Category Archives: Asia

US Air Strikes on Syria: Betrayal

President Bashar al-Assad

After the alleged use of chemical weapons in northern Syria by the Syrian army, and just a week after the Trump administration said that US diplomatic policy on Syria was no longer focused on making Bashar al-Assad leave power, Donald Trump says he has changed his mind on Mr Assad. So much for détente with Russia. Less than an hour ago, news broke that the US military had fired more than 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian targets near Homs, Syria. Mr Trump, I thought, might give us a few years of peace. The Deep State and those near Mr Trump have decided otherwise, and so, it seems, has Mr Trump himself. (These developments are in line, I should think, with Steve Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council’s principals committee.) The media have done it again, the benefit accruing to Daesh and the Israeli state. Mr Trump has betrayed us.

Update: According to @Partisangirl, Russia shot down many of the Tomahawk missiles striking at the Syrian airforce. The Trump administration denies accidental incidents between US and Russian military forces in Syria.

Aside

Remember, Chinaman: watching anime is cultural cucking. Anime is of the devil, and the Lord’s hatred of the cruel dwarf pirate 倭寇 runneth to the third and fourth generation.

Who Giveth This Chinese Woman?

Grace Kelly, accompanied by her father, arrives at the cathedral to be married.

The Book of Common Prayer directs that the priest should ask, ‘Who giveth this woman to be married?’, but it does not specify the manner in which he should receive an answer. Generally, the bride’s father, standing to the bride’s left, takes her right hand and delivers it to the priest; in so doing, he may also explicitly say, ‘I do.’ In a Chinese wedding, though, there are other ways this could well be done, and there is another form of words that I imagine would work, from the ‘Airs of States’ 國風 in the ancient Odes 詩經, the poem ‘Peach Tree’ 桃夭:

桃之夭夭、灼灼其華。
之子于歸、宜其室家。

The peach tree is young and elegant;
Brilliant are its flowers.
This young lady is going to her future home,
And will order well her chamber and house.

桃之夭夭、有蕡其實。
之子于歸、宜其家室。

The peach tree is young and elegant;
Abundant will be its fruits.
This young lady is going to her future home,
And will order well her house and chamber.

桃之夭夭、其葉蓁蓁。
之子于歸、宜其家人。

The peach tree is young and elegant;
Luxuriant are its leaves.
This young lady is going to her future home,
And will order well her family.

As the Mao Prefaces say, ‘ “Peach Tree” is [about] the queen consort’s directives. Through her freedom from jealousy, the relation between males and females was made right; marriages were celebrated at the proper times; and there were no unmarried people in the kingdom.’ Then, the vows once taken, would these words of the poem ‘They Beat Their Drums’ 擊鼓 ring true:

死生契闊,與子成說。執子之手,與子偕老。
For life or for death, however separated,
To our wives we pledged our word.
We held their hands; –
We were to grow old together with them.

Thus let all be done in order, under Heaven’s will.

A New Generation Poem for the Tsangs?

中華曾氏祖根地 (vignette)

中華曾氏祖根地: the Chinese lineage’s ancestral rootland.

In many Chinese and Korean families, you see that the names of the sons of the same generation share a character, a generation name 班次. My ancestor of the Sòng dynasty, for example, Emperor Taìzōng, was named Zhào Kuāngyì 趙匡義; his older brother, Emperor Taìzŭ, was named Zhào Kuāngyìn 趙匡胤. Besides sharing the surname Zhào , they had in common the generation name Kuāng . Now, as Wikipedia explains,

The sequence of generation is typically prescribed and kept in record by a generation poem (bāncì lián 班次聯 or pàizì gē 派字歌 in Chinese) specific to each lineage. While it may have a mnemonic function, these poems can vary in length from around a dozen characters to hundreds of characters. Each successive character becomes the generation name for successive generations.

For the Sòng dynasty House of Zhào, the poem goes, 若夫,元德允克、令德宜崇、師古希孟、時順光宗、良友彥士、登汝必公、不惟世子、與善之從、伯仲叔季、承嗣由同。 The poem’s 42 characters were split into three groups of 14 for the offspring of Sòng Taìzŭ and his two brothers. As Emperor Taìzŭ set forth for the family (with older romanizations from the book quoted),

Together with the Prince of Chin, Kuang-i, and the Prince of Ch’in, Kuang-mei, we will constitute three branches. Each will establish fourteen characters [for generation names] in the Jade Register so as to distinguish the streams and give order to the [spirit] tablets. Although our posterity may be distant in time and in relationship, they will not lose their order.

