Happy Walpurgisnacht and Bealteinne

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Dear Faithful Readers!

Tonight, April 30 is St. Walburga’s Night, still a festival in much of Europe. The bonfires of the night come from a far older commemoration, that of Bealteinne on May 1st, exactly 6 months across the circle of the year from Samhuinn, Oct 31-Nov 2.

Bealteinne is the ancient European, and especially Celtic, fire feast of unbridled and invincible Life. In my humble opinion, it is why the Orthodox date of Pascha (Easter) is the correct one as it more closely aligns with Bealteinne. This year it is May 5. What is Pascha about if not the absolute victory of Life…as the Latin Sequence Victimae Paschali puts it,

Mors et Vita duello,
Conflixere mirando…

Death and Life contended in a battle marvelous to behold…

St. Walburga http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Walpurga was an 8th Century Missionary, and Abbess of Heidenheim.

Her translation of her relics day (canonization) was May 1, and so the eve of Bealteinne now had another reason for rejoicing. The legend among the witch-persecutors that that night was a Sabbat inspired much very creepy music and art. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night_in_popular_culture

In modern times, most of the world–except the US–celebrates May 1st as International Workers’ Day, and even the Roman Catholics have newly dedicated the day to St. Joseph the Worker.
The Eastern Orthodox keep the traditional feast of St Jeremiah the Prophet, as well as many other commemorations, including St. Walburga http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1_(Eastern_Orthodox_liturgics).

Another great way to celebrate invincible Life, with the fruits of Life: work and fun!

I’m on the train right now, so I hope this post formats OK!

… Sorry for the brevity and typos: Sent from remote on the phone.

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Member and Customer Services
415-706-9384
http://www.stevenaarmstrongsf.com
http://tinyurl.com/sa-linkedin
stevenaarmstrongsf@gmail.com

New Look, New URL!

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Dear Faithful Readers,

Dunedin, NZ

Dunedin, NZ

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

 

Inspired by our Down Under and Asia Travels, the Blog has gotten a facelift and finally its own URL:

http://www.stevenaarmstrongsf.com

Same interesting posts (at least I hope you think so), but much easier on the eyes. Let me know what you think!

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

 

My Favorite Standup Comics

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Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ron White - You can't fix STUPID ...item 2.. A...

Ron White – You can’t fix STUPID …item 2.. A bowl of comfort – with dumplings (Thursday, 10.04.12) … (Photo credit: marsmet461)

Dear Faithful Correspondents,

I wanted to take a moment out to give Kudos to several entertainers who have really caught my imagination, and whose humor sends me over the top! As you know, laughter is a wonderful therapy, and these people provide it in spades!

I’m going to list them in alphabetical order by last name, since I do not want to prioritize one over the other. They are all great!

The cast is:

Miss Richfield 1981

Louis Black

Louis CK

Brad Loekle

Dixie Longate

Jon Stewart

Bruce Vilanch

Ron White

Miss Richfield 1981

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Miss Richmond 1981 and me after the Bingo Win!

(Her last name is 1981, so numbers go first!)

Miss Richfield is a wonderful act. She is a midwestern beauty queen whose world, and world view, seems to have stopped in 1981 when she won her title. She plays it to the hilt, and is always over the top. I have seen her shows on three cruises, and she even hosted a Bingo where I won and got a pic with her! Good Karma! On the last cruise, when propulsion problems forced us to skip Hanoi, she led an impromptu telethon of all the entertainers on board, to brilliant success. Through irony, she makes very trenchant social commentary. Just remember, she is putting us on. She pretends to be sexist, racist, and every other vice one can imagine, in the nicest, most midwestern way possible. You can’t help from loving her. (Think Steven Colbert–do you get the joke?) She is not to be missed!

Lewis Black

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Lewis Black

I have never met Lewis, but passed him crossing the street in SF one time. His comedy centers around the hypocrisy of our society, and about the absurdities of our lives. His humor is biting, satiric, and is in the best tradition of the Roman Satirists, Horace and Juvenal. He holds everybody’s feet to the fire, and deserves to be much better known around the country. We are better for his humor, and honesty.

