Monday, February 28, 2011

Jean Gilles' Requiem, Performed by Le Concert Spirituel, Directed by Hervé Niquet

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Bishop Augustine Hu Daguo, Requiem æternam...

O God, who didst raise Thy servant Augustine to the dignity of bishop in the apostolic priesthood; grant, we beseech Thee, that he may be joined in fellowship with Thine apostles for evermoreChinese Bishop, Imprisoned for Decades, Dies At 90.

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Abraham Lincoln As Seen By Contemporary British Classical Liberals

The Guardian's Martin Kettle looks back and finds that "support for the south was anything but unusual among liberal and progressive 1860s Britain" — Lincoln, Evil? Our Certainties of 1865 Give Us Pause Today. Of his own paper, the author writes:
    The issue that caused the problem for the Guardian was not slavery. The Guardian had always hated slavery. But it doubted the Union hated slavery to the same degree. It argued that the Union had always tacitly condoned slavery by shielding the southern slave states from the condemnation they deserved. It was critical of Lincoln's emancipation proclamation for stopping short of a full repudiation of slavery throughout the US. And it chastised the president for being so willing to negotiate with the south, with slavery one of the issues still on the table. All of which criticisms were true....

    The great stumbling-block issue for the Guardian and many other liberals was the right to self-determination. The paper believed that the south had the right to secede and to establish an independent state. It suspected that it would succeed. It thought, as Gladstone did, that this might hasten the end of slavery – and it may have been right, since no slave society, including Cuba and Brazil, survived into the 20th century. Above all, though, the paper wanted to be consistent. It had supported independence for the Slavs, the Hungarians, the Italians and the Egyptians – so why not for the Confederates, too?
He quotes his paper in 1862 as saying that "it is impossible not to feel that it was an evil day both for America and the world, when he was chosen president of the United States." Indeed it was. Three years later, in its obituary of the slain tyrant, the paper would say, "Of his rule we can never speak except as a series of acts abhorrent to every true notion of constitutional right and human liberty."

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Axis of Evil

I had no idea that "[d]isgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk ha[d] been in Libya at the invitation of a state research institute in the North African nation" — Infamous cloning doctor flees Libya. Nor, did anyone else, it seems: "Hwang was seen among 198 South Koreans evacuated from Libya on a chartered flight to Cairo on Friday, raising questions about why he had been in the country."

Of his work there, the would-be human cloner said, "I can’t say what I’m working on at the moment. It’s incredibly big. If you find out you may collapse out of surprise."

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Education in the Year 2000

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The Ahn Trio

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Hard Truths About Soft Drinks

Shocking news that "drinking copious amounts of phosphoric acid, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and some laboratory-crafted chemical that tricks your brain into perceiving the sensation of sweet" as "the main source of liquid refreshment every day" may not be good for you — The Bitter Side of Diet Soda: Strokes.

"For the first million years or so of pre-human and human existence, water was adequate to quench our thirst," the article reminds us, later suggesting, "It is a shame the United States cannot adopt Asia's tradition of unsweetened teas, ubiquitous in shops and vending machines."

It is as common to see Korean families or groups of six share a 12 oz. bottle of pop (or "soda" as some people call it) for "dessert" after a dinner at a restaurant as it is to see Americans with individual 64 oz. containers of pop at their meals. Here, water (or alcohol) is drunk with meals. This habit I have adopted, and it makes meals much more enjoyable. Drinking pop from time to time is one thing, but drinking it as "the main source of liquid refreshment every day" seems as ludicrous as eating candy bars as one's staple food.

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President Lee and the Islamic Bond Bill

News that the South Korea's ruling party is "losing support of the Protestant community at a time when the party is experiencing severe discord with the Buddhist and Catholic communities over the Lee Myung-bak administration’s Four Major Rivers Restoration Project" — GNP infuriates Protestant base with Islamic bond bill.

A prominent conservative Catholic politician and a supporter of another prominent conservative Catholic politician are rightly crying foul: "The minor ruling Liberty Forward Party (LFP) Chairman Lee Hoi-chang and a prominent lawmaker in the Park Geun-hye faction objected to what they called 'Protestant intimidation tactics.'"

"Since many Protestant believers have worked hard to facilitate Lee’s presidential victory, I will fight for Lee’s resignation," said South Korea's most famous pastor, David Yonggi Cho, senior pastor of the world's largest church, adding, "that this will be a life-or-death fight" — Preacher attacks Lee on sukuk bill.

All this over "bonds [that] conform to an Islamic law that bans interest payments and instead offers bondholders dividends or leasing profits as compensation." I find myself agreeing with Imam Abdur Rahman Lee Ju-Hwa of the Seoul Central Masjid: "It is a growing trend in the U.S. and Japan to use Islam financial markets. We are living in the era of globalization."

