2000s >> 2009 >> no-1261-september-2009

Pieces Together


“His birth was marked by a double rainbow and a new star, he hit 11 holes-in-one in his first game of golf, finishing 38 under par, and throughout his life he has performed heroic feats impossible for mere mortals. When he shouts, ‘huge storms happen’. The life of North Korea’s ailing leader, Kim Jong-il, has long been extravagantly window-dressed by the state’s diligent chroniclers, but now it is about to get the full regal treatment with a new movie chronicling his exploits from childhood to living legend. North Korea’s state media said this week that the first part of a multi-series documentary about Mr Kim’s birth, childhood and early achievements, when he developed ‘military ideas and theories and tactics of [his father] President Kim Il-sung’, has already been produced. Although other propaganda movies extol Mr Kim’s boundless virtues – one records that he came down from the heavens accompanied by a huge snowstorm – this will be the first to “comprehensively deal … with his revolutionary exploits”, said the Korean Central News Agency.” (Independent, 17 July)


“The Christian right is making a fresh push to force religion onto the school curriculum in Texas with the state’s education board about to consider recommendations that children be taught that there would be no United States if it had not been for God. Members of a panel of experts appointed by the board to revise the state’s history curriculum, who include a Christian fundamentalist preacher who says he is fighting a war for America’s moral soul, want lessons to emphasise the part played by Christianity in the founding of the US and that religion is a civic virtue. … One of the panel, David Barton, founder of a Christian heritage group called WallBuilders, argues that the curriculum should reflect the fact that the US Constitution was written with God in mind including that ‘there is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature’, that ‘there is a creator’ and ‘government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual’….Another of the experts is Reverend Peter Marshall, who heads his own Christian ministry and preaches that Hurricane Katrina and defeat in the Vietnam war were God’s punishment for sexual promiscuity and tolerance of homosexuals.” (Guardian, 22 July)


“The Dalai Lama may not be the first person who comes to mind for business advice but, as the Buddhist monk wrote in his new book, capitalism can profit from Buddhism’s principles and values. In The Leader’s Way, published this month by Broadway Books, the spiritual leader of Tibet wrote that both business and Buddhism attach importance to happiness and making the right decisions, and a company without ‘happy employees, customers and shareholders will ultimately fail.’ Citing Buddhist basics such as good intentions, a calm mind free of negative thoughts and a realization that nothing is permanent, the Dalai Lama and co-author Laurens van den Muyzenberg tackle timely issues such as corporate compensation, malfeasance and the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. … ‘When I started this project, I was not sure that companies could act in such a way that they could deserve a thoroughly good reputation. Now I am convinced that they can,’ the Dalai Lama wrote. Profit, for example, is ‘a fine aim,’ but not the main role of business, which is ‘to make a contribution to the well-being of society at large,’ he wrote.” (Yahoo News, 28 July)

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