Louis CK

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Louis CK

Another Louis/Lewis, he is the everyman comic. A Magyar (Hungarian)-American, whose last name,  Székely, is approximated in Ellis Island English, CK. He helps us identify with the many slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that plague us everyday. Morbidly funny, I would go to any show he is in. His TV series is one of our favorites, especially for late night viewing. He is one of the most honest, self-deprecating comics around.

Brad Loekle

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Brad Loekle

This is our bud! We have been on two cruises with him, and he is a real guy. He is not afraid to rub shoulders with his fans. His humor is sharp, and incisive. One of his roles is to finish up the cruise at the late night venue with a “Review of the Cruise,” and he doesn’t miss anything! He is kind to the little guy and holds the big guys accountable. He is a recent transplant from NYC to L.A., and we wish him well in LaLa Land. You have probably seen him as the best commentator on the “World’s Stupidest…” series. A guilty pleasure, I know, but a pleasure all the same.

Dixie Longate

Dixie Longate

Dixie Longate

Dixie is one of my correspondents on Facebook, and I caught her act on the Allure Caribbean Cruise in 2012. Wonderfully creative, she can do more with Tupperware than you could ever imagine. Her Off-Broadway show Tupperware Party travels constantly. Do not miss the party! She mainly tours the midwest and south, but we need her here in California! Dixie, please!!

Jon Stewart

jon-stewart

Jon Stewart

What can you say? From a hairy shouldered MTV VJ to an opinion maker. I have happily followed Stewart’s career, and the Daily Show is my preferred venue for news and commentary. He has perfected the art of liberal (= accurate) news commentary, which has a wonderful history (do you remember “That Was the Week that Was”?). Thank the Deity that we have Jon Stewart to keep Fox Entertainment-News*, CNN, CNBC, the Democrats and the Republicans honest. Obviously, the Right Wing, Fox Entertainment-News* and the Republicans keep him largely occupied, but then the occasion merits, he is an equal opportunity satirist.

* I refuse to refer to Fox as News. It bears the same relationship to real news as the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has to real sports. At least Mr. McMahon has the decency to be honest about it. Fox News-Entertainment is the brain child of its CEO, Roger Ailes. Alles is a bud of Rupert Murdoch, but is hated by all the Murdoch heirs. As soon as Rupert relinquishes control, Alles will hopefully be dispatched without pay. He is a singularly odious man.

Bruce Vilanch

306px-Brucevilanch

Bruce Vilanch

Bruce is not exactly a stand-up comic, although he does this on cruises, etc. He is a six-time Emmy Award Winner who has written the scripts for the Oscars, Tonys and Grammys. I’ve been on three cruises with him, and he is a very personable guy. He knows everybody, and can dish the dirt with the best of them. We can all identify with him, and he is desperately funny.  Unfortunately we missed the satellite feed of the recent Oscars…I can only imagine his commentary on Seth McFarlane who bombed, insisting on his own writers and his own materials. That would have been worth its weight in gold!

Ron White

Ron White

Ron White

We finish, last but not least, with Ron White, one of the crew of the Blue Collar Comedy show. He loves Scotch, so he is instantly endeared to me. His low-key, dry wit is just my cup of tea (with Red Label please), and his self-depricating wit shows that Blue Collar doesn’t mean backward at all! Catch him anytime he is range.

I hope you enjoy these entertainers as much as we do!

Steven A. Armstrong
http://www.stevenaarmstrongsf.com   (new!)
Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Customer Service

America’s Secret Slang

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Dear Faithful Readers,

Just a quick note to let everybody know about a very cool new TV cable show, America’s Secret Slang, hosted by
Zachariah “Zach” Selwyn.

This is a History Channel offering, currently on many On Demands on H2, and also viewable on services like Netflix, and on YouTube.

In each half hour segment, the origins of American expressions such as The Bully Pulpit, Stump Speech, Sing Like a Canary, etc. are explored humorously.

I recommend it, as it is right up the alley of this Blog!

… Sorry for the brevity and typos: Sent from remote on the phone.

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Member and Customer Services
415-706-9384
https://stevenaarmstrong.wordpress.com
http://tinyurl.com/sa-linkedin
stevenaarmstrongsf@gmail.com

Hong Kong 2: Historical Notes

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Hong Kong 2: Historical Notes

For this installment of my reflections on Hong Kong, I wanted to talk a little bit about HK’s history, and how it fits into the schema I have been developing on these trips.

