Thursday, August 31, 2006

North Korean Aid Demands

Mr. Sam Kim describes them in Relief goods mirror plight of stunted N. Koreans:
    Thousands of used but clean shirts, pants and other clothes are stacked in big heaps in warehouses outside Seoul to be sent to poverty-stricken North Korea.

    But they can't be sent as they are, because North Korean officials want to get them their way: all without English writing on them and their size no bigger than "large."

    "In addition, we have color restrictions," Ahn Jeong-hui, director of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, the donor of the clothes and other relief goods. "Strong colors could easily repulse North Koreans."


    After years of dealing with North Korea, South Korean donors have learned that helping the communist country is not just about sending large quantities of supplies. It requires certain "customization,"

    "The maximum size of clothes we send to North Korea is 'large,'" said Hyun Il-hyun, secretary at Join Together Society, another South Korean relief agency, "We know anything bigger, like 'extra large' or 'extra extra large,' won't fit North Koreans."

    "What will fit elementary school kids in South Korea will usually fit North Korean middle-schoolers," she said. "Most North Korean adults will fit well into what South Korean teenagers wear."

    Chronic food shortages and malnutrition have stunted many North Koreans, making some look like dwarfs. Television footage broadcast in South Korea showed gaunt North Koreans scouring winter fields for grains left by reapers.


    A 2004 survey of 2,300 North Korean defectors showed that average North Korean men and women are 5.9 centimeter and 4.1 centimeters shorter than their South Korean counterparts, respectively. An average 14-year-old boy from North Korea is up to 15.8 centimeters shorter than the same-aged South Korean.

    English-embellished clothes are not welcome, either, in North Korea, relief workers said.

    "We pick out any clothing that has English writing on it," Hyun of Join Together Society said. "North Korean authorities apparently don't want their people to think the clothes are coming from their sworn enemy, the U.S. We also restrict clothes that have the names of South Korean organizations."
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Inside North Korea's Potemkin Church

British diplomat James Mawdsley describes a visit to North Korea's only Catholic chuch in The Walled Country: Truth and Lies in North Korea. There were no priests, no Eucharist, and, perhaps most tellingly, no children.

The lack of children is surer sign than the lack of priests and the Eucharist that this was no Catholic church. The Church can survive without priests and the Eucharist, as the Catholic Church did in Korea for several decades, if not centuries, before the 1830s. Mr. Mawdsley gives this brief history of the Korean Church:
    We left more than 50 rosaries, as well as prayer cards from Aid to the Church in Need and booklets titled Martyrs of Korea, hoping they’d be distributed. The booklets told of the growth of the Church in Korea—the only Catholic Church to have been established by lay believers. When French priests arrived in disguise in the 1830s, there was already a flock of thousands, despite frequent persecution. The message of Christ resonated in a culture that had heard since 450 b.c. that “those who follow the will of God know only love for all mankind, and seek by love to benefit others” (Mo-Tzu).

    In Martyrs of Korea, Rev. Richard Rutt describes the ordeals faced by those incarcerated for their faith: “A cord was passed under the thighs, crossed over the front then held taut by men on either side who applied a sawing motion that cut through the flesh like a cheese-cutter, right to the bone.” Prisoners were given boiled millet twice a day. Those who could not buy or acquire more food were reduced to eating the straw and lice. Many recanted their faith. Others were faithful to the end, including Korea’s first priest, St. Andrew Kim, beheaded with eight strokes of a sword on the flat sands of the Han River in 1846. Pope John Paul II visited those same Han sands in 1984 to perform the first canonization outside Rome. Forty-seven Korean women were recognized as saints, as were 46 Korean men, seven French priests, and three French bishops.

    And yet the persecution of the 1800s doesn’t compare to the annihilation that came under Kim Il Sung.
The rest of the article goes on to describe that annihilation. It is not an easy read.

The Church of Silence survives, though, and the article describes a rural area where "every Sunday a few believers gathered to pray at the ruins of a Catholic church that had been bombed during the Korean War."

[link sent by Mr. Jason Choi of KoreanCatholic]
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Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse calls it The Real Third Rail in Politics, noting that "[n]o one wants to mention that the insolvency of the Social Security system is a fertility crisis at least as much as a fiscal crisis."

From the article:
    The Social Security of the 1930s took for granted women’s contribution of raising productive adult children. That assumption has foundered in recent decades -- possibly due in part to the incentives of Social Security itself. Economists Isaac Ehrlich and Jian-Guo Zhong found that countries with generous social security systems have lower fertility rates, marriage rates and higher divorce rates.
Welfare Statism is self-destructive as it violates The Principle of Subsidiarity, by which "nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization." Let the Family, the basic unit of society, take care of itself and it will prosper.
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Quiet Eugenics

Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk examines the "conspiracy of eugenics" in which up to 95% of unborn children with conditions like Cystic Fibrosis and Down's Syndrome are aborted: Prenatal testing: Powerful tools raise serious concerns.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gypsies and the Holocaust

As a Romany quadroon, I am always interested in stories like this one, History Claims Her Artwork, but She Wants It Back*, about a young woman in Auschwitz forced by Josef Mengele, The Angel Of Death, to paint the watercolors pictured below:

Her paintings are housed in the museum in Oświęcim (Osvyenchim in Romani). It's a tough case, but I say she deserves her paintings back.

Here are some links that provide some background: Gypsies in the Holocaust; The Plight of Czech Gypsies in the Holocaust and Today; Brutality At The Hands Of The Monster - Dr Mengele.

As an aside, one thing I've never understood is why Holocaust Denial is prevalent among Schismatic Traditionalists. Why those who claim to uphold Traditionalism would, against such an overwhelming preponderance of evidence, attempt to cast doubt on Exhibit A in the Prosecution's case against Modernism is beyond me.

*Use to bypass registration.
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The Superior Man (君子)

That refreshingly anti-egalitarian term found in the writing of Confucius is analyzed by Thomas Merton in this quote taken from an excellent essay entitled Merton and Confucius:
    The philosophy of Confucius aims at developing the person in such a way that he is a superior person. But what do you mean "superior"? It's not that he is a superman or any of this kind of nonsense, and it is not at all that he stands out over other people by winning .... Confucius doesn't have a philosophy on how to be a winner ... In contrast, the superior man in Confucius is the self‑sacrificing man, the man who is formed in such a way that he knows how to give himself..., that in giving himself, he realizes himself. This is what Confucius discovered, and this is a great discovery.... This is just as fundamental as anything can be.
Some quotes on the above from Confucius - Wikiquote:
    Isn't it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned? Isn't it also great when friends visit from distant places? If people do not recognize me and it doesn't bother me, am I not a Superior Man?

    If the Superior Man is not serious, then he will not inspire awe in others. If he is not learned, then he will not be on firm ground. He takes loyalty and good faith to be of primary importance, and has no friends who are not of equal (moral) caliber. When he makes a mistake, he doesn't hesitate to correct it.

    When the Superior Man eats he does not try to stuff himself; at rest he does not seek perfect comfort; he is diligent in his work and careful in speech. He avails himself to people of the Tao and thereby corrects himself. This is the kind of person of whom you can say, 'he loves learning.'

    The Superior Man is all-embracing and not partial. The inferior man is partial and not all-embracing.

    The Superior Man has nothing to compete for. But if he must compete, he does it in an archery match, wherein he ascends to his position, bowing in deference. Descending, he drinks the ritual cup. This is the competition of the Superior Man.

    The Superior Man is aware of Righteousness, the inferior man is aware of advantage.

    The Superior Man, extensively studying all learning, and keeping himself under the restraint of the rules of propriety, may thus likewise not overstep what is right.

    The Superior Man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved.
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On Study and Thought

    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.
[from Confucius - Wikiquote]
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Some Facts About Nagasaki

Apparently, posting just the above is enough to ignite a firestorm of controversy, as Mr. Dave Armstrong of Cor ad cor loquitur has done with his post 9000-9600 Catholics Killed at Nagasaki in August 1945.

[link via Built on a Rock]
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This is the type of story the modernist world scoffs at: Hitler and Stalin were possessed by the Devil, says Vatican exorcist.

