WAYS OF CONFUCIUS AND OF CHRIST by DOM PIERRE-CÉLESTIN / LOU TSENG-TSIANG
A good friend of mine, Rachel John, asked me to republish this book from her personal library as it was out of print. Rachel, who has now passed on, inherited the authorship of The Penguin Dictionary of Saints from her father, Donald Attwater and was also authoress of The Cornish Book of Saints, amongst others. She was also a Cornish Bard. Here’s a picture of her. I must admit I still find myself missing her after many years!
Sometimes in the Cornish summer, we would be sitting in our gardens adjacent to each other, focused on some intellectually engaging project – a book or a piece of writing – and would start talking out loud in an exclamatory fashion.
“What was that Rachel?” I might say.
“Oh, nothing – I was just talking to myself,” came the reply. This could work either way. Brilliant.
I lived next door to her in Lostwithiel, Cornwall for 17 years. She was always such a fount of knowledge about saints and all things Catholic. She would sometimes fly off to various parts of the world to extend the Penguin Dictionary of Saints and appeared to me like a latterday Indiana Jones, adventuring into exotic lands of the intellect in her journies to discover more information on the history of saints.
WAYS OF CONFUCIUS AND OF CHRIST by DOM PIERRE-CÉLESTIN / LOU TSENG-TSIANG, (translated by MICHAEL DERRICK) is an autobiographical account of a Chinese diplomat who abandons his career to enter a religious community. When the diplomat is a Chinese Foreign Minister and the community a Benedictine abbey in Belgium, the contrast is all the more startling. The book was originally written in French and called ‘Souvenirs et Pensées’.
In this meeting of East and West, Dom Pierre shows us with extraordinary insight that his life preserves an essential unity. Just as the natural order precedes and leads up to the supernatural, so he has been led from the ways of Confucius to those of Christianity and finally to the Catholic Church and monastic life. Here’s a picture of him from the cover of the book. Just from this image, I know I would have enjoyed meeting him and passing some time together.
But I think this book tells a greater tale. It is a study of the philosophies that make China what it is in comparison to those of ‘the West’. As China is increasingly opening up to the world, not least in an economic sense – we in the West should reach a greater understanding of the differences and similarities between such impressive global powers. This book gave me insight into the journey from one culture to another and into a compassionate man with a beautiful mind, who suffered great hardship on the way.
The original manuscript for WAYS OF CONFUCIUS AND OF CHRIST was confiscated by the Gestapo during the Second World War and it delights me to bring it back into publication. As Rachel said, ‘it is a book full of profound common sense, of relevance to the 21st Century’. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.
The book is republished at Lulu.com and is priced at £9.99. I don’t expect to recuperate the time it took to put it here in sales, but feel an inner glow from knowing that the journey of such a good man is available for other people to read.
Click this link to purchase WAYS OF CONFUCIUS AND OF CHRIST.