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jean-Baptiste Lully's Te Deum, Performed by Les Arts Florissants, Directed by William Christie

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Fool

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D.I.Y.

Two interesting posts that do-it-yourselfers will appreciate — The Pallet Wood Shed and Homegrown Tobacco: Local, Rebellious and Tax Free.

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Korean So Ihyŏn in Vietnamese Áo Dài






Early XXth Asian women's clothing, like early XXth Western women's clothing, manages to be modest and alluring at the same time, and the reaction against today's immodesty need go only that far back. One of the silliest scenes I ever saw was at a Tridentine Mass in the U.S. with some dude having his young Asian wife, about the same age as Miss So above, dressed up as a prairie muffin.

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Jean-Baptiste Lully's Armide Performed by Les Arts Florissants, Directed by William Christie

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Our Man in Pakistan

  • "Frankly, I do not care what happens to Mr. Davis," says Thomas Fleming — When 007 is caught with a smoking gun. "The sissies at the Obama State Department, it seems to me, have no choice but to demand Davis’s immediate release and to threaten military retaliation if our will is thwarted."

  • "Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is warning that the situation on the sub-continent has turned 'grave' as it appears open warfare is about to break out between Pakistan and the United States" — CIA Spy Captured Giving Nuclear Bomb To Terrorists.

  • "It is really outrageous that these major US news organizations starting with the New York Times not only withheld the information from the Americans but also allowed the president of the United States and the secretary of state, worst of all the president, to publicly state that this guy was a diplomat and worked at the Islamabad embassy, both of which were totally lies," says Dave Lindorff — 'US orders media to lie over CIA killer'.
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    All-American Isolationism

    Jack Hunter says that "at least at the moment, a majority of Americans don’t appear to be as insane as their rulers," citing surveys showing "most Americans (67%) say the United States should leave the situation in the Arab countries alone" and "that 73% of Americans support eliminating all foreign aid" — Is Isolationism on the Rise?

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    Not Emersonian Self-Reliance

  • "Juche, the ideology of self-reliance launched by dictator Kim Il-sung in the 1950s, is wiping out North Korea." begins Joseph Yun Li-sun's grim report — Hunger reaches alarming levels as people resort to eating wild grasses and dirt.

  • "North Korea has been knocking on the doors of practically every country except for the poorest African nations since last year asking for food aid, yet according to a senior South Korean official, last year's harvest in the North was among the best in two decades," begins this analysis — Why N.Koreans Are Starving.
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    The East Is Still Red

  • "Chinese police and authorities [have] accumulate[d] a long list of abuses in just a few days" — Worst crackdown in years underway in China.

  • News of one "arrest [that] follow[ed] a spate of such incidents which have highlighted the Government unease over protests relating to the 'Jasmine Revolution'" — Chinese dissident arrested for struggle against “one child” law.
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    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Quirino Gasparini's Stabat Mater, Les Pages & Les Chantres du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, Olivier Schneebeli

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    Blame Class, Not Race

    Bunky Mortimer may well be right in suggesting that "when Western womanhood is gang-raped by dark people, networks become very nervous," and that "a good many Westerners cannot quite imagine under any circumstances being swept up into a 'rape mob'" — Why Egypt Is Silent.

    But I'd hazard to say that a good many Middle Easterners of the right class could not imagine "being swept up into a 'rape mob'" either, and conversely that a good number of lumpenproletariat Westerners could, given the right circumstances, quite easily find themselves forming a "rape mob" of their own. I've spent most of my adult life overseas, among Latins, Muslims, and Confucians, and find it far easier to get along with the better elements of those societies than with the degraded elements of my own.

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    "Would Any Father Do This to His Children?"

    So asked a witness to this offensive, absurd, and revolting suggestion "that Afghans caught up in a coalition attack in northeastern Afghanistan might have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties" — Petraeus's comments on coalition attack reportedly offend Karzai government.

    The general should be relieved of his command and immediately sent home, along with every one of our boys and, to our shame, girls. Then, he, and his commanders-in-chief, should be tried for war crimes and possibly executed.

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    Does Moammar Gadhafi Read The American Conservative?

    "Surely all Gadaffi needs to do to put the breaks on any US (or NATO) intervention is to claim that the uprising is Islamist-led and that they intend to impose a Sharia-state on Europe’s southern flank," said a commenter to Daniel McCarthy's recent post — Tiptoeing to War with Libya.

    Two days later, this headline — Gadhafi blames al Qaeda for uprising in Libya.

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    Qadhafi and Kim

    North Korean defector Im Jeong Jin reports that "for those watching in Pyongyang, the possible fall of Qadhafi carries more power than the resignation of unknown former Tunisian dictator Ben Ali or Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president.... because, with the exception of Chinese leaders, Colonel Qadhafi is among the most familiar of foreign leaders to the North Korean people, and a man about whom they know relatively much" — A DPRK for the Middle East!

