Saturday, December 23, 2006

Varia, 23 December 2006

Prophecies Reveal Conflicts in Choson
The Korean Stars of the Year 2006
Titillating Food Chain to Open Outlet in Korea
2 Top Actors Become Fashion CEOs

More LYA, pt 2 [misc plus live]


LYA and Andy Lau chocolate cf


In Taiwan

In Japan

promoting djg

Dancing in India

Big Korea Wave stars

UNICEF charity fashion show

Singing Hey, Hey, Hey

Singing Moon River

Fireworks MV

The Last Present ost

KBS tv

One Fine Spring Day


Invitation MV

LYA forever my love [fan vid]

Father Cantalamessa on Fourth Sunday of Advent

Father Cantalamessa on Fourth Sunday of Advent

"The Lord Is on High but Cares for the Lowly"

DEC. 22, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on this Sunday's liturgical readings.

* * *

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Micah 5:2-5; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-48a

He has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness

The last Sunday of Advent is the one that must prepare us immediately for Christmas. By now we should be done with our shopping and be more open to also think about the religious meaning of this festive time.

Today's Gospel is the one that recounts Mary's visit to Elizabeth, which ends with the Magnificat: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness."

With the Magnificat Mary helps us to take in an important aspect of the Christmas mystery on which I would like to insist: Christmas as the feast of the lowly and as the ransoming of the poor.

Mary says: "He has cast down the powerful from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty."

In today's world there are two new emerging social classes which are no longer the ones we knew in the past. On one hand, there is the cosmopolitan society that knows English, that moves easily in the airports of the world, that knows how to use computers and to "navigate" the internet. For this group the world is already a "global village."

On the other hand, there is the great mass of those who have just left the country of their birth and have limited and only indirect access to the great means of social communication. It is these two groups which today are, respectively, the new "powerful" and the new "lowly."

Mary helps us to put things right again and to not let ourselves be deceived. She tells us that often the deepest values are hidden among the lowly; that the more decisive events in history (such as the birth of Jesus), takes place among the lowly and not on the world's great stages.

Today's first reading tells us that Bethlehem was "a little one among the towns of Judea," and yet in her the Messiah was born. Great writers, like Manzoni and Dostoyevsky, have immortalized, in their works, the values and stories of the "lower class."

The "preferential option" for the poor was something that God decided on well before the Second Vatican Council. Scripture says that "the Lord is on high but cares for the lowly" (Psalm 138:6); he "resists the proud but gives his grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).

In revelation God continually appears as one who pays attention to the wretched, the afflicted, the abandoned and those who are nothing in the eyes of the world. All of this contains a lesson that is extremely relevant for us today. Our temptation is to do exactly the opposite of what God does: to want to look to those who are on top, not at those who are on the bottom; to those who are prosperous, not to those who are in need.

We cannot be content just remembering that God considers the lowly. We ourselves must become little, humble, at least in our hearts.

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem has only one entrance, and you cannot pass through it without bending down. Some have said that it was built this way so that the Bedouins could not enter seated on their camels. But there is another explanation that has always been given, and which, in any case, contains a deep spiritual truth. This door is supposed to remind pilgrims that in order to penetrate the deep meaning of Christmas it is necessary to humble oneself and become little.

In the days that follow we will hear our old Italian carol sung: "Tu scendi dalle stelle, o re del cielo…" (You descend from the starry skies, O King of heaven…). But if God has descended "from the starry skies," should we not also come down from our pedestals of superiority and power and live together as brothers reconciled?

We too must climb down from the camels to enter into the stable of Bethlehem.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Heather MacDonald, Hispanic Family Values?

at City Journal

on the rise of illegitimacy among Hispanics in America

If the stats are accurate, they are troubling.

Back in the not-so-Golden State

I'm here in California, and AOL dial-up is really slow, and so is the computer at home. On the one hand I can appreciate the speed of dsl or cable, and a more up-to-date computer, but on the other hand, these are things that I should be slowly weaning myself from. Ah well. I'm visiting my friend the Dominican up in Oakland; it's been a very good visit. I haven't decided whether I will see the niece yet, but I'm leaning towards "yes."

Light blogging for the rest of break.

Anyway, here is an interesting update from Energy Bulletin:

Dollar hegemony - Dec 19
Staff, EB
The end of Dollar supremacy
Lester Brown: Why China is rising and the U.S. is declining
Venezuela, oil producers buy Euro as Dollar, oil fall
Dollar dropped in Iran asset move
Chief banker says Iran to use all currencies in int'l exchanges
WSJ: Dollars, debt and the trade gap
Debut of the 'Amero'?
published December 19, 2006.

No response to my email from Mr. Henry Liu yet; I would like to get answers from someone knowledgeable about how economics but not biased towards neo-liberalism or the Austrian school, or any other school for that matter.

A defense of Gen. Pinochet

Allende: The Untold StoryBy Humberto Fontova

David Mills on Academic Writing

From Mere Comments. Mr. Mills reacts to C. Wright Mills:

"Desire for status," he says, "is one reason why academic men slip so readily into unintelligibility." This, some of you may protest, is a stereotype. I might agree, had I not spent many years editing academics and had a surprisingly large number tell me that yes, my suggested version was perfectly lucid and said exactly what they meant, but they wanted to use the unreadable version because if they published the lucid version someone, usually their peers, would think ill of them.

This used to surprise me, but after awhile it didn't. The purpose of much academic publishing, I eventually realized, had nothing to do with advancing learning or sharing one's scholarly discoveries. It had to do with submitting to the rules of the guild, one of which was: You shall use the currently popular jargon, and lots of it. The writer was being evaluated not for his insight and learning but for his willingness to play the game, and play by the rules set by its masters.

