Thursday, April 30, 2009

"No shamanism please."


The above sign I encountered recently while traveling in Korea came to mind after reading a blogging colleague's post reminding us that "Korean shamanism is not a benign practice or 'religion,'" — Curses are real. His post was occasioned by "a dear friend's family [that] was cursed by a woman through the help of a Korean shaman, and she even died during the process."

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Kitsch and Tenderness

"It is no accident that the arrival of kitsch on the stage of history coincided with the hitherto unimaginable horrors of trench warfare, of the Holocaust and the Gulag -- all of them fulfilling the prophecy that kitsch proclaims, which is the transformation of the human being into a doll, which in one moment we cover with kisses, and in the next tear to shreds," wrote author Roger Scruton, quoted by Robert Fulford — Finding kitsch's inner beauty.

One is reminded of these words from the great Flannery O'Connor: "In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber."

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"Power to the Neighborhoods"

"Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin’s campaign to liberate NYC," which had the above as its slogan, recalled by the former's son — Summer of ’69. An excerpt:
    He took great pride in pronouncing himself a Left-Conservative—Left because he believed that desperate times required radical solutions, conservative because he distrusted centralized government. The label baffled even the more eclectic personalities he encountered on the various circuits. But in his view, Left and Right do not necessarily need to exist in solitary states. Rather, they could dwell together in a radically alternative system to the one we know today—one in which governance belongs to local inhabitants bound by as little federal interference as possible. His claim to be running to the left and right of every man in the race was no gimmick.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

President Calvin Coolidge Speaks Truth to Power

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Patrick J. Buchanan on Torture

He acknowledges that "the legal and moral case against torture is compelling" but puts forth the scenario of "U.S. citizens d[ying] in a terror attack the CIA might have prevented, had its interrogators not been tied to an Army Field Manual" — Is Torture Ever Moral?

In addition to this "ticking time bomb scenario" he also mentions a film whose protagonist "has a daughter kidnapped by white slavers in Paris, whom he tortures for information to rescue her and bring her home." (What father wouldn't do the same? I would.) But compelling as they are, how realistic are these scenarios, and how useful are they in framing public policy?

On a related note, Mark Shea includes yours truly in an answer to a reader's request for "names of 'conservatives' (by this [he] mean[s] to say, people who might be swimming against the general current in their own usual 'political' cohort) who are writing good stuff against torture" — A reader has a question. Mr. Shea "note[s] (from the blogosphere) such voices as Zippy Catholic, Tom Kreitzberg, Feddie at Southern Appeal, Eve Tushnet, blackadder at Vox Nova, and John Schwenkler. Also, Rod Dreher, Maclin Horton, Red Cardigan and Daniel Larison have been vocal critics, as well as A Conservative Blog for Peace and Western Confucian."

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Berry, Röpke, Schumpeter, Schumacher, Polanyi, and Pope Leo XIII

Michael Federici looks to the worthies above who "share in common.. a concern for a humane scale and... the humane economy" and reached the conclusion that "small is apt to be more beautiful and more humane than the scale of mass culture" — Causes and Lessons of the Current Economic Crisis.

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The Tao of Warren Gamaliel Harding


Thomas E. Woods Jr. on the president who "knew that cutting government was the best way to end a depression" — The Harding Way. He cites "the depression of 1920-21, which most people have never heard of, [a]s an example of the resumption of prosperity in the absence of government stimulus, indeed in the face of its very opposite." (Wu wei was, and is, the way.)

Prof. Woods argues that this man "routinely portrayed as a bumbling fool who stumbled into the presidency... understood the fundamentals of boom, bust, and recovery better than any 20th-century president." Said the first black (see below) and greatest XXth Century president (seconded by his running mate and successor Calvin Coolidge) at the time: "I would be blind to the responsibilities that mark this fateful hour if I did not caution the wage-earners of America that mounting wages and decreased production can lead only to industrial and economic ruin."

It is worth remembering that this same Warren G. Harding not only pardoned the antiwar socialist Eugene V. Debs, who had been locked up by the interventionist (at home and abroad) Woodrow Wilson, but also invited him to a personal dinner at the White House! Bill Kauffman said of this moment that it "suggest[ed] an era when America writ large still had certain of the qualities of a small town" in his book, Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists.

Listen in rapt awe as I have just done to this great American man of peace:


Noting that "we never before sent so many to battle under the flag in a foreign land," he says:
    I find a hundred thousand sorrows touching my heart, and there is ringing in my ears, like an admonition eternal, an insistent call, "It must not be again! It must not be again!" God grant that it will not be. And let a practical people join in cooperation with God to the end that it shall not be.

    I would not wish a nation for which men are not willing to fight and, if need be, to die, but I do wish for a nation where it is not necessary to ask that sacrifice. I do not pretend that millenial days have come, but I can, believe in the possibility of a nation being so righteous as never to make a war of conquest and a nation so powerful in righteousness that none will dare invoke her wrath. I wish for us such an America.
Further suggested reading:
  • Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. on the president who "reduced taxes, deregulated, and generally calmed down the country after a culture-wrecking, budget-busting war, and assured a time of great prosperity" — Missing Warren G. Harding.
  • John MacMurray tells his fellow progressives "that it’s already been done — over 80 years ago, by the Republicans; and, Conservative Republicans, at that" — The First Black President.
  • Ilya Somin on the president who "made a well-known speech advocating full legal equality for southern blacks in 1921" and "is also notable for reversing the severe violations of civil and economic liberties that had proliferated under his predecessor Woodrow Wilson" — Our Most Underrated President?

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Trading Places

Bruce Bawer wonders "whether the Western European left's condescension toward America, and the American left's habit of holding Western Europe up as a socialist paradise, can survive the combination of Europe's right turn and the elevation of Barack Obama" — Europe’s Right Turn.

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Paul Harvey's Voice and Politics

Scott P. Richert informs us that "few of the scores of millions who listened to him for decades ever heard his real voice" — Now He Knows the Rest of the Story. It turns our that his "normal mellifluous baritone" was replaced by his "high, almost nasal, on-air voice."

Mr. Richert explains that "Harvey was a product of early AM radio, and a broadcast voice in an upper register stood a better chance of cutting through the frequent static." His was one of the few voices I could make out on the staticky American Forces Korea Network (AFKN) broadcast from Taegu.

Read to learn how "he reversed course on the Vietnam War, of which he had been a staunch supporter," and "supported George Wallace’s campaign for president in 1968" and "cheered on Pat Buchanan’s insurgency against President George H.W. Bush in 1992."

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Apocryphal Art

Sandro Magister reports on a "major exhibition dedicated to the apocryphal books – the stories and characters not included in the canonical Scriptures" — What the Bible Never Said. He rightly states that "the memories and legends not written in the books of the Old and New Testament, but which have entered into Christian tradition, depicted in art and even in many churches," do "[n]ot... invalidate the Gospels and the Church, but... bring them closer to us." Some examples:
    Starting with the ox and ass beside the newborn Jesus, there are many episodes and characters in sacred history that have been handed down outside of the canonical texts of the Bible. For example, the birth and childhood of Mary, with her parents Anne and Joachim, her marriage with Joseph, the names and experiences of the Magi, the details of the flight into Egypt, the "dormition" of the Virgin Mary and her assumption into heaven.

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Another Reason Not to Fear Swine Flu

The Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas has been petitioned to intercede — As swine flu spreads, Our Lady of Guadalupe is invoked. "We beg for your protection and help for quickly overcoming the epidemic that has affected our nation," prayed Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City. "Cover us with your cloak; free us from this evil."

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Good Doctor Diagnoses Hysteria


A must-see video that puts things into perspective — Ron Paul, MD, on the Swine Flu Scare.

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Here's to the State of Mississippi!




Above, Bukka White and Sam Chatmon play us some Country Blues from my maternal grandmother's homeland, the state fellow Upstate New Yorker Bill Kauffman rightly called "the economically poorest yet culturally richest state in the union" in his Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals.

