Burning Books and Politically Correct Censorship

November 4, 2015

My reason for writing this post was to show how cultural differences bring about biased opinions due to religious, spiritual and/or cultural beliefs.

For instance, my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine, because she grew up in a country with the soul of a church. After my mother died, I found her videos of the Bible, an audio version and about thirty different translations/versions.

I didn’t know until then that there was that many ways to speak for one God. In fact, Biblica says, “Would you believe that there are literally hundreds of different translations of the Bible into English? For many people this huge variety is totally confusing and they just don’t know which Bible to choose.”

After my father died, mother spent her last decade to age 89 studying the Bible several hours a day. This was her attempt to discover the answer to salvation that haunted her most of her life.

My mother loved to read other books too, as did my father, who was not a religious person. However, if my mother ran into a vivid sex scene in a novel, she threw the book in the fireplace.

Since I was born and raised a Catholic, and when I was 12 my mother switched to the Jehovah Witnesses, I know why she would’ve burned my novel.

To Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, and most devout Christians of all sects, lust is a mortal sin.

In fact, Catholic Questions in a Secular World says, “The seven deadly sins are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth and lust.… Lust is the self-indulgent desire for gratification … without the sanctifying graces of marriage.”

For instance, when I was single in my thirties, I had a relationship with a lawyer, who ended the relationship due to her Christian guilt. She wasn’t a Catholic but she attended two different Christian churches on Sundays, and she made it clear that it was the guilt that drove her to stop seeing me. She said she went to two churches to hear two sermons each Sunday, because it was the only way should heard what she wanted to hear.

My Splendid Concubine is historical fiction based on a real Irishman who went to China in 1854, bought a concubine and stayed until 1908 to become the most powerful Westerner in China’s history and the only foreigner trusted by the Emperor.

Books have been written on the subject of sex in America that explains why my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine. America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty by Marty Klein, Ph D. is one example, which “Spotlights the political, legal and civic battles raging in this country against what is arguably our most private and pluralistic right – sexual freedom.”

And in Cultural Differences Defined by Written Language, I attempted to explain why cultures around the globe are not all the same, and as I did when I wrote of The Collective Culture versus Individualism.

Another example is an anonymous reviewer called “colorado outback” who posted a one-star review on Amazon of My Splendid Concubine and said, “You should Not Buy This Book – Seriously, just Soft Porn.”

My mother would have agreed with “colorado outback”, because she was influenced by her religion.

Outback says: “this seemed more like the sexual fantasy of the author and NOT the historical novel it is purported to be.”

However, “outback” was wrong. The idea to write My Splendid Concubine didn’t originate from a sexual fantasy, as I’ll explain.

Since writing My Splendid Concubine was not motivated by sexual fantasies, I responded to “outback’s” biased opinion, and outback replied that my novel doesn’t “come up to par with Anchee Min, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, Charles Dickens, Amy Tan, Pearl S. Buck, James Michener, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Tom Robbins and so on.”

I’d have to agree. I’ve never thought that I was equal to or better than the authors outback listed or any author. In fact, I don’t compare my writing to any other author and if I compete with anyone, it is with my own writing with the goal to improve.

Outback claimed to have read all of the books by the above authors and thousands more yet he only had two, one-star reviews posted on Amazon (at the time I was writing this post).  Where are all those five-star reviews extolling the virtues of the work he admired?

If I didn’t write such a lusty novel from personal sexual fantasies as “outback” claims, why did I write it?

The answer is simple.

I wanted to show the clash between different cultures and Sterling Seagrave wrote in Dragon Lady, “To take the pain out of learning, his Chinese tutor suggested that (Robert) Hart might buy a concubine and study the local dialect with her.

“Hart wrote in his journal, ‘Here is a great temptation. Now, some of the China women are very good looking: You can make one your absolute possession for from 50 to 100 dollars and support her at a cost of 2 or 3 dollars per month. … Shall I hold out or shall I give way?'”

Seagrave writes in the next paragraph, “By early May he (Robert Hart) had a sleep-in dictionary, his concubine, Ayaou. He had just turned twenty; Ayaou was barely past puberty.”

Then the editors of Entering China’s Service: Robert Hart’s Journals wrote on page 8, “But anyone who reads the journals through knows that his mental struggles about women were not soon or lightly won; whether the relapse was to daydreams or to a Chinese mistress, it caused him ambivalence and anguish.”

China has had a concubine culture for thousands of years and that culture, although changed in form, is still active today, which I wrote of in Concubines Return to China Riding Capitalism’s Wave of Wealth.

In China, the concubine is a trophy showing a man’s success, and no major religion on earth has had a lasting impact on the Chinese culture in more than a thousand years.

In fact, the concept that lust is a mortal sin doesn’t exist in China unless a Chinese adopts Christianity as their religion.

