Monday, May 1, 2017

Travel Dispatch: My Beijing: The Sacred City

By Ian Johnson
Visitors lining up to pray at the White Cloud Temple. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times
BEJING---When I first came to Beijing in 1984, the city felt dusty and forgotten, a onetime capital of temples and palaces that Mao had vowed — successfully, it seemed — to transform into a landscape of factories and chimneys. Soot penetrated every windowsill and every layer of clothing, while people rode simple steel bicycles or diesel-belching buses through the windy old streets. Then, as now, it was hard to imagine this sprawling city as the sacred center of China’s spiritual universe. But for most of its history, it was exactly that. It was a total work of art, epitomizing the political-religious system that ran traditional China for millenniums. It was Chinese belief incarnate. [link]