Join Dr. KK Yeo as we explore the differences between Eastern and Western culture and discover an even bigger story. With Chinese New Year approaching, a conversation to get you thinking about cultural diversity and some bigger questions.
Our guest: Dr. KK Yeo. is a Chinese scholar born in Malaysia, educated in the U.S., and currently teaching in Chicago, Beijing, and Jerusalem. He is the author of 35 books and has a particular interest in the dialogue between cultures of antiquity and modern times. KK was in Australia at the invitation of Overseas Council Australia.
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Bigger questions asked in the conversation
You teach in in Jerusalem, New York and Beijing - you don’t do this at the same time I take it?
Do you ever get confused where you are?
Difference between East and West
KK you were born and raised in a Chinese Malaysian context, but you studied and now teach in the United States. Now it’s common to describe the United States as representing Western culture and China and Asia as representing Eastern culture. So what are the differences between Eastern and Western cultures?
So maybe to illustrate - let’s chat a bit about the differences in Eastern and Western Culture when compared to ?
Is it dangerous to think that one type of culture is ‘better’ or superior to the other?
But does culture change at all?
You have an interest in the dialogue between cultures of antiquity and modern times. Which modern culture more closely resembles the ancient world - Eastern or Western?
Role of religion in culture
What about the role of religion. Is there a difference in the place of religion in an Eastern or Western culture?
What about the Christian faith - is that a western religion?
Now you’ve written a book, ‘What does Jerusalem have to do with Beijing?’ What do you mean by that title? What were you hoping to achieve with the book?
So how do people from a Chinese background view Jesus?
What is it about Jesus that is attractive to Chinese people?
Does someone have to reject Eastern culture to become a Christian?
In 2014 the famed atheist Richard Dawkins once tweeted:
How thoughtful of God to arrange matters so that, wherever you happen to be born, the local religion always turns out to be the true one.
What do you make of what Richard Dawkins said?
Bible’s answer - Revelation 5:8-10
We’re asking Dr. KK Yeo today’s big question, ‘Is Jesus for Asia?’ And the Bible speaks about something of this in the last book of the Bible in the book of Revelation.
Revelation speaks in picture language about events in the future and one image appears in Chapter 5 where there is a vision of a lamb who is on a throne and is deemed worthy to open a scroll with seven seals. And then the creatures around the throne sing a song to the lamb, in verse 9
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.’
So KK, this is possibly a strange picture language to our ears, but what is meant by these visions?
The lamb represents Jesus, so what is achieved by his death?
What do you make of the line, ‘he - that is Jesus - purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation?
So with this vision of the future, do you think that people will retain their distinctiveness as their ‘tribe’ or race in heaven? Will we identify people from different tribes and nations?
Do you think this is a positive thing?
Is this different to Buddhism or Confucianism?
Do you think that in this vision of the future there will be orderly queues? Or will it be a bit of a crowd milling around?
The Big Question
So KK, Is Jesus for Asia?