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News from the USCCA and the church in China

Book Circle Discussion: Letters of Wisdom and Compassion

In its last meeting of this semester, the USCCA Book Circle discussed the collected letters of correspondence between John Wu and Thomas Merton, accompanied by an introductory essay by Lucien Miller entitled "The Thomas Merton—John C.H. Wu Letters: The Lord as Postman." These readings were drawn from Merton & the Tao: Dialogues with John Wu and the Ancient Sages, the book which has been the focus of our Book Circle over the course of the semester.



A lively discussion ensued on Saturday, June 29, 2024, in which scholars and lay readers reflected on the depth of mutual enrichment that can come from dialogue between spiritual traditions Eastern and Western in origin.


Participants engaged in a compelling discussion of how Buddhism's insights can open up new possibilities for understanding Catholicism and Christianity in general. We talked about Merton's reflection on the "strange dialectic" of personal identity, wherein "It is what is seemingly not present, the void, that is really I...It is the No-I [not I] that is most of all I in each one of us" (p. 161). Another thought-provoking passage was found in Wu's suggestion that

The ancient Zen masters would be better Christians than many today, because had they heard Christ's teachings they would have understood them, while Christians have lost their ear for the words of the Gospel and the 'impractical' living counsels of the Living LOGOS. (p. 160)

These comparisons on the topics of ethics and personal identity were complemented by further discussion on the value of immanence and nature in Eastern thought, which the West can only disregard at a significant spiritual cost.


Were you unable to make it to the Book Circle on June 29, 2024? We encourage you to sign up for email updates for the latest from the USCCA, including Book Circle updates for its Fall 2024 semester.


You can also stay involved with the USCCA by supporting our mission with a donation or by learning with us and building friendships at the 29th USCCA International Conference. The Conference will be held on August 2–4, 2024, at DePaul University's Lincoln Park campus in Chicago. If you have any questions about the conference, please feel free to reach out to our Interim Chief Administrative Officer, Gerald Doyle, at director@uscatholicchina.org.


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