Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday BookReview: PADRE PIO (d. 1968)



"When you feel despised, imitate the kingfisher, who builds its nest on the masts of ships. That is to say, raise yourself up above the earth, elevate yourselves with your mind and heart to God, who is the only one who can console you and give you strength to withstand the trial in a holy way."
                                                       
                                            


In an isolated mountain village on the east coast of southern Italy, Padre Pio lived for 50 years in a Capuchin friary. Often hounded and persecuted by Church officials, he submitted to their restrictions with patience -- saying, "Let God's will be done."

Pio was declared a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002. His shrine is visited by millions each year; in popularity, it is second only to Mexico's basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

"The fascination of his gruff manner and the magnetism of his extraordinary saintliness drew people to him... The only way to talk to him personally was through the medium of confession."

I've enjoyed paging through Magic of a Mystic by the Duchess of St. Albans -- stories of Padre Pio told in a folksy way (her sister lived for many years in the priest's village of San Giovanni Rotondo), along with interesting photos of the people and landscape. A huge Franciscan hospital rose up during the priest's lifetime, "built exclusively with mule and bullock transport." 

Pio suffered greatly, literally bleeding for his flock. Things were always exciting in his orbit as he thundered, when necessary, at folks in the confessional; made simultaneous appearances in two places; and converted violent Communists.


An opera star (L) sings for his friend Padre Pio

"If you can talk with the Lord in prayer, talk to him, offer him your praise; if, due to great weariness, you cannot speak, do not find displeasure in the ways of the Lord. Stay in the room like servants of the court do, and make a gesture of reverence. He will see you, and your presence will be pleasing to him. He will bless your silence and at another time you will find consolation when he takes you by the hand."




UPDATE: "Father Pasquale Cattaneo also gives us a testimony showing Padre Pio’s ability to read hearts. Fr. Cattaneo had received permission from his superiors to visit San Giovanni and to go to confession to Padre Pio. During his bus trip he prepared himself with a good examination of his conscience so as to be ready to make a sincere confession of his sins. With the help of the Holy Spirit he looked into every comer of his soul, and made new promises of amendment. However as the bus going to the Gargano was on the last part of the journey and the town came into view, he ended his examination perplexed thinking: 'The spiritual life at times seems like trying to climb glass.'

"When he arrived at the friary, he went into the sacristy and told the friar who helped with the confessions that he had come to confess to Padre Pio and afterwards he patiently waited for his turn. When the time came he entered the confessional, greeted Padre Pio and made his confession. After confessing his faults, Padre Pio gave him absolution. He then arose, feeling happy that he had made a sincere confession, when he turned one last time and glanced at the Padre--the Padre smiled at him and with an amused look he wittingly said: 'So, the spir­itual life seems like climbing glass, eh?'

______________


The Duchess of St. Albans wrote her book 15 years after Pio's death. Several times at her home in France, she experienced (though, earlier, she had been skeptical hearing of it from others) the sweet spicy "odor of sancticty" that emanated from him -- in life and death, in rural Italy and far beyond.

With no hesitation, if someone asked me the craziest year I've witnessed in the world, my answer would be 1968. It surely is more than coincidental that Saint Pio (the most unique of all modern saints) was taken to heaven then, to fulfill his prediction that he would be able to do more for humanity after his death than he had in life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Doc Pence on why we build cities and countries on the shared loves of men


A mother looks 'inward' and loves her child, and a man loves what?

Pence:  Woman was made out of a person, but man was made of the physical stuff of the universe. Man is meant to order the physical world by his assigned portion. In the Acts of the Apostles we learn that God "...has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation."
 A man is called to have a public gaze, to love his country, and bind with other men looking out on the same landscape with that peculiar male perspective called patriotism.

Why did Christ command his Twelve to go baptize all the nations?