    Maybe this "campaign... aimed at encouraging North Koreans to think about change" will bear fruit — South Korea drops leaflets into North about Egypt, Libya.

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    Copts in P'yŏngyang

    Robert Koehler reports that "the Egyptians have completed at least the external work on Pyongyang’s [infamous] Ryugyong Hotel" and even more interestingly that "the Egyptian Orascom Group, which has done the work on the hotel," "is run by the Coptic Sawiris family, whose name is the Arabic equivalent of the Roman name 'Severus'" — Odds & Ends: Feb 24.

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    Mere Prosperity

    Reader Bryan Haydukewich sends along news of "the Center for Free Enterprise, an Austrian-leaning institute in Korea," whose English website simply and rightly states, "The fact that prosperity exists where liberalism and free market principles are firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence" — CFE.

    That's a pretty succinct statement; "liberalism and free market principles" bring about "prosperity," nothing more, nothing less. Mere prosperity. No utopian visions here. And of course, "prosperity" is a good, but not the ultimate good, which is where the Church and other actors come in to play.

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    The Scion of the Underwoods

    A report on the bearer of "a name familiar to many Koreans," whose ancestor "Horace Underwood came to Korea in 1885 as a missionary, and founded what became Yonsei University," and how he "decided in 1985 to buck the family tradition and leave education" and now heads "a business consultancy that helps foreign companies and others do business in Korea" — Crossing cultures a 125-year family affair.

    The Underwood Family saga, a descent from the pinnacles of Protestant missionary greatness to commonplace "business consultancy," has in it the makings of a great American epic novel.

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    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Jacques Mauduit's Requiem à 5, Les Pages & Les Chantres du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, Olivier Schneebeli

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    Massacre of Egyptian Christians a False Flag Operation?

    Antonios Cardinal Naguib makes note of "the hypothesis... in circulation particularly among Christians, that the Minister of the Interior had planned the massacre of Alexandria to justify a strengthening of police controls" — Mubarak may have planned attack on Christians, Catholic leader says.

    His Eminence also argued, "As Christians in Egypt – Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, without differences – we see that any appeal to diplomatic pressures, punitive initiatives or to economic sanctions directed against Egypt, because of events that concern Egyptian Christians, is the greatest harm that can be done to the Christians themselves." Furthermore, he says of recent events in the country, "I am reassured by the fact of having seen something take place in these days that has not been seen for a long time: a concrete unity among the citizens, young and old, Christians and Muslims without distinction or discrimination."

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    Jasmine Revolution in North Korea?

    News from last Friday — N.Korean Forces Crack Down on Protesters in Border Town — and reports that "people are talking amongst themselves about the riots in Egypt and Libya" — Jittery NK Forms Provincial Riot Squads.

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    Darwinism Questioned

    "Why is resistance to evolution so strong among science teachers?" asks Rod Dreher, reporting the news that "advocates for teaching evolution as the unshakable bedrock of high school biology courses have been losing on the ground to an astonishing degree" — Darwin Pushed to Margins.

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    "Repo Man" Speaks of the Divine

    "I've stopped using the word coincidence," says the maker of a film that "tells the story of four Westerners walking the 500-mile pilgrimage route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, Spain" with "story structure [that] is similar to that of 'The Wizard of Oz'" — 'Providence' at hand during movie filming, says writer-director Estevez.

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    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    André Campra's Cum Invocarem, Performed by Les Agréments & Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Directed by Guy van Waas

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    Egypt and Beyond

  • "Rendering a decade of U.S. policy irrelevant, the people of the Middle East are transforming the region themselves," writes Andrew J. Bavevich — They're doing it without us. "Relying on their own resources and employing means of their own devising, the people of the Middle East intent on transforming that region have effectively consigned the entire 'war on terror' to the category of strategic irrelevance."

  • Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng argues that "in China the stage is set for a new popular uprising" — Egypt and the fears of Beijing: a revolution in China is inevitable — and South Korea's conservative daily has some speculation — Can the 'Jasmine Revolution' Spread to N.Korea? South Korea's Minister of Unification Hyun In Taek doesn't think so, reports North Korean defector Kim So Yeol — Minister Thinks Wind Won't Blow in NK.

  • Speaking of China, and moving to Libya, Pepe Escobar says, "The blood on the regime's hands as well as the humbling courage of the Libyan people, are self-evident" — Gaddafi goes Tiananmen. He also reports, "You know the (ghastly) show may be over when Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, one of the most popular Sunni authorities in the world, not least because of his weekly show on al-Jazeera, issues a fatwa - 'I am issuing a fatwa now to kill [Muammar] Gaddafi'" — 'Brother' Gaddafi, you're going down.

