Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.

Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

No Korean Cardinal This Time

[Opinion] Cardinals, an op-ed piece from (english donga), the online English version of the Korean "Dong-A Ilbo" newspaper, laments the lack of a Korean among the 31 new cardinals named by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

While the arguments stressing the strength and vitality of the Korean Church are compelling, it should be remembered that these decisions are made on a variety of factors.
Church Repression in Vietnam

Vietnam Refuses to Recognize New Cardinal

The title of the linked article above says it all.
El Greco

Eighty works of my favorite painter, El Greco, will soon be on display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City starting on Oct. 7, according to an article entitled Under El Greco's Spell.

Here are two excellent links with many images of his works:

CGFA-El Greco
El Greco Online

Monday, September 29, 2003

The Church in China

With His Holiness Pope John Paul II's appointment of a nameless cardinal in pectore (in his heart) among the 31 to get their red hats (see Pope Announces 31 New Cardinals, One Name Secret for more information or John Paul II Appoints 31 New Cardinals for a complete list), there has been speculation that this unknown cardinal might be from China, as the in pectore formula if used when a potential cardinal comes from a place hostile to the Catholic Faith and when mentioning his name might compromise his position.

At this time, it would be good to remember that persecution of the Christian Faith did not end with the emperor Diocletian, but continues today, perhaps most vigorously in the People's Rebublic of China.

An interview with journalist and missionary Father Cervellera entitled Church in China Overcoming Forced Division gives a good description of the current sad situation in the PRC. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, named for a cardinal who himself was named in pectore, gives an excellent background to China's 50 years of persecuting the Church.

As Ann Coulter says in her latest editorial IT'S THE WINTER SOLSTICE, CHARLIE BROWN!, which details religious persecution in the US but is applicable to our discussion here:

There is no surer proof of Christ's divinity than that he is still so hated some 2000 years after his death.

And, from an editorial suprisingly friendly to evangelization, God on Their Side by Nicholas D. Kristof, the situation described in Africa can be applied to China. Mr. Kristof describes the good works done by the missionaries, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Pentacostal, on the African continent, such as setting up orphanages, hospitals, and schools. If the Chinese government were to allow such things in China, it would be a de facto admission that the strange amalgamation of cut-throat capitalism and authoritarian communist government (the worst of consumerist materialism and Marxist materialism) is a colossal failure.

Father Cervellera, from the article linked above, gives a chilling description of contemporary China:

China has an economy that seems to be brimming with health. Last year, the GNP grew by 8.5%. But this wealth is in the hands of a few, while the people are enslaved with very low salaries.

At present, there are 170 million unemployed without social security. The health service no longer exists. Schools are abandoned to their fate, and freedom of association is denied, despite [China] having signed the U.N. conventions, and the commitments assumed by the government.

The Heavenly Empire, full of benevolence, art and culture, which so fascinated the West, no longer exists.

Today China is governed by a corrupt, unscrupulous ruling class which has abandoned Communism at the economic level, but which continues to maintain the same control of the population. We are before a new merciless empire.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Liturgical Abuses

News of the upcoming Vatican document aimed at stemming litugical abuses is spreading, with the media's usual lack of understanding of Catholicism. Two examples:

No Clapping, Dancing at Mass, Vatican to Warn
Anger at Vatican plan to ban altar girls

Here on Korea, there won't be much controversy. I've never once seen an altar girl or liturgical dancing or clapping. I have been surprised by the use of the Apostles' Creed in place of the Niceo-Constantipolitan Creed at Sunday Mass, but other than that, the Korean Church tends to be very conservative in its liturgical practices

Thursday, September 25, 2003

"A Little Monk"

Last night, I watched a very enjoyable Korean film on DVD entitled A Little Monk", or Dong Seung in Korean. For more detailed information about this movie, read Anthony Leung's "A Little Monk Movie Review."

The movie is visually stunning, showing a composite of some of the most beautiful mountain temples of Korea. [All historic Buddhist temples in Korea are located in mountains, due to the suppression of Buddhism under the neo-Confucianizing Joseon Dysnasty (1392-1910).]

The title character is a child monk, whose mother abandoned him at a Buddhist monastery. In Korean, many orphans become Buddhist monks in this way.

