Kathryn Colucci

Coronavirus: Beginning of the End for Communism in China? (Newsmax Article)

Feb
11

During the presidential primaries of 2016, I was invited to a faculty dinner whose purpose was to host an editor of a major national newspaper. I found myself amongst a group of left-wing academics and students who represented the vast supermajority of the room.

Amongst the general horror felt by most as Donald Trump began to rack up election victories from the Republican side, a question was posed for dinner discussion: “What will be the major headline in 50 years?”

The majority of answers broke down into variations of an Earth ravaged by climate destruction, nuclear war, and big data manipulation. I began to laugh as I thought how the answers matched the personalities of their political inclinations: humorless at best, foreboding and dark at their worst.

When it fell upon me to deliver my pearl of wisdom, I glibly declared, “Not to burst the dystopian fantasies that we have all built here, but the major headline in 50 years will be a democratic China with which the United States is negotiating a military alliance with.” It goes without saying that the room fell silent in shock and disbelief.

In the early 2000s, I had been presenting the idea that China had just as much of a chance of national implosion as becoming a type of economic wunderkind of the early 21st century.

Both of these thoughts are converging. China, especially the Communist Party, is quickly losing runway to land their ideologies, policies and economic expansion. It has been decades since Chinese communist ideology was anything more than a rump placeholder for any sense of national identity or ethical behavior.

However, their world has become darker. Not only have they failed to meet the magical 8% growth rate of GDP that was always thought to be the price to purchase a compliant population, but they have suffered defeats over the Taiwan elections, international condemnation over Uighur “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, trade conflict with the United States, excessive violence usage in the Hong Kong protests, and finally, their latest catastrophic handling of the coronavirus.

With global deaths from coronavirus topping 1,000, far above that of the SARS outbreak from 2002 and 2003, the Chinese government has exhibited classic tactics of dystopian plotlines: They have manipulated the number of infected and dead since the virus’s initial onslaught; Chinese journalists covering the crisis have disappeared; Dr. Li Wenliang who warned about the virus back in December 2019, was detained and punished for “spreading rumors.”

Then there are the mysterious circumstances surrounding Dr. Li’s death. Social media posts show panicked citizens barricaded into their homes by authorities, while others are forcibly dragged from their homes. A woman was shown crying on her balcony pleading for help for her dying husband. One particularly disturbing image shows a couple thrown into a windowless, airless metal container while a little boy, off-camera, watched and asked what was happening.

It has yet to be seen how the coronavirus saga will unfold before it is relegated into the history books as a modern global pandemic. A major question remains: How many people will die from the virus and what percentage in quarantine zones will die from starvation and neglect reminiscent of Mao’s famine years?

For mainland Chinese, however, the question they absolutely will ask is, will we continue to tolerate this form of government, and will we allow it to consume our children? 

Accurate archival material of the Mao years may be hard to come by, and indeed, scholars in academia continue to argue whether he was the liberating leader of a Great Leap Forward, or an agent of evil.

But in this information age, Mao’s Communist legacy, as seen through today’s Chinese government, is made indisputable in its tactics, intentions and treatment of its own people.

For over 70 years, this Communist legacy has failed to grasp the concept that the most powerful emotion in the world, a close second to love, is found in freedom. If they had given Dr. Li the vehicle to speak freely and frequently, many would still be alive.

Instead, emblematic of dictatorships everywhere, they are scrambling to cover up yet another embarrassing policy failure, one of which was entirely in their control, and could have been entirely averted.

President Xi and the entire Chinese Communist Party face a continued trial against their de facto authority, and the coronavirus may prove to be the pivot point that fractures the party from within and without by further exposing its inner methodologies.

Confucianism, which Mao and the Communist Party attempted to stamp out, declared that rulers rule only at the behest of Heaven. Once corruption is exposed through natural disasters and unrest in the population, Confucius argued this was a way for Heaven to remove its blessing.

Perhaps the headline of 50-years-in-the-future is revealing itself sooner than expected.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on Tuesday, 11 February 2020, and was co-authored with my husband, Dr. Lamont Colucci.

Documentary Offers News Perspective on International Relations With Iran (Newsmax Article)

Nov
07

Those that focus on international relations and diplomacy tend to concentrate on military power, political ideologies, and economic resources. When these foreign policy experts analyze religion, they often do so by lenses such as terrorism, extremism, or religious restrictions on behavior.

On the other hand, there are those that focus on religion where the emphasis is placed upon evangelism and belief. What the world is witnessing in Iran is a nexus where international relations and religious changes merge, creating the potential for a long-lasting positive change in both.

A new documentary, “Sheep Among Wolves II” produced by FAI (Frontier Alliance International) in conjunction with Dalton Thomas and Joel Richardson, depicts the growth of Christianity in Iran.

