Saturday, May 31, 2008

Today's Holy Day


Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Vouchsafe, O Lord, we beseech Thee, unto us Thy servants the gift of Thy heavenly grace, that, as in the childbirth of the Blessed Virgin our salvation began, so from the votive solemnity of her visitation we may obtain an increase of peace. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.

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Secession Begins at Home

Secession is a good thing, but our federal anti-secessionist government as no business promoting it overseas — Meet South America's New Secessionists. This should prompt those of us at home to redouble our efforts on behalf of the Republic of Lakotah, the Second Vermont Republic, the League of the South, and the Kingdom of Hawai`i.

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A Day That Should Live in Infamy

The anniversary of FDR's gulags — May 30, 1942: The Day the United States Sold Its Soul. Michelle Malkin would probably be celebrating, if it weren;t for the fact that she's singlehandedly saved our country from the Palestinians — Michelle Malkin’s Victory Over Doughnut Terrorists.

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The Pentagram

Frida Berrigan examines the "budget-busting Pentagon" and its rôles "as diplomat," "as arms dealer," "as intelligence analyst and spy," "as domestic disaster manager," "as humanitarian caregiver abroad," and "as global viceroy and ruler of the heavens" — How the Pentagon shapes the world.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Anarcho-Monarchist

"The Virgin and St. Thomas [Aquinas] are my vehicles to anarchism," said Henry Adams, the grandson and great-grandson of presidents, who was perhaps America's greatest man of letters.

The thirteenth chapter of Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres by Henry Adams is titled Les Miracles de Notre Dame. Of his subject, the author says, "[T]he Virgin still remained and remains the most intensely and the most widely and the most personally felt, of all characters, divine or human or imaginary, that ever existed among men." Before chronicling her miracles, he describes the motivations behind mediæval Marian devotion:
    Men were, after all, not wholly inconsequent; their attachment to Mary rested on an instinct of self-preservation. They knew their own peril. If there was to be a future life, Mary was their only hope. She alone represented Love. The Trinity were, or was, One, and could, by the nature of its essence, administer justice alone. Only childlike illusion could expect a personal favour from Christ. Turn the dogma as one would, to this it must logically come. Call the three Godheads by what names one liked, still they must remain One; must administer one justice; must admit only one law. In that law, no human weakness or error could exist; by its essence it was infinite, eternal, immutable. There was no crack and no cranny in the system, through which human frailty could hope for escape. One was forced from corner to corner by a remorseless logic until one fell helpless at Mary's feet.

    Without Mary, man had no hope except in atheism, and for atheism the world was not ready. Hemmed back on that side, men rushed like sheep to escape the butcher, and were driven to Mary; only too happy in finding protection and hope in a being who could understand the language they talked, and the excuses they had to offer.
I imagine the convert from Protestantism or the devotee of this or that apologetics guru might have trouble with the above passage, but the non-Catholic self-described "conservative Christian anarchist" Adams was writing psychology, not theology. Knowing quite well my own peril, the passage makes perfect sense to me.

Adams quotes Saint Bernard of Clairvaux: "After the Trinity, you are our ONLY hope... you are placed there as our advocate; all of us who fear the wrath of the Judge, fly to the Judge's mother, who is logically compelled to sue for us, and stands in the place of a mother to the guilty." The author describes "Mary as the ONLY court in equity capable of overruling strict law."

Eia ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.

Adams quotes one Gaston Paris, a cheerless contemporary, who whines about "the infantile piety of the Middle Ages," expressions of which "have revolted the most rational piety, as well as the philosophy of modern times." Adams dismisses "the professor's elementary morality" with these words:
    Clearly, M. Paris, the highest academic authority in the world, thought that the Virgin could hardly, in his time, say the year 1900, be received into good society in the Latin Quarter. Our own English ancestors, known as Puritans, held the same opinion, and excluded her from their society some four hundred years earlier, for the same reasons which affected M. Gaston Paris. These reasons were just, and showed the respectability of the citizens who held them. In no well-regulated community, under a proper system of police, could the Virgin feel at home, and the same thing may be said of most other saints as well as sinners.
"In no well-regulated community, under a proper system of police, could the Virgin feel at home, and the same thing may be said of most other saints as well as sinners."

That has to be the best line I've read in a long time! Of the Virgin, Adams says, "She was imposed unanimously by all classes, because what man wanted most in the Middle Ages was not merely law or equity, but also and particularly favour." He gives us many examples of miracles in which the "general rule of favour, apart from law, or the reverse of law, was the mark of Mary's activity in human affairs." He even explains "an entire class of her miracles, applying to the discipline of the Church!" Concludes Adams, "The people loved Mary because she trampled on conventions; not merely because she could do it, but because she liked to do what shocked every well-regulated authority."

Adams details her scandalous advocacy on behalf of "an ignorant and corrupt priest" who "had taken the precaution to make himself Mary's MAN" and a "good-for-nothing clerk, vicious, proud, vain, rude, and altogether worthless, but devoted to the Virgin." Says the author, "Mary would not have been a true queen unless she had protected her own. The whole morality of the Middle Ages stood in the obligation of every master to protect his dependent." In both cases, "her order was instantly obeyed."

Adams says, "Mary filled heaven with a sort of persons little to the taste of any respectable middle-class society, which has trouble enough in making this world decent and pay its bills, without having to continue the effort in another." Of the tradition of his forebears, which lead either to Unitarianism or, in much rarer cases like that of Orestes Brownson and almost that of Adams himself, back to The Catholic Faith, the author writes:
    Mary's treatment of respectable and law-abiding people who had no favours to ask, and were reasonably confident of getting to heaven by the regular judgment, without expense, rankled so deeply that three hundred years later the Puritan reformers were not satisfied with abolishing her, but sought to abolish the woman altogether as the cause of all evil in heaven and on earth. The Puritans abandoned the New Testament and the Virgin in order to go back to the beginning, and renew the quarrel with Eve.


And let us not forget: "She was a queen, and never for an instant forgot it, but she took little thought about her divine rights..."

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Do We Really Need Enemies This Badly?

Denouncing it as "the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years." Fareed Zakaria reports that the "presumptive Republican nominee" wants to kick Russia out of the G8, invite India and Brazil, and exclude China — Mccain Vs. Mccain. Mr. Zakaria calls his subject a "foreign-policy schizophrenic, alternating between neoconservative posturing and realist common sense." This has to be one of the studipest ideas, as described by Mr. Zakaria:
    The neoconservative vision within the speech is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale. The approach lacks any strategic framework. What would be the gain from so alienating two great powers? How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?
[link via Vox Nova]

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Mad Crowd Disease

Yang Sang-hoon speaks truth to power, the power of the mob — Let Them Eat Beef. For those outside Korea, the latest series of "candlelight vigils" is over the importation of American beef to the country:


Readers of this blog are well aware of its author's views on so-called free so-called trade so-called agreements. The Austrian School teaches that these are nothing more than Mercantilism in new clothing — Free Trade versus Free-trade Agreements. Mr. Yang's first sentence bears witness to this fact: "If we are to sell more cars and cell phones to the U.S., we have to buy American beef." There's little free about that.

But that point, which would be lost on the protesters anyway, aside, Mr. Yang makes a very valid case about the irrationality of his countrymen. He begins by quoting United Democratic Party chairman Sohn Hak-kyu: "Public perception is no less important than rational judgement." One is reminded of what Victorian travel writer Isabella Bird said on her 1898 visit to the country: "Gusts of popular feeling which pass for public opinion in a land where no such thing exists can be found only in Seoul." More than a century later, these "gusts of popular feeling" exist throughout the country, but people are less likely to take to the streets, at least in Pohang, the president's hometown, where I live.

