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Thursday, March 04, 2021
Christian Playwright Says Art Can be Good Hermeneutics
In Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, Jiang Yuanlai(middle) introduced the history of the Notre Dame Hall to Christian artists and scholars at the ruins of the church from January 12 to 14, 2020.In Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, Jiang Yuanlai(middle) introduced the history of the Notre Dame Hall to Christian artists and scholars at the ruins of the church from January 12 to 14, 2020.

A renowned Christian playwright stated that art was a way of presenting the work of the Lord in China. 

Jiang Yuanlai, a folk playwright living in Shanghai, shared the significance of Christian culture and art after giving an online speech on January 16.

In the Q&A part, Jiang said that the cultural mission of native Chinese Christians is in the witness and the storytelling of the Lord’s work in China through art, paintings, music, and dramas. 

Asked why believers ought to read Christian literary masterpieces and appreciate works of art, the man who is known as the “Floor Playwright” replied, “Our Christ is incarnate and the Christ we know should be true, living and lifelike. He is far more than a theological and education system summarized by a rational language and concepts - although these are the most imporאant - this is not all of Christ. The Christ whom we look up to and pray to, we can present him as someone who is lifelike, has ears and eyes. We can touch him and communicate with him.”

He added, “The 2000 years’ history of the church is also the history of Christian art. Christians need to know him and know him more clearly and concretely through great Christian art. Art can also be good hermeneutics.”

Another listener posed the question, “What is the cultural mission of native Chinese Christians? Or what is the significance of devoting time, energy, and passion into public culture ministries?”

The native of old Shanghai said, “Our cultural mission is to demonstrate  the deep footsteps of the Lord in China via art, paintings, music, literature, and plays - namely, in artistic, cultural, visual, and narrative ways. We should describe his beautiful feet and the beautiful feet of his children who are led by him.”

He stated, “This is also the indigenous narrative interpretation, the most precious home-grown Christian art and the greatest promising Chinese Christian culture...”

Once sent to a remote village of Heilongjiang Province and settling down there for over three years, he worked in the municipal government and research institute for environmental planning and field environmental research in scenic spots and nature reserves after graduating from college, according to US-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music.

“He converted to Christianity in the 1980s, then abandoned his previous professional achievements and embarked on a career in folk culture. Jiang began his drama writing from the end of 1990s, and was recognized as one of the most important folk playwrights in the Chinese mainland by critics.”

“Jiang is known as ‘Floor Playwright’ because he was living in a tiny room during his playwriting. His representative works are four large-scale dramas: ‘Beethoven in China’, a six-scene musical drama, has been popular in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, and performed many times in the past 20 years; ‘Shakespeare in Jiaxing’, a six-scene modern drama, is a historical and ideological drama for intellectuals; ‘The Christmas Eve of Yandang Mountai’”, a six-scene church epic, was once performed in a Beijing Church as a tribute to commemorate Robert Morrison’s coming to China 200 years ago; and his latest work, “Lanlin Easter”, a six-scene drama.”

- Translated by Karen Luo

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