It begins with the revelation of a profound lack of faith among many in the Iranian population who remain Muslim-in-label only. Mosques are often empty, and religious laws are enforced due to the Shia extremists who hold power at the highest levels of government. These tyrannical actors overplayed their hand, and since 1979, have revealed to the entire nation that the purpose of their religion is to subjugate a people and rule them through the use of fear: beatings, tortures, assaults, and death.

So as the Iranian Shia theocracy attempts to pursue an imperial foreign policy endgame of ruling the Shiite Crescent (which stretches from the Persian Gulf through Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon), there exists an underground Christian movement that fosters peace and is not only pro-Jewish but pro-Israel. This Iranian Awakening has exploded across the country, majority-led by women who are former Muslims.

The movement, whose members potentially number in the millions, is characterized by a non-denominational, decentralized conversion process that the Iranian Christians call “Disciple-Making Moments” or DMM. DMM engages heavily with the super-natural aspect of Christianity, and at its roots is “relational” rather than “positional.” It begins with one believer within the movement engaging in prayer to be led by the Holy Spirit to a “person of peace,” sometimes even to a specific location where this person is. Once contact has been made, the believer initiates a conversation with the non-believer, shares personal vignettes of finding Jesus, witnesses to the nonbeliever, and prays for the non-believer’s needs.

In the documentary, one Iranian Christian says that Jesus moves among the non-believers faster than he had originally thought. In other words, many Iranian non-believers have already had visitations or dreams where Jesus appears to them, which makes the dialogue with potential new disciples much easier. After having this initial dialogue, the non-believer would be free to share the conversation with anyone within his/her social circle, although it usually begins with family members. If the non-believer returns to the Christian with at least two other people who are interested, this would be regarded as the beginnings of an infant church solely under the dominion of the Holy Spirit as it was conceived without a pastor, teacher, or evangelist. The leaders of DMM also make it abundantly clear that the number of people in a church is unimportant. Compared to churches in the West, the DMM method requires radical belief that God can plant seeds in hopeless deserts where Christianity is illegal and still achieve fruition under the threat of bodily death — not unlike the genesis of 1st century Christian-making under Roman rule.

There are many statistical debates about the number of Christians in Iran. The Iranian government, which has a vested interest in a propagandistic, low number, puts it at 117,000 people. However, both OpenDoors USA and the World Christian Database concurs with the documentary that the number is approximately more than half a million to one million and growing. It is interesting to note that arrests of Christians in Iran are on the upswing, and those labeled pastors are often prosecuted as threats to national security.

The implications made by “Sheep Among Wolves II” for international affairs and diplomacy are titanic. An Iran where Christianity flourishes is an Iran that will no longer harbor a desire of weapons of mass destruction, sponsor the worst forms of terrorism, commit horrible human rights atrocities against their own people, and seek the death of the Jewish people and Israel. It is also an Iran that comes back into the normal fold of civil international relations and has a flourishing relationship with the West, as it once did before the late 1970’s.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on Thursday, 07 November 2019, and was co-authored by my husband, Dr. Lamont Colucci.

Finding Gondor and a Word About Ents

Apr
03

In March 2019, the J.R.R. Tolkien literary society featured Kathryn Colucci in their publication, Amon Hen. Kathryn and her husband are long-time fans of Tolkien, and Kathryn reminisced on her time in France, where she’s convinced she found Gondor.

Finding Gondor and a word about Ents, by Kathryn Colucci

My husband and I celebrated his winter graduation from the University of London in 2007 by planning a road-trip through France. The idea was to forego the major tourist-y cities such as Paris and Versailles, and considering heavy traffic patterns, we were not disappointed. Instead, we were delighted by the beautiful palace in Fountainebleau, the sobering WWII (invasion of Normandy) memorial in Caen, and the quaintness of Bayeux with its dizzyingly long tapestry. However, nothing could have prepared us for the majesty of the scene as we approached Mont St. Michel.

“Hey look, that’s Gondor!”

And indeed it was.

Or at least it was Minas Tirith, the White City, per the descriptions of J.R.R. Tolkien and the illustrative interpretations of Alan Lee.

It was with growing anticipation that we wound our way past a residential neighborhood that consisted of tan and brown single family homes. One right-turned later, and with a little jolt, we were on a road that ended in a visitor’s car park. The car park was completely surrounded by a gray-brown field of wet sand, which can prove perilous for any dare-devil who treks on the surface when it is wont to be quicksand. (Since then, this car park has been demolished in lieu of a mile-long footbridge/shuttle system.) Despite it being a plain of sand and not a field of grass, the vastness made for an earthly parallel to Pelennor Fields.

Mont St. Michel is a tidal island, which means that during the new moon, the full moon, and other times of the year, water surrounds the Mont at high tide, cutting it off completely from the mainland and transforming the Mont into a true island. While we were not there to witness such effect, we’ve seen it on Miyajima in Japan and its famous floating red shrine.