And in the humanities, of course, the masters could set any rules they wanted. If the physicist doesn't write clearly, some dim college junior blows up the lab and incinerates sixteen of his fellows. If the English professor doesn't write clearly, the four people who start his article flip to the next one and the one student who finds it in an academic database just assumes that it's way way over his head, but he can quote it anyway.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Two documentaries on Peak Oil

Peak oil at the movies: Oil Crash & Crude Impactby Chris Vernon and Jane Cownie

Originally from The Oil Drum: Europe.

Sharon Astyk, 100 Things You Can Do to Get Ready for Peak Oil

From EB

100 Things You Can Do to Get Ready for Peak Oil
by Sharon Astyk

Amanda Kovattana, Let them wear hats

From EB

Her original block entry.

Let them wear hats
by Amanda Kovattana

Last year at our house, we reduced our heating bill by some 20%. I made a joke at my networking meeting about how I was going to write the White House about my new energy policy and call it "Let Them Wear Hats". I was wearing, at the time, my English grandmother's faux fur hat, which has a rakish peak. It was a stylish addition to my outfit.

But hats are only part of the story of our energy conservation. First the heater had to break. It's an old fashion gas heater with two large floor registers coming up on either side of a wall. Essentially it only warms the bedrooms a lot and the living room and kitchen a little. The furnace is right under the floor and the heat coming from the register is intense enough to dry my clothes when I hang them on a rack next to it.

When the repairman came to replace the broken part, he discovered that the programmable thermostat, which had been installed over 10 years ago, would no longer work with the heater. These old heaters are rarely compatible with programmable thermostats, he told us. He suggested replacing the whole system with a modern central heating system that he would be happy to install for us. I was close to throwing a fit. No way would we put in central heating. I was sure that all that ductwork and the warming of distant parts of the house would send our bill sky high. Gas prices had doubled as it was.

But I was more upset about the programmable thermostat. I had fine-tuned the program to trim our heating use. It exuded control and was a sort of clock. In the morning the heater coming on woke the cat up and I knew I would soon have to feed her. When it came on in the early evening it was time to start dinner. The heater brain was taking care of us, part of that automatic house concept that was expected of my American life, just like in the Jetson Family cartoon.

Installing a programmable thermostat was one of the top ten suggestions on every green organization's list. In fact, one of the participants in my environmental leadership course was developing a project to install programmable thermostats in the homes of senior citizens (because they are the most likely to forget to turn off the heat). Was I now to lose my status as an environmentalist? But there was nothing I could do, but accept the retro thermostat and hide our transgression.

The first day, as the temperature dropped at the end of the day, it dawned on me that I didn't have to turn the thermostat on at the usual time. I could just put on more clothes. What a concept! In fact there were a handful of ways to combat the cold. I could close doors to the cold rooms and put on my vintage, Soviet era, military surplus hat. Wow. Wearing it was like having a heater directly on my head. Those Russians know their hats.

"My little Babushka", Catherine greeted me when she came home and saw the hat.

"It's cold in here", she commented. I let her turn on the heat. On days when neither of us was home, the heater didn't come on automatically as it had before and the house just stayed cold while the cat curled up in a pile of blankets. It didn't take long to warm it up and the heat felt luxurious.

This strategy dropped our gas bill considerably. It made me realize where we were as a country. After all, if installing a programmable thermostat was supposed to be the best way to become more energy efficient and here we had cut our bill by 20% by uninstalling one, that means that we are using way more energy than really needed and are not paying attention to energy use at all. Indeed I had clients who left the patio door wide open while the heater was on during the day (for fresh air). The same for the summer when the air condition was on.

In the Bay Area, the wealthy communities like Woodside, Atherton and Hillsborough use 2 to 3 times more energy than other towns with denser populations, but more modest homes. When I heard this statistic I was at such a house, for a fundraiser, looking through a huge expanse of un-insulated plate glass window at a panoramic view of sparsely developed hillside. This is the sort of statistic we greens keep under our hat when fundraising at the homes of wealthy patrons. (This particular house did have an impressive array of solar panels).

At our own, middle class home, we already had double pane windows installed just in the bedrooms and I had salvaged two bags of insulation left over from a construction job, just enough to put an extra layer in the attic over the bedrooms. (This kept those rooms cooler in the summer, too, naturally.) When watching TV in one of the cold rooms, we use a space heater. And at night I make Catherine a hot water bottle because she is cold getting into bed, while I am warm enough under the covers. This allows me to turn off the heat for the night. How old fashion. For Christmas Catherine bought us both knit hats to wear to bed. Now we were really pushing the envelope. I never thought I'd get Catherine to wear a hat indoors.

We had both grown up in warmer climes. She in Southern California and me in the tropics. Being comfortably warm year round in just a t-shirt was the way things should be. Had we not heard Julian Darley, author of "High Noon for Natural Gas" and founder of the Post-Carbon Institute, we would not have given our natural gas use much thought. Julian Darley, an Englishman speaking at the Green Festival, told us how our natural gas resources were diminishing, much like oil resources were diminishing. And it was no good our writing nice letters to corporations asking them to consider being more conscious of our diminishing resources because, and here he did the British equivalent of raising his voice by enunciating emphatically and slowly, "they don't care".

This was the first time I had heard someone actually say this. The prevailing wisdom had been that corporations were filled with people who were caring human beings and that said people could be persuaded to do the right thing all the way to the top levels. And having done the right thing, the company would then shame their competitors into following their example or better lead to innovation that would open up a whole new green business model, bringing forth a brand new green way. Such was the premise of hopeful, green business seminars and environmental groups. After all, Wal-Mart was putting solar panels on its buildings to generate its own power.

And the Environmental Defense Fund, once a radical muckraking outfit, is negotiating with Wal-Mart to cut down the amount of packaging for its Barbie dolls. This would reduce the point of purchase impact of the toy thus the potential of sales, but it would also save them a boatload in paper cost. Now wasn't that a win-win? The problem with these optimistic stories is that they don't follow their own logic to the inevitable conclusion.

Yes, Wal-Mart wants to reduce its costs because it is profit driven like all transnational corporation. And while it's CEO talks earnestly about becoming sustainable, Wal-Mart is still, by design a corporation with stockholders and therefore growth driven. Yes, they could trim their cardboard use, but then, given their expected growth rate they would soon be using more cardboard than ever before, not to mention that Barbie herself is a petroleum-derived product. The whole point of industry is to sell more of everything, every year, which means faster than the natural resources used could possibly be replenished. Julian Darley had one response to such insanity.

"Just. Don't. Give. Them. Your. Money," he said, emphasizing every word as if each one was a command. The phrase took root in our household. Catherine was fond of imitating his clipped English accent and barely contained passion with the line. We turned the heat down and wore our hats. We put on eclectic assortments of sweatshirts and flannel pajamas.

"We're beginning to look like people who live in the sticks in the frozen parts of the country," Catherine commented. Visions of poor farmers in long johns came to mind. Yes, bundling up made us look fat and unfashionable. The point of controlled indoor temperatures is to allow us to wear chic coordinated outfits especially at the office. Of all the buildings I worked in, office buildings were the most overheated.

And hats are pretty alien in modern cultures despite Lady Di having brought back the elaborately decorated picture hat. I could get away with ethnic looking headgear in public with my indeterminate ethnic face. Once a women, sitting next to me at our meditation center, admired my block print African pillbox hat. When I told her about the Russian hat I wore at home, she gave me a worried look and moved away from me.

Recently, an environmentalists at a luncheon, talked about how she adjusted her programmable thermostat to 64° instead of 68°. I told her how uninstalling my programmable thermostat allowed me to reduce my heating bill by 20%. She stared at me for a rather long time. Maybe she thought I was an eco-masochist and I just endure cold like those British boarding school boys who pour buckets of cold water on themselves at dawn. Should I have asked her if she would consider wearing a hat in the house? And if I did would I be overstepping her sense of identity?

Environmental organizations do not ask people to change their fashion sense or consider warming up their body and not the house like the Japanese do. No one is asked to change anything. Just program the thermostat and forget about it. I got a book out from the library on designing and making hats. It shouldn't be hard to make hats trendy again. After all, look how knitting has come back.

On TV a newscaster talks about how shipping natural gas from other sources in the world would soon be a growth industry. But does anyone on TV discuss the coming shortage and what we might do about it? Of course not. That would disturb the market for natural gas. Not to mention that shipping gas means heavy steel canisters on trucks burning diminishing supplies of diesel fuel. When it does come down to shortages, the administration won't even have the balls to say, "Let them wear hats".

A contractor hired by our meditation center to put a heater into a cold room in the building advised against a gas heater because he, too, doubted the continuing supply of natural gas. We opted for electric. I had also heard that shortages of natural gas would cause the pressure to drop in our pipelines. Too little pressure in pipes going to homes would mean that pilot lights would go out, which would then lead to potential fires from leaking gas. An efficient, low emission wood stove was sounding better all the time. I put it on my list.

Julian Darley's solution is to re-localize communities, build a parallel universe that is self-sufficient and supplies itself with local products or goes without. His re-localization campaign had inspired the town of Willits and others to start developing local sources for power, locally grown foods, locally made products. Hmmm. How about hats of distinctive regional design?

Varia, 17 December 2006

Posting one more time...
Business - Dec. 11, 2006

Participants in the Miss Korea 2006 pageant take part in a charity event at the Hyundai Department Store in Mia, Seoul on Sunday. All proceeds from the event sales go to helping disabled children from disadvantaged homes.

Front - Dec. 12, 2006

Daniel Craig poses in front of the poster for the latest James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’, in which he stars, in Seoul on Monday. Craig follows Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan as the sixth actor to take the role. Born in 1968, Craig also becomes the first Bond to be born after the author of the original series Ian Fleming was dead. The 38-year-old British actor said he has not seen many Korean films but was impressed by Park Chan-wook’s ‘Old Boy.’/Yonhap

Hallyu star in Japan: Actor Song Seung-hun, right, one of the hottest Korean stars in Japan, waves to some 5,000 Japanese fans at Narita International Airport, east of Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday. Song arrived in Japan to attend a three-day event arranged by the Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV. /Yonhap 12-12-2006 19:06

Miss Korea runners-up: Miss Korea 2006 runners-up, from right, Park Sharon, Park Hee-jeong and Park Sungmin, engage in voluntary work at the Community Chest of Korea building in central Seoul, Tuesday, sending donation receipts to donors. Those who donate money to the community can get income tax deductions at the end of the year.
/ Korea Times 12-12-2006 20:55

Dodge compact: Models demonstrate the Dodge Caliber, a compact car priced at 26.9 million won, during an unveiling event at a DaimlerChrysler showroom in Socho-dong, Seoul, Tuesday. /Courtesy of DaimlerChrysler Korea 12-12-2006 21:23

Business - Dec. 13, 2006

Staff hold Atemoya or custard apple used for ice cream or desert at the Lotte Department Store in Seoul on Tuesday./Yonhap
Front - Dec. 14, 2006

A student braces herself to look at the results of her College Scholastic Aptitude Test for 2007 on Wednesday. The scores were announced Wednesday.
Culture - Dec. 14, 2006

Shoppers look at gift-wrapping paper and ribbons at Hyundai Department Store’ World Trade Center branch in Samseong-dong, Seoul on Wednesday./Yonhap
Business - Dec. 14, 2006

Shoppers pick out diaries for the new year on at Kyobo Bookstore in Seoul on Wednesday afternoon.

