Archive for the ‘faith|morality’ Category

Information and economic “soft power”

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

Interesting piece, dog-bites-man, in the NYT on South Korea’s cultural influence on aspiring young mainland Chinese.

But South Korea’s “soft power” also extends to the material and spiritual spheres. Samsung’s cellphones and televisions are symbols of a coveted consumerism for many Chinese. Christianity, in the evangelical form championed by Korean missionaries deployed throughout China, is finding Chinese converts despite Beijing’s efforts to rein in the spread of the religion. South Korea acts as a filter for Western values, experts say, making them more palatable to Chinese and other Asians.

For a country that has been influenced by other cultures, especially China but also Japan and America, South Korea finds itself at a turning point in its new role as exporter.

The transformation began with South Korea’s democratization in the late 1980’s, which unleashed sweeping domestic changes. As its democracy and economy have matured, its influence on the rest of Asia, negligible until a decade ago, has grown accordingly. Its cultural exports have even caused complaints about cultural invasion in China and Vietnam.


Today, in China, South Korean missionaries are bringing Christianity with an Asian face. South Korean movies and dramas about urban professionals in Seoul, though not overtly political, present images of modern lives centering on individual happiness and sophisticated consumerism.

This is a small hopeful sign of a path to peaceful advance by all parties — provided the communist elite eventually decides to cede power or provided the security forces see peaceful transition to democratic capitalism as non-threatening/ advantageous.

Secular Supremacists in DoD

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

It is a shame, but not surprising, that the apparachniks in DoD are working to efface true religion, a rival source of criticism and judgment, from the Armed Forces — to impose elitist secular supremacy over a population that has a very strong faith community.

It is time for the President to live up to the example of President Truman, shoving Constitutional civil rights compliance down the throats of the bureaucracy. President Truman ordered full racial integration. President Bush should order DoD to fully respect(no religious test, no establishment of (even a officially sanctioned generic civic) religion) the right (free exercise) and obligation of chaplains to pray according to their faith, and specifying that interferance at any level of leadership is a violation of policy that must be pursued as vigorously as any other equal opportunity issue. In so doing, he would reestablish the military as a institution welcoming of people of all faiths, including evangelical and pentacostal Christians.

“Out” Christians?

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Interesting piece in the latest Atlantic Monthly ties in with the latest Anne Rice novel (previous post) and tangentially with the question of Hollywood’s approach to war movies. The article suggests Christians are well on the way to regaining positive inclusion in the business and on the screen. Money quote: “Don’t you know? ‘Christian’ is the new ‘gay.’” Projected end state: normalization of Christians and Christian themes as an accepted minority along side gays and racial minorities. The mainstreaming of open practioners of Christianity may be the realization of the La’Bree vision of artists who are Christians producing quality art informed by but not limited to their religion.
Add to this the recent stepping up to support the troops/war by Bruce Willis. A gradual slowing, vector reversal of Hollywood culture towards the center?

Left Projection

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

The Weekend Journal’s Houses of Worship column “A Purpose-Driven Nation?” was spiteful this week. It started well:

Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, was so impressed by Rick Warren’s best-selling book, “The Purpose-Driven Life,” that he invited the founding preacher of California’s Saddleback Church to come to his country. Mr. Warren not only accepted but asked his network of believers to come to Rwanda in small groups to plant churches, care for the sick, educate the citizenry and assist the poor.

But the columnist, Alan Wolfe, is not well pleased. Indeed, he was patronizing to Rick Warren:

Mr. Warren’s message to the Aspen audience was similar to the one he offered Rwandans at Kigali’s Amahoro Stadium in July: Spiritual emptiness allows evil acts to occur. If only evil were so simple. Many religious figures in Rwanda acted heroically in the face of genocide, but not all of them did. [ . . .] Belief in Christ by itself offers insufficient protection against evil. Mr. Warren should read Joseph Conrad or, if his tastes are more contemporary, Philip Caputo. [ . . . ]

As if Mr. Warren claims that religiousity is the antithesis of spiritual emptiness. I wager my next paycheck that Rick Warren finds “whited sepulchers” in his bible faster than Mr. Wolfe can in his, or at least that Mr. Warren can locate the following string of quotes faster than Mr. Wolfe:

Many people try to use God for their own self-actualization, but that is a reversal of nature and is doomed to failure. Your were made for God, not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for his purposes, not your using him for your own purpose.
[ . . . ]
You have a choice to make. You will be either a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian.
[Worldly Christianity’s] a “me-first” faith: How can God make my life more comfortable?
In contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and made for a mission.
[ . . .]
The opportunities for normal, everyday Christians to become involved in short-term international missions is now literally limitless. Every corner of the world is available to you — just ask the travel industry.
[ . . . ]
I urge you to save and do whatever it takes to participate in a short-term mission trip overseas as soon as possible.
[ . . . ]
The Great Commission is your commision, and doing your part is the secret of living a life of significance.