Pence:  The Apostles are a hierarchical masculine community -- they are the men of Galilee -- a territorial body of mostly outdoorsmen who are assigned a new set of nets to become "fishers of men." There are twelve of them in the beginning to show that Christ has restored Israel, which had been split apart since the sons of Solomon. The fishermen of Galilee were not pole fishermen getting one fish at a time. They used nets and brought in schools of fish to the boat. Christ recognized that men lived under civil authority in communal groups: 'gens,' tribe, nation. Men were not being asked to surrender their allegiance to their 'polis' or their nation. Like the marriages of man and woman, the political communities of men under law or leader were to be sacralized and brought into the wider community of the human species. The signs of this are the Eucharist centered territorial dioceses of the Church, the Body of Christ. Every diocese has their own men of Galilee. Every nation must be like the Israelites of old.  Christ did not say: "Go, save each of their souls." He said, "Go, baptize the nations!" Our nations as surely as our families are spiritual organisms that  have some appointed role to play in the Divine Drama.

Ireland, in voting to approve homosexual marriage, is an emblem of what?
   
Pence:  Let's wake up and do a little honest reporting. The Catholic hierarchy, priests and male religious orders in Ireland, Germany, Italy, and the United States have been deeply compromised by sexually corrupted seminaries and priestly culture for a half century. Listen to some of the Irish bishops almost in glee over the revolution. Gay marriage in Ireland and the German bishops' organizing coup against the Synod on the Family are fruits of priestly corruption just as the teenage male abuse scandal was. Ireland's bishops and priests are among the most corrupt in the world. The big Irish dominated dioceses of America fell in the same way: to some unholy mixture of a loss of the sacred, a decline in daily prayer, heavy alcoholism and then sexual depravity. It is hard for the secular press to follow the narrative  that the primary institutions of the Catholic Church in these countries have been deeply compromised and corrupted by a decades-old "gay culture" among priests and brothers. This has been complemented by the ideology of feminism in the majority of our North American and European religious communities of sisters. It's hard for the secular media to get at the spiritual roots of this problem. They have been explaining that the solution for the Catholics is to embrace the sexual revolution. Little do they know; our clergy and chanceries and convents were way ahead of them. The desacralized employees of the Catholic Church embraced the sexual revolution before the Catholic laity ever knew what hit us. The Catholic Church has the most extensive network of rich, propertied single-sex institutions in the world. These institutions (especially in the white North) have been hijacked by the careerists of the sexual Left. They need to be cleansed, but they cannot be cleansed if we do not answer the apostles' query to Christ: "Which of us has betrayed you, Lord?" Bishops and priests will have to start coming clean about the lavender nature of the modern Judas, and the ideological character of the feminist assault on the Marian Church.  The Judas priests must be washed from the brotherhood as surely as the feminist implant must be extracted from the sisters. Only then can we sing praise and glory to the Father and proclaim the Good News as the Body of Christ to every creature.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Map on Monday: INDONESIA

Stratfor - short for Strategic Forecasting, Inc. - is a private global intelligence company that offers geopolitical insight into the interplay of nations. Stratfor has developed an excellent series of short (~2-4 minute) videos which provide the viewer with a specific nation, along with its basic history, geography, culture, and geopolitical allies and adversaries. In the following video, they present the geographic challenges facing Indonesia.



PHYSICAL ECOLOGY OF INDONESIA: POPULOUS NATION, REGIONAL LEADER, STRATEGICALLY LOCATED

by A. Joseph Lynch 

Indonesia is home to over 252 million people, making it the fourth most-populous nation on the planet behind China, India, and the United States. Many people forget that Indonesia is 87% Sunni Muslim, and thus the largest Muslim nation in the world.

Indonesia is an important strategic partner for the United States in the region. Situated between Australia to the south and the South China Sea to the north, Indonesia acts as a regional buffer to Chinese expansion. Indonesia also occupies vital east-west waterways important to commercial shipping. This is particularly true regarding the Strait of Malacca. Located between Indonesia's island of Sumatra and the Asian nations of Malaysia and Singapore, 25% of all the world's goods passes through the Strait of Malacca.