  • As inviting as that fatwa may be, it is up to the Libyan people, not the American government, to answer it, with Daniel McCarthy suggesting that "the Libyan slaughter is creating an opening for those who would have liked to stage-manage the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions to impose some 'control' on unrest in the region" — Tiptoeing to War with Libya — and Justin Raimondo calling the same "their only hope of salvaging our Middle East empire" — Interventionists Target Libya.

  • And maybe it's not about "democracy" after all, with reports of "monarchy-era flags flying from government buildings" at home — Libyan city dubbed 'Free Benghazi' as anti-Gaddafi troops take control — and abroad — Libyan protesters raise old monarchy's flag from embassy in Stockholm.

  • Speaking of America, let us not forget reports from back home — Thousands Protest After Wisconsin Governor Threatens to Deploy National Guard to Intimidate Unions — and opinion from a conservative Wisconsonian that "[u]nions are needed as a check on corporate power, because if you’re someone who gets money or derives power from others, chances are you’re going to screw people" — Apocalypse Wisconsin.
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    Comehomeamerica.Us

    John V. Walsh reviews the book of that title — The Book Has Been Written on the Right/Left Antiwar Alliance. An excerpt:
      What do the Right and Left bring to the antiwar movement? At this time, the Left brings greater numbers because the Cold War has led the Right away from its traditional “isolationist,” i.e., anti-interventionist, stance, to which it is only beginning to return. But the Right brings something equally powerful to the antiwar movement, and that is its vocabulary. The paleocons and libertarians put their opposition to war in words that are widely understood and accepted in conventional mainstream discourse. When the paleos declare America should be first, that cry resonates far and wide to a populace facing economic hardships. And when libertarians declare that government is a threat to liberty, with military being a large part of the government, that is something Americans have been taught to understand and respect since their grade-school years. The antiwar movement benefits enormously from this conventional and traditional American vocabulary. It is not readily assailed.

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    The Real Counter-Culture

    "When popular culture is relentlessly permissive and debauched, the only true rebellion is to exhibit self-denial and fearsome wholesomeness," begins Andy Nowicki — Defiant Chastity.

    The author continues, "In spite of these undeniable contemporary circumstances, most kids today still choose to 'rebel' by being utterly conformist in mindset and behavior; they show their supposed 'individuality' and freedom from society’s constraints, that is, by doing exactly what the culture instructs them to do."

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    Rapunzel, Rapunzel


    I took the kids to the picture show today to see Tangled (2010), a retelling of the Brothers Grimm's Rapunzel, and Walt Disney Pictures' Lth animated feature. I was expecting to catch some shut-eye, as not only was this a kids' film, the only kind this once self-styled cinéaste has seen in the theater for years, this was a kids' chick flick! What could be less engaging? Boy, was I wrong.

    Despite my low expectations, or perhaps because of them (just about every critically-acclaimed movie of the past two decades, including artsy-fartsy foriegn ones, has left me dead cold), I sat enthralled from beginning to end! This was the first movie I've seen in which the CG worked and the 3D was not distracting. The love story was warm and believable in its adolescent purity, and had me feeling like a kid again, dreaming of falling in love with a girl as sweet and quirky as Rapunzel at the county fair. (The conservative in me couldn't help but notice she was barefoot throughout the whole movie.) The two cute animal characters didn't speak at all, let alone with annoying accents, usually black, as they often do in other animated films. And the action sequences were reminiscent of that timeless classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

    As to be expected, liberties were taken with the original story. Instead of a prince rescuing a peasant damsel in distress, the class roles are reversed. Of course, in reality, it is much easier for a woman to marry up, as commonly happened in fairy tales, but the reverse works in this adaptation. A more welcome liberty is the hero offering his very life for his love and her freedom, certainly a Christ-like gesture, and maintained are the traditional fairy tale nods to monarchy, ancestry, honor, and other ideals disparaged by moderns. Another detail that I seem to be the first to have noticed is that the character called Hook Hand Thug, who, when his unlikely dream to become a concert pianist is fulfilled at the end, takes on the exact same facial expressions employed by Lang Lang when he plays!

    You might enjoy this movie even if you don't have kids. Dan Kois speculation as to why you may not have seen it is most interesting — Tangled Looks and Feels Great, So Why Is Disney Selling It Short?

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    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Giacomo Carissimi's Oratorio de la Vierge, Performed by Les Paladins, Directed by Jérôme Correas

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    Third Rome on First

    "The Russian Church has accepted the authenticity of Roman Catholic sacraments per se (not by economia) since at least the early 17th century (Council of Moscow 1667)," says Hiermonk Ambrose, elaborating, "In other words Roman Catholics receive the true Body and Blood of Christ from the hands of their priests and the Pope of Rome is a true bishop," quoted by Serge here, who suggests that "sacramentally they’re the same church with only one real difference, the scope of the Pope, an inch wide but miles deep" — Interesting answer to the nastydox on grace in the RC Church.

    More from Father Ambrose: "Moscow accepts the 15th-century Council of the Four Patriarchs (1484) on this matter and Russian canon law forbids the baptism of Catholics. This has not been annulled and it applies today."

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    Korean Presbyterian Pilgrimage to Ohio


    A report on Horace Newton Allen, pictured above, and news that "[n]ineteen South Koreans consider him important enough to travel to Ohio to honor his memory and the 200th anniversary of First Presbyterian Church in Delaware, where he worshipped"— South Koreans celebrate central Ohio missionary.

    He arrived after the great persecutions that crowned 10,000 Catholic martyrs, but at a time when "being a missionary was illegal and punishable by death, so Allen entered the country in his role as a physician. He saved the life of a member of the royal family and was allowed to establish the country's first modern hospital."

    Perhaps to his discredit, he "was appointed U.S. ambassador to Korea by a fellow Ohioan, President William McKinley," our first imperial president, but certainly to the missionary's credit is the fact that "he was fired in 1905 because he disagreed with President Theodore Roosevelt about which country should control Korea." We learn, "Allen supported an independent Korea or, failing that, Chinese control; Roosevelt favored the Japanese."

    One of the pilgrims said that "[s]he traveled to Ohio to honor Allen because he 'came to Korea, and we can have the religion and know the God.'" My mother, a native Ohioan, always calls her home state "God's country." The story tells us that among Protestants, Catholic impulses like going on pilgrimages and venerating saints has not been extinguished.

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    Monday, February 21, 2011

    J. S. Bach's "The Art of Fugue" Performed by Musica Antiqua Köln

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    Going for Baroque

    Having refined my search technique, I have scheduled hour upon hour of the world's greatest musical compositions in their entirities, planned for the weeks to come. The ancients, both East and West, understood the importance of music to ritual and civilization itself, and we hope to do our part here in preserving that heritage. Powder your periwigs and enjoy.

    Most of the music is religious, but not all of it, including the first piece, which theologian and biochemist Arthur Peacocke believed to be written by the Holy Ghost Himself, using the composer's hand. Stay tuned.

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    Zac Alstin's Email on Confucianism and Taoism

      I enjoyed the link you provided on the subject of Merton and Confucianism. Taoism is often presented as the 'antidote' or cool cousin of uptight, rule-based Confucianism, and this interpretation seems to be affirmed in the Zhuangzi where Confucius is presented in a subordinate position.

      My appreciation for Confucius grew as I studied Natural Law theory, and began to see that transcendent truth has an order, as well as a mystery.
      It's all very well for ahistoric modern 'beatniks' to be inspired by 'the tao that can be spoken is not the eternal tao...' and so forth,
      but there's a great distance between our daily life and the genuine limits of ordered knowledge.

      To me, Confucius himself seems like an unusual man whose knowledge and principles were grounded in an awareness of the tao, the logos. Yet his ideas and sayings fall mostly on the side of expounding his insights. My point is that the idea of Confucius as some dry but reliable thinker does not make sense to me. There is life behind his words...

      Nevertheless, the taoists such as lao zi speak as though they have gone more deeply into the tao than Confucius did. As a consequence they are mostly trying to elucidate the mystery itself, whereas Confucius makes use of its action or virtue. The criticism leveled at Confucius through the Zhuangzi reflects this idea: Don't preach virtue to the people, as virtue is only secondary to the tao and cannot be achieved on its own. Preach the tao instead, and virtue will follow.

      In Christian terms, I see it as the conflict between the law and the spirit. Even Natural Law theory, or other great and subtle elucidations of theology, are not the logos itself. On the one hand, the wisdom demonstrated in such theories is most certainly a gift of the spirit. Yet without the spirit, these theories will quickly degrade.

      So, my extremely amateur conclusion is that we should take Confucius as an excellent guide, but at a certain point we will have to leave Confucius and proceed with Lao Zi.

      Incidentally, I have read strange criticisms of Zhuangzi in comparison to Laozi. I have read that Zhuangzi promoted 'the way of heaven' over 'the way of earth', whereas Laozi reconciled the two. I do catch a hint of this, when Zhuangzi goes off into seemingly relativist ideas, or gets lost in the insignificance of human life. It may be a danger all of its own.

      The beauty of the Christian revelation (I should say one of many beauties) is that Heaven comes to Earth, and the two are reconciled in fact, not just in thought. How hard it might be to interpret the Chinese sages correctly if we did not have the great advantage of this revelation?

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    The Pai Chai Hakdang


    Because I like old Western buildings, above, a picture of "the first Western-style educational institute in Korea," which was "founded in 1885 by Henry G. Appenzeller (1858-1902), an American missionary from Pennsylvania who came to Korea with his wife, Ella J. Dodge, right after getting married" — A museum steeped in history, education.

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    A Reminder to the Brights

    "The question of embryonic stem cells is not one of science; it is a question of morals and ethics," reminds Michael Baruzzini — Who Are You Calling "Anti-Science"?

