Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.

Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Growing up in 90% Catholic Buffalo, I noticed that statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary could be easily found in working-class neighborhoods and suburbs but never in upper-class areas. In The Banners: Why are rich people afraid of the Virgin Mary?, author Peggy Noonan, never afraid to write candidly about religion, explains why.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Kristof on North Korea

Nicholas D. Kristof, on North Korea, from The Pain of Good Intentions:
    Conservatives, particularly evangelical Christians, have taken the lead in trying to help North Koreans. They are among the few people focusing on human rights in North Korea, and they have offered creative ideas, like dropping radios into North Korea (ordinary North Korean radios are locked into propaganda stations)....

    It's great that conservatives are paying attention to the North Koreans, and I wish liberals showed equal compassion for them. But well-meaning Americans often overdose on moral clarity and end up creating messes, like Iraq, or hurting those they aim to help: the liberals' anti-sweatshop campaign (which reduces opportunities for the poor) and the conservatives' support for Cuban sanctions (which seem to keep Castro in power) are both examples. Heaven preserve the world's desperate people from well-intended Americans.

Friday, December 26, 2003

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S ! ! !

We made it safely to my parents' and had a wonderful Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

"I'll be home for Christmas"

My wife, daughter, and I are leaving Korea tomorrow to spend Christmas and the next seven weeks with my family in Chico, California. It will be six-month-old Joy's first meeting with her paternal grandparents.

I may not be blogging as frequently as I do now.

Please pray for safe flights for us on December 22nd (21st US time)!
Pro-life Future

In a posting yesterday, I included these words from Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh:
    "Just as we wonder how it had been possible for people to keep human beings as slaves, as chattel, so future generations will look back and wonder how we could so cavalierly kill our unborn children."

Well, according to a recent article (Pro-lifers "out-reproducing pro-aborts" three to one), those "future generations" might be being born now. From the cited article:
    "On average, pro-lifers are having three children, while pro-abortion persons are only having one. In one generation, America would be overwhelmingly pro-life, assuming that the children of pro-lifers remain pro-life themselves. "

And from the same article, an encouraging statistic that this pro-life future may be sooner at hand than thought:
    "[Seventy-two] percent of teenagers are of the opinion that abortion is morally wrong"

I've often found it strange that groups that call themselves "progressives" tend to favor abortion. Obviously, abortion is part of the selfish, consumer-driven, destructive, throw-away culture that "progressives" tend to oppose. I believe that the main reason they do this is that they have a faulty notion of history that equates the new with the good. This view of history is derived from Marxism, which in turn is derived from a materialistic, evolutionary view of biology transposed ontosociology.

Thus, these "progressives" see legally and morally sanctioned abortion as something new and therefore intrinsically good. Of course, abortion has been with us from the beginning of history, but its acceptance is something altogether new. These same "progressives" surely view slavery as part of the old order that was overthrown by "progressive" ideals. However, the chattel slavery we knew in the United States was itself something new, a "development" that occured after the colonization of the New World. The enslavement and dehuminization of millions of Africans was progress.

A correct view of history is not one in which our human society inevitably "progresses" or evolves toward greater freedom and equality. The true view of history is that of a constant struggle between good and evil that takes new forms in every succeeding generation. One hundred and fifty years ago, the great evil in the United States was slavery; today it is abortion.

Information Blackhole

For N. Korean Regime, No News Is Good News

Excellent article on how the North Korean regime keeps its people ignorant

Saturday, December 20, 2003

2004 Elections

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, from Bishop Wuerl on Faithful Citizenship in 2004 Election (Part 2): Tells What Top Political Issues Catholics Should Consider:
    Today, the primary issue that our nation faces is the question of who has authority over human life. For millennia we have always understood that human life is a gift from God. We are stewards of that gift, not sovereigns over it.

    Now there is an entirely different viewpoint that enjoys enormous media support. This view maintains that we, human beings, are the true sovereigns of human life and that we can simply take a human life whenever we believe a person is burdensome or inconvenient to us.

    Abortion in the United States is the single most egregious affront to the basic dignity of life. With the death toll well over 40 million, it stands alongside slavery and genocide as shameful examples of legal but immoral activities.

    One hundred years from now I believe people will look back on this generation and wonder how it was possible that we deluded ourselves into thinking -- and then enshrining in the law of the land -- the principle that the right to life is arbitrary and is protected only for those whose lives are deemed worthy. History will not look kindly upon a society that embraced the concept that if a person's life is inconvenient to you, you can simply kill him or her.

    Just as we wonder how it had been possible for people to keep human beings as slaves, as chattel, so future generations will look back and wonder how we could so cavalierly kill our unborn children.

    In choosing a candidate the primary issue should be whether the candidate recognizes and supports human life as the sovereign gift of God and responds accordingly.
Vonnegut on Extended Families

This wonderful piece was posted on the Cet -- Caelum et Terra forum:
    Kurt Vonnegut (1999):

    "OK, now let's have some fun. Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about women. Freud said he didn't know what women wanted. I know what women want. They want a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? The want to talk about everything.

    What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn't get so mad at them.

    Why are so many people getting divorced today? It's because most of us don't have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to.

    A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys.

    But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it's a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it's a man.

    When a couple has an argument, they may think it's about money or power or sex, or how to raise the kids, or whatever. What they're really saying to each other, though, without realizing it, is this:

    'You are not enough people!'

    I met a man in Nigeria one time, an Ibo who had six hundred relatives he knew quite well. His wife had just had a baby, the best possible news in any extended family.

