Thursday, March 31, 2011

Benjamin Britten's War Requiem (Excerpts) Conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich

The War Requiem "was not meant to be a pro-British piece or a glorification of British soldiers, but a public statement of Britten's anti-war convictions" and "a denunciation of the wickedness of war, not of other men."

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A Very Different Bomber Mission Over Nagasaki

It occured on May 20, 1938, and is told by Nicholson Baker in Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization:
    Two Martin B-10 Bombers, flown by American-trained pilots, flew from Hankow, China, to Nagasaki, Japan. They flew around Nagasaki for half an hour, dropping leaflets that denounced Japanese militarism. The flying visit, one leaflet asserted, was a gesture of good will. The bombers also passed over Kyushu and the naval base at Sasebo.

    Premier H.H. Kung, brother-in-law to Madame and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, was waiting with a group pf reporters at Hankow air base for the Nagasaki mission to return. Kung, a graduate of Oberlin College, said to the oil-spattered airmen: "You did not drop bombs, as the Japanese air force is doing in China, but dropped leaflets, because China champions humanitarianism."
This was a few months after the Nanking Massacre. A very different bomber mission would be carried out over the same city years after an attack on an American naval base.

Cynics might say Premier Kung's "bomber mission" was nothing more than a desparate propaganda ploy played out by the "sick man of Asia" in its weakness, and a foolish act that ultimately failed to halt Japanese aggression. Confucians would understand it within the general Confucian contempt for things military and within a philosophy which holds that moral example, not force, should rule the world. (H. H. Kung was "a 75th generation descendant of Confucius" and "the richest man in China at that time.") Christians (Kung was also a convert) would understand that might does not make right and that the morality of an act is not judged by its ultimate success or failure.

That a very different bomber mission over this ancient center of the Catholic religion in Asia should have been carried out under the orders of a little thirty-third degree Freemason from Missouri should not surprise us; what should surprise us is that certain Catholics should to this day attempt to find justification for one of the most heinous acts of state terrorism of a heinous century characterized by state terrorism.

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The Major Discovery of Christian History?

Fiona Macrae reports on the finding of an "ancient collection of 70 tiny books, their lead pages bound with wire" — Could This Be the Biggest Find Since the Dead Sea Scrolls? Seventy Metal Books Found in Cave in Jordan Could Change Our View of Biblical History.

The fact that "many of the books are sealed, prompting academics to speculate they are actually the lost collection of codices mentioned in the Bible’s Book Of Revelation," is intriguing, given that as Dr Margaret Barker, former president of the Society for Old Testament Study, reminds us, "The Book of Revelation tells of a sealed book that was opened only by the Messiah."

David Elkington, a British scholar of ancient religious history and archeology, said, "It is a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church." Also evidence that we are talking about the Church with a capital c and not some weird proto-evangelicals is that "other artifacts, including an incense bowl, were also found at the same site as the tablets" [emphasis added].

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gregorio Allegri's Miserere Mei Deus Performed by the Tallis Scholars

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Human Smoke, Page 66

    Captain Philip S. Mumford, a former British officer in Iraq, joined the Peace Pledge Union. He gave a speech about why. "What is the difference between throwing 500 babies into a fire and throwing fire from aeroplanes on 500 babies?" he asked. "There is none." It was January 5, 1937.
An example of the stark prose Nicholson Baker employs in Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization to assemble what a review calls "an eloquent and passionate assault on the idea that the deliberate targeting of civilians can ever be justified" and another a book that is "at once very easy to read and very hard to digest."

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Opposing Mr. Obama's War

  • "In ordering air and naval strikes on a country that neither threatened nor attacked the United States, did President Obama commit an impeachable act?" asks Patrick J. Buchanan, answering that "the framers of the Constitution were precise" — Obama’s War.

  • Congressman Ron Paul says, "Congress must assert its Constitutional authority and rein in an administration clearly out of control" — Constitutional Problems with the Libyan War.

  • "Obama claimed that his moral authority trumped the US Constitution," says Paul Craig Roberts, arguing that he "has taken America one step further into Caesarism" — Obama Raises American Hypocrisy to Higher Level.

  • The Nation's John Nichols reminds us "that presidents are not supposed to start wars, especially wars of whim that are offensive rather than defensive in nature" — Obama Tries, Without Success, To Explain An Undeclared War.

  • "Apart from having nothing to do with protecting civilians," says Pepe Escobar, "this arrangement is absolutely illegal in terms of international law" — There's no business like war business.

  • "The Bishops of Northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), who are faced with the processes of historical development concerning Arab countries and especially the Maghreb, wish to reaffirm our urgent appeal to find an end to this painful conflict, just and dignified for all," theor excellencies have stated — Catholic bishops in Africa denounce Obama's war in Libya.
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    Fukushima Obsfucation and a Korean Catholic Answer

  • "The Japanese government has had a level 7 nuclear disaster going for almost a week but won’t admit it," says Tom Burnett — 'Worse Than Chernobyl': When the Fukushima Meltdown Hits Groundwater. "The Japanese are still talking about days or weeks to clean this up. That’s not true. They cannot clean it up. And no one will live in that area again for dozens or maybe hundreds of years."

  • "When the dangerous dust and gases settle and we discover just how much radiation escaped the damaged Fukushima reactors and spent fuel rods, we may never know how many people are being exposed to radiation from the burning fuel rods and reactor cores, and how much exposure they will receive over time," says Glenn Alcalay — Radiation, Japan and the Marshall Islands.

  • "The Committee for Justice and Peace of Kwangju archdiocese will monitor one of the country’s largest nuclear power plants as scientists said radioactive particles had been found in the atmosphere over several areas of South Korea" — Church to monitor nuclear plant safety.
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    From Don't Ask, Don't Tell to Don't Object

    Terry Nelson has the disturbing news — Military Chaplains face court-martial for 'religious, conscience' objection to homosexual conduct? The military has long been a laboratory for state social engineering.

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    Agnostic Julia Kristeva Emerges from the Courtyard of the Gentiles

    Calling it "a wonderful initiative, although I don't know what results it will bring," and "something surprising, a beginning of that dialogue which seems necessary to me, but of which many are afraid," as Sandro Magister reports — The "Court" of Paris. An Assessment. She continues:
      Both believers and nonbelievers are walking on tiptoes out of fear of losing. I am reminded of the appeal of John Paul II, whom I met in Bulgaria. We all remember his "Be not afraid." He was speaking to Catholics in reference to communism. And the results were seen: Solidarnosc was born, and the Berlin Wall fell. I want to say it to my secular friends: "Be not afraid of religion." You have ways of thinking about the need for religion without the fear of being swallowed up by obscurantism. We can do better than Voltaire, overcoming the abuses of religion and looking at the positive side of belief.
    About "the manifesto of the current pope" and the "perspective of Benedict XVI," she says:
      When he talks about "making God present in the world," the pope is doing his job: it would be bizarre if he didn't talk about it! Besides, it must be emphasized how among the monotheistic religions, only Christianity has promoted the idea of universality. It seems to me that the pope's tendency is in this direction. The monotheistic religions are exposed to the risk of imposing themselves as truth, even violently, but at the same time they propose within themselves the theme of plurality, the seed of diversity and of the foreign. My hope is that, from the encounter of the Court, we may set out toward that path of universality.

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    Lenten Music

    Lenten Music "has its own particular beauty, which may be lost on modern man," said Eric M. Johnson offering a list of compositions, which Robert R. Reilly builds upon — Music for the Via Dolorosa and Lenten Musical Themes.