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Bill Kauffman's Look Homeward, America

Reviewed by Caleb Stegall, who calls it "a detailed and often idiosyncratic look at the 'real split' underlying American society and politics" — A Call to Arms. Mr. Stegall continues:
    To paraphrase Gore Vidal, one of Kauffman’s unlikely heroes, that real split lies between those who love the old American republic and those progressive dreamers who would sell their patrimony for a bowl-full of the centralized, mechanized American Empire. Be forewarned: this is not a book for those seeking confirmation of their already accepted political stereotypes. Rather, Look Homeward, America is Kauffman’s quest through American history and its living landscape to find those he lovingly calls “reactionary radicals and front-porch anarchists.”

    The result is, by design, impossible to categorize. Kauffman’s collection of throwbacks and throwaways, retreads and retrofits, hillbillies and hell-raisers, poet politicians and insubordinate patriots is a stinging rebuke to political categorizers, taxonomers of the soul, and those who reduce humanity to the talking heads and soundbitten ghosts of American punditry. Kauffman describes himself as an “outsider even among outsiders” and “the love child of Henry Thoreau and Dorothy Day, conceived amidst the asters and goldenrod of an Upstate New York autumn.” His is a Middle American, profoundly un-imperial patriotism based in love of American music, poetry, quirks and commonalities, historical crotchets, holy fools and eminent Kansans.
Here's my review of one of my favotite books — Steal This Book!

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The Greenean Worldview

"Nobody... has ever wanted to be a Graham Greene character," "murderers, traitors, unhappy adulterous lovers, sinners of every stripe," writes Michael Dirda — The Man Within.

The Catholic novelist himself stated that "the religious sense was lost to the English novel, and with the religious sense went the sense of the importance of the human act." Mr. Dirda notes that the author "sought to reinvest contemporary fiction with moral seriousness, to depict solid and real people trapped in life-or-death ethical dilemmas and racked by guilt and despair" and to illustrate "the awful strangeness of the mercy of God."

[link via Arts & Letters Daily]

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Could Samoans Posthumously Sue Margaret Mead?

These stories linked to today by Arts & Letters Daily have me smiling — Research Subjects Sue Jared Diamond, the Author and Professor, for $10-Million and New Guinea Tribe Sues The 'New Yorker' For $10 Million.

"When foreigners come to our culture, we tell stories as entertainment," says the legal advisor to one of the plaintiffs. This is exactly how one of the most sinister books of modernity came about — The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research.

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"The Neglected Tradition of High Church Conservatism"

"Reviving the Constitution depends on restoring the tie between church and state," rightly says Daniel McCarthy in a brilliant essay — What Would Burke Do? The first paragraph:
    Edmund Burke might not like what American conservatism has become. With its devotion to abstract rights, democracy, and perpetual growth, the American Right today looks more like a stepchild of Thomas Paine than an heir to the author of Reflections on the Revolution in France. But Burke would recognize the conservative movement’s rhetoric of liberty, its anti-elitism, and its alienation from institutions of authority. Those are the hallmarks of a disposition Burke described as “the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the Protestant religion.” In 1775, that was how he characterized the creed of Britain’s rebellious New England colonies. Today, those words apply to the faith of many in the Republican Party’s base.

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Megumi's Parents

The story of Shigeru and Sakie Yokota whose daughter was abducted by North Korean agents thirty years ago — Parental love versus Kim Jong-il. "The Yokotas have since become Japan's most famous crusaders for Japanese abduction victims."

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Barack Obama and Taro Aso

"The president is imitating Japan's PM who ignores World War II responsibilities," says — Obama's Unfortunate Denial of Past US Torture Culpability. The author speaks of "America's loss of her moral and political influence in the world."

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Giovanni Antonio Rigatti's Regina Coeli Sung by Philippe Jaroussky

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman


With the verifaction of "the inexplicable healing of an American man who was 'bent double' by a severe spinal disorder came as a result of praying to Newman for a miracle" confirmed, "the Pope can now beatify Newman at a date of his choosing" — Cardinal John Newman poised for beatification after ruling. The article says that the Pope "is known to be keen to make Newman a saint" and "asks about the progress of his cause on a regular basis." Here's why:
    Benedict XVI has been an admirer of the writings of Cardinal Newman since the 1940s, especially his "theology of conscience".

    He learned about this from a German scholar called Theodor Haecker, who translated Newman's works from English into German, and who was close to the White Rose, a German resistance movement in the Second World War.

    It was revealed last month that German academics have discovered that Newman's writings on conscience were a key inspiration of the White Rose – in particular of Sophie Scholl, a student beheaded in 1943 at the age of 21 for distributing leaflets urging students at Munich University to rise up against "Nazi terror".
Two of his books, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine and Apologia Pro Vita Sua, were instrumental in my own conversion.

[link via New Oxford Review]

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President Ronald Wilson Reagan on Torture

In a post on the man "who testified against his Japanese captors on the horrors of waterboarding," many of whom "were later hanged" — The Case for Torturing Lt. Chase Nielsen — Casey Khan notes that "the Gipper signed a bill defining torture and offering no exceptions to it whatsoever" with the following wording:
    1. "...torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession..."

    2. "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

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Reid Buckley on Fitness Fanatics

"Would it be possible to invent a more stupefying supper companion than the person obsessed with keeping himself in Phidian perfection of pecs, abs, and buttocks, to the exclusion of mind and spirit?" he asks — Vile Bodies.

He describes his targets as "so frenzied by the infantile desire to cheat time that they become infatuated with their bodies, worshiping them as ancient Hebrews in the desert fell before the golden calf" and their obession as "another escape from the consequences of metaphysical ignorance—an attempt to flee time and space and the inevitability of inexorable, unstoppable, uncamoflageable aging."

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Kurt Cobb on the Tragic View of Life

He says that "paradoxically the tragic view of life doesn't beget mere glumness" but rather "teaches prudence which can be a good thing and occasionally a lifesaver" — Does understanding complexity beget a tragic view of life? More:
    It actually inculcates a more profound appreciation of those moments of happiness and bliss, for the tragic view of life cautions us that these are not the products of will and planning, but rather mostly the result of serendipity. Those with the tragic view do not believe that everything must end in tragedy; rather, they believe that tragic endings are an ever present possibility.

    As we mature we are ushered into the complexities of life. But when the willingness to accept these complexities is blunted or eliminated, maturity never arrives. Many remain in an adolescent state preferring an optimistic gloss on a simple-minded model of the world.
"The tragic view of life teaches humility in the face of complexity," he later writes. "It is not the role of those who adopt the tragic view of life merely to predict tragedy," he continues, suggesting not only that "these prudent thinkers are busy identifying trends that could possibly be forestalled and reversed so as to prevent tragic consequences" but also that "it takes a tragic view of life to imagine such scenarios in the first place."

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Hime Island, Japan

"If Marxism had ever produced a functional, prosperous society, it might have looked something like this tiny southern Japanese island," begins Martin Fackler — A Workers’ Paradise Found Off Japan’s Coast. What makes the island unique, says the author, is that "it invented its own version of work-sharing four decades before the current economic crisis popularized the term."

Despite the "socialist parallels" the islanders "proclaim themselves political conservatives." They also call their home "a repository for traditional Japanese values, like economic egalitarianism and social harmony," and suggest that "the current crisis has made traditional values appear progressive, even utopian." The authorities above have criticized the island for being "the least transparent local government in the prefecture" and "refusing to make information like detailed budget records available to non-islanders."

"Hime Island is North Korea, just a livable version," joked one islander. Mayor Akio Fujimoto and the father who preceded him in that post "have won every mayoral election in Himeshima, the island’s village, for 49 years — without once being challenged by a rival candidate." Mayor Fujimoto, noting that "traditional attitudes prevent him from extending family control of the mayor’s office for another generation, because he has only a daughter," said, "Hime Island can’t be run by a woman. This place is too medieval for that."

Hime Island may not be for evreyone, but it is not trying to impose its system on others. It seems to work well for the Hime Islanders, and those who don't like it can leave. I see it as an example of one of the many forms that localism can respond to particular circumstances.

