A Dialogue between Haizi’s Poetry and the Gospel of Luke

Chinese Homecoming and the Relationship with Jesus Christ


In A Dialogue between Haizi’s Poetry and the Gospel of Luke Xiaoli Yang offers a conversation between the Chinese soul-searching found in Haizi’s (1964–1989) poetry and the gospel of Jesus Christ through Luke’s testimony. It creates a unique contextual poetic lens that appreciates a generation of the Chinese homecoming journey through Haizi’s poetry, and explores its relationship with Jesus Christ. As the dialogical journey, it names four stages of homecoming—roots, vision, journey and arrival. By taking an interdisciplinary approach—literary study, inter-cultural dialogue and comparative theology, Xiaoli Yang convincingly demonstrates that the common language between the poet Haizi and the Lukan Jesus provides a crucial and rich source of data for an ongoing table conversation between culture and faith.

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Xiaoli Yang, Ph.D. (2016), University of Divinity, Australia, is Postdoctoral Associate and Adjunct Lecturer at Whitley College of that university. She is a pastor, mentor and poet. She has published journal articles, book chapters and bilingual poetry for both academic and general readers.
"This book is a masterpiece not only on Haizi studies, but also on cross-cultural studies and comparative theology, with original contributions to these fields of study. (...) Through literary studies, intertextual and intercultural dialogue, and comparative theology, this book creatively and insightfully uses a unique set of cultural and poetic lenses to unfold a dialogue between the contemporary Chinese poet Haizi and the Gospel of Luke's Jesus beyond time and space." Chen Yongtao, Professor of Theology and Chinese Christian Studies, Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, in: Chinese version, p. xiii.

"Yang’s trailblazing book demonstrates her ability to enrich the intellectual conversation between theology and culture. (...) Yang’s book benefits scholars and students in various disciplines, including World Christianity, Intercultural Studies, and Spiritual Formation. She also offers profound insights on land and identity that will enrich postcolonial conversations. Yang brilliantly discerns the parallels and systematically ascertains the points of resonance between soul-searching and spiritual hunger.", Susangeline Patrick, Nazarene Theological Seminary, in: International Bulletin of Mission ResearchVolume 46.3 (2022).

"But now and then something appears that gives one hope that things can change and the theological conversation might connect to things people deeply care about. One such event is the recent publication of Xiaoli Yang’s Dialogue between Haizi’s poetry and the Gospel of Luke (2018). (...) it is in the rereading of Luke’s Gospel in the light of Haizi’s poetry, that Yang, who is a poet herself, breaks open the different textures of [these] soteriological paths.", William Dyrness, Fuller Theological Seminary, in: Exchange Volume 51 (2022).

"Yang presents an equally skillful exegetical analysis of the Gospel of Luke, gesturing toward Jesus Christ’s ministry as dynamic conversation partner that is resonant with Haizi’s search. (...) Altogether, the beauty of Yang’s work is in the way she is able to dance between the registers of academic analysis and spiritual formation." - Easten Law, , in: China Source, 16 March 2022.

"This is a singular book. I do not recall reading another that weaves together poetry and literary analysis, biblical studies, photographs, philosophy, philology, intercultural studies, and theology. It is remarkable! " — Daryl Ireland, Boston University, in: International Review of Mission (2021) Volume 110.1.

"The fruitfulness of Yang’s engagement with Haizi should cause us to wonder, if we are going to give leadership to the church in a secular age, whether we should attend more to the poets of our times. Could it be that in reading the poets—not just religious poets—we will be able to get past the distraction of our age and find a way to attend to the inner sensibilities of the human soul in this time and in this place?" — Gordon T. Smith, Ambrose University, in: Wisdom from Babylon (IVP, 2020)

"It is a publication that deserves to be widely read by scholars and students alike; it offers a unique contribution to contemporary Chinese interaction with the Gospel." — Randall Prior, University of Divinity, Melbourne, in: Mission Studies (2020) Volume 37.1

"This could turn out to be one of the most significant books in Missiology published in 2018." — Larry Nemer, Yarra Theological Union, in: Australian Journal of Mission Studies (2019) Volume 13.2