Illegal gold
: An official shows confiscated gold bars at the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, Wednesday. Prosecutors booked a number of gold wholesalers who are suspected of evading taxes through illegal gold transactions.


12-13-2006 22:11

Students confirm their scores on the 2006 College Scholastic Ability Test in a classroom at Pung Moon Girls’ High School, downtown Seoul, Wednesday. /Korea Times
12-13-2006 19:46

New Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo, right, inspects a guard of honor with Gen. B. B. Bell, on his right, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea during a welcoming ceremony for Kim in Yongsan, Seoul, Wednesday. / Yonhap 12-13-2006 17:29

National - Dec. 14, 2006

The new Korean Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo and U.S. forces Korea Commander Gen. Burwell Bell inspect an honor guard at an event to welcome Kim at Knight Field at the USFK’s Yongsan garrison in Seoul on Wednesday afternoon./Yonhap

Asia vs. world: Golfers of Team Asia at the second Lexus Cup, the match between Team Asia and Team International, pose on Thursday. The Asian team includes Pak Se-ri, third from right in the second row, Han Hee-won and Grace Park, fourth and third in the first row, respectively. The annual event will be held from Dec. 15 to 17 at the Garden Course of Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore. Yonhap 12-14-2006 21:32

Asia vs. world
: Golfers of Team Asia at the second Lexus Cup, the match between Team Asia and Team International, pose on Thursday. The Asian team includes Pak Se-ri, third from right in the second row, Han Hee-won and Grace Park, fourth and third in the first row, respectively. The annual event will be held from Dec. 15 to 17 at the Garden Course of Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore. /Yonhap 12-14-2006 21:35

Front - Dec. 15, 2006

UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa swears in the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations in New York on Thursday. Ban begins his five-year term on Jan. 1./Reuters-Newsis

Dozens of performers in action during the closing ceremony of the 15th Asian Games, which began at 8 p.m. on Friday at Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar. In the games, in which about 12,000 athletes from 45 countries participated in 39 events, South Korea finished second with 58 gold medals. /Yonhap 12-15-2006 19:54

Team Asia’s Pak Se-ri, right, and her teammate Lee Seon-hwa, both of South Korea, confer on the ninth green Saturday during the second day of the Lexus Cup golf tournament in Singapore. /AP-Yonhap 12-17-2006 16:50

Italian Ambassador Massimo Andrea Leggeri, second from left, poses with Michele Sabatino, on his left, commercial attache of the Italian Embassy, and Koreans who will learn about Italian cuisine in Italy next month at the Italian Cultural Institute for Foreigners in Seoul, Friday. /Korea Times Photo by Park Jung-ho
12-17-2006 17:01

Business - Dec. 15, 2006

LG Electronics’ third-generation LG-CU400 phone, equipped with a ‘push to talk’ function, which it will supply to the U.S.’ largest telecom provider Cingular Wireless./Yonhap.
National - Dec. 15, 2006

The mother and son of the late equestrian Kim Hyung-chil pay a silent tribute after he was buried at the National Memorial Board on Thursday afternoon. Kim sustained fatal injuries in an accident mid-competition at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar last week. He was the first Korean athlete to die during an international competition./Newsis

Kim Yu-Na

Back to nature: Staff of the Korean Association for Bird Protection and the Cultural Heritage Administration release an eagle ㅡ one of three ㅡ back into the wild in Paju, Kyonggi Province, Sunday, after giving them medical treatment. /Korea Times
12-17-2006 21:22

Front - Dec. 18, 2006

Culture - Dec. 18, 2006

Golden piggy banks: Children decorate a Christmas tree with golden piggy banks during a promotional event, organized by Pulmuone, a leading food company, at the Lotte Mart in central Seoul, Sunday. Pulmuone gave customers free piggy banks to celebrate the year of the pig in 2007. / Yonhap 12-17-2006 21:26

Business - Dec. 18, 2006

Exports to Libya

Universal Signs Jo Su-mi for Five-Record Deal

Blue, Green Embellish Choson Paintings
Review of 200 pounds
Ad-lib night

More LYA, pt 1 [LG, KT, tea]


LG card

LOVE LG Cf making

Remember these LG commercials with BYJ?

LG promo (someone recorded this from a TV broadcast)


KTF Drama

KTF DramaKiss

Noong Jin

Tea cf

Father Cantalamessa on Those Who Mourn

Father Cantalamessa on Those Who Mourn

Delivers Advent Meditation in the Vatican

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the Advent sermon delivered Friday by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Pontifical Household preacher, in the presence of Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia in preparation for Christmas.

Preaching in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, Father Cantalamessa began a series of meditations on the beatitudes.

* * *

"Blessed are you who weep now!"
The beatitude of those who mourn

With this meditation we begin a cycle of reflections on the beatitudes which, if it pleases God, we will continue in Lent. Within the New Testament itself, the beatitudes have known a development and various applications as these were determined by the theology of the particular Gospel writer or the needs of the new community. The words that St. Gregory the Great says of Scripture in general are also applicable to the beatitudes: "Cum legentibus crescit,"[1] they grow with those who read them and never cease to reveal new implications and richer content, according to the circumstances and needs of the readers.