The internal conflicts of Indonesia are based largely on religion. East Timor (pop 1 million) won its independence in 2002 after a bloody twenty year war. Most of Indonesia was settled and unifed by  the Dutch but Timor was settled by Catholic Portuguese. The independence movement vivified a dormant Christian identity and East Timor is now 97% Catholic. The ACEH province on the island of Sumatra in the northwest of Indonesia is considered the birthplace of Islam in the islands. There is a movement there to more faithfully structure life on Islamic law. This was the province most devastated by the tsunami of Dec 26, 2004, which killed 250,000 people. 167.000 were from Indonesia. That event halted fighting between ACEH  and the Indonesian central governemt but the Islamic movement is mounting again. There is agreement on both sides that the natural disaster was in retribution for sin.

Irian Jaya, West Papua is another contested region. It has 875,000 people. They are 3/4 Christian. It  is the western part of the island of New Guinea(the second largest island in the world). It had been part of the Dutch East Indies and was annexed by Indonesia in 1969.  The eastern part of the island  is the country of Papua New Guinea (7 million pop and Christian). It was adminstered by Australia for 70 years, became independent in 1975 and is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

The founding father of Indonesia, Sukarno suggested five principles for the unification of the country emerging from  WWII. He tried to unify multiple linguistically and ethnically diverse communities by blending three movements-monotheism, nationalism and socialism. The philosophy of the country is derived from two Javanese words for "five principals"-PANCASILA. Sukarno ranked them 1) nationalism of Indonesia; 2)Internationalism and humanity; 3) Deliberative consensus-democracy; 4)Social welfare; 5)Monotheism-religious duty. This was quickly reordered so Monotheism reigned as the first principle with  the others to follow.

As President Sukarno leaned left there was an attempted coup and then a purge of Communist forces in 1965-66.  From 80,000 to 500,000 were killed. It was the most significant anti Communist setback in Asia since the beginning of the Cold War.  President Suharto (1965-1998) established his New Order more on anticommunist principles than Islamic but the religious culture of the country was a major reason this Asian giant did not fall under the Marxist spell.

Although Indonesia, like Malaysia, is an Islamic nation, Indonesia has bound itself more closely to its east Asian neighbors than to the Mideast. Key to its foreign policy is leadership within ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). ASEAN is based out of Indonesia's capital of Jakarta and includes the nations of Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam. Indonesia comprises the geographic heart of ASEAN and thus plays an important role in regional stability, economic prosperity, and deepening the cultural identity of southeast Asia. China, India and Japan are Asia's big three nations. Among the ten nations of ASEAN are significant  cultural bastions against communism--Christian Philippines, Islamic Indonesia, and Buddhist-Islamic-Christian Singapore.  May ASEAN build up their brother nations in peace and prosperity.

Member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Sunday, May 24, 2015

PENTECOST: Messiah, Incarnation, Church, and Trinity


(first published June 8, 2014)



"The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost."         (Pope Leo XIII, 1897)
                           

David Pence writes:

St. Augustine said the coming of the Holy Spirit – exactly ten days after the 40 days of Christ’s risen presence – signifies that the Spirit fulfills the Law (Ten Commandments) in Christ.  The obligatory presence of adult males in Jerusalem for the Jewish Pentecost crowded the city square with men speaking the different languages of the nations, but sharing the unified liturgical memory of Israel.

“For as of old on the fiftieth day after the sacrifice of the lamb, the Law was given to the Hebrew people on Mount Sinai – so after the sacrifice in which the True Lamb of God was slain on the fiftieth day after his resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and those who believed” [from a sermon of Leo the Great].
                               

The Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church, the Giver of Life, and the great binder of communions. He animates matter with life, draws the living to the Church, and indelibly configures the baptized to the Body of Christ. He was a co-conspirator with Christ throughout his life on earth, as they plotted to confound Satan in the desert and build the Kingdom of God on earth. The presence of the Spirit was activated on Pentecost as it is sacramentally for us in Confirmation.  That distinct Catholic sacrament of initiation “confirms in the Spirit” the soul of the Christian to the physical liturgical presence of the Bishop as the local head of the Apostolic Church. Like baptism, confirmation orders the soul with a permanent seal of character in ecclesial communion with Christ.  After confirmation there is no such thing as a vocation to the single life.  Baptism in one sense, and confirmation in a deeper way, calls each of us out of the single life into a new communal identity as a practicing Catholic.