When a person first gets to Hong Kong, after a relaxing massage–foot, or whole body–and a good meal (after all, there are priorities!), I recommend that the first major thing he or she does is go to the Hong Kong Museum of History, in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Their website gives you a very good glimpse of this amazing resource.

The history of this remarkable area is chronicled from prehistory to the handover in 1997. You can see the exhibits on the web pages. Here are my thoughts.

The Hong Kong history exhibit is very well mounted, with signage in Chinese and English. Briefly, one learns that this Fragrant/Incense Harbor (Cantonese: Heung Gawng) has been home to humans since around 4000 BCE. At the time when the area was inhabited by the Tanka people, beginning in the 11th Century, one by one, the Five Great Clans of the Han began to migrate here from farther north: first the Tang, then the Hau, the Pang, the Liu and the Man. Collectively, the Cantonese-speaking Chinese Clans called themselves the Punti, the “locals” or “indigenous,” which, of course, they were not: So often humans do this!

For centuries, this small outcropping on the edge of Guangdong (Canton) Province was a neglected part of the Chinese Empire. Unfortunately for them, they sided with the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in the uprising that toppled that regime and ushered in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Qing rulers were none too pleased at this, and after their victory, in the 1660s, the Qing ordered Hong Kong and the surrounding area on the Southeastern coast evacuated of inhabitants.

Excursus: Christianity in China:

The period of the Ming Dynasty was an interesting one for Christians. As you recall, The Church of the East (Persian Christians) evangelized the Mongols, beginning around the 630s. The Nestorian Stele commemorates the 150th anniversary of this. Chaldean Christianity flourished among the Mongols:

“Know ye, O our Fathers, that many of our Fathers (Chaldean missionaries since the 7th century) have gone into the countries of the Mongols, and Turks, and Chinese and have taught them the Gospel, and at the present time there are many Mongols who are Christians. For many of the sons of the Mongol kings and queens have been baptized and confess Christ. And they have established churches in their military camps, and they pay honour to the Christians, and there are among them many who are believers.”—Travels of Rabban Bar Sauma, as related to the Western Monarchs.

This was Asian Christians sharing their faith with other Asians. The much fabled Prester John, although sometimes located by legend in Ethiopia, was also identified as the Christian Mongol Toghrul in other accounts. Some Mongol Christians also practiced Buddhism, with no apparent contradiction.

In 1368 when the Chinese Ming Dynasty defeated the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, great pressure was put on the faithful of the Chinese Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities to assimilate. By the 1500s, no reliable information remains about Christians in China.

Then in the 16th century, Europeans arrived, and in 1552 St. Francis Xavier died on Shangchuan island off the coast of Guangdong, with the signature of St. Ignatius Loyola still firmly sewn into his tunic next to his heart. Following him, the Jesuits came in force, led by Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri. As it turned out, Ruggieri saw many parallels of Christianity with Taoism (there is a modern Eastern Orthodox work, Christ the Eternal Tao), while Ricci favored Confucianism.

When the Qing succeeded the Ming, there were thousands of Chinese Latin Christians. The Jesuits sought to become favorable in the Imperial Court by downplaying Europeanism and inculturating, as well as bringing western math and science, all decidedly Jesuit strategies. Most striking of these was Ricci’s and his followers contention (and practice) that Confucianism and Ancestor Worship (Veneration) were fully compatible with Christianity. Ricci used the newly discovered Nestorian Stele to convince the Emperor that Christianity had deep roots in China. The Emperor approved Ricci’s approach, and expelled any western missionaries that disagreed with him. Effectively, a “Chinese Rite” had been established.

In the early 18th Century, the affronted Dominicans and Franciscans (Hell hath no fury like a Mendicant scorned!) whined to Pope Benedict XIV, who in 1742, with European bias and an insufficient understanding of theology, forbade Ricci’s approach. This resulted eventually in the expulsion of all Christian missionaries from China (good job guys!), although many Jesuits kept true to Ricci’s approach, and remained in China until the Society of Jesus was suppressed by Clement XIV for its liberational work with the Guanari of the “Paraguay Reductions,” which offended the Bourbon Courts. It is amazing how rich people so often get their way. That story we’ll talk about at another time (watch the film, The Mission).