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    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    William Byrd's Tristitia et Anxietas and Vigilate Sung by the Tallis Scholars

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    Still More Fukushima Obsfucation

  • Tom Engelhardt says "it looks ever grimmer as talk of days until the nuclear crisis subsides reluctantly slips into weeks and the weeks into months" and notes that "few are willing to look into the abyss and really wonder about the worst that could happen" — Glow in the Dark Euphemisms as the Japanese Nuclear Crisis Worsens.

  • One of those "willing to look into the abyss and really wonder about the worst that could happen" is Chris Whitney, who writes, "Conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are deteriorating and the doomsday scenario is beginning to unfold" — Is Fukushima About to Blow? "The Fukushima fiasco is gaining pace putting tens of thousands of people at risk of thyroid cancer, childhood leukemia and other life-threatening ailments."

  • "Nearly all of these experts who appear and pontificate have not actually done any research on the issue of radiation and health," writes Chris Busby, calling them "criminally irresponsible, since their advice will lead to millions of deaths" — Deconstructing Nuclear Experts.

  • Der Spiegel reports on "how little experts know about the dangers that still lurk on the grounds of the ill-fated plant" and quotes Wolfram König, head of Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection, as calling this "an ongoing, massive release of radioactivity" that "isn't over by a long shot" and "already is a partial meltdown" — How Dangerous Is Japan's Creeping Nuclear Disaster?
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    Newly Arrived Books

    Thanks to the generous donation of a reader and the modest income this blog earns from Newstex Content Syndication, I was able to purchase the following books:

  • The Imitation of Christ — I read Thomas à Kempis' XVth Century classic years ago and in it found all that I had hoped to find in my studies of Eastern religions. It is hoped that this inexpensive leather-bound edition will be of great spiritual assistance.

  • Conversations on Liberalism and the Church — Written by everyone's favorite XIXth Century American convert to Catholicism from Transcendentalism, The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Orestes Augustus Brownson calls this "a small book which shows that if for a short period of his Catholic life, he parleyed with Liberalism, he had too much horror of it to embrace it." Perhaps it will cure me of my Liberalism.

  • Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization — Reviewers have hailed Nicholson Baker's book as what "may be the most compelling argument for peace ever assembled," as "one of the most important books you will ever read," as "a testament to the power of an outsider to a field to cause us to rethink conventional notions," as "a much stronger message of peace than mere argument could ever muster," and, finally and most importantly, as "an eloquent and passionate assault on the idea that the deliberate targeting of civilians can ever be justified." The older I get, the more of a pacifist I become.

  • Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan — I've known about Franklin Hiram King's century-old classic for some time, and will read this with the aim of perhaps fulfilling the promise of my youthful membership in Future Farmers of America.
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    Unintended Consequences of the War on Libya

  • "North Korea could hardly have come up with a better reason for not giving up its nuclear weapons program than the United States-led bombing of the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi," writes Donald Kirk — North Korea laments Gaddafi's nuke folly. "It was nearly eight years ago that Gaddafi made a show of jettisoning a nuclear weapons program in deference to the demands of the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."

  • "In the war that has broken out in Libya and which sees Italy on the front line, the only real certainty, beyond the intentions of those who unleashed it, is that the Islamists will win and that, consequently, the populations of eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean will be increasingly submissive to sharia, the Islamic law that denies fundamental human rights and legitimises theocratic dictatorship," says Catholic convert from Islam Magdi Cristiano Allam, quoted by Piero Gheddo, calling this "an outcome that is exactly the opposite of the official proclamations of Sarkozy and Obama and their excessive use of catchphrases such as 'freedom and democracy'" — Gaddafi a controversial dictator.
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    Orientalium Ecclesiarum

  • "The apostolic traditions which you maintain enjoy their full spiritual fruitfulness when they are lived in union with the Church universal," said the Pontiff "upon receiving in audience a group of bishops of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church" — Pope Affirms Richness of Living Diversity in Union. The rite's liturgy — Malayalam Qurbana.

  • "Benedict XVI granted ecclesial communion to Archbishop Sviatoslav Schevchuk, 40, as the major archbishop of the Archeparchy of Kiev, Ukraine" — New Primate for Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. "Archbishop Schevchuk (Rome has not assigned the title of patriarchate to this Church) was the youngest bishop taking part in the synod and is the fourth youngest bishop of the Catholic Church." Dude's His Excellency's the same age as I am.

  • News not from an Eastern church but from a Western church in the East — Pope names two new bishops for Japan. "Father Eijiro Suwa, 63, the pastor at Enoguchi parish in Kochi prefecture, in Osaka archdiocese’s Takamatsu diocese, about 600km southwest of Tokyo, will become Bishop of Takamatsu while Father Paul Hamaguchi, 62, pastor of the Cathedral Church of Takamatsu in Nagasaki archdiocese will become Bishop of Oita." That's a lot of Takamatsus to keep track of, or, if you prefer, of which to keep track.

  • UPDATE: "It is a motive of pride for your Church to be united from the beginning to the Successor of Peter" — Pontiff Affirms Communion With New Maronite Patriarch.
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    Not Giving a Crap About Father Corapi

    Sorry to word it that way, and of course, I do care about him (and her and everyone else — as much as one can care about complete strangers), but I don't care about the case, and I have to wonder if it is not a disastrous idea for a priest to be the owner of a media company — Father Corapi's company says action against priest violates canon law.

    Said the company official, "We are a secular corporation and not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. As such, we are not under the jurisdiction of any bishop or other official in the Catholic Church, although we have the utmost respect for church authority." Yikes!

    I mean, what business does a priest have running "a secular corporation... not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way, ... not under the jurisdiction of any bishop or other official in the Catholic Church," unless it's a brewery or winery or something? Don't the imprimatur and nihil obstat have any meaning any more?

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    Church vs. State

    The American Conservative's Michael Brendan Dougherty introduces us to the man whose "daily show on Sirius XM radio was once a fresher, more entertaining echo of the form pioneered by Rush Limbaugh and taken up by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin," but now "you might say it’s a bit like listening to George Mason, if the revolutionary Virginia patriot were a pop-culture savant given to stream-of-consciousness impersonations and jonesing hard for a second American revolution" — Mike Church: The Most Radical Man on the Radio.

    "'We are all talking about the same things we’ve been talking about since Barry frickin’ Goldwater, or when Harry frickin’ Truman was sending boys to go die in Korea!' he shouts into the microphone. 'This beast that is the federal government is unmanageable, it must be dismantled.'"

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    Illiberal Liberalism and Intolerant Tolerance

    "How can liberal democracies justify prosecuting people who wear crosses or refuse to preside at same-sex marriages and still pride themselves on being tolerant?" asks Michael Casey — The puzzle of intolerant tolerance.

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    Areopagus in Paris

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    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem, UC Davis University and Alumni Choruses, UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey Thomas

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    Frankincense and Mirth

    A conservative blog for peace links to some good news for us traditionally-mided religious folk and others — Burning Incense Is Psychoactive: New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses. "Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too."

    Said Hebrew University's Raphael Mechoulam, one of the researchers, "In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla [from whose resin frankincense is made] had not been investigated for psychoactivity." He continued, "Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning."

    The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917 instructs us, "Incense, with its sweet-smelling perfume and high-ascending smoke, is typical of the good Christian's prayer, which, enkindled in the heart by the fire of God's love and exhaling the odour of Christ, rises up a pleasing offering in His sight (cf. Amalarius, 'De eccles. officiis' in P.L., CV)."