Here is part of what Father Gabriele Amorth said:
    Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.

    I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler - and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil.

    You can tell by their behaviour and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That's why we need to defend society from demons.
Fr. Amorth also says that Venerable Pope Pius XII, known in some quarters as "Hitler's Pope," attempted a "long-distance exorcism" of the Fuerher.

I am sure that quite a number of Catholics ─ I'm tempted to say neo-Catholics ─ find themselves embarrassed by such a statements about the Devil and demons, or at the very least find such talk not in keeping with The Spirit of Vatican II™. Perhaps these need to be reminded of Charles Baudelaire's famous quote ─ la plus belles ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas ─ and of the links between The Nazis And The Occult and The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture.
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Inch'ŏn's "Chinatown"

"How can a town without Chinese people be called a Chinatown?" asks Yuan So-chin in No 'real' Chinatown in S. Korea, the result of xenophobic attitudes.

In many ways, the situation of ethnic Chinese in Korea parallels that of ethnic Koreans in Japan.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Sage of Mecosta

The great Russell Kirk (1918–1994) was referenced by two of my favorite bloggers today. Mr. Daniel Larison of Eunomia sadly reports that the author of The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot is less likely to get a mention from establishment "conservatives" than the starship captain with whom he shares a surname: “Republicans: Think Like Kirk!” And The Young Fogey of A conservative blog for peace links to a link-laden post by Subdeacon Robert Llizo of Logos on his hero and mine: Real Conservatism: The Legacy of Russell Kirk, Apostle of the "Permanent Things".

[image from Italy's Centro Studi Russell Kirk]

What made Prof. Kirk great, apart from essentially giving "Conservatism" a name and tracing its rich intellectual history? Mr. Jeremy Beer answers that question in his contribution to The American Conservative's What is Left? What is Right? issue:
    Here is where Russell Kirk was truly exemplary. He ought to be remembered not as “the principal architect of the postwar conservative movement,” as the quasi-official adulation has it, but because he went home. There he restored an old house, planted trees, and became a justice of the peace; took a wife (and kept her) and had four children; wrote ghost stories about census-takers and other bureaucrats getting it in the neck; took in boatpeople and bums; and denounced every war in which the U.S. became involved—especially the first Gulf War, which he detested. And he also denounced abstractions because he knew they were drugs deployed to distract us from the infinitely more important work of the Brandywine Conservancies of the world.
I've come up with a few Kirkian links of my own to share:

First, perhaps the best place to begin for those unfamiliar with Prof. Kirk would be here: The Kirk Center - Ten Conservative Principles by Russell Kirk.

Second, here is a wonderfully written obituary by personal friend Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz: The Pilgrimage of a Christian Gentleman.

Third, Prof. Jeffrey Hart assesses "the ideas held in balance in the American Conservative Mind today" in The Burke Habit.

Finally, here are some of my own thoughts. It is not only among the Neoconservatives that I find disappointment with those who claim the "Conservative" mantle; among self-described Paleoconservatives, Paleolibertarians, and Traditionalist Conservatives can be found Racialism, Market-worship, anti-Semitism or any number of other loony and unsavory ideas. None of these, however, are found in the thinking of Prof. Kirk, a Liberal in the best sense of the word.
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Ancestral Wisdom

Both ancient Greek and Chinese doctors applied the same remedy: Ancient Minty Painkiller Worked, Modern Study Suggests.
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War Crimes

From come two articles on the subject today: Selective Prosecution of War Crimes by Ivan Eland and Bush Goes Retro to Avoid Prosecution by Paul Craig Roberts.
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Pax Catholica

Two stories today about Catholic efforts toward peace: the first brokered by an Italian lay apostolate; the second a plan being studied by the Holy See itself.

The Lord's Resistance Army has agreed to lay down its arms: Ugandan ceasefire brokered by St. Egidio community.

Sandro Magister reports that the Vatican is studying a ten-point plan for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East: Fr. Samir: "A Decalogue for Peace in the Middle East".
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Spengler on American Music

"No other nation rejects the notion of a high culture with such vehemence, or celebrates the mediocre with such giddiness," writes the Asia Times Online columnist known as Spengler, the thinking man's Evangelical, in American Idolatry.

He offers this history of the degeneration of American popular music:
    Frank Sinatra sounded more average than Bing Crosby; Elvis Presley more average than Sinatra; The Beatles more average than Elvis; and Bruce Springsteen (or Madonna) about as average as one can get, until American Idol came along to elevate what was certified to average.
Spengler correctly asserts that Swing "required in essence the same skills as did classical music" and that it was a shame that it was replaced by rock 'n' roll, which he says "drew upon the music of rural resentment, the country and hillbilly music that appealed to failing farmers at county fairs and honky-tonks." Although I disagree with Spengler's rejection of country music, which was ─ it no longer exists as a living tradition ─ simply American folk music, he makes a good point about the "culture of resentment":
    The culture of resentment runs so deep in the American character that the self-pitying drone of immiserated farmers, amplified by the petulant adolescents of the 1950s as a remonstration against parental authority, now dominates the musical life of American Christians. Not only Christian country, but Christian rock and Christian heavy metal have become mainstream commercial genre. I agree with the minority of Christians who eschew Christian rock as "the music of the devil", although not for the same reasons: it is immaterial whether Christian rock substitutes "Jesus Christ" for "Peggy Sue", permitting its listeners to associate putatively Christian music with secular music with implied sexual content. It is diabolical because the style itself is born of resentment.
And I could not agree more with Spengler on American Protestantism's finest cultural legacy:
    There are American Christians who had no choice but to invent their own music, namely the African-American Church, whose spirituals are gems of rough-hewn beauty. It is no coincidence that black church music maintains the closest ties to classical music, and that the pre-eminence of African-American singers on the operatic stage stems from the music training of church choirs.
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A Graphic Novel About North Korea

In Pyongyang, Mr. Steven Riddle of Flos Carmeli offers a review of "[a] graphic 'novel' by animator Guy Delisle recounting some of his experiences while visiting Pyongyang as head of an 'off-shore' animating group."

Here is what the reader can expect:
    For example, at one point in the novel, Guy notices that he has not seen a single handicapped person. He asks his official guide and interpreter about this and is told that "North Korea is a homogeneous society and as such gives birth only to strong, healthy North Koreans--apparently without irony--or at least any that he would have been able to detect.
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Gaudí's Sculptor

From the Gaudi and Barcelona Club come these pictues of Etsuro Sotoo and some of his work:

It this gentleman's task to fill out the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia begun by Antoni Gaudí in the 1880s.

Here is an account of the sculptor's conversion to Catholicism: Famoso escultor japonés descubre la fe estudiando a Antoni Gaudí / Japanese Sculptor Found the Faith by Studying Antoni Gaudí.
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Monday, August 28, 2006

In Defense of Pessimism

About that "most un-American of philosophies," the indefatigable Mr. Daniel Larison offers us two posts about a review of a new book on the subject with his own thoughts on the same in The Curse of Optimism, The Blessings of Pessimism and Pessimists Of The World, Unite! You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Gloomy Predictions!

Among many valuable insights, Mr. Larison notes that "orthodox Christian hope and pessimism in the world are two sides of the same coin" and that "Pessimism is a reasonable position... because man is a finite, flawed, created being who cannot overcome the structures inherent in his existence."

Mr. Larison's posts, and it seems the book as well, are must-reads for all those skeptical of the idea of progress.
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Some Antiwar Analysis

From, the place for antiwar analysis from the Right, come links to the following articles.

This article, How Washington Goaded Israel Into War by Prof. Stephen Zunes, runs counter to the conclusion reached in The Israel Lobby, by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that America is the junior member of the alliance. If, as Prof. Zunes asserts, "[t]he Bush administration's larger goal apparently has been to form an alliance of pro-Western Sunni Arab dictatorships," the neoconservatives prove themselves to be even more sinister, and inept, than previously thought.

"[W]hat could be more revolutionary, more destabilizing, more antithetical to the conservative agenda than a crusade to conquer the world?" asks Mr. Justin Raimundo, noting the dissent among prominent Republicans, in Right Hook: Conservatives rebel against the War Party.