Mr. Yang points out the futility of using reason to counter these gusts of popular feeling:
    No matter how you stress that no U.S. cow born since 1997 has contracted BSE, and that no American has ever caught vCJD, the human form of mad cow disease, 70-80 percent of the public believe that BSE-infected U.S. beef will be imported into the country.... People are particularly concerned about beef from cattle aged 30 months or older. It's no use telling them 100 times that Americans eat beef from cattle aged 30 months or older much more often than beef from younger animals, and that no mad cow disease has ever affected U.S. cattle under 120 months.
This is the latest episode in one of the most tiresome aspects of living in Korea, periodical mass hysteria. José Ortega y Gasset, theorist of the "mass man" and the danger he posed, would have a field day here.

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Sichuan Earthquake Brings Chinese Communist Party to Its Knees


As shown by the above photo of "a Chinese Communist Party official, pleading with parents who have lost their children in the earthquake to stop their protest march" — Day of reckoning. Scott McConnell's commentary:
    We know China is a dictatorship, and America is a democracy. But isn’t it a little confusing that when Chinese officials screw up, there will be some real accountability? At the end of this some provincial officials who took bribes to grease the building of shoddy schools and dormitories will hang. And by contrast, we have our Iraq War architects: Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank, Rumsfeld enjoying his millions, and Doug Feith holding forth on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and Cheney and Bush going on to fancy GOP sinecures, Bill Kristol awarded a column at the Times. The “fellows” at AEI and the liberal hawks at Carnegie and Brookings still getting money streamed at them.

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Terra

This — Rare uncontacted tribe photographed in Amazon — is much more interesting than this — Film Of 'Living Alien' To Be Shown.


Caetano Veloso's great song about watching the Apollo 11 landing from a prison cell comes to mind.

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Ex-Mayor Laid to Rest

A report on the funeral mass held at Our Lady of Victory Basilica — Buffalo bids farewell to Jimmy Griffin.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Empires, Religions, and Intermarriage

"People who are used to thinking about imperialist Japan as a very racist society might be surprised to learn that the Japanese colonial authorities looked very favorably on mixed marriages," reports Koreanologist Andrei Lankow — Mixed Marriages. It was "believed that marriages with non-Japanese who were also members of the 'yellow race' would lead to an improvement of Japanese 'racial qualities,' and Koreans, the closest neighbors of the Japanese, were often mentioned as ideal partners for such a project."

What is of more interest to this blogger is this observation about corresponding European attitudes: "The British usually despised such alliances, Russians and Spaniards did not see any problem with them, with the French being somewhere in between."

I've blogged before about the different fates meted out to the Indians of North and South America — On Indians and the Black Legend of Spain and ¡Viva España! In the latter post, I say, "In Latin America, most people are mestizos; in North America, the few mestizos that remain are called Indians and live on reservations."

Here's a scholarly article on the theme that flies in the face of the anti-Hispanic indoctrination we all underwent in American state schools — "All Mankind Is One": The Libertarian Tradition In Sixteenth Century Spain.

Let me borrow some Gems from The Latin Mass magazine:
    It was not Spaniards who rejoiced that Indians were dying of disease ‘to make way for a better growth’. That was Cotton Mather in New England.

    [....]

    It is often said as an excuse for the very different English relations with the Indians that the Aztecs and other [Mesoamerican] tribes were civilised while the North American Indians were still savage... the Guaraní of Paraguay were Stone Age people when the Jesuits first converted them.

    [....]

    From the melancholy fate of the Indian neighbours of the English colonists and their American successors, denied the true faith, done out of their land, given worthless treaties and herded onto reservations, the Aztec cannibals were — by a mysteriously divine dispensation — blessedly free.
I've also posted about the analogous racial situation in the Russian Empire — Orthodox Alaska and An Appreciation of Russian America. The latter post quotes a historian on the "cooperation, intermarriage, and official policies that provided social status, education, and professional training to children of mixed Aleut-Russian birth." He reports, "Within a generation or two the day-to-day administration of the Russian-American colonies was largely in the hands of native-born Alaskans."

It might be fair to say that the Catholic Spanish and Orthodox Russians saw in native populations souls to be converted and saved whereas the Puritan English and Calvinist Scotch-Irish "elect" saw "reprobate" to be dispatched to the Hell to which they were "predestined." Ideas, especially heretical ones, have consequences.

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What do the IAEA and the WaPo Have in Common?

They are both ominously shilling for confrontation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, as Kaveh L Afrasiabi and Jim Lobe report respectively — A giant backward step on Iran and Now it's a blockade against Iran.

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Life and Death on Korean Air

Bizarre that two such bizarre stories should occur within a day of each other on the same carrier — American Woman Gives Birth to Boy on Plane and Japanese Woman Hanged Herself in Plane Lavatory.

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A Life Most Worthy of Life

Dianne Odell, rest in peace — Tenn. woman who spent life in iron lung dies at 61. Her biography:
    Odell was afflicted with "bulbo-spinal" polio three years before a polio vaccine was discovered and largely stopped the spread of the crippling childhood disease.

    She spent her life in the iron lung, cared for by her parents, other family members and aides provided by a nonprofit foundation. Though confined inside the 750-pound apparatus, Odell managed to get a high school diploma, take college courses and write a children's book about a "wishing star" named Blinky.

    "Dianne was one of the kindest and most considerate people you could meet. She was always concerned about others and their well-being," said Frank McMeen, president of the West Tennessee Health Care Foundation which helped raise money for equipment and nursing assistance for Odell.

    Odell accepted her life with grace, McMeen said.

    "Everyone she encountered came to her because they cared about her," he said, "so she grew up in her 61 years thinking every person is good."

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Reports of the Dear Leader's Death Greatly Exaggerated?

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Ron Paul Speaketh

An interview by Wajahat Ali covering "The Republican Party, President Bush’s legacy, Obama, Illegal Immigration, Abortion, Race in America, Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Gay Marriage, the Housing Crisis, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the American Media" — The Libertarian Dark Horse is Still Kicking.

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Time for an American War Crimes Tribunal

"Are we Americans truly savages or merely tone-deaf in matters of morality, and therefore more guilty of terminal indifference than venality?" asks Robert Scheer, reporting on "the publication of the detailed 370-page report on U.S. complicity in torture, issued last week by the Justice Department’s inspector general" — Where Is the Outrage?

Happily, there are those who still remember what it means to be an American:
    But that troubling assessment of moral indifference is contradicted by the scores of law enforcement officers, mostly from the FBI, who were so appalled by what they observed as routine official practice in the treatment of prisoners by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo that they risked their careers to officially complain. A few brave souls from the FBI even compiled a “war crimes file,” suggesting the unthinkable — that we might come to be judged as guilty by the standard we have imposed on others.
Antiwar.com links to this account by civil rights lawyer H. Candace Gorman about her client — A Kinder, Gentler Torture. An excerpt:
    His American jailers spared Al-Ghizzawi the very worst of the worst in the long list of torture techniques now in use. He was not murdered or waterboarded. He did not have a razor blade taken to his penis, nor was he hung from the ceiling by his arms. One might describe Al-Ghizzawi’s torture as a kinder, gentler torture.

    In American custody, Al-Ghizzawi was only beaten with chains; bound to chairs in excruciating positions for endless hours; threatened with death and with rape; stripped and subjected to body-cavity searches by non-medical personnel while men — and women — laughed and took pictures.

    Among many other brutalities and indignities, Al-Ghizzawi was also posed naked with other prisoners; terrorized with dogs; forced to kneel on stones in the searing heat; left to stand or crouch for extended periods; deprived of sleep; subjected to extreme cold without clothes or covering; denied medical attention; and kept in isolation for years.
She concludes that "the American people, whose nation once stood as a beacon of human rights, neither care about this nor want to hear about it." I pray that she is wrong, and that she is "collecting the names of those responsible" is perhaps proof that she thinks, as I do, that enough of us do care.

