The Arena of Eric Liddellís Life
Eric Liddellís four short decades (1902 Ė 1942) encompassed some of the most turbulent years of modern Chinese and British history. This was the arena in which his life was run. Eighteen years of education and sports competition in Scotland (Ericís native home), England and France were sandwiched between five carefree years of childhood in China† then 17 years of sacrificial service for the Chinese people.
††††††††††† Two years before Ericís birth, the death knell of
††††††††††† For over a century, East and West clashed with cycles of
provocation and retaliation.
††††††††††† Inside China, enormous social changes were also taking place. In 1905, the age-old Examination System based on the Confucian classics was replaced by a western model. The May 4th Movement 14 years later saw science and democracy virtually worshiped.† Writing in classical Chinese gave way to writing in colloquial language. New values, concepts and ideologies from abroad formed a volatile mix in the market of menís minds.†
††††††††††† The missionary movement, of which Ericís parents were a
part, played an important role in this change. The year Eric left China to
begin school in Scotland was the centennial anniversary of Robert Morrisonís
arrival in China and the start of Protestant missions. The 100,000 Chinese
believers did not begin to reflect the total††
impact missions had in
Sun Yat-senís tireless efforts to rally forces overseas and within China to overthrow the Manchu dynasty and establish a new republic finally came to fruition in 1911.†† But the republic was short-lived as warlords tore the nation apart in fighting to protect their turf. This civil chaos, followed by World War I, was the prelude to Japanese aggression and the 8-year War of Resistance that included World War II.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† James H. Taylor III ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †.†† Hong Kong, SAR, China