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    Reading and Writing links to an article reporting that "research suggests that bibliotherapy for depression administered by a family physician may be just as effective as standard anti-depressant prescriptions" — Bibliotherapy: The Power of Books — and another that "researchers have found that writing by hand improves memory, cognitive activity, and the expression of ideas" — 5 Items to Snap You Out of Your Digital Writing Routine.

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    Why Absolute Monarchism Is Better Than Mass Democracy

    An Austro-libertarian explains — Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the Impracticality of One-World Government and the Failure of Western-style Democracy. Dr. Hoppe discusses the theses of his book, Democracy: The God That Failed:
      The traditional, pre-modern state-form is that of a (absolute) monarchy. The democratic movement was directed against kings and the classes of hereditary nobles. Monarchy was criticized as being incompatible with the basic principle of the "equality before the law." It rested on privilege and was unfair and exploitative. Democracy was supposed to be the way out. In opening participation and entry into state-government to everyone on equal terms, so the advocates of democracy claimed, equality before the law would become reality and true freedom would reign. But this is all a big error.

      True, under democracy everyone can become king, so to speak, not only a privileged circle of people. Thus, in a democracy no personal privileges exist. However, functional privileges and privileged functions exist. Public officials, if they act in an official capacity, are governed and protected by "public law" and thereby occupy a privileged position vis-à-vis persons acting under the mere authority of "private law." In particular, public officials are permitted to finance or subsidize their own activities through taxes. That is, they are permitted to engage in, and live off, what in private dealings between private law subjects is prohibited and considered "theft" and "stolen loot." Thus, privilege and legal discrimination – and the distinction between rulers and subjects – will not disappear under democracy.

      Even worse: Under monarchy, the distinction between rulers and ruled is clear. I know, for instance, that I will never become king, and because of that I will tend to resist the king's attempts to raise taxes. Under democracy, the distinction between rulers and ruled becomes blurred. The illusion can arise "that we all rule ourselves," and the resistance against increased taxation is accordingly diminished. I might end up on the receiving end: as a tax-recipient rather than a tax-payer, and thus view taxation more favorably.

      And moreover: As a hereditary monopolist, a king regards the territory and the people under his rule as his personal property and engages in the monopolistic exploitation of this "property." Under democracy, monopoly and monopolistic exploitation do not disappear. Rather, what happens is this: instead of a king and a nobility who regard the country as their private property, a temporary and interchangeable caretaker is put in monopolistic charge of the country. The caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his and his protégés' advantage. He owns its current use – usufruct – but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. To the contrary, it makes exploitation less calculating and carried out with little or no regard to the capital stock. Exploitation becomes shortsighted and capital consumption will be systematically promoted.

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    Pope Pius IX and President Jefferson Davis

    "Why did this pope who is a Venerable of the Church — the very one who promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, published to the world the famous Syllabus of Errors, and presided over the Vatican Council that solemnly defined the dogma of papal infallibility — seek to comfort Davis, who was not a Catholic?" asks, and answers, Gary Potter, in just one section of his fascinating essay — Catholicism and the Old South.

    [link via The New Beginning]

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    Prelates For Peace

    A papal "appeal to the international bodies and all those in positions of military and political responsibility, for the immediate start of dialogue and the suspension of the use of weapons" — Pope appeals for end to use of arms and space for dialogue in Libya and the Middle East — and an episcopal reminder that "it is our moral responsibility as a nation to rigorously examine the use of military force in light of the need to protect human life and dignity" — US Catholic bishops question Obama's war on Libya.

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    Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, UC Davis University and Alumni Choruses, UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey Thomas

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    The First Sign of Vladimir Soloviev's Apocalypse?

    Caelum Et Terra brings us some happy news — Russian Orthodox leadership proposes alliance with Catholics — that brings to mind Soloviev's Apocalypse, in which "resistance [against the Antichrist] comes from Pope Peter II, John the Elder, leader of the Orthodox, and Professor Ernst Pauli, representing Protestantism," and under the "pressure of persecution the three churches in this eschatological situation at last unite."

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    Fukushima Fear

    Such headlines on these pages — Sea near Fukushima contaminated. Radiation 1,250 times over safety limit — have prompted an esteemed reader to counter with this article by Lewis Page — Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate — to which Hirose Takashi might respond by asking, "[I]f you are so sure that they're safe, why not build [nuke plants] in the center of the city, instead of hundreds of miles away where you lose half the electricity in the wires?" — What They're Covering Up at Fukushima.

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    Greek Independence and American Non-Interventionism

    This non-story — Obama marks Greek Independence Day — brings to mind Patrick J. Buchanan's latest — How Killing Libyans Became a Moral Imperative. The beginning:
      “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow.”

      So wrote the poet Byron, who would himself die just days after landing in Greece to join the war for independence from the Turks.

      But in that time, Americans followed the dictum of Washington, Adams and Jefferson: Stay out of foreign wars.

      America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own,” said John Quincy Adams in his oration of July 4, 1821.

      When Greek patriots sought America’s assistance, Daniel Webster took up their cause but was admonished by John Randolph. Intervention would breach every “bulwark and barrier of the Constitution.”

      “Let us say to those 7 million of Greeks: We defended ourselves when we were but 3 million, against a power in comparison to which the Turk is but as a lamb. Go and do thou likewise.”
    If the Greeks did it alone, why not the Libyans?

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    Sunday, March 27, 2011

    Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsche Requiem, UC Davis University and Alumni Choruses, UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey Thomas

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    Could the Korean Church Help Re-Evangelize France?

    "The 4th bishop of Korea was the martyr Saint Simeon Berneux, who was born in the diocese of Le Mans," reminds Father Maryknoller in Korea, reporting on "an interview with the [current] bishop of Le Mans and... an article on the first priest who will be working in the diocese, Fr. Lee Yeong-kil" — Korean Priest in France.

    "Koreans have a great interest in the Catholic Church," said Father Lee. "Their Catholics are very enthusiastic and try to live the life of faith. Confucianism has also helped them have respect for the elderly. These are the strong points of Korean Catholicism. Now that God in his providence is guiding us in this relationship with France, isn't this what we can give the French Church?"

    As I commented, "The Eldest Daughter of the Church (as France was called), [is] being assisted, in her senility I dare say, by one of the Youngest."

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    The American Non-Revolution and Anti-Federalism

    Stephen B. Tippins reminds us that "our revolution was not rooted in the fanciful notions of natural rights but was a sustained effort to preserve liberties long secured by English law," reviewing a book which "firmly places the constitutional origins of America not in abstract principles but in a sound legal tradition, one that separates us not just from the rest of the world but from most of the West" — Jefferson’s Mistake.

    Of the man mentioned in the title, the author writes: "He literally helped shape the nation; he built a proverbial, secular wall that still stands; and he left us with an abstract, philosophical legacy that has contributed to a deficiency in our historical perspective, the price of which is the erosion of Madison’s republican vision and eventual loss of our distinct culture."

    Earlier in the review, the author informs us that "the tension between Britain proper (the 'metropolis') and her North American colonies (the 'peripheries') stemmed from competing interpretations of the British constitution," elaborating that there were "two governments, one imperial in scope and exercising full general powers over foreign affairs, war and peace, and external trade and the other a colonial government that ‘was peculiarly his own.’" He goes on to say, "The allocation of powers within our federal system, a recurring issue in American politics, is nothing if not an echo of the challenging constitutional arrangement of imperial Britain."

    The leads me to conclude that while we reject Jefferson's "abstract, philosophical legacy," we need not accept "Madison’s republican vision," that of the Federalists, in favor of "the metropolis" (the Federal government) against "the peripheries" (the several States).