To restore our honor we need to have a war crimes tribunal not in The Hague, but on American soil, where, incidentally, war crimes are punishable by death. To make it really American, the man who prosecuted Charles Manson could head it — Why Vincent Bugliosi Wants to Prosecute George W. Bush for Murder.

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The Line Between Art and Porn

I'm inclined to give the artist the benefit of the doubt and believe that "[t]he work itself is not pornographic, even though it includes depictions of naked human beings" — The Creeping Push to Legalize Child Porn as "Artists" Defend Nude Photos of 13 Year-Olds. But still, he would be wise to listen to this Quotation from G.K. Chesterton: "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere."

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Schoolgirl Civil Disobedience



I salute the young ladies pictured above who "refused to attend class and called for an apology from a teacher, after one of their female schoolmates attempted suicide following corporal punishment and an insult from the teacher" — Student Attempts Suicide After Teacher's Beating. According to the girl's mother, "the teacher took the girl to the restroom and slapped her on the cheek and kicked her for about an hour because the girl was asleep during class."

Such abuse is common in Korea, newspapers and my students tell me. Unlike raps to the knuckles administered by tough but loving nuns or the proverbial "board of education" used in America's better days, here in Korea corporal punishment comes in the form of slaps and punches to the face or kicks to the body. The teacher's sex was not mentioned, but the idea of a male teacher beating a female student is not even questioned. (A warning: any adult male who lays a hand on my daughter will end up in the hospital.)

Here's a story indicating that American style school violence is on the rise here — Elementary School Pupil Assaults Female Teacher. Maybe instead of abolishing corporal punishment in schools we should consider abolishing schools.

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Peak Diesel in Korea

"The average diesel price nationwide was 1,785.23 won ($1.72) per liter last week" — High Diesel Prices Hit Merchants. That's $6.52 a gallon! It cost me more than $100 to fill my tank last time!

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George Washington, Si; John McCain, No

Listen to the Father of Our Country, not The Machurian Candidate, about our entangling alliance with Korea — McCain says U.S.-Korea alliance is critical.

No it ain't. Not to us Americans, at least, and isn't that what American foreign policy whould be about? I explain in these articles and interview — America's Entangling East Asian Alliances, Seouled a Bill of Goods, Scott Horton Interviews Joshua Snyder.

Senators Clinton and Obama are right to "oppose the pact, highlighting the bill would give Korean exporters unfettered access to the U.S. market while a clause in the auto industry left U.S. automakers shorthanded." Senator McCain is wrong about "the bipartisan consensus on trade liberalization that has guided America for over 50 years." I explained why in these posts — Barack Hussein Obama, Buchananite Economic Nationalist and Another Reason to Root (Not Vote) for Obama.

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Fifth Columnist Textbooks in South Korea to be Replaced

Some good news about revising revisionist history — The Textbook Forum, Celebration of Alternative Text "Korean Contemporary History".

The article begins with this statement: "The existing textbooks introduce the notion that North Korean children prefer to work for the nation and for North Korean society while stating that South Korean children, in comparison, only prefer jobs that offer personal well-being and success." What other jobs are offered in a totalitarian state like the D.P.R.K.?

Three quotes from the new text are included in the article: "North Korea invested 900 million dollars to preserve the body of Kim Il Sung; this sum of money could have been used to save the lives of the majority North Koreans who starved to death during that time;" "The fact that Kim Il Sung was declared Head of State for all eternity confirms that North Korea is a theocracy that sets it poles apart from the civilized societies of the modern world;" "The unification of the Korean nation is not based on the slogan ‘Our Nation’s People (uriminjokkiri)’, but rather, it is based on the notion that changes toward a democracy founded in freedom and basic rights and the establishment of a market economy system are anticipated and can only succeed."

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South Korea's CEO

E-quaintance Sunny Lee, writing for the Asia Times Online, analyzes how just 100 days after a "presidential election landslide" of "more than 5 million votes" President Lee Myung-bak's "recent approval rating [has] plummeted to a rock bottom of 22%" — Can God save Mr Bulldozer? She hits the nail on the head by saying it's not so much what he's done, but how he's done it. She ends with some advice:
    Lee, a pious Christian, who once said he would dedicate Seoul to God when he was mayor, perhaps can gain some insight by re-reading the Biblical story of Moses. While Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days to receive God's 10 commandments, people down on the field were left on their own and started to build idols that they emotionally identified with.

    Lee might now realize it is time to descend from the holy mountain of self-immersion and talk to his people.

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President and Pope

This meeting, if it happens, — and there is no reason it shouldn't — will be sure to stoke the ire of Americanist neo-Catholic neocons — Ahmadinejad requests audience with Pope Benedict.

Remember this six-month-old story: "According to several well-placed Rome sources, Iranian officials are quietly laying the groundwork necessary to turn to Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican diplomats for mediation if the showdown with the United States should escalate toward a military intervention" ─ Iran's Secret Weapon: The Pope.

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Our Lady of Mekong

Mary's Month of May brought a very special gift to Catholics in a troubled land — Cambodians find statue of Our Lady of Lourdes thrown in river decades ago. The story, in toto:
    Eight fishermen have found a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes 33 years after the Communist regime in the country threw the statue into the Mekong River. Local residents have renamed the statue Our Lady of Mekong.

    According to the L’Osservatore Romano, the fishermen were unaware of the value of the statue and sold it for “seven U.S. dollars to the inhabitants of a nearby town, who planned to keep the statue in their homes. However, some Christians in the region recognized it as a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and explained the importance of the discovery.”

    “Realizing they had a sacred statue in their hands, the inhabitants gave it to the parish of Areaksat, known as Our Lady of Peace, in exchange for seven bags of rice,” the Vatican daily reported.

    Parishioners organized a solemn procession to enthrone the statue. Each day during the month of May, large numbers of people gather at the parish to place flowers before the statue and offer prayers to the Blessed Mother.

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The Church in China in the News

"An exceptional account, with all the photos of the pilgrimage" — In Sheshan, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.

"The situation of the Church in China is marked by signs of hope, according to the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples" — Cardinal Dias Notes Hope for Church in China.

Hong Kong's Cardinal Zen sees the danger that "the country is on the road to fascism, or maybe is heading towards a dictatorial regime with strong nationalist tendencies" — “Nationalism is real danger” in China, cardinal warns.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Abortion, Abortion, Got to Have Caution


The chorus of the Black Uhuru pro-life anthem comes to mind reading this op-ed piece by the LA Times Tim Rutten — The rebirth of abortion. Here's how he begins:
    If there's one issue that epitomizes the culture wars that have so deeply divided American politics over the last eight years, it's abortion. That's why those who benefited most from those wars are desperate to revive abortion's single-issue virulence in this presidential cycle.

    For the GOP's hard cultural right, abortion was the centerpiece of a grand strategy to link traditionally minded Roman Catholics and socially conservative evangelical Protestants in a great coalition of the religious right that would paint the electoral map ruby red, cementing the Rust Belt and the Sun Belt into a permanent Republican majority.
What he fails to mention is how they aim to make that "permanent Republican majority" even more permanent by never doing anything substantial on the issue. In a brilliant essay, Daniel J. Flynn explains the ruse — The Judicial Shakedown. "What about the judges?" they ask. Mr. Flynn enlightens us about the judiciary branch:
    The most consistently left-wing branch of government is also the most Republican. This is especially evident on the federal level, where Republican dominance in presidential elections has translated into Republican dominance in federal courthouses. Democrats have made just two appointments to the High Court in the last 40 years. The U.S. Supreme Court has had a majority of Republican appointees serving on its bench since the early 1970s. Currently, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer are the only Democratic appointees on the court. But they are not the only liberals. How did the other liberals get there? Why don’t Democratic presidents ever carelessly appoint wildcard jurists who surprisingly emerge as constitutionalists? These are questions that party conservatives are loath to ask but principled conservatives must.

