Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

John C. H. Wu

Jingxiong Wu
Wu Ching-hsiung

John Ching Hsiung Wu was a poet, lawyer, and spiritual writer. He authored books in Chinese, English, French and German. To date, we have not located any of Wu's poetry, still, he is often referred to as a poet. He is most clearly associated with poetry by way of his translation of the Tao Teh Ching (Boston: Shambhala, 2003).

The following brief biographical commentary was found in John A. Lindblom's essay, "John C.H. Wu and the Evangelization of China," 8 (2) Logos 130, 136-137 (2005):

John C.H. Wu (Wu Ching-hsiung, 1899-1986) received a top legal education in the United States and Europe in the 1920s, returning to become a famous and wealthy judge and lawyer in Shanghai. In the late 1930s . . . he underwent a profound Augustine-like conversion to the Catholic faith and became probably the most influential Chinese lay Catholic intellectual of the twentieth century. In the late 1940s he lived in Rome with his wife, Teresa, and their thirteen children while serving as the Cinese delegate to the Holy See. As an offical in the Nationalist government, a friend of President Chiang Kai-shek, and a Christian, Wu was unable to return to China after the Communit revolution in 1949.

Lindblom later notes that Wu

grew up in China during the first two decades of the twentieth century, when the country was still largely guided by Confucian principles. He also became well versed in Taoism and Buddhism. Wu sutided law in Shanghai, and in his early twenties went to the United States where he excelled at the University of Michigan Law School. Here he received a J.D. (Doctor of Law) degree and published his first professional article in the Michigan Law Review in 1921. At age twenty-two, he began a friendship with eighty-year-old U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the two carried on a close correspondence that lasted eleven years. Wu later studied in Paris, and in Berlin he came to know the prominent neo-Kantian philospher Rudolf Stammler. He later lectured and studied at Harvard and many other U.S. institutions. In 1930, he returned to Shanghai and became a famous judge and, later, a wealthy lawyer. In 1933, he joined the Legislative Yuan at the request of Sun Fo, son of former president Sun Yat-sen, and wrote the first draft of the constitution of the Repubic of China. Fame and wealth left him still unsatisfied, and at the end of 1937, after a chance reading of the spritiual Classic Story of a Soul by St. Thèrése of Lisieux, Wu converted and was baptized into the Catholic Church. He relates the details of these fascinating events in his humorous and engaging 1951 autobiogrpahy, Beyond East and West. After leaving China in 1949, he taught at the University of Hawaii, and in 1951, he joined the law faculty at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. [Id. at 139-140]

John C.H. Wu

John C.H. Wu


Jingxiong Wu, Juridical Essays and Studies (Shanghai, China: Commercial Press, 1928)(Shanghai, China: Commercial Press, 1933)

__________, Some Unpublished Letters of Justice Holmes ([Shanghai, China]: s.n., 1935)

__________, The Art of Law and Other Essays Juridical and Literary (Shanghai : Commercial Press, 1936)

__________, Essays in Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy ([Shanghai]: Soochow University Law School, 1938)(1981)

__________, The Science of Love: A Study in the Teachings of Thérèse of Lisieux (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Press, 1941)(Hongkong: Catholic Truth Society, 1941)

___________, Justice Holmes to Doctor Wu: An Intimate Correspondence 1921-1932 (New York: Central Book Co., 1947)

___________, From Confucianism to Catholicism (Huntingdon, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Press, 1949)

___________, Beyond East and West (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1951)(Taipei: Mei Ya Publications, 1951)(New York: Sheed and Ward, 1952)(Taipei: Mei Ya Publications, 1969)(Beijing: She hui ke xue wen xian chu ban she, 2002)

__________, The Interior Carmel: The Threefold Way of Love (London: Sheed & Ward, 1954)(Taipei, Taiwan: Hwakang Bookstore, 1975)

__________, Fountain of Justice: A Study in Natural Law (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1955)(London: Sheed and Ward, 1959)(Taipei: Mei Ya Publications, 1971)

__________, Justice Holmes: A New Estimate (Philadelphia: Brandeis Lawyers Society, 1957)

__________, Cases and Materials on Jurisprudence (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1958)

__________, Chinese Humanism and Christian Spirituality (Jamaica, New York: St. John's University Press, 1965)

__________, Sun Yat-sen: The Man and His Ideas (Taipei: Published for Sun Yat-sen Cultural Foundation by the Commercial Press, 1971)

__________, The Four Seasons of T`ang Poetry (Rutland, Vermont: C.E. Tuttle Co., 1972)

__________, Zhongguo zhe hsuëh [Chinese philosophy] (Taipei, Taiwan: China Academy, 1974)

__________, The Golden Age of Zen (Taipei, Taiwan: United Publishingt Center, 1975)(Taipei: Hua kang ch`u pan yu hsien kung ssu / tsung ching hsiao Hua kang shu ch`eng, 1975)(New York: Doubleday Image Books, 1996)


Jingxiong Wu, Tao Teh Ching (New York: St. John's University Press, 1961) [Dao teh jing (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1997)] (Boston: Shambhala, 2003)


Howard L. Boorman (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of Republican China 419-422 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970)(vol.3)

Li Xiuqing, John C.H. Wu at the University of Michigan School of Law, 58 J. Legal Educ. 545 (2008) [online text]

William P. Alford & Shen Yuanyuan, " 'Law is My Idol': John C.H. Wu and the Role of Legality and Spirituality in the Effort to 'Modernise' China," in Wei-ming Tu (ed.), Essays in Honour of Wang Tieya 43-53 (Great Britian: Martinus Nijhoff, 1993)(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994)

William H. Shannon (ed.), The Hidden Ground of Love: The Letters of Thomas Merton on Religious Experience and Social Concerns 611-635 (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985)(Wu/Merton correspondence)