, or the diferences among their churches.
Stefanus Andre
Aug 23, 2015 Stefanus Andre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
* Excellent interviews with mostly oppressed Chinese Christians.

* Although it might be strange or even redundant, I think it would be good to read the opinion of one of the ministers from the Chinese government owned churches. The book is completely one sided, with the exception of the last interview, which is fairly neutral. It is usually interesting to see what the other side has to say.
Jan 31, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If only more people were as open and respectful of others and their beliefs as Liao Yiwu. After spending time in a Chinese prison for his beliefs, Liao wants to learn more about Chinese Christians and their willingness to be imprisoned for their beliefs. In this book he relates what he has learned through talking to many different Chinese Christians. He asks good questions and records their stories, stories that must have been difficult to relate and live through. Christians in China suffered gr ...more
Jordan Dorsett
Aug 25, 2015 Jordan Dorsett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of a culture skewed and distorted by a century of propaganda, this collection of stories of Believers in 20th and 21st century red China is a treasure to believers and a stark contrast against the comfort and bloat of the Western church.

To the Believer: read it and worship with the players in these stories, rejoicing in their suffering and mourning the loss of so many more of these stories to a revisionist, propganda-fueled society.
May 17, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great overview of the history (and present state) of Christianity in China, told through the stories of individuals believers collected by Lioa Yiwo. Liao is a journalist in China who has been in and out of jail for his writings critical of the government. When he became aware of the the struggles and lives and stories of believers in his country, he saw parallels in their perseverance with his own fight for freedom to write and travel and was moved by the power of their faith. He was moved to ...more
Sean Mccarrey
May 30, 2013 Sean Mccarrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liao Yiwu's story of Chinese Christians touches upon several facets of the development of China that are crucial, in my opinion, to understanding its movement. Like Corpse Walker, his earlier book, he interviews people about their experiences, largely with the Communist government. In this case however, he interviews Christians, who have had a unique history in modern China. The way Liao Yiwu is able to depict everyday life, but also represent the undercurrent of change, from Communism to a more ...more
George Hunger
God is Red in an interesting collection of stories on the struggle of living out the Christian faith in Communist China. The book lists accounts of different Chinese Christians and how they manage to live, worship, and exist in an oppressive society. They author is admittedly not a believer and, while it does bring some objectivity to the subject matter, I believe it also limits his storytelling. All in all, a very enlightening book that challenged me on many levels.
Frank Peters
May 09, 2012 Frank Peters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was written by a non-believing Chinese dissident writer who wanted to learn about Christianity in China. The book is structured around a series of stories based on interviews with various Catholic and Protestant Chinese Christians. As a result it is very light reading in terms of style, as each chapter can be easily read in a single sitting. On the other hand much of the content is anything but light reading. The book discusses persecution, famine, and other grizzl ...more
Jul 24, 2016 Raydu18 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like getting perspectives, despite the fact that they sometimes fall on the extremes of the ideological spectrum, like this one. And it's great that the author has no problem admitting that whatsoever.
Oct 21, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book is so very easy to read and very inspiring! God is good, and He is at work among his saints despite persecution and time. This book inspires a love for His church and also for the Chinese people as you consider all that has happened over the past century. I only wish that there were another list at the back of the book in commemoration for the Chinese saints interviewed and also mentioned in the book besides those who were the foreign missionaries on Chinese soil. (I would have used it ...more
Darlene Germain
May 17, 2012 Darlene Germain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liao Yiwu is one of the foremost banned writers of China. Perry Link, professor emeritus, East Asian Studies at Princeton University said it best: "No writer does better than Liao Yiwu in revealing the texture of daily life for ordinary people in China. His characters walk off the page and into your heart. God is Red is about Christians, but their stories reveal much broader issues of how ordinary people in China need to cope with authoritarian rule and its tools of repression, violence, and men ...more
Joe Taylor
What to say, what to say? I will say simply this, what a profound look at the oppression and suffering of the church in China under Communism and the socialist philosophy. Every American Christian should read this book and see not only the blessings that come with our freedom of worship but also the dangers that come with allowing the power of the state to control and regulate worship. We should note as well the extent of what our brothers and sisters in Christ outside of the Western world suffe ...more
Duke Revard
Jun 09, 2016 Duke Revard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look into the underground church in formerly "Red" China.
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Liao Yiwu is a writer, musician, and poet from Sichuan, China. He is a critic of the Chinese regime, for which he has been imprisoned, and the majority of his writings are banned in China. Liao is the author of The Corpse Walker and God Is Red. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the prestigious 2012 Peace Prize awarded by the German Book Trade and the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis ...more
More about Liao Yiwu...

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“In these remote corners, I have discovered a center point, where East met West, and although there has been a collision of cultures, there is now a new Christian identity that is distinctly Chinese.

The circuitous mountain path in Yunnan province is red because over many years it has been soaked with blood.”
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