    Curiously, the judiciary is the branch that fuels Republican volunteers, direct-mail receipts, and ballots.

    The threat of a Supreme Court of David Souters is ironically what keeps conservatives voting Republican even when Republicans appoint David Souters.

    Like Charlie Brown returning to kick the football that Lucy swipes away again and again, conservatives ritually cast ballots for Republicans under the mistaken notion that they are striking a blow against judicial activism. Years later, these conservatives make the infuriating discovery that they have actually aided and abetted judicial activism. In reaction, they support Republicans even more vehemently than before. Rewarding bad behavior, as any parent will tell you, invites more bad behavior.
Mr. Flynn concludes, "What sense does it make to cast a vote against judicial activism in November that rewards the people responsible for it?"

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Catholic Vietnam

Sandro Magister offers a comprehensive report — The Peaceful Revolution of Vietnam's Catholics.

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Scott McClellan on His Ex-Boss

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God and Liberty

Abu Hatem أبو حاتم quotes one of The Austrian School's main fonts — Frederic Bastiat Summarizes Conservatism:
    God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!

    And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.

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Bioethics the News

It's now in the hands of Her Most Britannic Majesty — Petition to HM Queen Elizabeth II on the Embryology Bill and Withhold Royal Assent to the HFE Bill. I have little doubt the rightful King Francis II of England would act accordingly.

A story that shows just how little we understand about life and death — Woman's Waking After Brain Death Raises Many Questions About Organ Donation. The safe course seems to be to categorically reject donations of soft vital organs such as the heart, lungs, pancreas and kidneys while accepting corneas and bone marrow.

This horror show visited Pohang a few months ago — Plastinated Body Display "Objectifies" People Edmonton Bishops Warn. Clearly, this "undermine[s] the idea of the dignity of the human person."

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The Sage of Mecosta’s Homecoming

Daniel McCarthy reports on his "Jeffersonian roots" and how in his later years he "returned more overtly–at least in his politics–to the noninterventionist, Taftite, bedrock conservatism of his boyhood" — The “Midwestern Libertarian Conservatism” of Russell Kirk.

Thomas E. Woods Jr. reminds us of the extent of the great man's noninterventionism: "Among other things, Kirk was a staunch opponent of the first Persian Gulf War, writing privately to a friend that George H.W. Bush should be strung up on the White House lawn for war crimes" — Come Home, Conservatives!—to the Antiwar Conservative Movement. How much more his son!

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Alice Walker's Daughter

Rebecca Walker on "being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman" — How my mother's fanatical views tore us apart.

On her childhood: "You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale." As a kid, she "wasn't even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct" and she was taught that "being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery."

On the fallout: "I love my mother very much, but I haven't seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son - her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology."

Ahe boldly declares: "Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families." And she reveals the intent of her essay: "My mother may be revered by women around the world - goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it's time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution."

This is a damning of the left-liberal mindset:
    Ironically, my mother regards herself as a hugely maternal woman. Believing that women are suppressed, she has campaigned for their rights around the world and set up organisations to aid women abandoned in Africa - offering herself up as a mother figure.

    But, while she has taken care of daughters all over the world and is hugely revered for her public work and service, my childhood tells a very different story. I came very low down in her priorities - after work, political integrity, self-fulfilment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel.
This is an illustration of why we conservatives question the motivations of those who claim to love humanity (or womynity) as a whole. First, we are called to love our particular families or communities.

[link via LewRockwell.com]

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The Prosecution Rests

An excerpt from The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by author Vincent Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted Charles Manson — Bush’s Reaction to War.

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What Do We Lose With Gay "Marriage?"

Freedom. That's the one word answer to the question often posited by gay "marriage" supporters says Rod Dreher, explaining "that gays and lesbians in California gained nothing substantive in their recent state Supreme Court victory (because California already granted them all the legal privileges of marriage), but managed to do serious harm to religious freedom" — Tolerance, gay marriage, religious liberty.

Confucius explained this two-and-a-half millennia ago: "When words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty."

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Another Iran War Prediction

Muhammad Cohen quotes "a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community" — Bush 'plans Iran air strike by August'.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Musica Intima and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra — Vivaldi's Gloria

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New Email Address

Jeff Culbreath reports on "the allegations against Catholic Online founder Michael Galloway" that have prompted him to chance his online email provider — New e-mail address. For the same reasons, and for fear the service may end soon, I am changing from snyder@catholic.org to westernconfucian@gmail.com, although I'll continue to check both for a while.

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The End of Bhutan?



Lost in Democracy, sent in by reader Kalim Kassam, is a fascinating look into a country with which most of us are quite unfamiliar. Mr. Kassam's description:
    It documents the changes which are occurring as Bhutan transitions from a traditional isolationist country to one which is modernizing and has much more access to foreign goods, people, and of course ideas. The youth in the video speak extensively about their love for the King, their apprehensions about democracy and the social division and conflict that they have witnessed in neighboring democratic states India and Nepal and already in their own burgeoning democracy.

    [....]

    While Bhutan has many policies, including their "Third Way" Gross National Happiness economics (why not focus on subjectively valued individual happiness instead?) and restrictionist policies on human mobility which could do with some changing, its a tragedy to see them abandon a number of their traditions including the replacement of a strong and popular monarchy by that same democratic system whose failures are on show in the unprecedented atrocities and growth of the state of the 20th century. This isn't merely a case of "baby with the bathwater" because instead of trying to fix failing policies, they are attempting to ail their problems by simply replacing one institution with another which is likely to have much worse results.

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Neocon Gnosticism

Abu Hatem أبو حاتم invokes Eric Voegelin in this post — The Pathology of Gnosticism. Read it all; I'll simply excerpt this:
    The neoconservatives in the quest for a perfect peaceful liberal democratic order fall into the gnostic fantasy. The Christian fundamentalists who urge war on all Muslim states to achieve a Christian world, or as Ann Coulter says killing their leaders and converting them to Christianity, fall into the gnostic fantasy.

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Dr. Robert Crane

Abu Hatem أبو حاتم introduces us to one of those fascinating figures that make America such an interesting country — Former Nixon advisor Dr. Robert Crane on Islam, Ibn Khaldun and the Natural Order and Muslim Robert Crane - A Traditionalist Conservative? Dr. Crane is described as "a Burkean Kirkian conservative traditionalist" and in each of the posts he is quoted at length.

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Bob Barr in AlterNet

For once, the leftist AlterNet lives up to its motto — "The Mix is the Message" — by printing this mostly balanced appraisal by Alexander Zaitchik of the candidate "already positioning to ride on Ron Paul's popular wave of conservative dissatisfaction" — Is Bob Barr the Ralph Nader of 2008?

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Pro-Life Eurabia

A poll finding that "members of the Islamic faith in various European nations are more pro-life than religious Americans" — Poll: Americans More Pro-Life on Abortion Than Europeans, Muslims Are Too.

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Exorcism in Germany

This wasn't supposed to happen in modernity — German Catholics bring back exorcism.

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The Amish Future

Carolyn Baker has "an unprecedented conviction that in order to survive and perhaps even thrive in the throes of collapse, it will be necessary to adopt a number of aspects of the Amish lifestyle" — North America's Amish community: least likely to be devastated by collapse.

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Gore Vidal on the "Criminal Régime," McCain, Obama, and Clinton

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From Charles Manson to George Bush

A reader sends along this video of Helter Skelter author Vincent Bugliosi discussing his new book, to which I link here without commentary — The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.

