Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.

Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Black Narcissus

Last night, I watched an excellent film, Black Narcisus (1947), directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, which I bought on DVD on a whim at a supermarket here in Korea for about $4.00. I bought it mainly because of the cover, which depicted a nun, and because I vaguely remembered hearing about the film.

It was the story of five Anglican nuns and their failed attempt to establish a convent in the Himilayas. The movie was surprisingly modern in feel and had striking color. The sets were amazing as was the cast of characters, major and minor, English and Indian.

There is a lot of foreshadowing in the first few minutes of the film. We learn that the Order of the Servants of Mary, to which the nuns belong, take yearly, not lifetime, vows. We learn that Sister Clodagh, the protagonist chosen to lead the new nunnery, is to be the youngest Mother Superior of her order. We are also given key information about the particular strengths, and more importantly the weaknesses, of the other four nuns.

There is an interesting exchange at one point in the film. After a Christmas Eve midnight service, the "Young General," and eager Indian noble, congratulates Sister Clodagh on the birth of Christ. He goes on to say that he is very interested in Jesus Christ. Sister Clodagh laughs and the "Young General" asks if he said something wrong. The Sister says, "No, we're just not used to speaking of Him in such a casual way."

An answer most Anglican!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I wrote this to a friend late one night:

"Imagine this diagram, with a politcal affiliation and a representative politician, and the admittedly gross generalizations that follow:

Hillary Clinton

George Bush

Ralph Nader

Pat Buchanan

Hillary and Ralph are Leftists.
George and Pat are Rightists.

Hillary and George are insiders.
Ralph and Pat are outsiders.

Hillary and Ralph are anti-Church.
George and Pat are pro-Church.

Hillary and George are pro-status quo.
Ralph and Pat are anti-status quo.

Hillary and George are happy in the suburbs.
Ralph and Pat are not.

Hillary and George might bump into each other at McDonald's.
Ralph and Pat might bump into each other at a family-owned restaurant.

Hillary shares some ideas with both Ralph and George, but is completely opposed to Pat.
George shares some ideas with both Pat and Hillary, but is completely opposed to Ralph.

The point here is that the Radical and the Traditionalist, while divided on several key points share more than they think.

The "Small is Beautiful" maxim is both Radical and Traditionalist, as are Organic Farming, Distributivism, the Agrarian Movement, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the Arts-and-Crafts Movement, Food Coops, the anti-Globalization Movement, the anti-Free Trade Movement, Protectionism, Isolationism, Communes, Kibbutzes, Henry George, Christianity, etc."

These ideas come from an excellent article by Peter Kreeft entitled The Politics of Architecture in the November 1996 issue of First Things, which in turn was based on the ideas of John Courtney Murray.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

An Anglican Patriarchate?

From this week's Catholic World News Weekly News Summary newsletter regarding current events in the Episcopal Church USA:

As things stand, when conservative Anglicans express an interest in returning to the Catholic fold, diocesan officials often act as if this was a problem rather than an opportunity. Policies seem designed to please the Anglican hierarchy, rather than to bring souls into the Catholic communion.

What would happen if the Catholic Church took the opposite tack, and began an aggressive campaign to encourage Anglicans to swim the Tiber? We could assure "Anglo-Catholics" that they would be able to continue using their own beautiful liturgy, under the terms of the existing "Anglican use." We could show respect for their traditions, and call public attention to the many Anglicans who
have joined our ranks, showing the vitality of the Catholic Church.

Or we could be even more ambitious. The Holy See could set up an Anglican patriarchate, to welcome all those members of the Church of England who wished to restore the long-broken ties to Rome. (That's not too different from the way in which many of the existing Eastern Catholic patriarchates were established.) Unrealistic? Maybe so; but we can dream, can't we?

Dream. Hope. Pray.

This Anglican Patriarchate sounds to me like a truly ecumenical solution. What I miss from my six years among the Anglicans is their aptly-described beautiful liturgy. It would be nice to have it fully Catholic again.

The "Anglican Use Liturgy" is already approved by the Vatican and in use in several Roman Catholic parishes in the U.S., one of them being Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas.
Nuestro D-I-V-O-R-C-I-O se finaliza hoy.

[Please excuse the above translation of the Tammy Wynette song.]

It seems that Chile is on the verge of legalizing divorce. Currently, staunchly Catholic Chile, Malta, and the Phillipines are among the few countries that have no legal divorce.

I spent a year as a student in Chile ten years ago. At that time, I was puzzled by the fact the Chile had no legal divorce. Ten years later, I have nothing but respect for Chile's upholding of Chirst's teaching on marriage.

I am reminded of something related to this that I saw today on another blog, Flos Carmeli, regarding the issue of divorce. C. Everett Koop is talking about C.S. Lewis:

C.S. Lewis shocked many people in his day when he came out in favor of making divorce legal, on the grounds that we Christians have no right to impose our morality on society at large. Although he would preach against it, and oppose it on moral grounds, he recognized the distinction between morality and legality.

While I hate to disagree with C.S. Lewis, I believe that we Christians have the right and the responsibility "to impose our morality on society at large," in a loving, charitable, and Christ-like way, of course. Are not all laws an imposition of morality?

All societies regulate marriage. A man is not legally allowed to take two wives in Christian societies. What is different from not legally allowing him to dissolve his marriage to take a second wife? We proscribe polygamy but practice serial monogamy.

In Chile, I knew of many men who had left their wives and taken up with mistresses. No law can really hope to change human behavior. Forced virtue is not virtue. Nevertheless, society reserves the right to set standards of behavior.

I have heard it said that "a good society is one that allows for its people to be good." We can't say that about most modern societies as they stand today.

Willa Cather's novel Death Comes for the Archbishop contains an interesting explanation of holy apparitions. It occurs when two friends, the bishop and a priest of the story, discuss the visit of another priest to the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The bishop says:

Where there is great love there are always miracles.... One might might also say that an apparition is human vision corrected by divine love.... The Miracles of the Church seem to me not to rest so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

"Believe It, or Not"

Nicholas D. Kristof, in an article hostile to belief in the Virgin Birth and the Assumption of Mary in today's issue of the New York Times, says the following:

Religion remains central to American life, and is getting more so, in a way that is true of no other industrialized country, with the possible exception of South Korea.

Kristof gets his information from the Pew Research Center's Views of a Changing World 2003 Report, which states that 58% of Americans and 56% of South Koreans believe that it is "necessary to belief in God to be moral," while only 33% of Germans, 30% of Canadians, 29% of Japanese, 27% of Italians, 25% of Britons, and 13% of French agree.

Kristof reports, with alarm, that 91% of Americans Christians believe in the Virgin Birth. I don't know why he should find this alarming, since Christains have believed in the Virgin Birth of Jesus for 2000 years and it is a dogma of the Catholic Church. More interesting is the fact that 41% of U.S. non-Christians also believe in the Virgin Birth. I would guess that most of them are Muslims, whose faith also asserts the Virgin Birth of Jesus.

Friday, August 15, 2003


This is currently a movement to change the spelling of this country from "Korea" to "Corea." The reason was stated by Rep. Kim Seong-ho:

There exists [sic] definite allegations that during its colonial era (1910-45), Japan purposely compelled the Korean people to use 'Korea' instead of 'Corea' in order for it to come first in the alphabetical order of countries.

[For original article click here.]

Allegations? Yes. Evidence? Not that I've heard of.

This rumor really gained momentum during the World Cup. It reminds me of the brouhaha over words and phrases like "picnic" and "rule of thumb," the former alleged to have come from "pick a nigger (for lynching)" and the latter from the allowed size of the rod used to beat one's wife. There is no evidence for either of these etymologies, but because they fit in with the "politically correct" version of history, they are widely accepted in academia.