    They were going to take it to meet all its relatives, Ibos of all ages and sizes and shapes. It would even meet other babies, cousins not much older than it was.

    Everybody who was big enough and steady enough was going to get to hold it, cuddle it, gurgle to it, and say how pretty it was, or how handsome.

    Wouldn't you have loved to be that baby?"

From Vatican Distances Itself From Comment:
    VATICAN CITY - A cardinal who rebuked the United States for treating Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) "like a cow" after his capture was expressing his personal opinion and not necessarily the view of Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II, a senior Vatican (news - web sites) official said Friday.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Freedom of Religion

Here's the Amerian position on the French headscarf issue, as voiced by US Ambassador John Hanford in US Voices Misgivings on Chirac's Headscarves Stand:

    "A fundamental principle of religious freedom that we work for in many countries of the world, including on this very issue of headscarves, is that all persons should be able to practice their religion and their beliefs peacefully without government interference as long as they are doing so without provocation and intimidation of others in the society."

    "Where people are peacefully practicing their faith, is it really necessary to be outlawing their manifestation of their own faith? That's the sort of basis (upon) which we will be discussing this."
Hitler and the Spanish Civil War

From page 299 of The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas"
    [I]n 1941 Hitler said: 'If there had not been the danger of the Red Peril's overwhelming Europe, I'd not have intervened in the revolution in Spain. The Church would have been detroyed,' he added with relish.

That short statement says a lot about Hitler, the Spanish Republicans, the Spanish Nationalists, and the Church and her enemies.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Inforced Secularism

There is a lot of knee-jerk French-bashing out there and I do not intend to lend it another voice. But this article, Ignoring warnings, Chirac backs ban on Islamic headscarf, cries out for commentary. Here are some quotes from the French president:
    "The Islamic veil -- whatever name we give it -- the kippa and a cross that is of plainly excessive dimensions: these have no place in the precincts of state schools. State schools will remain secular. For that a law is necessary."

    "Secularism is one of the great conquests of the republic. It is an element crucial to our social peace and national cohesion. We cannot let it weaken. We must work to reinforce it."

The United States and France are the two great examples of the principles of the Enlightenment put into practice in a nation-state. The two countries are so very similar yet so radically different. The two countries are nearly alone in the world in basing citizenship not on race but on birth. Both are held up as examples of democracy. Both were born from a revolution. The more conservative American Revolution allowed for freedom of religion; the radical French revolution called for freedom from religion.

A look at the lasting effects of the two revoltions is telling: The American Revolution has resulted in the longest-lasting government on earth; the French Revolution resulted in the Reign of Terror, Napoleon, 1848, etc.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs for a country whose sons evangelized the world in the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Stephen Cardinal Kim on the Korean Fundraising Scandal

Cardinal Calls for Confessions from Political Leaders
Humiliation of Saddam

Some voices on the conservative side, such as, have joined against the humiliation of Saddam Hussein. Here's an excellent paragraph from an article entitled WILL SADDAM CUT A DEAL? The ritual humiliation of the Iraqi dictator bodes ill for the peace of the region by Justin Raimondo, which defended Cardinal Renato Martino's defense of the former Iraqi dictator's human dignity (see Cardinal Says U.S. Treated Saddam 'Like a Cow':

    Thank the gods for the Vatican, the voice of reason and ethical clarity in world that is not merely morally adrift, but positively Satanic. We may live in a pagan age, where power is the chief god in the American pantheon, but there are some who still uphold the old ways of our Christian forefathers, who afforded dignity and humanity to defeated enemies. It's the right thing to do, as well as a smart strategy. But that is not the course we are taking in Iraq, where vulgar chest-beating and Israeli-style (i.e. vicious) tactics are the order of the day.


An extrememly important point to remember from The tide is turning and we are unprepared:
    Islam is much like Christianity: its spectrum is very broad, and many forms of it encourage moderation and toleration. But there are extremes which have no parallel in Christianity, nor even in communism or Nazism: the suicide bomber who believes that paradise awaits those who die in the act of the killing the infidel is a creature for whom the European mind, and European institutions have been wholly unprepared.

The article's conclusion:
    The stark reality, palatable or otherwise, is that Islam is now the rising church of England.

What Really Happened

True Catholic Heroes

Read this excellent account of the media's distortion of the "pedophile priest" crisis and the hidden agenda behind it, bith written by Father Robert J. Carr.
Howard Dean

Howard Dean seems to be a rather independant Democrat. According to Ted Rall's piece, HOWARD DEAN FOR PRESIDENT, Dr. Dean has some innovative ideas, such as class-, not race-based affirmative action. Furthermore, he is not, unlike most of his party, a gun-grabber; that is, he does not support excising the 2nd Amendment from our Constitution. According to Howard the Hawk, Dr. Dean is also not in favor of emasculating the US military.

I could almost consider voting for Dean, if it were not for the fact that, given his pro-abortion stance (see Howard Dean on Abortion), TO DO SO WOULD BE A MORTAL SIN!

To give him credit, at least he calls it abortion on his website, avoiding diversionary phrases like "a woman's right to choose" or just "choice." (Who's against choice in America?) He also uses the term "partial birth abortion," not giving in to the insane argument that that "procedure" is justifiable because it is not called by that name in the medical establishment. (That would be like saying that because Hitler did not use the term "genocide," what he did was okey-dokey.)