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Hemingway and Yevtushenko (Re-post)

My two favorite teaching days in Freshman English are the days on which I lead my students through Ernest Hemingway's A Clean, Well-Lighted Place and Yevgeny Yevtushenko's When One Person Reaches Out With Love.

The two pieces couldn't be more different. The American writes a short story set in Spain in which two waiters argue at half past two in the morning whether to close for the night or keep open a cafe whose sole patron is a lonely deaf old man who had tried to kill himself the week before. The Russian offers an autiobiographical sketch from his childhood, when, after the end of the Great Patriotic War, he was in a crowd that witnessed a procession of twenty thousand German war prisoners marching through the streets of Moscow, and observes how the crowd's reaction changes when the haughty enemy officers are followed by the wounded and war-weary common "enemy" soldiers.

Yet both stories have common themes, human dignity and compassion among them. Grace is also an important element of both pieces─in its apparent absence in the former and super-abundance in the latter.

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Small Man, Big Car

"Returning home from what had otherwise turned out to be a pleasant outing," the venerable Cho Se-hyon found himself "praying that someday we Koreans would be able to shake off our inferiority complex and be capable, instead, of judging others for what they really are and not what they appear to be" — It’s the appearance that counts.

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TAC vs. Taki

The American Conservative and Taki's Magazine contrasted, by the latter's Marcus Epstein — The American Conservative, John Lukacs, and The Unnecessary Review. This paragraph stands out:
    When David Frum attacked the magazine as “Unpatriotic Conservatives,” both Taki and Buchanan were still editors. The difference of Taki’s and McConnell’s response should serve as a good indicator of what you can now expect at Taki Mag and the TAC. McConnell emphasized his continued respect for the original neoconservatives as well as his differences with the paleoconservatives. Taki challenged Frum to a duel.
Dueling is one relic of barbarism against which Holy Mother Church has always raised her voice, but you have to admit that challenging someone to one is about as paleo as it gets. Still, the reasons behind the paleoconservative "duel" between TAC and Taki might be a part of why I'm more interested in what's being said by the paleolibertarians at Antiwar.com and LewRockwell.com these days.

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Bob Barr, A Man Worthy of a Vote

Eric Garris reports — Libertarian Party Nominates Bob Barr for President:
    Barr has turned around on many major issues since leaving congress. He now favors:

    – Ending the Iraq War, withdrawal of all American troops from all foreign countries.

    – Ending the federal War on Drugs.

    – Repealing the Defense of Marriage Amendment, which he had authored.

    – Repeal of the PATRIOT Act and Real ID.
The only one that should cause any controversy is the third one; here's what Dr. Ron Paul has had to say on the topic — The Federal Marriage Amendment Is a Very Bad Idea and Protecting Marriage From Judicial Tyranny. Still, I'm leaning toward Chuck Baldwin for President 2008.

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Another Reason to Root (Not Vote) for Obama

He's less wrong about so-called free so-called trade so-called agreements — Obama Speaks Out Against Korea-U.S. FTA and McCain Throws Weight Behind KORUS FTA.

The former notes that "the terms of the agreement fall well short of assuring effective, enforceable market access for American exports of manufactured goods and many agricultural products." The latter thinks the Empire needs to reward its vassal state, "an ally that deployed the third largest contingent of troops to Iraq, and has helped us in the rebuilding of Afghanistan as well."

I have no doubts that the Koreans' non-combat role in both countries is creating fewer terrorists than the American combat role, but is this sufficient reason for sacrificing American workers to the god Globalism?

Leave it to The Austrian School to point out that so-called free so-called trade so-called agreements are nothing more than Mercantilism in new clothing — Free Trade versus Free-trade Agreements.

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An Irredentist Korean Western?

There's nothing like a good Western, and I've been looking forward to the film covered in this story for some time now — East-Meets-Western Offers Hope for Korean Film Recovery. This statement from the director is a disappointment, though: "The movie reflects Koreans' desires to advance into the Chinese continent beyond the narrow Korean Peninsula."

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That "Crazy Guy" from Buffalo

President Clinton's assessment of the the recently deceased former Buffalo mayor, as quoted in this obituary — Jimmy Griffin's down-to-earth philosophy was matched by passion. An exceprt:
    But he was also a brawler — some say a bully. He once traded fisticuffs with former Erie County Parks Commissioner Joseph X. Martin outside the downtown ball park. He took on bankers with “hearts the size of caraway seeds,” battled with fellow Democrats like former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and former President Bill Clinton, and reveled in tormenting reporters and newspaper editors for most of his career.

    A common theme among his many political foes is that one day he would be a friend, the next day an enemy. More than one politician tells the story how once they moved to another campaign — even in the post-City Hall days — Griffin never spoke to them again.

    But the other side of his persona propelled his success. Along the way, he became the national face of Buffalo with a feisty and pugnacious spirit that seemed to mirror the city and that got noticed even in the White House. Former Erie County Democratic Chairman G. Steven Pigeon, who Sunday labeled Griffin a “great mayor and as good a retail politician as I ever saw,” recalled the day in 1993 when he attended Clinton’s Saturday radio address in the Oval Office.

    “The president grabs me right afterwards and says, ‘Hey Steve, is that crazy guy still the mayor up in Buffalo?’ ” Pigeon recalled. “But he said it with a smile. He knew all about him and all the stories about him.”

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Catholic-Islamic Relations

Vaticanologist John L. Allen, Jr. reports on Oasis, a project sponsored by five cardinals, whose "aim is not primarily to reach out to 'moderate Muslims,' but rather to 'popular Islam,' meaning ordinary believers deeply attached to Islamic traditions who nevertheless do not subscribe to radical forms of jihad" — Seeking dialogue with 'Islam of the people'

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A Pro-Gay Liberal Against Gay "Marriage"

David Blankenhorn "disagrees with the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexual behavior," but "makes a powerful case against Same-Sex marriage in his book, The Future of Marriage," reports Frank Turek — Gay Marriage: Even Liberals Know It's Bad . Mr. Blankenhorn:
    Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law.

    [....]

    Contrary to what homosexual activists assume, the state doesn’t endorse marriage because people have feelings for one another. The state endorses marriage primarily because of what marriage does for children and in turn society. Society gets no benefit by redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships, only harm as the connection to illegitimacy shows. But the very future of children and a civilized society depends on stable marriages between men and women. That’s why, regardless of what you think about homosexuality, the two types of relationships should never be legally equated.
Hats off to David Blankenhorn! Breaking ranks on this issue — doing so in some quarters is considered a "hate crime" — must have been no easy task. Marriage, not homosexuality or rights, is the issue that is at stake.

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The Right Is Dead, Long Live the Right!

The Tory Anarchist makes the observation that "the most interesting developments on the Right are taking place on the margins" — What’s Right With the Right. He lambastes "the yuppies who descend on Washington to take jobs in the conservative establishment" and the "dead and discredited orthodoxy" they serve. In contrast, he speaks of "a confident and positive movement," which is "not fueled by resentment" and "angry white men," but one which is, rather, "hopeful" and "forward-looking."

He also describes "a new direction in traditionalism, away from post-industrial angst and toward a post-industrial way of life." The "religious element," he notes, is "very different from the tired cant of the Falwells and Dobsons." Finally, of the movement, he says "it’s brightest lights, unlike many traditionalists of old, are not anti-market." He links to two blogs exemplifying the trend — A Thinking Reed and Upturned Earth.

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Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos Calls Summorum Pontificum a "Gift for All"


His Eminence says of the Traditional Latin Mass that "even if it is not specifically asked for or requested, they should make it available, so that everyone should have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church," and that "the Holy Father wants this form of the mass to become a normal one in the parishes, so that in this way young communities can also become familiar with this rite."