This ban was lifted in 1939 by Pope Pius XII, following the example of his predecessor Pope Pius XI, a remarkably progressive man who spearheaded the fight against Racism in all its forms, and tried to awake the conscience of the west against Fascism.

In 1958, all doubt was erased by Pope John XXIII who proclaimed Matteo Ricci the “model of missionaries.”

So much of this history occurred near the location of Hong Kong.

Back to Hong Kong:

As we have seen Europeans first arrived in 1557. Guangdong had long been the foreign trade area of China (Arabs, Persians), and the Portuguese now began this trade, basing themselves in the nearby Macau. By 1711 the British had established offices of the East India Company (remember Singapore!!) in Guangdong.

The next step is one of the most shameful in the West’s history (of which there are plenty of competing events). You can Google or Wiki this for the full story. In brief, the British had an almost inexhaustible supply of Opium from their poppy fields in India. They found a ready market in China. In 1839 Emperor Dao Guang set out to stop the use and trade of Opium in China, quite rightly so, for the health of his citizens, and the financial drain on the country.

The British Government opted to back its entrepreneurs rather than support good health and morality. They invaded, and defeated the forces of the Qing, and as a result, forced the annexation of Hong Kong Island in 1943. A second Opium war ended similarly, and after this, they acquired Kowloon. By 1898 they also took control of the New Territories and the surrounding islands.

The Museum is remarkably sanguine about these events. Even though the British Crown was clearly illegal and immoral in its actions, the Museum’s attitude, and I suspect, those of Hong Kongers, is that this offered an opportunity for an almost unprecedented sharing of Eastern and Western cultures. I agree. Although Hong Kong is clearly not a Western City, it is an Eastern City deeply influenced by the West, and is better for it, I believe (and so do they).

After that, the Museum shows the urban growth of Hong Kong, the horrendous occupation by the Japanese during WWII, and HK during the post-war years (they had pretty much the same fads as we did in the West…the Museum has a very entertaining video presentation)!

All of this culminates with the handover in 1997 to the PRC. In my next blog I’ll talk about that. It all seems to me like our Novice Master Bob Schmidt’s “Good News, Bad News” story.

In addition, the Museum also had a marvelous traveling exhibit on Mesopotamia, which I’ll talk about in subsequent blogs.

With the orientation that the Museum affords the visitor, you are able to understand much better the incredibly complex, crowded and vibrant landscape of Hong Kong, Lantau, Kowloon and the New Territories which make up the HKSAR. We’ll explore at least some of those in upcoming blogs (we never got to the New Territories).

Enjoy the upcoming weekend. More soon!

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant
415-706-9384
https://stevenaarmstrong.wordpress.com
http://tinyurl.com/sa-linkedin
stevenaarmstrongsf@gmail.com

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Before we begin, please join me in sending thoughts, prayers and healing to all of Boston and its people. I am proud to have called the Boston area my home for three years during my M.Div. Program, and some of my closest friends are there. Heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved-ones, and had those close to them injured in this dastardly and cowardly act. Thank you to the First Responders and all who worked to save as many as possible, and to the law enforcement agencies who are tracking down the perpetrator(s).

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I have been to the world of Bladerunner, or at least to what will become that world. Philip K. Dick’s prophetic story “Do Androids Dream…” and its film version are eerily replicated in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong experience is one of the most interesting, and overwhelming, experiences of my life. I will begin talking about it here, and continue as time permits over the coming days. It is too much to compress into one post, and I am still digesting much of it. I’ll also throw in gastronomic details and ship-life anecdotes from the cruise.

Those who know me well know that I have been honored to have been many places, and enjoyed a varied and rather interesting life. It is not easy to impress me, and HK did this in spades. I am an urbanite, and I am blown-away by Hong Kong.

Briefly, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) includes Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, many smaller islands, as well as Kowloon and the New Territories on the mainland. As we awoke the morning of our porting in the city, we looked out the stateroom window to see the most amazing skyline of Hong Kong Island. New York is the only analogy I can think of, and this is more densely populated.

The ship ported in Kowloon, and we stayed at the Panorama Hotel in the awesomely cosmopolitan neighborhood of Tsim Sha Tsui, in south central Kowloon. It is in the middle of everything, and easily accessible to the rest of the city by taxi and the superb transit system.