[link via Energy Bulletin]

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Jeff Culbreath Reviews James Kalb

Calling the latter's new book "essential for anyone who wants to understand Liberalism as a worldview" and suggesting "that liberals themselves would benefit the most from this book" — The Tyranny of Liberalism.

We learn that the book acknowledges that "only the Roman Catholic Church is capable of presenting a single, viable, coherent alternative worldview in the public square." However given that "Catholicism does not have the history or the momentum in the United States to effectively resist Liberalism on its own," the author "suggests a restoration of the broad religious consensus that prevailed for so long in this land."

On a more practical level, he "calls for the decentralization of government power and authority (a renewal of subsidiarity), repealing certain antidiscrimination laws, and other measures that would facilitate more local, traditional, familial and cooperative ways of life." It is this strategy that I see as the more viable option.

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The Myth of Brazilian "Racial Democracy"

Arturo Vasquez exposes "a myth that the Brazilian intellegentsia has itself been pushing for over sixty years" and suggests "[t]he reality on the ground turns out to be as ugly, if not uglier, than the American situation" — The Eyes of Escrava Anastacia. I agree with Mr. Vasquez that "the enslavement of black Africans is an act of ontological violence that is far more brutal and significant than any other atrocity in history, and to pretend that we have recovered from it is beyond wishful thinking."

The final scene from Orfeu Negro (1959):


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The Practical Politics of Swine Flu

These stories have me worried — US declares public health emergency for swine flu and WHO declares international concern over swine flu.

I'm worried not about swine flu, mind you, but about those who are stoking fears about it. Observed H. L. Mencken, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

In a used bookstore, I once came across a book on communicable diseases promulgated by the F.D.R. régime. It was an informative read. The final chapter, however, was a propaganda piece suggesting that the reader must surely agree that these diseases were so terrible that nothing but a strong central bureaucratic state could protect people from them.

Let us remember that the last time "swine flu" was in the news, in what some statists have called "the finest hour of America's public health bureaucracy," it is alleged that "hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the inoculation the government gave them to stave off the virus" — 1976: Fear of a great plague.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Props From Maryknoll Fathers in Korea

"Maryknoller in Korea" "ha[s] been following many of the most popular Catholic English blogs for sometime and some years ago was happy to see that there was one right here in our own Country of Korea" — WESTERN CONFUCIAN IN KOREA.

The good father says he "ha[s] rarely been disappointed" and is "surprised to see how he keeps it updated and with many Catholic issues taken from around the world." (In contrast, I'm often disappointed.) He writes, "A blog that is updated daily and is interesting to read and has a message to give is a work of great perseverance and vitality. Joshua's blog is catholic and Catholic." I am especially appreciative of that last comment.

As I wrote to father a while back, "I am indebted the the Maryknoll Fathers because Orbis Books was my first real exposure to Catholicism back when I was a liberal (and rather lukewarm) Protestant volunteering with refugees in Buffalo, NY in the '90s."

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Korea's Hyper-Confucianism

"Maryknoller in Korea" quotes a professor at a university in Seoul in his diocesan bulletin about the "rigid look[s]," "stiff facial expression[s]," and "somber facial looks" of Koreans — THOSE YOU KNOW AND DON'T KNOW. This Korean professor mentions that "as children... Koreans are told to be kind to people they know but people you do not know you don't act as if you know them."

For the Confucian, the five relationships form the basis for all social interaction. Taken to the extreme, this might leave people who don't fit into one of the relationships out in the cold. The Korean word for "other people" (nam) shares a root with words for "excess," "left over," and "left behind." A colleague once said that Koreans are simultaneously the most considerate people in the world (to those with whom there is a relationship) and the most inconsiderate (to people with whom there is none). Driving on Korea's roads, where there are no relationships, bears this out.

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Paul Gottfried's Schicksalsgemeinschaft

His "alliance of fate" included "a pro-Confederate critic of Abraham Lincoln," "an avowed Marxist," "a Southern agrarian," and "a Catholic Burkean" — Voices Against Progress.

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Lincolnian Whiggism vs. Jeffersonian Traditionalism

John Fea offers a balanced appriasal of the man whose "real legacy was the promotion of an American nationalism that has resulted in the slow erosion of local places and an agrarian way of life" — Abraham Lincoln and the Destruction of Place.

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Haydn and the Habsburgs

Tim Blanning argues that the "subject and servant of Europe’s most cosmopolitan empire... played an important role in the emergence of German cultural nationalism during the 18th and 19th centuries" — Joseph Haydn and the German Nation.

Among the many things of which we are reminded is that "the most multinational, multicultural, multilingual and generally diverse great power that Europe had ever seen" had "two great enemies: the Protestants and the Turks."

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China Buys Gold

The country wants to "protect itself from the global crisis and the possible devaluation of the dollar" — China increases its gold reserves. From the report:
    For years there have been rumors that Beijing has been steadily buying gold, with the intention of protecting itself from possible collapses in foreign currencies, especially the U.S. dollar. Experts observe that this announcement leads to the conclusion that China intends to buy more gold, proof of increasing lack of confidence in the U.S. currency, and also confirmation of its role as a global superpower.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Infant of Prague vs. Joseph Stalin

"The Church will yet prevail, even in Europe, the forgetful continent," concludes Thomas Basil, reporting from sixteen different countries — Travels in Europe's Once & Future Faith. The first two paragraphs of an absolute must-read:
    In 1950 the government of Czechoslovakia began building a granite statue of Soviet leader Josef Stalin. Finished in 1955 and towering ten stories high on a hill overlooking Prague, communist authorities dynamited it in 1962 following Khrushchev's famous denunciation of his predecessor. Stalin's colossal statue endured seven years, and today exists only in photographs at Prague's Museum of Communism. This remarkable museum documents what life under socialism was really like, such as deluxe watches as prizes for any border guard who shot an escapee from Stalin's "workers' paradise," or the Baroque core of Prague left to fall into ruins.

    But somehow the city's famous wax doll less than three feet tall has endured nearby since 1628, when the Little Infant of Prague was donated to a Carmelite monastery by a wealthy benefactor. For some 380 years the doll has attracted devotees of Christ the King, who humbled Himself as a child and asks for childlike trust. That this little doll has outlasted countless European tyrants and secularists seems a metaphor for Christianity on the Continent: small and weak yet still splendid, and perhaps with more of a future than we dare hope.

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"Come Home, America," Says George McGovern to Barack Obama

"For our sake and God's sake, let's get out of there and begin healing our own bankrupted land," pleads the 1972 peace candidate — Bring Our Troops Home from Mideast This Year. Noting that the president "has adopted most of the previous administration's formula for dragging out the withdrawal of our troops from the mistaken war in Iraq for nearly three more years," he asks some important questions:
    Has either the great God above or his creatures here below designated us to run the Middle East? What do we say to the Iraqi people, who have indicated overwhelmingly in several polls that they want U.S. troops out of their country now? Why would we not understand this sentiment considering that our military equipment has smashed Iraqi homes, public buildings and infrastructure, including electricity and running water?
About the plan to "leave 50,000 troops in Iraq to 'police' that troubled country through 2011," he reminds us of history:
    In June 1950, President Harry S. Truman ordered our troops into Korea, stating it would be only a brief police action that did not require a declaration of war. Three years later and after 38,000 American soldiers had been killed, the new American president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander of Allied forces in World War II, promptly ended our involvement in the Korean War, to the relief of our combat soldiers and the American public.

    Unfortunately, we left 40,000 American soldiers behind to police the 38th Parallel -- for a brief time. Yet, more than 50 years later, nearly 30,000 American troops are still in South Korea. So much for brief police actions.
The American Conservative has in recent years printed two pieces on the man; Bill Kauffman's appreciation of the "liberal with a sympathetic understanding of conservative rural America" — Come Home, America — and Daniel McCarthy's of the man he calls "a temperamental conservative, an anti-militarist, and a committed decentralist" — McGovern Beats Nixon.

