Category : Asia

A BBC Article on India’s General Election

But despite the massive mandate, the verdict on Modi’s performance has been mixed.

There have been some gains – more roads, rural works, cheap cooking gas for the poor, village toilets, a uniform sales tax, a promising health insurance scheme which could end up benefiting 500 million families, and a new bankruptcy and insolvency law.

But the economy is underperforming. India’s farms, where most of its people work, are beset by a crisis of low crop prices. Unemployment is rising, and a controversial currency ban ended up hurting the poor.

Socially, the BJP’s strident Hindu nationalism has left the country polarised and minorities nervous. India is in the grip of a fake-news epidemic, partly due to cheap phones and data. Some dissenters have been labelled as “anti-nationals” and thrown into prison.

Modi now faces another crucial general election….

Read it all.

Posted in History, India, Politics in General

(Christian Today) Situation for India’s Christians is ‘worsening year on year’+the Bharatiya Janata Party isn’t helping

After a steady decline in conditions for India’s Christian minority in recent years, there are fears that things may be about to get worse if the ruling BJP holds onto power in the forthcoming election.

Millions of Indians will cast their votes from 11 April to 23 May in the world’s largest democratic elections, but one pastor who asked to be unnamed for security reasons fears election rigging.

“People regret their choices of 2014. Where I live, most people don’t like the BJP at all,” the pastor told Open Doors UK.

“They shouldn’t win. But we are afraid that the elections will be rigged. Maybe the voting machines will be hacked or maybe people will be given money if they vote for the BJP.

“We, as pastors, were promised land and protection if we voted for them.”

Instead of land and protection, Christians have seen an increase in attacks since the BJP came to power in 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in India, Religion & Culture

(NYT) This Chinese Christian Was Charged With Trying to Subvert the State

In 2006, three Chinese Christians traveled to Washington to ask President George W. Bush for his support in their fight for religious freedom. One of them had converted to the faith only a few months earlier: Wang Yi, a 33-year-old lawyer from the southwestern city of Chengdu.

But Mr. Wang had already become such a prominent Christian that organizers made sure he went to the White House. A nationally known essayist and civil rights lawyer, he would soon found a 500-member church that was independent of government control, along with a seminary, an elementary school and even a group to aid the families of political prisoners — all illegal but which he accomplished by sheer force of will.

Today, Mr. Wang, now 45, is back in the spotlight, this time at the center of an intense crackdown on Christianity. His Early Rain Covenant Church and others like it are popular among China’s growing middle class and have resisted government control, testing the ruling Communist Party’s resolve to bring China’s churches to heel.

“He saw an inevitable fight with the government because of it trying to control the churches,” said Enoch Wang, a pastor based in the United States who has met Wang Yi many times. “He knows that sooner or later they’ll come for you and so there’s no point in trying to hide.”

Read it all.

Posted in China, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) After Mass Detentions, China Razes Muslim Communities to Build a Loyal City

In this old Silk Road city in western China, a state security campaign involving the detention of vast numbers of people has moved to its next stage: demolishing their neighborhoods and purging their culture.

Two years after authorities began rounding up Urumqi’s mostly Muslim ethnic Uighur residents, many of the anchors of Uighur life and identity are being uprooted. Empty mosques remain, while the shantytown homes that surrounded them have been replaced by glass towers and retail strips like many found across China.

Food stalls that sold fresh nang, the circular flatbread that is to Uighur society what baguettes are to the French, are gone. The young men that once baked the nang have disappeared, as have many of their customers. Uighur-language books are missing from store shelves in a city, the capital of China’s Xinjiang region, that has long been a center of the global Uighur community.

Supplanting the Turkic culture that long defined large parts of Urumqi is a sanitized version catering to Chinese tourists. On a recent morning in the Erdaoqiao neighborhood, the once-bustling heart of Uighur Urumqi, nang ovens were nowhere to be seen—but souvenir shops sold nang-shaped pocket mirrors, nang bottle openers and circular throw pillows with covers printed to look like nang.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Islam, Religion & Culture

(ABC Aus.) Indonesia sees rise in number of self-proclaimed prophets promising to save the nation

It is a time of purported visions and miracles for tens of thousands of Indonesians, as the world’s most populous Muslim nation experiences a rise in the number of self-proclaimed prophets thanks to social media.

But the emergence of new religious movements claiming divine connections, which often draw on elements of Islam and Christianity, has been highly controversial in the increasingly conservative Muslim nation.

Several new religious leaders and their followers have already been prosecuted and imprisoned under the country’s strict blasphemy laws.

Al Makin, an Indonesian expert in new religious movements at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta, said the movements had gained traction mainly due to increased exposure on social media and people seeking answers during periods of economic and political uncertainty.

“Their existence often stems from uncertainties surrounding an unstable political climate,” he said, referring to the widespread social instability after the fall of former president Suharto and the 1998 Asian financial crisis, which caused job losses and increased poverty.

Read it all.

Posted in Indonesia, Religion & Culture

(CBS) “Record-breaking” Japanese preemie weighing as much as an onion at birth goes home healthy

A baby born in Tokyo weighing the same as a large onion has gone home healthy. The tiny tot weighed just 268 grams — under 10 ounces — when he was delivered at 24 weeks, reportedly after he stopped growing in the womb.

He was so small he fit in an adult’s cupped hands.

Keio University Hospital said the boy is believed to now hold the record for the smallest newborn boy to be discharged from a hospital in good health. The record was previously held by a boy born in Germany in 2009 weighing just 274 grams (9.6 ounces), the hospital said, citing a registry put together by University of Iowa for the world’s tiniest surviving babies.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Japan

Albert Mohler for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–“God Made Me for China:” Eric Liddell Beyond Olympic Glory

“God made me for China.” Eric Liddell lived his life in answer to that calling and commission. As Duncan Hamilton explains, Liddell “considered athletics as an addendum to his life rather than his sole reason for living it.”

Eric Liddell ran for God’s glory, but he was made for China. He desperately wanted the nation he loved to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe. David J. Michell, director for Canada Overseas Missionary Fellowship, would introduce Liddell’s collected devotional writings, The Disciplines of the Christian Life, by stating simply that “Eric Liddell’s desire was to know God more deeply, and as a missionary, to make him known more fully.”

Christians must remember that Olympic glory will eventually fade. There will be medalists for all to celebrate. But, will there be another Eric Liddell? At the very least, his story needs to be told again. The most important part of his story came long after his gold medal arrived by mail.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, China, Missions, Sports

(NYT) Murders of Religious Minorities in India Go Unpunished, Report Finds

The Indian authorities have delayed investigating a wave of vigilante-style murders of religious minorities, with many instead working to justify the attacks or file charges against some of the victims’ families, according to a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch.

The 104-page report said that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, attacks led by so-called cow protection groups have jumped sharply.

Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people have been killed, Human Rights Watch found. Most of the victims were Muslims accused of storing beef or transporting cows for slaughter, a crime in most Indian states. Many Hindus, who form about 80 percent of India’s population, consider cows sacred.

Data cited in the report from FactChecker.in, an Indian organization that tracks reports of violence, found that as many as 90 percent of religion-based hate crimes in the last decade occurred after Mr. Modi took office. Mobs hung victims from trees, frequently mutilated victims and burned bodies.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, India, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Freer Andrews

Gracious God, who didst call Charles Freer Andrews to show forth thy salvation to the poor: By thy Holy Spirit inspire in us a tender concern, a passionate justice, and an active love for all people, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with thee and the same Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Japan

O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Japan, Spirituality/Prayer

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Pakistan’s Supreme Court upholds Asia Bibi’s acquittal

Ms Bibi was first acquitted last October, but the government backed away from freeing her unconditionally after a wave of rioting orchestrated by an ultra-zealous Islamist political party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which continued to demand her death. The party’s leader was among those arrested after the riots and remains in prison. Under a bargain with the protesters, the government agreed to ask the Supreme Court to review her acquittal and to prevent Ms Bibi from leaving the country pending those proceedings. The public response to this latest decision has been more muted than it was in October, with the Pakistani authorities seemingly better prepared to withstand an onslaught.

The case has triggered an international furore, with the accused woman’s husband Ashiq searching for a country which was prepared to offer her asylum and risk the ire of Islamic extremists (Canada, Spain and France are thought to have offered asylum). She is most likely to go to Canada, where two of her children have reportedly moved this week. Britain’s Foreign Office admitted that it had not granted Ms Bibi asylum for fear of endangering its own staff in Pakistan. The move prompted protests from politicians and religious leaders in Britain who insisted that the country should not allow itself to be intimidated. Although Pakistan’s blasphemy laws enjoy some support in the country’s diaspora, including in Britain, several British imams urged the government to take Ms Bibi in and face down the extremists.

A representative for Amnesty International, a London-based human-rights body, urged the Pakistani authorities to implement the verdict swiftly. She said: “Asia Bibi must finally get her freedom and an end to her ordeal. After nine years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit, it is difficult to see this long overdue verdict as justice. But she should now be free to reunite with her family and seek safety in a country of her choice.”

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(Forbes) Ewelina Ochab–Religious Freedom Is On The Decrease In India

Religious freedom in India continues to deteriorate and it has been on a gradual decline for at least a decade. As a result, the plight of religious minorities is reaching new levels. This despite the fact that the right to freedom of religion or belief is clearly recognized in the 1949 Constitution of India. Also, India acceded to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and so pledged to adhere to the international standards of human rights enshrined in the treaty. Nonetheless, these guarantees prove not to be enough yet again.

In its annual report, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) identifies several limitations to the right to freedom of religion or belief and challenges faced by religious minorities in India. For example, Hindu extremism is on the rise with several of cases of harassment, intimidation and violence being committed against Hindu Dalits, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Sikhs. USCIRF identified groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS), Sangh Parivar and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) who are responsible for an organised campaign of alienation against non-Hindus or low-caste Hindus.

Indeed, the issue is serious. The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir, reported that in 2017 alone, 111 people were killed and 2,384 injured in communal clashes….

Read it all.

Posted in India, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture

In late October, the pastor of one of China’s best-known underground churches asked this of his congregation: had they successfully spread the gospel throughout their city? “If tomorrow morning the Early Rain Covenant Church suddenly disappeared from the city of Chengdu, if each of us vanished into thin air, would this city be any different? Would anyone miss us?” said Wang Yi, leaning over his pulpit and pausing to let the question weigh on his audience. “I don’t know.”

Almost three months later, Wang’s hypothetical scenario is being put to the test. The church in south-west China has been shuttered and Wang and his wife, Jiang Rong, remain in detention after police arrested more than 100 Early Rain church members in December. Many of those who haven’t been detained are in hiding. Others have been sent away from Chengdu and barred from returning. Some, including Wang’s mother and his young son, are under close surveillance. Wang and his wife are being charged for “inciting subversion”, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Now the hall Wang preached from sits empty, the pulpit and cross that once hung behind him both gone. Prayer cushions have been replaced by a ping-pong table and a film of dust. New tenants, a construction company and a business association, occupy the three floors the church once rented. Plainclothes police stand outside, turning away those looking for the church.

One of the officers told the Observer: “I have to tell you to leave and watch until you get in a car and go.”

Read it all.

Posted in China, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(BBC) China’s pre-Christmas Church crackdown raises alarm

A recent surge of police action against churches in China has raised concerns the government is getting even tougher on unsanctioned Christian activity.

Among those arrested are a prominent pastor and his wife, of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan. Both have been charged with state subversion.

And on Saturday morning, dozens of police raided a children’s Bible class at Rongguili Church in Guangzhou.

One Christian in Chengdu told the BBC: “I’m lucky they haven’t found me yet.”

China is officially atheist, though says it allows religious freedom.

But it has over the years repeatedly taken action against religious leaders it considers to be threatening to its authority or to the stability of the state, which, according to Human Rights Watch, “makes a mockery of the government’s claim that it respects religious beliefs”.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Pastor Charged With ‘Inciting Subversion’ as China Cracks Down on Churches

An outspoken Chinese pastor and his wife face up to 15 years in prison after being charged with inciting to subvert state power, a sign that Chinese authorities are intensifying a crackdown on religious groups, one of the most serious in recent decades. Wang Yi, 45, who runs the independent Early Rain Covenant Church in the southwestern city of Chengdu, was detained last weekend along with over 100 members of his congregation. As of Thursday, most of the group’s main leaders were still in custody and the police had sealed off the church, which occupies the floor of an office building. The move against the church comes as the authorities have gradually constricted religious rights and sought to eliminate independent places of worship. Read it all.
Posted in China, Religion & Culture

(Reuters) China outlaws large underground Protestant church in Beijing

Churches across China have faced new waves of harassment and pressure to register since a new set of regulations to govern religious affairs in China came into effect in February and heightened punishments for unofficial churches.

In July, more than 30 of Beijing’s hundreds of underground Protestant churches took the rare step of releasing a joint statement complaining of “unceasing interference” and the “assault and obstruction” of regular activities of believers since the new regulations came into effect.

China’s Christian believers are split between those who attend unofficial “house” or “underground” churches and those who attend government-sanctioned places of worship.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-Ed) Can the U.S. Stop China From Controlling the Next Internet Age?

Also this week in the White House, a round-table was held to debate topics like artificial intelligence, 5G wireless and quantum computing, with top tech executive such as Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Sundar Pichai of Google, Safra Catz of Oracle and Steve Mollenkopf of Qualcomm in attendance. It was called a “listening session,” and it was reported that President Trump “popped” in, at a time when these issues need far more sustained attention from the top than that.

Which is why it came as no surprise when The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump was not briefed about the planned arrest of Ms. Meng, even though it took place at the same time he was having dinner with China’s president, Xi Jinping, in an attempt to find a truce in the trade war.

From where I sit, the sentiment in Silicon Valley seems to be: Good for the government for being tough on Chinese companies when they break the rules — that rule-breaking having been a longtime complaint of companies like Cisco and Apple. Vigilance is key, of course, but everyone would feel a lot more confident if the government was also focused on investing more in American innovation and if the crackdown looked less chaotic.

Which is why you can imagine a big American tech executive being detained over unspecified charges while on a trip to Beijing. And our government should, too.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Science & Technology

(Economist) Chip wars: China, America and silicon supremacy

Although the chip battle may have pre-dated Mr Trump, his presidency has intensified it. He has made a national champion of Qualcomm, blocking a bid for it from a Singaporean firm for fear of Chinese competition. Earlier this year an export ban on selling American chips and software to zte, a Chinese telecoms firm in breach of sanctions, brought it to the brink of bankruptcy within days. Startled by the looming harm, and (he says) swayed by appeals from Mr Xi, Mr Trump swiftly backtracked.

Two things have changed. First, America has realised that its edge in technology gives it power over China. It has imposed export controls that affect on Fujian Jinhua, another Chinese firm accused of stealing secrets, and the White House is mulling broader bans on emerging technologies. Second, China’s incentives to become self-reliant in semiconductors have rocketed. After zte, Mr Xi talked up core technologies. Its tech giants are on board: Alibaba, Baidu and Huawei are ploughing money into making chips. And China has showed that it can hinder American firms. Earlier this year Qualcomm abandoned a bid for nxp, a Dutch firm, after foot-dragging by Chinese regulators.