According to this præscription, my grandfather had the character in his name, as did all of his brothers. So it has been, for my mother’s family, since the 10th century of our Lord Jesus Christ; but my own clan, despite its descent from the Xià king Shàokāng 少康, has not had such a long and constant usage.

zhao-genealogy-kuangyin-kuangyi

This record shows the ancestry of Zhào Kuāngyì 趙匡義.

zhao-genealogy-dun

The ancestry traces back through Zhào Dùn 趙盾.

Of the generation poems used by those of the ancient House of , there are so many (beware: Tripod page with popup adverts!), and of such diversity, that there clearly is nothing like a standard. What was once used by my branch of the family has been interrupted by the convulsions of the 20th century. Though we clearly maintain commonalities between brothers – my father’s generation having the character and mine having , even for my cousin – these generation names have not at all been drawn from the poem formerly used. Instead, my father’s generation received an accent on the nation, and mine on righteousness. In each, of course, is an ethical orientation. Herein I see the makings of a new generation poem that has yet to be written. Since my grandfather was the seniormost Christian in the family (though his conversion was not the first), his name should be the one that heads the poem, and the poem can mark a new beginning by expressly giving glory to Christ the Saviour of the nations.

炳國義, and the rest is unwritten. But even here, with just three characters, we can see some order. My grandfather’s character ‘bright, luminous’ has the radical for fire, ; my father’s character ‘territory, nation’ clearly suggests earth; my character ‘righteousness, justice’ is associated with metal. Thus we have gone from summer to the ripe season to autumn, and the next in the cycle of the five phases of matter and energy (wŭxíng) is winter and water. A cycle of five itself suggests lines of five characters each, whether four lines for 20 syllables or eight lines for 40. Numerologically, 40 can correspond to the days of rain and flooding in the time of Noah, or the years of Israel’s wandering until the faithless generation had died, or the days of Jesus’s fast in the wasteland to suffer the temptations of man; 20, however, is of no significance. But when the cycle of five has gone eight times, which makes an octave of a feast to the Lord, signifying the spiritual Eighth Day of the week, then shall we have the number of trigrams and the number of persons on Noah’s Ark and the number of the Beatitudes. Let the poem, the jìntĭshī 近體詩, be written thus.

炳國△△ 義某 某△○ ●
某某○○ 某某 某△△ ●

某某○○ 某某 某○△ △  parallelism
某某△△ 某某 某△○ ●

某某△△ 某某 某○○ △  parallelism
某某○○ 某某 某△△ ●

某某○○ 某某 某○△ △
某某△△ 某某 某△○ ●

The Beauty of Suzhounese

Is it just me, or is Suzhounese the most beautiful language ever sung by women? I think I have a serious weakness for that dialect.

Aside

Average heights of Japanese students in Tokyo, ages 5–17, for both sexes. Tfw not even taller than 倭寇 guys. Being bested by 小日本 in height is frankly embarrassing.

Russian and Uyghur for the Children

When I was in high school, I had autistic dreams of having my children natively speak an analytic language, an agglutinative language, and a fusional language. As a Chinese American, I thought Chinese would work well for analytic and Latin for fusional; for agglutinative, Finnish. Even at that time, of course, I knew that it would not be practical, as Romantic as it might be, for the son of a Chinaman to speak Mohawk.

I take for granted that, if I marry and God give me children, they should speak Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and (if possible) my grandfather’s mother tongue, Taishanese; Latin also remains eminently good and useful. In addition to these languages of Chinese and Christian heritage, though, I hope they can speak Russian and Uyghur.

modern-uyghur-grammar-by-haimit-tdmiir-16-638

For that hope, I have my reasons: (1) Eurasian bloc integration and (2) the Back to Jerusalem movement. The two are related, and of this I shall say more later.

Tang Code of Laws, in English

TangCode

Half a year ago I found the Tang code of laws 唐律疏議 – that is, the Tang statute laws with their officially sanctioned commentary – but only in Chinese. But I have now also found a translation in English. Volume 1 treats of general principles; volume 2 treats of specific articles. At last, whenever I need to, I can cite the Tang code in English.

