Friday, August 31, 2007

Stop the Next War and End the Current One

"We can stop the coming war with Iran – but concerned Americans must act quickly," urges Antiwar.com's editor-in-chief─Showdown Over Iran- by Justin Raimondo.

"President George W. Bush's speech Tuesday makes clear his plan to attack Iran, and how the intelligence, as was the case before the attack on Iraq, is being 'fixed around the policy,'" says the 27-year CIA veteran─Bush Puts Iran in Crosshairs - by Ray McGovern.

"The media is silent, Congress is absent, and Americans are distracted as George W. Bush openly prepares aggression against Iran," begins the former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration─War Criminal in the Living Room - by Paul Craig Roberts.

"Truth may be found more at the margins of what General Petraeus says, or in what he chooses not to address," says the military analyst, calling for "Members of Congress to think like statemen, not like lawyers"─Truth-Tellers - by William S. Lind.

A former Reagan special assistant and senior policy analyst says of the current president's latest speech that "tossing in every argument that he'd ever used before, along with the kitchen sink, is unlikely to persuade the American people that either the invasion was or continued occupation of Iraq is justified"─Bush, Iraq, and the Kitchen Sink - by Doug Bandow.

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The Re-Christianization of the Arabian Peninsula

Sandro Magister reports that "[t]hey could soon become the majority of the population in the United Arab Emirates"─The Christians Are Coming Back to Arabia – Fourteen Centuries after Mohammed.

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Bienvenue!

To Francophone readers brought here by Schizodoxe's recommendation of this blog for BlogDay 2007:
    Parce qu’un paleocons américain catholique, vivant en Corée et capable d’expliquer une prise d’otage à partir de l’architecture d’une église, c’est particulièrement rare.
Today is BlogDay, a "day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest." The idea is simple: "on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs."

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Saemmul Presbyterian Church

A picture of the Bundang City church that organized the 10-day volunteer trip to Afghanistan that resulted in the Taliban kidnapping all 23 volunteers and murdering two:
Do I need to say anything?

[image from Church, families may face expenses]

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My Hometown Sinks Into the De-Industrialized Abyss

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Fr. Giuseppe Moretti on the Korean Hostage Deal

The Barnabite priest responsible for the international Catholic community in Afghanistan weighs in─Terms of South Korean hostages’ release set a “dangerous” precedent. He explains:
    [G]etting controversial South Korean missionary groups banned from the country could lead to unexpected and dangerous reactions involving us Catholics... Extremist Muslim groups that are still very strong here might see the abduction of foreigners as a way to rid the country of non-Muslims. Now they might point the finger at any activity by non-Muslims as a pretext to accuse us of proselytising and throw us out, or even worse, kill us.
He says the Korean missionaries failed to "take into account the country’s legal, social and political context" and "engaged in aggressive evangelisation." On the correct approach to evangelization he says, "Let us show consistent [sic] in our daily lives and let our silence speak volumes."

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Nazi Paganism

Salvation is from the Jews author Roy Schoeman reminds those who have chosen to forget the fact that "far from being an outgrowth of Christian culture (or even historic Christian anti-Semitism), Nazi ideology consisted of an interweaving of Germanic ultra-nationalism and a neo-Germanic paganism"─Hitler and the New Nazi Religion.

A commenter informs us that Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the Bavarian Catholic aristocrat patriot who led the July 20 Plot, was convinced that the Fuerher was the Antichrist. I remember reading that Lutheran theologian and member of the resistance Dietrich Bonhoeffer considered this with his colleagues but utimately rejected the idea because Hitler was too apparently evil; the Antichrist will appear to be good to many if not most. Hitler was one of many small-a antichrists.

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Bringing Muslims to the Son Through the Mother

I've read this before, but A conservative blog for peace links to it today and it is always a good read─Mary & Islam by S.O.G. Fulton J. Sheen. The crux of the argument:
    It is our firm belief that the fears some entertain concerning the Moslems are not to be realized, but that Moslemism, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity, and in a way that even some of our missionaries never suspect.

    It is our belief that this will happen not through the direct teaching of Christianity, but through a summoning of the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God.

    ....

    As those who lose devotion to Mary lose belief in the Divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.
Fr Ladis J. Cizik has written on the same theme─Our Lady and Islam: Heaven's Peace Plan.

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The Marmot Goes to Church Again

Robert Koehler's latest photo-essay takes him to a church that "was built in the closing year of the Korean War with much assistance from the Catholic soldiers of I Corps, US 8th Army"─Uijeongbu 2-Dong Catholic Church. It'd be a beaute if it weren't for the "renovated" stained-glass windows.

If you are familiar with the old Catholic churches of Korea, you'll notice this one looks quite different; Mr. Koehler explains why:
    Compared to the earlier French-built churches, they are quite simple; whereas the earlier French churches took a long time to plan and build, churches of the 1950s were built in a hurry and under difficult conditions to replace destroyed facilities and to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of believers. Earlier French churches were built of brick, while these later churches were often built of stone — they were “fortresses of God,” protecting believers in a time of war. Many were constructed with the assistance of local military units, either American or South Korean.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ralph Nader Contra the Corporate Welfare State

The author of The Seventeen Traditions takes on Fed bailouts─Greed and Folly on Wall Street. An excerpt:
    More and more, corporate capitalists in side and beyond the financial markets do not want to behave as capitalists-willing to take the losses along with the profits. They want Washington, D.C., meaning you the taxpayers, to pay for their facilities (as with big time sports stadiums) or take on their losses because they believe that they are too big to be allowed to fail (as with large banks or industrial companies).

    These corporate capitalists should be exposed when they always say that government is the problem whenever it moves to help the little guys with health and safety regulations, for example, but government is wonderful when the bureaucrats are summoned to perform missions to rescue them from their own greed and folly.
[link via the LewRockwell.com Blog]

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Wartalk

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Fisking the Official 9/11 Narrative

Surely, asking questions is what journalists and responsible citizens should do─Robert Fisk: Even I question the 'truth' about 9/11. The pertinent paragraphs:
    I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. It's not just the obvious non sequiturs: where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon? Why have the officials involved in the United 93 flight (which crashed in Pennsylvania) been muzzled? Why did flight 93's debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field? Again, I'm not talking about the crazed "research" of David Icke's Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster – which should send any sane man back to reading the telephone directory.

    I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering – very definitely not in the "raver" bracket – are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be "fraudulent or deceptive".

    Journalistically, there were many odd things about 9/11. Initial reports of reporters that they heard "explosions" in the towers – which could well have been the beams cracking – are easy to dismiss. Less so the report that the body of a female air crew member was found in a Manhattan street with her hands bound. OK, so let's claim that was just hearsay reporting at the time, just as the CIA's list of Arab suicide-hijackers, which included three men who were – and still are – very much alive and living in the Middle East, was an initial intelligence error.

    But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose "Islamic" advice to his gruesome comrades – released by the CIA – mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family – which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder – let alone expect the text of the "Fajr" prayer to be included in Atta's letter.

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Baby Yang Ying─Murdered in the Womb by Beijing

Mothers and fathers like Jin Yani and Yang Zhongchen will bring down the Chinese Communist Party─Chinese parents fight forced abortions. The Yang family's story:
    One night, a couple of weeks before her date for giving birth, Yang's wife was dragged from her bed in a north China town and taken to a clinic, where, she says, her baby was killed by injection while still inside her.

    "Several people held me down, they ripped my clothes aside and the doctor pushed a large syringe into my stomach," says Jin Yani, a shy, petite woman with a long ponytail. "It was very painful. ... It was all very rough."

    ....

    Seven years after the dead baby was pulled from her body with forceps, Jin remains traumatized and, the couple and a doctor say, unable to bear children. Yang and Jin have made the rounds of government offices pleading for restitution — to no avail.