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"The Perfect Latin American Idiot's Bible"

That's how Alvaro Vargas Llosa describes, Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, the book given by President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías to President Barack Hussein Obama — Regift, Please! Says the reviewer, "Everything that has happened in the Western Hemisphere since the book appeared in 1971 has belied Galeano's arguments and predictions."

I never read the book, but from my time as an change student in Chile, I remember Las venas abiertas de América Latina being the singular most popular book among the local students.

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The State vs. Venerable Jiyul


Jiyul Sunim, pictured above during her hunger strike, has been convicted of "obstructing state business" in her "long-running protest against construction of a tunnel near her temple" — Supreme Court convicts female Buddhist monk.

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Andrei Lankov on P'yŏngyang

"They are not madmen or ideological zealots, but remarkably efficient and cold-minded, perhaps the most perfect Machiavellians of the modern world" — Why Pyongyang clings to its weapons. The nuclear weapons program serves as a "powerful strategic deterrent" and "blackmail tool" but also "has domestic importance," about which the author writes:
    Pyongyang's propaganda now insists that the suffering and destitution of the past 15 years were a necessary sacrifice, voluntarily made by selfless North Koreans to safeguard their country and nation against enemies (above all, the "blood-thirsty Yankees" who dream about wiping out the entire Korean race). Surrender of the nuclear weapons would render this suffering and death meaningless.
Other salient points include the author's insistence that "no military action against North Korea is thinkable" and that the "strategy of economic sanctions.... is not likely to work in North Korea" and their "only result would be the suffering and death of common people."

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The News From Pakistan Is Not Good

  • Gerald Posner reports that "Taliban forces are on the verge of seizing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal" — The Taliban's Nuclear Threat.


  • News that "pro-Taliban slogans, calling on Christians to convert to Islam, [have] appear[ed] on church walls," six Christian houses been set ablaze, and "three Christians, including an 11-year-old boy, who is in critical condition," been attacked by gunmen — Taliban attack Christians in Karachi.


  • Syed Saleem Shahzad reports that Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani acknowledges that "the seven-year-long strategy of military operations [has] only aggravated the situation" and "that the situation can at best only be contained as long as foreign troops remain in Afghanistan" — Frontier wisdom.


  • "Pakistan’s judiciary system cannot enforce the country’s laws until the United States leaves the region and the Pakistani government strengthens the law enforcement system" was the conclusion reached at this forum — US presence in Pakistan harmful, analysts say.
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    The 2009 Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Award

    It was awarded to Marius Rukshan Fernando — Sri Lankan human rights activist receives Korean Church award. The recipient "has committed himself to investigating and revealing the truth to the United Nations of those arrested or murdered by the Sinhalese-led government." A Sinhalese-Catholic, noting the disproportionate number of deaths among the Tamils, he said, "It is why I have to side with Tamils."

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    Father Francis Tan Tiande, Requiem æternam...

    News of the passing of a priest "held in high esteem as a martyr by all the faithful in Guangzhou diocese" — Fr Francis Tan Tiande, a joyful witness after 30 years in a labour camp, dies. An excerpt from his writing:
      In the 30 years I spent in the north-east, farming was my main occupation. Each year, when spring came we had to fertilise a field that was as hard as steel [because of the extreme cold]. We used pickaxes to break the ground. Once the ground was loose, we would water it and plant the seeds. Today, when I describe all this, it does not all seem so bad. In reality we were underfed. All that work was beyond our capacity and each minute was an agony . . .

      People might wonder how I could survive such terrible conditions. For those who do not believe, it is an enigma with no solution. For those who believe it is God’s will. Life is man’s most precious gift. I must take care of this gift so as not be ungrateful. Hence I ate wild herbs to survive, and tree bark . . . Such were the conditions I lived in that I experienced my fellow inmates’ brutal actions . . . That pain was even worse than hunger. I wanted to run in the fields, shouting "Where are you God?" . . . I cannot remember how many times I wanted to end it all, but at the crucial moment I saw Jesus on the cross looking at me with those merciful eyes . . . and telling me, "Man of little faith! Do you doubt perhaps that I love you?"

      Even during the years when showing a religious symbol was severely punished, I did not stop doing the sign of the cross among the prisoners. I was afraid that I might forget that everything came from His hands, that everything was a token of love, that everything was given to me so that I might be someone who could love. I was afraid that I might end up thinking that there was something I might not thank the Lord for, that I might end up being ashamed of Him, that I might think someone or something was stronger than Him. That "sign" cost me several punishments . . . but I had to preserve my dignity as a believer in order not to find myself without strength.

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    Catholic Exegesis

    "[T]he Catholic exegete does not harbor the individualistic illusion that the biblical texts can be understood better outside of the community of believers," reiterated the Pontiff — Pope: the Bible must be interpreted within the magisterium of the Church. His Holiness concluded that "only the ecclesial context permits sacred Scripture to be understood as the authentic Word of God, the guide, norm, and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual growth of believers."

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    A Traditionalist Conservative on Classical Liberalism

    "Generally, when someone says, 'I’m conservative on some issues and liberal on others,' what he really means is that he is just a more consistent classical liberal than American-style conservatives and liberals, i.e. he has traced out more fully the consequences of the individual as the sole entity in politics and the individual’s protected freedom as its end," writes James Matthew Wilson — Letter from a Traditional Conservative.

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    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    This Would Make Interesting Alternative Ecclesial History

    "Secret plans were drawn up by the Vatican to elect a new Pope and flee to a friendly country should Hitler have carried out his threat to kidnap the wartime Pontiff" — Vatican planned to move to Portugal if Nazis captured wartime Pope. "Pope Pius XII told senior bishops that should he be arrested by the Nazis, his resignation would become effective immediately" and "bishops would then be expected to flee to a safe country – probably neutral Portugal – where they would re-establish the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and appoint a new Pontiff."

    "Pius has been accused of being anti-Semitic and of harbouring sympathies for the Nazi regime, most notably in the 1999 book Hitler's Pope, by British author John Cornwell," the article reminds us. However, "other Catholic and Jewish historians contend that in fact Pius was loathed by the Nazis for speaking out about the Holocaust and for behind-the-scenes efforts to save Italian Jews who otherwise would have been sent to death camps."

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    China's A-Bomb Victims

    "Up to 190,000 may have died as a result of China’s weapons tests," reports Michael Sheridan — Revolt stirs among China’s nuclear ghosts. The reports mentions the "[s]oldiers [who] galloped on horseback towards mushroom clouds, with only gas masks for protection." If you've never seen incongruous footage before, take a look:


    [link via The Marmot's Hole]

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    A Korean Church Father


    Maryknoller in Korea brings to our attention Father Choe Yang Eop (Thomas), pictured above — First Non-matyred Korean Saint? More:
      He worked for 12 years in pastoral work among his Korean Christians. Kim Andrew was the first Korean Priest but died a martyr’s death shortly after ordination. Fr. Choe was actually the one who helped the Church to grow. He can be considered a Korean Church Father. He was born in 1821 and died in 1861 overworked and dying of typhoid fever.
    Worthy of pondering also is his mother, Ri Seong Rye, who "temporarily denied her Faith because of her bond with her breast feeding son," unable as she was "to overcome her maternal instincts, separating herself from her son and entering jail on her own to face beheading."

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    No Uncle Tom

    Dylan Hales defends the "former slave, Southern patriot, neo-agrarian capitalist" "who’s 'authentic blackness' cannot be seriously questioned—and who’s refusal to play by the rules of the State often spat in the fate of the sweeping progressivism so dominant among many whites of his era" — The Soul of Booker T. Washington.

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    Reclaiming Galileo

    Carolyn Moynihan writes that "it is salutary to distinguish the Catholic believer that Galileo was from the secular saint made of him by the Enlightenment tradition" — The faith of Galileo.

    The Galileo Affair by George Sim Johnson is required reading on this "one stock argument used to show that science and Catholic dogma are antagonistic." The author notes, "Until Galileo forced the issue into the realm of theology, the Church had been a willing ombudsman for the new astronomy," having "encouraged the work of both Copernicus and sheltered Kepler against the persecutions of Calvinists."

