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November 17, 2006

Comments

David Moles

What are traditional Australian Christmas foods like? I spent one Christmas in Sydney as a teenager but I can't remember a thing I ate -- probably due to sunstroke from watching the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race.

Russell Arben Fox

Thanks, Belle; this was very interesting.

"Singapore has what is actually a rather charming zoning/religious harmony measure which ensures that in a given neighborhood all of the places of worship will be put side by side; there is an Indian temple, two Chinese temples and a Protestant church all next to each other up the road from us."

Cool. A lot of small towns in the U.S. used to have an informal zoning process which had mostly the same result: the Methodist church on one street corner, the Baptists on the next, the Catholics across the street, etc. Of course, Singapore is a lot more diverse than that. Nice to see that they've been able to make it work.

"Christmas is massively celebrated as a commercial holiday in Singapore, and a chance to engage in what some would argue is the true Singaporean religion: shopping (and eating seasonal treats.)"

Interesting. I wonder if there are some cultural differences which explain its popularity as an economic opportunity, or if it just comes down to the wealth of the consumer base? Korea has a pretty large Christian population, plus thousands of American troops stationed there who have been celebrating Christmas the whole time, yet it didn't seem to me to be able to plug into Christmas merchandising the way some store owners clearly wanted to. Of course, I lived there nearly 20 years ago, so who knows how much more wealthy and consumption oriented the population has grown since then.

Oh, and I'd like to hear about "traditional Australian Christmas foods" too. There's an Australian missionary living in our area right now; maybe we could whip up something that would make him feel at home.

Laura

I too would like to know what Australian traditional Christmas foods are.

Wade

I would have thought the purpose of the zoning measure was to better keep an eye on religious activity, lest anyone become too vocal about politics and other matters touching on societal "harmony." I suppose it is kind of charming, assuming your point of reference is, say, their persecution of Falun Gong.

On the other side of the ledger, the state does consider religion a safeguard against rampant individualism and lack of discipline, a notion to warm the heart of any neoconservative.

Matt Weiner

This entry title consistently makes the little man in my head start singing "Springtime for Hitler." I don't know why.

belle waring

Wade: it can hardly have escaped your notice that you don't read a lot of harsh criticism of Singapore on this blog, so you may be inclined to take this with a grain of salt. however, I think some of the enforced ethnic harmony policies of the Singapore government have achieved a much better result than I would have expected coming from America and basically being some kind of libertarian wacko by world standards. requiring worshippers of various faiths to see one another all the time, and requiring the leaders of their congregations to work together in the neighborhood context--as rights infringements go this is weak tea, and it actually seems to work quite well. so, yes, considered solely, I do find this policy charming, although I'm not about to come home and agitate for it in my home country. that the government monitors religious gatherings for incitements to violence etc. (perhaps lots of cetera) is quite true, and they would be the first to admit it. I think this policy would have broad appeal in the US were it applicable only to mosques, but I feel sure support would decline sharply as every other religion was added in as well.

ajay

Sounds like the Street of Small Gods...

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