    This year, they took the unusual step of suing the family planning agency in court. The judges ruled against them, saying Yang and Jin conceived out of wedlock. Local family planning officials said Jin consented to the abortion. The couple's appeal to a higher court is pending.

    ....

    Jin, an 18-year-old high school dropout from a broken home, met 30-year-old Yang, a building materials supplier, in September 1998. They moved in together. A year and a half later, in January or February 2000, they discovered Jin was pregnant but couldn't get married right away because she had not reached 20, the marriage age.

    After her birthday in April, Jin bought porcelain cups for the wedding and posed for studio photos. On May 5, they were married. Now all that was missing was the piece of paper allowing them to have a child. So about a month before Jin's due date, her husband Yang set out to curry favor with Di Wenjun, head of the neighborhood family planning office in Anshan, the couple's home town about 190 miles east of Beijing.

    He faced a fine of $660 to $1,330 for not having gotten a family planning permit in advance, so he treated Di to the Peking duck lunch on Aug. 15, 2000, hoping to escape with a lower fine since this was his first child.

    The next day he paid for another meal with Di and the village's Communist Party secretary and accountant.

    He said the mood was cordial and that the officials toasted him for finding a young wife and starting a family.

    "They told me 'We'll talk to our superiors. We'll do our best. Wait for our news.' So I was put at ease," Yang said.

    But three weeks later, on Sept. 7, when Yang was away opening a new building supplies store, Jin was taken from her mother-in-law's home and forced into having the abortion.

    Why had the officials failed to make good on their assurances? One of Yang's two lawyers, Wang Chen, says he believes it was because no bribe was paid.

    "Dinner is not enough," Wang said. "Nothing gets done without a bribe. This is the situation in China. Yang was too naive."

    ....

    Yang and Jin are suing the Family Planning Bureau in their county of Changli for $38,000 in medical expenses and $130,000 for psychological distress.

    But it's not about the money, said Yang, a fast-talking chain-smoker. No longer able to afford to run his business, he now works as a day laborer in Qian'an, an iron mining town east of Beijing.

    "What I want is my child and I want the court to acknowledge our suffering," he said.

    ....

    As she waits for the next round in court, Jin says she is too weak to work and has been celibate for years because sex is too painful.

    Her husband prods her to tell her story, but during an interview she sits silent for a long time and finally says she doesn't want to talk about the past because it's too sad.

    Then she quietly insists the lawsuit is something she has to do for Yang Ying, the baby girl she carried but never got to see or hold.

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A Surgeon Reviews Sicko

Dr. Donald P. Condit says "a few outrageous anecdotes to argue for a socialized solution... is a non-sequitur" and "greater harm would result from centrally planned and controlled health care"─What's Wacko about Sicko. An excerpt readers of this blog might enjoy:
    Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his recent encyclical Deus Caritas Est, "We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need." Moore and his allies would do well to take this exhortation to heart. We now have unsustainable consumption of medical resources, with third party responsibility for health care expenses. A socialized system would increase state dependency and diminish motivation for charity. Greater government bureaucracy would increase inefficiency and waste compared to doctor-patient "two-party" interaction. Socialized medicine violates the social justice principle of subsidiarity by interfering with the family, churches, charitable clinics, and other intermediate organizations attending to those who are most in need.
Click on the link for the good doctor's solutions, which are in essense the same as those of another good doctor, Dr. Ron Paul.

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Dr. Ron Paul

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A Man of Peace in the House

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M. Sarkozy's Rôle in Mr. Bush's Next War

Two articles from Asia Time Online, from Kaveh L Afrasiabi and Pepe Escobar respectively─New steps in the war dance over Iran and Bush's brand-new poodle.

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Mgr. Lazarus You Heung-sik on the Taliban Korean Hostage Release

His Excellency, Bishop of Taejŏn and chairman of Caritas Corea, quoted by Joseph Yun Li-sun─Korean bishop expresses joy for hostages, sense of humiliation for Taliban deal:
    [T]he release of Protestant missionaries has set a dangerous precedent. Our government humiliated itself by dealing with fundamentalists. Now they can think they can do the same with other hostages. At the same time, the agreement humiliated Protestant Churches who have been much criticised at home for their action abroad and for the ransom many think they paid.

    Korean Protestants are sometime themselves fundamentalist and aggressive in their faith. They talk about social service but in reality seek conversions, often forcefully. This is no true evangelical spirit; it is not true mission. Now many have come to realise this here (in South Korea) as well.
I think it hasty to talk about "the ransom many think they paid" until it is confirmed that this was the case. I have no issue with the churches themselves paying ransom, but do with the government doing so. His Excellency is right about Korean Protestants being "fundamentalist and aggressive in their faith," but what is wrong in trying to "seek conversions" (other than the fact Protestantism is in error)?

Later in the article, a question I asked yesterday─How will Korean Protestants react to the South Korean government's promise to ban missionary work in Afghaniztan?─is answered: "South Korean Protestant organisations... have pledged not to undertake any missionary activities in Afghanistan as agreed to in the release deal." This is where I feel the "sense of humiliation" should be felt.

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Of Political Hybrids

Beginning with a discussion of "Transitioning gracefully from the Age of Excess to the Era of Modesty" following Peak Oil, "general progressive lefty" Sharon Astyk's pithily titled post is a must-read─Right, Schmight, Left, Schmeft. An excerpt:
    Where, for example, did one put the leftist nun putting her life on the line for economic reform in Latin America - and equally passionate about ending abortion? Where does my passionately pro-drug legalization, harsher sentencing police officer neighbor go? How about the gun-toting, anti-tax radical environmentalist I know? The disabled neighborhood activist who opposes abortion and euthanasia because she sees it as the genocide of the disabled? My neighbor who believes that his sons have an absolute obligation to defend their country - and that their government has an absolute obligation to stop the war? My pro-public education, feminist, Orthodox friends who believe that modest women cover their hair - on the protest lines? My conservative, fundamentalist neighbors who believe that Jesus demands devout Christians hold no private property and resist corporate power? Where would you put me? Feminist, pro-social justice, anti-growth capitalist - and yes, pro-private property (in some senses), pro-modesty, pro-personal responsiblity farmgirl who used to help her father make bullets? The reality is that most people are more complicated than our current designations will describe.

    The last decade or so has blurred things further. Which party again is the big government, tax and spend one? Which party is the party of genocide, the Dems who killed half a million children in Iraq with the embargo or the Republicans who killed half a million civilians in Iraq with the war? Now it is the left who is screaming in horror about the dangers of big government (and some of the right is screaming along with them). Where were the feminist voices of anger about sexual harrassment so evident during the Clarence Thomas hearings when the democratic president was in the hot seat? The conventional political lines are shifting.
In the comments, I recommended she read Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists.

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The War on Iran

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane on the upcoming "massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles"─Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran

The Argumentum ad Nazium is being employed one last time─Bush raises the stakes over Iran bomb with warning of 'holocaust'.

Mike Tennant on how news of "the strikes had first been reported in a smaller market as a sort of trial balloon" and "the acquiescience of British Prime Minister Brown and French President Sarkozy in the proposed military action"─The War on Tehran.

[links via the LewRockwell.com Blog]

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Chilled Red Wine

While I thought I had been committing a culinary mortal sin all summer, it turns out I've only been doing what my betters in France have no qualms about─Stick that red wine in the refrigerator.

[link via LewRockwell.com]

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Blessed Franz vs. George Weigel

The upcoming beatification of Franz Jägerstätter, the Austrian conscientious objector martyred by the National Socialists, says Daniel Nichols "forever clarifies on which side the Catholic Church stands when there is conflict between individual conscience and 'the prudential judgement of those who have responsibility for the common good'"─Franz Jagerstatter and the Rights of Conscience

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Is Christ Cool?

Crunchy Con Rod Dreher reminds us of the danger of "trying to make the faith 'relevant' to popular culture as a way of evangelizing" at the expense of the "radical strangeness of Christianity"─The value of uncool.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's War!

