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Intimating the SacredReligion in English Language Malaysian Fiction$
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Andrew Hock Soon Ng

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083213

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083213.001.0001

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Contentious Faiths: Questioning Confucianism and Christianity in the Fiction of Shirley Lim

Contentious Faiths: Questioning Confucianism and Christianity in the Fiction of Shirley Lim

(p.157) 4 Contentious Faiths: Questioning Confucianism and Christianity in the Fiction of Shirley Lim
Intimating the Sacred

Andrew Hock Soon Ng

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter considers the shared ideologies embedded in Confucianism and Christianity, and how they are played out in the lives of the middle-class Straits Chinese characters that people the fiction of Shirley Lim. Confucianism is viewed as a deeply patriarchal-inflected belief system, and when a Chinese (especially woman) trades this faith for Christianity, she often finds that her position in her new religion is not unlike that of her old one, thus perpetuating her sense of helplessness and inferiority. Lim's narratives persistently reveal the ideological entrapment experienced by Chinese women in either religion, and the difficulty they face when negotiating their increasing modern outlook with belief systems that reify traditional, patriarchal values. However, this chapter concludes with a criticism of these stories, and directly Lim herself by asking two related questions: how is Lim helping modern Chinese women escape their ideological positions if her stories continuously plot them as deeply embedded in these structures without offering any alternative perspectives? And is it always the case that religion necessarily circumscribes women by reifying their sexual/gendered position as inferior; is religion not also possibly a way in which women can escape such a position?

Keywords:   Confucianism, Christianity, Chinese women, Shirley Lim, sexual position, gendered position, religion

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