In the days before Pentecost, the Twelve had been corporately restored by the election of Matthias (the opening chapter of the Book of Acts.)  On Pentecost the Spirit filled the apostles, and their shouts of praise were heard in the tongues of many nations (second chapter of Acts.)  An early bishop, when questioned why he couldn't talk so foreigners could understand, replied that by baptizing men of  many nations and languages, it is the Church now through her converts who speaks in tongues understood by all the nations.

It was Peter – surrounded by his apostolic brethren constituting the restored twelve tribes of Israel – who formally addressed the “Men of Judea” gathered in their holy city. He announced that the Messiah promised to them as Jews had come to deliver them from their enemies, but had been killed by those He came to save. He offered them repentance and incorporation in the new Kingdom under Christ the Lord. The universality of the Church’s Kingdom message to the nations, the fact that the Messiah was not another human prophet but the God of nature become man, and the mystery that God is One in Three Persons: these three truths became the reflections of Pentecost Sunday sermons down through the ages. Like all of us, the 3,000 baptized Jews of that day did not fully appreciate the extent of the miraculous events that engulfed them. The developing realization that this coming of the Spirit was the action of a distinct Person of a triune God gave a name and special time for reflection to the octave Sunday of Pentecost: Trinity Sunday.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, May 23

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


WHY DID WE INVADE IRAQ?

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 led by President George W. Bush was justified because most of our intelligence and Senate believed that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction (nuclear and chemical weapons which he had used in the 1980-89 war with Iran). The US had responded to the 2001 bombing of the twin towers in New York City by quickly driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan into the hills of Pakistan. We were aided in this by Shiite forces in Afghanistan and Shiite Iran who were enemies of the radical Sunni Al Qaeda, associated with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The secularist Saddam Hussein had little to do with the September 11th attacks, engineered by fifteen Saudis and four other radical Sunnis.

There was a strong ally of the US interested in bringing down the regime of Saddam Hussein. A defense strategy written for Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel in 1992 argued for the overthrow of Saddam as part of a strategic reconfiguration of Mideast alliances. The policy was meant as a Clean Break from the obsession with the Israeli/Palestine conflict. The writers argued that the greatest existential threat to Israel was going to be a biological or nuclear-armed Iraq or Iran. This change of focus from Palestinians to regional powers with weapons of mass destruction was a huge paradigm shift. A group that adopted that Clean Break mentality for American foreign policy was advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein long before the 9-11 attacks, They coalesced around the project for the New American Century.  The US Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act and President Clinton signed it October 31, 1998. The act stated that "regime change" of the government led by Saddam Hussein was the policy of the US Government.  The US had in Saddam Hussein a declared enemy who was a Chief of State  in the Muslim world.  Turning the words of our policy into military action in concert with the newly evolving strategy of our long term ally -- the Israelis -- made sense to a lot of people.


STAY DOMINANT: FROM WOLFOWITZ TO RUBIO 

Before the September 11th attacks, the US was reformulating a strategic doctrine after the fall of the Soviet Union. One such paper authored in 1992 is called the Wolfowitz Doctrine because of its origin from Paul Wolfowitz in the State Department. A five-year defense strategy paper written in 1992 during the George H. W. Bush presidency (Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years) had to wait for the Clinton interlude (1992-2000) before a revival of its principles during the George W. Bush years. In the Clinton years (though the document had been severely criticized when leaked) an important part of the doctrine was realized. Fifteen independent states emerged from the Soviet Union, and Germany was reunified as a nation. But the document had favored a continuing expansion of an armed alliance against Russia. In the lost opportunity of a lifetime, the president who did little to fight the Cold War as a youth was not magnanimous in the victory. It is probably not fair to blame a tepid Southern Baptist for not recognizing the significance in Christian history of a chance to mend some of the wounds of the Great Schism.

The basic concept of the Wolfowitz Doctrine (and by default, the Clinton policy) was a recognition of the demise of the bipolar world of USSR vs USA. The USA should maintain military supremacy over a globalized economy and work to suppress any regional actors ("hegemons" as they love to say) from ever assuming the role the USSR had in the Cold War. The most dangerous regional actors to keep suppressed would be China in the East, Russia in Europe, and Iran in the Mideast. That sounds like the speech and first three questions addressed by Senator Marco Rubio at the Council on Foreign Policy.