Being faithful to this principle means that even today we must read the beatitudes in the light of the new situations in which we find ourselves living. Yet, we must remember that the interpretations of the Gospel writers are inspired, and for this reason remain normative for us. Our contemporary interpretations do not share this prerogative.

1. A new relationship between pleasure and pain

Leaving aside the beatitude of poverty, which we meditated on during a previous Advent, we will concentrate on the second beatitude: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). In the Gospel of Luke, where the beatitudes, four in number, form a direct discourse and are reinforced with woes, the same beatitude is pronounced thus: "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh ... Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep" (Luke 6:21, 25).

There is a formidable message enclosed within in the structure of this beatitude. It permits us to see the revolution that the Gospel wrought in regard to the problem of pleasure and pain. The point of departure -- common to both religious and profane thought -- is the realization that pleasure and pain are inseparable in this life; they follow upon each other with the same regularity as the cresting and falling of waves in the sea.

Man tries desperately to detach these Siamese twins, to isolate pleasure from pain. But in vain. The same disordered pleasure turns back on him and transforms itself in suffering, either suddenly and tragically, or a little at a time, insofar as it is by nature ephemeral and generates exhaustion and nausea. It is a lesson that comes to us from the daily news and which man has expressed in a thousand ways in his art and literature. "A strange bitterness," wrote the pagan poet Lucretius, "emerges from the heart of every pleasure and disturbs us already in the midst of our delight."[2]

The Bible has an answer to give to this the true drama of human existence. From the very beginning man has made a choice, rendered possible by his freedom, that has brought him to orient his capacity for joy -- which was bestowed on him so that he would aspire to the enjoyment of the infinite good, who is God -- exclusively toward visible things.

In the wake of the pleasure that is chosen against God's law and symbolized by Adam and Eve who taste the forbidden fruit, God permitted that pain and death should come, more as a remedy than as a punishment. God wanted to prevent man, who would be moved by his instinct and an unbridled egoism, from destroying everything, including his neighbor. Thus, we see that suffering adheres to pleasure as its shadow.

Christ finally broke this bond. He, "in exchange for the joy that was placed before him submitted to the cross" (Hebrews 12:2). In other words, Christ did the contrary of what Adam did and what every man does. "The Lord's death," wrote Maximus Confessor, "different from the death of other men, was not debt paid for with pleasure, but rather something cast against pleasure itself. Thus, through this death, the fate merited by man was changed."[3] Rising from the dead he inaugurated a new type of pleasure: that which does not precede pain, as its cause, but that which follows on it as its fruit.

All of this is wondrously proclaimed by our beatitude which opposes the sequence weeping-laughter to the sequence laughter-weeping. This is not a simple temporal inversion. The difference, which is infinite, is in the fact that in the order proposed by Jesus, it is pleasure, and not suffering, that has the last word, that counts more, a last word that endures for eternity.

2. "Where is your God?"

But let us try to understand just who exactly are those who mourn and weep who Christ proclaims blessed. Today exegetes exclude, almost unanimously, that these are only those who are afflicted in a purely objective or sociological sense, people who Jesus would proclaim blessed simply because they are suffering and weeping. The subjective element, that is, the reason for the weeping, is decisive.

And what is this reason? The surest way to discover which weeping and which affliction are those which Christ proclaims blessed is to see why one weeps in the Bible and why Jesus wept. In this way we discover that there is a weeping of repentance like that of Peter after the betrayal. There is also a "weeping with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), that is, of compassion for the sorrows of others, as Jesus wept with the widow of Nain and with the sisters of Lazarus. There is likewise the weeping of the exiled who long for their homeland, as the Israelites wept along the rivers of Babylon. There are many others besides...

I would like to focus on two reasons for weeping in the Bible and for which Jesus wept, which seem to me particularly appropriate to meditate on in the time in which we live.

In Psalm 41 we read: "Tears are my bread day and night, as they daily say to me, 'Where is your God?' ... While my bones are broken, my enemies who trouble me have reproached me; they say to me all the day long, 'Where is your God?'"

This sadness of the believer, caused by the presumptuous denial of God that surrounds him, has never had more reason to exist than it does today. After the period of relative silence that followed the end of Marxist atheism, we are witnessing the return to life of a militant and aggressive atheism of a scientific and scientistic kind. The titles of some recent books speak eloquently of this: "The Atheist Manifesto," "The God Illusion," "The End of Faith," "Creation without God," "An Ethics without God."[4]

In one of these treatises we read the following declaration: "Human societies have developed various normative means for acquiring knowledge which are generally shared, and through which something can be accepted. Those who affirm the existence of a being that cannot be known through those instruments must take upon themselves the burden of proof. For this reason it seems legitimate to hold that, until the contrary is proved, God does not exist."[5]

With the same arguments we could demonstrate that love does not exist either, from the moment that it cannot be ascertained by the instruments of science. The fact is that the proof for God's existence is found in life and not in the books and laboratories of biology. First of all, in the life of Christ, and in the lives of the saints and of countless witnesses of faith. It is also found in the much derided signs and miracles that Jesus himself gave as a demonstration of his truth and that God continues to give but which atheists reject a priori, without trying to investigate them.

The reason for the sadness of the believer, as for the psalmist, is the impotence that he feels when faced with the challenge of those who say "Where is your God?" With his mysterious silence God calls the believer to share his weakness and defeat, allowing victory only under this condition: "The weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:25).

3. "They have taken away my Lord!"