    The Anti-Federalists were right. Ralph Ketcham, in his edition of The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates, clearly demonstrates that while they may have been "philosophical," they were anything but "abstract," and were clearly rooted "the peripheries," unlike their rivals, the ultimate victors in the debate, about whom he says, "The federalist on the whole saw and sought the benefits more effective, energetic government could bring," namely "English-style commercial growth, domestic prosperity, and world power." Mr. Ketcham:
      Perceiving these aspirations and purposes, the anti-federalists were at once skeptical and disheartened. They saw in federalist hopes for commercial growth and international prestige only the lust of ambitious men for a "splendid empire" where, in the time-honored way, the people would be burdened with taxes, conscriptions, and campaigns.... The anti-federalists looked to the Classical idealization of the small, pastoral republic, where virtuous, self-reliant citizens managed their own affairs and shunned the glory of empire....

      To the anti-federalists this meant retaining as much as possible the vitality of local government where rulers and ruled could see, know, and understand each other... Each "district," furthermore, would be a town or ward or region conscious of its own, particular identity rather than being some amorphous, arbitrary geographic entity....

      If the basic decency in human nature, most evident among ordinary people at the local level, amid family, church, school, and other nourishing institutions, could impinge directly and continuously on government, then perhaps it too might be kept virtuous and worthy of confidence... Anti-federalists saw mild, grassroots, small-scale governments in sharp contrast to the splendid edifice and overweening ambition implicit in the new Constitution. The first left citizens free to live their own lives and to cultivate the virtue (private and public) vital to republicanism while the second soon entailed taxes and drafts and offices and wars damaging to human dignity and thus fatal to self-government...

      The anti-federalists... sought a society where virtuous, hard-working, honest men and women lived simply in their own communities, enjoyed their families and their neighbors, were devoted to the common welfare, and had such churches, schools, trade associations, and local governments as they needed to sustain their values and purposes.

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    There Should Be a Law!

    Steve Sailer looks at a report that "centers for Chinese women willing to pay handsomely to travel here to give birth to American citizens" have been recently "cited for illegal construction and ordered to acquire permits and return the buildings to their original condition" — Irony alert: Illegal v. legal.

    Mr. Sailer reminds us that "random foreigners grabbing lifelong U.S. citizenship for their children -- including such perks as 13 years of free public education in an upscale San Gabriel Valley school district, cheap tuition at UC Berkeley, low interest SBA loans, government contracting minority preferences, the right to import their parents and put them on Medicare and in public old folks homes, and other goodies -- through these scams is, legally speaking, A-OK, 100% on the up and up."

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    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    Krzysztof Penderecki's "Polish Requiem" Performed by Bamberger Symphoniker, Chor der Warschauer Nationalphilharmonie, Directed by H.Wojnarowski

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    Czesław Miłosz on the Faith

    Siris links to the Nobel laureate poet's remarkable 1982 essay — Catholicism. He says, rightly, that "the decision to be Catholic does not properly concern one’s faith but the submission to or the revolt against authority."

    Noting that "Catholicism labored for centuries to erect a magnificent intellectual structure around the dogmas and had its theologians not formulated all man’s problems with his own existence into syllogisms," he laments that "this system, perfected in the thirteenth century (and still far from renewal, no matter what anyone says) belongs to another layer of civilization, another episteme, and that once lucid architecture is now becoming less self-evident."

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    Small Countries Are Beautiful Countries

    "A small group of peaceful, sustainable, cooperative, democratic, egalitarian, ecofriendly nations might lead the way," says the Second Vermont Republic's Thomas Naylor, to "call for the nonviolent breakup of the United States, China, Russia, India, Japan, and the other meganations of the world" — A Community of Small Nations for a Sustainable Planet.

    I'll set aside whatever objections I may have to focus on the list of countries he chooses: "Such a group might include Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland," he writes, praising the fact "that they are tiny, very affluent, nonviolent, democratic, and socially responsible," and "also have a high degree of environmental integrity and a strong sense of community." To his credit and theirs, the author also notes, "Once considered classical European democratic socialist states, the four Nordic states in the group have become much more market-oriented in recent years."

    Of our favorite on the list, he writes, "Not only is Switzerland the wealthiest of the lot, but it is the most market-oriented country in the world, with the weakest central government, the most decentralized social welfare system, and a long tradition of direct democracy." Mr. Naylor also looks beyond Europe: "Three other small countries which might also join the party are environmentally friendly Costa Rica, which has no army, ecovillage pioneer Senegal, and the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan."

    The Switzerland of Central America, I have to admit, often beckons me. I speak the language, or rather could again after a few months, and like the idea living in a country with a holiday named Día de la Abolición del Ejército.

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    More Fukushima Obsfucation

  • "Just as in the Chernobyl catastrophe almost 25 years ago when Soviet authorities denied the extent of radiation and downplayed the dire situation that was spiraling out of control, Japanese authorities spent the first week of the Fukushima crisis issuing conflicting and confusing reports," writes Chip Ward — The Nuclear Myth Melts Down: How the “Peaceful Atom” Became a Serial Killer.

  • "As radiation counts elevate in Japan, news of nuclear contamination spreading across a widening spectrum of life and its necessities, official pronouncements continue to play down events’ gravity," writes Ritt Goldstein — Fukushima Radiation: Some Difficult Truths.

  • Alice Slater rejects claims from "nuclear industry spokespeople [who] assure us that American reactors are much safer" and calls for "time-out on new nuclear energy construction projects" — Japan's Chaos is a Wake-up Call.

  • Jeffrey St. Clair takes us to "the frail Indian Point nuclear plant, located on the east bank of the Hudson River outside Buchanan, New York—just twenty-two miles from Manhattan" — Inside America's Most Dangerous Nuclear Plant.

  • Kojin Karatani writes that "the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant cannot help but call forth memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," and noting that "Japanese have had a strong aversion to nuclear weapons and to nuclear power in general" and that "there was strong opposition to the building of nuclear power plants in Japan, "reports that "the state affirmed and encouraged the development of nuclear power plants... proclaim[ing] the necessity of nuclear power for economic growth, while in recent years it was claimed that nuclear power could help reduce carbon emissions and therefore benefit the environment," says "[t]hat such claims were a form of criminal deception on the part of industry and government has been made all too clear by recent events" — How Catastrophe Heralds a New Japan.

  • "While 25 years separates the sites and the events that led to the catastrophes at Fukushima and Chernobyl, the effects will be very similar – and will remain so for years to decades to centuries," writes Janette D. Sherman, M. D. — Will Fukushima Be Worse Than Chernobyl?

  • "Isn't it strange then that, faced with an actual unprecedented nuclear event following on natural disasters that verged on the locally apocalyptic, so few can bring themselves to discuss possibilities?" asks Tom Engelhardt, noting that "one of the strangest aspects of the massive coverage of the Fukushima catastrophe -- wrapped as it is inside an earthquake/tsunami double-disaster -- has been the lack of reporting on or exploration of what the worst human and environmental consequences might be" — Zones of Radiation and Alienation.
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    The Effect of Japan's Tsunami on Korea

    Writing from Korea, Andray Abrahamian argues that a "possibility for hope has opened up - that of improved Korea-Japan relations" — A silver lining in dark Japan? "For the first time ever, Koreans see the Japanese as pitiable," he writes. "The erstwhile victimizer has suddenly become the victim. Koreans have found themselves in the new position of sympathizing with and being benefactor towards their oft-detested rival."