"I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities," said the president yesterday (still today in parts of America), which the great Justin Raimondo translates, "The bombing begins shortly"─War With Iran.

I know this is very pre-1947, but doesn't The Constitution of the United States of America, that quaint anachronism, say something about Congress having the power to declare war? (To this I can hear them say, "Has he forgotten about 9/11?")

Alack!
    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
    where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    when there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is dispair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    and where there is sadness, joy.

    Grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand,
    to be loved as to love;
    for it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


    Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

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Your 14:00 KST Palæolibertarian Update

That is the hour at which are updated both Antiwar.com and LewRockwell.com, the two most important political sites on the 'net in these troubled times.

"Israeli officials warned the George W. Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilizing to the region and urged the United States to instead target Iran as the primary enemy, according to former administration official Lawrence Wilkerson," reports Gareth Porter─Source: Israel Told US to Target Iran, Not Iraq.

Abu Ghraib's "computer guy" Sam Provance on "the faux-trial of Lt. Col. Steven Jordan last week at Fort Meade, Md"─Army Adds Farce to Abu Ghraib Shame.

The man who got my vote for vice-president in '04 on the only choice in '08─Conservative Republicans Have Only One Choice in 2008.

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The Tourist Mentality


[image from La Grèce en feu]

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Big Boxes in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh

This contra those who say they benefit the poor─War against supermarkets that destroy the economy of the poor. What is the cost of a low price? Big Boxes benefit the poor man by robbing him of his livelihood.

This news from the article is no surprise: "Bengal's ruling Communist coalition, the Communist party of India (Marxist), agreed to allow the stores to operate." Big corporations serve to prolitarianize the common man, a crucial stage in the historical process outlined in so-called Scientific Socialism.

Bengal's Forward Bloc, in leaving the coalition and "join[ing] hands with opposition parties to oppose the plan," is, whether knowingly or not, advocating the basic tenet of Distributivism, that "[t]he means of production should be distributed as widely as possible among the populace; they should neither be hoarded by an oligarchy, nor controlled by the government."

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Religion and Modernity in Korea

Prof. Don Baker gives one of the best articles I've read on the topic─Transformation of religion in modern Korea.

Unlike the West, where it has caused decline of religion, in Korea Modernity has been the catalyst religion to grow at a phenomenal pace in the last century. In 1940, only four percent of the Korean population identified with a particular religion. More recent statistics:
    According to the 2005 census, almost 25 million Koreans, 53 percent of the population, claim a specific religious orientation. Of those, 10.7 million (22.8 percent) said they were Buddhists, 8.6 million (18.3 percent) said they were (Protestant) Christians, 5.1 million (10.9 percent) said they were Roman Catholics, and another 500,000 or so said they were a member of one of Korea's many smaller religious communities. I know of no other country where Buddhists and Christians are so close in number.
Prof. Baker cites two main impetuses for this: (1) the "novel notion of anthropomorphic monotheism" introduced with The Catholic Faith in 1784; and (2) urbanization and the resulting search for "new communities to replace the networks of kin and friends they had left behind."

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Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam's New Posting

Congratulations, Your Excellency─Korean Named Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda.

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Christian Zionist Zealotry

"The image of thousands of conservative Christians from the heartland waving the flags of a foreign nation would have astounded anyone 50 years ago—except maybe George Orwell," notes Michael Brendan Dougherty, after a visit to Pastor John Hagees─Zealous for Zion.

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The Baby Bust and Postmodern Warfare

Prof. James Kurth offeres a fascinating examination of the impact of "one-child demography and no-death mentality" on society and strategy─One-Child Foreign Policy.

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"Our Vital Interests in the Middle East"

Just what and just how "vital" are they, ponders "Reactionary Utopian" Joseph Sobran─Big Words, Old Dreams.

Confucius said (or has been said to have said), "When words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty."

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"Atheism Without Awe"

Erasmus Root prefers the "pugnacious style of fervent infidels such as Voltaire, Nietzsche and Mencken" to "pale and anesthetic" style of the current triumvirate, and asks, "Are we doomed to have an atheism without awe?"─The Hollow Men: Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris.

I attempted a reading of Thus Spake Zarathustra almost two decades ago, when I was not a churchgoer, but put it down sensing that I was in the presence of Evil. Fortunately, I learned of The Kingdom of God Is Within You by graf Leo Tolstoy at an anarchist gathering, a heretical book which led me, a heretic, to the The Catholic Faith.

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The Republican Hippie Vote

Rod Dreher tells us who's got it locked up─Crunchy Cons for Ron Paul.

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Eat Like a Sage

And reduce your cholesterol and blood sugar levels─The Tao Diet.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Set My People Free: President Roh Is No Moses

"The two sides reached agreement on the release of all 19 Korean hostages on condition that the Korean government withdraws its troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year and bans missionary work by Korean Christians in Afghanistan," announced presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon─Taliban Agree to Release All Korean Hostages.

The first condition, that Korea "withdraws its troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year," had already been decided before the hostages were taken. Interesting is the second condition, that the government "bans missionary work by Korean Christians in Afghanistan." The very idea that a state would consider within its power such interference in religious matters sickens me as a libertarian and as an American, but how will Korean Protestants react? How should they react, after having assented to their government's negotiation for their missionaries' release on its terms?

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Der Amerikanische Übermensch

Writing for the New Oxford Review, tutor, teacher, and spinal cord injury sufferer Peter Wilson explains who he is─The Illusion of Superman Americana:
    In our own day a rather different type of "superman" reigns over Metropolis -- one who has none of the charming demeanor of Clark Kent or the humble manners of his alter ego. This superhero has no flaws, no inborn aversion to Kryptonite, no imperfections at all. In our narcissistic culture, Superman Americana has all the "right stuff": the ultimate diet and a perfect physique; up-to-date hardware, software, underwear; an airtight portfolio (pre-Enron); a soccer-mom bombshell of a wife; two or three of everything; a living will and a pre-packaged funeral plan (even death worries about inflation). And most important of all, he has p.c. views on all subjects. He is the perfect specimen, fit and outfitted for the Darwinian struggle. Even his wars are antiseptic, smartly executed facsimiles of actual combat. Distant memories of gulags and internment camps linger and wait in the wings, preparing to take on a new generation of misfits. Just think of your local abortuary and its lead-off position in the yellow pages if you doubt me.

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Taki's Take on the Yasukuni Shrine

Mr. Theodoracopulos has a novel idea─Boycott Truman’s Grave. Excerpts:
    Every time a Japanese premier visits the shrine, the pundits go bananas and demand an apology. My question is apology for what? Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The firebombing of Tokyo? Roosevelt’s embargo which forced Japan to go to war against Uncle Sam?

    Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack against a military target. The firebombing of Japanese cities was an overt act against old men, women and children... The pundits can go to hell. And Japanese prime ministers should continue to visit and honor their war dead. The war criminal was Harry Truman, and nobody complains when someone visits his grave.
[link via LewRockwell.com]

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Palæolibertarian Question Time

Some questions from Antiwar.com and LewRockwell.com, the two most important political sites on the 'net in these troubled times.

The man who should have been elected president in '92, '96, and '00 on the current president's troublesome Iran rhetoric─Has Bush Boxed Himself In?

Video of the man who will be elected in '08, with Doug Casey and against Dinesh D'Souza and Larry Abraham─Too Much War, or Not Enough?

A former CIA officer asks a disturbing question about "a pretext for a new war in the Middle East"─Who's Killing American Soldiers in Iraq?

The Future of Freedom Foundation's founder and president on the choice we have before us─Empire or Freedom?

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Economics As If Communities Mattered

From the soon-to-independent-again Second Vermont Republic, a review of Bill McKibben's book by Daniel Hecht─McKibben's 'Deep Economy' stresses community, localism.

