Monday, December 27, 2010

"Playing the Fish" (What they mean by 'dialogue', part deux)

"Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
Mark 1.17

Playing the Fish

When a fish feels the hook, it struggles to get free. This might involve jumping, making a long run, swimming back against the line or swimming around obstacles. Each species of fish fights differently.

Fish hooked in shallow water are more likely to jump and behave more frantically than those hooked in deep water. Deep-water fish often seek the bottom.

It's possible to land many small fish just by reeling them in. They'll fight, but they aren't as strong as the line and the rod. Use lighter tackle and you can get some fight out of the smallest fish in the lake.

If you're catch and release fishing, don't fight too long or the fish will die from exhaustion before or after you release it.

Fighting Bigger Fish

If a fish makes a run for it, don't panic. And don't try to reel in while the fish is swimming away from your line. Relax and let the drag and rod do the work. After you've set the hook, set your drag. If you're using 12-pound test, you should use about 4 pounds of drag. Just keep the rod at about a 45-degree angle to the water aim it straight at the fish.

When the fish slows down and stops taking more line, it's time to go to work. The best technique for the catch is to gently pull the rod up and then reel down as you lower it, using a pumping motion. Do it in small, smooth strokes rather than large abrupt sweeps because it will help keep both the line tight and the fish much calmer.

If the fish runs again, let it go and you will probably notice that this run is shorter and slower. But don't let the fish rest. If you can't hear your drag working, you should be reeling.

Don't be anxious. Even if you get the fish close to the boat, that doesn't mean it's done fighting. If it turns and runs, let it go. Your line is pretty short at this point, and pump-and-reel action could break it.

From Accomodation to Chinese Culture: Matteo Ricci, by Yung Hwa (found in Hwa's Mangoes or bananas?: the quest for an authentic Asian Christian theology):
The work of Ricci (1552-1610) and fellow Jesuits in seventeenth century China has been well-documented. Through faith and sheer doggedness, Ricci and his companion, Michele Ruggieri, managed to enter China in 1583, and eventually the imperial capital, Beijing, in 1600. They began a work which, despite its ups and down, led to the establishment of a permanent Catholic Church in China.

Fully aware of Chinese xenophobia and distrust of foreigners, they adopted a cautious and discreet approach. They mastered the Chinese language and the ancient classics, and dressed themselves like the Chinese scholars in order to gain maximum acceptability in Chinese high socieyt. They called their preaching shuyuan (academy) so as to present themselves as Western men of learning, and not priests propagating a new religion. Further, for as long as it was possible, Ricci consciously kept his true intentions hidden. For example, his major work, "The True Meaning of the Master of Heaven", a polemical work against Taoist and Buddhist beliefs, contains minimal references to Christian teachings. With respect to theological ideas, he writes:
This work did not touch upon all the mysteries of our holy faith, which should only be explained to catechumens and Christians; it considered only a few principles, in particular those which in some way can be proved by natural reason and understood through knowledge itself.
Ricci's work met with quick acceptance and response. Scholars are generally agreed that the success could be attributed to their timing, their use of Chinese [language] and philosophy, their accommodation approach, their virtuous conduct, and their mathematical, scientific, astronomical and cartographical skills.
[pp. 124-125]

From The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences and the Arts by John W. O'Malley
The Jesuit missionary strategy in China as it was conceived by Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606) and creatively put into practice by Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) and his successors can be said to have four major characteristics:

1. Accommodation or adaptation to Chinese culture. Valignano, who had been disappointed by the limited degree of the Jesuit's adaptation to Japanese culture, insisted in the first place on knowledge of the Chinese language. He called a few Jesuits to Macao in 1580 and ordered them to focus their attention entirely on the study of the language (fellow Jesuits criticized them for spending all their time studying Chinese). Two years later they entered China through the south. Probably inspired by the Japanese situation, they dressed like Buddhist monks. In 1595, after nearly fifteen years of experience, they changed their policy and adapted themselves to the the lifestyle and etiquette of the Confucian elite of literati and officials. Ricci was responsible for this change. This new policy would remain unchanged throughou the seventeenth century, and for most Jeuis missionaries Ricci became the reference point with regard to accommodation policy.

2. Propagation and evangelization 'from the top down.' Jesuits addressed themselves to the literate elite. The underlying idea was that if this elite, preferably the emperor and his court, were converted, the whole country would be won for Christianity [compare this to the strategy with regard to Saxon nobility eight centuries earlier]. The elite consisted mainly of literati, who had spent many years preparing for the examinations they must pass in order to enter officialdom. For these examinations they had to learn the Confucian classics and the commentaries on them. After having passed the metropolitan examinations, which took pace in Beijing every three years and at which about three hundred candidates were selected, they entered the official bureaucracy and received appointments as district magistrates or positions in the ministries. As in modern diplomatic service, the offices usually changed every three years. In order to enter into contact with this elite, Ricci studies the Confucian classics adn, with his remarkable gift of memory, became a welcome guest at the philosophical discussion groups organized by this elite.

3. Indirect propagation of the faith by using European science and technology in order to attract the attention of the educated Chinese and convince them of the high level of European civilization. Jesuits offered a European clock to the emperor, introduced paintings which astonished the Chinese by their use of perspective, translated the mathematical writings of Euclid with the commentaries of the famous Jesuit mathematician Christoph Clavius, worked at the Imperial Astronomy Bureau, wrote books on the calendar and on agriculture and technology, and printed an enormous global map which integrated the results of the latest world explorations. By means of these activities they established friendly relations which sometimes resulted in the conversion of members of elite . . . .

4. Openness to and tolerance of Chinese values. In China, the Jesuits encountered a society with high moral values, for which they expressed their admiration. They were of the opinion that this excellent social doctrine should be complemented by the metaphysical ideas of Christianity. However, the Jesuits rejected by Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism, which, in their eyes, was corrupted by Buddhism. They pleaded for a return to the original Confucianism, which they regarded as a philosophy based on natural law. In their opinion it contained the idea of God. Finally, they adopted a tolerant attitude toward certain Confucian rites, like the worship of ancestors and the veneration of Confucius, which they declared to be 'civil rites.'
[pp. 352-353]

See also: