Sunday, 22 May 2016

A Dog of Flanders

Who still remembers the story "A Dog of Flanders", about an artistic orphaned boy Nello and his dog Patrasche? I can't remember what the Afrikaans title was when it aired in South Africa in the 80s. In any case, it turns out that while the story is rather unknown around the world -- even in the native Belgium that is its setting -- it is actually quite popular in Japan and here in Korea where it is considered a great children's literature classic.

Spoiler Alert: In the original book by English author Marie Louise de la Ramée (aka Ouida), Nello and Patrasche freeze to death, but not before succeeding in their journey to see the great paintings of Rubens. (The animated version has a less tragic ending.) I think because I was a rather lonely and artistically inclined child who spend much of my free time drawing, I especially associated with Nello. How different is this story, and others like it such as Heidi and The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (Holgerssons) from today's children's animations! I really believe that these tails of realistic loss and suffering endured by children better prepared me for my future life. These stories taught me that good doesn't always win over evil, that the innocent are not free from suffering. Maybe that is why it is also popular in Korea.

Sunday, 15 May 2016


“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion—its message becomes meaningless.” — Rabbi Abraham Heschel, God In Search of Man