In The Islamic Way of War, Prof. Andrew J. Bacevich offers this reality check:
    Despite overheated claims that the so-called Islamic fascists pose a danger greater than Hitler ever did, the United States is not going to be overrun, even should the forces of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi insurgents, and Shi’ite militias along with Syria and Iran all combine into a unified anti-Crusader coalition.
Prof. Bacevich also notes that we will we unable to win on their turf.
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Schönborn, Science, and Scientism

I find myself becoming more concerned about the dangers of Scientism, defined by Prof. Wolfgang Smith in The plague of scientistic belief as "philosophical opinions that masquerade as scientific truths."

His Eminence Cardinal Schönborn, shares this concern, as evidenced in this article: Cardinal Schönborn Proposes Evolution Debate: Calls for More Science, Less Ideology.

In the article, His Eminence is reported to have asserted that "there is 'no conflict between science and religion,' but, rather, a debate 'between a materialist interpretation of the results of science and a metaphysical philosophical interpretation.'"

Here's more:
    Cardinal Schönborn, who sparked a worldwide debate in 2005 with an article in the New York Times on the subject, called for clarification of the difference between the "theory of evolution" and "evolutionism," the latter understood as an ideology, based on scientific theory.

    By way of example, the cardinal mentioned Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who saw in the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species," "the scientific foundation for their Marxist materialist theory. This is evolutionism, not theory of evolution."

    The archbishop of Vienna warned against the application of this evolutionist ideology in fields such as economic neo-liberalism, or bioethical issues, where there is the risk of creating new eugenic theories.


    The cardinal said that 150 years after Darwin's theory, "there is no evidence in the geological strata of intermediate species that should exist, according to Darwin's theory."

    He continued: "He himself said in his book that this is a hole in his theory and asked that they be found.

    "This should be discussed in a serene manner. If a theory is scientific and not ideological, then it can be discussed freely."
I am not one to get that worked up about the Evolution debate. Still, mainly as reaction to the fundamentalists and zealots who allow no discussion of Evolution, the chief tenet of their materialistic faith, I have chosen to be a proponent of Special Creation.
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Bishop An Shuxin

After a decade in prison, China 'frees' underground bishop.

More can be learned about the brave and faithful Catholics of China from The Cardinal Kung Foundation.
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Distributivism and Airline Security Repression

In linking to an article with the title Airline Insanity Merely A Beta Test For Police State Caste System, Mr. Roy F. Moore of The Distributist Review has this to say about the new measures' incompatibility with Distributivism:
    This is not Distributist because it means more government control over our lives via who should travel, what they should carry, whether "resistors" will be punished or no. This is not so-called "conspiracy theory", for conspiracy is hidden by nature. This is all in the public eye, all out in the open.
Read the rest of Mr. Moore's post: Are US, UK Airports Now Test Labs For Repression?
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Lina Joy

To be honest, I had little interest in this developing story, wrongly assuming, for whatever reason, that the Malay woman had converted from Islam to one of any number of Protestant sects operating in Malaysia. Learning that it was to the True Faith that she converted, I find myself much more concerned: Church that baptised Lina Joy, convert from Islam, is reported.

The parish that received the beautifully named women was The Church of Our Lady of Fatima in Brickfields, the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Tamil community.

Miss Joy is fighting for the right to have her conversion recognized by law, as she is currently ineligible as a woman to marry a non-Muslim. Here is an article about her case: Malaysia: woman fights for right to convert.
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rethinking Alliances

Today, I was flipping through the channels at the in-laws' and stopped at an impressive looking gentleman with a full beard. By appearances he was a Muslim, and was in a discussion with an atheist, and a self-described "liberal Episcopalian" academic.

I later found out the program was Closer to Truth and the episode provacatively entitled Can Religion Withstand Technology? The impressive gentleman turned out to be Muzaffar Iqbal, President of the Center for Islam and Science in Canada.

I didn't see much of the discussion, but witnessing a Muslim defending God and Religion against an annoying and arrogant atheist, the type who might count himself among The Brights, made me think. Catholicism and Islam will never be reconciled until Our Lady of Fatima brings Muslims to her Son, but until that time, we are facing a much greater common enemy.

Hilaire Belloc, in the The Great Heresies, saw in The Modern Phase an enemy far worse than The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed. And Modernism has morphed into something far more sinister since the time of Mr. Belloc's book. We are now facing Transhumanism and Extropianism:
    Transhumanists advocate continuing the progressive transformation of the human condition, especially (but not exclusively) through technological means. The word transhumanism consciously evokes the tradition of humanism, i.e. the secular view of man as the "center" of the moral universe. However, transhumanism goes beyond humanism, because it does not accept some immutable, fundamental "human nature" as a given, but rather looks to continuing -- and accelerating -- the process of expanding and improving the very nature of human beings themselves.
With this as our enemy, and with all the resources it has at its disposal, we really need to rethink alliances.
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The Pusan Mosque

From the History of Islam in Korea page:
I drove by it yesterday, on my way to visit my brother-in-law in the hospital. The picture above must be quite old, because the mosque is now dwarfed by surrounding apartment and office buildings.
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Buchanan on“Islamofascism”

Readers of this blog and other thinking people by now know why the term is essentially meaningless, saying more as it does about the utterer than about those whom it is meant to describe. Mr. Patrick J. Buchanan goes over the reasons, and then delves into the term's application in Fascists Under the Bed.

Here is a taste:
    Unsurprisingly, it is neoconservatives, whose roots are in the Trotskyist-Social Democratic Left, who are promoting use of the term. Their goal is to have Bush stuff al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran into an “Islamofascist” kill box, then let SAC do the rest.

    The term represents the same lazy, shallow thinking that got us into Iraq, where Americans were persuaded that by dumping over Saddam, we were avenging 9/11.

    But Saddam was about as devout a practitioner of Islam as his idol Stalin was of the Russian Orthodox faith. Saddam was into booze, mistresses, movies, monuments, palaces, and dynasty. Bin Laden loathed him and volunteered to fight him in 1991, if Saudi Arabia would only not bring the Americans in to do the fighting Islamic warriors ought to be doing themselves.

    And whatever “Islamofascism” means, Syria surely is not it. It is a secular dictatorship Bush I bribed into becoming an ally in the Gulf War. The Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed in Syria. In 1982, Hafez al-Assad perpetrated a massacre of the Brotherhood in the city of Hama that was awesome in its magnitude and horror.
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Asian Baby Busts

At a rate of 1.1 babies per woman, South Korea has the lowest birthrate in the world. This is far below the replacement rate of 2.1. One of the reasons is competitiveness in education. Korean parents shell out hundreds of dollars per month for private extra-curricular education for their children, in hopes of getting them into a top university.

The city-state at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, with a rate of 1.24, has proposed this solution: Singapore: Make love, not work. I recall a conversation with a Peruvian friend who worked at a shipyard here. When I asked if he and his Korean wife were planning to have a second child, he said, "We'd like to, but when I get home from work I'm so tired."
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Friday, August 25, 2006

La Conquista and Manifest Destiny

"You know, on the whole, I don't miss Aztec Civilization," notes Mr. Mark Shea in linking to this article: Aztecs butchered, ate Spanish invaders. Mr. Shea goes on to post:
    Conquistadors have been Standard Issue Bad Guys in the English-speaking world since forever. But on the whole, I think the destruction of a whole civilization built on slave labor, domination of surrounding native peoples (who were quite happy to see the Aztecs go), and human sacrifice by the hundreds of thousands was not the greatest loss the human race ever suffered. Also, the peaceful conversion of millions of Indians to Christ through our Lady of Guadalupe seems, on the whole, to be preferable to the more brutal methods of mass extermination and forced conversion that characterized our Protestant efforts north of the Rio Grande.
A look at demographics bears out Mr. Shea's point. In Catholic Mexico, Central America, and the Andean nations, you have a majority mestizo population, with, to varying degrees, minority European and full-blooded Indians populations. In Protestant North America, we have a miniscule population (less than 1%) of people we label Indians, who are in fact mestizos. Full-blooded Indians are not even to be found.
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The Ministry of Fear at Work?