If his stance on abortion were not enough, the good doctor is also in favor of the Right (or Duty) to Die (see Howard Dean Attacks Bush Decision to Save Terri Schiavo's Life (Lieberman Supports terri)[sic].
White Rose Student Martyrs

Student Martyrs Under Nazism Seen as Models for World Youth Day

For more information about these "Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic students of Munich who, in 1942, fought to defend the dignity of man and religion in face of Nazism," read The White Rose.
Converts to Catholicism

In this excellent interview, Struggles of Today's Converts to Catholicism, Father Charles Connor mentions three points that tended to bring converts to the Catholic Faith in the 19th Century:

1. unity and completeness of doctrine,
2. the real presence of Our Lord in the sacrament, and
3. the doctrine of papal supremacy.

These three also brought me in. The last one, and by extension the doctrine of papal infallibility, was my final stumbling block, but having overcome it, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Father Connor describes the situation of converts today, whom he describes as "even more remarkable" than those of the 19th Century:

    Today the potential convert witnesses the Church in disarray, including theological variation from Church doctrine, dissent from within, generations of Catholics who have lost their way morally, etc.

    Therefore, it is all the most poignant when one enters the modern day Catholic Church. It's still the one sure foundation, still the Church established by Christ, still the ecclesial body where the fullness of truth may be found, but subject nonetheless to the turmoil that has followed every general council in Church history.

As someone new to the Catholic Faith, I have always found it poignant to meet Catholics whose familes have been Catholic since time immemorial but who seem to lack an understanding of the completeness and fullness of their Church. Many converts share anecdotes of Catholics reacting to their desire to convert with sheer bewilderment, as if to say, "Why on earth would you want to become Catholic?"
Korean Reunification

On a recent roadtrip to the northern part of South Korea, very close to the most heavily fortified border on earth, I couldn't find the De-militarized Zone on my road map even though it was only three kilometers away. Why? The answer is that Koreans are scandalized by the division of their country. Most maps do not depict the border that divides the two states. The weather forecasts on the news show the temperatures for cities in the North as if South Koreansa were able to visit them at will.

Koreans will insist that there most deeply-held desire is for reunification. Division, they will say, was forced on them by the americans and the Russians.

But what is the position of the government of the Republic of Korea?

South Korean foreign minister, Yoon Young Kwan, quoted in Seoul Has Big Plans for North Korea (Nightmares, Too):

    We South Koreans do not want abrupt change. We are not ready to digest sudden change in the political situation in North Korea.

Why? Because reunification would be expensive. As a result, the millions of North Koreans are doomed to continue starving and living in a nightmare state because their "brothers" in the South are unwilling to have their ecomony affected.
Kim Jong Il Next?

For N. Korea's Kim, the Arrest of Hussein Sends an Ominous Signal: Pyongyang may assume it's a U.S. target, but Bush continues to back talks on nuclear arms.

Sin-U Nam, a prolific critic of the North Korean regime:
    "I must remind you that there is another evil dictator in North Korea who is much worse than Saddam Hussein. His name is Kim Jong Il…. He has to be tried and captured NOW!!"

It would be wonderful to see Kim Jong Il in the docks accounting for his crimes against the people of North Korea. For an account of his many crimes, see The Chosun Journal - North Korea Human Rights.
Bush is Right

Commandment the First: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

A little while back, President Bush was asked in a press conferenece if he believed that Muslims worship the same God as Chistians and Jews. He answered yes, to the wrath of many Evangelicals, 79% of whom (according to a poll entitled Evangelical Views of Islam), disagree with the idea that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God.

Bush's disgreement with his fellow Evangelicals was in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church, as defined in the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH:

    The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

But We're Not That Bad

The current local Korean scandal involves accusations that the current president and his opponent in the last election both took illegal donations from corporations.

From Roh renews his pledge to quit in funds scandal:

[South Korean President] Roh said he would quit if it were found that his camp had received more than 10 per cent of the illegal donations received by Lee Hoi-chang, the candidate he defeated in the December 2002 election.

So Roh isn't claiming innocence; he's just saying that his side was not as bad as the other side.
A Valid Point

From Cardinal Says U.S. Treated Saddam 'Like a Cow':

"I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures," [Cardinal Renato Martino] said. "Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite all the heavy blame he bears, I had a sense of compassion for him."

Katolik Shinja's thoughts: The U.S. Military could have been a bit more sensitive in the footage it first chose to show to a global audience. The footage of Saddam Hussein answering questions in no way conveyed the same pitiable image as did the footage of the medical examination.

The cardinal goes on to say:

"It's true that we should be happy that this (arrest) has come about because it is the watershed that was necessary... we hope that this will not have worse and other serious consequences, but it is not the total solution to the problems of the Middle East"

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The Christian Art at Saddam's Hideout

I really don't know what to make of the following tantalizing description of Saddam's hideout, from Saddam Tried to Negotiate with U.S. Captors:

Pinned to the outside wall of the hut was a cardboard box depicting biblical scenes such as the Last Supper and the Madonna and child with the English inscription "God bless our home."

Inside the bedroom was a 2003 calendar in Arabic with a colorful depiction of Noah's Ark.

Soldiers were surprised at the Christian decorations...
Lauren Hill

Her diatribe against the Vatican is now well-known. From U.S. singer stuns Vatican audience by urging church to 'repent':

According to Italian news agencies, she said the biggest mistake people make is to "worship people when we need to be praying to God." She said, "I don't believe in representatives of God on earth, I believe only in God. Human beings sin, and they are responsible for corruption. Therefore, repent, repent."