No less painful for the Christian believer today is the systematic rejection of Christ in the name of an objective historical research which, in certain forms, degenerates into the most subjective thing one can imagine: "photographs of the authors and of their ideals," as the Holy Father notes in the introductory pages to his new book on Jesus. We are watching a race to see who succeeds in presenting a Christ who best measures up to the man of today, stripping him of every transcendental aspect. In answer to the question of the angels, "Woman why do you weep?" Mary Magdalene, on Easter morning, says, "They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where to find him" (John 20:13). This is a reason for weeping that we can make our own.

The temptation to clothe Christ in the garb of our own epoch or ideology has always existed. But in the past the causes were arguably serious and of a wide scope: Christ the idealist, the romantic, the liberal, the socialist, the revolutionary... Our time, obsessed as it is with sex, cannot but think of him as troubled by certain problems of desire. "Once again Jesus has been modernized, or better, postmodernized."[6]

It is good to know the origin of these recent currents which make Jesus of Nazareth a testing ground for the postmodern ideals of ethical relativism and absolute individualism (called deconstructionism) that are, directly or indirectly, inspiring novels, films and events and also influence historical investigations of Jesus. We can trace it to a movement that emerged in the United States in the final decades of the last century and that in the "Jesus Seminar" had its most active form.

This movement defined itself as "neo-liberal" on account of its return to the Jesus of the liberal theology of the eighteenth century, without any connection to Judaism or to Christianity and the Church; a Jesus who is a propagator of moral ideas, no longer of a universal scope, as in classical liberalism (the paternity of God, the infinite value of the human soul), but of a narrow wisdom, of a sociological rather than a theological nature. The aim of these scholars is no longer simply to correct but to destroy, as they say, "that mistake called Christianity."

The programmatic remarks made by the founder of the movement in 1985 is significant:

We are about to embark on a momentous enterprise. We are going to inquire simply, rigorously after the voice of Jesus, after what he really said. In this process, we will be asking a question that borders the sacred, that even abuts blasphemy, for many in our society. As a consequence, the course we shall follow may prove hazardous. We may well provoke hostility. But we will set out, in spite of the dangers, because we are professionals and because the issue of Jesus is there to be faced, much as Mt. Everest confronts the team of climbers.[7]

Jesus is liberated not only from the dogmas of the Church, but also from the Scriptures and the Gospels. What sources remain to speak of him at this point which are not pure fantasy? The apocrypha, naturally, and, in the first place, the Gospel of Thomas, indeed dated by them around 30 to 60 A.D., before all the canonical Gospels and before Paul. Another source would be the sociological analysis of the conditions of life in Galilee at the time of Christ.

What image of Jesus was extracted? I will cite some of the definitions that have been given, not all, naturally, shared by all: "an eccentric Galilean"; a "wise and subversive drifter"; the "master of an aphoristic wisdom"; "a Judean peasant soaked in the philosophy of cynicism."[8]

The mystery of how this innocuous individual ended up on the cross and became "the man who changed the world" remains to be explained. The truly sad thing is not that these things have been written (you need to invent something new if you want to continue to write books) but rather that, once published, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of these books are sold.

It seems to me that the incapacity of historico-philological research to link the Jesus of reality with the Jesus of the Gospel and ecclesiastical sources has to do with the fact that it ignores and does not concern itself with studying the dynamic of spiritual or supernatural phenomena. It would be like trying to hear a sound with your eyes or see colors with your ears.

The study and the experience of mystical phenomena (these too are real!) shows how a later development, in the life of a person or a movement started by him, can be contained in an event, sometimes a brief instant (when we are dealing with an encounter with the divine), the hidden potentialities of which are only revealed afterward in its fruits. Sociologists get close to this truth with the concept of a "nascent state."[9]

The child or adult man looks different from when he was an embryo at the beginning; and yet we know that in the embryo everything was contained. In the same way the kingdom is at the beginning "the smallest of seeds," but is destined to grow and become a great tree (Matthew 13:32).

The birth of the Franciscan movement lends itself to a comparison, one on a qualitatively different level of course. The Franciscan sources present differences and contradictions on nearly every point about the life of the Poverello (St. Francis): on the vision and the words of the crucifix of San Damiano, on the episode of the Stigmata. There is no word of the saint, except for those few written by his own hand, about which there is certainty that they came from his mouth. The "Fioretti" seem to be an idealization of history.

And yet all that which blossomed around and after Francis -- the Franciscan movement with its reflections in spirituality, in art, in literature -- stems from him; it is nothing but a manifestation -- even an impoverished one -- of the spiritual energies unleashed by his person and life; better, by that which God did in his life.

There are many, even among believing scholars, who take for granted that the real Jesus was, and understood himself to be, much less than that which is written about him in the Gospels, that this or that title is not to be attributed to him. The truth is that he is much more, not less, than that which is written about him! Who the Son is, is known only to the Father and, in small part, it is known to those to whom the Father chooses to reveal him, in general not the gifted and the wise, so long as they do not turn and become like children.

Paul spoke of experiencing "a great pain and continual suffering" in his heart for his fellow Jews who had rejected Jesus (Romans 9:1 ff); how can we not feel the same pain for his rejection by many of our contemporaries in the countries of ancient Christian faith? For a similar reason -- for not having recognized a friend and savior in him -- Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Fortunately, it seems that a chapter in the studies of Jesus is finally closing and the page is being turned. In a work entitled "Los albores del cristianismo" (Christianity in the Making), destined to be a watershed as his previous studies have been, James Dunn, one of the best living scholars of the New Testament, after a careful analysis of the results of the last three centuries of research, comes to the conclusion that there was no rift between the Jesus who preached and the Jesus who was preached, between the Jesus of history and of faith. This faith was not born after Easter but in the first encounters with the disciples, who became disciples precisely because they believed in him, even though at the beginning it was a fragile faith, naive about its implications.