Mr. Ted Rall is not someone with whom I agree with on many issues, but he makes an interesting point about the "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" plot in Americans Shrug at Phony Binary Explosives Threat, linked to today by
    According to the respected and irreverent British technology publication The Register, the plot--if it existed--was a joke. Smuggling the component parts of triacetone triperoxide (TATP)--the liquid explosive we've been told was the object of the wannabe jihadis' vengeance fantasies--and successfully mixing them into a brew powerful enough to bring down a plane would require skills far beyond the capabilities of, well, anyone.
Click on the link to find out why.

After all, if "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" were as easy as making a cocktail with sports drink, why hasn't it been accomplished before? I can't help but think back to this "government set-up, engineered to hype the 'homegrown' threat of domestic terrorism" from two months ago: Feds Raid Patsy “Terror Cell” in Miami.

This seems to be yet another occasion to reflect on the famous Henry Louis Mencken (1880 - 1956) quote:
    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
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Christianity, Confucianism, Korea

Prof. Young-Kwan Kim examines the important role played by Confucianism in the growth of Christianity in Korea in his paper The Confucian-Christian Context in Korean Christianity.

The paper begins with a description of the life-work of this blog's namesake:
    The Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) arrived in Beijing in 1601 and began to propagate Christianity. Ricci mastered the Chinese language, introduced Western science to the Chinese, especially mathematics and astronomy, translated many Chinese classics into Latin, and wrote and published Christian literature. His Chinese book T’ien-chu Shih-i (The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven) was first published in Beijing in 1603. His primary purpose for writing this book was to introduce Christian doctrines on the basis of Confucian terms and thought. He thus avoids all negative attitudes toward Chinese Confucianism and its culture. This is because Ricci's mission policy, as Paul A. Rule argues, was that of accommodation through learning Chinese religion and culture.
The paper goes on to describe the impact Fr. Ricci's book had on Korean Confucian scholars, who were Catholicism's first Korean converts, and their influence on the development of a "familial community-based church." Prof. Kim notes that "it is argued that no one can fully understand Korean Christian thought without a pre-understanding of Confucianism."
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Chen Guangcheng vs. the Culture of Death

Mr. Chen is the heroic subject of this story: China jails anti-abortion activist.

The first paragraph:
    An anti-abortion activist investigating complaints by villagers who claimed they were forced to undergo abortions and sterilisations under China's controversial birth-control rules has been jailed on what his supporters called phony charges.
I could see this happening in the future in some parts of the West. How soon will it be before it becomes a "hate crime" to question a "woman's right to choose"?
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The Propaganda Machine

Mr. Daniel Nichols on how it works, from Hitler vs. Satan:
    [The media] will mention anti-Semitic comments from Mr. Ahmadinejad, though from what I have read these are taken out of context: "What will you do if Israel bombs Iran?", the interviewer will ask. "We will destroy Israel!", he will bluster, and the next day the headlines blare "New Hitler vows to destroy Israel!"
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Sobran on War Crimes

Mr. Joseph Sobran, the "Reactionary Utopian," from Language in Rubble:
    In war we naturally adopt a double standard, with one vocabulary for our side and another for the enemy. Americans still cherish the memory of Axis atrocities in World War II and justify their own, particularly the intensive bombing of German and Japanese cities — things nobody would have predicted, much less advocated, before the war broke out. Even today, we commonly justify the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for “shortening the war” and even saving Japanese lives.

    But which side’s rulers were tried and put to death for “war crimes” after the war? Which side is even now expected to do eternal penance for what it did during that war? America brought the world into the nuclear age, a permanent and irreversible horror. Was that a war crime?

    No, we fret that these weapons of mass murder and mass terror may fall into “the wrong hands.” Ours, of course, are the “right” hands, in which they may be safely trusted. And we marvel that much of the world hates and fears us.
[link via Eunomia]
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Societal Decline in South Korea

South Korea's rapid Modernization, erroneously but understandably called Westernization, has had dire consequences for the family, the basic unit of any society, as these two articles from today's news indicate: S. Korean fertility rate fell to record-low in 2005 and S.Korean divorces: quicker and cheaper than a movie.
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Prodigal Son?

For the sake if his soul, let us pray that el Máximo Líder lives up to his given name, and that these reports are correct: Papers suggest Fidel may be regaining faith.

Our Lady of Caridad Del Cobre
Ora Pro Nobis

According to the article, the Cuban dictator has asked Brazilian proponents of Liberation theology Fr. Frei Betto and Fr. Leonardo Boff to be with him at the hour of his death. Although these two have been rightly disciplined and their movement justly criticized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they remain priests, and even if they were defrocked, would be able to validly administer the The Sacrament of Penance and Extreme Unction.
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Strippers at Funerals

It's not the latest craze in Las Vegas, but a time-honored tradition from Old China that the Reds are trying to eradicate: Police crack down on striptease funerals...

The origin of the custom is Filial piety, as the article expains:
    Striptease used to be a common practice at funerals in Donghai's rural areas to allure viewers... Local villagers believe that the more people who attend the funeral, the more the dead person is honored.
I have yet to attend a striptease funeral, but I did once happen upon a funeral at a Vietnamese Buddhist temple with a New Orleans-style brass band. And here in Korea, no funeral would be complete wthout booze, tobacco, and gambling.

For the record, I would rather not have strippers at my own funeral, but wouldn't object to a brass band, booze, tobacco, or gambling, all after The Sacrifice of the Mass, of course.
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Pusan's Haeundae Beach

The above photo, from Wo ist der Strand?, shows why I will not be found there at anytime in August, when all Koreans have their vacation time.
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The Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple

Located outside of Birmingham, it is is dedicated to Lord Balaji, an incarnation of the god Vishnu: Europe's largest Hindu temple opens in Britain. The Beeb offers some images: In pictures: Tividale's temple.
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More on the Late Shenai Maestro Bismillah Khan

From 'Bismillah played the tune of India', quoting The Times:
    It wrote: "A pious Shia Muslim who lived almost all his life in the holy Hindu city of Varanasi, he came to symbolise Hindu-Muslim unity in India. It was indicative of the veneration in which he was held that on news of his death the Indian government declared a day of national mourning and announced that he would be accorded a state funeral".
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Why Mary?

Mr. Mark Shea answers that question in a post entitled Using the Church as a Means to Attack Christ:
    This strategy of blaming the Church for mucking up the "true meaning" of Christ is as old as the Church itself. You already find the apostles fighting it in the New Testament and every crank who comes along with a new and radical redefinition of Christian teaching does the same thing.

    This is one of the reasons, curiously, for Marian doctrine. For the reality is that almost nobody attacks Jesus directly. They almost always attack him through his Church. Mary as icon of the Church serves as a reminder of this and her titles serve to guard various crucial truths about who Jesus is.
Take, for example, the first of the Four Marian Dogmas, that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of God, or in the East Theotokos (Θεοτοκος), "God-bearer."

This says more about Our Lord than it does about His Mother, does it not? He is fully God and fully Man. As the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) defined:
    Since the holy Virgin brought forth corporally God made one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call her Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh.
Various sects, in their rejection of Mary, have come to see Christ heretically as a demigod or a gentle teacher.
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Isolated America

Pastor Bill Barnwell, writing for, poses the question, "Who Are the Real 'Isolationists'?"

"It is the internationalists and hawks who have weakened America’s standing and they have hardly been a force for international stability," he answers.
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Korean Television

Historical dramas have been all the rage here in Asia for about ten years. I cannot imagine this kind of show on an American network: TV drama highlights life of female Japanese anarchist.
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President Roh Moo-Hyun and the Dear Leader

Noting that "South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il think alike on so many issues that it is hard to tell them apart," Mr. Sung Yoon-lee, writing for the Asia Times Online, offers a must-read blistering critique of the current occupant of the Blue House in A Korean meeting of the minds.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Antonio S.C. Kim

My brother-in-law (my wife's elder sister's husband, to be exact) is in need of prayers. He's a cradle Catholic, husband of one wife, father of two daughters, ex-Marine, member of the Korean national S.W.A.T. team, and about the stand-upest fellow I have ever come across. He was involved in an accident on assignment, required surgery, will require more, will probably lose full use of his left hand, may lose a finger, and by extension a profession.

