What are the religious beliefs of people in the Chinese countryside and how do these beliefs reflect individual and collective experiences? The essays in this chapter analyze the implicit meanings in the choices rural people make by looking at the way individual and community experiences are expressed through their beliefs.
The essay on Christianity focuses on several individuals in the village to elucidate how their personalities and experiences affect their different understandings and interests in Christian religion. The essay on Body, Belief and the State provides an analytical comparison of some of the fundamental differences among Christianity, formal Buddhism, and Chinese popular religion in an attempt to understand their differing relations to the State and its policies. A profile of the Chuanzhu temple explores how this one temple in particular, has expressed changes in the community's identity over time. Overall, this section attempts to give insight into some of the strengths and weaknesses of looking at Chinese popular religion as a democratic expression of changing popular concerns.