Category Archives: Asia

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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

Arrived: Hong Kong Book of Common Prayer

I have recently taken a look at Hong Kong’s Book of Common Prayer, first printed in 1959 by the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau and reïssued in 1998, with no textual changes to the services, by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. This BCP looks fascinating, and I hope to share some of its distinctive features here.

For one thing, the order of Holy Communion, while clearly in the classical Prayer Book tradition, does not match the English (1662), Scottish (1764, 1912, 1929), or American (1789, 1892, 1928) types; likewise the orders of daily Morning and Evening Prayer. In general, the regular services seem to stand somewhat between the English and American types, with a few characteristics seen in neither.

Compline, often included in books of additional services but not part of either the English BCP (1662) or the American (1928), has made its way into the Hong Kong BCP.

The greatest difference, perhaps, is in the occasional prayers: to the English BCP’s 19 and the American BCP’s much richer 47, the Hong Kong BCP has 87. This great cloud of prayers and thanksgivings is organized by its own table of contents.

As expected in a society that is by and large not Christian, baptisms of such as are of riper years take priority over baptisms of infants, a priority reflected by the former’s appearing before the latter. Similarly, between the Catechism and order of Confirmation appears a section acquainting the reader with the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s mission, history, and practices.

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The Athanasian Creed, also known in the West as Quicunque vult, is given the alternate name of Sacred Text of Salvation. A rubric also declares, ‘To this Sacred Text of Salvation ought every believer to attend: some of the principles it expresses are very deep, but are in no wise contrary to Scripture.’ A second rubric says that this sacred text may be used at Morning Prayer on all the holy days listed in the English BCP – except, very curiously, Trinity Sunday itself. The days listed in the Hong Kong BCP, then, are the following: Christmas-Day, the Epiphany, Saint Matthias, Easter-Day, Ascension-Day, Whit-Sunday, Saint John Baptist, Saint James, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, and Saint Andrew. The text is kept whole and undefiled: ‘Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he keep the principle of the Holy Catholic Church. Which faith whosoever keep not wholly, or keep not straightly, must suffer everlastingly the bitterness of sinking unto perdition.’

The Psalter is not included (the expectation being that the psalms will be read from the Bible), but there is a table of proper psalms for many days in the year. Similarly, there is a table of proper lessons. There seems, however, not to be a daily ordering of psalms or a daily kalendar of lessons.

God willing, I shall post more details later, when I have the time.

South China Morning Post to Become Pro-CCP Propaganda

Spectators in front of a large sign on Nixon’s motorcade route in China.

Mainland Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, reports the New York Times, is buying Hong Kong’s respected South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Alibaba is acquiring an award-winning newspaper that for decades has reported aggressively on subjects that China’s state-run media outlets are forbidden to cover, like political scandals and human-rights cases. Alibaba said the deal was fueled by a desire to improve China’s image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets. While Alibaba said the Chinese government had no role in its deal to buy the Hong Kong newspaper, the company’s position aligns closely with that of the Communist Party, which has grown increasingly critical of the way Western news organizations cover China.

I agree that WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) nations have pretty biased mainstream media, which is why I also read RT with its pro-Putin bias; but the way to confront the false propaganda of the WEIRD media, with their often duplicitous talk of ‘human rights’, is not to add false propaganda supporting the CCP and ‘China stronk’ (強國). Because of money, the SCMP is already under pressure from the HK-China oligarchic establishment, but this development just seals the deal.

The Anxiety of the Chinaman

Lu Xun, A Madman’s Diary.

Lu Xun, A Madman’s Diary.

Why do the Chinese always call others lazy? Wrapped up in this crass rhetoric, we seem indifferent to the suffering of others. The Westerner hears our words and sees our conduct, and he acknowledges to himself that he simply cannot understand. We have always been creatures of subtlety, inscrutable, and the Westerner is able only to ascribe our strange behaviour to this ineluctable racial essence. But in fact our attitude is quite intelligible with some empathy, even if Westerners cannot share this attitude. This posture of ours is of a piece with our recent and ongoing struggle with the modern West.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the subjects of the Son of Heaven, the people who stood closest to the spiritual pole of the world, the nexus of heaven and earth, had never suffered domination by a non-central (i.e. non-Sinitic) power without doing what Greece had done to Rome: Græcia capta ferum victorem cepit. Nevertheless, we had twice in a single millennium been ruled by northern barbarians, the Mongols (1271–1368) and then the Manchus (1644–1911), both of whom had kept us in an inferior caste rather than assimilating fully to our superior culture. When the Western powers came barging in, we were still ruled by the Manchu dynasty. To then be forced by thoroughly non-Sinitic powers to be one nation among many, rather than the source of all civilization with the imperial Son of Heaven at our head, was the last straw. It was the toppling of a sacred order whose sanctity had never been seriously violated.