I ask Catholics to consider petitioning the intercession of his patron:

Saint Anthony of Padua
Ora Pro Nobis

I am proud to call him "兄님" (hyŏngnim), meaning "elder brother." Although he's a few months younger than I am, following the intricacies of the Korean familial system, he's considered my senior. When I learned that in conversation I would have to use honorifics, and he would not, I rebelled, as any American would. Upon reflection, I looked at this situation as one from which I might learn to reject two great evils: Pride and Egalitarianism.

Looking back, perhaps this was my first step toward becoming a Western Confucian.
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Scientism and Traditionalism

The New Beginning, one of the most informative and eclectic blogs you're likely to ever encounter, today posts about a Prof. Wolfgang Smith, in a post entitled The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology, which is the title of the professor's last book.

From An Interview with Wolfgang Smith on Science and Philosophy, a fascinating read, comes this biographical data:
    Wolfgang Smith graduated at age 18 from Cornell University with a B.A. in mathematics, physics, and philosophy. Two years later he took an M.S. in theoretical physics at Purdue University, following which he joined the aerodynamics group at Bell Aircraft Corporation. He was the first to investigate the effect of a foreign gas on aerodynamic heating, and his papers on the effect of diffusion fields provided the key to the solution of the re-entry problem for space flight. After receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University, Dr. Smith held professorial positions at M.I.T., U.C.L.A., and Oregon State University till his retirement in 1992. He has published extensively on mathematical topics relating to algebraic and differential topology.

    From the start, however, Smith has evinced a dominant interest in metaphysics and theology. Early in life he acquired a taste for Plato and the Neoplatonists, and sojourned in India to gain acquaintance with the Vedantic tradition. Later he devoted himself to the study of theology, and began his career as a Catholic metaphysical author. Besides contributing numerous articles to scholarly journals, Dr. Smith has authored three books: Cosmos and Transcendence (1984), Teilhardism and the New Religion (1988), and The Quantum Enigma (1995).
"If the cosmos were what scientism affirms it to be, our Catholic faith would be a mockery and our sacred liturgy an empty charade," announces Prof. Smith in an article entitled The plague of scientistic belief. He defines the subject of his article as "philosophical opinions that masquerade as scientific truths."

I first came across the term Scientism, which is also used by the Austrian School Economists, while reading Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief by Huston Smith, whose classic, The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, I enjoyed greatly. It was only after reading both of these books that I learned the author was a part of the Traditionalist School of René Guénon, many of whom ended up embracing Sufism.

The other Prof. Smith, Wolfgang, is solidly Catholic, but has written for some of this school's primary journals, the Sophia Journal of The Foundation for Traditional Studies and Sacred Web: A Journal of Tradition and Modernity.

Prof. Mark Sedgwick wrote about the movement in Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. More can be learned at his website,, or in these interviews: A moment in reverse and Traditionalism: René Guénon's legacy today - Interview with Mark Sedgwick.

I find all this fascinating. Without knowing it, I was a Traditionalist in my late teens and early twenties, when I rejected Modernism and looked to the faith traditions of peoples East, West, North, and South for the Truth I finally found in Catholicism. The Ur-religion these Traditionalists seek is not outside of Catholic teaching, as The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Religion attests:
    It is Catholic teaching that primitive religion was a Divinely revealed Monotheism. This was an anticipation and a perfection of the notion of religion, which man from the beginning was naturally capable of acquiring. Religion, like morality, has apart from revelation a natural basis or origin. It is the outcome of the use of reason, though, without the corrective influence of revelation, it is very apt to be misconceived and distorted.
Now, I might count myself among Prof. Sedgwick's "soft Traditionalits," people like T.S. Eliot, E. F. Schumacher, or His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
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That is how my favorite contemporary Korean film director is quoted as describing himself in this article: Kim Ki-duk Eats Humble Pie for Dissing Korean Viewers.

Here is part of his mea culpa:
    The scolding I got from the public made me look back at my films, and I’m starting to think that I made miserable, self-regarding films and exaggerated the dark and ugly side of Korean culture in an overbearing manner and so made audiences uncomfortable... I became aware of the fact that I’m consciousness-disabled, and that makes it very difficult to live in Korea.
I hope this does not mean his next film will be as happy and sappy as many other Korean films. I always found his films O'Connoresque in their depiction of the grotesque, only minus the Grace.
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The Democrats' Departure from Jeffersonianism

My Mississippian grandmother raised me to hate the Republican Party. I've never quite been able to get over this, which is why this new blog*, Where Did the Party Go?, by the author of a book of the same title gives me some hope. From the blog here is a description of the book, subtitled "William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy:"
    The Democratic Party has changed. More often than not, it loses national elections, and we have seen the erosion of important parts of its base. Taylor looks beyond the shortcomings of individual candidates to focus on the party’s real problem: Its philosophical underpinnings have changed in ways that turn off many Americans. The thought and careers of William Jennings Bryan and Hubert Humphrey are used as case studies to examine this change and its institutionalization under FDR is explained.

    How democratic, really, is the Democratic Party? Presidential contenders still make the rounds of Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners, but how faithful has the party been to its founders and their principles? While many rank-and-file Democrats still hold to traditional views, that’s not the case with those who finance, manage, and exemplify the party at the national level. They have adopted an ideology that is inherently unpopular. Turning their back on the thought of Thomas Jefferson, the party has embraced the views of his arch-rival, Alexander Hamilton. If party leaders are committed to elitist ideas--some as old as eighteenth-century conservatism and some as modern as limousine liberalism and political correctness--is it likely Democrats will regain majority status on a consistent basis? What changed and why?
Perhaps we need to pay more attention to this blog: Right Democrat: a blog for conservative and moderate Democrats.

*link via Caelum et Terra
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Where Mr. Buchanan and I Part Ways

Mr. Daniel Larison of Eunomia informs of the above writer's eponymous blog, Patrick J. Buchanan, which seems to be in part a promotion of his new book, State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.

This new book continues the theme of his earlier book, The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. I found this latter book very enlightening, especially its anaysis of the effect on Civilization of what the author termed "The Four Horsemen of the Culture of Death:" Abortion, Euthanasia, Sterilization, and Contraception.

I found less enlightening the book's analysis of Immigration. If the West has set about to abort, euthanize, sterilize, and contracept itself out of existence, let people who obey God's first injunction to "go forth and multiply" come in to fill the void, be they Catholic or Muslim. I'd rather live in Eurabia than in Brave New World. I believe it was Saint Augustine of Hippo who, while lamenting the Fall of Rome, saw it as Divine retribution against a "Christian" Empire that had reintroduced, among other things, gladitorial combat. Still, there's little hope of Muslims invaders accepting the True Faith as the Visigoths did 1600 years ago. [But who knows what is not possible with the intercessions of Our Lady of Fatima.]

Turning from Europe to America is where Mr. Buchanan and I seriously part ways. Here is the publisher's blurb about the new book, quoted by Mr. Oswald Sobrino in Buchanan's Big Blunder*:
    As Rome passed away, so, the West is passing away, from the same causes and in much the same way. What the Danube and Rhine were to Rome, the Rio Grande and Mediterranean are to America and Europe, the frontiers of a civilization no longer defended.
Mr. Sobrino gives two reasons why Mexicans are a part of Western Civilization:
    1. Their native language is a Western European language, the language in which the first novel of the Western world was written: Don Quixote by Cervantes. Spanish is a child of Latin, the quintessential language of Western culture for centuries. In fact, in my personal opinion, compared to French and even Italian, Spanish is much closer in form to Latin than these other two Romance languages are.

    2. They are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. The Catholic Church is the mother of Western civilization. The central trunk of Western civilization is Catholic. In the broad scheme of Western history, the Protestant nations of northern Europe are a peripheral offshoot--some might say an aberration--from this main Catholic central trunk of Western culture.
Mr. Sobrino is correct about the first point: Spanish is the closest modern language to Latin─essentially it is Latin as spoken by Arabs, someone once said. But that second point is even more compelling. Could it be that immigrants from South of the Border are helping to establish "the mother of Western civilization" in North America?

