Saturday, October 14, 2017

Daegu

Daegu was our next stop...

We came to visit Haein-sa the repository of the Tripitaka Koreana, the largest existing library of the Buddhist canon.

As always, the walk through the park was scenic and soothing.

The temple complex was first built in the year 802.


All the bells, but no whistles. Drums though...

Temple guardians.

The Tripitaka Koreana are carved on wooden tablets and stored in specially constructed buildings, featuring natural passive ventilation and extended eaves to keep the sun off the collection.

Concoctions of minerals under the floors absorb moisture when it's too wet, but humidifies the library when it's too dry.

The tablets are birch treated in salt water. Each one was hand engraved. The Korean government once built a special climate controlled storage facility for the tablets. The tablets began to mildew in their new high tech residence, so they were returned to their 1200 year old home.

Daejeon

From Seoul we took a short bus ride to Daejeon...


This is the back entrance to Gyeryongsan. The hike up the hill into the park seemed tolerable. I quickly learned that if there is level ground in Korea they farm it or build a city on it. The rest of the country is either uphill or downhill. 

The mountain forests are as lush as the hills are steep.

3.2 klicks didn't look as far on the map.

The Nammaetap pagodas at our destination.

Korea has no shortage of scenic vistas.

There are attendants who live at the shrine. Don't blame them; the commute is strenuous.

The leaves were just beginning to turn...

Buddhist temples are lavishly detailed.

At Nammaetap we sat next to the temple with an older Korean gentlemen with whom we discussed the perennial natural of the world's religions, Darwinism, and Richard Dawkins' "selfish gene." He is a molecular biochemist who does health research at a government lab. He shared the last of his coffee with me.

Then the descent, down a 1.1 km long pile of boulders some map maker decided was a trail. Cassie had no trouble on the descent, but my knees are shot and steep downhills over broken ground is hard on my hinges. Back to the hotel for ice and ibuprofen!

There is a monastery at the base of the mountain. It has pavement and level ground. Only a kilometer back to the taxi stand.

Seoul

Some details of my visit with my daughter Cassandra in South Korea...

Sunday we took a tour to the DMZ, where we were only a couple kilometers from North Korea. Some exhibits on the border express an abiding interest in reconciliation if not reunification.

We visited the site of a recently discovered North Korean tunnel. Here propaganda is the name of the game.

Monday we explored the city on foot. There are ancient palaces preserved within the confines of an ultra-modern city. This one is called Deoksugung and was used by various monarchs from 1392 to 1919.

Portions of the past and its artifacts are well preserved at Deoksugung.

The main palace at Gyeongbokgung even has its own lake. A person can imagine they're not in the middle of one of largest cities in the world if you choose the right direction to gaze.

A restored stream runs through the center of the Jung-gu district. In it a heron plied its trade, seemingly indifferent to onlookers.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Fable, Fairy Tale, or Myth?

Thriller, Horror, or Fantasy?


American Fable, a 2016 film by Anne Hamilton, is gorgeous, evocative, and at time
s surreal. It defies easy characterization. Some might place it in the genre of magical realism but most of the special moments are subtle, more dreamlike than supernatural.  Rather, it has so many mythical archetypes, themes, and props - a troubled king, his pregnant queen, a venal prince prone to manipulation, the wily young princess (Peyton Kennedy as Gitty), her special pet, a well-meaning but bumbling constable, an evil wizard trapped in a dungeon, and a witch from an exotic land - it plays like a fairy tale. At times it transported me to the farm country of my youth.  American Fable is visually imaginative and heartfelt. Many critics liked it, even if they didn't love it.  Me, I plan to watch it again.


Monday, June 12, 2017

What If Justin Brierly Wrote A Book

And some of his favorite non-believers wrote a response...


Justin Brierly, host of Unbelievable, has just written a book titled
Unbelievable?: Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I'm still a Christian. It's quite good, though it contains little we haven't heard on the radio program (or the podcast).  So of course me and some of the other non-believers who hang out at the Unbelievable forum are having a crack at a "Justin Response Book" in a manner inverse to the Christian response to Bart Ehrmann's How Jesus Became God: Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee. First, I had to read the book. Now comes the writing...