Neither country’s interests are about to change. America has legitimate concerns about the national-security implications of being dependent on Chinese chips and vulnerable to Chinese hacking. China’s pretensions to being a superpower will look hollow as long as America can throttle its firms at will. China is destined to try to catch up; America is determined to stay ahead.

The hard question is over the lengths to which America should go.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(BBC) Chinese scientist He Jiankui defends ‘world’s first gene-edited babies’

…experts worry meddling with the genome of an embryo could cause harm not only to the individual but also future generations that inherit these same changes.

Prof He’s recent claims were widely criticised by other scientists.

Hundreds of Chinese scientists also signed a letter on social media condemning the research, saying they were “resolutely” opposed to it.

“If true, this experiment is monstrous. Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer,” Prof Julian Savulescu, an ethics expert at the University of Oxford earlier told the BBC.

“This experiment exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real necessary benefit.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

(Telegraph) Christian woman cleared of blasphemy barred from leaving Pakistan

A Christian woman spared the death penalty after her blasphemy conviction was overturned faces being barred from leaving Pakistan under a deal struck to appease hardliners.

Pakistan’s government on Friday night said it had reached an agreement with Islamist parties to end three days of protests which have paralysed the country after Asia Bibi was freed.

The deal included a government concession to begin court proceedings to put Mrs Bibi on the country’s no-fly list.

Pakistan’s government told the BBC it would be up to the court to decide, but the sop to extremists is likely to anger rights groups and Western countries who have been pushing for her freedom.

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Pakistan’s High Court Acquits Asia Bibi, Christian Woman On Death Row For Blasphemy

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy in a case that has roiled the country.

In the courtroom, it took less a minute for the chief justice, Saqib Nisar, to upturn a series of legal rulings that had kept Bibi on death row for eight years.

In terse remarks to the hushed, packed courtroom, he said that Bibi’s conviction and sentence had been voided.

In a 56-page verdict issued after the ruling, the three-judge bench appeared to side with Bibi’s advocates. They have maintained that the case against the 51-year-old illiterate farmhand was built around a grievance by her fellow Muslim workers, who appeared angry that she might drink from the same vessel as them. She was ordered by a local landlord to bring water to the women on a day while they were picking berries.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Bernard-Henri Lévy–ISIS Overlooks a Synagogue in Mosul

In short, a few hours of lively conversation on social media generated at least one area of agreement: ISIS, in its abysmal stupidity, had not understood that in its midst, converted into a cache for rockets and ammunition, stood a synagogue on par with those found in Kurdish Iraq. The discovery is a reminder of Mosul’s once thousands-strong Jewish community, which was evacuated in the early 1950s.

It also shows that what goes for hearts also goes for places: To survive, they sometimes have to borrow an identity, to pretend. It may well be, in other words, that cities, like Spanish Jews, can be Marranos, living undercover. This marranism is so powerful that when the jihadists took control of the region—and methodically destroyed churches, Yazidi temples and the ancient al-Nuri mosque—they managed to miss a holy place where the eternal continued to be praised, though in secret.

It raises a question: Is the world serious about saving what still can be saved of one of its oldest cities? Does Unesco mean what it says when it baptizes its program of urban and political reconstruction “the spirit of Mosul”? Will Americans and Europeans have what it takes to remake this disfigured city into what it was for centuries—a crossroads of peoples, religions and civilizations—and what its immortal soul aspires to become once again?

If so, we must heed the erudite Muslim of Mosul Eye. Watching and writing from his hometown, from the quiet heart of what was the epicenter of world jihadism, he called on us to rebuild the last synagogue still standing in the city of the prophet Jonah.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, Judaism, Terrorism

(NYT) Chiune Sugihara: The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting

In 1939 Sugihara was sent to Lithuania, where he ran the consulate. There he was soon confronted with Jews fleeing from German-occupied Poland.

