Towards a Chinese Theology of Displacement: The Poetic Journey of a Chinese Migrant

In: Mission Studies
Xiaoli Yang Charles Sturt Unversity Barton, ACT Australia University of Divinity Parkville, VIC Australia

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While poetry was used as a rich vehicle to express one’s identity, freedom and communal belonging in the “poetry fever” (shige re, 诗歌热) of the 1980s in Mainland China, its connection with Christian theology has been long neglected despite the rapid increase in Chinese conversion to Christianity amongst the post-1989 generation. Using both autoethnographic and phenomenological methodology, this paper explores the relationship between the two using the author’s own poetry writings as a case study. From the vantage point of a Chinese Christian, poet and migrant to Australia, this paper is an inter-disciplinary study that journeys with the poetic voice from the themes of lament to search and then return, followed by some theological reflections. It argues that the dualistic thinking of poetry and theology can move into non-dualist responses so that the two can meet and become fused on the epistemological path towards God. This path parallels with that of the Israelites in exile, and ultimately Jesus’ journey in the gospel. It aims to provide a trajectory to develop further a poetic Chinese theology of displacement.

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