Our current system is "not sustainable," "has resulted in social ills," and is "no longer making us happy." The cure includes "business ethics in which profit, community good, and environmental sustainability are all valued objectives" and "localism... [that] supports area farmers, keeps money in the state economy, and 'gets the miles out' — uses less petroleum to transport food to our tables."

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Bill Kauffman's Upcoming History of the American Antiwar Right

Clark Stooksbury has the scoop on the upcoming book by "The Sage of Batavia"─Ain't My America─and the publisher's blurb:
    As Bill Kauffman makes clear, true conservatives have always resisted the imperial and military impulse: it drains the treasury, curtails domestic liberties, breaks down families, and vulgarizes culture. From the Federalists who opposed the War of 1812, to the striving of Robert Taft (known as "Mr. Republican") to keep the United States out of Korea, to the latter-day libertarian critics of the Iraq war, there has historically been nothing freakish, cowardly, or even unusual about antiwar activists on the political right. And while these critics of U.S. military crusades have been vilified by the party of George W. Bush, their conservative vision of a peaceful, decentralized, and noninterventionist America gives us a glimpse of the country we could have had--and might yet attain.
My review of fellow Western New Yorker and intellectual hero Bill Kauffman's last book─Steal This Book!

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Freedom Under Siege

That is the title of Ron Paul's Manifesto, "written in 1987, on the 200th anniversary of the Constitution." The book is acclaimed as "his most extended thoughts on what it means to be a constitutionalist in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson:"
    He connects violations of individual rights to an interventionist foreign policy and the supposed needs of national security. Here he blasts the draft and draft registration, impositions on the right of individuals to own guns, restrictions on the freedom to speak and write, and draws out the links between all these policies.

    Paul further discusses the tie between individual liberties and sound money. When a nation's money is controlled by the people instead of the state, they retain their essential freedoms. But when money is monopolized by government with no tie to a commodity, the state is in a position to ride roughshod over our liberties.
What have the other candidates written? What do they believe? More of the great man's ideas can be read at the Congressman Ron Paul Archives.

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Vegetarianism

Claire George "ponders a return to vegetarianism"─No Cheeseburgers for Me. While I don't ponder any return, I did spend a few years back in the late '80s and early '90s as a strict and not-so-strict vegetarian. So-called "animal rights" were never an issue, but "animal welfare" was. More of an issue was the fact that more people can be fed on less land by growing grains and vegetables rather than raising livestock.

Like Miss George, "I gave up when I came to South Korea... because my diet was too limited and my ethical convictions were not strong enough." I don't believe in vegetarianism anymore, but I'd like ultimately to avoid factory farmed meat and go local and organic. I avoid the fast food industry and try to buy local meat when I can afford it.

Some earlier posts of mine on the theme─Against Factory Farming; Dog Meat, Factory Farming, and Animal Welfare (Not Rights); On Factory Farming; Animal Welfare.

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Spengler Reviews Buñuel

La Voie Lactée, says the elusive Asia Times Online columnist, is "[t]he 20th century's most disturbing film about faith"─The biblical world of Luis Bunuel.

Of the "half-comic romp through the heresies of Church history," Spengler says, "[I]f you don't laugh at the jokes, you probably don't believe a word of what you profess." He says that "the great Spanish director re-creates onscreen the strangeness and wonder of the biblical world, that is, a world in which the Divine is always manifest." Although the film was made by a "fellow-traveler of the Spanish Communist Party who abandoned the Catholic Church as an adolescent, ... the Vatican embraced it, ... while the director's left-wing friends recoiled in horror."

(I'm reminded of what Flannery O'Connor said about the apostate James Joyce and The Catholic Faith: "[He] can't get rid of it no matter what he does.")

Now, I have to see this. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), both by Luis Buñuel, are two of the best films to which my film major buddies from college exposed me.

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Missa in Cantu

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Vaya con dios

"The Young Fogey" breaks the good news (to me at least this morning)─Gonzales: hasta la vista, baby.

As an aside, I've often wondered why so few on the left have touted the crumbling régime for being the most "diverse" in American history. I guess you're only Black or "Hispanic" if you're a registred Democrat.

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"Reactionary Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion"

"The Republicanization of the South has been a catastrophic net loss to conservatism," concludes Prof. Clyde N. Wilson─The Way We Are Now—Republicans. Says the venerable southern gentleman:
    From its very beginning the Republican Party was the vehicle of state capitalists. It flourished by persuading a large part of the middle class that it represented their values—patriotism, progress, and Protestant virtues. It long marketed itself as the party against reactionary “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” as the party of Progress under decent and safe control.
Reactionary Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion! That's a slogan I could support!

Says the professor, "Southerners... were literally whipped with scorpions out of the Democratic Party." Okay, let's be honest about the issue with which they were whipped (civil-rights), and let's be even more honest by being honest about that issue by quoting The Young Fogey: "[T]he civil-rights movement not only created bad legal precedent that now threatens the freedom of people of all colours but it really only opened up white society to upper-crust blacks like Dr King"─Dr King’s niece on the ugly truth about abortion and blacks.

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Left-Liberal "Love"

The Midwest Conservative Journal's Christopher S. Johnson is writing about the Anglican Communion's gay woes, which have pitted white liberals against conservative Africans, but his comments describe well the Left-Liberal mentality in all spheres─PUPPET SHOW:
    Liberals love Africans.  Not as real people, mind you, with thoughts, ideas and opinions of their own, but as helpless children who need to be "saved" by their enlightened betters in the West.  But let an African come along who strays from the reservation, who suggests that perhaps the West is, well, wrong about something, and such an anomaly needs to be addressed.

    You can go the John Shelby Spong route and declare that your African is too stupid to know any better.  You can call him a bigot.  If neither of those approaches works individually, you can combine the two by implying that your African is too much of a simpleton to realize how completely he's being manipulated by evil, rich, Western conservatives.

    What you can't permit yourself to do is to admit that your African arrived at his viewpoint by himself.  Because then you have to open yourself up to two unpleasant possibilities.  There is an African in the world who doesn't need you.  And your self-evident right answer to The Issue isn't as self-evident as you originally talked yourself into believing it was.
[link via A conservative blog for peace]

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Vietnam Gives Mr. Bush a History Lesson

Occidentalism links to the story─Hanoi fires salvo at Bush’s comments. An excerpt:
    Mr Bush suggested that Washington’s withdrawal from Vietnam precipitated a bloodbath in south-east Asia – including the Cambodian Khmer Rouge genocide – an assertion many Vietnamese see as a gross oversimplification of the region’s complex and tragic history, and Washington’s own role in it.
In Pol Pot And Kissinger, Prof. Edward S. Herman explains a bit about "the region’s complex and tragic history, and Washington’s own role in it:"
    The Times editorial of June 24 recognizes a small problem in pursuing Pol Pot, arising from the fact that after he was forced out of Cambodia by Vietnam, "From 1979 to 1991, Washington indirectly backed the Khmer Rouge, then a component of the guerrilla coalition fighting the Vietnamese installed Government [in Phnom Penh]." This does seem awkward: the United States and its allies giving economic, military, and political support to Pol Pot, and voting for over a decade to have his government retain Cambodia’s UN seat, but now urging his trial for war crimes. The Times misstates and understates the case: the United States gave direct as well as indirect aid to Pol Pot—in one estimate, $85 million in direct support—and it "pressured UN agencies to supply the Khmer Rouge," which "rapidly improved" the health and capability of Pol Pot’s forces after 1979 (Ben Kiernan, "Cambodia’s Missed Chance," Indochina Newsletter, Nov.-Dec. 1991). U.S. ally China was a very large arms supplier to Pol Pot, with no penalty from the U.S. and in fact U.S. connivance—Carter’s National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski stated that in 1979 "I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot...Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him but China could."