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    A Message From Ladakh

    Helena Norberg-Hodge bears it — “Localization is the Economics of Happiness”. An excerpt:
      Thirty-five years ago, I had the great privilege of living and working in Ladakh, or Little Tibet. People there seemed happier than any people I had ever met. To me, this seemed to come from a self-esteem so high that it was almost as though the self wasn't an issue. Even among young people, there wasn't a need to show off, to act “cool.” I remember being impressed that a thirteen-year-old boy wouldn’t feel embarrassed to coo over a little baby or to hold hands with his grandmother.

      But as Western-style development came to Ladakh, so did the message that the people there were primitive and backward. They were suddenly comparing themselves to romanticized, glamorized role models in the media—images of perfection and wealth that no one can compete with. You began to see young people using dangerous chemicals to lighten their skin. In Ladakh, there is now a suicide a month, mainly among young people. Not that long ago, suicide was basically unknown—there would have been one in a lifetime. That’s a really, really clear indicator that something is really wrong—and the dominant economic model is what had changed.
    My review of a talk of hers here — Swedish Localist Comes to Pohang.

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    The Empire of Unreality

    "We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality – judiciously, as you will – then we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out," said "a Washington insider of insiders, positively boasting of how the modern world is run on fantasy" — Bishop Williamson on neocon hubris.

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    "Amish Anarchy"

    An old post of mine, Amish Anarchy, has been linked to by German Wikipedia, suggesting, "Trotz der starken Geschlechterrolle hört sich die Amische Gemeinschaft stark nach Anarchie an und es wird öfters als Beispiel für funktionierende Anarchien angegeben" — Diskussion:Amische.

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    "Religious Right More Liberal Than Liberals"

    "When orthodox Christians enter the public arena, they demonstrate all the virtues of, well, classical liberalism: reason, tolerance, and mutual respect," argues Jonathan Zimmerman — Why the Islamic Right should act like the Christian Right.

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    "Take a Look at This, and Weep for Your Country"

    So writes reader danightman, sending along this — FBI Translator Submitted Report Entitled "Kamikaze Pilots" to Bureau 5 Months Before 9/11 Warning of Al Qaeda Attacks on U.S. Cities.

    Our reader writes: "And I wouldn't necessarily blame Bush, as is the reflexive liberal response. The permission occurred under Clinton as well, and a shadow government that can kill a President would have no qualms about setting up another as a scapegoat if the truth became known."

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    “So This Is America?”

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    "Emily's Reel" Performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O'Connor


    Some of our American music to accompany this news — Yo-Yo Ma receives Presidential Medal of Freedom CCTV News.

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    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Jan Dismas Zelenka's Missa Votiva, Performed by Collegium 1704 & Collegium Vocale 1704, Directed by Václav Luks

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    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Messe des Morts, Performed by the Ricercar Consort Collegium & Vocale de Gand, Directed by Philippe Pierlot


    Now that I've safely returned from the sands of Maui to the snows of Pohang, there's no need to post along with the above this message I had scheduled: If this is posted, there is the possibility that we did not return from our vacation. Please pray for our souls, mine, my wife's and two kids'. We'll pray for you, if we are in a position to do so. I hope you've enjoyed the blog. Thank you.

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    Johann Adolph Hasse's Sinfonia From Marc’Antonio é Cleopatra, Performed by Le Musiche Nove, Directed by Claudio Osele

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    "The Degree of Civilization in a Society Can Be Judged by Entering Its Prisons"

    Thus spake Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky; one wonders what the great Russian would think of contemporary American prisons and society, as described here by Lance Tapley and Anna Clark respectively — Mass torture in America: notes from the supermax prisons and Why Does Popular Culture Treat Prison Rape As a Joke?

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    Imperial Confederacy?

    Arturo Vasquez posts a "'mokumentary', which is supposed to take place in an alternate universe where the South won the Civil War, created a 'Tropical Empire' that conquered the Americas, and made slavery an institution that continued to the modern day" — The Confederate States of America.

    Mr. Vasquez rightly points out, among other things, the "pretty well established fact that slavery had been on the decline as an institution since the banning of the slave trade in the 1830′s" and that "the amount of resources that one would have to employ to breed and maintain one’s slaves made it less and less of a desirable institution." Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America pointed out the economic backwardness of slavery by contrasting agriculture north and south of the Ohio River, in Ohio and Kentucky; slaves, unlike hired help, had to be maintained over the course of an entire year, rather than just during the harvesting season, and resulted in a net loss.

    Like Mr. Vasquez, "I don’t think [the mokumentary's] premise is very plausible," not only for the economic reasons outlined above, but for the oxymoronic nature of the idea of an "imperial confederacy."

