Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.

Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

Paul Likoudis on Dorothy Day
The intro to Considering Dorothy Day: A Review of ‘The Catholic Worker Movement: Intellectual and Spiritual Origins’:
    Should a former Marxist journalist who had many lovers, an abortion, and a failed marriage be declared a saint and doctor of the Church? Mark and Louise Zwick, in their recent book on Dorothy Day and the origins of the Catholic Worker movement, explain why the answer is yes.
[via Catholic and Enjoying It!]
Ethical and Unethical Stem Cell Research
James P. Kelly, "a paralyzed American research advocate," is a writer who makes sense of this issue.

Most recently, he examines the case of Hwang Mi-sun, a paralyzed woman who received a spinal injection of umbilical cord stem cells and was for the first time in 19 years able to move her legs: Adult Stem Cell "Failure" — A Closer Look. Mr. Kelly exposes the distortions of this promising case made by some advocates of embryonic stem cell research.

Here is an earlier piece by Mr. Kelly, written in the wake of the Prof. Hwang scandal: Cloning, Stem Cell, and Bioethics: Another Look.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Lunar New Year!

새해福 많이 받으세요!

Our jet-lagged kids woke up today at 4:30 AM, allowing us to attend a 6:30 Mass. After more than a month in the US, I had almost forgotten how reverently the Novus Ordo is celebrated in Korea.

We arrived home in time for the New Year's ancestral ceremony. There's nothing like a holiday feast at 8:00 AM complete with traditional alcohol!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

My wife, kids, and I have safely made it back to Korea. We are now in Ulsan at my in-laws', getting ready to usher in the Lunar New Year.

All in all, it was a good visit to the United States. My wife and kids were there for six months, four of which were spent apart from me.

Regrettably, I was only able to meet Hallowed Ground's Jeff Culbreath briefly after the monthly Latin Mass at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Chico, California, which was the liturgical highpoint of my stay. Quite different was what was to be a "Charismatic/Healing Mass" at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church, Paradise, California: the two priests were unable to arrive so it became a "service" instead, led by the laity. Sung were many familiar Protestant "praise and worship" songs which I never liked. It was odd to see Catholics praying without making the sign of the cross. Still, the "laying on hands" part of the service, during which we took our daughter Joy to the front to be prayed over, was of great comfort to my wife. Our last days in the United States were spent at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows near Saint Louis, where we had a follow-up doctor's appointment for our daughter. The shrine is quite modernistic, and seems almost as if it were built specifically to deter any devotional feelings. Much more impressive was the traditional St. Peter's Cathedral in nearby Belleville, Illinois.

One of the best parts of my visit was laying up the keyboard for 40 days and taking a break from blogging, which had become a bit of an obsession while separated from my family. In addition to being able to spend more time with my family, I was able to devote more time to those things our ancestors called "books." Here is what I read:
I picked up the above in Narita Airport for the flight. I had heard about the novel on Amy Welborn's open book, and knew that it dealt with human cloning and organ donations. The book, published last year, is set in a "darkly skewered" England of the 1990s. I cannot recommend this unsettling book highly enough, especially in light of current trends in biotechnology.
The above was my wife's Christmas present to me. The book covers the lives of Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy. It is part biography, part work of literary criticism. It shows how these writers influenced each other, and how they were influenced by writers like Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Camus, and many others, not to mention by their shared Catholic faith.

All of these authors have had something to do with the formation of my Catholic faith, but I have to confess a special private devotion to one of them: Flannery O'Connor. My reading of her work has had a lot of parallels with my daughter's difficulties in walking, and I continue to ask for her intercessory prayers for this intention.

When I presented this book to the clerk, who looked like a female Leon Trotsky, she smiled and said that she was "happy to know that at least someone knew what this country needed." I'm not sure if she meant me or the author, but she then proceeded to flirt with me. I was too shell-shocked to explain to her that the book is one of the foremost works of XXth Century conservative thought. The book, published in 1930, details the rise to power of the "mass-man," a kind of vertical barbarian invasion from within, manifested most vividly in both Bolshevism and Fascism. In the following passage, the author contrasts the "mass-man" and the "man of excellence":
    But the man we are now analysing accustoms himself not to appeal from his own to any authority outside him. He is satisfied with himself exactly as he is. Ingenuously, without any need of being vain, as the most natural thing in the world, he will tend to consider and affirm as good everything he finds within himself: opinions, appetites, preferences, tastes. Why not, if, as we have seen, nothing and nobody force him to realise that he is a second-class man, subject to many limitations, incapable of creating or conserving that very organisation which gives his life the fullness and contentedness on which he bases this assertion of his personality? The mass-man would never have accepted authority external to himself had not his surroundings violently forced him to do so. As to-day, his surroundings do not so force him, the everlasting mass-man, true to his character, ceases to appeal to other authority and feels himself lord of his own existence. On the contrary the select man, the excellent man is urged, by interior necessity, to appeal from himself to some standard beyond himself, superior to himself, whose service he freely accepts. Let us recall that at the start we distinguished the excellent man from the common man by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands on himself, and the latter the one who makes no demands on himself, but contents himself with what he is, and is delighted with himself. Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential servitude. Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental. Hence he does not look upon the necessity of serving as an oppression. When, by chance, such necessity is lacking, he grows restless and invents some new standard, more difficult, more exigent, with which to coerce himself. This is life lived as a discipline- the noble life. Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us- by obligations, not by rights. Noblesse oblige. "To live as one likes is plebeian; the noble man aspires to order and law" (Goethe). The privileges of nobility are not in their origin concessions or favours; on the contrary, they are conquests. And their maintenance supposes, in principle, that the privileged individual is capable of reconquering them, at any moment, if it were necessary, and anyone were to dispute them. Private rights or privileges are not, then, passive possession and mere enjoyment, but they represent the standard attained by personal effort. On the other hand, common rights, such as those "of the man and the citizen," are passive property, pure usufruct and benefit, the generous gift of fate which every man finds before him, and which answers to no effort whatever, unless it be that of breathing and avoiding insanity. I would say, then, that an impersonal right is held, a personal one is upheld.
The book goes a long way in explaining the sorry state of affairs we are now in, as does the next and last one on my list:
I found the above in a used bookstore a few days before my departure and, having heard the author's name dropped on a few "back to the land" Catholic blogs, I snapped it up. As hinted at by its subtitle, "Culture and Agriculture," the book shows how many of the problems of the former are a result of a perversion of the latter. The book brings me back to the best of my days with the Luddite Left, and reminds me how its ideas are fundamentally conservative.

Paradoxically, this last book has convinced me to continue blogging. I had considered giving it up for good and devoting more time to my family and other pursuits. Instead, I realized that although there is very little I can produce food-wise in an eighth floor apartment in a high-rise, I can, however, by providing some links to stories of interest as I have always done with this blog, as well as some occasional original content, in an extremely modest way rise above being a mere consumer of information.

Still, I plan to blog a lot less, and spend more time with my family, with books, with study of Korean, Greek, and Latin, and finally, with my guitar. I've been playing the thing for about half of my 35 years, and am still a beginner. I want merely to be a producer of some entertainment for my family, so that we become less reliant on the entertainment industry. Folk and children's songs are well within my range of ability. Ideally, I'd like to get beyond mere strumming and acquire a more advanced finger-picking style, like that of my guitar hero, the Reverend Gary Davis, whose album below I have been listening to a lot recently (especially track #13):