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Beyond East and West

Product no.: 978-0268103651
When John C. H. Wu’s spiritual autobiography Beyond East and West was published in 1951, it became an instant Catholic best seller and was compared to Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain.

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Publisher's Synopsis
It was also hailed as the new Confession of St. Augustine for its moving description of Wu’s conversion in 1937 and early years as a Catholic. This new edition, including a foreward written by Wu’s son John Wu, Jr., makes this profoundly beautiful book by one of the most influential Chinese lay Catholic intellectuals of the twentieth century available for a new generation of readers hungry for spiritual sustenance.

Beyond East and West recounts the story of Wu’s early life in Ningpo, China, his family and friendships, education and law career, drafting of the constitution of the Republic of China, translation of the Bible into classical Chinese in collaboration with Chinese president Chiang Kai-Shek, and his role as China’s delegate to the Holy See. In passages of arresting beauty, the book reveals the development of his thought and the progress of his growth toward love of God, arriving through experience at the conclusion that the wisdom in all of China’s traditions, especially Confucian thought, Taoism, and Buddhism, point to universal truths that come from, and are fulfilled in, Christ.

In Beyond East and West, Wu develops a synthesis between Catholicism and the ancient culture of the Orient. A sublime expression of faith, here is a book for anyone who seeks the peace of the spirit, a memorable book whose ideas will linger long after its pages are closed.

"John Wu’s story of his conversion to Catholicism, although perhaps not as well known today, is rightly placed alongside the illustrious early to mid-twentieth century convert stories that we know so well: Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Karl Stern, Edith Stein, and others. This magnificent memoir is all the more remarkable because Dr. Wu brought his Chinese heritage into the Church to enrich her, rather than leaving it behind at the church door."       ~John Cavadini, University of Notre Dame

"I wrote about how John is a reformed hell-raiser, which is one of the reasons I like him. He lays it all out for us in Beyond East and West. In Part One, it is his personal story. He covers his family background, where he went to school, his rise, his becoming a Christian, his being befriended by Justice Holmes of the U.S. Supreme Court, his falling away from Christianity, his decent into depravity and his conversion to Catholicism.

In Part Two, he describes the three main religions of China: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddism. He then relates how these three belief systems prepared the foundation for his conversion to Catholicism. He discusses at length his falling away from Methodism, his descent into a kind of pantheism, and in the winter of 1937, his encounter with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, which led him and his family to Rome.

His story is one that takes place during cataclysmic upheavals in Chinese society. For example, the building of the new Nationalist Chinese Government after the collapse of the Manchu Dynasty; the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the fall of Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists to the Communist armies under Mao Zedong. Did I mention he and his wife had 13 children, despite all of the silliness going on in China at the time? John has pluck."           ~Patheos

"It is not fair to Christianity to call it 'Western.' Christianity is universal. In fact, the West has something to learn from the East, for on the whole, the East has gone farther in its natural contemplation than the West has in its supernatural contemplation.

To take just one instance, the average Buddhist in China knows something about the three stages of Absention, Concentration, and Wisdom; while the average Christian has no idea of the three ways, the purgative, the illuminative, and the unitive. The spiritual education of the Christian is sadly neglected. As I told a group of Carmelite Fathers in Rome, the East has entered upon the contemplative stage before its time, while the West has lagged in the stage of discursive reasoning too long.

The East is a thief, while the West is a son who does not resemble the Father. The son will have a great deal to learn from the thief. My talk delighted the Carmelites so much that Father Gabriel took notes of it and made an article out of it."

John C. H. Wu (1899–1986) was a diplomat, scholar, and authority on international law. He wrote works in Chinese, English, French, and German, Chinese literature (including a translation of the Tao Teh Ching), and legal topics. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, he was the principal author of the constitution of the Republic of China. He maintained a correspondence with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and later produced scholarly work examining Holmes’s legal thought.

Author Wu, John C. H.
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 416 pp.
Publisher University of Notre Dame Press 2018
Browse these categories as well: Spiritual Biography and Autobiography, Syncretism and the Perennial Philosophy, Mystic and Esoteric Christianity, Eastern Buddhism and Zen Masters, Noteworthy Releases 2018

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Number: 8 Page 1 of 8