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"Life is Cheap in Korea"

So says the venerable Cho Se-hyon─Whodunit? Who cares? He says that Koreans "are all wrapped up in ourselves, concerned only about what is happening to us and, at the most, to members of our own immediate family." He says "we don't have a firm sense of justice," causing people "to become cynical and selfish, scurrying around all the time just to save their own skin and that of family members." Citing the "several hundred South Korean prisoners of war still being held in North Korea," traffic accidents, and the abortion rate, he goes on to say that "we do not take the life--or rather, death--of other people seriously."

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Can Asians Think?

This is not a review of the 2001 book of that title by Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani. Rather, it is an attempt at a review of Richard E. Nisbett's fascinating The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why.
The first chapter, titled "The Syllogism and the Tao," outlines ancient Greek and Chinese thought by examining and contrasting the teachings of Aristotle and Confucius. It's a brilliant beginning. As an intellectual descendant of the former, I find myself unable to think of a world in which "freedom and individuality" as well as the "sense of curiosity about the world" are not prime considerations. But, having lived more than a decade among intellectual descendants of the latter, I cannot help but concede that "self-control" and the "the satisfactions of a plain country life within a harmonious social network" are of equal, if not ultimately greater, importance. And while the Greek (and Western) "concern with abstraction" often leaves me cold, so does the Chinese (and Eastern) "lack of curiosity."

The author expands upon these ideas in the next chapter, and at one point says that "[a]s the West became primarily agricultural in the Middle Ages, it became less individualistic" and that "[t]he European peasant was probably not that different from the Chinese peasant in terms of interdependence or freedom in daily life or in a rationalist approach to reasoning." He does not mean this as a compliment─as I take it to be─; in fact, he later erroneously refers to this period as a "millennium of torpor." This is strange seeing that he normally─and rightfully─praises Chinese "interdependence" and avoidance of an overly "rationalist approach to reasoning." He also notes that "the Mediterranean countries plus Belgium and Germany are intermediate between the East Asian countries on the one hand and the countries most heavily influenced by Protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture on the other." My conclusion─not the author's─is that it is The Catholic Faith that balances the East-West Yin - Yang divide.

The following chapters, which detail various studies (many of them of Koreans) carried out by the author and his students (whom he acknowledges readily), are fascinating but not as convincing as the philosophers covered in the first chapter. In fact, these latter chapters border on Scientism, as any attempt to use the methodology of the natural sciences to study social or cultural phenomena tend to be. (I say this having been exposed to the same in my own meagre field, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, an experience that immunized me from any desire to pursue a doctorate.) Later, Prof. Nisbett says, "The two Western vices of separation of form and content and the insistence on logical approaches often operate together to produce a lot of academic nonsense." I don't accuse him of this; I only note that these are the least convincing─but most reported on─chapters of the book.

The book picks up momentum again with a chapter that asks, "Is the World Made Up of Nouns or Verbs?" Noting that Western children learn the former and Eastern children the latter at a much faster comparative rate, and that Eastern and Western languages tend to give emphasis to one or the other, Prof. Nisbett is unabashed in his support for The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which holds that language not only influences but determines how we think. Westerners grow up in a world of objects; Easterners in a world of relationships.

The final chapters leave me more firmly in the Chinese camp. He quotes two modern Chinese philosophers, Shih-hsien Liu and Lin Yutang respectively, with the following remarkable statements:
    ...It is precisely because the Chinese mind is so rational that it refuses to become rationalistic...

    An educated man should, above all, be a reasonable being, who is characterized by his common sense, his love of moderation, and his hatred of abstract theories and logical extremes.
(This "hatred of abstract theories and logical extremes" is key to the Traditionalist Conservatism as championed by Russell Kirk (1918–1994), is it not?)

At the back of my mind from the book's outset was the most important question─left unaddressed, naturally, by the author─which is: is there anything in the Eastern Mind which makes acceptance of The Catholic Faith impossible or nearly so? My answer to that question is a resounding, No! In fact, quite the opposite is true; while the Chinese distaste for logic might make Thomism a tough sell, the Chinese lack of a "contradiction phobia" might make it easier to accept Spiritual Liberation by Christian Paradoxes. Edward Yong of In principio erat Verbum - Εν αρχη ην ο Λογος has suggested that the Chinese psyche is more at home in Eastern Christianity, and after reading this book, I am inclined toward his opinion.

In his epilogue, Prof. Nisbett expresses his belief that "the twain shall meet by virtue of each moving in the direction of the other" and that "this stew will contain the best of each culture." This, I believe, is the promise of Postmodernism, which, it goes without saying, is not all crap. To paraphrase and expand upon the famous words of Pope John Paul II, may the world breathe with both lungs.

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Been There, Done That, Faked It in a Hollywood Studio

A new Eastasian space race is underway─China, Japan Race for the Moon.

[N.B.: About the title, I don't necessisarily believe in The Great Moon Hoax, but I confess a certain weakness for good Conspiracy Theories.]

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Mahatma Teresa's Dark Half-Century of a Great Soul

It is a blessing that the forty-nine years of "spiritual dryness" suffered by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, a Mahatma if there ever was one, have been made known to the world─Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith.

It is a blessing enough that mainstream media folks are mentioning the Dark Night of the Soul described centuries ago by St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz). It is even more a blessing to all those, myself and my family members in Korea and America (for different reasons) included, who are feeling spiritually dry. Indeed, one of my main doubts as a Protestant was that I only very rarely ever "felt" anything. It was not until I learned of The Catholic Faith that I came to know this was not an issue in and of itself.

The great woman's struggle and perseverance are an inspiration to us all, as was her work as the Saint of the Gutters. To this news, I scream, "Santa subita!"─St. Teresa of Calcutta This Year?

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Nice Catholic Girls

Strange, this new-found respect for Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne (and new-found contempt for the world's premier "human rights" organization) I have─Pro-life rockers clash with Amnesty. It is very brave of these pretty lasses who represent so much of for what our culture stands to have taken such a counter-cultural stand.

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The Jesus and Mary Chain

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百衆


Buddhist All Soul`s Day is upon us.

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Yuan Weijing, ¿desaparecida?

A disturbing reminder that China is still Red─Wife of Chinese Opponent of Forced Abortion Missing After Police Confrontation:
    Yuan Weijing was trying to reach the Philippines in order to accept the noted Magsaysay Award, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Asia, on behalf of her husband Chen Guangcheng. Chen is a blind self-taught lawyer, who was sentenced last November to four years and three months in prison for documenting cases of officials who violently enforced China's one-child policy in his home province of Shandong in eastern China. He had reported how Family Planning officials were performing forced sterilizations and abortions on women up to eight months pregnant.

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The Warfare State

"The warfare state didn't suddenly arrive in 2001, and it won't disappear when the current lunatic in the Oval Office moves on," reminds Norman Solomon─Let's Face It: The Warfare State Is Part of Us. The man hailed as "America's Greatest Man of Letters" gave us the date of its inception─Gore Vidal on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Death of the Old Republic:
    Fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a national-security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual wars, hot, cold, and tepid. Exact date of replacement? February 27, 1947. Place: The White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman, Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, a handful of congressional leaders. Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg told Truman that he could have his militarized economy only IF he first "scared the hell out of the American people" that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged.

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Mr. Maliki, Meet Mr. Ngô

"If the patterns of US foreign policy are any guide, the Iraqi prime minister is a very poor insurance risk," says Alexander Cockburn─Don't Carpool with Nouri al-Maliki.

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Vietnam Veterans Against Mr. Bush's Vietnam Analogy

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Confucian Ecology and Wendell Berry

After earlier having "suggested that Confucianism would accept man's dominance of nature," sinologist Sam Crane has come to the conclusion "that Confucianism assumes a certain limitation on human dominance of the environment"─Green Confucius. To the professor's excellent post, I left these comments:
    Confucian (and even moreso Taoist) "environmentalism" is healthier than its Western counterpart because it sees Man as part of Nature, not in opposition to her.