The above sounds to me like a typical arrogant rant based on a misunformed and misguided understanding of the Church, her hierarchy, and the scandals of 2002. Miss Hill seemes to think heself a prophetess.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Two Stories from the Vatican

Singer Lauryn Hill Blasts Church at Vatican Concert

"I did not come here to celebrate the birth of Christ with you but to ask you why you are not in mourning for his death inside this place."

and, not related to the above...
Italy Boosts Vatican Security After Threat Warning

Sunday, December 14, 2003

"Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got Him."

It's been about an hour since Paul Bremer used the above words to began the press conferenece announcing the capture of Saddam Hussein. For some time CNN had been reporting a possible capture of Saddam Hussein and the BBC had already confirmed it. I was eagerly awaiting the scheduled new conference and when it finally began, I laughed and felt joy at the news and especially at the words Mr. Bremer used to announce it.

Later, when the above words were replayed, my wife, who is Korean, made a telling comment; "If he had used prettier words," she said, "there wouldn't be so much anti-Americanism in the world." She had a valid point. The exuding confidence, pride, and bravado of statements like Mr. Bremer's are, rightly or wrongly, seen as nothing other than sheer arrogance and hubris by non-Americans. Such expressions and sentiments are essentially American, however, and, for better or worse, we wouldn't be who we are as a people without them.

Seeing Saddam Hussein on the video one could feel nothing but pity, no matter how heinous his crimes. While he awaits justice and we do as well, let us not forget Our Blessed Savior's injunctions to love our enemies and pray for them.

As an aside, the 24-hour Korean news channel YTN, Korea's answer to CNN, the background display for the coverage of this news read "Saddam Caprted in Hometown." I found it interesting that the word "hometown" (Korean gohyang) was included. While this is an interesting and telling part of the story, it is my no means essential. However, Koreans place a great deal of importance on the nostalgic ideal of the "hometown" and, as a once predominantly Buddhist nation, the ideas of fate, destiny, and even irony are irrestible to them.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Time Zone

I just changed my settings to Korea time so that my posts will stop appearing as having been written in the past.
Beautiful Catholic Churches of East Asia

Below are links to the most beautiful Catholic churches I have visited in East Asia:

Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea
Gyesan-dong Cathedral in Daegu, South Korea
Jungdong Cathedral in Gongju, South Korea
World Peace Memorial Cathedral in Hiroshima, Japan
Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, Japan
Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, Japan
Lao Xi Kai Church Tianjin, China
Santa Cruz Church in Bangkok, Thailand
St. Francis Xavier Church in Melaka (Malacca), Malaysia
St. Paul's Church (in ruins) in Melaka (Malacca), Malaysia
Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam
Sacrament of Reconciliation

The Catholic Church in Korea requires the laity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least twice per year, once during Advent and once during Lent. We give a slip of paper to the priest in the confessional and are recording in the parish logs as having fulfilled one of our duties as parishoners. I'm not sure if anything like this is done in the United States or anywhere else in the Catholic World. It might be seen in some quarters as an infringement on freedom or evenconscience, but as for me, I'm glad the Church exerts her authority in this way.
News from the North

S. Korean Missionary Gets 9-Year Jail Sentence in China

Please pray for Rev. Choi Bong-il, who was helping North Korean refugees.

N.K.'s Infant Mortality 11 times Higher than S. Korea: UNICEF

Please pray for the suffering children of North Korea.
Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Empress of the Americas, which is not on the calender here in Korea, but nonetheless a date I like to remember. I twice visited the Basilicas of Guadalupe, first in 1991 while backpacking and again in 2000 on my honeymoon, both times before I was a Catholic. I like to think that the Virgin of Guadalupe had something to do with my coming into the Catholic Church.

Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

God of power and mercy, you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. May her prayers help all men and women to accept each other as brothers and sisters. Through your justice present in our hearts, may your peace reign in the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

An Episode from the Spanish Civl War

From The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas:

The parish priest of Torrijos, Don Libero Gonzalez Nonvela... told militiamen who took him prisoner, 'I want to suffer for Christ.' 'Oh you do,' they answered, 'then yu shall die as Chirst did.' They stripped him and scourged him mercilessly. Next, they fastened a beam of wood on their victim's back, gave him vinegar to drink, and crowned him with thorns. 'Blaspheme and we will forgive you,' said the leader of the militia. 'It is I who forgive and bless you,' replied the priest. They militiamen discussed how they should kill him. Some wished to nail him to a cross, but in the end they simply shot him. His last request was to be shot facing his tormentors so that he might die blessing them (pp. 229-230).

This account does not tell the whole story of the Spanish Civil War; it is too great for that. There were, of course, atrocities on the Nationalist side as well.

Interestingly, a common practice of the Nationalists was to have priests on hand to offer last sacraments to victims during mass executions. The author of the book fails to understand a point that should be clear to any practicing Catholic who prays for a good and holy death; the following was said by a Fr. Martin Torrent:

Happy is the condemned man, for he is the only one who knows when he must die. He has thus the best chance for putting his soul in order before he dies.

In this article, Here we go again, Pat Buchanan raises a lot of important objections to the interventionist policies of the Bush Administration. It's too bad Buchanan is dismissed by the media as an extremist, thereby silencing one of the few coherent voices in America.
More Korean Blesseds on the Way

Process of Beatification Opens for 124 Korean Martyrs: Paul Yun Ji-Chung and Companions Died in 1791

Korea has indeed produced more than its share of witnesses for the Faith. Today, only about 8% of Koreans are Catholic, but the country has already produced 103 Saints of the Universal Church, the Martyrs of Korea, whose memorial is Septmeber 20th. If I'm not mistaken, this gives Korea the highest number of saints per Catholic capita in the world!