"This is no mere correlationist project wherein Haizi provides the questions and Luke(‘s Jesus) responds. Instead, there is a dizzying multi-directionality through which various chasms – East-West, Yin-Yang, ancient-contemporary, modern-postmodern, rural-urban, terrestrial-cosmic, poetic-philosophical, symbolic-discursive, epistemological-ontological, immanence-transcendence – are bridged, irreversibly through the Dao of Haizi’s suicide and ultimately through the way of Jesus’ cross. Yang herself emerges as poet giving profound expression to the contemporary global (dis)location, as prophet naming and diagnosing its instable homelessness, and as priest mediating the possibility of a fresh gospel homecoming precisely in and through the desolation of late modernity’s interface with the post-Mao Chinese soul. The word Dialogue in the title is too modest; be forewarned of the tremors this book will unleash to those who think philosophy and theology are mostly discursive Western undertakings." — Amos Yong, Professor of Theology & Mission, Fuller Seminary

" A Dialogue between Haizi’s Poetry and the Gospel of Luke is a welcome contribution to the field of intercultural theology. It skillfully employs together four lenses for hermeneutical reading – the historical, literary, philosophical, and religious — to see freshly Luke and the message of Jesus, now heard along with the poetry of Haizi (1964-1989), a voice still new in the West. Drawing poetry into the work of intercultural learning, Xiaoli Yang also brings new resources from the Chinese context into theological reflection, giving new substance to the ideals and practices of an Asian Christian theology. Comparative theologians too will enjoy learning from Yang’s methods and purposes, broadening our repertoire for the work of interreligious theological learning today." — Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology, Harvard University

"This book offers us an insight into the souls of the contemporary Chinese genuine intellectuals, who have lost their cultural and spiritual home. Through the unique approach combining literary study, intercultural dialogue and comparative theology, Ms. Yang helps us get to such a highland, where we could see clearly the home way of an honest genius poet who committed suicide but never ‘died’, and more importantly, see why millions of Chinese people today are struggling to leave their homeland for new home in foreign land, and for the heavenly home to be with Jesus Christ." — He Guanghu, Professor of Religious Studies, Renmin University of China

"Historical events claim our attention and can generate a desire to rethink our own philosophical stance. Haizi agonized over social realities of his day through his poetry and ultimately through suicide. This is a fascinating yet tragic personal revelation. The advantage of this tragedy is that it opens up for the reader an opportunity to reflect on one’s own ideas. Dr Xiaoli Yang’s book provides some assistance in this by outlining how one can dialogue with Haizi’s poetry and compare the thinking with another historical figure, Jesus, who also challenged attitudes of the day and finally was killed for his revelations." —David Claydon, OAM; previous International Director of the Lausanne Movement; author & theological lecturer
Contents Acknowledgments List of Illustrations Introduction 1 Haizi: The Poet Who Never ‘Dies’   Introduction   Definitions and Limitations   Two Decades of Research on Haizi (1989–2016)   Methodology   Personal Perspectives   Summary

Part 1: Roots

2 Haizi: Beyond Homelessness   Introduction   Creation Myth   Songs of the Homeland   Summary 3 Jesus: Quest for Home   Introduction   The Roots of Humanity   The Identity   A Home Beyond Borders   The Homeless Homeland   Summary

Part 2: Vision

4 Haizi: Returning Home—Chinese Huijia   Introduction   A Cultural Premise—The Etymology   Xiangchou   The Movement towards Homecoming   The Ethics of Home   Summary 5 Jesus: the Hospitality of God   Introduction   Casting the Vision   Table Fellowship   Summary

Part 3: Journey

6 Haizi: Seeking a Home   Introduction   Poetic Adoption from the Greeks   Learning from the Quest of Modern Movements   Returning Home—Hui   Summary 7 Jesus: Embodying the Kingdom   Introduction   The Movement of the Journey   The Way of the Cross   The Way of Brokenness   Summary

Part 4: Arrival

8 Haizi: The Death of a Poet   Introduction   The Task of a Poet   Songs of Death   Self-Surrender   Summary 9 Jesus: Passion to Embrace   Introduction   The Radical Openness of God   The Radical Vulnerability of God   Summary Conclusion Afterword Appendices Bibliography Index
All interested in Chinese Christianity, and anyone concerned with contemporary Chinese culture, and creative intercultural conversations between the gospel and Chinese culture.
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