    In The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry, the "Sage of Kentucky" draws our attention to Chinese landscapes, and notes that in every painting amongst the magestic mountains and streams there is invariably a man or men or a little house. Man is in harmony with Nature. The great error of "conservationism" in our civilization is to see Nature as something to be set aside, and kept "pure" from human contact.
Then, I dug up the great man's words themselves:
    Old Chinese landscapes reveal, among towering mountains, the frail outline of a roof or a tiny human figure passing along a road on foot or horseback. These landscapes are almost always populated. There is no implication of dehumanized interest in a nature for "its own sake." What is represented is a world in which human beings belong, but which does not belong to human beings in any tidy economic sense; the Creation provides a place for humans, but it is even greater than humanity and within it even great men are small. Such humility is the consequence of accurate insight, ecological in its bearing, not a pious deference to "spiritual" value.
Here's a post of mine from a while back that touches on this theme─Taoistic Cynicism, Confucian Harmony, and Traditionalist Conservatism.

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The Chinese Lincoln

The IIIrd Century B.C. Shih Huang-ti differs from The American Lenin only by degree─The first Emperor: Tyrant who unified China:
    [H]e was also a harsh leader, who sought to control how people thought. He outlawed the teachings of Confucius and buried many Confucian scholars alive. In his own imperial version of the Cultural Revolution, he killed many intellectuals and burnt nearly all the books in China.
How does one write "nil novi sub sole" in Classical Chinese. There is one passion shared by the big and little tyrants of history, from ancient times to the XXth Century mega-monsters like Mao Tse-Tung: they centralize!

The founder of the Ch'in Dynasty, which gives its Western name to the country, is most famous for Emperor Qin's Terracotta Army, in which I have never had the slightest interest. (Instead, when I visited China ten years ago, I paid my respects at the humble Tomb of Confucius in lovely, provincial Ch’ü-fu).

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The Grey Lady Follows My Footsteps to New Mexico

The New York Times' Mary Duenwald discovers that "[e]ighty years after Cather's "Death Comes for the Archbishop" was published, it is possible to use her narration as a visitor's guide"─Entering the World of Willa Cather’s Archbishop.

I used the wonderful novel as a guide for a trip I undertook with my wife and daughter three-and-a-half years ago; here is Ms. Duenwald's description, by way of the novel's title character, of the places we visited:
    Isleta Pueblo, 13 miles south of Albuquerque, looks almost familiar to the bishop, with its startlingly white church, its clustered town and its acacia trees of the same blue-green color he knew in the south of France.

    The scenery turns strange, though, as he rides west with his young Indian guide to Laguna Pueblo, and he begins not to believe his own eyes. Clumps of wild pumpkin look “less like a plant than like a great colony of gray-green lizards, moving and suddenly arrested by fear.” What seems at first to be bright waves of sand turn out to be petrified rock, “yellow as ochre” and dotted with ancient juniper trees.

    By the time the travelers approach Ácoma, the third pueblo, they are passing colossal rock mesas, jutting upward 700 feet from the sandy plain. These formations look so bizarre to the bishop as to seem not part of nature at all, but rather like “vast cathedrals” or the remnants of a monumental city.
The Pueblo of Acoma, which dates to the XIIth Century, is the most otherwordly place I've ever been in the United States. One-and-a-half years later, we would visit another wonderful place, where the great novel begins: the Rome of the West.

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Gay 401(k)

Sorry, but those of us with the mouths of wives and children to feed find ourselves unmoved by the "plight" of America's wealthiest demographic─Same-Sex And Worried About Retirement.

[A while ago, I remember reading some local bemoaning the fact that so few older Koreans have any sort of personal retirement plan and that they need to "modernize" and start making one. The commenter was wrong, Koreans up until very recently have relied on the same retirement plan that every traditional society has used: children.]

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fifteen Million Lynched in the Womb

Some words from MLK's niece─Historic Ceremony at Birmingham Church Moves Dr. Alveda King to Reflect on Her Father's Legacy:
    In the last forty-plus years, 15 million black people have been denied their most basic civil right, the right to life. Roughly one quarter of the black population is now missing. This hasn't happened because of lynch mobs, but because of abortionists who plant their killing centers in minority neighborhoods and prey upon women who think they have no hope. The great irony is that abortion has done what the Klan only dreamed of.
I only take issue with the word "irony" in the last sentence, as the "eliminat[ion of] the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world" was part and parcel of the plan of the abortion industry's foundress─The Negro Project and Margaret Sanger.

[link via Pewsitter.com]

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"Bonaparte and Bush on Deck"

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The De-Industrialization of America

Patrick J. Buchanan on "the victims of an ideology that gripped both parties and is destroying the middle-class country they grew up in"─We Did It to Ourselves.

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The Sage of Mecosta

Prof. Frank Purcell on "how he fits into the big picture of American intellectual history"─The Pragmatism of Russell Kirk.

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The Catholicity of Buddhist Compassion

Catholic Steven Riddle offers an appreciation─Buddhist Compassion.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

A Little Lower Than the Angels

"Contrary to fashionable thinking, new studies show we really are unique, a psychologist argues"─Humans not just “big-brained apes,” researcher says.

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The President Needs a New Speechwriter

Had he read the book, this is hardly the comparison he would make─George Bush Meets Graham Greene:
    In 1955, long before the United States had entered the war, Graham Greene wrote a novel called "The Quiet American." It was set in Saigon and the main character was a young government agent named Alden Pyle. He was a symbol of American purpose and patriotism and dangerous naivete. Another character describes Alden this way: "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused."
[link via Antiwar.com]

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Who, Do You Guess, Wanted to Pull the Plug?

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Korean Swing

"Soongsil University professor Bae Myeong-jin analyzed a recording featuring a jazzy version of a Korean folk song ``Doraji taryeong'' by an artist named Choi Seung hee, and confirmed it as being the voice of the modern dancer"─1933 Recording of Dancer Choi Seung-hee Discovered.

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Patrick Foy on the Neocons

    [W]e urgently need an American Inspector Maigret to investigate who was behind the decision to invade Iraq. The invasion was entirely unnecessary, wanton and ruinous. On its face, it remains inexplicable. America and the world have a right to know who was responsible for it, and those responsible should be held accountable for their actions, if need be with jail sentences. No cover-up and no pardons, please.
Investigate the Neocons

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Maclin Horton Considers Ron Paul

    In very few words: I think the central government is in serious need of restraint. And almost no one is talking about restraining it--they're only arguing about the details of how to empower it.
Ron Paul for President?

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Dear Leader, Distributivist?

Of course not, but even broken clocks are right twice a day─Kim Jong Il, "Eat Fruits by Planting Fruit Trees in Every Home."

Desperation sometimes calls for common sense answers, as this ongoing story from "The Beacon of the Caribbean" illustrates─Cuba's Organic Food Revolution Flourishing.

It is high-time for the people of both these highly centralized states to embrace the tenets of Distributivism, which holds that "[t]he means of production should be distributed as widely as possible among the populace; they should neither be hoarded by an oligarchy, nor controlled by the government."

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Faith-Based Farming

Crunchy Con Rod Dreher links to an article from the Gray Lady about Hasidim, Catholic Nuns, Evangelicals and other "Christians, Jews and Muslims who see food through a moral lens"─Of Church and Steak: Farming for the Soul.

The article mentions those who remember that "the Bible’s promise of dominion 'over every living thing' entails responsibilities as well as rights" and ends with this anecdote:
    Joel Salatin, who is considered a guru of organic agriculture, said he has seen a change in the people who visit his Polyface farm in Virginia.

    “Ten years ago most of my farm visitors were earth muffin tree-hugger nirvana cosmic worshipers,” Mr. Salatin said. “And now 80 percent of them are Christian home schoolers.”