[link via Holy Smoke]

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Rev. Dr. Chuck Baldwin on the Alex Jones Show

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My Muslim Doppelgänger?

Despite our differences in religion, Abu Hatem أبو حاتم expresses political and economic ideas almost identical to thye ones I express (none of which are my own, of course), only he does so much more lucidly.

Take, for example, this post — Muslim-Christian Relations. He begins by announcing that his "blog is about politics, not religion." Mine, too. Like him, "I am not a religious scholar," and "I do not feel it is appropriate that I go too deep into religion lest I fall off the deep end." I have not always taken this advice, and think that more Catholic bloggers should do so. Like him, "I am not a syncrenist... and I believe in the truth of my tradition." Be sure to read the rest of his post, and this extraordinary document to which he links, in which "138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have unanimously come together for the first time since the days of the Prophet r to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam" — A Common Word Between Us and You.

Turning back to politics, there is this post, in which he declares himself "a Burkean Whig, a conservative with enough of a dose of (natural law) classical liberalism to be a federalist on moral issues (in the spirit of the principle of subsidiarity!)" — Fusing Liberty and Tradition?

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Korean Vocations

They're growing — Korea: number of Catholic priests increases. The article reports that "as of Dec. 31, 2007, the country had 4,116 priests, up 142 from 2006, apart from 32 bishops." The flock they serve has also increased: "the number of Catholics in 2007 at 4,873,447, an increase of 2.2 percent from the 2006 figure, or 9.7 percent of South Korea's 50,034,357 people."

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Barack Hussein Obama, Buchananite Economic Nationalist

I'm for genuine free trade, but Sen. Obama is right about the so-called free so-called trade so-called agreement between the USA and South Korea, as reported in this English-language pro-FTA Korean daily — Obama's comments may actually aid FTA. The article reports that the Korean government has said that "Barack Obama’s opposition to the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is proof that the deal favors Korea." More:
    Obama’s remark that the “approval of the agreement as negotiated would give Korean exports essentially unfettered access to the U.S. market and would eliminate our best opportunity for obtaining genuinely reciprocal market access in one of the world’s largest economies,” should be an assurance to Koreans, the official said.
And it should be a wake-up call to Americans! Of course the Koreans wrenched a deal that favors them out of the negotiations; like the Chinese, Japanese, and Saudis, they own huge amounts of our debt amassed to pay for Mr. Bush's foreign entanglements. They own us.

FTA agreements, it should be remembered, are just a new form of Mercantilism, as this article by Jeffrey Tucker attests — Free Trade versus Free-trade Agreements.

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James Howard Kunstler in the WaPo

EnergyBulletin.net links to the article by the Peak Oil prophet, in which he calls the "increasingly shrill cry for 'solutions'" as "just another symptom of the delusional thinking that now grips the nation, especially among the educated and well-intentioned" — Wake Up, America. We're Driving Toward Disaster.

Mr. Kunstler reminds us that "the 'peak oil' story" is "not about running out of oil" but "about the instabilities that will shake the complex systems of daily life as soon as the global demand for oil exceeds the global supply." He rightly says that "America's new favorite religion [is] not evangelical Christianity but the worship of unearned riches."

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Follow-up on World Day of Prayer for the Church in China

AsiaTimes.it has three stories on the events of this past Saturday, centered around Our Lady of She-Shan. First, the Vicar of Christ's message — Pope calls for solidarity with China's earthquake victims and Christians. Second, the report that "[f]or the first time official and underground Catholics are gathered together in public in response to a plea by Benedict XVI to pray for the Church in China and its mission" — Cardinal Dias tells Chinese Catholics the Pope blesses them all, wants to see them united. Finally, a message froma "Chinese Catholic from the underground Church" — Even in persecution we pray to Our Lady of Sheshan.

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Six-Pack Jimmy, Requiem æternam...


The "colorful, irascible, and indefatigable mayor of Buffalo from 1978 to 1994" has died — Former Mayor James D. Griffin dies at 78 in Orchard Park nursing home. I moved to Western New York in 1976 at the age of six and left in 1996 for the Far East, so Mayor Griffin and the city he served seem almost synonymous.

We all fondly remember His Honor's advice during the Blizzard of '85: "Stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game." Certainly one of the best political lines of the 20th Century, we'd all be much better off would politicians would likewise understand the limits of government.

The article notes: "He defied the Democratic establishment to win election on the Conservative line in 1977, and he captured three more terms to rank as the longest-serving mayor in Buffalo history." In Buffalo, the terms "conservative" and "Democrat" are not mutually exclusive. In fact, Buffalo is a one-party town, and both very conservative and very Democrat.

"Abortion Is Murder" signs are ubiquitous. As a state senator, Mr. Griffin voted against New York's 1970 abortion (before 1973, states decided the matter), and in 1993, during the "Spring of Life," he invited Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups to the city to protest in front of abortuaries. Said His Honor, "If they can close down one abortion mill, they've done their job."

The article notes that "Buffalo... entered its steepest decline under his tenure, losing tens of thousands in population and becoming one of the nation's poorest cities." He took office the same year that Bethlehem Steel closed. How much blame can we place on a mayor whose federal government decided it would be a good idea to rob American tax-payers in order to fund foreign steelmakers through IMF and World Bank monies and then open up markets at home, all in the name of de-industrialization?

That utopian "service economy" the globalist planners promised us has really worked out well for Americans, hasn't it? Had there been more Six-Pack Jimmies in Washington, such a scheme would have never gotten off the ground.

Preceding James Griffin in the mayor's office was Stanley Makowski, and following him was Anthony Masiello, who in turn was followed by Byron Brown, the city's first black mayor. (The 15% and 50% rule of black politicians, which states that "if a city was between 16 and 49% black, they probably would NOT have a black mayor," does not hold true for Buffalo.) Thus, in an unspoken power-sharing agreement that could never have worked in Yugoslavia, Buffalo's four major ethnic groups have peacefully rotated the city's highest office among them.

His Honor may not have been up there with that greatest of Buffalo mayors, Grover Cleveland, but he is certainly deserving of respect, and our prayers:

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Never the Twain Shall Meet?


The exquisitely beautiful statue of the Madonna del Latte above, made by a Chinese carver in the Philippines from African ivory in the 17th Century (click on the image for more information), proves Rudyard Kipling, that apologist for imperialism, a sort of anti-G. K. Chesterton if you will, wrong, as do these photos — Images from Sheshan - May 24. (Thank you, Clare!)

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mel Gibson's Passion

A "sincere commitment to charity in its purest sense -- without ostentation" and "lend[ing] a sympathetic hand to troubled celebrities" — Mel Gibson reaches out to Britney Spears. An excerpt:
    According to those who know (who declined to be named for fear of angering the actor), Gibson -- and his wife, Robyn -- reached out to Spears back in the dark days of February, around the time the troubled songstress was committed to the UCLA Medical Center's psychiatric unit. He was tortured by the idea that the pop star might end up dead, in part a casualty of the public's lurid fascination with her. Says one informed source, "There was no religious overtones, no endgame other than trying to show her there's a way to live your life without being in the fishbowl, and learning how to raise kids that way." Indeed, unlike Suri Cruise or Jaden Smith, the seven Gibson kids have avoided becoming tabloid grist.
Interesting that Catholics and other Christians are always being derided for being "judgmental," yet the libertine media that have condemned her get a free pass on this charge. In the past, Mr. Gibson was instrumental in the turnabout of two other figures crucified by the media: Robert Downey Jr. and Courtney Love.