    In The Galileo Myth, Robert Spencer quotes Thomas Woods as suggesting that "even if the Galileo incident had been every bit as bad as people think it was, John Henry Cardinal Newman, the celebrated nineteenth-century convert from Anglicanism, found it revealing that this is practically the only example that ever comes to mind."

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    Bill Kauffman on Ron Paul

    "American political discourse, defined as it is by Arthur Schlesinger’s ghost and Bill Bennett’s ghostwriter, has contracted to such a pinpoint that I half expect a Big Bang to blow it all apart, as forbidden thoughts—Peace! Liberty! Localism!—bust loose from the thought prisons and the air is filled with the glorious cacophony of patriotic debate as free men and women relearn the language and habits of vigorous citizenship,' he begins — The Republic Strikes Back. About the Good Doctor, he writes:
      Ron Paul started something. Or, rather, he revealed something: liberty has a constituency. I was heartened mightily by the crowd in Minneapolis, which was overwhelmingly young. What a rousing sight: bright and enthusiastic kids afire with the spirit of liberty, of resistance to regimentation and the tyranny of standardization. Homeschoolers, homebrewers, punk rockers, evangelical Christians, radical Kansans, and reactionary New Englanders. These were American girls and boys, beautifully stained in the American grain, hip to Republican lies and numbing Democratic statism. Hell no, they won’t go. They’ll not be cannon fodder for the wars of Bush-Cheney or Obama-Biden. They demand honesty and liberty and respect for all things small and smaller; they have nothing but scorn for the liars and whores who run the empire.
    (Mr. Kauffman also introduces us to the man "whom Harvard College Observatory director Harlow Shapley called 'the world’s greatest non-professional astronomer'" — Ohio’s Backyard Scientist.)

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    Korean Catholic Base Communities

      As an old man is not agile and not full of life, we (the German Church) need revival and refreshment. By contrast, the Korean Church is young and vibrant and we can learn from it.
    So said Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, about the South Korean Small Christian Communities (SCC) movement — German delegation learns about SCCs from Korean Church. From what I gather, these SCCs are like the "base communities" of Liberation Theology without the Marxism.

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    Korean Economic Notes

  • Those on "the lowest rung of the country's economic ladder" have made their way to an American daily — South Korea's 'seal men' suffer in downturn.


  • This sounds eerily familiar — Ponzi Scheme Could Shake Economy. "The South Korean government is accused of employing an ill-fated strategy similar to a Ponzi scheme in order to prop up real estate prices in the midst of the financial crisis."


  • A good result in a case of a man "charged with not only deliberately spreading false rumors about government policy on the exchange rate, but also with the intention to harm the public good by negatively affecting the foreign exchange market and undermining the nation’s economic credibility" — S. Korea acquits Internet pundit “Minerva”.
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    XIXth Century Wisdom for XXIst Century America

  • "April 16th marked the 150th anniversary of the death of one of the significant thinkers of modern times," notes Dr. Samuel Gregg, reminding us that "Alexis de Tocqueville’s prophetic insights into America have been cited approvingly by figures ranging from Nobel Prize economist Friedrich Hayek to Benedict XVI" — Despotism – The Soft Way. The thinker is "largely ignored in his native France, where the left-dominated intelligentsia dismisses him as 'antidemocratic,'" but "Americans of all generations... have regularly turned to this nineteenth-century aristocrat to understand their past and future." Says Dr. Gregg, "This is especially true when it comes to Tocqueville’s thoughts about democracy’s promise and perils which, more than ever, seem relevant for America." Dr. Gregg ends with this Tocquevillean observation" "The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults."


  • "Environmental protection can be done more efficiently and for less cost at the local level," says Laura E. Huggins — On Earth Day, think Thoreau. This being "a time when government involvement in the environment is all the rage," she reminds us that "Henry David Thoreau, who wrote that 'government is best which governs not at all,' is probably writhing in his grave." The author, after denouncing the "green nationalism" that began with Teddy Roosevelt, ends with this bit of Thoreauvian wisdom: "The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished, and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way."


  • Tim Rutten on a man who "died 99 years ago this week" but whose "status as both an author and protean example of the now-familiar pop cultural celebrity seems to grow with each passing decade" — 'Who Is Mark Twain?'. This stands out: "Twain, though an unbeliever, was one of the first American cultural observers to intuit that the country's great problem was not religion per se but a surfeit of religiosity." So does this: "He also was aware that few of his readers were prepared to accept his advanced political views, which were all the more remarkable in that he'd been born in the divided border state of Missouri, served a couple of desultory weeks as a Confederate irregular, then became one of the few Americans to sit out the Civil War as a neutral in Nevada." He was also "a passionate defender of racial equality, an early champion of women's suffrage, a fervent anti-imperialist." (Two out of three ain't bad.)
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    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Back From Kŏje Island

    My second attempt to explore Geojedo was far more successful than my first. A dozen years ago, I set of alone took half-a-day by bus and ferry to reach the island, only to discover that figuring transportation, food, and lodging in an unfamiliar place was no longer as fun as it once had been, and then decided over a meal of hoedeopbap to talk the remaining half of the day and return to my apartment.

    This time, I traveled with my wife, two kids, and a plan. We stayed at the Geoje Natural Recreation Forest, one of many such facilities run by the Korea Forest Service. This was perhaps the best of the ones we've visited thus far, being seculded in the very lush woods of the island. There's quite a lot of natural beauty on the island, like Hakdong Pebble Beach. But for us the highlight was Historic Park of Geoje, P.O.W. Camp. During the Korean War, the site held a total of 170,000 prisoners of war, 20,000 from China and 150,000 from North Korea. Today, it is one of Korea's finest museums.

    What made it great for us was the interest it sparked in my four-year-old son. He had questions about every weapon and artifact on display. My six-year-old daughter couldn't have been less interested, which is either evidence that there are innate differences in the sexes or that my wife and I are indoctrinating our children into the "gender roles" assigned by a patriarchal society. Both kids, however, were interested in why their mother's country should have been at war with herself. I took the opportunity to explain the evil of war, then the evil of communism. The evil of interventionism will be saved for a latter lesson.

    One thing I can say is that the longer I stay in this country the more interesting it becomes. It has been years since I last set foot off this peninsula and I have no compelling desire to do so, as much as I miss my homeland. That said, I could never think of giving up my American citizenship. Not only will I never be anything other than an American nor ever want to be, I am opposed in general to the idea of Korea granting citizenship to male foreigners. But that is the subject perhaps of a future post.

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    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Back on Wednesday

    I'll be away until the memorial of Saint Leonidas of Alexandria, father of Origen, who was martyred eighteen centuries ago.

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    President Obama's Corporatism

      America is going from what used to be the major capitalistic country in the world of free market – a crusader – into what Mussolini would have called fascism: the merger of state and corporate powers. So it is not socialism as people believe, it is socialism’s egalitarianism. It’s not communism where the state controls monopolies – it’s fascism, plain and simple. The merger of corporate and government powers. State-controlled capitalism is called fascism, and fascism has come to America in broad daylight. But they’re feeding them it in little bits and pieces. First AIG was too big to fail. Mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were too big to fail. Banks too big to fail and auto companies. And now we give money to the people that make the auto parts. And now there’s talk about the technology companies, wanting their piece of the action. The merger of state and government is called fascism. Take it from Mussolini; he knew a thing or two about it.
    So said Gerald Celente — Americans Live in a Fascist State.

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    Peace, Commerce, Honest Friendship (and Régime Change)

    Andrei Lankov, associate professor of North Korean history at Kookmin University in Seoul, notes the "spontaneous growth of grassroots markets in the North and partial disintegration of state controls" and suggests "active engagement with the North in the form of development aid, scholarships for North Korean students and support for all sorts of activities that bring the world to North Korea or take North Koreans outside their cocoon" — Toppling Kim Jong Il. He writes, "Such exchanges are often condemned as a way of appeasing dictators, but the experience of East Europe showed that an influx of uncensored information from the outside is deadly for a communist dictatorship."

