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Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, to do further comparative research on the various editions of Tianzhu shiyi published during the Ming dynasty. His study, entitled Tianzhu shiyi lingzhu 天主實義令注 (Directives to the True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven), was published in Beijing by the Commercial Press in 2014. ARTUR K. WARDEGA Macau Ricci Institute YEN-ZEN TSAI, ed., Religious Experience in Contemporary Taiwan and China. Taipei: Chengchi University Press, 2013. 408 pp. NT$500. ISBN 9789866475467 The publication of this edited volume represents a significant step forward for the study of Taiwanese religious life, both in terms of presenting new data and interpreting its contents from a broad comparative perspective. This volume presents the result of a comparative research project on the Religious Experience Survey in Taiwan (REST), which was led by Tsai Yen-zen 蔡彥仁 from 2008 to 2012, with funding provided by Taiwan’s National Science Council. The project’s goals included measuring different forms of religious experience in Taiwan (including dreams, visions, etc.), comparing the data to an earlier survey conducted in China from 2004 to 2006 (see below), and drawing on these sources to better assess the importance of religious experience in the social scientific study of world religions. The RESTstudy was undertaken from October 2008 to December 2009 on a nationwide basis throughout Taiwan, in close cooperation with Academia Sinica and the Ministry of the Interior. In designing the survey, Tsai and his colleagues drew on questions and methods utilized in the Taiwan Social Change Survey (TSCS; 台灣社會變遷 基本調查; ), which included religion in its questions in 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009. The REST questionnaire featured 121 items in 8 sections, with 100 interviewers recruited to help administer it. Their efforts resulted in a total of 1,714 valid responses out of a targeted sample size of 2,000 and actual sample of 4,448 individuals. One exciting aspect of this study was that responses not only included answers to survey questions but also narratives of religious experiences, which represents an important methodological breakthrough. In terms of its contents, Religious Experience in Contemporary Taiwan and China is divided into two parts. The first part contains seven chapters analyzing the results of the REST study in the context of different religious traditions defined according to the survey’s typology (more on this below), with each chapter structured according to the same format in the interests of consistency. The second features stimulating studies of various aspects of religious experience on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. For example, the chapter on education makes the interesting observation that people with less education tend to be more likely to join religious groups but less inclined to report their religious experiences, while more educated respondents prove more likely to report “extraordinary powers” despite being less interested in organized forms of religious life (p. 191). The chapter on gender reports that Taiwanese women largely embrace more positive attitudes towards religious experiences than their Chinese peers, while also attempting to assess how different political systems might impact the nature of religious experiences (pp. 268–269). 216 REVIEWS The greatest strength of Religious Experience in Contemporary Taiwan and China lies in its comparative approach and willingness to actively engage with Western social science research on this subject. Such scholarship can be traced back to the pioneering work of Sir Alister Hardy (1896–1985) and his Religious Experience Research Unit, particularly in allowing open-ended questions as a means of recording respondents’ religious experiences. Tsai and his colleagues also deserve credit for considering the REST data in light of other internationally renowned surveys, such as the General Social Survey, East Asia Social Survey, and International Social Survey Program. Moreover, most of the book’s chapters (with the notable exception of the chapter on Daoism), engage in explicit comparisons to the “Religious Experience among the Han Chinese” (REHC) survey in China, which was undertaken by Yao Xinzhong 姚新中 and Paul Badham from 2004 to 2006 and published in 2007 (Yao is also the author of this volume’s chapter on gender).22 Tsai and his colleagues also took the time to modify Yao and Badham’s questionnaire so as to be more applicable for Taiwan, both by incorporating TSCS questions...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2050-8999
Print ISSN
0737-769X
Pages
pp. 216-219
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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