At the end of the day, Mr. Buchanan and his ilk are not defending Western Civilization (at least in North America), but rather defending Anglo-American Civilization. There may be nothing wrong with that, but we should be clearer about our terms.

Immigration gets my goat a lot less than nativism. I just don't see the threat. I did my undergraduate study in Spanish, have travelled extensively in Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, and Argentina, and have known many Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans. These fine people would make fine Americans, for the most part. And America never has been nor could it ever be a normal nation-state; it is and always will be a land of immigrants.

That said, I don't necessarily advocate open borders, and I acknowledge that their are problems with Immigration that must be solved. I don't have any solutions. But I'm not filled with fear. The American situation is a blessing compared to what is happening in Europe and that "repository of people in homosexual relationships" North of the Border**.

*link via Catholic and Enjoying It!

**see In Canada Lesbian Lovers Can Immigrate Far Easier than Normal Wives
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The President, Abortion, and Frat-boys

Here is an article that clarifies Mr. Bush's pro-life credentials: President Bush supports over-the-counter access to abortion drug.

Perhaps the President feels the need to keep the frat-boy constituency pleased, knowing the college-age males are the demographic with the highest support for abortion, as Roe v. Wade "liberated" men from their most solemn manly responsibility.
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono

    The Sovereignty of the Land is Always Righteous
"Monarchists are still unreconciled," notes in linking to this article about the Kingdom of Hawai`i and the lingering effects of annexation: Statehood celebration at palace gets heated.

For the record, here is the text of the 1893 address to Congress of that greatest of presidents and fellow Buffalonian: Grover Cleveland Opposes the Annexation of Hawaii.

Hawai'i was annexed, during the administration of one of America's worst presidents, William McKinley, who was assassinated, in Buffalo, by anarchist Leon Czołgosz.
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Mongolia and Tibet

In an update to a story linked to earlier today, His Holiness hath landed: Dalai Lama begins visits in Mongolia.
The article describes the historic links between the two lands, and the origin of the title:
    Mongolians have strong historical links to Tibet and have traditionally followed Tibet's esoteric, or Tantric, school of Buddhism. A 16th-century Mongolian king is thought to have bestowed the first Dalai Lama title — a designation which means "Ocean of Wisdom." In 1904, the 13th Dalai Lama took refuge in Mongolia, a landlocked nation sandwiched between China and Russia, when the British invaded Lhasa, Tibet's capital.
"Ocean of Wisdom" is an interesting choice of title for two land-locked nations, but I guess "Desert of Wisdom" or "Steppe of Wisdom" wouldn't work, although "Plateau of Wisdom" might.

Also, it's interesting to note that the Brits exiled a Dalai Lama before the Red Chinese ever did.
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Ustad Bismillah Khan, the world-renowned master of the Shehnai - Indian Oboe, has left this world: Indian classical musician Khan dies.

I was introduced to his music in a class called "Oriental Art Music" during my undergraduate days. Khan's music made that of his contemporary, the patron of the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church, look almost tame in comparison.

I was fascinated by his given name, which, according to the Meaning of Bismillah, means "In the name of Allah," i.e. God.

It turns out the phrase, also rendered Basmala, is used by our co-religionists:
    Arabic-speaking Christians sometimes use the word Basmala (Arabic: بسملة‎) to refer to the Christian liturgical formula "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Arabic: باسم الآب والابن والروح القدس‎, bismi-l-’abi wal-ibni war-rūḥi l-qudusi), from Matthew 28:19.
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Đức Mẹ Lavang

This article, New Church Blends Two Cultures in Santa Ana, tells the story of Our Lady of La Vang, Santa Ana CA, which will offer Mass in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. We pray that the Traditional Latin Mass will be added.

Our Lady of La Vang
Kính mừng Maria đầy ơn phúc, Đức Chúa Trời ở cùng Bà,
Bà có phúc lạ hơn mọi người nữ, và Giêsu con lòng Bà gồm phúc lạ.
Thánh Maria Đức Mẹ Chúa Trời, cầu cho chúng con là kẻ có tội khi
nay và trong giờ lâm tử. Amen.
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China, Mongolia, Korea

From Dalai Lama expected in Mongolia:
    The people of Mongolia are awaiting the arrival of the Dalai Lama but many details of his visit are being kept secret because of possible protest from China.
In contrast, South Korea has kowtowed to China for years and repeatedly denied His Holiness a visa to visit: South Korea denies visa to Dalai Lama.

South Korea's policy harkens back to that Old Korea adopted toward Qing China called Sadaejuŭi (事大主義), translasted as "worship of the powerful," "flunkeyism," or "toadyism." The Khans, as history tells us, adopted quite a different foreign policy.
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Monday, August 21, 2006

"Once upon a time when tigers smoked..."

    옛날 옛날 호랑이가 담배피우던 시절에…
That phrase begins many Korean folktales. From The animal photo archive - tiger pictures album comes this pictoral evidence that there was indeed such an age:
One thing is certain, when tigers did smoke, there was much less anti-smoking zealotry.
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"The Dangers of Excessive Activity"

Echoing St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Holy Father had these wise words to say at yesterday's Angelus address, quoted in Beware of Too Much Activity, Says Pope:
    It is necessary to pay attention to the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of one's condition and occupation, observes the saint, because -- as he said to the Pope of that time, and to all Popes and to all of us -- numerous occupations often lead to 'hardness of heart,' 'they are no more than suffering for the spirit, loss of intelligence and dispersion of grace.'
Chuang Tzu comes to mind. Here are two of the Quotations from Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton:
    When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill.
    If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous.
    If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets --
    He is out of his mind!
    His skill has not changed. But the prize divides him.
    He cares. He thinks more of winning than of shooting--
    And the need to win drains him of power.
    (19:4, p. 158)

    The non-action of the wise man is not inaction. It is not studied. It is not shaken by anything. The sage is quiet because he is not moved, not because he wills to be quiet...
    Joy does all things without concern. For emptiness, stillness, tranquillity, tastelessness, silence, and non-action are the root of all things.
    (13:1, pp. 119, 121)
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The MSM and My Thoughts on Nork Nukes

The main stream media (INSIDE JoongAng Daily) has quoted me, "harrumph[ing]" no less, about the predictions of a North Korean nuclear test:
    But Joshua at "The Western Confucian" (, just isn't buying it. "Forgive me for being skeptical, but with these reports surfacing every once in a while, it's hard not to be," he harrumphs. "Reports of ‘suspicious vehicle movement' together with ‘the view of the intelligence community that a test is a real possibility' just don't fill me with fear."
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Han — 恨

Reminding us that "[i]t's not our freedoms that fuel Arab anger," Mr. Stephan Hand of TCRNews Musings links to today to this article on the media and mobocracy: How 9/11 gave way to grief culture. Here's a taste:
    As an event, 9/11 was a perfect entry point into the softness and indulgence and inwardness that mass media are most comfortable exploiting. In this, it was clearly part of what came before, the high-rated bathos of the deaths of Princess Di and JFK Jr. (or more recently, for that matter, the cat stuck in the wall of a West Village bakery), the media’s hunger for strong emotion coupled with its ability to make huge numbers of people think the same thing at the same time. The journalistic necessity of putting faces on the story minted a huge new class of celebrities, dead and alive. Jokes, of course, could be told about Princess Di and JFK Jr. But the grief culture that had just been born imposed its own form of correctness. The circles of loss and victimhood created a new etiquette—who could speak first, what could be said.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with grieving, which is appropriate and necessary. Grief culture, however, is something entirely different. Ultimately, it is about "feeding [one's] own ego," as noted by this article from the land that once prided herself on her stiff upper lip: 'Mourning sickness is a religion'.

