What Made Me Cry This Week – Boxers and Saints

Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen YangBoxers - by Gene Luen Yang\

For me as a Christian, reading Boxers and Saints was hard. The story highlights mistakes Christians have made through history, especially in their association with politics, power, and wars.

But it does it in a simple and beautiful way. The story arch is simple and direct.

In the first volume, the story of the leader “Little Bao”* from the Boxer Rebellion, in China, is told. It shows the struggle of his town and family under the oppression of Saints - by Gene Luen Yang“foreign devils:” westerners and Christians. And so we follow Little Bao’s rise to military power against the oppressors; he learns Kung Fu and how to “harness” powers from the Chinese gods.

Mixing mythology and day-to-day happenings, the book took me alongside the rise and downfall of the revolution. I cheered for them to some degree, I understood their suffering and pain, but soon began to see the inevitable end approaching under Bao’s leadership.

The art is clean with a consistent style and adds to that simplicity of the narrative. Bold lines, blocked in colors and simple shadows. The art can be celebrated for its ability to convey so much through so little. It enables the reader to tread quickly through the story, never losing sight of the plot.

Once Boxer ends, one cannot feel the sadness sinking in, was anything actually accomplished?

In Saints we follow a parallel story to Boxers, the story of Four.* Four is a girl with whom Bao has a brief encounter in Boxers. She is an outcast within her and family, who wants to become a Christian to get free food and to become a “devil” – or a Christian. She eventually also starts having visions of Joan D’Arc, whom she begins to look up to as source of inspiration and strength.

As her story is told we sympathize with her, and even with her wrong childish motives. We already know the end of her story, for it appears in Boxers. But we’re still curious: how will she change and become the character we saw in Boxers? And I’ll add, there was a minor surprise I didn’t see coming at the end of Saints.

As everything goes, I couldn’t help but feel deep sorrow for all the deaths and suffering on both sides. The two stories together drive in us a sense of empathy – that neither side was truly right nor wrong, that our world is just…broken. Yang’s writing breaks the notion of us vs. them. It felt like a story needed in today’s political scenario. For that reason, I hope many people will yet read it.

* Little Bao and Four as far as I understand do not represent real historical figures.

You can buy the two graphic novels through my affiliate links! Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang. That’ll help me keep the blog going, and keep me motivated! Plus I just really recommend these books. They’re great!

Another book I’ve read, some time ago, was Gene L. Yang’s book American Born Chinese. I read Boxers and Saints in the first place because of this graphic novel. Another awesome recommendation!

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What Made Me Cry This Week – How Dante Can Save Your Life II

I Can Be An Artist (Quote From Text)

Cover of How Dante Can Save Your Life, by Rod DreherI thought I should fill you guys in to how the book How Dante Can Save Your Life, by Rod Dreher, ends. I wrote the previous What Made Me Cry This Week post before finishing it, but now I can give you the full picture.

After the ecstasy of the first chapters, I slowed down. I needed to let everything sink in. Dreher puts a lot of content into the book. It’s filled with great advice, and the book makes you question yourself. It invites you to do some self-analysis: what are my motives for my actions? Am I making an idol of family, money, friendship, sex? Have I been too harsh with friends? Have I judged them, even though I share in their same faults?

“When family and place and a way of life centered around them become ends in themselves rather the means to the good, they turn into idols.”

And that can be said of anything – as Dreher does throughout the book.

I Can Be An Artist (Quote From Text)One of the chapters that touched me the most was the one that dealt with the creation of art. It felt like Dreher was grabbing my heart and twisting it the way you may twist a towel to get the excess water out.

In recent times my mind has been focused on monetizing my art. I wanted to prove to my parents, friends, and everyone who’s there to see, that I can be an artist. That I can survive in this world through my creativity. I wanted to show them: “I have talent!”

The easiest way I could think of: to make money. The easiest way to make money? Get a following, an audience, grow a platform. Get people talking about you. Post on social media as constantly as you can. Create as much as you can. Self-market. Promote.

Basically: be famous and gain fortune and glory (or recognition). But Dreher’s prose pierced through.

“How much happier would young people be if they began their careers thinking not of the fame, fortune, and glory they will receive from professional accomplishment but rather of the good they can do for others.”

Ouch. It hurt. But he is right. And throughout the whole book that’s what I felt. I kept saying to myself as I read:

Ouch! That hurts.

But…

You’re right, Dreher.

Dreher, you couldn’t have said that better.

His beautiful prose never leaves the book, and he masterfully deals with every topic he touches on, piercing our hardened hearts.

If you’re considering buying this book, why not buy it from amazon through my affiliated link? That way I’ll get a tiny commission if you decide to buy the book! You’ll also be encouraging me to keep writing awesome reviews!

Last words: if you’d like to get updates when blog posts come out, you can follow my Facebook page, or sign up for the mailing list that WordPress has setup — it’s on the bar to the side I believe!

Hope to see you soon so we can cry together.

What Made Me Cry This Week

What makes you cry? Do you like crying?

If any art piece makes me cry,  I love it. That’s what art is for: those exhilarating emotions that make us cry.

It can be because the story is sad. Or because it just is too beautiful. Or because you know it’s not real. But you cry. The story, the colors, the music, something, touches you, it touches that calloused heart, and tears are shed.

WMM_01 That has been my experience with art. And if you’re like me, I invite you to my series of posts I’ll be doing: “What Made Me Cry This Week.” These will be posts where I share on what I’ve read, seen, or heard that has made me cry, that has made me dance and weep at the same time.

I’m hopeful these blog posts will have a small synopsis or something that makes it worth your time. Nothing too serious.  They will be short posts where I share what I love, most likely every Thursday.

Through this series I hope you find out new artists to follow or just read one of their works. I also hope to connect with you. For us to share what we love. For us to know that we’re not alone.

So feel free to comment, here and in the following posts: did you feel the same? Or was your feeling different? Is there another artist or work that you feel matches this one? What made you cry this week?