top of page

News from the USCCA and the church in China

Welcome to the 2024 USCCA Book Circles

You are invited to join the 2024 USCCA Book Circles, whose aim is to educate friends and affiliates of the USCCA, current and former Board members, colleagues, and others interested in learning more about the Church in China.



In keeping with our mission, the Book Circles aim to build bridges of friendship among ourselves and across the Pacific.
We use books, articles, videos, films, guest speakers, and respondents to promote stimulating conversations via Zoom. These conversations usually last an hour or so.





In the past, we read and discussed John C. H. Wu’s remarkable autobiography, Beyond East and West, initially published by Sheed and Ward in 1951 and recently re-published by Notre Dame Press in 2018. In 1951, it was an instant Catholic best seller, sometimes compared to Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain and St. Augustine’s Confessions for its moving description of Wu’s conversion in 1937 and his early years as a Catholic. He was deeply schooled in the Chinese classics, which, after his conversion, he said, “…point to universal truths that originate from and are fulfilled in Christ.” The Foreword in the Notre Dame edition was written by his son, John Wu Jr. We trust John and his son will continue to guide us in our journey beyond East and West.


We also read Richard (Dick) Madsen’s China’s Catholics: Tragedy and Hope in an Emerging Civil Society (University of California Press, 1998) and benefited a great deal from the participation of Dick in our discussions. The book treats the emergence of the Catholic Church from the isolation and persecution of the Mao era. “All kinds of religious groups … revived and flourished in the post-Mao era,” many on a spiritual quest. “Madsen was interested in determining if such quests would result in constructing a more humane social order in China. Would religion contribute to or impede economic modernization? What role would the church[es] play in the pluralization of society?” From his sociological perspective, Madsen offered the exciting prospect of believers joining fellow citizens on the complex and uncharted journey toward a mature civil society. Someone commented, “This was like the Magi’s star for me – clear direction, long journey!”


Then, John Lindblom led us in a discussion of his excellent article, "John C. H. Wu and the Evangelization of China," in Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 2005 (Vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 130-164). The amazing growth of religion in China since the 1980s and a genuine search for truth, meaning, and purpose in life revealed people's openness to evangelization. This continually calls for cultural and religious dialogue between East and West. John Lindblom believes that John C. H. Wu is an excellent guide for Westerners “…to develop our understanding of the natural wisdom of the East and discover the ‘seeds of the Logos’ fully revealed in Christ.” John’s final pages present Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist texts that connect the East and West.


The Book Circles in 2024


Our first Book Circle conversation this year will be on Saturday, February 17 (U.S. time zones: 9 am PT, 10 am MT, 11 am CT, 12 pm ET). We will discuss the following two articles, which we will make available to the group:


  • The Conclusion (pp. 541-43) of Jean-Pierre Charbonnier, M.E.P., "Christians in China: A.D. 600-2000." (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2007). This conclusion offers a brief history to orient the discussion.

  • John Wu, Jr. “God-inebriated: An Introduction to the John C. H. Wu-Thomas Merton Correspondence” in Merton and the Tao: Dialogues with John C. H. Wu and the Ancient Sages (Fons Vitae: Louisville, KY, 2013) pp 127-149. Understanding the Tao requires mystical empathy.


Our second Book Circle conversation will be on Saturday, March 9 ((U.S. time zones: 9 am PT, 10 am MT, 11 am CT, 12 pm ET). We will discuss Arturo Sosa, S.J.’s “The Church in China: Notes for ‘writing the future’” (La Civilta Cattolica (20 August 2019), accessible here.


Father Sosa is the former superior general of the Jesuits. He said the Jesuits have sought, are seeking, and will continue to enculturate themselves among the Chinese and there to seek the voice of God among the people. He spells out the Gospel dimensions of such a presence in this article.


After these two Book Circle conversations, we will welcome and rely upon recommendations from the members of the Book Circle for upcoming sessions.



Who Might Benefit from the Book Circles?

  • 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, welcome to the 2024 USCCA Book Circle.


Mary Sluka, USCCA Board Member <marysluka@gmail.com>


Fr. Hugh O'Donnell, C.M., USCCA Board Member


Kathy Stout, Ph.D. in Theology and adjunct professor, The University of Dayton, “The Art of Dialogue and Proclamation: A Case Study with John C. H. Wu (1899-1986)”

------------------


To receive an invitation to the next Book Circle event, please contact one of the organizers directly, or Gerald P. Doyle, Interim, Chief Administrative Officer at director@uscatholicchina.org.





bottom of page