Also, I cannot help but be reminded of the Korean concept of han (恨), defined by 야후! 사전 as "heartburnings; a bitter [an ill] feeling; a grudge; a spite; a resentment; ... hatred; hate; rancor." I would add "victim mentality" to the list. These feelings in indivuals are one thing, but when whipped up by the media to a national frenzy, they are quite another, as witnessed in the aftermath of the tragic accidental traffic deaths of two middle school girls, documented here: USFK Accident and Anti-American Orgy.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of the fact that the accidental deaths of two middle-school girls produced more displays of public outrage than did the intentional murders of three-thousand men, women, and children.
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In Defense of Second-hand Smoke

My parents-in-law visted yesterday. Like most Korean gentlemen in their sixties, my children's maternal grandfather smokes. He had a cigarette or two in our normally non-smoking home, on the so-called "veranda." That I did not object would probably would lead some to suggest that my children should become wards of the State. The majority Canadians and Americans I know here in Korea would throw a conniption fit in such a situation, or in the very least use it as an opportunity to gloat about how enlightened North Americans are as compared to backward Asians.

When I first heard about second-hand smoke─apparently it "was invented in the mid-nineties by the Clinton administration"─I knew it to be a lie. Sure, maybe the smoke itself is more dangerous the moment it leaves the cigarette than smoke passing through a filter, but it is immediately dispersed and only inhaled in miniscule amounts.

I went online and found this by Mr. John Bloom: Second-hand Smoke Screen. Here is how it begins:
    If you were to be strapped down on a surgical table while four guys exhaled smoke directly into your mouth and nostrils for thirty years, you might get lung cancer forty years after they stopped--but it's not likely.
The article goes on to debunk the "junk science" behind the second-hand smoke industry in the US and Canada. TIn his debunking, the author cites a study that indicates that "people who work eight hours a day in heavy-smoking environments" [my empasis] inhaled the equivalent of between 0.2 and 4.3 cigarettes per year!

From the Salem Witch Trials, to Prohibition, to the McMartin Ritual Abuse Cases, to WMD in Iraq, we North Americans tend to go bit overboard in finding Evil where it does not exist. This must be part of our Puritan heritage.
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Movie Ahead of Its Time

With torture now part of the American arsenal in the War on Terror™ (see The CIA Cruelty Authorization Act of 2006), this powerful line of dialogue from The Siege (1998/I) comes to mind:
    You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to a fair trial. You have the right not to be tortured, not to be murdered, rights that you took away from Tariq Husseini. You have those rights because of the men who came before you who wore that uniform.
It is too bad that this movie is best remembered for the controversy it engendered by depicting some Arab Muslims as, of all things, terrorists. Never mind that other Arab Muslims were depicted as loyal American citizens or that the film decried the unjust treatment they suffered. It was a better, more effective film for portraying its terrorists as real people, not Hollywood villains, and for not attempting to avoid controversy by casting neo-Nazis as its terrorists, as did a later movie I didn't bother to see.

It was released only eight years ago, but could this film be made today? Regardless, it should be seen today.
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Hitchens Quotes

Mr. Daniel Larison of Eunomia offers some food for thought from Peter Hitchens' blog.

First, Hitchens On “Islamic Fascism” and Al Qaeda:
    And then there is the great controversy about Islam and terror and something called ‘Islamic fascism’ Beware of this word ‘Fascism’ George Orwell pointed out years ago that this was now a meaningless word, except insofar as it always meant ‘a person I don’t like, and you shouldn’t like either’. There are a number of conservative commentators who are convinced that Islamic militants are at war with ‘the West’ and that something called ‘Al Qaeda’ is constantly seeking ways of making physical war on us. I am unconvinced. And though I do think there is an Islamic danger to Europe, I think it is of a different kind.

    I do not think there has ever been any such organisation as Al Qaeda, which is at most an ideology (see Jason Burke’s illuminating book on the subject). Muslim militants confuse the issue by adopting the name ‘Al Qaeda’ on various websites for various groupings in various places, but this is in a long tradition of people adopting the names their enemies have given them. There is no bearded Bond Movie villain sitting in a cave controlling all Islamic terrorism like a vast spider’s web.
Second, Hitchens On Morality And War:
    What, then, does that make our bombing of German cities, especially the deliberate targeting of densely-packed working class areas (where opposition to Hitler was concentrated) with the deliberate intent of killing as many people as possible? I cannot see the logic here. If we are right (as we are) to be outraged about the Nazi tyranny’s loss of morals when it attacked our civilians, how can we defend our own decision to follow (and redouble) their example? Had our attacks been effective, I suppose a case could be made out for them. But they diverted valuable aircraft from the Battle of the Atlantic, the gravest single threat to our survival in that war once the Battle of Britain was won. The idea that our bombing of German civilians saved us from the Nazis seems to me to be entirely false. How did it do this? What did it prevent them from doing which they would otherwise have done?

    This is emphatically not hindsight. The military scientists Henry Tizard and Patrick Blackett, among others, argued strongly in Whitehall that Arthur Harris’s bombing of civilian homes would not destroy German morale or do much damage to their war industries. Equally importantly Bishop George Bell of Chichester, a far from naive man who had before the war been in close touch with anti-Nazis in Germany and who intervened to help Jewish refugees reach Britain from Germany, attacked the bombing of unarmed women and children as early as 1941, and continued to do so throughout the war. He also argued that the bombing, by failing to distinguish between people and regime, doomed German opponents of Hitler to fail in their 1944 plot. He was in a position to know.
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Quote Meme

Unable to resist a good quote, as my side-bar indicates, I was also unable to resist this latest meme from Mixolydian Mode:
    Go here, to the Random Quotations page, and look through random quotes until you find five that you think:

    a) reflect who you are


    b) what you believe.
Here are my results:
    When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.
    Clifton Fadiman

    That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.
    Thomas Jefferson

    What a mistake to suppose that the passions are strongest in youth! The passions are not stronger, but the control over them is weaker! They are more easily excited, they are more violent and apparent; but they have less energy, less durability, less intense and concentrated power than in the maturer life.
    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

    To us, the moment 8:17 A.M. means something - something very important, if it happens to be the starting time of our daily train. To our ancestors, such an odd eccentric instant was without significance - did not even exist. In inventing the locomotive, Watt and Stevenson were part inventors of time.
    Aldous Huxley

    The best [man] is like water.
    Water is good; it benefits all things and does not compete with them.
    It dwells in [lowly] places that all disdain.
    This is why it is so near to Tao.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

"The Time it Takes to Drink a Cup of Tea ─ 飲一杯茶的功夫"

An article about this blog's namesake, Matteo Ricci on Tea, deals more with fellow Jesuit Athanasius Kircher's China Illustrata, published in 1667, than it does with the original "Western Confucian" himself. The lives and work of both Matteo Ricci, S.J. and Athanasius Kircher, S.J. have no parallel in modern times.
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O tempora, o mores!

This disturbs on many levels, yet it is but a sign of the times: BBC Feminist's Sordid Suicide Pact Made Public.

Ms. Jenni Murray, the Beeb Feminist of whom the headline speaks, says that she "plans to end her own life when she becomes a burden to those around her." The article says "that she does not want to be 'trapped' into caring for her mother who is ill with Parkinson’s disease" and that she "is angry that, having fought so hard to become liberated and independent, women are now being trapped into caring for dependent parents."

Also from the article:
    Murray complains that the law against assisted suicide is supported by a “religious minority” who hold to an outdated moral view that human life is inherently valuable and that children have a legitimate obligation to care for elderly parents.
That "outdated moral view" lies at the foundation of Western Civilization, and let us pray that it is not a "minority" position in the West, although I fear that it is becoming one if it has not already.

A Confucian perspective may be helpful. Here in Confucian Korea, where in a classroom gasps of horror are heard when I lead university students to figure out what the word "patricide" means, the idea that adult children have an "obligation to care for elderly parents" is simply a given, although it is sometimes transgressed. [Abusus non tollit usum.]

In his excellent essay Confucius Today, Mr. Jim Kalb notes the philosophy's enshrinement of the family as "the prime embodiment of involuntary duties to particular persons," as opposed to the modern liberal treatment of the same as "a private sentimental or contractual arrangement among its members." The very idea of "involuntary duties" is offensive to the modern liberal mind.

Here's more from the article:
    The program highlights the growth, especially in Britain, of the idea of an “obligation to die.” Most leading thinkers in the bioethics field endorse euthanasia and assisted suicide and often argue that elderly and ill patients have the obligation to end their lives to relieve pressure on families and the health care system.