Approximately 16,000 Catholics were martyred here from 1784, when the Faith was introduced, and 1895, when religious freedom was finally introduced. During those dark years, the Catholic Faith was described as an "evil cult that destroyed human relations and traditional moral order."

Interestingly, Protestantism, which now claims about a quarter of the Korean population, did not arrive in Korea until after 1895.
Anti-clericalism Rears Its Ugly Head

This story, Caracas Bishops Condemn Profanation of Images of Virgin Mary: Ch?vez Sympathizers Blamed for Attack, reminds me of the Leftists mobs, described in The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas, whose immediate reaction at the outbreak of the conflict was to burn churches, desecrate holy things, kill priests, and even to rape nuns.
Sanctity of the Family

The first thing that a person finds in life and the last to which he holds out his hand, and the most precious that he possess, even if he does not realize it, is family life.

Blessed Adolph Kolping

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

A Chestertonian Gem

"A dead thing can go with the stream...
but only a living thing can go against it."

G. K. Chesterton
Homosexuality, Natural Law, and Darwinism:
La Hispanidad y la Anglosajonidad

Ten years ago, while an exchange student in Chile, I had a conversation that I haven’t forgotten. My interlocutor was a Chilean and a self-described atheist (whom, curiously, I had seen make the sign of the cross and genuflect upon entering the sanctuary of the historic Iglesia de San Francisco in downtown Santiago and who admitted to having consulted spiritualists and fortune-tellers, reminding me now of something I heard attributed to Boris Yeltsin about atheism and superstition going hand in hand). [Allow me a tangential point about the word “atheism” in Spanish; from what I have observed, the word refers to the rejection of organized religion as much as to the rejection of God, which could be an interesting cross-linguistic semantic point to be considered in the debate between those of us who believe that God is revealed in religion and those who claim themselves to be “spiritual but not religious.”]

This friend and I were discussing homosexuality. My friend’s views were what we in “enlightened” North America would call “homophobic," to say the least. I attempted to play Devil’s Advocate and attempt to soften my friend’s views or at least present an opposing argument by saying that some animals, such as dogs and certain monkeys, practiced homosexuality. Surely, I thought, this was an invincible argument to show that homosexuality was natural. [Something must be said here to defend myself; this was almost ten years before I joined the Catholic Church and I had not yet even begun to question many of the relativistic cultural assumptions I was raised with and educated in.]

My friend’s response to my “logic” was swift, direct, and to the point, and I have never forgotten it: “But human beings are not animals!”

Years later, I now know that my friend was absolutely correct and I was dead wrong. My friend, the atheist, was arguing from a very Catholic understanding of Human Nature and Natural Law and I, the then lukewarm Christian, was arguing from a materialistic Darwinian point of view. I was arguing than Man was essentially an animal; my friend, that Man was a unique creature in God’s creation, endowed by a spiritual soul like the angels and a material body like the animals.

In the evolutionist view of Man (and one does not have to reject Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to reject the materialistic view of Man that resulted from it), the correlation for our Christian concept of the Fall is the Descent of Man from his animals ancestors. Instead of falling from Grace, Man falls from a perfect state of animal creation, where creatures are thought to live in harmony and according to their instinctual and biological needs. As an example of this wordview, I recall Jawaharlal Nehru in a letter to his daughter, Indira Gandhi, extolling the greatness of the Russian Revolution and Socialism by advising her to look to the harmonious lives of ants in the anthill for inspiration for human society. The Christian would look up to God, not down to ants for guidance. The Christian view holds that Man is a little lower than the angels but immensely higher than the animals. The animal world is not one that we should try to emulate.

My friend and were arguing our respective opinions utterly unconscious of the different worldviews from which we were coming from. My friend’s worldview was essential Catholic and classical; mine, more or less perverted over the course of generations by the Reformation, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Darwinism, Marxism, Existentialism, Modernism, and Postmodernism. These intellectual upheavals by no means left the Hispanic world untouched, but they did not reshape it as profoundly as they did the Anglo-Saxon world, causing even Christians to let their secular claims go unchallenged. Perhaps Spain, as the bastion of the Counterreformation (la contrareforma, one of my favorite words from Spanish history) in the 16th Century, and by extension her colonies in the New World, was better able to preserve the Catholic and classical understanding of Man, even among those who later came to reject the Faith.
A Point Worth Considering

From Baghdad Archbishop Says Coalition Forces Must Stay: Otherwise, Iraq Faces Chaos, He Warns:

An eventual withdrawal from Iraq of Americans or allies "would be a great lack of responsibility," as "it would mean going from anarchy to chaos," warns Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman of Baghdad.

"To abandon Iraq to itself would imply to prepare a tragic future for us all," the archbishop said to Missionary Service News Agency on Friday. "It would be a terrible legacy for the West which would be added to the Middle East focus, making everything extremely difficult."

Given the existing situation, the archbishop made an appeal: "If the United Nations handles Iraq's problems with the consensus of the international community, including the Arab countries, then there will be a force recognized by all and it will not be impossible to obtain the solidarity of the majority of the Iraqi population."

The United Nations "on its own would be ineffective; the peace contingents must stay," he concluded.
Greed is Good?

This glorious account of the wonders of underpopulation comes from South Korea's Birth Rate Falls Through the Floor, an article pusblished by

As people's income increases their perception of what counts as the "good life" expands as well.... Which is the true irony of the overblown population crisis. Ehrlich and others who claimed the world would soon face its doom constantly cited the tragedy of the commons problem -- that each individual acting for his own selfish interest in having more children was imposing externalities that were borne by everyone else. Today, however, the opposite is true -- sheer materialistic greed has us limiting the number of children we have so that we can wallow in luxury.

