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News from the USCCA and the church in China

Ways of Wisdom with Merton and Bidlack

Dear Friends in Christ,

We hope to see you over Zoom at the next USCCA Book Circle. Our next discussion will be held on April 20, 2024 at 7 am PT / 8 am MT / 9 am CT / 10 am ET / 10 pm China Standard Time.

This month, we will be reading "Merton's Way of Zhuangzi: A Critique," a chapter by comparative theologian Bede Bidlack in Merton & The Tao: Dialogues With John Wu and the Ancient Sages. We will be discussing the following questions:

  1. Bede Bidlack states that postmodern scholarship has abandoned the missionary distinction between Christian miracles/faith and pagan superstition/beliefs (87-88). How significant is this change for the future of the Chinese church?

  2. Bidlack mentions Merton’s dissatisfaction with monastic life and Western modernity in the 1950s-1960s. Besides Merton, many others in the West became attracted to Eastern wisdom during this period. Why do you think this was the case?

  3. After reading Merton’s translation of the story, "Cook Ding," can you reflect on the relationship between craftsmanship, art, spirituality, and contemplation?

Anyone interested in participating in Book Circle discussions can let us know by signing up for Book Circle updates through the Google Form linked here. Please feel free to share that form with anyone you know who might benefit from participation in the Book Circle, such as:

  • Chinese Christians interested in the growth of Chinese churches

  • Emerging scholars interested in the dialogue between Christianity and Chinese culture

  • All those interested in forming a more profound friendship between China and the United States

Again, we welcome you to participation in the USCCA Book Circle.


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