The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Lin Yutang - Between Tears and Laughter


#1

“While Lin is an admirer of many aspects of Western civilization, in this book he delivers his most staggering critique of Western imperialism; namely that the West has closed itself off from philosophies of peace and reconciliation, due to a false conception of peace as a state rather than an activity. To Lin, the West’s weakness is seeing peace in negative terms (as the absence of war) rather than positive terms (the presence of the activity of ‘making peace’) In his conception, peace is not a noun, but rather a verb. Not an idealistic pipe dream, but a daily discipline of choosing respect, love, and diplomacy over the easy temptations of force, belligerence, and selfishness. A brilliant book by a brilliant man.” - blurb on Amazon

I’ve had Yutang’s essays “The Importance of Living - the Noble art of leaving things undone” and benefited from them for years. I’m about to order the book above. He also chronicles his conversion from Daoism and Confucianism to Christianity in another I haven’t read yet - “From Pagan to Christian”.


#2

THAT is interesting. :neutral_face:


#3

Yutang was a man of rare gifts, and by no means are his works devoted to the above theme. But as a deep thinker and wise, he did meditate on themes of peace and reconciliation.
Here’s a short paragraph from page 1 of “The Importance of Living”. (Yes I got all excited thinking about him so decided to read the book again. :-))

“For, after surveying the field of Chinese literature and philosophy, I come to the conclusion that the highest ideal of Chinese culture has always been a man with a sense of detachment toward life based on a sense of wise disenchantment. From this detachment comes a ‘lofty-mindedness’ which enables one to go through life with tolerant irony and escape the temptations of fame and wealth and achievement, and eventually to take what comes. And from this detachment arise also his sense of freedom, his love of vagabondage and his pride and nonchalance.
It is only with this sense of freedom and nonchalance that one eventually arrives at the keen and intense joy of living.”
“I shall have to present a view of life as Chinese poets and scholars evaluated it with their common sense, their realism and their sense of poetry. I shall attempt to reveal some of the beauty of the pagan world, a sense of the pathos and beauty and terror and comedy of life,
as viewed by a people who have a strong feeling of the limitations of our existence, and yet somehow retain a sense of the dignity of human life.”
“He is seldom disillusioned because he has no illusions, and seldom disappointed because he never had extravagant hopes. In this way his spirit is emancipated.”