    [link via The Marmot's Hole]

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    Two on Inefficiency and Happiness

  • Caleb Stegall offers an anecdote from 1947, when "two titans of 20th-century economic theory, Ludwig von Mises and Wilhelm Röpke, met in Röpke’s home of Geneva, Switzerland;" what the former called "[a] very inefficient way of producing foodstuffs" the latter called "a very efficient way of producing human happiness" — Price, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.


  • An American Maryknoll father offers a personal anecdote from his first days in Korea of seeing three men using one shovel (the other two helped with ropes) and thinking that "they could do more work doing it separately but it would not be as much fun" — ONE PLUS ONE IS NOT ALWAYS TWO.
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    Two on Secession

  • Kurt Cobb, a progressive, suggests that "an ongoing economic slump may end up feeding continued calls for secession as well as create receptivity to genuinely useful relocalization efforts" — Does Rick Perry see the future?


  • Rev. Larry Beane reminds us that "secession, resistance against tyranny, and the right to self-government are quintessentially American, and are the hallmarks of all free peoples around the world" — Is Secession 'Anti-American'?
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    Beyond Right and Left on the Economy

  • "President Obama grossly overstated the support these policies enjoy by claiming, 'economists on the left and right agree that the last thing the government should do during a recession is cut back on spending," says Peter Schiff — Not All Economists Agree.


  • Kelley Vlahos on one institution that has benefited from the crisis — Military Recruitment and the Economic Crisis. She concludes, "It’s a pity that a economic crisis at home might forestall real reform in the Armed Forces — who can possibly hold their feet to fire when they have all the 'cannon fodder' necessary to fight these unpopular but nonetheless ongoing wars abroad?"


  • "Even during the boom years, one of the dirty secrets of the economy was that middle and lower-class wages were not keeping up with inflation," writes Daniel McCarthy — What the Fed Has Done to the Working Man. He asks us to keep in mind that "this impoverishment is not a function of the burst [but] a product of the original bubble."


  • "How about a test of your injustice barometer?" writes the man who got my vote in '08 — Bailout Indignation.


  • "Behind the scenes, banks are rapidly reshifting power, wealth and control of the U.S. economy," writes Don Monkerud, and all we knoew is that "the wealthy increased their share of national wealth, and taxpayers are left to pay for it" — Economic Recovery for Whom?


  • "The economic news in the near and medium term is ghastly," suggests Alexander Cockburn, noting that "Wall Street and its boosters are trying to pretend that indeed the worst is over" — Thin Ice From Here to the Horizon.


  • "It’s a curious symptom of the consensus trance zombifying the American public and its auditors in the media that something like a 'recovery' is now deemed to be underway," begins James Howard Kunstler — The Coming Siege of Austerity.
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    John Huer on Religion in South Korea

    The Korea Times columnist's latest is a good, but superficial, introduction to the topic of religion in Korea, but is marred by several small and one outstanding factual error — Koreans Are Soulful People.

    "With a naturally superstitious culture, Korea is in a sense a very 'religious' society," he says. True enough. "Koreans easily refer to 'Hanu-nim,' meaning ``God'' as a general term for the Supreme Being, in their daily lives without any particular denominational reference." Yes, but Protestants call Him "Hana-nim."

    "Their belief in God is diffused with shamanism, their most native religion, as much as Christianity and Buddhism," he writes. "It is fair to say that Korea's religious distribution is roughly about one-third shamanism, one-third Christianity, and one-third Buddhism." That may be true, but Korean shamanism is not a religion, per se. Korea's irreligious population (and Buddhists and some Christians), however, will turn to it when they need a fortune told or a spirit exorcised.

    "Within the Christian church, Catholicism is said to be the fastest growing branch in Korea," he writes. "Oddly, they call Protestants 'Christians' and Catholics 'Catholics.'" I'm not sure to whom the pronoun they refers, but if it refers to Koreans generally, this is true.

    Where he really goes wrong is here: "Catholic Koreans mix their religious practices with those of shamanism in ancestor worship, as they pay homage to their ancestors' graves on Chusok holiday, Korea's largest holiday.... Even the Catholic Church unofficially sanctions the acceptability of shamanistic ancestor worship."

    First of all, the ritual is Confucian, not shamanistic. Secondly, "worship" is too strong a word; "veneration" would be better. Thirdly, the Church officially sanctions the rite. A brief history is in order:

    Catholics were barred from practicing the ancestral rite in what came to be known as the Chinese Rites Controversy of the XVIIth Century. Holy Mother Church, under the influence of Jansenism, rejected the learned opinion of Matteo Ricci, S.J., this blog's namesake, who held that the rite was not religious in nature. (My reading of Confucius tells me the same.) Venerable Pope Pius XII corrected this on Dec. 8, 1939, and the Confucian ancestral rite has been allowed ever since.

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    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Compañeros


    If ever a photo spoke a thousand words, it is the disturbing one above — Barack Obama Shakes Hands with Hugo Chavez. About the man on the right, Mexican leftist novelist Carlos Fuentes was right — "Chávez is a tropical Mussolini".

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    President Obama and Torture

  • "Former Reagan Justice Department official Bruce Fein writes that Obama's decision to release CIA memos without prosecuting Bush administration officials flouts his constitutional duty" — How Obama Excused Torture.


  • "Without a hard look at the Bush administration's torture program, the United States could be condemned to repeat it, no matter what President Obama says," argues Mark Benjamin — Is Torture Really Over?
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    Humane Environmentalism

  • "Is an environmentalism without humanity the answer?" asks Brian Lilley of the "top environmentalists [who] say the way to a greener planet is to have fewer people" — Wish you weren’t here.


  • "It's overconsumption, not population growth, that is the fundamental problem," argues Fred Pearce — Consumption Dwarfs Population As Main Environmental Threat.


  • "The greatest threat to... developed industrial nations may not be global warming, peak oil, pandemics or rogue asteroids, but rather the ongoing demographic transformation," suggests Harvey Enchin — Paying for the excesses of youth.
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    Happy Arbor Day!

    "The difference between Arbor Day and Earth Day," says Bill Kauffman, "is the difference between planting a tree in your backyard and e-mailing a machine-written plea for a global warming treaty to your UN representative" — To Hell with Earth Day; Long Live Arbor Day!

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    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Defending Ox-bow

    "I especially do not like liberal propaganda films disguised as westerns," says Gary North, writing for LewRockwell.com, of The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) , a film I own and respect — How Liberals Killed the Western: A Case Study. The author is a well-known advocate of Christian Reconstructionism, which "advocates the modern-day application of Old Testament law in 'reconstructing' the Kingdom of God... on earth."

    Mr. North describes the movie as "the story of mob rule leading to a vigilante hanging," which it is. He decries the film as "low-budget" and points out its "bloopers," including "a black man who is accompanied by singing angels" who "does not look black" but "looks like a white actor with what Ann Coulter would call swarthy guy makeup" but "really was an African-American, the founder of the Negro Actors Guild." Mr. North delivers many such insignificant details, but fails to deliver what his title promises.

    Mr. North's deeper criticism seems to be this: "Nothing is resolved judicially. Injustice triumphs.... The book's theme was contrary to the popular western, where injustice gets its due reward." I can't really see where his criticism goes beyond that that the film did not have a happy ending. I fail to understand how a Christian could take excpetion to this statement, made by the lynched man in the film:
      A man just naturally can't take the law into his own hands and hang people without hurting everybody in the world, because then he's just not breaking one law but all laws. Law is a lot more than words you put in a book, or judges or lawyers or sheriffs you hire to carry it out. It's everything people ever have found out about justice and what's right and wrong. It's the very conscience of humanity. There can't be any such thing as civilization unless people have a conscience, because if people touch God anywhere, where is it except through their conscience? And what is anybody's conscience except a little piece of the conscience of all men that ever lived?
    I see the film as making a profoundly anti-democratic statement, as it has been said that the purest form of democracy is the lynch mob, and thus it is worthy of praise.