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dilip Hiro on the New Multipolar World

Here from Common Dreams, an article also picked up by Antiwar.com and Asia Times Online, two of this blogger's favorite reads─The Sole Superpower in Decline.

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Catholic Viet Nam

Devotion to Our Lady of La Vang brings Catholics and Buddhists together in pilgrimage─La Vang, over 150 thousand faithful for the feast of the Assumption. It is she who "protects the country from the threats of materialism and consumerism."

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Ugandans More Theologically Sound than Westboro Baptist Church

The latter's slogan is "God Hates Fags;" Ugandans have a more nuanced and catholic approach, as evidenced by this headline─Uganda Pro-Family Rally: "God loves homos, he hates homosexuality".

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São Paulo's Lei Cidade Limpa

A report on the city's "Clean City Law"─The World's Fourth-Largest City Outlaws Billboards, Calls It 'Visual Pollution'.

With all my leanings toward Paleolibertarianism, I find little wrong with restrictions on consumerism like the above as long as they are made at the local level, following The Principle of Subsidiarity, although it's admittedly hard to be truly local with a population of around twenty million. E. F. Schumacher was right to suggest an upper limit to a city's population of about half a million.

On a personal note, I visited São Paulo twelve years ago and found it absolutely overwhelming, much moreso than Mexico City. As I walked the city streets, I could not get out of my head the Spanish word acoso, which my dictionary inadequately defines as "harassment" or "relentless pursuit." Despite the friendliness and physical beauty of the people, I found myself always looking over my shoulder. It was the city itself, described in the article as "a very vertical city" and "very frenetic," that threatened. I hope this law helps make São Paulo a bit more livable.

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Korean Ethnic Homogeneity

Robert Koehler exposes it as the myth it is─Korea — A Nation of Immigrants? A particulartly fascinating excerpt:

    One of the more interesting columns I’ve read since the UNHRC censure — and a lot of ink has been spilled on the matter — was one by the JoongAng Ilbo’s Lee Hun-beom that appeared in the Aug 20 issue of that paper.

    Lee began by recalling a story from 1995, when members of Korea’s Hwasan Lee family were granted the same legal status in Vietnam as Vietnamese citizens. Why? Because the Hwasan Lee family are actually descendants of the Ly family, the ruling family of the Vietnamese Ly Dynasty (1009—1225). When the Ly Dynasty was overthrown in 1225, the royal family was massacred, but an uncle of the last emperor managed to escape, eventually landing in Hwasan in present-day North Korea. The Goryeo king conferred unto him a lordship and the clan name Hwasan Lee. Today’s Hwasan Lee family trace their ancestry back to this Vietnamese royal.

    Lee Hun-beom points out that the Hwasan Lee family isn’t the only such example. The Gimhae Heo family trace their lineage back to King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya and his Indian wife. The Deoksu Jang family, meanwhile, are the descendants of Jang Sun-nyong, a Muslim Uyghur attendant to a Mongol princess sent to marry the the Goryeo king. Yi Ji-ran, a general who served as Yi Seong-gye’s right hand in the establishment of the Joseon kingdom and progenitor of the Cheonghae Lee family, was a Jurchen. Then there’s General Sayaga, one of Kato Kiyomasa’s commanders during the Imjin War, who liked Korea so much he decided to defect to the other side (bringing with him matchlock technology). He was eventually granted the Korean name Kim Chung-seon of the Gimhae Kim clan.

    Lee says that the number of such cases is surprisingly large, and the national gene pool proves it. A Japanese study from 2003 revealed that only 40 percent of the Korean DNA is uniquely Korean. 22 percent is similar to DNA found in China, while 17 percent is similar to that found in Okinawa. This would suggest there’s a fair amount of common DNA between Korea, China and Japan thanks to brisk human exchanges that have been going on since ancient times. A Korean study turned up the same results.

    “This is the reality of the ethnic homogeneity we’ve been so proud of,” wrote Lee.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Father Elijah vs. Harry Potter

The author of the former takes on the latter─Harry Potter and "the Death of God" - by Michael D. O'Brien.

My review of Father Elijah: An Apocalypse from my old blog─One Book Done, Another Begun. The book and the series to which it belongs offer what the other does─page-turning diversion─without the troublesome aspects.

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A War Documentary

Crunchy Con Rod Dreher has a review and a preview of the non-Michael Moore film "about how America botched the occupation of Iraq"─"No End In Sight".

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Was the Church Destroyed in Peru's Earthquake Eastern Orthodox?

The Grey Lady reports that the church that fell during a funeral mass─In a Place of Solace, Finding Faith Among the Sorrow:
    More than 60 worshipers were killed, a tragedy that has shaken members of the Eastern Orthodox congregation here but has not shaken their faith.
This is the only reference to Eastern Orthodoxy I've found in the media. The article speaks of "mass" and says that Saint Vincent de Paul was the congregation's patron. I'm confused.

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Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on Women

Elena Maria Vidal quotes the great man─Communism and Women:
    This idea of the emancipation of women through industrialization is not altogether a Communist idea, but like many others has been derived from Western bourgeois capitalistic civilization which thought of the liberation of woman in terms of equality with men. The only difference is that the Communist merely carried the idea to its logical extreme, and if it scandalizes us now it is because our bourgeois world never understood the full implication of its error.

    The two basic errors of both Communism and a capitalistic liberal civilization on this subject were: 1) Women were never emancipated until modern times. Religion particularly kept them in servitude; 2) Equality means the right of a woman to do a man's work. First, it is not true that women began to be emancipated in modern times and in direct proportion to the decline of religion. The fact is that woman's subjection began in the seventeenth century with the break-up of Christendom and took on a positive form at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

    Under the Christian civilization women enjoyed rights, privileges, honors and dignities which have since been swallowed up by the machine age. In eighty-five Guilds in England during the Middle Ages, seventy-two had women members on an equal basis with men in such professions as barbers and sailors. They were probably just as outspoken as men because one of the rules of the Guilds was that "the sister as well as the brethren" may not engage in disorderly or contumacious debates. In Paris there were fifteen guilds reserved exclusively for women, while eighty of the Parisian guilds were mixed. Nothing is more erroneous historically than the belief that it was our modern age which recognized women in the professions.

    [....]

    The cause of tragedy in woman today is that by stressing equality, they have lost those specifically feminine qualities which have given her superiority of function. These qualities are devotedness and creativeness. No woman is happy unless she has someone for whom she can sacrifice herself, not in a servile way but in the way of love. Added to the devotedness is her love of creativeness. A man is afraid of dying, but a woman is afraid of not living. Life to a man is personal; life to a woman is otherness. She thinks less in terms of perpetuation of self and more in terms of perpetuation of others — so much so that in devotedness she is willing to sacrifice herself for others.

    To the extent that a career gives no opportunity for either she becomes de-feminized. If these qualities cannot be given an outlet in a home and a family, they can nevertheless find other substitutions in works of charity, in the defense of virtuous living, in the defense of right as other Claudias when their political husbands as Pilates rely only on expediency, then her work as a money earner becomes a prelude and a condition for the display of equity which is her greatest glory.

    The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. This is because there is a basic difference between knowing and loving. In knowing something you bring it down to the level of your understanding. But in loving we always go up to meet the demand of the one loved. If you love music you have to submit to its laws and disciplines. When man loves woman, it follows the nobler the woman the nobler the love; the higher the demands by the woman, the more worthy a man must be. That is why a woman is the measure of the level of our civilization.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

The Catholic Village of Kdol Leu

The villagers trace thier origins to a "priest of the 1880s who bought their freedom from slavery," and ninety years later they "survived a genocidal onslaught by the communist Khmer Rouge"─Cambodian Christians recall slavery.