    I have to say, in my fourteen years of living here, I have never been more impressed by my hosts than I now am. It's not an exaggeration to say that they've restored my faith a bit in humanity. My earlier complitaion of news stories — Tsunami Washes Away Korean Animosity Toward Former Colonizer.

    UPDATE: Kim Jong-il shells out half a million to Japan.

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    77 Feet, 5 Inches

    Dear God Almighty — Tsunami was at least seven stories high at peak. However, the "wave measured in the city of Ofunato was lower than the domestic record of 38.2 meters [125 feet. 4 inches] marked in the 1896 Meiji Sanriku Earthquake Tsunami, and 34.9 meters [114 feet, 6 inches] logged in the wake of the 2004 earthquake off the Indonesian coast of Sumatra."

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    Friday, March 25, 2011

    C. Monteverdi's Ave Maris Stella Performed by the Monteverdi Choir, et al.

    "Sumens illud «Ave» Gabrielis ore, funda nos in pace, mutans Evæ nomen." ("Receiving that 'Ave' (hail) from the mouth of Gabriel, establish us in peace, transforming the name of 'Eva' (Eve).")

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    M.A. Charpentier's Magnificat Performed by Gérard Lesne, Bernard Loonen, François Fauché & Les Arts Florissants Conducted by William Christie

    Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Magnificat, "a piece that is irresistibly advancing for about nine minutes," for today's Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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    Don't Cry For Me Sudan

    The New Beginning posts the faith-inspiring South Korean documentary above that tells the story of the late Father John Lee Tae-seok, who died of cancer last year after having "worked tirelessly for nine years as part of the Salesian mission in war-ravaged southern Sudan, ... as a doctor devoted to the victims of leprosy, as a teacher and as a musician," told here by's Mary Oregan — The 21st-century ‘saint’ you’ve never heard of. Of the film, the author writes:
      Within 10 minutes of watching the film most people are reduced to tears. [South Korean documentarians are especially skilled at this — J.A.S.] Some 120,000 people have watched the film in Seoul alone. Members of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the largest Buddhist denomination in South Korea, were greatly moved by the scenes depicting Fr John tending the lepers. Venerable Jaseung, the head of the order, admitted that he was unsure whether to show it to Buddhist monks and lay workers for fear they would convert to Catholicism after seeing it.

      “It depicts the good life of a Catholic missioner and I was worried some of us would convert to Catholicism after being moved by the film,” he said.

      But he went ahead because he believed that Fr John was a good role model for Buddhists. “If we could have one Buddhist cleric like him, the better it would be for Buddhism,” he said.

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    Dan Tyminski & Ron Block Perform "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow"

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    The Dead Christ Supported by Angels (1565) by Paolo Veronese

    "[The Man of Sorrows]... continues to attract and provoke, responding to current conditions of anguish, loss and deprivation in the world, and showing up in contemporary songs, popular images and even as a theme in artworks by high-profile, emphatically secular contemporary artists" — Suffering Jesus doesn't please but intrigues art viewers, Jesuit says.

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    A Whale of a Meal

    One of my favorites dishes is not just popular in the ports of Ulsan and Pohang anymore — Whale meat growing in popularity in Busan. And, yes, Herman Melville was right; it's a fish, so you can eat it on Fridays — Whale Meat and Friday Abstinence.

    May Korea be prepared for "the slimy hatred on the gruesome environmentalist left, all over whaling and Japanese fishing practices" that Anthony Gregory has documented, with "some greens hav[ing] looked at the mass catastrophe as Gaia’s revenge" — Anti-Japanese Hate.

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    Mother Jones Would be Appalled

    "The real Mother Jones... was to her namesake magazine as Thomas Jefferson is to The Jeffersons," said Bill Kauffman in Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals about Mary Harris Jones, pictured above with perhaps the last decent man to sit in the White House, a quote which comes to mind with the rag's printing of, in Tom Woods' words, a "column just as Orwellian as anything Bill Kristol has ever written" — Mother Jones: Some Wars Are Cool.

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    Look Who's Being Called a "Terrorist" Now

    Reader Steven Cornett sends along "a Two Minute Hate for this depraved follower of Emmanuel Goldstein" — Defendant Convicted of Minting His Own Currency.

    "Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” said U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, quoted here — Liberty Dollar creator convicted in federal court. The hag continued, "While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country."

    Mr. Cornett reminds us, "The 'Federal Reserve Note' is the fake currency. His Liberty Dollars have real value since they are in a valuable metal."

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    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Joseph Ratzinger vs. Hans Küng

    Samuel Gregg's thought-provoking article on the two men "usually viewed as polar-opposites" but who "have led curiously parallel lives" — Benedict XVI, Hans Kung and Catholicism’s Future. An excerpt:
      More-attuned participants at Vatican II, however, immediately noticed differences between Kung and the-then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger. One such person was the Jesuit Henri de Lubac – a French theologian who no-one could dismiss as a reactionary.

      In his Vatican II diaries, de Lubac entered pithy observations about those he encountered. Ratzinger is portrayed as one whose powerful intellect is matched by his “peacefulness” and “affability.” Kung, by contrast, is denoted as possessing a “juvenile audacity” and speaking in “incendiary, superficial, and polemical” terms.
    Mr. Gregg goes on to constrast the two men's latest books:
      Through a deep exposition of Scripture many Evangelicals will admire and a careful exploration of tradition the Eastern Orthodox will appreciate, Benedict shows Christ is who the ancient Church proclaims Him to be – not a political activist, but rather the Messiah who really lived, really died and who then proved his divinity by really rising from the dead.

      So what is Kung’s book focused upon? In a word, power. For Kung, it’s all about power – especially papal power – and the need for lay Catholics to seize power if the Church is to be “saved” from sinister Roman reactionaries who have perverted Christianity for centuries.
    Of course, both men were then, and remain today, liberals, as just about all of us are. (The word is not an epithet.) But some of us, our current pope included, resemble Russell Kirk's description of the great Englishman: "Burke was liberal because he was conservative."

    For the others, almost like characters in Dostoevsky's Devils, "it’s all about power." (I mean, get a load of the raving lunatic who, at a blog that recently dropped the word "Christian" from its title, commented, "For the left, political success will always entail a defanging and an inevitable conservative turn — this does not mean we should abandon any aspiration to power, on the contrary, we must pursue the conquest of power ruthlessly!" — Your tax dollars at work.)

    Pope Ratzinger, especially in his "Reform of the Reform," in contrast, is not at all about power, but about example, much like Confucius' insistance on rule not by force but by moral example. The Holy Father, for example, has spoken out against having guitars at Mass, but there has been no "crackdown"; I've since seen them as Filipino Masses here in Korea. In contrast, when those like Küng had the upper hand, the Tridentine Mass was almost stamped out and lost to history, were it not for God's mysterious work through a mystery writer, giving us the Agatha Christie indult.

    Terms like "liberal" and "conservative," "left" and "right" are vaque enough in the outside world (I'm far more at home with the American decentralist Left than with the regimented European Right); they are meaningless in the Church. Perhaps in both realms we need to speak of people whose approach is "political," i.e. centered on power, with those whose approach is "cultural."

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    Rika Zayasu Plays L.v. Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.28, M. Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit, and T. Takemitsu's "Rain Tree Sketch II"

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    "A Message Everybody Needs to Hear"

    So writes reader Steven Cornett who sent along the above "video that, in a small but powerful way, makes the point of the way this once great country has declined. In some ways, too many people have become heartless, if not downright psychopathic, and their love of what is evil can only bring darkness."