As we disembarked, customs were fairly easy, and we then collected our bags and queued up for a taxi, with about 400 other passengers in front of us, and about 1000 passengers behind us. Taxis came, sometimes slowly, and after about an hour, we grabbed one to go to our nearby hotel, a very modern high-rise right on streets filled with little shops, clubs, bars, restaurants, you name it. That is the Bladerunner effect: ultra modern cheek-by-jowl with small, traditional places.

After a brief rest, we began to explore our neighborhood with its delectable sights, smells and sounds. One of the ubiquitous places was McDonald’s, with two locations within a few winding blocks of one another. But this is McDonald’s with a local twist, including McCurry Burgers (very good!) and a Wasabi Fish Sandwich. (Later, at the Burger King on Victoria Peak, we substituted a Heineken for soda for only HK$25 extra (about $3.00). Those were the only two fast food stops, but they were local-oriented, and filled with local people.

As night came on, the Bladerunner effect only increased. We spent our first evening in Kowloon, walking up Nathan Road, one of the most impressive shopping streets in the area. Huge high-rises are punctuated by high-end western shops, like 5th Avenue in NYC and Rodeo Drive in Bev Hills. Everything was brightly lit, and modern. Along the way, we walked past the Jamia Masjid Islamic Centre, and St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, the first in Kowloon.

A quick sidebar on religion in HKSAR: the majority of the population are not religious, and not because they are under the PRC, they just are. The majority of believers are Christian, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, and one Eastern Orthodox church (St. Luke’s Cathedral). Following this are sizable Buddhist and Taoist populations, with some Muslims and Hindus. (In Vietnam, we learned that there is a new Vietnamese religion–they worship Whales!)

We ended up a a club that had been recommended to us and enjoyed an excellent Bloody Mary, which this place called an Oxtail cocktail. Has anyone every heard of this? I know that back when the Clamato folks made Beefmato juice, there was a Beefy Mary, but I have never heard of Oxtail. (You could recreate a Beefy Mary with Clamato and some of that wonderful “Better than Bouillon” concentrated soup mix.)

After visiting a couple more local hangouts (Hair of the Dog and Old China Hand–a British pub), we had an outstanding meal at a Chinese-Japanese fusion restaurant in the neighborhood, where the highlight of the meal was another version of Hundred Year Old Egg. I am now a firm fan of this delicacy, and will be on the lookout for it here in SF.

To conclude this first installment on HKSAR, let me mention that although HK is capitalist, it is part of the Communist nation of the People’s Republic of China, making this my fourth Communist country, after (the then) Czechoslovakia and East Germany/East Berlin, Vietnam and now PRC. (I am not including three other unofficial Communist locations with which I am very familiar, and have visited often: The Peoples’ Republic of Berkeley, The Peoples’ Republic of Davis, and The Peoples’ Republic of Santa Monica! LOL!)

Thank you for reading, and more to come!

Steven Armstrong

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant
415-706-9384
https://stevenaarmstrong.wordpress.com
http://tinyurl.com/sa-linkedin
stevenaarmstrongsf@gmail.com

Connected Again!

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Dear Faithful Correspondents,

It has been very strange not having regular access to the Internet. It’s like some strange Science Fiction story where you are suddenly “jacked out” of the system. Oh No! Where’s the Borg Collective?

But I survived. This morning in Hong Kong, let me finish up some reflections on Vietnam, and then this afternoon or tomorrow begin talking about the almost inexhaustible Hong Kong!

Some remarkable things about Vietnam surprised and delighted me.

First, the traffic. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has the most dense scooter traffic I have ever seen, even more than Bangkok. Traffic lights are few and far between, and the scooters share the road with cars, trucks, lorries, you name it. As larger vehicles move through the streets, the schools of scooters give way (sometimes by inches), and then reform. It is very much like the undersea videos of schools of fish, fluid and organic.

I saw no one getting angry, and no accidents. It is almost graceful.

Next, everything is up for negotiation. When you enter a cab, you must negotiate the fare before you start. For example, a metered trip might cost 500,000 Dong (about US$30). The negotiated cost might be 250,000 D. All but the high end stores are the same. Food is very inexpensive, and delicious, with the spiciest cuisine in Central Vietnam.