That said, I find the spelling "Corea" more aesthetically pleasing due to its use in Latin and among the Romance languages.
Maria Assumpta Est


Thursday, August 14, 2003

A Warning from the U.S. Embassy

I just received this by email from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul:

On Friday, August 15, from approximately 4:00 p.m. into the evening, demonstrators expected to number in the thousands will gather in the area of Seoul City Plaza. Two separate demonstrations are planned, one by anti-U.S. civic groups and the other by anti-nuclear/anti Kim, Chong-il Christian organizations (pro-U.S.).

It should be an interesting confrontation. In a sense, the two sides are battling for the soul of Korea. It is also an inter-generational conflict.

The Christians spoken of in warning are undoubtedly Protestants, mostly Presbyterians (Jangnogyo), who in Korea tend to be ultra-conservative, both socially and politically. [A notable exception would be the Rev. Noh Jong-Sun, a leading advocate of Minjung Theology, which is Liberation Theology with a Korean twist.]

Korean Catholics tend to be as socially conservative as their Protestant brethren, but from my experience lean toward more "progressive" political causes.
On the Eve of the Assumption

Tomorrow, on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven, my wife, daughter and I will go to the city of Daegu and attend mass at the Gyesan-dong Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Daegu, and also visit nearby St. Mary's Cathedral, which is said to resemble the Cave of Lourdes in France.

My wife's pregnancy had some complications. I prayed the Rosary everyday and asked the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for her and our daughter, who was born healthy and strong. Tomorrow, I want to give thanks.
How old are you?

Last Sunday in church, a woman asked us, "How many months old is your baby?

We answered, "Two months."

The woman's young son then asked, "Then how old is she?" (...myeot ssal...?)

His mother answered, "She's one year old."

This conversation might seem completely absurd, but it is less so in Korea. Korean reckoning of age is quite different from our Western style. Upon birth, a baby is already considered to be one year old. On the following Seollal, Lunar New Year (called "Chinese New Year" in America), everyone is considered one year older. You don't become a year older on your birthday, but at Lunar New Year, when the whole country, in effect, has a birthday.

This can become strange in cases like that of my sister-in-law, who was born on December 28th. The following Lunar New Year, a month after her birth, she was already two years old. A baby born the day before Lunar New Year would be two years old on its second day of life.

Since this system is a bit unwieldy, Koreans will use the Western aging system (maneuro myeot ssal) for legal purposes.

After six years of living in Korea, I have to think a moment when I am asked how old I am. I usually answer by saying that I was born in 1970 and let my interlocutor do the math.

Tomorrow, August 15th, is Korea's "Liberation Day," sometimes erroneously referred to as "Independence Day." Hanchongnyeon, the unapologetically pro-North Korean and thankfully still outlawed Federation of Korean University Student Councils, is planning a new series of anti-American demonstrations across the country. Their choice of a date is a bit ironic, as the Americans had no small part in Emperor Hirohito's famous surrender speech of August 15th, 1945 and Korea's subsequent liberation from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule.
Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Today is the feast of that great martyr, the man Pope John Paul II called "the patron saint of the 20th Century," Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe. His story has been told better by others, but let me briefly recount his martyrdom here:

After a life of missionary work dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Europe and Asia, Father Kolbe was arrested by the Gestapo and eventually sent to Auschwitz, where he impressed all, Protestants and Catholics alike, with his holiness and service of others. After a man from his cell-block escaped, the guards randomly chose 10 men to execute. One among them, a Polish soldier, Francis Gajowniczek, unknown to Father Kolbe, begged to be spared for the sake of his wife and child. Father Kolbe offered to take his place (cf John 15:13, "Greater love than this no man hath than to lay down his life for his friends.").

For two weeks in the starvation chamber, Father Kolbe led his fellow inmates in praying the Rosary and singing hymns to the Immaculata. At the end of two weeks, on the Eve of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he had dedicated his life, Father Kolbe was one of four prisoners still alive. He was the last to receive the injection of carbonic acid into his veins. His body was cremated the next day.