IN ASIA THREE TRUE LEADERS 

Asia's three biggest economies have simultaneously developed three real leaders. (They are pictured here.)


US-RUSSIA: A BREAKTHROUGH? 

Here is an excellent summary of the folly of US-Russia enmity over Crimea. Apparently, several European nations are advocating a serious reversal. On Russia and Iran, John Kerry has been a formidable force for the kind of realignment we will need to defeat the ISIS Sunni movement. A breakthrough with Russia is essential. Whether this article is wishful thinking or first evidence of a real change, we will see.

MILITARY REFORM 

One wonders where are the military voices in the foreign policy debate. Pope Francis criticizes careerism in the Vatican. It is a Pentagon problem as well.


MIDEAST R&G  ROUND UP

Egypt - Executing the Elected: The Mideast is complicated. One variant of Sunni purists are the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They forswore violence and won a national election (51% - 48% for Mohammed Morsi as president in June 2012). They did not govern well and specifically threatened Egypt's Coptic Christians and, more importantly, questioned the favored social status of the Egyptian military. The Christians, secularists, multiple opposition groups, and the military all favored the military coup in July 2013 which overthrew the elected government of Mohamed Morsi. Army chief general Abdel Fattah el Sisi became the new President. His speech calling for a religious reexamination in the Mideast was widely praised in the West. The Saudis have supported the military coup. They never liked the Muslim Brotherhood. It favors a much more republican version of Islamic governance vs. their hereditary rule style. Qatar which has more religious freedom than Saudi Arabia was a defender of the Egyptian election and the Muslim Brotherhood. This led to a strain in relations among the Gulf monarchies. Now, President Morsi and many of his political followers have been sentenced to death. President Sisi of Egypt has helped the Gulf monarchies in their assault on the Houthis of Yemen. He has tried to win US favor in foreign policy. The execution of an elected but deposed president should not be too eagerly cheered.

Protecting Christians: To protect the Christians in the Mideast, we should begin by not aiding their greatest enemies: radical Sunnis. Next we should not eliminate the only fighting forces in the Mideast against the Wahhabi Sunnis of Saudi Arabia. This includes the Houthi Shia of Yemen, the Shia of Iran, the Shia of Iraq, and the Alawite Shia and their Christian allies under Assad of Syria. Meanwhile in Kenya, Christian pastors protect their flocks from another threat: cultural imperialism. This comes from a Republican website, but it is an accurate compilation of the aggressive sexual Left policies pressuring the Christian cultures and countries of Africa of Africa.

Religious Devastation in Yemen: Saudi Arabia's bombing of the Shias in Yemen is the worst religious persecution in the Mideast right now. Several Republican candidates who are all about sanctions against Russia for claiming the Crimea are all in for the Saudis destroying the Houthis of a neighboring country,Yemen. One wishes to avoid inflammatory rhetoric but apparently we are all supposed to be quieted and blinded by the new compound word IRAN-HOUTHI. Houthi is a word that no longer appears at any public event without its partner ("Iran") in the American press.

Changes in the House of Saud: Here is short summary by Robin Wright in the 'New Yorker.'

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday BookReview: Alexander Hamilton, "the most progressive and most neglected of the founding fathers"

             

1755 - 1804


Shortly after Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton came out in 2004, I sat down and read through it with much interest. (More recently he wrote a book on George Washington. I will review that Pulitzer Prize winner this summer.)