Greed, it turns out, really is good after all.

I doubt Ehrlich or the author of this article had many children; otherwise, they would know that there is very little selfish in having many children. And this wallowing in luxury will soon end when the underpopulated younger generation refuses or is financially unable to take care of or pay taxes to support an "overpopulated" older generation that did not do its duty in replacing itself with many children.
More Troubles Ahead

South Korea's birth rate, at 1.17, is already one of the world's lowest. [See Birth Rate Hits Record Low in South Korea and South Korea's Birth Rate Falls Through the Floor.] The following article suggests the problem will only worsen:

Men More Eager to Get Married Than Women in S. Korea: Survey
"Spiritual But Not Religious"

I seem to have seen the above phrase a lot recently, for example in 'Rumors' about people who say they're 'spiritual but not religious' or the recent book title Spiritual, but Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America by Robert?C.?Fuller.

Here's an interesting paragraph from Spritual tourism:

A typical case study is Alice, a 29-year-old north Londoner who - having achieved remarkable doctrinal synthesis - describes herself as both a Muslim and a Christian. She is "spiritual" but not "religious", and also enjoys a righteous tarot reading now and then. "Pliable, transient and convenient for many," the report concludes, "this bespoke belief system consoles without constraining, cares without condemning."

Muslim and Christian, huh? Gee, if we had had more people like Alice during the Middle Ages, maybe the crusades wouldn't have happened.

I wonder what the Christians of Northern Nigeria, Southern Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan, Ambon or any of the many other islands of Indonesia would think of Alice's "remarkable doctrinal synthesis." For that matter, what would St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, or Pope John Paul II think of Alice's groundbreaking theological discovery?

And what's this about a religion that "consoles without constraining, cares without condemning"? Isn't that what Oprah is for?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Where I am, yesterday was the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Being in East Asia, I received the following prayer by email this morning from a member of the Catholic Information Network (CIN):

Most holy Virgin, who, being predestined to become the Mother of God, was preserved by a singular privilege from original sin and filled with grace, confirmed in grace and enriched with all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, do thou accept, we pray, the homage of our most lively admiration and of our most profound veneration, the expression of our intense and reverent affection.

Beholding in thee a relic of the earthly paradise that was lost to man, purer and more spotless than the snowy splendor of mountain tops bathed in light, in that magnificent act of treading upon the proud head of the infernal serpent, the heavens exulted, earth was filled with joy and hell trembled with fear. With thee came the bright dawn of man's redemption from sin, and when the children of men, having for centuries anxiously scanned the horizon in expectation of a fairer day, raised their heads, they discovered thee on high like a radiant vision of paradise and saluted thee with a cry of holy enthusiam: "Thou art all fair, O Mary, and in thee there is no original stain."

At our feet, O Mary, the muddy torrent of lust did not halt, as it did before thine, that torrent still flows across the world and threatens continually to submerge our souls also. We bear about within us and perceive around us countless deadly incentives that cease not to urge us on to savor the foul pleasures of sensual passion. O good Mother, enfold us under thy mantle, protect us from the snares of the infernal enemy, renew in us our love ofthe angelic virtue, and grant that, by ever keeping vivid in our hearts the reflections of thy heavenly brightness, we may be able one day to sing to thee a hymn of love and glory in the world to come. Amen.
Looks Interesting

Once again, from A conservative blog for peace, I learn of another blog that I need to look into further, The Granola Conservative, a label that was once attached to one of my posts in Two Sleepy Mommies: Katolik Shinja on the roots of granola conservatism.
Britney Spears in the ROK

I never thought I'd post about Britney Spears, but some photos of her wearing the traditional Korean hanbok (close-up, demure, waving) have promted me to do so. I must say, Miss Spears looks much nicer wearing a hanbok than what she normally wears. For a local perspective, read Britney: Yes, THAT Britney.

In a related article, Britney Spears on First Stop of Asia Tour, to my disbelief Miss Spears insists that there was "no lesbian vibe going on" when she infamously kissed Madonna.

Really? I guess it was just done for shock value and for the benefit of all those male fans who indulge in such fantasies.

It has become clear that I should end this post now.
NFP Site in Korean

billings ovulation method
Forgiveness and Han

About a year ago, the day after my wife and I were accepted into the Catholic Church in fact, we attended mass at a Catholic church in my wife’s hometown of Ulsan [For pictures of the church, click here.] The mass was celebrated by a visiting priest, Father Mateo. [Korean Catholics take Latin baptismal names and use them in ecclesial contexts.] He introduced himself as a priest who ministered to foreign guest workers in the nearby city of Busan.

After mass, Father Mateo said that he had some comments to make. He saw me, the sole foreign face in the congregation, and asked where I was from. I answered that I was from America and he asked how long I had lived in Korea. I answered five years, to which he responded, “Oh, shit!” While a bit taken aback from this use of the expletive in the house of God, I attributed it to linguistic ignorance. [The equivalent Korean word, ddong, is by no means a profanity, nor would are the equivalent expressions for “excrement” in other languages I am familiar with, which says much about our Anglo-Saxon concepts of the profane.]

Father Mateo then said to me, “Excuse me while I say a few words to my people.” He began an anti-American harangue whose topic was the then recent acquittal by a US military court of two American servicemen charged with homicide in the deaths of two Korean middle school girls in a traffic accident. [See the following articles for background information: Court Finds US Soldier Not Guilty , A Not Guilty Verdict , Students Continue Anti-US Protests , Time to Leave , Rumsfeld apologizes for Korean girls' deaths .]