At the time of our visit, only 42 people or so were proper residents of Mont St. Michel. Once inside the Mont, we did not see a single automobile, though perhaps with good reason; the streets were heavily cramped with shops and restaurants all along the uphill path. They sold everything, from souvenirs to clothing to local food. Because it was the winter holiday, there were plenty of Christmas-themed items for purchase too. That blatant commercialism, reportedly a firmament since the middle ages, took away from the overall Middle-Earth experience, although it is not unreasonable to think that the merchants of Minas Tirith would have done so likewise and with as much zeal.

We climbed the ramparts to the abbey, as though we ventured on the very stone paths walked upon by Aragorn and countless generations of stewards and kings since Elendil. In actuality, it was religious pilgrims who once travelled up the streets to pay homage in the 11th century abbey that caps the highest point of Mont St. Michel. This is a true testament of architectural prowess considering the potential for instability atop a rocky hill and the technology de jour.

Stepping inside the doors of the abbey’s church, it was as though we were transported into the very court of Gondor itself. All around us were gothic-style stone walls, high ceilings, and tall windows that ushered in the daylight with great abundance. Through a side exit laid a romantic green though it lay dormant for winter. This was where the monks once had their garden for growing vegetables and medicinal herbs. The garden is surrounded on all sides by cloisters – exterior halls with little archways in quick succession overlooking the garden. One set of cloisters was designed open on both sides, and offered an exhilarating view down on the streets of Mont St. Michel, past its walls, and upon its surrounding land.

A little after noon, we settled for a restaurant that served oysters and snails so slowly it was almost two and a half hours before we saw the light of day again. It was delicious, but we were not used to this particular custom, which felt more like dawdling than anything else. However, if one were a hobbit at heart, he would have most assuredly been right at home. Mont St. Michel is an UNESCO site, and is a must-see for Tolkien fans young and old who aren’t afraid of throwing caution to the wind and heading out the door for an adventure on the continent.

Along the same vein of not visiting major tourist cities, although this time in England, we spent a few hours in Nottinghamshire with the intent to see Robin Hood attractions. The Robin Hood exhibit is for youngsters, and a Robin Hood festival is held every year near the end of summer. However, Sherwood Forest is worth a trip in and of itself for a taste of Fangorn Forest without Fangorn’s eerie atmosphere.

Sherwood Forest is approximately 128 km (80 miles) from Tolkien’s childhood hometown of Birmingham. The forest consists of various ancient oak trees with so many knots, bumps, and gnarls that one can immediately identify an Ent’s facial features – a nose, an eye, a chin – and sometimes arms. Considering the geography, it is not unreasonable to think that Tolkien may have come across such a tree during the formative years of childhood when he developed an affinity to nature and greenery.

We did not venture far enough into the wood to determine if there was a spot so dense that no sunlight could penetrate the forest floor. However, one could find out for himself if one wishes to visit the actual legendary forest of another adventure story in order to glimpse a prototype of Middle-Earth’s legendary Ent.

Happy travels! And may you never fall prey to a giant spider.

Kindergarten Letter

Sep
28

Dear Ms. X,

I am pleased to introduce my vivacious monkey, Auggie, as your kindergarten student this school year.  Auggie is a very hard worker and is particularly skilled with manual labor, which will come in handy if you ever need him to dig a ditch.  He loathes being yelled at, which will cause him to shut down like a smart-phone fresh out of lithium juice.  His one weakness is food.  Food, glorious food, and he will eat you out of house and home if you do not keep your cupboards securely fastened.  Actually, I lied.  He has another weakness: manipulating buttons and levers.  Therefore, it is highly advisable to keep him out of the industrial kitchen and boiler room unless you wish for the school to experience a nuclear meltdown.

We are still working on basic hygiene skills such as washing mud out of fingernails, not interrupting an ongoing conversation, and sight words.  Our expectation for him this year is to master as many sight words as possible so I don’t have to read the instructions on his Wii games anymore. Basics include: Load Game, Yes, No, Accept, Cancel, Press A, Press B, Exit. 

Intermediary skills include the following sentence: Batman and Robin can perform special attacks. Press B to grab an enemy, then B again to throw.

          I hope you have a great year with Auggie.  If you have any questions, concerns, or death threats, please don’t bother calling.  I’ll be too busy rolling around in chocolate or eating bon-bons while watching my “shows” like all the other hardcore real housewives.