Here are excerpts from columnist David Brooks' take on the Hamilton biography:
When Alexander Hamilton was 10, his father abandoned him. When he was around 12, his mother died of a fever in the bed next to his. He was adopted by a cousin, who promptly committed suicide. During those same years, his aunt, uncle and grandmother also died. A court in St. Croix seized all of his possessions, sold off his personal effects and gave the rest to his mother's first husband. By the time he was a young teenager, he and his brother were orphaned, alone and destitute. 
Within three years he was a successful businessman. Within a decade he was effectively George Washington's chief of staff, organizing the American revolutionary army and serving bravely in combat. Within two decades he was one of New York's most successful lawyers and had written major portions of The Federalist Papers. Within three decades he had served as Treasury secretary and forged the modern financial and economic systems that are the basis for American might today. Within five decades he was dead at the hands of Aaron Burr. 
Alexander Hamilton was the most progressive, and is the most neglected, of the founding fathers. He was the most progressive because he saw that America could be a capitalist superpower, and he figured out which institutions it would need to realize that destiny. 
He is the most neglected, first because he was a relentless climber (and nobody has unalloyed views about ambition), second because he was a great champion of commerce (and nobody has uncomplicated views about that either) and third because his most bitter rivals, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, outlived him by decades and did everything they could to bury his reputation. So there is no Hamilton monument in Washington, but at least we now have Ron Chernow's moving and masterly Alexander Hamilton, which is by far the best biography ever written about the man... 
Hamilton, we now see, was a dark thicket: aspiring and optimistic, but also pessimistic about human nature and often depressed. He was a modern striver, but also an archaic man with a deeply self-destructive lust for aristocratic honor. He was devoted to his heroic wife, but he was uncontrollable at times... 
Hamilton, whose life, as Chernow notes, was ''a case study in the profitable use of time,'' absorbed Plutarch, Bacon and the Bible and emerged onto the public stage as a pamphleteer for the American Revolution. ''The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records,'' he wrote in 1775 at 20. ''They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of the divinity itself and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.'' 
During the war, his administrative talents were quickly recognized, and he was plucked to serve on Washington's personal staff, beginning the most important relationship of his career. Washington was steady, elevated and active. Hamilton was frenetic, combative and intellectual. Though they were not affectionate toward each other until later in life -- Hamilton actually repelled Washington's friendly overtures during the Revolution -- neither man's greatness would have been possible without the other.
At Valley Forge, Hamilton saw how fundamentally weak the nation was, how lacking in the sort of productive capacity one needs to wage a war or survive as an independent nation. This was the formative insight that shaped his career. 
His conclusions put him outside the mainstream at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He favored more centralized power than most of the delegates and was more suspicious of the masses. But he threw himself into the cause of ratification. He wrote his part of The Federalist Papers, America's most significant contribution to political philosophy, during the spare moments of the day between meetings with law clients. 
''He always had to fight the residual sadness of the driven man, the unspoken melancholy of the prodigy,'' Chernow observes. While others resented him with a furious passion or gaped at him with amazement -- Talleyrand considered him one of the three greatest men of the epoch -- Hamilton himself was lacerated with a feeling of ''personal inadequacy that the world seldom saw.'' 
His greatest achievements came as Treasury secretary. He was confronted by an economically weak and fractious nation. He nationalized the debt, binding the states together and creating the fluid capital markets that are today the engine of world capitalism. He was working at a time when many around him had an entirely static view of economics. They scorned credit, banks and stock markets, and considered manufacturing the least productive form of economic activity. 
But Hamilton dreamed of a vibrant economy that would allow aspiring meritocrats like himself to rise and realize their full capacities. He sought to smash the aristocratic fiefs enjoyed by Southern landowners like Jefferson and to replace them with a diversified marketplace that would be open to immigrants and the lowborn. Their vigor, he felt, would drive the nation to greatness... 
Hamilton's relationship with his wife and family is one of the revelations of this book. At home he was a loving father, who could compose a treatise on how to bathe a sick child as expert and specific as anything he wrote on tax policy. He was utterly dependent on his wife, who emerges in this account as a woman of almost superhuman fortitude. 
And yet Chernow never lets us forget that he was a man inflamed by his desire for honor. The final duel with Burr started over nothing. But the feud between the two men escalated and escalated. Chernow rebuts those historians who have argued that Hamilton was really seeking to commit suicide. Among other things, his attachment to his family was too deep, and his awareness of the suffering that his death would cause them too profound. But Hamilton still went to Weehawken [July 1804, on a remote bluff of the Palisades of New Jersey] determined to throw away his own shot, fully aware this choice might cost him his life. 
His widow outlived him by 50 years, trying vainly to repair his reputation against the assaults from the Jeffersonians. As Chernow is aware, this book finally accomplishes her task.