My wife and I both felt uncomfortable as Father Mateo rallied the masses, I mean parishioners, into anti-American fervor. She suggested we leave, but I told her we should stay out of politeness. While I disagreed with what he was saying, I supported his right to say it and respected him for saving his political comments for after the mass and not including them in his homily. My wife, perhaps suffering a bit from the stigma attached to Korean women married to foreign men and feeling unjustly singled out in what was our second day in the Catholic Church, remained furious with Farther Mateo.

She related the incident to her father, a non-Catholic, who described it to a coworker, a Catholic, who in turn reported it to higher-ups in the Diocese of Busan. Whatever came of the issue never really concerned me, as I had not been offended at all by the whole incident.

More than a year later, last Sunday, my wife and I attended the same church and were both surprised to see Father Mateo preaching again as a visiting priest. He was there to raise funds for a Catholic center for foreign workers he hoped to establish in Ulsan. My wife was very surprised that I pledged some money to his cause and that after mass I sought out Father Mateo to wish him luck. He shook my hand and commented on the cuteness of our six-month-old and said he hoped to see me again. I doubt very much whether he remembered me or the incident of over a year ago.

My wife later good-naturedly said, “That’s what drives me crazy about you Americans; you forgive so easily!”

This lead me to think about the Korean word han, often cited by Koreans as a uniquely Korean concept that has no English equivalent and which my Korean-English dictionary defined variously as “a grudge,” "a feeling of bitterness," or “righteous indignation.” The idea of han related to Koreans’ thinking that their country’s efforts have been continuously thwarted by foreign aggressors (the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, and Americans) for its purported 5000-year history. There is also personal han, for example the resentment of daughters-in-law against unjust mothers-in-law, or of social inferiors against their superiors (something codified in system of honorifics in the Korean language). I recalled a comment once made to me by a university upperclassman, who said, “We don’t like the current crop of Freshmen; they don’t hate Japan enough.” Thus, the unforgiving resentment and even hatred of han can be seen as a patriotic and personal virtue.

Korea can be forgiven for its han. It has had a harsh history, mainly due to its unlucky geographic location between China and Japan. [Think of poor Poland stuck between Germany and Russia.] Korea can also be forgiven because it does not have the 2000-year history of Christianity that we have been fortunate to have in the West, where forgiveness, a core virtue of that religion, is enshrined to such a degree that even non-believing post-Christians recognize its value. Perhaps as the Christianization of Korea continues, the river of han will give way to the healing waters of forgiveness.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Orthodox Bob Marley

Little known is the fact that Bob Marley was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church near the end of his life and by implication renounced his Rastafarian faith and its belief in the divinity of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I.

Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq, from Rastafari, Bob Marley and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church :

Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people
looked at him. He had a desire to be baptised long ago, but there were people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari . But he came to Church regularly. I remember once while I was conducting the Mass, I looked at Bob and tears were streaming down his face...When he toured Los Angeles and New York and ngland, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the Church because of Bob. Many people think he was baptised because he knew he was dying, but that is not so...he did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptised, he hugged his family and wept, they all wept together for about half an hour.

This bit of information, like so many more, was brought to my attention by the good folks at A conservative blog for peace.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Miracles Do Happen

At least in North Korea they do. Read about them in Miracles of Songun Korea from the KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK. My favorite from the above article was the "grand Gymnastic Display and Artistic Performance 'Arirang' performed by over 100,000 persons that opened at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on April 29, Juche 91 (2002)," which was described as "the acme of human culture." This was only one of the many miracles produced in North Korea in the last nine years when "the Korean people have created a great epic of heroic feats which others would be unable to perform even in centuries."

Saturday, December 06, 2003


From my old stomping ground, Kuala Lumpur, where I attended St. Mary's Cathedral (Anglican), comes this story:

SE Asia's Anglicans Split from U.S. Over Gay Bishop

Friday, December 05, 2003

Subtle Anti-Catholic Bias in Popular Critiques of Islam

Does Islam Need a Luther or a Pope?

The incredible article, which in its four pages gives a remarkably succint explanation of the fundamental differences and similarities between the ecclesiology of Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism, concludes with:

[Islam] has already had its Luther, not to mention its Calvin and its Henry VIII, all rolled into one: his name was Muhammad. What Islam needs is a Pope.

A Wake-up Call

Church doesn't think like Jesus: Survey shows only 9% of Christians have biblical worldview

If that headline causes distress, this detail from the article is alarming:

Among Catholics, less than one-half of 1 percent had a biblical worldview.

A "biblical worldview" was defined as belief in six principles basic to the Christian faith:

1. Christ lived a sinless life.
2. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today.
3. Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned.
4. Satan is real.
5. A Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people.
6. The Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

No Brainer

From AIDS Activists Blast Vatican's Stance on Condoms comes this summary of what the article calls the "Catholic Church's irrational stance":

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said in a message to mark World Aids Day Monday that fidelity, chastity and abstinence were the best ways to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Terrible as this disease is, it would disappear within a generation if people followed the above advice.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Black Slavery Today

"[In Mauritania a]ll masters are Arab. All slaves are black," said Mauritanian anti-slavery activist and former slave-owner Abdel Yessa on NPR: Activist Pressures Mauritania to End Slavery.

From Cannibal Confesses in Shocking Trial:

[The alleged cannibal's] lawyer has pleaded for him to be convicted of "killing on request," a form of illegal euthanasia which carries a maximum five years sentence.

