Friday, October 12, 2007

Who Am I?

In celebration of this 'blog's hit counter entering into six digit figures, I've decided to interview myself so that readers might get to know me better. Please bear with this exercise in narcissism.

Who are you?

As the blurb on my sidebar says, I'm "[a]n American Catholic son-in-law of Korea, [who] lives with [my] wife and two children in Pohang, where [I] serve as an assistant visiting professor of English at a science and technology university."

When and why did you come to Korea?

I arrived at the end of August in 1997. I was sent by the American university from which I had graduated and for which I had taught in America and later in Malaysia. As I often tell people, I didn't choose to come, but I chose to stay.

What made you stay?

Well, about three hours after setting foot in the country, I met the lovely woman who was to be my wife and the mother of my children. She was and is the main reason, but other than her, there are several reasons. Life is easier here than it would be for me in the United States; I work less and get paid more than I would back home. Living abroad gives me a certain freedom that I enjoy. Also, I can pretentiously refer to myself as a "self-emposed exile."

Do you anticipate that your, ahem, "exile" will be permanent?

No. We're saving up to buy a house and land, both of which are ridiculously expensive here. Also, I prefer American culture and want my children to grow up as free people, which I think Koreans are not and never will be.

What? Aren't you an America-hater? Doesn't your 'blog focus on all the evils of AmeriKKKa while extolling the virtues of Korea?

Don't get your drawers in a bunch. I'd say that yours would be a very selective reading of this 'blog. I tend not to focus on the dark side of Korea and Korean culture because that is the typical bitter expat thing to do, and there is nothing more tiresome. Besides, Korea doesn't impose her will on others militarily.

I criticize America's culture and foreign policy because I love the country. She's the best country ever, as far as I'm concerned, but she's best for me. I don't know about anyone else. She needn't impose her ways on anyone else.

To those who accuse me of anti-Americanism I throw the epithet back and then again. I'm a better American than they are or ever will be. They're the ones dragging the country into the mud and sullying her reputation around the world. My children and grandchildren will pay the price for their foolishness, and that makes me mad.

Whatever. If you're not an anti-American, you're at least a xenophile. Are you also a polyglot?

No. In addition to Korean, I'm conversant only in Spanish, having been an exchange student in Chile and having travelled throughout Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Brazil (they understood me; I couldn't understand them), Paraguay, and the Argentine. I've also studied German, Swahili, French, Vietnamese, and Chinese; and I have dabbled in Malay, Thai, New Testament Greek, and Ecclesiastical Latin.

Your 'blog has a strange name for a Catholic 'blogger, are you some kind of syncretist?

No. Confucianism is not a religion, but a philosophy, and a darned good one at that. This 'blog is named after Matteo Ricci, S.J. , the man who brought The Catholic Faith to China. He called himself a "Western Confucian (西儒)." After having dressed and lived for years as a Buddhist monk, he realized the Confucian scholars were more revered and that their philosophy was closer to Catholicism than was Buddhism. I like that reinveting of oneself, as I have done it many times.

Paradoxically, I'm probably much more of a Taoist than a Confucian, although the two are never mutually exclusive as we from the West tend to think. But paradoxes have never bothered Christians.

Is this your first foray into 'blogging?

No. For years I 'blogged as the Katolik Shinja. I decided a needed a new name as my 'blog drifted further away from strictly religious topics. Also, I didn't want anyone to think that my political positions represented the Catholic position, as if there were such a thing. Also, I wanted to distance myself a bit from the "puffed up" posturing I took as a recent convert.

Politics and religion seem to be your chief concerns. Can you describe yourself in religious terms?


No qualifiers?

No qualifiers. It's a wonderful word by itself, and is only spoiled by qualifiers. From the Greek καθολικός, literally, "according the whole" and meaning "general" or "universal."

You said you were a convert. Can you describe your conversion experience?

More than a conversion to, it was an entrance into the fullness of The Catholic Faith. I had been raised in High Church Lutheranism and after some years of wandering in various spiritual deserts, I found myself a welcomed guest of the Anglican Communion for six years. The slippery slope of Anglo-Catholicism led me directly to Popery.

Moving on to politics, can you describe yourself in political terms?


You're being coy.

If anything, I'm a legitimist. As His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty Otto von Habsburg said, "...I am a legitimist: I am for legitimate government. You could never have a monarchy in Switzerland, and it would be asinine to imagine Spain as a republic."

Not being a universalist in politics leads one to Traditionalist Conservatism or Paleoconservatism. As an American, I am concerned with finding a legitimate political outlook for the American people, which has lead me to conclusion that Paleolibertarianism is the philosophy that best corresponds to our national character.

You've mentioned "anarchism" several times on you 'blog. Can you explain?

By anarchism, I mean the absence of rule by force, not the absence of rule. Confucius said that a king should rule by example, not force. If you will, call me an "anarcho-Catholic" like Dorothy Day. If I were English or European, I might be an "anarcho-monarchist" like J.R.R. Tolkien or Salvador Dalí. I like the term "anarcho-traditionalist."

I also like the term "retro-progressive," echoing these wise words from C.S. Lewis: "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

So, can I conclude that you are religiously orthodox and politically heterodox?

I've come to the same conclusion myself.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great blog! Glad I discovered it. Looking forward to keeping up with your thoughts and reflections. The pic of all the Korean Saints is awesome.

7:58 AM  
OpenID stuffeurasianslike said...

Seems a little harsh to say that Koreans will NEVER be a free people. As though it is in the Asian DNA to be a hive-mind without individuality.

As a Hapa son of a white dad myself, I'm pretty conflicted about these things. I don't know it I come of as bitter, its the resentment of a jilted lover. Being raised all-American, and only in touch with white-side of the family, totally American values, 50% white DNA, and not even speaking my Asian language, I figured I'd be treated as a real American. And its a real kick in the stomach when your not.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

You're right. It was a bit harsh. I wrote it in my tenth year in Korea. It took twelve, a full turn of the Chinese zodiac, for me to appreciate Korea.

I'm glad you stopped by. I found your blog by a link at The New Beginning, which is probably why you stopped here.

I was hoping to comment on your blog, but that thread was closed. I wanted to introduce you to a Hapa role model, Count Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi.

10:46 AM  

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.