    In 2004, Baroness Mary Warnock, Britain’s leader in bioethics, said unequivocally that the ill and elderly had an obligation to die as soon as possible so as not to burden relatives and the medical system. Baroness Warnock, called Britain's “Philosopher Queen”, said in an interview, “In other contexts sacrificing oneself for one's family would be considered good. I don't see what is so horrible about the motive of not wanting to be an increasing nuisance.”
    She said, “I am not ashamed to say some lives are more worth living than others.”
How close are the Baroness's words to the concept of lebensunwürdigen Lebens ("life unworthy of life") from the T-4 Euthanasia Program of 1930s Germany. Perhaps Rush Limbaugh, with whom this blogger disagrees on many, if not most, issues, is not that far off the mark when he speaks of "Feminazis."

[link to article via Shrine of the Holy Whapping]
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I'll Believe it When I See It

Forgive me for being skeptical, but with these reports surfacing every once in a while, it's hard not to be: North Korea may be preparing nuclear bomb test: report. Of course, no article on the DPRK is complete without the requisite photo of the scary soldier* from P'anmunjŏm:
Reports of "suspicious vehicle movement" together with "the view of the intelligence community that a test is a real possibility" just don't fill me with fear.

*This is not to suggest that they cannot be scary if they so chose, as was the case thirty years ago today, The Marmot's Hole reminds us, during the Axe Murder Incident.
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The JonBenet Ramsey Case

Mr. Robert Koehler, expat Korea's premier blogger, has a big scoop: JonBenet Ramsey murder suspect taught in Korea. According to his resumé (JohnKarr), he "was a classroom teacher of English for children aged 6 to 12."

All I have to say about this case, other than that the above is quite scary and that child beauty pageants are quite creepy, is that the lynch-mob that went after the poor girl's parents should watch The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) and reflect.
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Linguist on "Islamo-fascism"

Prof. Geoffrey Nunberg, in 'Islamo-Creeps' Would Be More Accurate*:
    in the mouths of the neocons, "fascist" is just an evocative label for people who are fanatical, intolerant and generally creepy. In fact, that was pretty much what the word stood for among the 1960s radicals, who used it as a one-size-fits-all epithet for the Nixon administration, American capitalism, the police, reserved concert seating and all other varieties of social control that disinclined them to work on Maggie's farm no more.
Geoffrey Nunberg - pieces from Fresh Air/NPR were always well worth a listen.

*Use to bypass registration.
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Confucius on Innovation

    子曰:「述而不作, 信而好古, 竊比於我老彭。」

    The Master said, 'I transmit but do not innovate; I am truthful in what I say and devoted to antiquity. I venture to compare myself to your Old P'eng.'

    Le Maître dit : « Je transmets, et n'invente rien de nouveau. J'estime les Anciens et ai foi en eux. Je me permets de me comparer à notre vieux P'eng. »
[Chinese from Analects of Confucius; English translation by D.C. Lau and French tranlsation by R. P. Séraphin Couvreur from The Analects of Confucius - Lun Yu VII. 1. (151)]
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Better Times

From The New Crusade comes a link to this this post about the Greatest of Centuries: If We Were As Free As 1253.
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North Korean Floods

Let us pray for the long-suffering people of North Korea: Group: 54,700 Dead, Missing in N. Korea.
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Six Tiber-Swimmers

Mr. Bill Cork of Built on a Rock today links to Going Catholic, an article about six Protestant theologians who embody John Henry Cardinal Newman's maxim that "[t]o be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."

Here is what fellow ex-Lutheran Mickey Mattox said before his conversion to Rome:
    We as a family want to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to unite our prayers with and to the holy martyrs and saints. We want the holy icons, the rosaries, the religious orders, yes the relics too . . . and to practice and experience the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic meal while retaining the bond of love and fellowship in communion with the bishop of Rome.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The British Ambassador to Uzbekistan on the U.K. Terror Plot

A conservative blog for peace and Notes from underground link to this post by Ambassador Craig Murray: The UK Terror plot: what's really going on?

Here is part of his answer:
    None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.

    In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.
The Ambassador's conclusion? "Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical."
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Sancta Maria, Mater Dei

On the occasion of yesterday's solemnity, many Catholic bloggers reflected on the Role of Our Lord's Mother in our lives. Fr. Jim Tucker posted a fine photograph pf Pope Pius XII Defining the Assumption, with many explanations. TS reminded us that Mary's a Uniter, Not a Divider, pointing to her œcumenical character. And the Whapsters gave us St. Maximilian's Rule of Life for those Consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, which is very helpful.

I am firmly convinved that it was Our Lady who led me to and helped me grow in the Faith her Son established. I visited the Shrine of Guadalupe twice as a pre-Catholic. When I fled Protestantism and joined a Korean RCIA course halfway through, the first night I was handed The Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary by a nun, taught to pray it, have been praying it every day since, and have become a member of The Confraternity of the Rosary. During the past eighteen months, I have seen Our Lady's intercessary work in our daughter's medical treatment, most notably under her title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

[image from the Seton Hall Univresity Library Gallery]
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The Argentine on my Mind [Part 2]

In today's first post, I speculated about opening a private school for the teaching of English in Argentina after having read an article about the low cost of doing business in that country. The post led to a combox conversation with Mr. Tracy Fennel of CORPUS MEUM. Since they disappear after time, I will post my - Comments on the school's name and its content below:
    I remember there being in Santiago an Instituto Abrahán Lincoln, which offered language courses and cultural programs.

    I'd like to do the same, but would have to choose a more worthy namesake, such as Instituto Jorge Washington or Instituto Tomás Jefferson, although the former sounds too yanqui, and might become a target for the Guevaristas.

    Either of the great presidents from my hometown, Buffalo, would be suitable choices: Instituto Millard Fillmore or Instituto Grover Cleveland. The latter was an anti-Imperialist, so that would score some political points. Instituto Leon Czolgosz, after the anarchist who shot Pres. McKinley in Buffalo, might be a bit too political, and it doesn't sound English enough.

    Instituto Dorothy Day would be great, but it would be hard to live up to her saintly reputation. Instituto Santa Isabel Ana Seton or Instituto Santa Catalina Drexel would both go well with education.

    Instituto Beata Kateri Tekawitha would express my interest in indigenous America, as would Instituto Nicolás Alce Negro, after the Sioux Catholic catechist who's beliefs were distorted by John G. Neihardt's book.

    I could go literate with Instituto Nathaniel Hawthorne, Instituto Henry Adams, or Instituto Flannery O'Connor, or Anglophilic with Instituto T.S. Eliot.

    Anyway, apart from the name, I'd offer English courses, of course, but also other diverse lectures on, for example, the Old Republic and for which it stood, Los San Patricios, Russell Kirk, The Catholic Worker Movement, Thomas Merton, Agrarianism, the films of John Ford, etc.
This is, of course, little more than a summer daydream, but let me continue it a bit further. Since I'd like to have crufixes on the wall of every classroom, I'd better choose a Catholic namesake, either Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Katharine Drexel, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Dorothy Day, or Flannery O'Connor, all women, American, Catholic, and saints, whether canonized or not. Among them, I lean towards the last on the list.

El Instituto Flannery O'Connor it is, then. I could even raise peafowl on the side. I could fly the Stars and Bars alongside, or maybe even in place of, the Stars and Stripes, while at the same time offering lectures on New Orleans Jazz or Country Blues. Miss O'Connor was a conservative who knew that nothing was more shocking than the conventional, worthy herself of a place among the Reactionary Radicals.

I've never worked at a private school (hakwon - 학원) here in Korea, much less owned one. From what I understand, they rake in money hand over fist. Nonetheless, they cater by and large to children, whom I've never been interested in teaching. To make matters worse, one would have to deal with Korean mothers and their "skirt wind" (chima param - 치마 바람), a Korean idiom which refers to the excessive desire of mothers for their children to achieve educational excellence.

My first paying job in teaching was at at a place called the Instituto Chileno-Canadiense in Santiago, and I taught businessmen. The Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano in the same city offered lectures on various topics; I attended one after Toni Morrrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Such lectures would be very rewarding to offer, but would attract very few here in Korea. Latin Americans, from my experience, are more open to things that are not materially beneficial.
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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.