With Muslims, Against Irreligion

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Aleksandr Dugin, in response to the question ‘Quelle place pour l’islam en Russie?’, advocates a front of traditional religions against sæcular postmodernity:

Our traditional model is that of peaceful coexistence between Orthodoxy and Islam, based on mutual understanding. It is true that the notion of the sacred is not the same in the Orthodox Christian vision and in the Muslim religion; but the difference that exists between the Christian sacred and the Muslim sacred is much less than the difference between religious consciousness and secular consciousness. For example, Orthodox and Muslims share the same attitude regarding any attack on holy places whatever they may be. That’s why representatives of the Islamic clergy took part in demonstrations against Pussy Riot. Another example: the group FEMEN attacks both Christianity and Islam. Since then, those who believe in God find themselves in the same camp. And when our faith in God is brutally attacked, we become united with each other. My conviction is that Christians, Muslims, and the adepts of other traditional religions should form a common front against the secularism that attacks us. Defensive today, this Front could become offensive tomorrow. In the modern or postmodern world, the religious factor becomes more and more important. We are on the way to what the American sociologist and theologian Peter Berger calls ‘desecularization’. And in this new phase, believers reunited within the common front will mutually aid each other to restore sense of the sacred in all domains of life.

Within large empires such as Russia and China, a peaceful coexistence between Christianity and Islam is a simple necessity. Russia has Tatars and other peoples who have practised Islam for centuries; China has not only a largely Muslim population in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), rich in natural resources that are vital to national security, but also about 10 million Hui Muslims in China proper. At the same time, both Russia and China have more Christians than Muslims. As in Syria and Iraq, sectarian fighting could only serve the interests of foreigners waiting to profit from the deaths of others.

Just as necessary for the survival of the greater Chinese and Russian peoples is a mutual understanding that can put forth a united front against sæcularist dissolution. The cutting short of the religious instinct which these nations must oppose is a cultural degeneration that would dissolve all meaningful national feeling. This cultural degeneration calls to mind the worst of America: pilgrimages made to a Uniqlo store in Beijing on account of a viral sex tape filmed in one of its fitting rooms (inter alia). Needless to say, such a video opposes socialist core values, and one can only expect more and grosser wickedness if the culture is allowed to slide further in that direction. To some, Sodom and Gomorrah may be a joke, but suppressing them is a matter of national survival.

True, Christianity and Islam are not the same religion, nor can a generic religiosity credibly oppose late modern (capitalist) sæcularism. As Coptic priest Zakaria Botros constantly shows, moreover, Islam as devoutly practised today is not benign. Religion, as we see in the case of Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi Islam, is not always better than irreligion, and indeed is often a geopolitical tool of irreligious interests. Faced with these realities, we must be realistic. Nevertheless, when a serious Christian makes common cause with Muslims against irreligion, sacrilege, and blasphemy, the appeal he makes is not to the perverse doctrines of the Muslim, but to the genuine religious feeling of the man, the image of God; not to vice, but to virtue; not to hæresy, but to truth.

Therefore let this common front be found wherever possible, lest what remains of traditional religion and true religious feeling, in both Christianity and Islam, be corrupted by the power of Mammon. Let the late modern market not rule over the hearts of Christians and Muslims, but let the justice of God be proclaimed and rule over all commerce of matter. Only thus can a true religious freedom be found, ruled not by demands of markets but by the conviction of the Holy Ghost.

Irregularity Not Injustice

cicero-indicts-catiline-before-senate

I don’t know where people get off thinking that religious folk have to oppose extrajudicial killing as a mortal sin. Is it morally licit? Maybe not. But it’s not as cut and dried as many make it out to be, and many of those who think it is also make a lot of excuses for ‘nuance’ about other things that are much more clearly wrong.

Even those who generally are morally principled, I think, are often unduly influenced by the opinion of their peers, and forgetful of history they’d rather not remember today. Ruled by fear, they are unnerved by having to think about taking up arms against a power ruling with arbitrary injustice; except, fearing to think even of such things, they can only declare evil the power they fear. But a fearsome power is not in itself evil, nor is a tame power good. Power, political power, is always a proper object of fear, though we seek to keep it from pursuing injustice rather than justice, the common good rather than private gain. Indeed, justice matters, but justice is not always neatly in the system of procedural rules any more than the gospel is always neatly in the organs of the Church hierarchy: it is not always wrong for Cicero to have Catilinarian conspirators strangled without trial, nor is it always wrong for the people led by a lesser magistrate to resist by force the imposition of an unjust order. Protestants of all men ought especially to know and acknowledge what they themselves – or at least their fathers – have lived by. Irregularity does not in itself prove injustice.

So let us not, looking at the rulers of the world’s nations today, be so naïve as to make a fetish out of procedure. For Protestants, even our own religious principles militate against the liberal insistence that justice comes forth from regular procedure and only from regular procedure. The love of safety is only that: love of safety. In the communication of right, in the sharing of justice, there are deeper things in the constitutions of man and human society.