Saint Max is the Patron Saint of, among other things, Drug Addiction. I offered a Novena to Saint Maximilian Kolbe for someone in my life suffering from this scourge. I learned a few hours ago that his prayers seem to be working and that a dramatic change might be underway.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


The August 11th show of Catholic Answers Live was the first of that normally excellent broadcast to let me down. Its title was "Capitalism and Socialism in Catholic Social Teaching" and the guest speaker had a clear bias toward the former, which would have been fine had the program been titled just "Capitalism in Catholic Social Teaching." The host and some of the guests did, however, bring up issues from the opposing side, and G.K. Chesterton's connection with Distributivism was mentioned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

"Religious War"

For Pat Buchanan's thoughts on the current situation in the Episcopal Church, read his article Yes, Virginia, There is a Religious War on his American Cause website.

A previous article on the same issue was titled The Coming Episcopalian Crackup?

Confucius and Buddha Visit the Baby Jesus

Would Confucius and Buddha have joined the Three Wise Men to visit Jesus at His birth? G.K. Chesterton's answer:

Such learned men [Confucius and Buddha] would doubtless have come, as these learned men [the Three Wise Men] did come, to find themselves confirmed in much that was true in their own traditions and right in their own reasoning. Confucius would have found a new foundation for the family in the very reversal of the Holy Family; Buddha would have looked upon a new renunciation, of stars rather than jewels and divinity rather than royalty. These learned men would still have the right to say, or rather a new right to say, that there was truth in their old teaching. But after all these learned men would have come to learn. They would have come to complete their conceptions with something they had not yet conceived; even to balance their imperfect universe with something they might once have contradicted. Buddha would have come from his impersonal paradise to worship a person. Confucius would have come from his temples of ancestor-worship to worship a child.

  • The Everlasting Man
  • pp. 176-7

    Chesterton's is a very Catholic answer. It avoids syncretism and the belief that all religions are equal while at the same time recognizes that truth, albeit imperfect truth, can be found outside of the Catholic Church.

    This passage stood out to me because the three world-views it presents are three most common world-views in Korea. About 25% of Koreans are Christians, about 25% Buddhist, and the remaining 50% have no religion. Christians, Buddhists, and the non-religious all to a certain extent follow at least the precepts if not the actual ancestral rites of Confucianism.

    An American New Ager once told me of Korean Christians who keep a Buddha in their closets. But in my experience, there is little syncretism. Buddhism and Christianity are quite separate, and a healthy tolerance (in the true sense of the word) exists between them. In Korea, Confucianism is rightly viewed as a philosphy, not a religion.

    Sunday, August 10, 2003


    Yesterday was the 58th Anniversary of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki. The largest Catholic Church in Asia at the time was used as the target.

    Nagasaki has the less famous but better of the world's two Atomic Bomb museums, both of which I have had the opportunity to visit. It describes in greater detail the context of Japanese militarism leading up to WWII. It also pays homage to the 10,000 Korean victims who died, and describes the discrimination Koreans faced (and face) living in Japan.

    Saturday, August 09, 2003

    Kairos and Africa

    Could this be Africa's time?

    Time, in Greek, can be expressed by the words chronos or kairos. Chronos means time in the normal sense of the word, while kairos might be translated as "the right time." In Christian Theology, kairos generally refers to all the conditions that were met in the coming of Christ Jesus into the world: Palestine was the cross-roads of Europe, Asia, and Africa; The Roman Empire was at its height; The Hellenistic World was still a cultural power. All of these factors led to the dissimination of the Christian message.

    Today could be Africa's kairos. We this clearly in the current situation in the Anglican Communion, where Anglican Archbishop Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, stands poised to be the defender of orthodoxy should the Archbishop of Canterbury choose not to sever ties with the American church. In Catholicism, Archbishop Arinze, also of Nigeria and a potential successor to Pope John Paul II, was a few months ago nearly driven out of Georgetown University after his commencement speech. His crime? Teaching Catholic Doctrine at a Catholic university. It seems many professors and students were not happy with his teaching that homosexuality is a sin.

    Christians and post-Christians believing in "progressive" liberalism, how disheartened you must feel that the Africans you so painstakingly patronize have betrayed you! Christians and post-Christians suffering from the sin of racial prejudice, how humbled you must be to see the children of the Dark Continent you once disparaged as being unworthy of the Gospel now the main defenders of Christian orthodoxy!

