Friday, July 20, 2007

The First and Second Coming

The abduction of 20 Koreans by the Taliban in Afghanistan highlights the increasing role of the non-European Christian world. It's a daring, unapologetic world unafraid to venture into the depths of Central Asia. The Marmot Hole reports on the kidnapping of the Koreans.



A later Yonhap report quotes a Korean government source as saying about 20 Koreans, apparently young folk doing — you guessed it — missionary work in Afghanistan were kidnapped. ...

Yonhap said there are reportedly some 120 Korean missionaries residing long-term in Afghanistan (a country where even the current government came close to sentencing a man to death for apostasy), although some go back and forth from Korea. ...

Lest it be forgotten, Korea has 210 troops in Afghanistan — 60 medics and 150 engineers, one of whom was killed in a suicide bombing attack on Bagram Air Base in February. ...

The WaPo reports the male female ratio is 15 women and three men. All I know is the list of names (reported in Chosun Ilbo) of the Bundang Saemmul Church group sent to Afghanistan includes 13 women and seven men.

It also appears they weren’t engaging in missionary work per se, but rather performing volunteer work at a hospital and kindergarten in Kandahar (which I can respect putting your life on line to do, although that sort of stuff — at least in war zones — is best left to trained personnel, which I can only hope these folk were).

The Saemmul Church does not apparently, consist of "Christianist" rubes and illiterates. One of their formal choral directors, Hoon Cho, is furthering her musical education in the United States and is currently the choral conductor of the Federal Way Presbyterian Church.

There are apparently hundreds of Korean Christians in Afghanistan. The BBC described recent attempts by Kabul to expel the Korean Christians and put scare quotes around their attempts to stage a peace rally.

Afghanistan says it will deport hundreds of South Korean evangelical Christians amid fears for their safety. They have been accused by Islamic clerics of preaching Christianity. Afghanistan bans attempts to convert people to non-Islamic faiths. Around 1,500 South Koreans arrived this week for a "peace festival", and education and entertainment programme. ...

A spokesman for the South Korean-based Institute of Asian Culture and Development (IACD) told AFP that they are only in the country to provide war-ravaged Afghanistan with medical, education and cultural programmes.

Nothing daunted, the Korean Christians sued the Afghan government for trying to deport them. They do not apparently, regard it as the natural order of things that preaching Christianity to Muslims is an crime while the converse is a protected activity. It is a little known but apparently true that "South Korea sends more missionaries than any country but the U.S. And it won't be long before it's number one." And a search on the Institute of Asian Culture and Development (IACD) -- one of the institutions involved with placing Koreans in Afghanistan -- shows that it is all over Central Asia -- Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, etc.

It's an eye-opening glimpse into the power of a meme. Christianity in this case. All too often Western cultural institutions -- maybe the BBC can be included in this list -- think they are the last word on subjects like Christianity. But in reality, non-Western countries may already be the primary vector for spreading the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The world has changed. The South Koreans are in Central Asia and the Chinese are being attacked in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Western elites, alas, are still in their last century tower of dreams.

10 Comments:

Blogger Cosmo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/20/2007 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Apparently, these Koreans aren't infected with the self-loathing, 'tolerance 'n diversity' virus -- a vicious strain of moral grandstanding which holds that one must never criticize or disturb the 'The Other', while preserving the right of 'The Other' to do same.

7/20/2007 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger herb said...

A meme yes but the most powerful meme ever to appear on earth. I suspect that's why the Islams and the Koran are so fearful of evangelism. Once they've heard the Truth they'll never go back to allah.

People want to believe that they have some control over their destiny. If they are only allowed the idea that the deity controls and determines every event in the universe, there is no hope of betterment here or on the other side. Which, if you are living in a seventh century society with an MS in Mechanical Engineering, is cause for a lot of cognitive dissonance. The way out of cognitive dissonance is a change in the conflicted parameters. Physics ain't gonna change and apostasy is death. So what a guy gonna do? Poor bastard.

Koreans are very interesting people. Some of my friends who were in country in VietNam say that the SoKo special forces were scary. I dont really think that the Islams want them stirred up.

7/20/2007 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Sloat said...

I know it's better than the Taliban was, and I know it's better than chaos and shelter for terrorists. That said, articles like this really make me wonder why we're propping up governments like this anyways.

7/20/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger D Boyd said...

Interesting stat: S. Korea has 10 times more Presbyterians than the USA.

7/20/2007 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

In the year 1258, another Oriental, Hulagu Khan, related to Genghis, paid a visit to Baghdad. Reportedly, blood ran in the streets up to the stirrups of the Mongols' horses. Some Muslims apparently still remember.

7/20/2007 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Ed onWestSlope said...

I remember the ROK troops in Viet Nam, 1971. Only a fool would get on their bad side. We shall see if this has changed.

7/20/2007 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger josh said...

wretchard, if you're interested in the "non-Western" aspects of Christianity then I recommend the book "The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity" by Philip Jenkins. It discusses the impact on the world in light of the fact that by 2050 four-fifths of the globe's Christians will not be Western and white. In fact, Jenkins has a couple of books about the topic. Indeed, it does look like non-Western countries will propagate the Judaeo-Christian tradition, perhaps in a theologically conservative way that most Western churches have rejected. Liberal Roman Catholics (and liberal Christians in general) sometimes complain that the Roman Church is taking the wrong actions when standing behind conservative positions; the Church appears to merely be positioning itself for the future Christianity. And those conservative church factions breaking off to be under the wings of African bishops appear to be closer to the "true" (at least most popular) strain of Certainty.

7/20/2007 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger josh said...

should be "Christianty" at the very end of my comment. Thanks spell check for automatically changing "Christianity" to "Certainty," however that came about ;)

7/20/2007 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

The Koreans are very staunch christians, both Catholic and non-Catholic, and from what I've heard, take their faith very seriously.

And I'm not surprised that the non-Western world is going to dominate the Church; we haven't been infected by liberalism yet, though you can bet your last dollar the leftists are going to try their best.

I get the feeling though, that the Left shot its bolt in the 60s in the US; the Church knows how to counter nowadays.

7/22/2007 02:41:00 AM  

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