The young monk wants nothing more than to be reunited with his mother, who had promised to return but never does. The child's eyes light up whenever a middle-aged woman visits the mountain temple in which he lives. With much anguish, he envies the childern of the nearby villages, who all have parents and brothers and sisters. His life in the temple is one of loneliness and fear.

The climax come when a rich woman who has lost her own young son agrees to adopt the boy and gets the approval of the temple master. However, at the same time, the young boy is caught by the temple master in a lie about some rabbits he trapped in order to make a stole for his lost mother. Confronted by his temple master, the young monk expresses his hatred of the Buddha.

At this point, the temple master announces to the child's would-be adoptive mother that the boy's mother had been a Buddhist nun who rejected her vows and his father a poacher of animals. Thus, the young monk is living out his parents karma. He suggests to the woman that if she truly cares about the child, she leave him at the temple to work out his karma and that of his parents. The woman reluctantly agrees. In the final scene, the little monk leaves the monastery alone to enter the world. It is winter, and the child disappears into the snow.

This is a clear, straighforward presentation of Buddhist doctrine. How different the Buddhist concept of karma is from the Christian concept of grace! Karma is something you have to work off; it is a cycle that must be broken. The sins of the parents are visited upon the children. We are tied to fate.

Grace, in contrast, is a free gift from God. We do nothing to merit it, because we are nothing in comparison with God. Our good works are a response and confirmation of the free gift from God. We have free will.

It is popular these days to say that all religions are the same. They are not. While many of the ethical underpinnings and some of the metaphysical answers of the world's religions might be the same or similar (as a result of Natural Law), their doctrines offer profoundly different world-views, which affect our every thought about life.

It would be good for many of the West's professed Buddhists to learn more about the religion they claim to practice. They would learn that it is not the values-free, feel-good system they seem to think it is.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz

This upcoming Sunday, September 28th, the Church celebrates the memorial of a great Asian saint, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, the first canonized Filipino martyr, who was martyred in Nagasaki, Japan.

His torturers aked him, "If we grant you life, will you renounce your faith?"

His response: "That I will never do, because I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please."

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The Question of God

NPR (National Public Radio) presented an interesting interview with Armand Nicholi, Jr., author of The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, entitled "The Question of God" on September 21st. In it, Prof. Nicholi outlines the secular and spiritual wolrd-views and why he chose Freud and Lewis as their respective reprsentatives.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Divorce in Korea

According to an article entitled Divorce in South Korea: Striking a New Attitude from The New York Times, Korea now has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. While it is not yet at the abominable rate that it is in America, it is increasing in Korea whereas it is decreasing in the United States.

When I arrived in Korea only six years ago, Koreans could be quite proud of their low divorce rate. They could also boast of their perceived lack of homosexuals. Sadly, they can no longer boast of these things. On top of this, with a birthrate of 1.17 children per woman, Korea is joining Japan and Western Europe in committing national suicide.

Once staunchly conservative, Korea is now experiencing something similar to the social and cultural upheavals of the 1970s that have left America in the sorry state that it is today. Perhaps it is wealth that breeds such laxity and immorality. I can only hope that Korea turns back before it is too late.

St. John of the Cross

Yesterday, I started reading St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz): Alchemist of the Soul: His Life, His Poetry (Bilingual), His Prose, edited and translated by Antonio T. de Nicolas. I had never read anything by Saint John of the Cross, the Doctor of Mystical Theology, but having received recommendations in the writings of both Thomas Merton and His Holiness Pope John Paul II, I knew that I must read him.

I chose this book solely because it was a bilingual edition; I wanted to read his poems in the original as well. When the book arrived by mail, I was a bit put off by the Egyptian ankh that is the symbol of the publishing company and the alchemical symbol on the cover. I should have been more wary of the subtitle when I ordered the book.

My fears were confirmed when I read the editor/translator's introduction. I disparagingly labels Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, the monotheistic religions, as discontinuous systems, as opposed to the continuous pantheistic and polytheistic systems for which the author clearly has a pronounced bias, using a taxonomy taken from Sacred Discontent: The Bible and Western Tradition by Herbert N. Schneidau. He seems to imply that St. John was a closet pantheist working within a constraining Christianity.

But what really worried me was the editor/translator's admission that he had excised the theological portions of St. John's prose writings, in order to reach St. John's original purpose. To remove the theological writings from the saint designated as the Doctor of Mystical Theology by the Universal Church is nothing short of religious and academic censorship.