The contrast between the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history is the result of a "flight from history," before it is a "flight from faith," due to the projecting onto Jesus of the interests and ideals of the moment. Yes, Jesus is freed from the garb of ecclesiastical dogma, but only to be put into the clothing of a fashion that changes from season to season. The immense effort expended on research into the person of Christ has nevertheless not been in vain since it is precisely thanks to it that now, with all the alternative solutions explored, we are able to critically reach this conclusion.[10]

4. "The priests weep, the ministers of the Lord"

There is another weeping in the Bible that we must reflect on. The prophets speak of it. Ezekiel recounts the vision he had one day. The powerful voice of God cries out to a mysterious person "dressed in linen with an inkwell in his hand": "Go through the whole city, through all of Jerusalem, and mark a tau on the forehead of all those who sigh and weep because of all the abominations that are committed there" (Ezekiel 9:4).

This vision has had a strong impact on revelation and on the Church. That sign, the tau, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, because of its cross-like form, became in the Book of Revelation the "seal of the living God" signed on the forehead of all those who are saved (Revelation 7:2 ff).

The Church has "wept and sighed" in recent times for the abominations committed in her womb by some of her own ministers and shepherds. She has paid a high price for this. She has sought to repair the damage. Strict rules have been laid down so that these abuses do not happen again. The moment has come, after the emergency, to do that which is the most important: to weep before God, to do penance, as God himself has been abused; to do penance for the offense against the body of Christ and the scandalizing of the "least of his brothers," more than for the damage and dishonor that has been brought upon us.

This is the condition for bringing good from this evil and for bringing about a reconciliation of the people with God and with its priests.

"Blow the trumpet in Zion, proclaim a fast, call a solemn assembly.… Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say: 'Spare, O Lord, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach with the nations ruling over them'" (Joel 2:15-17).

These words of the prophet Joel call out to us. Could we not perhaps do the same today: call a day of fasting and penance, at least at the local and national level, where the problem has been the worst, to publicly express repentance before God and solidarity with the victims, bring about the reconciliation of souls, and take up again the path of the Church, renewed in heart and in memory?

The words spoken by the Holy Father to the episcopate of a Catholic country in a recent ad limina visit give me the courage to say this. The Holy Father said that "the wounds caused by similar acts are profound, and the work to restore confidence and trust once these have been broken is urgent … In this way the Church will be strengthened and will be always more capable of bearing witness to the redemptive power of the Cross of Christ."[11]

But we must not leave this topic without a word of hope for the unfortunate brothers who have been the cause of the evil. In regard to a case of incest in the community of Corinth the Apostle declared: "Let this person be delivered up to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that in the day of the Lord his spirit may obtain salvation" (1 Corinthians 5:5). (Today we would say: Let him be subjected to human justice so that his soul might obtain salvation.) The salvation of the sinner, not his punishment, was what concerned the Apostle.

One day when I was preaching to the clergy of a diocese that suffered much because of these things, I was struck by a thought. These brothers of ours have been stripped of everything, ministry, honor, freedom, and only God knows with what effective moral responsibility in individual cases; they have become the last, the rejected.… If in this situation, touched by grace, they do penance for the evil caused, they unite their weeping to that of the Church, then the blessedness of those who mourn and weep could become their blessedness. They could be close to Christ who is the friend of the last, more than others, me included, rich with their own respectability and perhaps led, like the Pharisees, to judge those who make mistakes.

There is something, however, that these brothers must absolutely avoid doing but which some, unfortunately, are attempting to do: profiting from the clamor to take advantage even of their own guilt, giving interviews, writing memoirs, in an attempt to put the guilt on their superiors and the ecclesial community. This would reveal a truly dangerous hardness of heart.

5. The most beautiful tears

Let us conclude with a look at a different kind of tears. It is possible to weep because of pain but it is also possible to weep because we are moved and to weep for joy. The most beautiful tears are those that fill our eyes when, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, "we taste and see how good the Lord is" (Psalm 34:9).

When we are in this state of grace we marvel that the world and we ourselves do not fall on our knees and, being moved and in a stupor, continually weep. Tears of this kind must have fallen from Augustine's eyes when in the "Confessions" he wrote: "How you loved us, good Father, to have not spared your only Son but to have given him up for all of us. How much you loved us!"[12]

Pascal shed such tears on the night that he had the revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who disclosed himself through the Gospel. Pascal wrote on a piece of paper (found sown into his jacket after his death): "Joy, joy, tears of joy!" I think that the tears with which the woman who was a sinner bathed the feet of Jesus were not only tears of repentance but also tears of gratitude and joy.

If in heaven it is possible to weep, then paradise is full of such weeping. In Istanbul, the ancient Constantinople, where the Holy Father traveled some days ago, St. Simeon the New Theologian lived, the saint of tears. He is the most luminous example in the history of Christian spirituality of tears of repentance that transform themselves into tears of wonder and silence. "I wept," he says in one of his works, "and I was in an indescribable joy."[13] Paraphrasing the beatitude of those who mourn, he says: "Blessed are they who always weep bitterly over their sins, for the light will catch hold of them and will transform their bitter tears into sweet."[14]

May God allow us to enjoy, at least once in our lives, these tears of emotion and joy.

* * *

[1] Gregory the Great, "Commentary on Job," 20, 1 (CC 143 A, p. 1003).
[2] Lucretius, "De rerum natura," IV, 1129 s.
[3] Maximus Confessor, "Capitoli vari," IV cent. 39; in Filocalia, II, Torino 1983, p. 249.

