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Making Saints in Modern China$
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David Ownby, Vincent Goossaert, and Ji Zhe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190494568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190494568.001.0001

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Duan Zhengyuan and the Moral Studies Society

Duan Zhengyuan and the Moral Studies Society

“Religionized Confucianism” during the Republican Period

4 (p.137) Duan Zhengyuan and the Moral Studies Society
Making Saints in Modern China

Fan Chunwu

David Ownby

Oxford University Press

Duan Zhengyuan was the charismatic leader of the Moral Studies Society, an early example of a “redemptive society”; these were new religious movements that were the most vital expressions of Chinese religiosity during the Republican period. These groups recycled traditional spiritual teachings (the scriptures were frequently conveyed via spirit-writing), often adding Western religions and embrace of science as part of their teachings, and marketed themselves as forms of “cultivation” (rather than “religion”) in which qigong or similar body technologies offered the promise of healing. Duan’s particular teachings drew on a “religionized Confucianism” with local roots in Duan’s home province of Sichuan. More generally, the redemptive societies served as popular vehicles for Confucian teachings, which had lost institutional support as well as that of much of the intellectual elite. Like Yinguang, Duan employed the tools of the new media technology of the time—including photographs—to spread his movement.

Keywords:   Duan Zhengyuan, Moral Studies Society, Daode xueshe, Confucianism, Photography, Redemptive Society

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