Last night she was over at our house, telling us about some of the interesting steps the Chinese government is taking to make their capital city a world-class experience for these two weeks in August:
1) They are shutting down numerous factories for a period of time, with the hopes of drastically improving air quality. Imagine the let-down for those Beijing residents who discover what it’s like to take a deep breath for two weeks, before going back to “normal”.
2) They are banning cars from the road. For a three-month period, cars are restricted on alternate days, depending on their license plate numbers. My friend said they were banning cars completely during the Olympics, which may be true, but I haven’t found support for that yet on the web.
3) She also said they’ll be banning the internet, which is certainly something they’d like to do, but I can’t prove that they’ve decided to do so, against the insistence the IOC.
In addition to those things, the Chinese government has prompted (to put it gently) its citizens to do many other things, such as: changing the names of its restaurant dishes (and remove dog meat from the menu), quit asking personal questions that might offend westerners, stop smoking, stop using fireworks, and the list goes on and on.
With all these expensive initiatives, it is not likely that China will make money on the Olympics. Chances are that they don’t care… they see this simply as an extremely expensive public relations project, which will garner them First World status.
After mentioning all these bans, my friend lamented that she would just rather experience Chinese culture for what it really is. Of course the breathing will be nice, but she is sad for the lack of one very important thing: Authenticity.
We may laugh at the Chinese government’s paranoid attempts at keeping, or saving, face. But there is something very human about it. In a bad way, that is.
The Church is a prime suspect of the same offense. The Church is polluted, it’s noisy and messy. It has a beautiful culture, but is not without it’s crazy jargon and undesirable characters. It’s natural that we should want to mask all that ugliness. Otherwise, who would ever come?
But people can surprise you. Authenticity is a powerful thing, and people will put up with a lot to be in the presence of real honesty and transparency. It’s scary to put yourself out there, and a lot of people really will turn away in disgust. But those are not the people you need around anyway.
And before you accuse the Church too sharply, do some navel-gazing of your own. What are you trying to hide? Put up your facade if you must; disbelieve it if you like, but most people would rather know the Real You.