[4] Respectively Michel Onfray, di Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Telmo Pievani, Eugenio Lecaldano.
[5] Carlo Augusto Viano, "Laici in ginocchio," Laterza, Bari.
[6] J.D.G. Dunn, "Gli albori del cristianesimo," I,1, Paideia, Brescia, 2006, p. 81. The first two volumes of the first part have appeared in Italian with the title "Albori del cristianesimo," I, La memoria di Gesú, vol. 1: Fede e Gesú storico; I, 2: La missione di Gesú (English title, "Christianity in the Making").

[7] Robert Funk, Opening remarks of March 1985, at Berkeley, California.
[8] Cf. J.D.G. Dunn, "Gli albori del cristianesimo," I, 1, pp. 75-82.
[9] Cf. F. Alberoni, "Innamoramento e amore," Garzanti, Milano 1981.

[10] Cf. Dunn.
[11] Benedict XVI, Discourse to the bishops of the episcopal conference of Ireland, Saturday, 28 October, 2006.
[12] Augstine, "Confessions," X, 43.

[13] Simeon the New Theologian, "Thanksgivings," 2 (SCh 113, p. 350).
[14] Simeon the New Theologian, "Ethical Treatises," 10 (SCh 129, p. 318).

Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue as Witness

Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue as Witness

Interview With Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion

ROME, DEC. 17, 2006 ( The theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches "can give witness of Christ," says a Greek Orthodox prelate.

Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion is director general of the Apostoliki Diaconia, which in the Greek Orthodox Church is in charge of the missions, the formation of seminarians and publishing.

Last spring Bishop Agathangelos came to visit Rome with a Greek-Orthodox delegation, to get to know better the tradition and culture of the Catholic Church.

According to the bishop, it is important to discover everything that united the two Churches in the first millennium, when they were not yet divided, to get to know and listen to each other. He shared his views in this interview.

Q: What do you think of the relations between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church?

Bishop Agathangelos: John Paul II's visit to Greece in 2001 was decisive in the improvement of relations between our Churches. In the Areopagus, the Pope met with Christodoulos, the archbishop of Athens and All Greece.

In the years after the visit, that is, since I have headed Apostoliki Diaconia, we have come closer in our relations with the Catholic Church, especially with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

One of the fruits of our collaboration is the preparation of a facsimile of the ancient and richly decorated manuscript "Menologium of Basil II" on the lives of the saints, which is kept in the Vatican Library. It is a most important work because it was made after the iconoclast period. This manuscript marks a turning point in the history of the Church of the East, which again begins to venerate icons and discovers the importance of beauty.

On the occasion of the manuscript's publication, we invited the librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, to Athens, who brought greetings on behalf of Benedict XVI. On that occasion, Archbishop Christodoulos was invited to visit the Vatican.

Last year we offered, through the Apostolic Nunciature in Athens, scholarships to 30 Catholics so that they could visit our country, learn the language, get to know our culture and Orthodox tradition. In this way, Catholics could draw near the "other part" of the Church with which we "were one" for 1,000 years.

Q: Can the Greek Orthodox Church serve as example for the other Orthodox Churches of ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church?

Bishop Agathangelos: I think that every man of good will can discover the meaning of such dialogue and learn to dialogue.

Collaboration between the Churches cannot be compared to relations between states. This collaboration has many aspects and one of these is the visits which make it possible to overcome prejudices.

It is something that is very important, especially now, when we are beginning the new stage of dialogue between our Churches. I want to underline a fact: many Churches and patriarchates -- the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarchate of Alexandria, of Jerusalem, Church of Cyprus, of Albania -- collaborate with us and appoint Greek professors of theology for the ecumenical contacts.

Q: The Catholic Church is very concerned about the way certain things are going in the European Union, especially in the promotion of the new vision of man and the family, which contradicts Christian anthropology. Does the Orthodox Church share this concern?

Bishop Agathangelos: We have the same fears that you do. We see with sadness that Europe, especially Western Europe, is abandoning Christianity. Politicians do not recognize the identity of our continent which is the fruit of our history and cannot be denied. It is a grave problem therefore which we must address cooperating among ourselves.

Q: But how can one convince the politicians of the European Union to give up the policies that attack the family if certain Protestant churches recognize homosexual unions?

Bishop Agathangelos: That is why the dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church is so important. Very many things unite us: common tradition, theology, apostolic succession, opinions on bioethics, human rights, peace in the world.

For 1,000 years, we have lived together, for 1,000 consecutive years we were separated. In the course of history there were dramatic moments, we often felt wounded, but this does not mean that today we cannot live like brothers.

Q: In what way can our Churches oppose jointly the anti-Christian policies and the process of secularization of the Western world?

Bishop Agathangelos: I wish to make only one reflection. Our theological dialogue can give witness of Christ. Today people who are searching for the truth ask us: Why are you divided? How can we convince our faithful of the love of Christ if we are divided?

Q: You have already met with Benedict XVI.

Bishop Agathangelos: For me, it was very important to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and hear his words personally. After the visit, we left strengthened in spirit to work still more for the reunification of our Churches. These are our human plans. But if we have good intentions and open hearts, God will bless us: The history of the world and of the Church are in his hands.

Trailer: Letters from Iwo Jima

Apple; official website

I have not yet seen Flag of Our Fathers so I cannot say if I agree with those who have criticized Eastwood's position on war and of World War II in particular. I do think that showing the Japanese side will be somewhat of a good illustration of H. John Poole's Phantom Soldier, which discusses how Asians have been able to engage the U.S. military and survive, by exploiting American weaknesses and refraining from engaging with American strengths.