Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chinese boxes

I've just read Gene Luen Yang's two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion, Boxers & Saints. A very impressive achievement, which uses the powers of the graphic medium to tell interlocked stories of cultural and religious identity and hope, difference and similarity. One
book tells of a young Boxer, the other of a girl who becomes a Christian. Their stories intersect in a few places - above is one. In an interview Yang said that the Boxers reminded him of geeks and cosplay as a way of escaping feelings of teenage powerlessness; the Chinese Christian's story was harder to tell. (He's himself a practicing Catholic.) He cites a number of historical works he used for reference but nothing religious. I'd love to know where and how he discovered Guanyin-Christ.

Aha: Years ago, I saw this painting of Guan Yin in a museum where she was surrounded by a halo of hands with eyes in them. I was struck by how much those hands with eyes looked like hands with holes.  Guan Yin is a Christ figure. Or if you’re a devotee of Guan Yin, you could say that Christ is a Guan Yin figure. Both their stories exemplify self-donating love. They show the importance of self-donating love within all human culture.

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