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    Congressman Howard Buffett

    In town is the son — On the Road With Warren Buffett in South Korea — whom Bill Kauffman calls "just another colorless gray-pinstriper when compared with his father" — Meet Warren Buffett’s Daddy. With politics said to be to "the right of God," he "was elected to Congress in 1942 with a pledge to keep FDR from 'fasten[ing] the chains of political servitude around America's neck.'"

    Mr. Kauffman informs us that "the radical backbench Republican compiled an almost purely libertarian record" and "was also a strict isolationist, denouncing NATO, conscription, the Marshall Plan ('Operation Rathole'), and the incipient Cold War, which he believed would enchain Americans in 'the shackles of regimentation and the name of stopping communism.'" Of the republic-wrecking Truman Doctrine, this knight of the Old Republic presaged:
      Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by tyranny and coercion at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth, and if we believe in Christianity we should try to advance our ideals by his methods. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.
    Sadly Mr. Kauffman reminds us that "Congressman Buffett's son, while revering Pop as a tower of integrity and honesty, seems not to have inherited the old man's libertarian streak. Warren Buffett is a liberal Democrat whose favorite political causes are legalized abortion and population control."

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    U.S. Intelligence on Libya

    Interesting that "the U.S. government, now engaged in a fourth day of air strikes against Libyan regime military targets, does not know very much about the rebels who now see it as a friendly ally in their fight to overthrow Muammar Gadhafi" — Who are the Libyan rebels? U.S. tries to figure out — and even more interesting this answer to the question posed in that article's headline — "America is now at war to protect a Libyan province that's been an epicenter of anti-American jihad".

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    The Antiwar Right on Mr. Obama's War

  • "The Arab League and African Union are denouncing us, but al-Qaeda is with us," reminds Patrick J. Buchanan, noting that "eastern Libya provided more than its fair share of jihadists to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq... [a]nd jihadists are prominent among the rebels we just rescued" — A Foolish and Unconstitutional War. "Gadhafi did not attack the West... We have no vital interest in who wins his civil war."

  • "Now that President Barack Obama has intervened in Libya," writes Justin Raimondo, "his army of apologists is mobilizing to defend his 'humanitarianism,' declaring that his war isn’t at all like Bush’s wars" — Liberals March to War. "The Anti-Bush Doctrine – and let’s call it that, because it reflects the partisan nonsense that passes for informed debate in Washington and in the San Francisco offices of Mother Jones – is merely the Bush Doctrine turned inside out, and left side up."

  • "If the coalition succeeds in killing Muammar Gaddafi, it will inevitably mean more ethnic and tribal conflict, which could lead to civil war," warns Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., "which is exactly what the US needs to control the oil-rich parts of Libya" — Naked Aggression Against Libya.
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    John Stossel and Walter E. Williams

    Two writers who make worth reading offer respectively a reminder that "the biggest recipients of handouts are not poor people" — Corporate Welfare — and a debunking of those "seeing silver linings in disasters" and "[t]he belief that society benefits from destruction" — Economic Lunacy.

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    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Tōru Takemitsu's "Requiem for String Orchestra" Performed by the New York Philharmonic, Directed by Esa-Pekka Salonen

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    Fukushima Obsfucation

  • Hirose Takashi says that "the lies they are telling on the radio and TV are so gross that he cannot remain silent," explaining why "making comparisons with X-rays and CT scans has no meaning" as "damage from radioactive rays and damage from radioactive material are not the same" — What They're Covering Up at Fukushima.

  • Gregory Button makes the case that "information is [being] withheld not only from the media and the public but from the larger scientific community as well" — Informational Uncertainty in the Wake of Japan's Nuclear Crisis.

  • "The assertion that low-level exposure to radiation represents no human threat is an artifact of Cold War-era science that was shaped to meet government and industry needs," argues Barabara Rose Johnston — Life, Death and Anxiety in the Fallout Zone. "Japan's nuclear disaster demonstrates in powerful and poignant terms the degree to which the state prioritizes security interests over the fundamental rights of people and their environment."

  • "The spent fuel pools at Units 3 and 4 at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex are exposed to the open sky and might be draining," writes Robert Alvarez, adding, "The radioactive dose rates coming off the pools appear to be life-threatening" — The Danger of Spent Nuclear Fuel.
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    Cultural Relativism Debunked

    Arts & Letters Daily counters an article suggesting that "the source of our moral inclinations is merely cultural" — Morality is a Culturally Conditioned Response — with a review of a "deft dismantling of various forms of cultural relativism" — Of Human Umbrage.

    The reviewer in the second piece notes "something that is infrequently recognized about cultural relativism: that no one is intellectually consistent in their relativism." He continues, "Those most fond of relativist arguments, for example, are the first to belittle American politics and culture. The conclusion is obvious, and important: if relativism were widely and consistently embraced, and criticism were increasingly stifled, the results would be both boring and sinister."

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    How Two Samoan Girls Duped the Western World

    The story of a girlish prank that ended up "unwittingly misinform[ing] the entire anthropological establishment, as well as the intelligentsia at large" — The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead. "Areas adversely influenced by Mead's misinformation included anthropology, psychology, Marxist ideology, post-modernist relativism, the sexual revolution, gender studies, feminism, childrearing, and childcare policies." Peter S. Cook explains:
      While knowing the great importance accorded to pre-marital virginity in Samoan society, but unaware that she was breaching Samoan etiquette, [Mead] resorted to suggestive interrogation of the two women about what sexual adventures they and other Samoan girls might really get up to at night. Surprised and embarrassed, they fell back on the Samoan custom of playful hoaxing, of which Mead was also unaware. After pinching each other, they told her the opposite of the truth, and jokingly agreed with whatever she suggested, adding suitable embellishments. She never asked whether this was seriously true, and they had no idea that she would tell the world.

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    Prelates on the Bombing of Libya

    A report from the ground says it "has proved devastating for civilians and risky on the level of political consequences" — Libya: Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli denounces bombing — and an appeal from on high "to those who have the political and military responsibility to take to heart the safety and security of citizens and guarantee that they have access to humanitarian aid" — Pope concerned for civilians in Libya.

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    Mulţumesc Mult and Muito Obrigado

    To the "[p]rimul site romanesc dedicat cinematografiei si culturii coreene" and the "monárquico e católico tradicionalista" behind "[e]ste blogue [que] manifesta-se como ardente opositor da expansão militar da democracia totalitária" respectively, for your links to this blog — and o espectador portuguez.

    Great, isn't it, how all the Latin the Church and the French the Normans respectively gave English allows us to read such stuff? Knowledge of a bit of Spanish helps fill in any gaps.

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    "Martyrdom of the Great Prophet"

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    The Beach Boys Perform "Good Vibrations"

    Something to accompany this report on the band's noble contribution to countering some decidedly evil vibrations in our society — Beach Boys to Headline Second Terri Schiavo Benefit Concert.

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    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    J.S. Bach's "Saint John Passion" Performed by Bach Collegium Japan, Directed by Masaaki Suzuki

    Two hours of seasonally and topically appropriate music to mark the composer's birthday.

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    Bishop Paul Xie Tingzhe on Home Altars

    His Excellency, "who is not recognized by the government," in order to "compensate for lack of churches," has "urge[d] his faithful to build shrines for the whole family to pray at home" with "a pastoral letter to revive the 'good practice,' which has been an age-old tradition in the Church" — Urumqi bishop calls for family altars.

    "The prelate 'commands as well as pleads with' all Xinjiang faithful who have two Catholics or more in their family to pray at least one decade of the Rosary together every day," saying, "By doing so, every family will become a sanctuary and every member in the family will be more holy. The family bond will be more solid and harmonious."