While the editor/translator goes to heroic lengths in his introduction to counter the bias against religion in academia, going as far to say, "In the name of freedom from religion we have lobotomized the human brain," and goes on to describe how we must read St. John of the Cross from his 16th Century worldview, he nevertheless shows a strong bias against the Christian tradition without which a saint cannot possibly be understood.

I will proceed with caution reading this book, focusing on the poems in the original Spanish and perhaps avoiding the censored prose writings altogether.
St. Francis de Sales

Yesterday, I finished reading Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales.

I cannot recommend this work highly enough. Along with Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, outside of the Bible this is the greatest spiritual guide I have read.

Written in the first decade of the 17th Century, this work is still relevant for the modern reader, at least this modern reader. The Introduction is essentially a guide for meditation upon examination of conscience.

The Introduction is a classic of Western spirituality, but I doubt that is it widely read these days in the West. Instead, New Age renditions of Eastern spirituality and self-help books are where most Westerners go for spiritual fulfillment these days.

Why is this so? My guess is that works like the Introduction and the Imitation require spiritual discipline and self-examination. They do not begin with the "I'm OK-You're OK" premise. They are not values-free. They ask us to take up our cross and follow the Lord.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Korean Martyrs

September 20th is date of the Universal Church's memorial for the Martyrs of Korea, Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions, who perished in the waves of persecution in Korea in 1839, 1846, in 1867.

There are a total of 103 Korean saints, which gives Korea one of the highest, if not the highest, number of saints per capita in the world! In addition to these declared saints, there were an estimated 10,000 Korean Catholics who chose martyrdom for the Faith rather than apostasy. As His Holiness Pope John Paul II said, speaking at the canonization on May 6, 1984:

The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the north of this tragically divided land.

The Holy Father was right to praise the Church in Korea, a Church very close to his heart. Years before I even thought of becoming Catholic, Korean Catholics witnessed to me by their kindness and generosity. It seemed that when ever I met a particularly kind Korean, he or she turned out to be Catholic. Korea can be a very difficult country to live in as a foreigner; we are often met with mistrust or even dislike. But I have always felt somrthing akin to comraderie from Korean Catholics. Perhaps the horrible persecutions they faced at the hands of their fellow Koreans have helped them to discard the xenophobic nationalism so prevelent here.

Although I am American, I am proud to consider myself in many ways a Korean Catholic. As I converted here in this land, the liturgical and cultural practices unique to Korean Catholicism seem natural to me. In fact, when I worshipped in America, I found American Catholicism to be foreign and exotic.

The Korean Church and her Blessed Martyrs have much to be proud of and are living proof that the Christian message is indeed universal and transcendent.
The Real Dalai Lama

An excellent article entitled "Dalai Lama Lite", which appeared recently in the New York Times, does a thourough job of exposing the touchy-feely myths most in the West have about this great spiritual leader and the Tibetan Buddhism he represents.

An example:

In reality, Tibetan Buddhism is not a values-free system oriented around smiles and a warm heart. It is a religion with tough ethical underpinnings that sometimes get lost in translation. For example, the Dalai Lama explicitly condemns homosexuality, as well as all oral and anal sex. His stand is close to that of Pope John Paul II, something his Western followers find embarrassing and prefer to ignore. His American publisher even asked him to remove the injunctions against homosexuality from his book, "Ethics for the New Millennium," for fear they would offend American readers, and the Dalai Lama acquiesced.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


A 'C' Change in Spelling Sought for the Koreas

Why? From the above article:

The... campaign is based on an increasingly prevalent belief that the original "C" was switched to a "K" by the Japanese at the start of their 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula so that their lowly colonials would not precede them in the English alphabetical hierarchy.

Like I said a few weeks back, aesthetically, I prefer Corea to Korea, chiefly because the former's use in Latin and the Romance languages and the Catholic bias I have in favor of Southern Europe. Practically, however, it would be a colossal mess to change the spelling. Futhermore, there is no concrete proof that Japan did anything to change the spelling of the country's name.

The campaign is a nationalistic attempt to right what is seen as an historic wrong. It is interesting to note that this movement gained momentum during the World Cup, and event that was supposed to bring the two nations closer together.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Catholic Voting

Here's an interesting statistic from a Los Angeles Times article entitled "God Help the Democrats:"

In 2000, for the first time, white Catholics gave a larger share of their votes to a Republican presidential candidate than did white mainline Protestants.