To China, My Heart

I wonder if normal Christians find it strange that I feel a special sense of duty to China from sharing my grandfather’s birthday. His birth date is recorded to have been in October, and mine in December, but seems his month and day were in fact according to the Chinese lunar calendar, in which case mine matches his in the solar.

If I were to ask for the intercession of departed saints, I would certainly be inclined to solicit his prayers, not because of any long and exemplary faithfulness to Christ but because of the circumstances of his becoming a Christian. It was nothing short of miraculous, I felt, that the Lord saw fit to convert him to the true faith in the last months of his life on earth. For decades he had resisted this faith, and when my father had converted to it he even had told him not to go to church – with which, being clean contrary to the commandment of God, my father dared not comply. My attempt to ask him about his religious beliefs had elicited a memorably clever reply but nothing of substance. Years later, as he lay dying, his defences stripped from him, with nothing between his soul and the eyes of God, he was compelled to bend the knee of his heart to the one true God by the mediation of Jesus Christ. When I heard the news, I think, I was in the shower on the other side of the country, and it was as if something had washed my family clean. His death, when it came, was great sorrow but also great peace for a man who had been carried by angels to meet his Maker. To a man who has been shown such extraordinary favour for the sake of Christ, will not more favour be shown?

Even today, whenever I go up the hills of Oakland to the land of the dead, to the darkness of death and the memorial of a great cleansing, I feel the holiness of God manifest. When my eye passes over Oakland and Berkeley, over the Bay to San Francisco, and over the ocean to the land of our fathers, it is as if God has given us possession of the earth because he has sanctified this family. No matter what happens in our family, this is the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy, granting that we may eat the flesh of his dear Son, and to drink his blood, to the cleansing of our sinful bodies through his body and the washing of our souls through his most precious blood. When I am there, I am assured as if by a promissory note that this family, sanctified by Christ himself from my grandfather on, will serve God even to the end of the world. By the power of a God who can convert the most stiff-necked people, and who made a noble pagan but a deeply flawed man into one of his saints, there is nothing that cannot be done. To see the land of the dead is also the hear the promise of life.

And Luminous Authority begat Nation’s Hoisting-up, and Nation’s Hoisting-up begat Walking in Righteousness.

And so, marking to what dangers my grandfather once submitted himself in service to China as a spy, my heart wants to do the same in Christ. The line of providence from my grandfather to me seems too great to cast off as coïncidence, since the all-wise Lord knows no such thing as luck or chance. In 1949, he had left China as an exile; near the turn of the millennium, ad te omnis caro veniet. The new millennium in China belongs to the Lord, and what things soever he has ordained for that nation will come to pass. And the power that turned the heart of my grandfather to his children, and of his children to him, that same power is the Holy Spirit in me to magnify and bless.

Video

Recognition and Acknowledgement

One of the best scenes in Cantonese opera, from the 1959 film 《帝女花》 (The Flower Princess). The male protagonist, betrothed to the Ming dynasty princess shortly before the emperor’s suicide before rebel forces, now in the new Qing dynasty recognizes a Daoist nun as his once intended, tries to persuade her to acknowledge their relationship.

Aside

The seminal Tang Code (唐律), a pœnal code that has strongly influenced the legal systems of the whole Sinosphere for centuries, is online. Too bad I haven’t the Chinese skills to read it.

Christianity is Traditional for a Chinaman

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Some say we Chinamen ought simply to practise our traditional religion rather than converting to Christianity. They forget that Buddhism comes from India and that it has had little to do with the traditional religion. Rather than replacing the official cult of Heaven and the veneration of ancestors, it has added its own doctrines of karma, rebirth, and enlightenment. Few would now try, for perennialist reasons or otherwise, to dissuade the Chinese from being Buddhists.

But the Christian faith has been in China for well nigh 1500 years. Though it has never been favoured high above all other doctrines in China, it can be said to be a traditional Chinese religion. What remains is for the Christian faith to be indigenously and faithfully understood by the Chinese, and for us to reckon honestly and wisely with the worship of Heaven inherited from Noah and to bring it together with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the saviour of the world. Much remains to be done in political theology; but Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of Heaven, is risen today, alleluia.

Hong Kong Book of Common Prayer: No Churching of Women

P23_The churching of women_NEW-1-

One thing that surprises me about Hong Kong’s Book of Common Prayer, though I did not notice earlier, is that it does not provide for the Thanksgiving of Women After Childbirth, commonly called the Churching of Women. For a society in which postpartum confinement is still a common practice more than fifty years after this BCP was first printed, I think it a notable omission. I am led to wonder why this Prayer Book’s compilers chose not to include a Christian ritual for something that even today remains very much a part of Chinese culture.