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    Mailbag

  • New reader DMA sends along "thanks for a terrific blog and first rate links" and videos of "Chris Hedges (from TruthOut) discussing the failure of Liberals, the power and corruption of the corporate elite and the relationship that has developed between the two" — Chris Hedges - Death of the Liberal Class - Full — and "a short discussion on the Empire of Illusion" — Chris Hedges on "Empire of Illusion".

  • "You know those two trolls who almost seemed to be the same person?" asks old reader danightman, refering to an incident some may remember, and sending along this news that "[t]he DoD is ordering up software and hiring bloggers and internet people to be their virtual downvoter army against anything that seems anti-government" and "also ordering up software to create a army of virtual people to flood the social networks and spy on everyone" — You Know Those Obnoxious Posters Who Almost Seem Like Alter Egos Of The Same Person? They Actually Might Be ...
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    Friday, February 18, 2011

    J.S. Bach's Johannes-Passion Performed by Bach Collegium Japan, Directed by Masaaki Suzuki
























    "I am spreading Bach’s message, which is a biblical one," says the above conductor, quoted in Uwe Siemon–Netto's fascinating article reporting "that Bach has already converted tens of thousands of Japanese to the Christian faith" — J. S. Bach in Japan.

    The author writes, "After every one of the Bach Collegium’s performances Suzuki is crowded on the podium by non–Christian members of the audience who wish to talk to him about topics that are normally taboo in Japanese society—death, for example." Says the conductor, "And then they inevitably ask me to explain to them what ‘hope’ means to Christians." The author concludes, "Perhaps Bach, transcending cultural barriers, has converted more Japanese than any of us dares to imagine."

    [link to article via The New Beginning]

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    Thomas Merton on Confucianism

      The foundation of the Confucian system is first of all the human person and then his relations with other persons in the society[.] Confucianism is therefore a humanist and personalist doctrine, and this humanism is religious and sacred... Confucianism is not just a set of formalistic devotions which have been loosely dismissed as ‘ancestor worship.’ The Confucian system of rites was meant to give full expression to that natural and humane love which is the only guarantee of peace and security in society.
    The above is quoted by Wm. Theodore de Bary, whose article, despite thje correctness of all written above, explains "[w]hy the contemplative never got the religion quite right" — Thomas Merton and Confucianism.

    Also of interest in the article is the section on how "Merton credit[ed] the early Jesuit missionaries to China in the late-sixteenth, early-seventeenth centuries with a remarkable accommodation to Chinese culture, including most notably the sympathetic efforts of Matteo Ricci to achieve a genuine understanding of Confucianism," quoted here:
      Merton’s title, “The Jesuits in China,” rightly draws attention to the large contributions of the Jesuits as a group, including other Jesuits in China like Adam Schall von Bell (1592–1669) as well as those who performed similar adaptive missions elsewhere: Roberto DeNobile (1577–1656) in India and Andro Valignano (1539–1606) in Japan.

      Spectacular as these cases were in their own settings, they should also be seen as an outgrowth of a fundamental impulse present from the founding of the Jesuit order. In the wake of the European Renaissance, the Society of Jesus from the start sought to harmonize Judeo-Christian piety with the classical culture of Greece and Rome then being revived. Among the Jesuits this embrace of the new humanism involved an essentially religious effort to draw the best out of the pagan wisdom of the culture in which Christianity originally flourished. It was not surprising, therefore, that the Jesuits in Asia produced distinctive results. They were not just adapting Christianity to native cultures but also contributed in creative ways to the revival of some of the essential elements in native philosophy and religion itself.

      Ricci’s story is especially compelling. As the eminent German sinologist Wolfgang Franke put it: “Looking back with our present understanding of Chinese civilization of the late Ming period, we find it almost incredible that a foreigner—however well educated and intelligent he might be—without any previous knowledge of the Chinese language and civilization was able within less than twenty years to take up residence in the capital, become a prominent member of this society, make friends with a number of the most eminent scholar-officials of the time, and even convert some of them to his Christian faith.” Franke thought that Ricci’s cross-cultural virtuosity reflected an underlying humanism. “Ricci’s ingenious, gentle, and kindly nature conformed to the highest Chinese standards,” he writes. “It inclined him to appreciate and value the essence of Chinese culture. All in all Ricci may be considered the most outstanding cultural mediator of all times.”

      It is strange that Ricci’s achievement did not give Merton pause. Ricci made an extraordinary and successful effort to learn and master classical Chinese. Simply as a missionary he would have had plenty to do just by learning vernacular Chinese so as to communicate with and convert ordinary people. But Ricci recognized the importance of educated Chinese leadership; he did not just dismiss or sidestep them. Yet this is exactly what Merton tends to do when he denigrates Confucian scholars: “All China, at least all the ruling class of China, was supposed in theory to be educated along Confucian lines, but many and not the least successful of Chinese statesmen were men who with the outward facade of Confucianism were inwardly either pedants, rigid and heartless conformists, or unprincipled crooks.”

