Shaping the Soul of China: Religion and the Search for Meaning in the Middle Kingdom | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Shaping the Soul of China: Religion and the Search for Meaning in the Middle Kingdom
A conversation with Ian D. Johnson, Jennifer Lin, and Mary Kay Magistad.

Mao Zedong tried to shut down religious practice in China, sometimes brutally, but once Mao was gone, many Chinese renewed their search for meaning. In conversation about this complex history are Ian D. Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao and Jennifer Lin, author of Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family. Moderating will be former NPR & PRI China correspondent Mary Kay Magistad.

This event is courtesy of the Overseas Press Club/West, a group of current and former foreign correspondents in the Bay Area.


Ian D. Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, focusing on society, religion and history. He has spent over half of the past thirty years in the Greater China region, first as a student in Beijing and Taipei, then as a correspondent for Baltimore's The Sun, and The Wall Street Journal, and most recently as a contributor to The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, National Geographic and other publications. He teaches undergraduates at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, where he also runs a fellowship program.

Jennifer Lin is an award-wining former journalist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and former China correspondent for Knight-Ridder news service. She has long been intrigued by the story of her Chinese father's family, from the Fujian fisherman who first encountered Christian missionaries, to the evangelical leader Watchman Nee, still revered by some underground Chinese Christians, to cousins in her generation who lived through the tumult of the Cultural Revolution. After years of retracing their steps in China, her book Shanghai Faithful tells their story.

Mary Kay Magistad has covered Northeast Asia for the PRI's The World and been a reporter and correspondent for the Washington Post, and the Christian Scientist Monitor, and, as correspondent for NPR, was responsible for opening its first Beijing bureau. Magistad did Nieman and Radcliffe Fellowships at Harvard, before returning to China as East Asia correspondent for the BBC/Public Radio International program The World. In her decade in that position, 2003-13, she won several awards, including an Overseas Press Club award, a DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton, and a Society of Professional Journalists award.


Members & Public Free
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0101.

Future Activities

May 29 - 5:30pm

Knit Happens
Last Tuesdays of the Month

May 31 - 11:00am

Teacherless Writing
A member-led writing group

Jun 7 - 11:00am

Teacherless Writing
A member-led writing group

Jun 8 - 12:00pm

Walking San Francisco's 49 Mile Scenic Drive
a talk about the book