    After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was Ireland that preserved Christendom during the Dark Ages. Once-great Ireland is now threatening to imprison priests for up to six years for disseminating the Vatican's teaching on homosexual unions. It might be Africa's job to preserve what's left of Christendom in these new Dark Ages.

    God Bless Africa!

    Friday, August 08, 2003

    Whale Meat

    Tonight, I'll enjoy one of my favorite delicacies: whale meat.

    Korea has managed to avoid the international controversy surrounding whaling that faces Japan, Norway, and now Iceland. I imagine Korea has done this by keeping the whole whaling issue quiet.

    When the Olympics were held here in 1988, Koreans avoided any controversy about dog meat by making it illegal. It is still not legal, but there are dog meat restaurants everywhere. The law is simply not enforced.

    It's the same way with prostitution. It's illegal, but brothels with half-naked women sitting in pink-lighted windows are a feature of any Korean city or town. The same situation exists in the case of abortion. Under Korean law it's illegal, but abortuaries abound in this country. About 1,000,000 Koreans are aborted each year. That is almost equal to the number of abortions committed in America each year, where abortion is legal and the population is almost six times greater!

    Pretending a controversy does not exist does not make it go away. In the case of dog or whale meat, no real ethical issue is involved, other than dog's being "man's best friend" and some whale's being endangered. Therefore, these two issues should be out in the open. Dog and whale should be legal and regulated.

    Prostitution and, especially, abortion are two great evils. It is right that they are proscribed by law. However, those laws should and must be enforced.

    I'll think about all this as I enjoy a "whale of a meal" tonight.
    Post-Christian Germany

    From Father Richard John Neuhaus:

    One reads with sadness reports that in Germany funeral practices are rapidly disappearing altogether. No death notices in the paper, no wakes, no funerals, no memorial services. Bodies are taken from hospitals to the ovens of the crematorium and the ashes are dispersed. Just as though the person, and the body inseparable from the person, had never been. That is not closure. It is a forced and unnatural forgetting. It is a mark of a people aptly described as post-Christian.

  • First Things June/July 2003: The Public Square
  • Some Thoughts on Recent Events in the Anglican Communion

    This past week, the Episcopal Church USA voted to consecrate a practicing homosexual as a bishop and to allow local parishes to bless same-sex couples.

    A convert to Catholicism, I spent six years worshipping at Anglican Churches and thus feel I have a right to comment. I never became a member, Anglicanism's openness did not seem to compel me to do so, but in my years with the Anglican Communion I learned a lot and gained a lot. Anglicanism served as a via media, in the real sense of the term, between the Lutheranism I grew up with and the Catholicism I now embrace. From Lutheranism and Anglicanism I learned the importance of the Liturgy. From Anglicanism, I learned the Doctrine of Apostolic Succession. Once I started down the road of Anglo-Catholicism and met John Henry Cardinal Newman, I was on a road that led to no other place but Rome. I thank the Anglican Church for that.

    That is why what happened this week pains me so. My wife was baptized in the Anglican Church. She told me recently that she would be embarrassed to say so now, as the Anglican Church (Seonggonghoi) is not so well-known here in Korea, but will be known now as the "gay" church.

    What strikes me most is the selfishness and arrogance of Gene Robinson. He left his wife and daughters because he wasn't sexually fulfilled, displaying the kind of hedonism that not only Christianity but all world religions worthy of the name reject. He is putting his 70-million member Church in danger of schism, putting himself and his agenda first and foremost. And he is saying to the faithful of Asia, Africa, and Latin America that his "American" ways are superior, culturally more advanced, and will some day be acceptable in their dark and savage homelands after "progress" catches up with them. He is showing the worst type of cultural chauvinism.

    All this was damage was done by a vote, which gives more evidence that while democracy is fine in the nation-state, the Church should NEVER be a democracy. We need the authority of the Pope. Viva il Papa!

    I'll pray for the Anglican Communion in its hour of need. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is and will be here for all its disaffected members. Come home to Rome.