That does not mean China is without morals but the moral codes of China exist without the sin of mortal lust as Catholics and many devout Christians believe. In fact, I’ve known mainland Chinese that are extremely moral and would put most Puritans to shame.

The idea to focus on Robert Hart’s struggles with his Victorian, Christian morals while living in 19th century China’s concubine culture sprouted when I first read his journals and letters published by Harvard University Press.

Other influences were Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid and The Last Empress: A Novel—both novels go into detail about the lives of the more than three thousand concubines that belonged to the emperor.

In fact, in 19th century China, the more power and wealth a man had, the more women he owned.

Another influence was the movie directed by Zhang Yimou in 1991, Raise the Red Lantern, which “focuses on the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines while the husband ignores much of what is going on — taking his pleasures when he feels like it.”

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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What’s the color of your flag? Part 1 of 2

October 27, 2015

The world’s most popular sport is Soccer with an estimated 3.5 billion fans. In America the number one sport is Football (NFL) with less than 156 million fans. The CIA’s World Factbook lists every country by its government type. In fact, click this link from Maps of the World, and explore all the different types of governments on the planet by just moving your curser over the map. There are 196 countries in the world, roughly 4,200 religions, and eight major ethnic groups and each of those groups can be broken up into smaller ethnic factions. There are 24 full democracies in the world and 51 authoritarian regimes similar to China. Can you subtract 196 from 24, and if so, once you have the answer, then tell me why the U.S. seems to only want to change China?

World Ethnic Groups

The last time I looked the U.S. flag was red, white and blue with 50 stars and 13 stripes, and 70.6 percent of its citizens identify themselves as Christians. – pewforum.org

The Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the U.S. Constitution were written by a group of white men influenced by Western republican/democratic governments dating back to the Greeks before the birth of Christ. In fact, Athenian statesman and member of the exiled Alcmaeonidae aristocracy, Cleisthenes is considered the father of democracy. Before his rise around 510 B.C., Athenian governance was left to aristocratic families who represented the wealthy. There is no similar figure in Asia.

Important historical figures in China were Confucius and Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War. From India, we get Buddha and Indira Gandhi. In the Middle East there was the Islamic prophet Muhammad. If you want a better idea of the diversity of the world, just scroll through Current World Population.

At this point someone who is ignorant might pop up and shout, “The Dalai Lama,” is from Asia and he promotes democracy, but no Dalai Lama has ever promoted a democracy similar to the United States or other European Republics.  When the Tibetans ruled themselves, they were first ruled by kings and then by a theocracy, and the Dalai Lama is still Tibet’s living god for life. Is there another country on the planet with a living god?

Tibet has never been a republic or a democracy, and its government in exile—even though they have sham elections and claim to have been a democracy since September 2, 1960—is headed by the 14th Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay. There are no political groups and no term limits. There are about 150,000 Tibetans living in exile and 7.5 million living in the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. Yes, there are elections in China too but there is only one political party—not much different than the 14th Dalai Lama’s government in exile, except the Chinese change their leaders every 5 to 10 years.

If you are an American, do you have a copy of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? I do. Have you read it, and if you have, how much do you remember besides the Pursuit of Happiness, the right to own a firearm and the freedom to say just about anything without fear of being tossed in prison?

China may start with the letter “C” as California does, but it is not part of the U.S., and its founding fathers were men such as Sun Yat-sen, Mao, and Deng Xiaoping, and less than 3% of Chinese are Christians while more than 87% are not religious or do not belong to any organized religion.

In April, 2011, CNN ran a piece on its CNN Wire service of a Chinese artist and citizen of the People’s Republic of China, (PRC). His name is Ai Weiwei.  The title of the piece was, “China says Ai Weiwei is being held for economic crimes“.

If you read the entire CNN piece, you will discover that the artist was taken into custody in route to Hong Kong. The piece quotes his wife and mother, who both believe he is innocent and that he was arrested and locked up because he refused to listen to warnings that he should stop his “reckless collision against China’s basic political framework and ignorance of China’s judicial sovereignty to exaggerate a specific case …”

Ai Weiwei is also one of China’s best-known artists. He helped design the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ai Weiwei is more than an artist. He is also a democracy activist and a critic of his government.

Sure, the US Constitution protects U.S. citizens when they criticize the government.  However, the Chinese Constitution does not offer the same protections. In fact, most countries don’t. In Saudi Arabia, woman cannot work or drive and criminals are often executed by beheading—a practice once common in China but no more.

And China is not the only country in the world with an autocratic government. Scroll back to the top and you will discover China is only one of 51.

In fact, the American CIA has taken advantage of foreign laws such as those in Saudi Arabia and Egypt when terrorists have been sent for torture and questioning without the due process of law as guaranteed in the U.S. (not outside of it).