Author Rachel Abramowitz seems to be stumbling toward something at the heart of The Catholic Faith when she speaks of the "personally flawed but still human Gibson." We're all "personally flawed;" that's what the Sacrament of Penance is for. If I might quote death-bed convert Oscar Wilde: "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

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Organic Distributivism in Cuba

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Run, Gore, Run!

"Gore Vidal tells Mary Wakefield that America has forgotten its constitutional roots, and explains why Bobby Kennedy was ‘the biggest son of a bitch in politics" — Welcome to the United States of Amnesia. Said Mr. Vidal, "I’ve been thinking about running for Congress this year — I won’t now because it’s too late — just to have the power of analysing the lies of the administration." If only he had done so! The "outspoken critic of America’s foreign policy" would have been a towering presence in his wheelchair, "railing against the ongoing corruption of the once-great republic."

[link via LewRockwell.com]

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Soderbergh's Che Film a Cinematic Triumph!

So says anti-Guevarista Humberto Fontova — Cannes Snores Through Che Biopic. Critics called the 4½-hour film "butt-numbing," "defiantly nondramatic," "a commercial impossibility," "something of a fiasco," and spoke of "viewers' bleary eyes." Mr. Fontova:
    These reviewers, as usual, miss the point and bash the director unfairly. Director Stephen Soderbergh said flat-out that the purpose of his movie was, "to give you a sense of what it was like to hang out with this person (Che Guevara)."
He goes on to describe the "dreadful bore, incurable doofus, sadist and epic idiot" at the center of the film and to praise the director for "expertly transmitting this insufferable dork's personality and presence to a soon snoring audience."

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"Another Stimulus Package for the Pentagon"

Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, says that "Bush’s wars are destroying our country’s economic position and permanently lowering the living standards of Americans" — War Abroad, Poverty at Home.

Those still drinking from the "war is good for the economy" kool-aid would be wise to familiarize themselves with The Broken Window Fallacy.

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An Old Right Appreciation of the New Left

Bill Kauffman on the "decentralist, anti-interventionist, and almost Kirkian" radicals of the ’60s — When the Left Was Right. Says the author, "The sager figures in the New Left, however, rejected television, IBM, nomadic corporate culture, and the Cold War—all profoundly anti-conservative forces—and I wonder just what is so 'Left' about that?"

As we can expect from Mr. Kauffman, we are introduced to a wide range of interesting figures who defy easy categorization, from "Eugene McCarthy, the peace candidate of the 1968 Democratic primaries, the distributist-inclined Catholic intellectual who befuddled his conventional liberal supporters with talk of a salutary 'depersonalizing' of the presidency, of reducing that office to its constitutional dimensions, shorn of the accreted cult of personality" to "the 1969 New York City mayoralty campaign of Norman Mailer, who campaigned as a 'left conservative' on a platform of power to the neighborhoods." Much of the article is devoted to SDS president Carl Oglesby, "the New Left figure who first saw the potential of a Left-Right linkage."

My favorote part is when he begins by discussing how "the Panthers... were groping toward a Marcus Garvey-Malcolm X philosophy of community self-reliance" and "were solid on Second Amendment issues" and continues on to say that "Gov. George Wallace of the right-wing American Independent Party" embodied "the spirit of the New Left" and was, according to "the New Left monthly Ramparts... the only one of the three major candidates who is a true radical."

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Gay "Marriage" Was Decided Decades Ago

"Extending marriage to same-sex couples negates the ideal that no parent should abandon his child," argues attorney Margaret Liu McConnell — Less Perfect Unions.

It's a good argument, but one that can be used against all marriages outside of the Catholic understanding of marriage. (It goes without saying that the "Catholic understanding of marriage" applies to many, perhaps most, marriages outside the Catholic Church and may not apply to many, perhaps most, marriages within the Catholic Church.) Ms. Liu McConnell reminds us that "[a]lthough same-sex advocates demand the freedom to marry—the recognition of what they view as a constitutionally guaranteed liberty interest—the essential promise of marriage is a loss of freedom." Marriage, she says, is "the promise to fulfill what is at once the most simple and obvious of duties and the most profound, time-consuming, and liberty-killing."

Once it this meaning, with no-fault divorce and even before, the word itself lost its meaning, and the battle was lost. "When words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty," Confucius is said to have had said.

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Vive le Québec catholique!

Hats off to Premier Jean Charest — Crucifix Will Stay in Quebec National Assembly Says Premier. "We won't rewrite history," said the premier. "The church has played a major role in who we are today as a society, the crucifix is more than a religious symbol."

Andrew Cusack's thoughts are well worth reading — Christ at the heart of Quebec.

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President Bush, Weak on Defense

Ralph Nader, saying the President "dishonored the White House and brought a pattern of waste," elaborted, "A wasteful defense is a weak defense and a weak defense, inspires waste" — Nader Calls for Bush-Cheney Impeachment. More:
    Nader charged that the President and Vice President are currently committing five impeachable offenses, on a daily basis, including: criminal use of offense against Iraq; condoned and approved systematic torture; arresting thousands of Americans -- denying them habeas corpus and violating attorney/client privilege; signing 800 signing statements, precluding the president from actually having to follow the laws he signs; and systematic spying on Americans without judicial approval.

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Totus Tuus

Honh Kong's prelate on the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China — The destiny of China and its Church are in Mary’s hands, says Cardinal Zen.

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Today Is the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China



Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians", the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously cooperated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!


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A Monstrous Biopic

Rod Dreher reports on the upcoming film — The false romance of Che Guevara. He quotes from a review by The New York Times' A.O. Scott:
    There is a lot, however, that the audience will not learn from this big movie, which has some big problems as well as major virtues. In between the two periods covered in “Che,” Guevara was an important player in the Castro government, but his brutal role in turning a revolutionary movement into a dictatorship goes virtually unmentioned. This, along with Benicio Del Toro’s soulful and charismatic performance, allows Mr. Soderbergh to preserve the romantic notion of Guevara as a martyr and an iconic figure, an idealistic champion of the poor and oppressed. By now, though, this image seems at best naïve and incomplete, at worst sentimental and dishonest. More to the point, perhaps, it is not very interesting.
Humberto Fontova has done a yeoman's job exposing the monster for what he was — Tune In, Turn On – Get Shot, Mass Murder by Troubled Youths, Che Guevara: 39 Years of Media Hype, and Che at the Oscars. Click on the last link for an account of how "the most complete human being of our time" (to use Sartre's hideous phrase) put a bullet in the back of the head of a twelve-year-old boy. Here's a Guevarist quote from el Che's gulag comandante days: "We don't need proof to execute a man. We only need proof that it's necessary to execute him. A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate."

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"Our Father, which art in heaven..."

"The Young Fogey" answers the question I've always had about that seemingly incorrect relative pronoun — Tudor English. I'm all for stubbornly clinging on to archaicisms in language, but this is a reminder that language changes over time and there ain't nothing we can do to stop it.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Wise Counsel from Mohammed

At the risk of losing the last of my American Catholic readers, I'll give that title to my latest post linking to Abu Hatem أبو حاتمCounter-Revolutionary. Read the post on your own, especially if you consider yourself a Burkean, but I'll simply quote the following:
    The Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and give him peace, forbade revolutions and violent revolts against tyrannous rulers. Instead he ordered Muslims to civil disobedience of such a ruler’s unjust commands, and patience in God.
Our Lord was never a political or military leader as was Mohammed, but His counsel, from what I gather, would be the same. (We paleolibertarians might say secession, e.g. the American War of Independence (1775-1782), is something altogether different.) If you choose to leave comments, especially those that might "insult the faith of a billion people," read this piece by Pat Buchanan first —Secularist Stupidity and Religious Wars.

