Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Newman, Wu, and Stapleton

I'm juggling three books right now: one by Father Marvin O'Connell, Thomas Stapleton and the Counter-Reformation; John H.C. Wu's Chinese Humanism and Christian Spirituality, and Edward Short's collection of essays, presentations, and reviews, Newman and History. I'll provide reviews soon.

I'm reading the book on Thomas Stapleton because I just read Father O'Connell's history of the Counter Reformation and because of this comment in his obituary:

Nevertheless, about his own artistic accomplishments he was humble. He particularly liked to tell a story about proudly presenting his mother with his first published book, on the 16th-century English Catholic theologian Thomas Stapleton. His mother told him that she planned to read it during Lent. “After finishing the first chapter,” Father O’Connell said, “she let me know that she had changed her mind. She’d decided not to read my book and to give up chocolate instead.”

So far, it's as excellent as I expected--but I haven't had any chocolate lately anyway.

Father John Hardon, SJ included John C.H. Wu in his Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan so when I saw that Angelico Press had published his book comparing Chinese philosophy to St. Therese of Lisieux and other aspects of Catholic Christian spirituality, I asked Warren at Eighth Day Books to get a copy for me:

In the essays collected here, John C. H. Wu (1899–1986), the prominent 20th-century scholar of both Chinese and western law, philosophy, literature, and spirituality, illustrates with striking originality the harmonious synthesis of Chinese humanism (especially the wisdom of the ancient sages) with Christian spirituality as articulated in the Bible and the writings of the saints, mystics, and such modern spiritual writers as Thérèse of Lisieux. They display the depth and breadth of Wu’s thought, which led him to the conclusion that the wisdom in all of China’s traditions—especially Confucian thought, Taoism, and Buddhism—points to universal truths that originate from, and are fulfilled in, Christ, and that the “marriage” of the East and the West in Christ is the key to a future concordant understanding.

More about John C.H. Wu's fascinating life here.

One question I have as I read about the spirit of Chinese humanism is what has so many decades of Communism and totalitarianism--including forced abortions and other horrors--done to this spirit? 

Following the advice of Professor J.J. Scarisbrick in his introduction, I'm dipping into Newman and History by reading some of the shorter entries. The one so far that has been most fascinating is a discussion of the conversions of Blessed John Henry Newman and C.S. Lewis (and why Lewis did not become a Catholic). The key is the definition of "conversion".

What are you reading, readers?

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