Three times Sugihara cabled his embassy asking for permission to issue visas to the refugees. The cable from K. Tanaka at the foreign ministry read: “Concerning transit visas requested previously stop advise absolutely not to be issued any traveler not holding firm end visa with guaranteed departure ex japan stop no exceptions stop no further inquires expected stop.”

Sugihara talked about the refusal with his wife, Yukiko, and his children and decided that despite the inevitable damage to his career, he would defy his government.

Mr. Zimbardo calls the capacity to act differently the “heroic imagination,” a focus on one’s duty to help and protect others. This ability is exceptional, but the people who have it are often understated. Years after the war, Sugihara spoke about his actions as natural: “We had thousands of people hanging around the windows of our residence,” he said in a 1977 interview. “There was no other way.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Japan, Judaism, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(FT) How business is capitalising on the millennial Instagram obsession

The tables at the Tsubaki Salon are slightly wobbly. No more than a couple of millimetres off kilter, but enough to be noticeable.

This is puzzling because, in all other respects, this highest of high-end pancake houses, nestling among the haute-couture flagships of Tokyo’s Ginza district and fitted out in bracingly minimalist decor, is perfection. The plates and cups are the definition of Japanese ceramic elegance. The spindly handled spoons and forks have been created by one of the country’s most famous designers to fit the pinnacle of pancake Epicureanism. When it comes to the edible stars of the show — made using a complex technique — they too, in the view of the pancake cognoscenti, are flawless.

But what about that wobble? “It’s deliberate,” says Yukari Mori, nudging the table a little to demonstrate that even this imperfection is perfection. “They were designed this way to show off what makes these pancakes so good.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Japan, Photos/Photography, Science & Technology, Young Adults

(CEN) Gafcon delegates told: “This is our family home”

During conference breaks delegates visited the Exhibitors’ stands including a stand from EFAC where the General Secretary Richard Crocker reported that delegates had been ‘like bees round a honeypot.’

He said the seam of goodwill “will take a long time for follow-up. Biblically faithful provinces want to establish EFAC, and places where EFAC has never been, want it.”

Before delegates left for the Temple Steps on 40 coaches, Archbishop Stephen Tan of Myanmar spoke of the unending 64-year civil war in his country. At the age of 24 he was imprisoned and tortured by the government. Although he was uninvolved, his two brothers had evaded capture so he was arrested.

Brought up as a Christian he lost his faith in prison. He was confined with no light and no toilet in his cell for six months. Contemplating suicide he prayed one last time and then saw a purple cross. He fainted and seemed to fall down a deep hole.

At the bottom he heard someone say: “My son, I am always with you.” He shouted, “Jesus is alive” and began to preach in the jail.

Read it all (subscription may be required).

Posted in GAFCON, Myanmar/Burma

(NPR’s Marketplace) The business of dealing with China’s cheating husbands

Dai’s charges can add up to more than $150,000 for two months of work, which is far more than what he could earn as a high school graduate in his hometown in eastern Jiangsu province. Wives of wealthy men are willing to pay his fees because China’s divorce law favors the man and divorce is still a major stigma.

“It can affect your children. They will be less desirable as marriage candidates,” Dai said.

There is no guarantee of success in marriage dissuading. Dai said only 50 percent of his cases work out. He refers to the mistress as a “cancer in the marriage.”

“We are merely doing an external surgery. Whether the marriage can be saved depends on the couple,” Dai said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family

Watch CNN’s ‘1968’ and Relive a Tumultuous Year

The most exciting thing on TV this Memorial Day weekend is the documentary series 1968: The Year That Changed America, produced by Tom Hanks, 61, who besides his movie star gig rivals Ken Burns, 64, as America’s leading historian onscreen. Hanks should get his 16th Emmy nomination for this two-night, four-part, deep dive into a year that outdoes 2018 for tumultuous changes — many of which have a familiar ring.