Sincerely,

Auggie’s Mom

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Published in AMI Newswire

Jul
20

I wrote an article about the Romanovs for AMI Newswire, click here to read it. Or, read the original, unedited version here on my website.

https://aminewswire.org/stories/3052/

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Reverberations of an Assassination

Jul
12

Once upon a time in Imperial Russia, a grand celebration was held to commemorate 300 years of Romanov rule. Visiting dignitaries from across Europe stood awestruck by the sheer number of faithful subjects gathered outside the Winter Palace. A luxurious ball was thrown and the hall was awash with a sea of furs, jewels and tiaras, blushing young maidens, gallant young lads, rich foods, lilting music, and much merry-making. This feast for the senses could only be described as a fairytale—a Russian Fairytale—owing to the intensity of its grandeur. But underneath the pomp and circumstance, unrest and resentment were simmering and had been simmering for a while in the secret corners of politics. It boiled over into such chaos a short four years later that Tsar Nicholas II, the supposed representation of God Himself on earth, was forced to abdicate the throne.

The fairytale was over.

The tsar sought for protection from his cousin, the look-alike King George V of Great Britain. It was granted. But in the UK, news of asylum generated outrage by the Labor and liberal parties. Cousin George feared he might be met with the same fate as Nicky, and so, the offer of asylum was rescinded. Meanwhile, to protect the Imperial Family from the wolves of revolution, Kerensky’s provincial government whisked them to the Urals during the winter of 1917. The idea was to evacuate the family abroad through Japan once spring came. But the Red Tide was fierce, and the last ruling Romanovs became political prisoners of the Bolsheviks.

100 years ago, in the pre-dawn hours of July 17th, 1918, the Romanovs and a few faithful servants were corralled into the basement of a “house of special purpose”. Here is where historians disagree as to the proceeding events. However, the general consensus is that Nicky and Alix, and their five children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei, were assassinated by the Bolsheviks under the order of Vladimir Lenin. To Lenin, for a one-party communist dictatorship to live, an absolute monarchy had to die.

Here is where the chorus of if-onlys cries out in lamentation. If only the Czechoslovak Legion had reached the Romanovs a week earlier… If only the disorganized White Army, whose canons were within earshot of the Romanovs, had stormed Ekaterinburg… If only Cousin George had a stiffer resolve… If only they had survived.

One might call it fate, a build-up of missed opportunities, or a series of unfortunate events: Nicholas was unprepared to perform the duties of the Tsar upon the death of his father, Alexander III; he fell in love and married a German princess whose family was openly anti-Russian; he dithered in calling for peace during the Russo-Japanese War when defeat was inevitable; he hid behind palace walls when peasants and workers rioted for better working conditions and wages; he tolerated Rasputin’s seemingly ubiquitous presence with his family, which fanned negative press; he entered his woefully unprepared and outdated army into WWI where they were soundly beaten by the Germans on the Eastern Front; and he watched helplessly as a severe winter caused food shortages and riots on an already collapsing government in 1917. By this point, even the officers of the Imperial army were loath to remain loyal to the Tsar, and the spirit of revolution was flying strong and high.

Was it deserved? Was it necessary? To depose of their emperor is largely traumatic for a nation whose diverse people no longer have a common figure to rally behind. It brought an abrupt end to centuries of tradition, and curtailed a possible future in which Russia may have evolved into the Eastern mirror of Great Britain.

Had they survived and recovered the throne, Tsar Nicholas II may have been persuaded to transform Russia into a constitutional monarchy, perhaps even out of necessity due to his hemophiliac son, Alexei. The atmosphere of an imperial fairytale would have changed, certainly scaled back for economy’s sake, but it would have still been alive and significant for the morale of the people. Most importantly, the continuation of this particular monarchy would have stopped the needless abuse, backwardness, spying, secretiveness and paranoia of the subsequent dictatorship in its tracks. It may have prevented both the direct and indirect deaths of nearly 100 million people for an untried, untrue, half-baked armchair brain aneurysm in the form of Marxist-socialism, and its twin brother, communism. This cancer of a political ideology would not have rapidly metastasized into Asia, the Middle-East, Africa and Latin America. There would have been no Cold War, no Cuban missile crisis, no East-West Germany, no Maoism, no Khmer Rouge, no gulags, and in a united Korea, Kim Jong Un may have been admired as a basketball star by Dennis Rodman instead of the other way around.

On the anniversary of the death of Nicholas II, we are reminded of the thin line that separates war and peace. We reflect on how the lives people live now are closely tied to events that happened once upon a time. In this case, the action of murdering a defenseless, captive family who 99.9% of us have no relation to, caused an avalanche of destruction as the consequences rippled through the generations. Rather than delivering on the promise of liberty or independence touted by the Communists, the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II was the first omen of a revolution that would usher in tyranny. It is a tyranny whose reverberations we are continuing to fix to this day.

Kathryn Colucci is writer from the Midwest and is currently working on a historical novel concerning fictional events in the decades before Nicholas II was deposed.
This post was originally published by Kathryn Colucci at AMI NewsWire, 12 July 2018.

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