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    Scottish Parliamentarian Comes to Washington

    If you love the English language and watching the mother country's ancient and venerable parliamentarianism in action as much as I do (Question Time, anyone?), you'll love this "classic five-part YouTube" — George Galloway Wipes the Senate Floor With a Neocon. "Neocon senator Norm Coleman... is soon sorry he gave this eloquent British MP a hearing."

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    Confucius for Modern Times

    "Confucius did not give us faith; but he gives us hope," said Roger Scruton in Modern Culture, which ends, according to reader Peter Paik, with "something of a paean to Confucius, as the most productive thinker for creating spiritual order in an atheistic and materialistic age."

    Traditionalist conservative James Kalb's excellent article, Confucius Today, comes to mind, in which he says, quoted on this blog's sidebar:
      Confucius has had distinguished individual admirers in America but otherwise no perceptible influence on our political thought. We have lost by our failure to attend to him. He sets forth a way of drawing a workable and highly ethical way of life out of things of a kind found in every society: myth and tradition, natural human impulses, and the practicalities of daily life. Since his method relies on moral leadership rather than political power, in times of fundamental political conflict it may be useful more for the ideals it maintains than its immediate practical efficacy. However, it is simple, flexible, and consistent with a reasonable interpretation of our own fundamental traditions. In confused times like our own we would do well to consider it; even if it does no more immediately than add to our stock of ideals, we should remember that ideals are eventually decisive.

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    Peggy Noonan Puts the "Conserve" Back in "Conservativism" links to the latest piece by the former speech-writer for Ronald Reagan, the least bellicose president of the past three decades, which warns us that "America has to be very careful where it goes in the world, because the minute it's there -- the minute there are boots on the ground, the minute we leave a footprint -- there will spring up, immediately, 15 reasons America cannot leave" — You Can't Go Home Again.

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    Why Libya?

    "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business," says the Ledeen Doctrine, quoted by Steve Sailer — Obama's Jonah Goldberg War.

    Grenada in '83, Iraq in '91 and '03 and Libya in '11 averages out to "[e]very ten years or so." I guess Panama in '89 was a bonus. And we can't really count Afghanistan not only because it may have been a just war but because we haven't quite managed to "throw it against the wall."

    I can think of one "small crappy little country" in the Middle East over which Messrs. Ledeen and Goldberg (and Wolfowitz, Podhoretz, and Kristol) would likely renounce their American citizenship were the United States ever to "throw it against the wall."

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    Making Meaning of the Japanese Triple Disaster

  • "Japan's tsunami was one of the most recorded disasters ever to be captured on film, lending a visual power to story-telling unmatched since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago," writes David Bauder — Images of disaster in Japan lend visual power. "What, though, do these images do? Do they change how we perceive the event? Do more higher-quality images of catastrophe make it seem more real or more movielike? Will we remember the 2011 Japan tsunami differently than its calamitous predecessors because we saw so much of it so quickly?"

  • "The unbelievable sight of rich Japan — famous for trains running like clockwork, state-of-the-art gadgets, concern for safety and order — laid low by a freak force of nature beyond human control has been a terrifying wake-up call," says Joji Sakurai, calling the recent disaster "one of the most significant calamities of our time — one that shapes policies, economies, even philosophies for decades to come in an increasingly interconnected world" — Japan tragedy seared into the world's imagination.

  • "The Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster has become a textbook example of what not to do in an emergency," says Alistair Nicholas — People have to come before profits, even in a crisis. "Possibly for the first time in Japanese history, people started seriously questioning those in positions of authority. They felt they had a right to get accurate and truthful updates in a timely manner and that it was not forthcoming."

  • "The temblor and tidal wave can be blamed on a deliberately cruel God or a murderously impersonal Mother Nature," writes Jim Goad, but "[t]he reactors’ possible meltdown is the result of human diddling with natural laws that mankind has obviously yet to master" — Nuclear Holocaust Denial.
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    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Gustav Mahler's First Symphony ("Titan") Performed by Senzoku Gakuen College of Music Orchestra, Directed by Vladimir Ashkenazy

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    My Kind of Lenten Fast

    A report on a "38-year-old from Iowa [who] is following the example of 17th-century Bavarian friars who did not allow solid food to pass their lips during the penitential season" — Lenten fast of nothing but beer. Some history:
      Doppelbock received papal approval in the late 1600s, so the legend goes, because the Paulaner friars sent a cask of the brew to Rome which turned sour on the long journey across the Alps. The pope tasted the sour liquid and decided that anything so disgusting must be good for penitents, giving it his sanction.
    Maybe I'll give it a shot during Holy Week. An English chemist once told me that the human body can survive on a daily diet of 24 bottles of Guinness and an egg.

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    St. Turibius of Mogrovejo, Pray For Us

    This week, "Catholics in Latin America and throughout the world will celebrate... [t]he 16th century bishop [who] upheld the rights of Peru's indigenous peoples, and became one of the first canonized saints of the Americas" — St. Turibius, patron of Latin America, remembered March 23. Click on the link for a brief hagiography.

    "The Origins of International Law" is the title given to the seventh chapter of Thomas E. Woods' tome, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, in which the author explains how in the aftermath of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, Francisco de Vitoria, noting the abuses he saw, came to the conclusion that "[t]he treatment to which all human beings were entitled... derives from their status as men rather than as members of the faithful in the state of grace." The chapter concludes with this profound statement from Peruvian libertarian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa:
      Father Las Casas was the most active, although not the only one, of those nonconformists who rebelled against abuses inflicted upon the Indians. They fought against their fellow men and against the policies of their own country in the name of the moral principle that to them was higher than any principle of nation or state. This self-determination could not have been possible among the Incas or any of the other pre-Hispanic cultures. In these cultures, as in the other great civilizations of history foreign to the West, the individual could not morally question the social organism of which he was part, because he existed only as an integral atom of that organism and because for him the dictates of the state could not be separated from morality. The first culture to interrogate and question itself, the first to break up the masses into individual beings who with time gradually gained the right to think and act for themselves, was to become, thanks to that unknown exercise, freedom, the most powerful civilization of our world.

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    Dissent on Libya

  • "Only in America does it take an act of Congress to name a building, but no congressional authorization whatsoever to go to war against a country that has not threatened the United States," writes Laurence Vance — Our Crazy, Evil Government When It Comes to War.

  • Ron Holland says that "while we wish the people of Libya and their color revolution victory over crazy Gaddafi, they have likely been the unwitting pawns in a major deception by Washington to hide a dramatic Middle East foreign policy shift" — The Anglo-American Gaddafi Deception.

  • "We have no bloody business in Libya, and no idea what we hope to achieve there," says Englishman Peter Hitchens — Why can't we just let the Libyans fight it out (...then make friends with the winners. "So why are we rattling the drums of war and fuelling up for a fight in a place where our national interests would be best served by staying out?"
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    Fallout From China

    "Yellow dust blowing over Korea from China every year is believed to contain radioactive material presumed to have been leaked from nuclear power plants in the neighboring country" — Yellow dust from China found to be radioactive.

    This recent article from Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD, may then be helpful — Iodine for Radioactive Fallout. Fortunately, Koreans "eat a lot of seaweed, which protects them against the deleterious effects of I-131 in radioactive fallout," including "brown algai (kelp), red algae (nori sheets, with sushi), and green algae (chlorella)."

    UPDATE: Richard Alleyne has some good advice, too — Red Wine 'Can Protect Against Radiation'.