When we suffered foreign insult in the nineteenth century, insult that continued into the twentieth, some of our intellectuals promoted social Darwinism as a way of recovering national prestige, and most of us tried very hard to imitate the dominating success of the Western nations we envied, especially by playing up technocracy. If Japan was playing that game, such a people at the edge of the world could not be winning at our expense except by our own decadence. If there was something fundamentally unsound about us, we nevertheless were Heaven’s elect, living where Heaven’s blessing came to earth, endowed with the gifts of civilization. Any failure, therefore, was due to laziness and other kinds of moral weakness. We believed in palingenesis.

Whether we stayed in China or moved on to other lands – lands of mastery – our destiny was the same. Some of us had no God and felt ourselves elect all the same. But God is free, and God is the one who chooses; he is the one who elected to send the only-begotten Son of Heaven to die in our stead, that believing we might live. He alone is our hope. It is that Elect man who gathers up all things in himself; it is that Elect man in whom the Chinese nation must believe; it is that Elect man in whom we are truly the elect of God. We cannot forsake God and wonder lama sabachthani: why hast thou forsaken me? In the end, national destiny is not about industry, nor is it about flesh improving flesh. All things will die. What remains is, Will we be raised?

Aside

Stephen Grabill says, in his introduction to ‘Selections from the Dicaeologicae’ (Journal of Markets & Morality 9, no. 2 (2006): 399–483), ‘The Dicaeologicae was Althusius’ principal juridical work and evidences the “method” of legal systematization initiated at Wittenberg by Johann … Continue reading

A Call to Christians Drawn toward Paganism

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Brethren, to be saved is not only to be caught out of the evil age but also to be given the power to build for the kingdom without end, to be cleansed now in promise of a crown of glory. Many take no care for their words, and corrupted names lead to corrupted practices, whereas rectified names lead to rectified practices. An informed Protestant knows, as does all of Christendom who knows the catholic faith rightly, that we have been saved in Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, are being saved in Christ’s intercession in heaven and gift of the Holy Ghost, and will be saved in Christ’s coming in glory at the Last Day. Do not be shaken by those who introduce all manner of innovation in the name of religion: in the end they will be confounded, and their corruptions destroyed.

The system of works and doctrine, necessary as these are, is the framework for the mystical life, which is the presence of Christ’s Holy Spirit through faith in the selfsame Christ. Indeed, we must consider how they were saved who were counted righteous before the coming of God’s only-begotten Son in the flesh: they too, as the Apostle says, pleased God by faith, knowing that he is, and that he rewards all who diligently seek him. Thus Abraham believed, and through faith he was counted righteous; for, as the Psalmist would say, Christ was his light and his salvation. It is possible, therefore, among those who have not heard the gospel fully laid out, that they that do not explicitly know Christ are saved through him, just as all were saved of old before his coming in the flesh. In this way, those of our ancestors were saved who put their ultimate trust in God himself: O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

Therefore we can trust God. No one but he sees the secrets of every heart; and whatever truth remains from Noah down to the present, and whatever else is by man inferred from the law of nature, is the basis of religion on which men knew God, and solely indeed through Christ the life-giving truth, God of God, light of light, very God of very God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made. That this is so, and that this was how any man could have been saved before the full knowledge of Christ, in no way requires postmodern thought, but is all within classical Christian thought. To say such things, one has not even for a moment to step out of catholic Christian doctrine: far from being a perennialist thing, it is a simple recognition of the facts.

Nevertheless, to return from the full revelation of the truth of Christ to shadows and figures is to turn away, like the Jews, to a darkened mind. Simply put, to do so is foolhardy and must needs be in substance a rejection of person of Christ, and thus of God, who is whole and entire, without parts or any possible division. The condemnation that hangs over the Jews is the fire that burns him who turns from the greater to the lesser, who having seen the only God turns from him to the worship of idols. Lady Wisdom calls to all: Be wise.

Salus Populi: Ne Me Frego

I saw the Son of Heaven prostrate then,
Before the pow’r of opium specie prone,
Helpless to heal the people in his ken
With spirit-potency from heaven’s throne.
I see all Europe’s craven rulers now
And sov’reign peoples flooded in to town;
And will salvation come? To greed all bow,
Not knowing how in death’s passion they drown.
And once the black king of the south did rise
Condemning, once Hawai‘ian island queen
Bear witness to the crimes, high pity’s cries,
To heaven’s judgement. And has heaven seen?
O lawless! think you now that none will see
Your niente fatto? You will have no plea.