On board the ship, I compared notes with another passenger who had also visited East Berlin before the Fall of the Wall.

We both agreed that when you walked through the Brandenburg Gate from West Berlin to East Berlin, it was if someone had switched on the gray filter: drab and dark as opposed to West Berlin’s almost frantic pace and brightness.

This was in the mid 1970s, and I also experienced the same feeling in Prague.

Vietnam (and now I see, Hong Kong as well) is nothing of the sort. In Vietnam people seem peaceful, generally happy. And too, I saw no homeless or beggars. Even in the old market sections of the cities, and on the up-scale shopping streets, there were the obviously poor, but no one begged….instead they tried to sell souvenirs, watches, and the like. I know that there is poverty in Vietnam, but I did not sense despair. In its place seems a willingness to import used heavy equipment, and build (and rebuild) a nation. They have now achieved the status of largest exporter of rice, and of coffee beans, in the world.

One of the Jesuit missionaries once remarked “God help the world if the Vietnamese are ever loosed upon it.” I think the genie is out of the bottle. As they are one of the Asian Tigers, I anticipate Vietnam being a successful and innovative partner in the planet-wide New Atlantis humanity is constructing. Small countries can have very large cultural impacts (think: the UK, Ireland, Israel, Singapore).

Religion also seems to be alive and well in Vietnam, with Buddhist Temples and Christian Churches a-plenty.

In terms of language, the Roman script of modern Vietnamese gives me at least a fighting chance of figuring out some words. I’ll talk about linguistic experiences in Thailand and China next time. In Vietnam, English and French are at least widely enough used that in the big cities, I could communicate (with pointing, etc. to help).

So where does Vietnam stand in this paradigm I have been creating these last few weeks?

I believe, like Thailand, Vietnam is its own land, its own culture, intimately tied to its neighbors in China and SE Asia. There has been considerable Western colonial influence, first from France and then from the United States (in the south), but these are overlays. Vietnam has been occupied by its neighbors, but has a long national history and identity. Again, I hold that this is a nation choosing to use much that is Western, without having been visited by either Alexander or Caesar.

* * *

One fascinating note is that Christianity was here a long time ago. By the 13th Century CE, the Chaldean Church, HQ’d in Persia, had reached as far as Vietnam and other parts of “Indo-China.” Having sent missionaries to China in the 7th Century (Google or Wiki “The Nestorian Stela”).

They continued to expand, until in the mid 1200s, one fifth of the world’s Christians were of the Chaldean Church. Many of the Mongol generals were married to Christians, and apparently Genghis Khan himself considered becoming Chaldean Christian. Their most lasting missions were those from the late 1st, early 2nd Centuries, which formed the Malabar Christians in India (the “Thomas Christians”) who continue today at home and abroad.

Today, the Chaldean Church is much smaller. They rejected the canons of the Council of Ephesus in 431, but have maintained Apostolic Succession all along. There are dwindling numbers of Chaldean Christians in Iraq and Iran who face regular persecution. Most have fled, and there are very large centers of Chaldean Christians in Detroit, MI and Turlock CA and in the general San Jose CA area. The majority make up The Church of the East, and others are in Communion with Rome.

* * *

I am happy that we have so many Vietnamese in the SF Bay Area, so that I don’t have to give up my beloved phở, their world-renowned soup.

If the opportunity arises, I would be happy to return to visit Vietnam, and get to know the people better. They are welcoming to us in a way that is truly humbling, after the tragedy of the war.

A final word. It appears from Vietnam that this is not your Grandparent- Comrade’s Communism. I’ll be very interested to see this at play in Hong Kong. This is a single-party system, with the Communist Party’s hands firmly on the reins, but the Party has created a “socialist-oriented Market Economy,” and The Economist calls them “ardently capitalist communists.”

Time will tell if this will work for the benefit of the people. There are still hurdles of large economic gaps between rich and poor, health-care problems, and gender-equality issues to be surmounted. I will bet on the Vietnamese to succeed.

We are now setting out to explore Hong Kong…. more soon!

… Sorry for the brevity and typos: Sent from remote on the phone.

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Member and Customer Services
415-706-9384
https://stevenaarmstrong.wordpress.com
http://tinyurl.com/sa-linkedin
stevenaarmstrongsf@gmail.com