Thursday, January 29, 2015

Digital World of Purity and Love

A Religious Sister who speaks about media literacy had just finished her talk, and was leaving when a parishioner accosted her. "That was a moving talk, Sister. Those who have fallen into this immorality is not a small number even in this parish."  " Not a small number?"  She was surprised at what the man said, and he in turn was surprised by the Sister's question. She kept repeating to herself how many was the many he was talking about? Are those who are reading these words also surprised by her response?

Her article in With Bible treats the subject of the digital world and how it relates to love and purity. "What I say to you is: anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts" (Matt. 5:28). "Not a few?" many may think the Sister is just innocent, and those who wonder how many are those who do not commit adultery? Carnal lust invigorates the economy. Movies and dramas package immorality and make it attractive. Extra marital encounters are construed in such a beautiful way in movies and dramas. Advertizing on any city street appeals often to the lower instincts and we continue to say those who have lust in their hearts have already committed adultery.How many hear these words and laugh?

SNS world is easily accessed. We can quickly relate with many, and discontinue contact with a simple click. A professor made a study, she mentions, of those who habitually connect with the SNS world and found that the marital problems are many. No reason to fight and in this virtual world, we can use symbolic words, which stimulate us more than the real world, but also makes the real world unattractive. 

Sister mentions a 7 year old child she knows who has an old doll, the nose is missing and the clothes in the back have fallen off. The Sister once asked the child, wasn't it time to take leave of the doll? The girl very strongly said how could she part company with the doll that has been with her since she was a little baby?  

She mentions the movie Her that came out in 2013.  A man is  going through a divorce and is in the dumps. He buys a new computer operating system which is one of the first artificially intelligent systems. After installing the operating system he falls in love with the seductive voice coming from the computer. This love is always the love that he always wanted to have. Is this what the future new technology is going to give us?

Lust does not allow us to see the other as a person. When we have this craving we lose our peace  and prayer becomes difficult. When we have immorality in the family we can't say there is love present. Is it proper for the single person to look lightly on the beam of purity shinning on our inner temples.

She would like to see all have the same mind as the seven year old child in the way she loved her doll.      Our thoughts, feelings and even love is being digitized. Purity relegated to the past. She is asking her readers to give a nod of approval to her belief that purity is one of the best ways to go in search of God.                            

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SINE (Systematic Integral New Evangelization)

Efforts to give life to the small Christian communities in the parish have been part of the on-going work of the Church for many years. Korea succeeded with the apostolic movements it has accepted from overseas; the Legion of Mary was one of the first and has been followed by most of the other apostolic movements in the worldwide Church. They have done much to make the church a dynamic growing community, amassing a great deal of good will from the citizens of the country.

The Inchon Diocese has now, after a two year period of preparation, decided to introduce SINE (Systematic Integral New Evangelization) to the diocese and the country. A priest and laywoman from Colombia and a bishop from Argentina, who was born in Korea, are     during the priest retreat, introducing them to the SINE to prepare them to begin the movement within the diocese.

The Peace Weekly gave the movement space on the front page and explains what the diocese hopes the movement will do. 40 of the  80  dioceses in Colombia have accepted the movement and the results have shown that the small parish groups are revitalized, those who have made the program know who they are as Christians, have matured in their faith life, and the clergy have become holier. They have seen the results and recommend the movement.

A small group in each parish, made up of the priests and the team that will be introducing the SINE to the parish, will first experience the process for a year, meeting every week and what they experience is what they will pass on to those who will follow them. The tools and materials used will be determined by the circumstances of each parish community but the objective is a mature, conscientious, holy, mission orientated parish.

Korea has been working with small basic communities for over 20 years and there have been difficulties but the work continues and the SINE, says the director of the pastoral work in the diocese, envisions  the movement as a  complement to what is going on within the diocese, and a way to satisfy the thirst that many have for a fuller spiritual life.