    An old Negro Spiritual appears to great effect in the film; it is sung below by the great Mississippi John Hurt:

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    Pope John Paul II, Classical Liberal

    Anne Barbeau Gardiner notes that the late pontiff "appropriated as 'naturally Christian' the principles once thought to be the 'exclusive preserve of the Enlightenment,' and put them on 'a coherent ethical foundation' to make them capable of serving man and supporting 'his fundamental rights, starting with the right to life'" — Intimate Memories of the Late Pope. "In the great battle over morality during his pontificate, he was often accused of being reactionary, but what he proposed was 'a humanism he thought could help contemporary man rediscover the authentically moral meaning of his history and destiny.'"

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    Susan Boyle, Devout Catholic and Filial Daughter

    "Not many people these days are devoutly religious or would spend their time devoted to their parents to the point they'd find themselves a spinster," says neighbor Stewart Mackenzie of this "simple soul with genuine warmth" — Singing 'spinster' strikes chord in talent contest.

    The article informs us that the "the frumpy 47-year-old, who says she's never been kissed," was "[t]he youngest of nine children of a devout Roman Catholic family, [and] grew up in one of Scotland's most deprived areas, a district blighted by unemployment, crime and social problems."

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    The Tao of Isolationism

    Rich Rubino rectifies some names — Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism. The former holds "that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations" and "supports commercial relations." The latter "dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world" and is called by the author "an impracticable worldview."

    But is it necessarily? Isolationism, it must be admitted, holds a certain appeal, and never was it better articulated than by Lao Tzu in the LXXXth chapter of the Tao Te Ching:
      In a little state with a small population, I would so order it,
      that, though there were individuals with the abilities of ten or a
      hundred men, there should be no employment of them; I would make the
      people, while looking on death as a grievous thing, yet not remove
      elsewhere (to avoid it).

      Though they had boats and carriages, they should have no occasion
      to ride in them; though they had buff coats and sharp weapons, they
      should have no occasion to don or use them.

      I would make the people return to the use of knotted cords (instead
      of the written characters).

      They should think their (coarse) food sweet; their (plain) clothes
      beautiful; their (poor) dwellings places of rest; and their common
      (simple) ways sources of enjoyment.

      There should be a neighbouring state within sight, and the voices
      of the fowls and dogs should be heard all the way from it to us, but I
      would make the people to old age, even to death, not have any
      intercourse with it.

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    "The New Decentralism"

    Justin Raimondo says "that bigness – in the world of nation-states, as well as finance – is out, and smallness is in" — These United States: Too Big to Fail? He says "the world’s biggest financial combines, along with the giant producers like GM, are in trouble [because] like the dinosaurs, their bigness – once an advantage – evolved into a fatal gigantism."

    Also, he argues, "the reality is that big countries – and bigness, per se – are on the wane" and that "what happened to the old Soviet Union is not such an implausible scenario for us."

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    Two on Wall Street

  • "For every 100 dollars corporate America made between 1973 and 1985, the financial sector took 16 dollars. In 1986, the share rose to 19 dollars and 21 to 30 dollars in the 1990s," notes Hong Kwon-hee — Wall Street. "In the 2000s, the figure has risen to 41 dollars."


  • Zach Carter on a "plan [that] all but guarantees-see if this theme sounds familiar-a windfall for banks that lied to regulators and investors so that they'd be allowed to lend out far more money than they could realistically afford to" — Is Geithner's Hedge-Fund Bailout Illegal?
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    Korea's Roe v. Wade

    "Abortions were legalized in South Korea in 1973 under the Mother and Child Health Law, which a military regime promulgated without collecting public opinion," we learn in this article — Government's abortion limitation has little meaning, Church officials say.

    The proposed change would "shorten the period for legal abortion of a pregnancy from 28 weeks to 24 weeks." ("The Korean bishops," in contrast, "have consistently upheld Church teaching on the inviolable dignity of human life from conception by opposing abortion in any circumstances.")

    Currently, abortion is allowed only "in case of pregnancy by rape or incest, certain kinds of genetic mental or physical damage, or if the mother's health is in danger." But, as we know, the phrase "mother's health" is a catch-all phrase vague enough to include the inconvenience of of giving birth to an inconvenient baby.

    We also are reminded that a country with one-sixth the population and about one-and-a-half times the number of abortions per annum: "The local Church says 1.5 million abortions are performed annually in South Korea, which has a population of 48.5 million people."

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    Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton

    Prof. Clyde N. Wilson at his best— Politics and Economics in America. The first paragraph:
      Thomas Jefferson has left us an account of a supper-table conversation in the very earliest days of the U.S. government. Vice President John Adams (who was intended by nature for a preacher) declaimed at length about the virtues of the British government, which, he said, if purged of its corruption, would be perfection. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (a canny immigrant bastard with a Napoleon complex) differed sharply. It was its corruption, he avowed, that gave the British government its great stability and power. Add in Jefferson’s views, which agreed with neither, and you anticipate almost the whole history of American political economy.

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    Is Sodomite "Marriage" a Fait Accompli?

    Unwelcome news from my home state — NY Gov. introduces same-sex ‘marriage’ bill day after archbishop's installation. "The governor, who said he was baptized a Catholic, said the proposal was the 'right way' from a spiritual standpoint," we are told.

    We also learn that "one Democratic Senator, Sen. Ruben Diaz, has said he opposes Gov. Paterson’s measure." Says Sen. Diaz:
      I think it's a laugh in the face of the new archbishop. The Jews just finished their holy week. The Catholics just received the new archbishop. The evangelical Christians just celebrated Good Friday and resurrection. He comes out to do this at this time? It's a challenge the governor is sending to every religious person in New York and the time for us has come for us to accept the challenge.
    Even if "the time for us has come for us to accept the challenge," we may well be doomed to fail and it is all our own fault. Restrained Radical, that "Korean-American compassionate-conservative neoclassical-liberal libertarian-paternalist violent-papist," yesterday posted "[a] prediction on when public opinion would turn in favor of SSM" — On Same-Sex Marriage.

    He found "a regression model that looked at a series of political and demographic variables" and concludes, "By 2016, only a handful of states in the Deep South would vote to ban gay marriage, with Mississippi being the last one to come around in 2024." He mentions correctly that "Christians in general have been much more outspoken about SSM than about non-SSM threats to the sanctity of marriage."

    He concludes, "I've always advocated getting the government out of marriage altogether but if the government is going to actively promote marriage, IMO, the next best alternative, though still probably infeasible, would be to promote marriage as an institution designed to provide for the best interests of children, rather than merely a contractual relationship between adults."

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    Three Lessons for America From Fourth Generation War

    A reader sends along William S. Lind's latest — The Fourth Generation Armies Are Winning. His three lessons "of overriding importance" in a nutshell: "1) So long as America pursues an offensive grand strategy, Fourth Generation war will ensure her defeat;" "2) Second Generation militaries cannot win Fourth Generation wars;" "3) There is no chance America will adopt a defensive grand strategy or reform its military to move from the Second to the Third Generation – a necessary though not sufficient step in confronting 4GW – so long as the current Washington Establishment remains in power."

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    CNN "Reporting" the Tax Protests

    A reader sends along a video that "speaks for itself of our media continuing to try to divide their puppets with right wing-left wing BS" — Chicago Tax Day Tea Party. The fellow interviewed is a bit confused about the sixteenth president, but his heart's in the right place.

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    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Pontifical Chrism Mass (Novus Ordo) in Shanghai

    Some photos from D. Shanghai - Chrism Mass - linked to by Father John Zuhlsdorf, 163 of them in all — 圣周三徐家汇教堂圣油弥撒全记录!!!

    My experience has been that in Asia the Novus Ordo Missae is genereally celebrated with the same reverence and solemnity seen in the photos linked to above. Twenty-five centuries of Confucianism have left an indelible mark on the peoples here. Thus, the Mass of Paul VI was not met with resistance by Asian Catholics, out of respect for authority, and the importance placed on ritual and custom have left in place much of what was more fully expressed in the Traditional Latin Mass.

