Shūsaku Endō's Silence and Faithfulness

Readers of First Thoughts will know by now that Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Silence by Shūsaku Endō was released in select theaters on December 23. The novel warrants the attention it is getting. Set in the 1640s at the end of Japan's “Christian Century” (1549-1639), Silence is a haunting journey through one priest’s struggles to remain faithful in the most challenging of circumstances. Continue Reading »

The Price of Chinese Ultra-Nationalism

There’s tons of international stories that Americans don’t follow very closely, a pattern of behavior that is quite human, really. But I am convinced that what’s been going on in China is a huge story that most Americans have not yet paid adequate attention to. A fellow at Forbes, . . . . Continue Reading »

A Pro-Japan Angle on China Turmoil

How to understand the recent spate of impassioned protests in China, officially against the Japanese ownership of some small islands, but clearly signifying more than just that? It is turmoil at least as significant as what’s occurring in the Muslim world, as it has political machinations . . . . Continue Reading »

More on East Asian Islet Jitters

Well I couldn’t resist (ineptly) posting that photo of the reef-rock that China and the Philippines both claim, but doing so perhaps made the topic seem more humorous than it really is. Bottom line 1: you gotta watch China on every geo-strategic front, and the “spontaneous” . . . . Continue Reading »

Federalist #6 in East Asian Waters

The causes of hostility among nations are innumerable. Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #6 Words to ponder as Chinese protesters , and then Japanese protestors occupy the various rocks that make up the Senkaku Islands. The second of those links is to a Telegraph story that shows why this latest . . . . Continue Reading »

Mores Matter More

Ampontan has some nice juxtapositions, jumping off Victor Davis Hanson among others, highlighting the culture-and-mores-rooted FACT that Greece, Southern Italy, Detroit, and urban Britain are simply more difficult and troublesome places to live than Germany, Northern Italy, Switzerland, and of . . . . Continue Reading »

Ampontan: A Great Blog

So what are your favorite blogs for keeping up with events in a particular area or nation? Probably the best one I know of is Ampontan , about Japan.  With the year anniversary of the Triple Disaster (i.e., Fukushima) coming up next week, there will be plenty of vacuous Economist -grade quick . . . . Continue Reading »

J. S. Bach in Japan

Twenty-five years ago when there was still a Communist East Germany, I interviewed several boys from Leipzig’s Thomanerchor, the choir once led by Johann Sebastian Bach. Many of those children came from atheistic homes. “Is it possible to sing Bach without faith?” I asked them. “Probably . . . . Continue Reading »