In my humble analysis, I would say that in the boom times of the 1990s, the ecomomic issues traditionally championed by both Catholics and most Democrats lost in significance to the social and cultural issues traditionally championed by Catholics and most post-1960s Republicans.

I would also advise caution and some critical reading into the word "mainline" used to describe Protestants. "Mainline" Protestants are generally not of the Evangelical persuassion, but are mostly liberal-leaning, upper-income surburbanites.

Not relevant to the above but worthy of mention anyway, the article begins like this:

Millions of Americans do not believe in God. They do not invest moral authority in a transcendent source such as the Bible, or deal in absolutes of right and wrong, or divide the world into simplistic categories of good and evil.

The author proudly includes himself in the above group. I categorically do not.
Cardinal Sin

Manila's Cardinal Sin Retiring; Successor Named

I remember Cardinal Sin as a prominant figure during the "People Power" movement in the Phillipines during the 1980s.

I was struck at his words of farewell:

"As I enter a new chapter in my twilight years, I can say with gratitude that I have given my very best to God and country."

"Please remember me kindly," the cardinal said, and asked pardon from those he "might have led astray or hurt."

Monday, September 15, 2003


Pope Sends Condolences for Typhoon Victims in Korea

The text of the telegram, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano at the request of the Pope, read: "Deeply saddened by the news of the great loss of life caused by the typhoon that struck South Korea, the Holy Father prays for the victims and their families."

May we also keep His Holiness the Pope in our prayers, on this, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Saturday, September 13, 2003


The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

I won't attempt a review of this book I just finished. It's the third I've read by Chesterton, the others being Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, and the first piece of fiction. My appreciation for him is growing.

The quote on the back of the cover, by novelist Kingsley Amis, does much to summarize the book:

...not quite a political bad dream, nor a metaphysical thriller, nor a cosmic joke in the form of a spy novel, but it has something of all three...

The novel tells the tale of a poet-detective trying to infiltrate the "Central Anarchist Council," which is not all that it seems to be. In fact, nothing is all that it seems to be in this novel that deals with the questions of order and chaos, of theodicy, and of free will. In fact, once you finish the novel and think you have it all figured out, reading the note at the end (written a day before the author's death) will show you how completely wrong your understanding was for not really reading the two-word subtitle.

A few parts really caught my attention. At the beginning, the protagonist, a self-described "poet of law, poet of order," counters a poet-anarchist's assertion that "an artist is identical with an anarchist" by saying:

...what is there poetical about being in revolt? You might as well say that it is poetical to be sea-sick. Being sick is being in revolt. Both being sick and being rebellious may be the wholesome thing on certain desperate occasions; but I'm hanged if I can see why they are poetical. Revolt in the abstract is - revolting. It's mere vomiting.

On another occasion, our heroes are pursued by a mob of presumed anarchists presumed to be from the lower classes. A character counters:

You've got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists, as you see from the barons' war.

Chesterton is usually decribed as a conservative, and that he is, just not in the sense that the word is used in modern American politics. He was a Quixote, a knight of a bygone era of chivalry and honor. He was strictly orthodox, and like all orthodoxy, radically opposed to the false god named "progress." He stood for true human liberation as only the orthodox truly can.
Saint John Gabriel Perboyre

A great saint and martyr whom I just learned about is Saint John Gabriel Perboyre, or Jean-Gabriel Perboyre (1802-1840), whose memorial was September 11th.

He was a missionary to China. With youthful innocence, he described himself in a letter home as a curious sight: “my head shaved, a long pig-tail, stammering my new languages, eating with chopsticks.” He died by strangulation, tied to a cross. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 2, 1996. No masses in his honor were permitted on that day in China.

May he continue to pray for the conversion of China.

A prayer of Saint John Gabiel:

O my Divine Savior,
Transform me into Yourself.
May my hands be the hands of Jesus.
Grant that every faculty of my body
May serve only to glorify You.

Above all,
Transform my soul and all its powers
So that my memory, will and affection
May be the memory, will and affections
Of Jesus.