Legal experts say the charge of full murder may not stick given that the video film shows the victim to be willing. The case could reach the Federal Constitutional Court, Arthur Kreuzer of Giessen University's Institute for Criminology said this week.

Culture of Death

In The Culture of Death: Who Will Decide When You Should Die?, author Nat Hentoff, a self-proclaimed "Jewish atheist," accurately describes the slippery slope that leads from "The Right to Die" to "The Duty to Die." As far back in 1986, he presents a consistent life ethic in The Indivisible Fight for Life.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Apostle to the Far East

Today, December 3rd, is the memorial of one of the greatest apostles of all time, St. Francis Xavier, whose journeys to what are now India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, and China did so much to bring Christianity to the Asian continent.

Prayer to Saint Francis Xavier:

Great Saint Francis, well beloved and full of charity, in union with you I reverently adore the Divine Majesty. I give thanks to God for the singular gifts of grace bestowed on you in life and of glory after death, and I beg of you, with all the affection of my heart, by your powerful intercession, obtain for me the grace to live a holy life and die a holy death. I beg you to obtain for me {mention your petition}. But if what I ask is not for the glory of God and for my well-being, obtain for me, I beseech you, what will more certainly attain these ends. Amen.

Prayer by Saint Francis Xavier:

Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that You alone has created the souls of unbelievers, which You have made according to Your Image and Likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Your dishonor many of them are falling into Hell. Remember, O Lord, Your Son Jesus Christ, Who so generously shed His Blood and suffered for them. Do not permit that Your Son, Our Lord, remain unknown by unbelievers, but, with the help of Your Saints and the Church, the Bride of Your Son, remember Your mercy, forget their idolatry and infidelity, and make them know Him, Who You have sent, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, Who is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection, through Whom we have been saved and redeemed, and to Whom is due glory forever. Amen.
Poetess and Nun

Sister Claudia Haein Lee is one of Korea's best-loved poets. Here is one of my favorites:

The Words "I Miss You"

As if for the first time today
These words sounds new.

"I miss you."

On a rainy day
they sound like a cello
and on a clear day
they sound like a piano.
It is your voice.

Whenever I hear the words,
they become a song.
And though I have heared the words all my life.
They still beat within my heart.

More savory than love are your words
and therein lies the sea of yearning.
That is ordinary, but very deep.

"I miss you."

Even towards me
the blue sea surges,
and to my heart
the birds fly again.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The New Boob Tube

Tune in to the new TV religion

Apparently, TiVo is nothing more than a computer device that let's you watch TV programs whenever you want. Here are some of its wonders, as described in the above article:

Imagine that you could watch what you wanted on your schedule, not the network's. Or that you could have an entire phone conversation without missing a moment of your favorite show. Once you have a TiVo or another other hard-disk based digital video recorder (DVR), you're freed from the tyranny of the TV.

Freedom is Slavery. War is Peace. Ignorance is Strength.
Foot In Mouth?

Rumsfeld Ramble Wins UK 'Foot in Mouth' Award

Here is the prize-winning utterance from the Secretary of Defense, described in the article as "baffling":

Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know," Rumsfeld told a news briefing.

We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know.

I find it a quite clear, to-the-point, creative, and witty use of English.
Where Is The Love

It can't but be a positive sign that a world-wide hit song has as its chorus a quote from Our Savior and a prayer to the Father. The song is "Where Is The Love" by the Back-Eyed Peas featuring Justin Timberlake. Here is the chorus:

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach

And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us

Send us some guidance from above

‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’

Where is the love
A Tale of Two Steel Cities

Advisers Urge Bush to Drop Steel Tariffs

I grew up in Buffalo, NY and now live in Pohang, South Korea. The former was a steel town; the latter still is. Buffalo's economy was dead by 1980, just as Pohang's started to boom.

The beautiful area in which I live and the world-class university for which I work, POSTECH, were made by and for POSCO, the world's second largest steel maker. This neighborhood is full of modern apartment buildings and beautiful parks. If one were to judge all of Korea based on this neighborhood, one would come to the conclusion that this was a very rich nation indeed.

Compare the above image to the area in Buffalo near what used to be the Bethlehem Steel plant. [Do a serach for the company and you'll find the Bethlehem Steel Estate, who first line reads: This website provides certain information regarding Bethlehem’s chapter 11 bankruptcy case.] The area near the now silent, rusting plant is full of adandoned, collapsing, boarded-up houses. Judging the United States on that immediate area, one would think it a poverty-stricken Third World nation.

Big Business doesn't care where its steel comes from, just as long as its cheap. It doesn't care at all if America has a steel industry, no matter how vital to a country's national interests.

The World Trade Organization is often seen overseas as an arm of the United States Government. Globalization is often thought of as benefitting America and Americans. Globalization is often seen solely as the enemy of poor, underdeveloped nations, but this is not the case. The WTO, the IMF, and Globalization are servants of multinational corporatons, many of which just happen to hail from the US. The above are all the enemy of common working people, in whatever country.

What's bad for the goose is bad for the gander.

It would be good for President Bush to maintain the steel tariffs. It would be a victory not only for American steel workers but for all people under the yoke of the WTO and the IMF. But he must go further than that and scrap all unreasonable economic demands placed on other countries by so-called Globalization.

But of course, he, or any other other presidential candidate, won't do that.

Monday, December 01, 2003


Today, November 30, 2003, is the First Sunday of Advent, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, and the one-year anniversary of my acceptence into the Catholic Church.