There’s a controversial game-changer president (Lyndon Johnson) with historically low approval ratings, bloody political riots, a crisis in Korea, a fractured nation at endless war abroad (and also with itself) and an unprecedentedly close — and ugly —presidential election nearly upended by charges of illegal foreign interference.

And it all looked so promising when 1968 began. In the documentary, we hear Johnson crowing about his Medicare and Medicaid programs helping 25 million Americans, and Jesse Jackson noting, “In terms of civil rights, no tree in the forest is as tall as Abe Lincoln, except Lyndon Johnson.” Then all hell breaks loose, cities erupt in flames, George Wallace leads a third-party candidacy that fails (yet also forged the new coalition that now rules America) and Johnson wonders why the people he did so much for turned on him so bitterly.

1968 clarifies why Americans turned on each other in ways that still affect us today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Vietnam, Violence

(Guardian) ‘Slow genocide’: Myanmar’s invisible war on the Kachin Christian minority

When Tang Seng heard gunshots close to his village in Myanmar, he had a choice: carry his grandmother away from the fighting on his back or run for help. She asked him to kill her and leave her there but he refused.

Tang Seng walked out of his village carrying Supna Hkawn Bu to a makeshift camp for the displaced, where they remain with their family. She has had to flee from conflict five times in her life and didn’t speak for two days when they first arrived.

War in Myanmar is synonymous with the Rohingya crisis but Tang Seng and his grandmother are not Rohingya refugees. They are from the country’s north, in the state of Kachin, where another brutal but far less well publicised conflict is playing out between the largely Christian minority group and government militias.

Read it all.

Posted in Myanmar/Burma, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Indonesia Family, With Children in Tow, Carries Out Suicide Bombings at 3 Churches

One suicide bomber appeared to have been disguised as a churchgoer. Another drove a Toyota minivan to one attack site. Still another was seen in footage speeding on a scooter before exploding.

When the smoke cleared from the back-to-back bombings, which targeted three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, as worshipers gathered between services on Sunday morning, the police said it had been the work of one family: a couple who had led their four children in a rampage that took their own lives and killed at least seven other people.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to the group’s news agency Amaq. In an initial bulletin, the group described each of the back-to-back bombings as a “martyrdom” operation. In a subsequent, longer media release, the group identified three modes of attack, including a car bomb, a suicide vest and a motorcycle-borne bomb.

Read it all.

Posted in Indonesia, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Atlantic) North Korea’s Secret Christians

South Korea turned off dozens of high-volume loudspeakers on Monday, putting a halt to the propaganda they normally broadcast over the border into North Korea. The move, a government spokesman said, was designed to set a peaceful tone ahead of the talks between the two Koreas Friday—a tone that was reinforced by the announcement that the countries had committed to work toward a peace agreement. The strikingly amicable inter-Korean summit will in turn set the tone for an upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit, during which President Trump and Kim Jong Un are expected to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But while the South’s loudspeakers have stopped blaring reports critical of the North, forbidden messages are still flowing across the border—on the airwaves of a Christian radio station.

South Korea’s largest religious radio broadcaster, the Far East Broadcasting Company, transmits gospel-centered programs to both North and South Korea every day of the week. The station’s goal is to use Christian radio to subvert the Kim regime’s strict ban on religion, and ultimately pave the way for a unified, Christianized Korean Peninsula. The Christians behind FEBC advocate for the reunification of the two Koreas under a democratic system, which they believe would bolster religious freedom. What’s more, they see Christianity and North Korean ideology as mutually exclusive—and argue that the former can be an antidote to the latter.

Around 20 percent of South Korea’s population identifies as Protestant, and Protestantism has roots on the Korean Peninsula stretching back to the 19th century, when American missionaries began arriving there. The religion gained stature as churches became associated with the resistance to Japanese occupation of a then-unified Korea during World War II, but still remained on the margins—only 2 percent of South Koreans were Christian in 1945.

But the two Koreas took different religious paths following their division in 1948….

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Posted in North Korea, Religion & Culture, South Korea