I pray You
To destroy in me all that is not of You.
Grant that I may live but in You, by You and for You,
So that I may truly say, with Saint Paul,
"I live - now not I - But Christ lives in me."
Saint John Chysostom

Today (Septemper 13th), is the memorial of one of my favorite saints, Saint John Chrysostom (d. 407), whom I discovered before becoming Catholic while reading about the Eastern Orthodox Church (he is also a great saint of the East). Chrysostom in Greek means "golden-mouthed."

He was uncompromising, both in moral and social teaching. The men of his diocese were unhappy to hear that they were held to the same standards of chastity and fidelity as women and the rich were unhappy to hear that private property reulted from the Fall.

Prayer to Saint John Chrysostom:

Dear Saint John, your oratorical gifts inspired thousands and earned you the name "golden-mouthed." Continue to inspire Christians through your writings and grant us a rebirth of Christian preaching for the spiritual renewal of the Church. Obtain from God preachers like yourself who, animated by the Holy Spirit, deserve to be called other Christs and forcefully preach the Good News. Amen.
9/11 in Korea

I realize that I missed posting on the anniversary of the atrocities of September 11, 2001, but let me offer a few thoughts now.

Being in Korea, far from home, on that tragic day, gave me insights not into terror, the nature of Evil, nor the resiliency of the American people, but rather into some disturbing characteristics of the Korean people.

Of the more than 100 students I had at the time, only one offered any kind of condolences on September 12th. One would think that knowing that I was from New York State, more that one might ask about the safety of my family and friends. I was extremely disappointed.

A few days later on Sunday at a Korean Anglican church I was attending at the time, I was treated to an anti-American sermon from a bearded guest priest complete with quotes from none other than Noam Chomsky (nappeun nom Chomsky, for a pun only Korean speakers will understand). His essential point was that America was to blame. After Mass, the priest's son derided the U.S. soldiers that occasionally come into town. He specifically joked about the black soldiers. The boy's father, the Chomsky-quoting priest, went so far as to visciously mock the "Black is Beautiful" slogan, effectively saying, "How could black possibly be beautiful?"

[This story has a happy end; this was one of the many experiences in that church that helped me finally to leave Anglicanism behind and join the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church that Christ Himself established.]

Apparently I was not alone in having such feelings here in Korea. Donald MacIntyre. in an article entitled, "Seoul Searching: Pointing the Finger" in the Sepetmber 21st edition of, says:

There has been little expression of popular sympathy here, not many spontaneous gestures, and few wreaths laid at the U.S. embassy in Seoul.

He goes on to show how many Koreans and the Korean media were "pointing the finger" and saying, as that radical Anglican priest had said, that America was to blame. MacIntyre responds to this kind of thinking by saying:

Suggesting the U.S. should take its share of the blame is akin to telling a rape victim she had it coming to her because she was wearing a provocative skirt. I remember right after the attacks a group of Palestinians laid a wreath outside the U.S. embassy in Israel. Two days earlier they had been demonstrating against U.S. policy outside the same embassy. The gesture shows they understood the difference between politics and mass murder. At the risk of sounding arrogant, maybe some Koreans don't see the big picture here -- we are all Americans, and we could all be victims.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Typhoon Maemi

This is my fifth attempt to make this post, as we've already lost electricity four times in the past hour. The Korean peninsula is currently being battered by Typhoon Maemi.

May the Patrons of Safety from Storms; Saints Agrippina, Barbara, Catald, Christopher, Erasmus, Florian, Gratus of Aosta, Jodocus, Scholastica, Thomas Aquinas, Urban of Langres, Vitus, Walburga, and Our Lady of Zapopan; the Patrons of Korea, Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Martyrs of Korea, Saints of the Universal Church; and all who read this; pray for the Korean peninsula in this, her hour of need.

Maemi, by the way, means "grasshopper" if I'm not mistaken. Typhoons used to be given Western names, as are hurricanes in the Western hemisphere. A few years ago the system changed in East Asia. Each country submitted a number of names taken from the local flora and fauna to be used for future typhoons. "Maemi" was submitted by none other than North Korea.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

I just had the immense joy of listening to Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli. If we imagine that the least in Heaven is far greater than the best on Earth, to get an idea of how beautiful Heaven must be (or at least sound) listen to this.

