11/27/2012, 00.00
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Taiwanese filmmaker converts, filming his encounter with Jesus

by Xin Yage
He will be baptised on 6 January, Epiphany, because it is the feast day when Jesus "manifests himself." Because of a serious illness, "in addition to physical help I needed spiritual help, something that would give me deep hope."

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Jiang chose 6 January, Epiphany, as the day of his baptism because it is the feast day when Jesus "manifests himself" to humanity. For someone who lived all his professional life in communication "that is indeed an important day".

A filmmaker and a producer from a Buddhist background, he chose to become Catholic early next year because "We wanted to be certain that I could accompany my relatives to the temple for the most important festivities, which fortunately do not coincide with Christian festivities. In fact, my wife told me: 'Either you come to offer incense with us or I throw you out of the house!' The interfaith dialogue the Church recommends, I practice at home."

Jiang (蔣先生) became interested in photography early in his life. Later, his uncle gave him an 8 mm projector. Eventually, he began thinking about working in the movie industry and making some good movies. In the 1970s, he worked as a photographic assistant in Taiwan's movie industry, working on two successful Chinese language productions. He moved to TV when the government began funding children's educational and literacy programmes.

After landing a job as filmmaker on two government TV networks, he switched to Kuangqi Program Service (KPS), a Catholic broadcaster, where he worked as a producer along with about 200 other employees, mostly young and creative people who had trained in the Language Department's arts and theatre programmes of Fujen University, a Catholic institution.

At the time, new international children's programmes by the BBC and PBS were all the rage. "It was exciting to work with Fr Raymond (抱神父), a Canadian with passion for talking puppets à la Sesame Street, and many other producers and artists, young presenters and veteran journalists."

"A few months ago, Card Paul Shan passed away. He was the network's president for a couple of years. The KPS family trained some of Taiwan's most famous TV producers. It also trained me, especially inside. What we carried inside and wanted to communicate were values, trying to see the meaning of things and relations as well as what people and children wanted. Taiwanese society was not as wealthy then as it is now, and we looked outside to copy the most important values, in addition to the Chinese values we already had."

"I later realised that the religious dimension was the most important thing that attracted me. I remember that foreign missionaries and local religious always encouraged me to bring out the best in myself. When you are young you have a lot of energy and you want to communicate something that is yours, something new. This has always found room in our programmes; each idea was evaluated and improved."

"I got older and got married, had kids. As I went through with life two things happened that left deep marks. A young nun who worked with us and the then president of our station pushed me to produce a religious programme called 'Today's Gospel'. Working on this project I realised where our style came from. Probably Jesus was one of the first people to listen to others' values. When I was making 'Today's Gospel,' I heard many stories and tales of people saying how they came to know and follow Jesus. For me producing has never been something neutral. I have always had a reaction for or against someone who came to the station, but I have never ignored any guest, as if he was just part of routine work. For this reason, those who come to speak and bear witness to Jesus are even more important."

"The second thing that unsettled my life was a disease that could have been fatal had it not been properly treated. It affected everything: diet, lifestyle, work schedule, physical exercises and chemotherapy. With the help of my wife, friends and colleagues, I got through it, fought it and won. I dropped everything, except 'Today's Gospel,' because I felt that in addition to physical help I needed spiritual help, something that would give me deep hope. This explains why I chose next Epiphany to be baptised. I like Epiphany because it is the feast day in which Jesus 'manifests himself' to humanity. All my life, I have worked in the communication field and the media. For me, this is very important."

 "Why didn't I get baptised before? In light of its Buddhist tradition, my family wanted to be sure that I could accompany them to the temple during the most important festivities, which fortunately do not coincide with those of Christianity. My wife told me: 'Either you come to offer incense with us or I throw you out of the house!' The interfaith dialogue the Church recommends, I practice at home. Together with Father Raymond, I had read some Church documents on interfaith dialogue and that helped a lot. This is the first reason."

"A second motive reason is that sadly, in our circle of friends, among those who were Catholic, some felt 'superior', as if they had who knows what special power. Once a colleague told that he was special because he had been baptised. 'Shut up," I told him. 'There's only one superman and I saw him in the movies. He does not dress like you.' Actually, I do not know why I had such a bad impression but I did not want to be baptised to feel superior to others. Are we not supposed to share and serve? I do not want to pass judgement upon others; I want to be sure that the reasons for my baptism are my faith, not my vanity. If I think it is something that makes me feel superior, I am bad advertiser, don't you think?" Coming from a communication expert that certainly rings true.

Jiang was recently in Rome on a vacation with this wife and friends. He was so captivated by Michelangelo's Pietà that will use it in the invitation cards he is sending out for his baptism.

"I believe it is related to my recent disease. A mother that weeps over her son has a certain something that is deeply touching for every human being."

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