Ahh, but the material world is so complex! Mr. Wolfe appeals to his sophisticated WSJ audience:

Tackling Africa’s problems inevitably means addressing questions of economics and politics. Is there a Christian position on export diversification, energy subsidies, currency convertibility ratios, agricultural overcultivation or civil-service reform? That Rick Warren is serious about overcoming Rwanda’s poverty is unquestioned. That he and his volunteers have any expertise or interest in economics and politics is unlikely.

As if a social science academic had a better grip on real economics and real private or public sector leadership than the business and community leaders who make up the lay leadership of the churches Mr. Wolfe thinks so isolated from the bigger world:

Because of Mr. Warren’s efforts, significant numbers of American Christians will learn about the harsh realities outside their relatively comfortable lives.

That sentense throws all those posters and special missionary offering envelopes in every little church across this land through all these decades down the memory hole, efaces World Vision, denies Samaritan’s Purse.

NO, it is Mr. Wolfe who is wilfully blind to the American Christians outside his comfortable, isolated academic life.
Or is he really so ignorant in his scholarship? I’ve read the author’s work before in The Atlantic Monthly and The Wilson Quarterly (both linked in my list of publications I subscribe to). I googled him and the first hit was his home page at Boston College. The clouds begin to part. Then clicked on his vita and scrolled down to his publications. All became clear. He is fully invested in the Left and senses, if his bias cannot let him see, the threat of mere Christians engaging in the very places and the very work which he would use to justify expansion of government and lessening of sovereignty, the purpose to which Mr. Wolfe is dedicated through a career of such works as:
“The Rise And Fall Of The `Soviet Threat.’ Washington: Institute for Policy Studies, 1979.” Note the oh-so-knowing scare quotes. Or this gem:
“A Fascist Philosopher Helps Us Understand Contemporary Politics”, in which this leftist, playing to the audience in the Chronicle of Higher Education, gets a double tap on Republicans and Leo Strauss, two bete noirs of the academic left.

To understand what is distinctive about today’s Republican Party, you first need to know about an obscure and very conservative German political philosopher. His
name, however, is not Leo Strauss, who has been widely cited as the intellectual guru of the Bush administration. It belongs, instead, to a lesser known, but in many ways more important, thinker named Carl Schmitt.

The rest of the article is an exercise in projection, asserting the sustained howler that it is Republicans who are nasty and ultimately driven be a desire to impose their will though any political means.

There is, for liberals, always something as important, if not more important, than victory, whether it be procedural integrity, historical precedent, or consequences for future generations.

That claim in a world with, the Daily Kos, and the pack of “protestors” who literally screamed and spat their hate of our servicemen returning from Vietnam and now are working up to the same point with the men and women who go in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a world of the current Senate Democrats. In a world of Able Danger, Albright toasting Kim Jong Il and turning a blind eye to nuclear proliferation across the world of fanatics, and blue dresses. Integrity, precedent, consequences — not in your crowd, Mr. Wolfe.

bad grief

Friday, August 19th, 2005

A woman calling the Laura Ingraham Show today talked about her loss of a son to cancer and how people go through a stage of grief where they express unreasonable anger towards others (if only the ambulance crew was faster). This was offered as the stage that Cindy Shehan is stuck in. I jump to the Pennsylvania member of Congress whose son took his own life. The teen had severe acne, as I once had, and took Accutane — a very agressive but last best hope drug that roots out otherwise untreatable severe acne. The legislator wants to blame the drug and manufacturer, possibly deflecting self blame. All that time fund-raising, campaigning, serving constituents. Hours, days, so much sand turned to dust in an hour glass when a father had to bury his son. A congressman gets to use his elected position to salve his private grief with the appearance of higher public purpose — hearings, legislation, even fund-raising to avenge, and in avenging redeeming, sanctifying his loss. The destructive results, perhaps even suicides by other peoples’ sons and daughters condemned to disfiguring disease due to withdrawl of a powerful cure — not on the narscisist’s conscience and not on the MSM’s storyline. Some victims are more equal than others and some suffering consistently goes down the memory hole of editorial judgement — only reassembled into information by the new media.