I found Palestrina, described as the "the greatest composer of liturgical music of all time", for the first time in a very unlikely place, John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row. The composers Bach, Palestrina, and Buxtehude (of whom I've been able to find very little) were favorites of Doc, that most pagan and animalistic, but thoroughly likeable, of characters.
The West and Christianity

A bit of truth from R. Albert Mohler, Jr., in an article entitled "Standing Together, Standing Apart" from a recnt issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity:

We must not claim that Christianity is the property of Western civilization, but we do acknowledge that Western civilization, such as it is or was, is the product of Christianity and of Christians.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity recently published an excellent article on the man, entitled"The Last Prophet" by Ian Hunter.

While he was popular (and useful) in the West during the Cold War, his attacks on the spiritual emptiness and consumerism of the West have left him virtually forgotten both in the West istself and in market-crazy Russia. A very sad situation.
Ancestral Rites

Yesterday was Chuseok here in Korea, a holiday in which one's ancestors are honored in a ritual caled the chesa. This ancestral rite includes the preparation of an elabortate traditional meal for the spirits of the departed followed by two deep bows (keun cheol) to the ground. This ritual is Confucian in origin.

The chesa is permitted by Catholics but forbidden by Protestants. Interestingly, it used to be the other way around. Nowadays, this situation can cause quite a deal of friction in families, especially when non-Christian parents have Christian sons or daughters-in-law (It's a strictly patrilineal affair).

While I have more intuitive sympathy for the current Protestant position banning the chesa, as it is allowed by the Catholic Church, I submit to her authortative teaching on the subject and have participated enthusiastically in the ritual at my in-laws' house. I took it as an opportunity to pray for the souls of the departed as well as for the conversion of the whole family.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Three Million Souls!

3 million have died in Africa's Great Lakes, Italian agency reports.

Where have the "antiwar" protesters been for this?
Playing Indian

For four years now, the first reading of my English 102 class has been "Native Americans" by Jamake Highwater from the Mosaic 2 Reading textbook. This article has increasingly annoyed me over the years, with its stereotypical depiction of American Indian beliefs and its routinely politically correct anti-Western stance. I remember his writing being very popular while I was at the university, especially among the Joseph Campbell crowd. Therefore, it was with much joy that I heard that Jamake Highwater was a complete fraud. The Biographical Note of the Guide to the Jamake Highwater Papers says this about Mr. Highwater:

The 1969 takeover of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay by members of the American Indian Movement, and Highwater's visit in 1970 to a Pueblo Indian historic site caused him to begin to think seriously about issues pertaining to American Indians. Information he apparently received from an affidavit by his adoptive mother in 1974 led him to conclude that one or both of his biological parents had indeed had "Indian blood," as he had previously believed, and that his birth name had been Jamake Highwater.

Indian activist Hank Adams did much to expose the fraud of Jamake Highwater in his Open Letter To The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post In the Form of a Last Chapter on Jamake Highwater, written as a Letter to the Contents of Box 34 in the Jamake Highwater Papers of the Manuscripts & Archives Division of the New York Public Library. Another interesting reaction is presented on the At Wanderer's Well ~ A Magazine of Literature and Opinions website in an essay entitled Jack Marks is Dead, Oh Well.

Jamake Highwater was exposed in the early nineties, yet his writing appears in my textbook, which was published in 2002. Why was this fraud allowed to persist? The answer is because what he writes is completly in line with the politically correct updated ideal of the Indian as Rousseau's "Noble Savage." Highwater also repeats all of the tired anti-Western arguments that have been so popular in the Western world since the so-called Enlightenment.

Highwater's case reminds me of a few other literary frauds invloviong Indians:

*The Education of Little Tree by White Supremecist Forrest Carter.

*All of the works of Carlos Castaneda.

*Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux by John Gneisenau Neihardt. This is not a complete fraud, but fails to tell the whole story of Black Elk and how he became a Catholic catechist for his people. From a site called Native Sprituality - Black Elk we read:

While Black Elk fully accepted the Catholic faith, he believed that many of the old ways had come from God. He often compared his people to the Israelites who waited for Christ. He said, "God prepared us before the missionary came. Our ancestors used the pipe to know God. That's a foundation! But from the old country came Christ from heaven -- a wonderful thing -- the Son of God. And the Indian cares about this."