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    Materialism in Korea

    Theresa Kim Hwa-young reports — Young South Koreans, children of the 90’s financial crisis, rich but unhappy. "For the majority of young South Koreans, money remains the main objective to be achieved in life," she reports.

    "They consider that happiness is a direct consequence of wealth," while "the obsessive search for wealth and a greater physical and psychological stress has led to an increase in suicides." She reports, "To stem the materialist drift of young Koreans, the Archdiocese of Seoul has launched a series of targeted intervention programs."

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    The 108 Prostrations of Great Repentance

    Of course, there's no need to go beyond a good Catholic Examination of Conscience, but this which I stumbled upon on the local Buddhist television network the other night reminds us the penance is a universal need — 108 영어 참회문:
      1. With sincere devotion, I take refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha.

      2. With sincere devotion, I take refuge in the Dharma.

      3. With sincere devotion, I take refuge in the Sangha.

      4. I prostrate in repentance for being ignorant of where I came from and unmindful of where I will go.

      5. I prostrate in repentance for being ignorant of my true self and correct situation, relationship, and function.

      6. I prostrate in repentance for having taken this body for granted.

      7. I prostrate in repentance for having neglected my original nature.

      8. I prostrate in repentance for having taken my ancestors for granted.

      9. I prostrate in repentance for having taken my parents for granted.

      10. I prostrate in repentance for having taken my relatives for granted.

      11. I prostrate in repentance for being unmindful of all those who have contributed to my learning and education.

      12. I prostrate in repentance for being unmindful of all those who have grown, prepared, and provided my nutrition.

      13. I prostrate in repentance for being unmindful of all those who have made and provided my clothing.

      14. I prostrate in repentance for being unmindful of all those who have built and provided my shelter.

      15. I prostrate in repentance for manipulating people for my own selfish needs.

      16. I prostrate in repentance for having ignored the effects of my misdeeds on others.

      17. I prostrate in repentance with complete devotion to eradicate Karma accumulated in the past, present, and the future.

      18. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have harmed through fits of anger.

      19. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have stung with hurtful words.

      20. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have harmed through arrogance.

      21. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have harmed through avarice.

      22. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have harmed through my jealous thoughts.

      23. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have scorched with the flames of my rage.

      24. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have harmed through attachment to my possessions.

      25. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have harmed through attachment to like-and-dislike mind.

      26. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have alienated through thought, word, and deed.

      27. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I harmed through gossip, slander, and bad speech.

      28. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have looked down upon.

      29. I prostrate in repentance for my cowardly thoughts, words, and deeds.

      30. I prostrate in repentance for all my hypocritical deeds and lies.

      31. I prostrate in repentance for poisoning other beings through my mindless materialistic overconsumption.

      32. I prostrate in repentance to all sentient beings that I have harmed or killed for entertainment and pleasure.

      33. I prostrate in repentance for conceiving of this world only through the lens of my ego.

      34. I prostrate in repentance to all those I have harmed through attachment to my thinking.

      35. I prostrate in repentance to all those I have harmed through foolish or unnecessary speech.

      36. I prostrate in repentance to all those whom I have injured by engaging in relationships based on using each other.

      37. I prostrate in repentance for all thoughts, words, and deeds which create attachment.

      38. I prostrate in repentance for having thought that only what I saw was correct.

      39. I prostrate in repentance for having thought that only what I heard was correct.

      40. I prostrate in repentance for having thought that only what I smelled was correct.

      41. I prostrate in repentance for having thought that only what I tasted was correct.

      42. I prostrate in repentance for having thought that only what I felt was correct.

      43. I prostrate in repentance for every action born from I-my-me mind.

      44. I prostrate in repentance for not seeing clearly my true interconnectedness to all forms of life.

      45. I prostrate in repentance for having disregarded our only home, Earth.

      46. I prostrate in repentance for selfishly polluting the air.

      47. I prostrate in repentance for selfishly polluting the rivers and lakes.

      48. I prostrate in repentance for selfishly polluting the mountains and the oceans.

      49. I prostrate in repentance for selfishly destroying the flowers and trees.

      50. I prostrate in repentance for a lifestyle built on the suffering of other forms of life.

      51. I prostrate in repentance for discriminating between the rich and poor in my choice of relations.

      52. I prostrate in repentance for discriminating between high and low, the superior and the inferior.

      53. I prostrate in repentance for discriminating between "good" and "bad."

      54. I prostrate in repentance for seeing this world based on absolute "right" or "wrong."

      55. I prostrate in repentance for my lack of compassion for the sick or grieving.

      56. I prostrate in repentance for my lack of compassion for those suffering from depression.

      57. I prostrate in repentance for my lack of compassion for the poor and needy.

      58. I prostrate in repentance for my lack of compassion for those who are stubborn or hard to work with.

      59. I prostrate in repentance for my lack of compassion for the lonely, and those trapped by addiction.

      60. I prostrate in repentance for my lack of compassion for those in trouble with the law.

      61. I prostrate in gratitude for having come to take refuge in the Buddha.

      62. I prostrate in gratitude for having come to take refuge in the Dharma.

      63. I prostrate in gratitude for having come to take refuge in the Sangha.

      64. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to realize that all beings are interconnected as one.

      65. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to realize that all beings can communicate and sympathize with one another.

      66. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to realize that all beings live in accordance with the Universal Law.

      67. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to realize that all beings have the same True Nature.

      68. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see the beauty of this world.

      69. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to know the wonders of all life forms.

      70. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to hear the pure beauty of the birds' singing.

      71. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to know the spiritual sound of the wind.

      72. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to hear the bubbling music of the streams.

      73. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to feel the energy of new life in Spring.

      74. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see the beauty of a shimmering rainbow.

      75. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see that true peace of mind comes from being in harmony with nature.

      76. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see that nature is Universal Law.

      77. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see that nature is our Great Teacher.

      78. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see that compassion is the greatest blessing of all.

      79. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see that a heart filled with hatred and resentment is the greatest misfortune of all.

      80. I prostrate in gratitude for coming to see that selfless love is the greatest power of all.

      81. I prostrate as a vow to live in the embrace of the Buddha.

      82. I prostrate as a vow to live in accordance with the Dharma.

      83. I prostrate as a vow to follow the teachings of the Sangha.

      84. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from greed.

      85. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from anger.

      86. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from arrogance.

      87. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from jealousy.

      88. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from saying hurtful things.

      89. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from hypocritical speech.

      90. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from slandering.

      91. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from looking down on others.

      92. I prostrate as a vow to refrain from resenting others.

      93. I prostrate as a vow to be humble in all that I do.

      94. I prostrate as a vow to do my best in all my endeavors.

      95. I prostrate as a vow to be honest in everything I do.

      96. I prostrate as a vow to be positive in everything I do.

      97. I prostrate as a vow to live with a compassionate heart.

      98. I prostrate as a vow to always have a bright and happy heart.

      99. I prostrate as a prayer so that all beings may live in peace.

      100. I prostrate as a prayer for an end to all wars.

      101. I prostrate as a prayer for an end to poverty.

      102. I prostrate as a prayer for an end to all diseases.

      103. I prostrate as a vow to always practice the disciplines of the Bodhisattva.

      104. I prostrate as a vow to cultivate transcendental wisdom.

      105. I prostrate as a vow to never regress in practice.

      106. I prostrate as a vow to meet eminent teachers.

      107. I prostrate as a vow to meet the Buddhas who always appear in this world, from moment to moment.

      108. I prostrate as a vow to transfer all merits accumulated through compassionate action to all beings in the ten directions.

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    Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.