Continued in Part 2 on October 28, 2015

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Jewish in Beijing

September 30, 2015

If you haven’t heard of it, Sexy Beijing (produced by Goldmines Film and Video Production since 2006) is an Internet TV station run by an in-house production team.

Sexy Beijing says “Our shows have also aired on NBC in Los Angeles, Hunan TV, China Educational TV, and many other stations around China as well as conferences around the world.”

I dare all Westerners that believe the Chinese are depressed and heavily censored to watch Sexy Beijing regularly to learn the truth of China.

Any censorship that exists in the media in China focuses mostly on a few topics such as the Dalai Lama and Tibetan or Islamic separatists that are considered the same to China’s leaders as Islamic terrorists are to the United States government.

In this episode of Sexy Beijing, Su Fei, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, tries to please her mother and go find one of her own kind.

Sue Fei, the Jewish host of this segment, says, “Most people are surprised to find out just how multi-cultural Beijing is. And when it comes to a husband search, I could just as easily be bringing home an African or Muslim suitor to meet my Jewish mother as I could a Chinese one.”

Sue Fei then heads for the new Chabad Jewish community center in Beijing to find out what it would be like to become an Orthodox Jew.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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What is this thing called Enlightenment?

September 15, 2015

Santhip Kanholy, on TED, said, “Enlightenment is an actual experience which changes the perspective and perception of the individual, which has been touted in all the ancient religious scriptures spanning all global cultures. Buddha is considered to be enlightened. So is Jesus. Thus all major religions have sprung from individuals who have experienced enlightenment.”

I admit that I was surprised when I saw the embedded video in this post of a group of Americans searching for and finding their own form of enlightenment in China.

The popular stereotype about someone searching for change and enlightenment fits the plot we find in Eat, Pray, Love, a best seller that was made into a movie with Julia Roberts, where Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir takes her to Italy for pleasure, India for enlightenment and Indonesia where she discovers love again—repeatedly, it seems.

In the following video, we follow a group of Kung Fu and Tai Chi students from the U.S. in search of Kung Fu wisdom in China.

While in China, they visit Chinese families, schools, temples and universities. They travel through both ancient and modern China visiting Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

They also climbed two of the five major mountains of China, Songshan and Yellow Mountain.

After surviving personal conflicts and emotional struggles, the group returns to America as Elizabeth Gilbert did in her journey—to be compassionate and harmonious with others and the environment.

Of course, finding harmony might not have worked out for Gilbert because  in a 2015 article for The New York Times titled “Confessions of a Seduction Addict,” Gilbert wrote that she “careened from one intimate entanglement to the next—dozens of them—without so much as a day off between romances.” She acknowledged, “Seduction was never a casual sport for me; it was more like a heist, adrenalizing and urgent. I would plan the heist for months, scouting out the target, looking for unguarded entries. Then I would break into his deepest vault, steal all his emotional currency and spend it on myself.” After reading what Gilbert wrote for the NY Times, I think it is arguable that Gilbert never found the enlightenment she was searching for, but her memoir did make her famous and wealthy.

However, in three weeks, the group that went to China for enlighten went places few foreigners have seen and maybe that adventure and discovery was a form of enlightenment all by itself.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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a democracy in name only – a bumbling empire for sure

June 17, 2015

The China Mirage, supported by overwhelming factual evidence that was willingly suppressed or ignored for decades, clearly reveals that America is not the peace loving democracy that most Americans think it is.

The reality is that the U.S. is a global empire that took its first step toward World War II in the Pacific on July 8, 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry commanded a U.S. Navy squadron that sailed into Tokyo harbor. Perry—under orders from President Millard Fillmore—demanded a treaty permitting trade and the opening of Japanese ports to U.S. merchant ships. The reluctant Japanese leaders, who wanted to be left alone, were not given a choice if they wanted to avoid the same invasions China had suffered mainly at the hands of the British and French during the Opium Wars.

After being forced to open its doors to Western trade so American corporations could profit—to protect itself in the future—Japan industrialized and built a powerful and ruthless modern military.

The second step toward war in the Pacific took place about fifty years later when President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt started to meddle in Asia’s affairs. The book reveals that Teddy urged Japan to invade Korea leading eventually to Japan’s invasion of China, because Teddy was obsessed with the Japanese and felt strongly that Japan’s role should be to protect Asia from being colonized by the European colonial powers even if it meant Japan’s military would dominate all of Asia.

The third step toward war in the Pacific would be the bumbling, ignorant, secretive, back-stabbing, dysfunctional and manipulative administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt—with help from the powerful and wealthy lying Christian China Lobby that based its thinking on a faulty premise that the Chinese loved democracy and wanted to become a Christian country just like the United States.

The powerful China Lobby’s ignorant and severely flawed agenda would cause the deaths of more than 25 million civilians (mostly Chinese) and 6 million troops (mostly Chinese) in addition to the bombed out devastation of Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Japan.