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2500 Children, Some as Young as 10

"Surely nothing that President Bush has done in his two wretched terms of office — not the invasion and destruction of Iraq, not the overturning of the five-centuries-old tradition of habeas corpus, not his authorization and encouragement of torture, not his campaign of domestic spying — nothing, can compare in its ugliness as his approval, as commander in chief, of the imprisoning of over 2500 children," says Dave Lindorff — For His Treatment of Children in the ‘War on Terror,’ Bush Is a War Criminal.

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Conservatives Are Not Inclined to Take Kids Away From Their Parents

A talking head I chanced upon today was astonished that three of the judges ruling in this case were "conservative" — Texas court rules against polygamist removals.

Of course, the default conservative opinion would be, barring extraordinary circumstances, to allow children to remain with their parents. It is the Nanny Statists on the other side who are inclined to remove children from "unfit" parents.

The problem here, despite ample evidence to the contrary, is that the term "conservative" has come to mean "a mean person," and the opposite designation (let's take back the term "liberal" and vow never to use it incorrectly) "a nice person." (The etymology of the word "nice" tells us this assessment is correct, but that is beside the point.)

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3,000,000 Unborn Girls Killed Each Year in Chindia

William Sparrow, who "has reported on sex in Asia for over five years," turns his eye to the sex imbalance in the region — Asia: The land of raising sons.

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Spontaneaous Order in Iraq

There is much of interest in this article by Michael Schwartz — How the US dream foundered in Iraq. This passage particularly stands out:
    Consider, for example, the myriad ways in which the Iraqi Sunnis resisted the occupation of their country from almost the moment the Bush administration's intention to fully dismantle Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime became clear. The largely Sunni city of Fallujah, like most other communities around the country, spontaneously formed a new government based on local clerical and tribal structures.

    Like many of these cities, it avoided the worst of the post-invasion looting by encouraging the formation of local militias to police the community. Ironically, the orgy of looting that took place in Baghdad was, at least in part, a consequence of the US military presence, which delayed the creation of such militias there. Eventually, however, sectarian militias brought a modicum of order even to Baghdad.
Spontaneous order, anyone?

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Korean Catholics Send Aid to Sichuanese Earthquake Victims

A report on "aid and prayers for the victims and survivors" — Churches of China, Asia aid Sichuan earthquake victims. The Korean effort:
    The Korean Church has launched an urgent fundraising drive to send aid to Sichuan. Caritas Korea, headed by Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, has provided about 27,000 euros to be sent as emergency funds, and has asked the Caritas offices of 15 dioceses to collect essential articles to send to the survivors. Each diocese, moreover, is saying prayers for the victims: in the various weekly bulletins, the priests invite the faithful to gather to pray and to give as much as possible for the earthquake victims.

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Doug Bandow Reads Bill Kauffman

Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism by the latter, reviewed by the former — Ain't My America. An excerpt from the reviewed book, a copy of which is, as I write, making its way across the Pacific to my mailbox:
    [T]here is a long and honorable (if largely hidden) tradition of antiwar thought and action among the American Right. It stretches from ruffle-shirted Federalists who opposed the War of 1812 and civic-minded mugwump critics of the Spanish-American War on up through the Midwestern isolationists who formed the backbone of the pre-World War II America First Committee and the conservative Republicans who voted against U.S. involvement in NATO, the Korean conflict, and Vietnam. And although they are barely audible amid the belligerent clamor of today's shock-and-awe Right, libertarians and old-fashioned traditionalist conservatives are among the sharpest critics of the Iraq War and the imperial project of the Bush Republicans.

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Daniel Nichols, Futurist

This has to be one of the best Caelum Et Terra posts ever — Some Random Predictions. These ideas among others are just too tantalizing to resist: John McCain not being the Republican nominee, Rod Dreher converting to Islam, a "Great Union" between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Amish evangelization, and, best of all, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle all tried for treason and war crimes.

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China and Science

"Why didn't China develop theoretical science in the manner of early modern Europe?" Leaving aside the fact that theoretical science developed in the Islamic world and medieval Europe in pre-modern times, Sinologist Sam Crane attempts an answer to that question — The Needham Question.....and the Chuang Tzu Answer.

There is much truth in what Prof. Crane says. I would only offer that monotheists would add that a belief in a rational Creator led Muslim and Christian scientists to attempt to understand the rational order that He created, which is why theoretical science developed in the West (in which I include the Islamic world).

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More From Abu Hatem

Abu Hatem أبو حاتم, which provides "Muslim commentary on politics, political philosophy, international relations, and economics," is a blog I encourage all readers of this blog to visit daily. You will not be disappointed and you will likely be enlightened.

Here is a particularly useful list — Traditionalist Conservative Article List. Included on the list is this article by yours truly — Tasan, Nineteenth Century Korea's Paleo-Confucian Classical Liberal.

He also posts about "a paleolibertarian/paleoconservative blog by a traditionalist Catholic in Korea" with which readers of this blog may be familiar — Western Confucian. "What makes it especially refreshing," he says, "is his quotations of Confucianism as compatible teaching to that of the natural law and natural spontaneous order."

He advises me "to look up the great Chinese Muslim Confucian, Imam Liu Zhi, who expounded upon Confucian doctrines of the natural order within an Islamic framework." The iman sounds like a Muslim Matteo Ricci, S.J., this blog's namesake, the Catholic Confucian who did the same within a Catholic framework. I've dug up this about the Chinese imam — Liu Zhi (scholar) and CHAPTER 2-5 Combination of Islam with Traditional Chinese Culture.

When Fr. Ricci first visited China, the emperor refused to meet him and his fellow Jesuits, and instead ordered a picture of them to painted so that he could see what they looked like. The emperor took one look at the painting, and said, "Muslims (Hui)." The painter tried to say that they were from a different land and believed a different doctrine. The emperor was undetered. "Muslims," he responded.

This, again from Abu Hatem, bears repeating:
    The job of all of us believers in natural law is to unite together, no matter what the cultural, philosophic, or religious orientation, in fighting against postmodern relativism. Thank God that our ideas are not far from the true American mainstream. The love of liberty, justice, and God is still enamored in the American spirit - and no matter what politicians may say, it is still an important aspect of America’s political discourse. Case-in-point with Ron Paul’s run for office this time around.
Imagine the different world we might be living in had Americans not drunk so deeply from the "they-hate-us-for-our-freedoms" cup of kool-aid.

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The Spirit of Flannery O'Connor

Invoked today at Taki's Magizine by John Zmirak — Tenderness Leads to the Gas Chamber.

Also, at the same site, Mr. Zmirak and fellow Christian Caleb Stegall do a yeoman's job in defending the site against racialism, a "kind of idiocy [that] ought to be squelched fast and hard" — Racism, Ron Paul & Porn, Race Blind Justice, and Permanent Children?

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Korea and the Long Emergency

The Long Emergency could be tough for a country "which imports all of its energy needs from overseas" — Korea Braces for Oil Shock. Last night I talked with a graduate student from my university's Eco-friendly Catalysis and Energy Laboratory. He said his lab-mates incessantly discuss Peak Oil.

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Praying for Ted Kennedy

"We are asking people to pray for his immortal soul," says Fr. Thomas Euteneuer — Pro-Life Movement Offers Sen. Kennedy Prayers and Forgiveness as He Faces Potentially Fatal Brain Tumor. Here's where the senator stood in 1971:
    While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life... Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain right which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

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Requiem Mass for Bishop Paul Tep-im Sotha

His Excellency died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge — After 33 years, Cambodians recall anniversary of murdered bishop for the first time. He was not alone: "Church records say Cambodia had 65,000 Catholics in 1970, but only 1,000 or so Cambodian Catholics were alive when Vietnamese troops forced the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979. Foreign missionaries were deported, and no Cambodian priests or nuns in the country survived."

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Pengzhou Catholic Seminary

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.