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Showing posts from April, 2010

Thailand go bad, Philippines very good

The title of this post is exactly what the tooktook driver told me when I returned from a meeting in Central Bangkok to my well appointed but still super budget hotel near Bangkok’s version of Banawe Street, Quezon City. I couldn’t take a cab and getting to the MRT was out of the question as Red Shirt protesters and Thaksin fans were marching on the streets.I will not dwell on the usual CNN and BBC commentaries that the Thai political crisis will affect Thailand’s economy. That is patently obvious. The Thais have made the whole biz of people power more savvy. The main aim to shut down not the TV stations (it was the government who did that) or the stock market, but the biggest shopping malls. If we had that kind of people power now, then the government will have a struggle to be in power.I have had an interest in Thailand since I have many scientist colleagues from that country. Also my parents have so many close friends from the Kingdom and they have become like family …

Chinmoku: Reading Shusaku Endo once more

I was 12 or 13 or so when Dad and his good Buddhist friend Hama-San (who to me was my second father) brought me to a museum in Nagasaki dedicated to Japan's Christians and the persecution they endured as the country became a "closed one" and how the faith survived for 240 years after sans priests, nuns, rosaries etc.
What I recall is the katana with the cross on the sword guard. This was owned by a Christian daimyo. I also remember the images of the Buddhist Kannon which is really Santa Maria.
I also remember clearly the Fumie, or icons of the Madonna which Japanese were to step on as a test of renouncing Christianity.
Japanese Christianity began with the Jesuit priest Francis Xavier who in 1547 landed in Kagoshima with co-missionaries. He carried icons of the Madonna and used these to explain to the Japanese what the Catholic faith was all about. By 1579, there were 130,000 Japanese Catholics by the start of the persecutions 10 years later, there were 300,000. . But the Sh…

The cost of Christmas: The Cross at Easter

In the Qatar, the emir has donated land to build Christian churches provided that the churches have no bells, steeples or a cross to identify them. The churches are the first to be built in this Islamic emirate in hundreds of years. The Catholic Our Lady of the Rosary Church ministers to mostly expats, many of which are Filipinos. The architecture of the church sans the cross looks remarkably like the modernist mosque architecture I have seen in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
And that is most likely what was intended. In Islamic states, proselytizing to Muslims is forbidden although non-Muslims may practice their religion. The Cross is the sign of the Christians and the very symbol itself is so central to faith and thus can convert the unbeliever.
Legend has it that Constantine the Roman Emperor was converted by seeing the Cross and the words "In hoc signo Vinces" meaning In this Sign Conquer. Constantine was the emperor to formally issue an edict given religious toleration t…