    [link via The New Beginning]

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    Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Micro-Lender

    "[F]ar from being a practice of pure welfare, the micro-credit will be the way to make the creativity and ingenuity of our people emerge again," said His Eminence, Archbishop of Naples — Cardinal Donates Savings to Start Bank for Poor.

    This is part of an Italian "crusade of charity and assistance" to combat the economic crisis, about which His Eminence says, "We agree that we have built our society on sand and not on rock and, basing ourselves solely on economic calculation, have built the umpteenth tower of Babel."

    There are those who might take issue with this statement: "We thought that the globalization of markets would bring us further well-being, wealth for all, and instead we globalized poverty." But even free-traders can agree that what we really have is what Jeffrey Tucker called "mercantilism in disguise" — Free Trade versus Free-trade Agreements.

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    Susan Boyle, Anti-Modernist


    "Modern society is too quick to judge people on their appearances," rightly said the lovely woman pictured above — The Scot Heard Round the World. "There is not much you can do about it; it is the way they think; it is the way they are. But maybe this could teach them a lesson, or set an example."

    The story of the woman who's "47, frumpy, out of work, from a small Scottish village... unmarried, ... has never been kissed... who lives in public housing in a Scottish village, a victim of bullying and a disability, who spent her life being faithful to the church and caring for her now-dead parents" was linked to on this blog yesterday — Overcoming the Bullies.

    The article linked to above informs us that she is the "youngest of nine children" who "spent years taking care of her mother, who recently died." Her parish priest, the Rev. Ryszard Holuka, called her a "quiet soul." He said, "She never flaunted her voice; this is the first time it's been publicly recognized."

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    A Corean Curmudgeon

    Cho Se-hyon, a man "hotly chided... for being so sarcastic, even unpatriotic, about fellow Koreans," is "convinced that practically nothing moves in Korea unless there is money to be made by an individual or group" — Greed Rules. It wasn't always this way, he notes:
      In the 1950s when the people were less materialistic, we were happier, with full of dreams, even though many of us were forced to go hungry and wear worn-out clothes handed out by the U.S. forces or international aid organizations. But we helped each other whenever we could and although Seoul was not any less chaotic and difficult to live in than it is now, we were courteous to each other.

      When I went back to Korea after a long sojourn overseas, I found the country vastly more affluent with high-rise apartments and people driving big, shiny cars everywhere. Ironically, though, life appears to be much tougher and the people have become more selfish and greedier than they were half a century ago.
    He describes a practice not limited to his country: "Our politicians get together and form a political party not because they share the same political ideology or want to advance any political ideals they believe in, but simply because it is easier for them to fight for power as a group and make money for themselves by using their influence." He also notes that "democracy is not a cure-all for social ills, least of all, the people’s greed."

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    The Man Who Should Have Been Archbishop of Canterbury

    News that the Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, Anglican Bishop of Rochester, England, is retiring early — A troublesome priest in a timid church. A brief bio: "Born in Karachi to parents who converted to Christianity from Islam, the first non-white diocesan bishop in Britain emerged as an outspoken critic of multiculturalism."

    The article notes, "His views on Muslims were said to have ruled him out of succeeding George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury." It was during my last year as a guest of the Anglican Communion (I was on the verge of formally joining in 2002 when I got cold feet and ended up swimming the Tiber by the end of the year) when Bishop Nazir-Ali was one of two candidates selected by Her Most Britannic Majesty for the Communion's top post, and the one I supported. Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a Catholic lecturing the Pope on gays, selected his rival.

    "Bishop Nazir-Ali intends to take up the cause of persecuted Christian minorities in the Middle East, Pakistan and places like Orissa in India... but there is no doubt that conservatives in the Church of England have lost their most outspoken champion."

    [link via Crunchy Con]

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    "The Wilhelm Roepke Solution to Our Economic Woes"

    Explained by Dermot Quinn, professor of history at Seton Hall University and a fellow of the James Madison Program at Princeton University — Too Small to Fail.

    "The key to Roepke’s thinking is freedom," notes Prof. Quinn, who goes on to explain that "his notion of freedom was profoundly communitarian, rooted as it was in certain moral understandings of man and the good life, of human beings living together in honorable interdependence, of families being free because obliged to each other."

    Roepke "understood economics in deeply religious terms, as a kind of magnificent participation in creation itself," and "distrusted all forms of collectivism." Writes the author, "An Aristotelian preference for balance and variety, a Burkean delight in the little platoons, a Chestertonian love of the local and the down-to-earth—that was Roepke."

    "Roepke was appalled by the sheer vastness of the modern state," and "offered, instead, the more modest proposal that self-reliance—'the individual taking care of himself and his family'—was the foundation upon which all economics and politics should be built."

    I've blogged before about this great thinker:

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    "Peacenik Sellouts"

    Writing for The American Conservative, Antiwar.com's Justin Raimonso asks, "Was the Left antiwar or just anti-Bush?" — Peace Out. The author suggests "that the antiwar movement has largely collapsed in the face of Barack Obama’s victory" and the "ostensibly antiwar organizations that did so much to agitate against the Iraq War have now fallen into line behind their commander in chief and are simply awaiting orders."

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    New Urbanism in Korea?

    "A good urban environment creates a society," says architect Seung H-sang (don't ask me how to pronounce that) — Still, slow waters of Korean architecture. "A lot of social conflict comes from the structure of the city." Sounds a lot like New Urbanism.

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    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Glenn Beck Admits He Was Wrong



    "If this is what the Right is feeding on to educate itself, it's going to be out in the wilderness, gashing itself with sharp rocks and babbling numbers for a very long time," says the sadly, but not unexpectedly, misguided Mark Shea of the above clip — Talk Radio Dementia on the Right. "The guy's nuts," wrongly says Mr. Shea, mockingly adding, "This is what passes for serious discourse on the Right these days? Oy!"

    I, too, am a bit suspicious of Mr. Beck's recent conversion and of his network, which for years shilled for the previous régime, but this statement from the video seems sincere, and it is undoubtedly true:
      Our government is not marching down the road to communism or socialism... but now they're marching us to a brand of non-violent fascism. We have to empower ourselves, we have to read, we have to learn, we have to study it ourselves, and then we have to stand up, not with a gun, but with our voices, our minds, our hearts, together, left and right, the people who said, 'Fascism if coming under Bush,' and the people who are saying, 'Fascism is coming under Obama;' you're both right! Fascism is coming... I think we've been on this road since Teddy Roosevelt.

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    Profound Christian Witness in a Profoundly anti-Christian Society

    A. N. Wilson, British academic (and Young Fogey), who once "wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died," announces his return to the faith with a powerful essay — Religion of hatred: Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes ruling Britain who sneer at Christianity.

    He calls his "a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious," whose "universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti." Of his return to the faith, he says, "Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block," naming by name the "cutting-edge novelists," "foul-mouthed, self-satisfied TV presenters," "and the smug, tieless architects of so much television output."

    He mentions "in contrast to those ephemeral pundits of today... companions in belief such Christians as Dostoevsky, T. S. Eliot, Samuel Johnson and all the saints, known and unknown, throughout the ages." He rightly says that "materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational," suggesting as it does that "we are just a collection of chemicals," providing "no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat."

    "The Resurrection, which proclaims that matter and spirit are mysteriously conjoined, is the ultimate key to who we are," he concludes. "J. S. Bach believed the story, and set it to music. Most of the greatest writers and thinkers of the past 1,500 years have believed it."

    [link via Crunchy Con and Catholic and Enjoying It!]

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    American vs. Korean High School

    If you've ever wondered what "a comparative chart of American and Korean high school senior classes" looks like, Robert Koehler links to one — I Was Wondering Why You Guys Were So Good at Math… Makes me want to move home immediately for the sake of my kids.

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    Overcoming the Bullies

    Rod Dreher links to video of the triumph of a woman who's "47, frumpy, out of work, from a small Scottish village... unmarried, ... has never been kissed... who lives in public housing in a Scottish village, a victim of bullying and a disability, who spent her life being faithful to the church and caring for her now-dead parents" — Susan Boyle, Superstar.

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    Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.