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Colony Collapse Disorder and Factory Farming

A report on Colony Collapse Disorder from CCD-free Australia─Eerie Saga of the Vanishing Bees. American bees are "suffering not so much from any particular ailment as from just about every ailment" and are "infected with every known bee virus, plus new pathogens never seen before." Why?
    “What has been chucked at the American honey bee is a collection of things which, taken on their own, bees can stand up to, but collectively sends them into stress and they just give up,” [the NSW Department of Primary Industry's] Doug Somerville told me. “The difference between North America and Australia is that we rely very heavily on native flora, especially eucalyptus, for our honey production, whereas they rely extremely heavily on agricultural crops. That means their bees’ interface with chemicals is much heavier.”

    It will be no surprise, then, if the underlying cause of colony collapse disorder proves to be the same environmental evil that has already caused so much damage to the American food chain - the systemic use of chemicals - which compounds the loss of biodiversity caused by factory farming.
Monoculture, not surprisingly, also plays a role: "[T]he experience in the US, where the wild honey bee population has been replaced by the mass introduction of a single species, should be a wake-up call to Australia."

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The Culture of Death Documented

"I sincerely believe that only a sociopath could view these images and not have his heart broken and his head twisted up," says Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin─Do Not Click The Links.

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Radical Islam Is the Islamic Reformation

"The last thing that the world or moderate Muslims need is an Islamic Reformation," says Fr. Jim Tucker─Would a Reformation Be Good for Islam? . "Give us a nice Renaissance instead."

On a similar theme, this classic from Edward Feser is the article to read for an understanding of Islam, Portestantism, and Catholicism─Does Islam Need a Luther or a Pope?

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Atheism and the Fundamental Question of Philosophy

Physicist Edward A. Remler asks─Do science and rationality support atheism?

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Kkoktu

The Grey Lady reports on The Korea Society's exhibit entitled Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the Journey to the Other World, described as "fun and friendly — even kind of cute" ─Korea’s Extraordinary Send-Offs for Ordinary People.

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A Step Closer to Another Unnecessary War

"The Bush administration has leaped toward war with Iran by, in essence, declaring war with the main branch of Iran's military, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which it plans to brand as a terrorist organization," reports Kaveh L Afrasiabi─US steps closer to war with Iran.

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Doctor Ammondt

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On the Road at Fifty

The New York Times Book Review has two pieces on the Catholic Jack Kerouac's great book. Luc Sante reviews the now published unparagraphed, 120-foot roll that served as first draft─On the Road Again. And here's a photo essay of book covers that "range from the eerily evocative to the deeply silly"─The Road Goes on Forever: Foreign Editions of 'On the Road'. This Chinese version from 2000 is "eerily evocative" of the "deeply silly" 1980s:

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Dr. Paul Craig Roberts on Offshoring, i.e. "Labor Arbitrage"

A stark reminder from the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration─China Is Not the Problem.

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God Is Liberal

Fr. Hugh Barbour─Liberality, the Basis of Culture:
    “God alone is supremely liberal . . . He alone can be properly, proprie, called liberal.” Quite simply, it is impossible for a creature to perform any good action, even the most lofty, without some kind of product—namely, the hitherto unattained end intended and gained by his action. Even if it is an end in itself, the action of one who—unlike God—is not identical with his own good brings about his own perfection and happiness, not to mention the merit that claims a reward in justice. But God acts without the least increase in His own perfection or happiness, gaining nothing, solely out of goodness, and so He alone is truly and properly, fully and perfectly free, liberal.

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Why We Oppose So-Called Gay So-Called Marriage

"Adult wants are being used to trump the rights of children," says Chris Meney─All relationships are not equal for good reason. The truth that dare not speak its name: "not equal."

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Friday, August 17, 2007

A Humane Austrian

An anecdote from Caleb Stegall's review of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibbenPrice, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness:
    In 1947, two titans of 20th-century economic theory, Ludwig von Mises and Wilhelm Röpke, met in Röpke’s home of Geneva, Switzerland. During the war, the Genevan fathers coped with shortages by providing citizens with small garden allotments outside the city for growing vegtables. These citizen gardens became so popular with the people of Geneva that the practice was continued even after the war and the return to abundance. Röpke was particularly proud of these citizen farmers, and so he took Mises on a tour of the gardens. “A very inefficient way of producing foodstuffs!” Mises noted disapprovingly. “Perhaps so, but a very efficient way of producing human happiness” was Röpke’s rejoinder.
With all due respect to my friends at LewRockwell.com, between these two Austrian School Economists I side with Wilhelm Röpke, whose magnum opus, A Humane Economy, I read earlier this year and about whom I have blogged before─A Humane Economist; Röpke on Centrism and Decentrism; An Austrian School Distributivist?; Wilhelm Röpke.

[link to anecdote via Crunchy Con]

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Korean Signage

Folks are becoming aware of one the uglier aspects of modern Korea, as this before-and-after photo suggests─Gangnam facelift:

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The Tridentine Rite in My Hometown


Some potential good news in a sadly negative article─Latin Mass could expand in Diocese of Buffalo. The good folks at Una Voce America hope to "persuade Bishop Edward U. Kmiec to grant them a parish of their own and in the process save a Buffalo church building that is slated for closure," à la St. John Cantius Parish in Chi-town. Sadly, His Excellency does not seem all that moved:
    Kmiec expressed doubts about how well a Latin Mass parish would integrate into the rest of the diocese, however.

    “That has so many different ramifications,” he said.

    A parish is “more than just saying Mass on Sundays,” he added. “I just wouldn’t want to say that this is a single focus of a parish.”

    Besides, he added, the diocese already offers two Sunday Latin Masses, one at St. Anthony of Padua Church at 160 Court St. in downtown Buffalo and one at Our Lady Help of Christians Chapel at 4125 Union Road in Cheektowaga.

    “I feel they’re being adequately served liturgically,” he said.

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Acultural America

From Prof. Clyde N. Wilson's latest installment─More Almost Forbidden Thoughts:
    Aside from a few fragmentary remnants, America has nothing that can be called a high culture and nothing that can be called a folk culture. It has a material culture—which has lost its creative and productive edge, and a pop culture—which is steadily sinking to the lowest common denominator.

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Elvis at Mass

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Will Elvis take the place of Jesus in a thousand years?"

So asked the Dead Kennedys in A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch, reflecting a sentiment quite common among atheists, that Christianity and Elvis sightings are essentially the same phenomenon. On the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Elvis The King, it might be interesting to compare his cultus with that of Christ the King at the same point in their histories.

Have you ever met a devotee of the cultus of Elvis? I haven't. Could it be they only exist on TV and in tabloids? Maybe they do exist, but run in different circles. In comparison, thirty years after the death (and resurrection) of their God, Christians were a significant enough presence to be blamed for The Burning of Rome, 64 AD. No one spoke of blaming Elvisians for 9-11, although many others were blamed.

Furthermore, Nero's persecution of the Christians took place on the other side of the world from where the religion started. Sure, it appears that the latter-day cultus has its believers across the world─Thailand all shook up over Elvis─, but would they be willing to be fed to the lions rather than deny Elvis? Also, Elvis was a globally known figure at the time of his death, whereas Jesus was unknown outside of his homeland, where he was not all that popular.

What strikes me is that The Catholic Faith was able to make such phenomenal progress in its first decades without recourse to the sword as in the case of its main and only true rival, and without recourse to modern communication technology. Modern cults with recourse to the latter cannot hold a candle to what happened two millenia ago by word of mouth.

Sorry Jello Biafra, but if Elvis is going to take the place of Jesus in a thousand years, he's off to pretty poor start comparatively, made all the more pitiful by the astronomically larger base with which he began and the means at his disposal.

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China's Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture

Dr. Andrei Lankov writes─The gentle decline of the 'Third Korea'. We find this bit most revealing:
    The Koreans' birth rate has always been lower than that of the Han Chinese, even though, as an ethnic minority, they are exempt from the "one-child policy". In 2000, the average Korean woman in Yanbian had 1.01 births in her lifetime.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.