Following World War II and the Korean Conflict, the same ignorant and arrogant thinking led to the Vietnam War where U.S. troops fought for almost 20 years, and the United States dropped more bombs on Southeast Asia than it did in all of World War II.

Readers will discover that Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life Magazines, who was called the most influential private citizen in America at the time, was a perfect example of how anyone who has too much power and wealth can create their own reality based on lies that often evaporate later leaving future generations to deal with the damage caused by these fools.

Today, Henry Luce had been replaced by other ignorant, arrogant, wealthy and powerful fools, and they go by the names of, for instance, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family. I think if we looked at history closely we would discover that the rich and powerful have often meddled with the lives of others and then either die or refuse to admit they were wrong.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects the media from government intervention and meddling does not mean the media is balanced and honest. In fact—most of the time—the opposite is true. The so-called free U.S. media is often a propaganda machine that churns out fictions masquerading as truth—mostly owned and controlled by six corporations and at the top six powerful dictatorial oligarchs just like Henry Luce.

To be clear, those media corporations might be doing business in a democracy, but they are not democracies, and they have the power to fool and manipulate the people, the U.S Congress and even the President of the United States.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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Peter Hessler on China

March 3, 2015

Peter Hessler arrived in China with the Peace Core in 1996 and taught English for two years. After leaving the Peace Corps, Hessler freelanced for The Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and The New York Times before becoming the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker until 2007. He lived in China about fifteen years.

Today, Hessler is better known for his books on China: River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze (2001), Oracle Bones (2006), and Country Driving: A Journey Through China From Farm to Factory (2010). His latest work is Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West (2013).

I agree with Hessler when he said in a CNNGo interview, “People in China are not forthcoming like Americans; they don’t like to tell you their personal story. It’s a type of modesty, I think, in a culture where people are not encouraged to see themselves as the center of the universe.”

I have a born-again Christian friend—a white American—who boasted about Christianity being the fastest growing religion in China. I wonder what he’d say if he’d read what Hessler thinks: “The Chinese relationship with religion is pragmatic and fluid; people often change their faith very quickly. And I don’t see them following religion to a degree where it’s clearly not in their self-interest.”

And I also wonder what my old fundamentalist Christian friend would think if he knew the results of the CFPS 2012 survey of 25 of the provinces of China that found only 10% of the population belonged to organized religions—specifically, 6.75% were Buddhists (87.8 million), 2.4% (31.2 million) were Christians (of which 1.89% Protestants and 0.41% Catholics), 0.54% were Taoists, 0.46% were Muslims, and 0.40% declared to belong to other religions. Although 90% (1.17 billion) of the population declared to not belong to any religion, the authors of the survey estimated that only 6.3% were atheists neither believing nor worshipping gods and ancestors.

On happiness, Hessler says, “At this particular moment I think that Americans … might be less happy than Chinese people. The Chinese can roll with the punches. … Everybody in China has seen ups and downs; if they get laid off from the factory, they just go back to the village and play mah-jong.”

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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China’s curious link between Opium, Christians, Cults and Cannon balls

January 27, 2015

Organized religions and cults such as the Falun Gong have been in China for centuries, but have never played a major role in the culture until the 19th century when Christianity and opium was forced on China.

C.M. Cipolla, in Guns, Sales and Empires, wrote, “While Buddha came to China on white elephants, Christ was born on cannon balls” paid for by the profits to be made from opium. Cipolla obtained his first teaching post in economic history in Catania at the age of 27. In 1953, Cipolla left for the United States as a Fulbright fellow and in 1957 became a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Two years later he obtained a full professorship.

The treaties that ended the two Opium Wars—first Opium war (1839-1842) and second Opium War (1856-1860)—required that China’s emperor allow Christian missionaries free access to all of China to convert the heathens. The treaty also opened all of China to the opium trade. Christianity and Opium might seem a strange partnership but that’s the way it was.

Then there was the Taiping Rebellion led by Hong Xiuquan, God’s Chinese son and a Christian convert, who was responsible for 20 – 100 million deaths over a period of 14 years (1850 – 1864). Hong claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ, and millions of Chinese believed him, but the Taipings were against the opium trade and that led the Christian countries to support China’s emperor against the Christian Taipings proving that profits come before God.

Then in the early months of 1900, thousands of Boxers, officially known as Fists of Righteous Harmony, roamed the countryside attacking Christian missions, slaughtering foreign missionaries and Chinese converts.

Confucius and Lao-Tse have influenced the foundation of Chinese culture and morality, and these two along with Buddha offer more of a blended influence on Chinese culture than Christianity or Islam.

Thanks to Confucius, China’s mainstream culture understands the importance of people within the family and society more so than many other countries and cultures. This may explain why China is a powerhouse of industry today.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

 E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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