      Ricci himself could easily have taken Confucianism at this low level and used it to his own advantage in converting people from debased forms of Confucianism to an unsullied Christianity. As a Renaissance man, however, he was disposed to take the classical Chinese tradition at its best and attempt to reconcile Confucianism with Christianity at the highest level.

      That Ricci succeeded can be attributed not only to his native generosity and openness of mind but also to a similar openness among the many Confucian scholars whom he sought to engage in active dialogue. Reciprocity was at work, not just solitary genius impressing itself on credulous others. And this openness on the part of Ricci’s Chinese partners (so much in contrast to Merton’s characterization of the Confucians as “rigid heartless pedants”) undoubtedly reflected something in the Confucians’ own background, which suggests to us that Merton’s routine characterizations of them are historically inaccurate. And not just inaccurate, but blind as well to the ways in which religion brings a humane dignity to everyday life.
    [link via The New Beginning]

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    The Middle East Uprisings and the (un-)American Empire

  • "One can’t help but be reminded of the revolts across Eastern Europe in 1989 that began the fall of the Soviet Empire," writes Eric Margolis, suggesting that "[n]ow it may be the turn of America’s Mideast empire, an empire constructed of Arab dictatorships to assure U.S. domination of oil and Israel’s domination of the Levant" — Fall of the Raj.

  • Patrick J. Buchanan asks, "What vital interest of a United States staring at bankruptcy would be imperiled if we got out of the way, stopped fighting these countries’ wars and paying these countries’ bills and let these people determine their own future for good or ill?" — A Middle East Without America?

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    Gluttony Goeth Before the Fall

    "The Roman historian Livy famously regarded the glorification of chefs as the sign of a culture in decline," notes B. R. Myers, who argues that "[g]luttony dressed up as foodie-ism is still gluttony" — The Moral Crusade Against Foodies.

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    Ireland's Economic and Religious Collapse

    Brian Kaller examines the "historically poor country that won the lottery and didn’t spend it wisely before disaster struck" — Wreck of the Irish — and Michael Kelly reports that "the Irish Church ha[s] a decade, at most, to avoid falling over the edge and becoming like other European countries where religion is marginal to society" — Visitator to report that Irish church is near collapse, priest says.

    Don't tell me these two stories are unrelated. While the relationship may not necessarily be causal, as in divine chastisement, there is certainly a correlation between the two collapses, with the same moral failings behind them.

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    Opium and Fiat Currency

    Refering to those "instances of shameful behavior the West still has not lived down," Dr. Antal Fekete writes, "The present trade dispute between the U.S. and China is reminiscent of the background to the two Opium Wars" — Silver and Opium. He continues:
      Once more, the issue is the humiliation and plunder of China as a "thank you" for China's favor of having provided consumer goods for which the West was unable to pay in terms of Western goods suitable for Chinese consumption. The only difference is the absence of opium in the dispute.

      Oops, I take it back. The role of opium in the current dispute is played by paper. Paper dollars, to be precise.

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    Painting in Korea

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    Stephen Cardinal Kim Lives On

    I've mentioned my personal Confucian reservations about organ donation, but a better Catholic than I, one of the country's most respected figures, has created something of a movement here in Korea — Organ donations up because of Cardinal Kim.

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    Hawaiian Senate Committee Rejects Euthanasia for a Third Time

    And MercatorNet's Michael Cook suggests "rather than read about the politics of the debate, read what some of the bill’s opponents told the committee in their written testimony" — Hawaii Four-0. The testimonies are from potential victims of such legislation.

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    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    "Ua Like" Performed by Ledward Kaapana & Bob Brozman

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    Back From Paradise


    By the grace of God, I'm back in Korea after a fortnight on Maui, where I was a guest for two Sundays at Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in historic Lahaina, the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and a night each on Oahu and Guam.

    "The Valley Isle" was of such unearthly beauty that on my first days there I entertained a few difficulties with the Doctrine of Heaven; how could anything be more beautiful than what lay before me? Fitting then that this reading from the Little Office of Our Lady by Saint Anselm of Canterbury should have been the last I read there, and even more so that the islands themselves were inhabited by human beings at about the time of the events described:
      Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night--everything that is subject to the power or use of man--rejoice that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with inexpressible new grace. All creatures were dead, as it were, useless for human beings or for the praise of God who made them. The world, contrary to its true destiny, was corrupted and tainted by the acts of human beings who served idols. Now all creation has been restored to life and rejoices that it is controlled and given splendor by those who believe in God.

      The universe rejoices with new and indefinable loveliness. Not only does it feel the unseen presence of God himself, its Creator, it sees him openly, working and making it holy. These great blessings spring from the blessed fruit of Mary's womb.
    I'll return to Pohang tomorrow and regular blogging will resume shortly, God willing.

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    Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.