This is pure Catholic doctrine, alluding to the fact that the Holy Spirit speaks to all peoples and that God gives all men the necessary grace for Salvation, even those who have never heard the name of Christ.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Religion Affiliation of My Students

I ask my students to provide me with their religious affiliation at the begining of each semester. Here are the results for this semester:

132 (100%) Total

84 (71.2%) None
25 (19.9%) Protestant
12 (9.1%) Catholic
11 (8.3%) Buddhist

NOTE: Many students mistakenly use the word "Christian" when they mean "Protestant." Even many Catholics will say, "I'm a Catholic, not a Christian."

I have been unable to find any reliable statistics about religious affiliation in Korea, not even from and its page about Korea, but I've seen the following statistics in a number of places:

25%-35% Christian (including Catholics, I presume)
5%-10% (of the total) Catholic
20-25% Buddhist
50-56% None

Koreans don't have to worry about the injuction against Laodicea in Revelation 3:16: "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth." (RSV). Koreans are definitely not lukewarm. They are either very hot or very cold. They are at the same time one of the most religious nations and one of the most irreligious. The Christians and, to a lesser extent, the Buddhists, are very fervent in their beliefs. Those without religion seem to have no need whatsoever for spirtual fulfillment in their lives, outside of certain ancestral rites.

The relatively small percentage of Buddhists might be of surprise, given that Korea is an East Asian country. Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the first millenium A.D., but met with suppression in the second millenium, during the Choseon Dynasty (1392-1910), which adopted neo-Confucianism as its goiverning ethos. The renunciation practiced in Buddhism was seen as a threat. Now, if you go to a Buddhist temple, the only believers you usually see are middle-aged women.

The section on Religion from The Journal of Hamel and Korea has some interesting observations about religion in 17th Century Korea from a first-hand Dutch observer, many of which hold true for today.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Man Who Killed Abortion Doctor Executed

For full story, click here.

I'm reminded of the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison's reaction to the actions of John Brown at Harper's Ferry. While Garrison questioned the morality of the violence Brown used, he recognized that the injustice of the slave system was the real root of the violence.

cf. On the Death of John Brown.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Willa Cather

I just finished reading Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. It is the simple, yet profound, story, told in vignettes, of the first vicar apostolate, then bishop, then archbishop of New Mexico, from the time shortly after the Mexican American War to his death in 1888, and of his friend and fellow Frenchman who served as his vicar and then became the first bishop of Colorado. Several historical personages make cameo appearances, such as Kit Carson and Manuelito of the Navajos. The novel is an intriguing mixture of spiritual biography and Wild West yarn.

Willa Cather and Flannery O’Connor have done much to undo the damage done to my opinion of women writers, which was caused by being forced to read the likes of Virginia Wolff, Silvia Plath, and Alice Walker at an impressionable age. In Cather and O’Connor, we have two very different women who chose to write about God and humanity, not about the feelings of anger they have at not being born men. O’Connor is much darker and deeper, reflecting the tradition of the Southern Gothic and her experience of being Catholic in the overwhelmingly Protestant South. Cather perhaps reflects the Nebraska she grew up in; her narrative is encompassing and gently beautiful.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

What is Truth?

Anybody who really wants to follow Truth and thinks that Truth ought to be followed and adhered to once known is never going to reject the Catholic Faith for the obvious reason that it's true.

Karl Keating on the August 26, 2003 program Catholic Answers Live Q & A Forum (40:21 to 40:32).

Arrogant? It would be, if the statement weren't true.

Most people would probably object to the word “never” more than the words “Catholic Faith.” This is to be expected in these relativistic times, when the only absolute value is that there are no absolute values. Substitute the word “Islam” or “Communism” and most people would find the statement equally offensive.

There are, however, those who would become incensed upon reading the word "Catholic," so maligned is it by our modern liberal press and entertainment industry (are they really two separate entities?) and the centuries of subtle and not-so-subtle anti-Catholicism in Northern Europe and North America since the Reformation.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII has received a lot of bad press in recent years for his alleged support of Nazi Germany. This politically-motivated character assassination perhaps reached its pinnacle in a book called Hitler's Pope by author John Cornwell.

A recent article entitled "New Look at Pius XII's Views of Nazis" in the New York Times at least attempts to set the record straight. Pope Puis XII is quoted as calling Hitler "a fundamentally wicked person" and "an untrustworthy scoundrel" and saying that the Church "at times felt powerless and isolated in its daily struggle against all sorts of political excesses from the Bolsheviks to the new pagans arising among the young Aryan generations."