Check out Peter Robinson's interview with Mr. Chernow. One of the discussion points is the ferociously bitter fighting between Jefferson's philosophical camp ("Farmers are the salt of the earth, and national power is anathema!") and the Hamiltonians ("Cities with manufacturing, along with a strong federal government, are our future.") The political climate back then makes ours today look fairly benign.


His grave in Trinity Churchyard at Broadway & Wall Street



UPDATE: One of the current Broadway hits is a musical rapping version of Chernow's book! Here is an overview by the 'CBS Sunday Morning' show.

Peggy Noonan called it a masterpiece:
There is nothing like it on the New York stage, and never has been. I got choked up so often I started counting how many times I tried not to weep... Why was everyone so moved? 
Because it hits your heart hard when you witness human excellence. Because the true tale of how an illegitimate, lowborn orphan from the West Indies went on to become an inventor of America is a heck of a story. And because it is surprising yet perfect that that story is told in a hip-hop/rap/rhythm-and-blues/jazz/ballad musical whose sound is pure 2015 yet utterly appropriate to the tale... 
Young Hamilton was alone in the world, an orphan with no connections, a self-tutored genius... He is ambitious, full of hunger for life, but he needs a stage. He gets himself to New York, then as now the city of ambition, and hears in the taverns of the rising American revolutionary spirit. This is his moment, his chance... Barely arrived and Alexander Hamilton was already an American.
In a telephone interview Mr. Miranda [the star and creator of the show] says: “There are so many highs and lows in Hamilton’s life—tragic circumstances. Then he pulls himself up to incredible early American heights. Then he pulls himself down!” Mr. Miranda recalls that by the end of the second chapter of Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, on which the show is based, “I fell in love. I know this guy. I know about improbability. He’s like Pip in ‘Great Expectations’—the genius, the frustrated genius, I know who this guy is.” 
The show is not politically correct, but not in a way that feels forced. It seems effortless and natural, as if Mr. Miranda never heard of political correctness. 
And there’s some kind of new racial alchemy in the show. Mr. Miranda is Puerto Rican, his cast is black, white and brown, and the actors get to play the parts that suit their talents, not their racial circumstance. “Hamilton” marks multicolored America seizing U.S. history and making it its own, and producing in the process a work not of all colors but of a universal American color. By respecting the American Dream and presenting it in this way, “Hamilton” says the dream is alive, everyone owns it, and if you look close you can see it playing out every day, all around you... 
“If there’s a political takeaway,” says Mr. Miranda, “it is that it’s always been like this. The Eden in which we had no political parties lasted about six months or a year. Divisions were inevitable. We fight, we’re people, it’s messy.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Map on Monday: THE MILITARIES OF THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

In our Religion and Geopolitics Review on Saturday, May 2, we linked our readers to a Business Insider report on Japan's new defense agreement with the United States. That report also included an excellent  map (at left; click to enlarge but best map is in article) of the sea claim conflicts in the South China Sea. The map includes important information regarding military installations and geostrategic locations just off the map.

We also linked readers to a story about an upcoming strategic partnership between the Philippines and Vietnam - two historically Catholic nations in region. These two nations seek to ease their own border disputes, aid each other in economic and scientific pursuits in the sea, and begin naval drills together.

The combined naval power of Vietnam and the Philippines boasts 10 frigates, 20 corvettes, and 61 patrol ships. Vietnam also has three Russian submarines on order; and the Philippines plans to acquire its first 2-3 submarines in the next five years. Catching up to both nations is the Malaysian Navy with 2 frigates, 6 corvettes, 2 submarines, and 6 stealth frigates (in production).

The Japanese Navy is more muscular at 4 helicopter carriers (with a 5th under construction), 22 destroyers, 11 frigates, 6 corvettes, and 16 attack submarines.

Of course, all these nations are dwarfed by the Chinese Navy in ascendancy with an aircraft carrier (the Liaoning), 60 attack submarines, 5 ballistic missile submarines, 24 destroyers, 47 frigates, and 19 corvettes.

For more information on the region see also: 
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