One of the weaknesses that is often pointed out by those who have studied our parish life, is that many have made their faith life an individual and private relationship with Jesus, and the communities' influence on our life is not prominent.This should help the communities realize how important our personal maturity, our religious maturity, and the interaction with members of the community is for the mission of the Church and the Christian.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Respect For Those Who Serve Us

Recently, a number of incidents in Korean society has exposed the friction between "superior" and "inferior" that caused rage among the citizens. A columnist in the Peace Weekly gives us the examples of this high-handedness on the part of superiors towards inferiors: customers at department stores and parking lot attendants, security personnel and apartment building dwellers. Once the abuse was communicated to SNS sites, those who have been pointed out as non-feeling and cruel, were shamed. They responded: they have done nothing that warrants the shame they have been made to experience. The customer is always right may have something to do with this thinking.

A philosophy professor at the Catholic University reminds the readers that even before modern times this impudent behavior was not accepted. What is the reason in our democratic society we continue to see this kind of behavior in such a public way? There has to be another reason besides the customer is always right.

Those in society who have the money and positions of authority may think that what they are doing for society in ways of service allows them to think they have control over the person. Our advertizing gives the illusion that if the money is there you can have anything you want. No, there are things we can't buy. We can't buy the person who is serving us. 

We are introduced to the second formulation of Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative: "Act in such a way that you treat humanity whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end  but always at the same time as an end." 

In our society we can't solve all our problems alone; with our money we buy products and services from others. With our purchasing power we can buy what is offered but we don't buy the person. "I have used so much of my money why do I get this type of treatment?" When we think we are buying the person we know what will follow.

In conclusion, the professor tells us about a coffee shop where the customers are given a discount when they address the employees by name and treat them politely. He hopes this kind of thinking begun in this one business will spread throughout all of society.

Monday, January 26, 2015

CCTV Alerts the Nation

What words do we use most frequently during the day? In the family is it: busy, it's rough, thank you,  sorry, I love you? How much time do we actually spend talking to other family members during the day? Would it be 30 minutes? 10 minutes?  5 minutes? One of the most  important things we can do during the day is to relate appropriately with children. Will it be positive, constructive and warmly or will it be negatively, passively and angrily? The way children are addressed determines to a great extend their personality-- words written by a religious sister in the Diocesan Bulletin.

Recently Korean news has brought to the attention of the citizens not only in families do we have problems in the way children are addressed, but shockingly we have seen how teachers in pre-school programs and children centers, who should know better, and have been trained for their work, have used violence in dealing with the children as young as two years old. Videos have been released to the public on TV news, which have angered the nation. Only to be introduced to other pre-school programs where the same kind of violence was seen, prompting the government and parents to get involved.

The Peace Weekly editorial thought it important enough to give it space. To see this kind of violence with children so young, without any restraint, using the fist to punch a child was too much for the country. The teacher after punching the child without crying, the child picked up the food that was spilled, and the other children without being told went to a corner of the  room staring at the teacher with fright. This was more than enough reason for those who saw the video to be angry.

The office of statistics has reported that each year about 200 cases of cruelty to students is reported  and the majority of these are with pre-school children. The importance of this period in a child's education in character building is well known, and the need for teachers trained in child care is necessary.

At present without any experience in a class room, by the internet, listening to a series of lectures and getting the necessary credit points one receives second class teacher accreditation for pre-school.

The editorial mentions in Germany two years of special schooling, two years of classroom experience, and  evaluation of personality and qualifications by a board is required, before they receive accreditation. More important than the one dimensional regulations to have CCTV in all the classrooms, is to make sure the teachers have the necessary qualification to be with children.  

We are not conscious of the influence we have on others and the bad example we give to others by the words we use, our behavior, and moods should humble us, and make us aware of the harm that is done when money is the standard by which we judge what is permissible in the education of the young.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Practicing What We Believe

The devil is in the details, begins an article in the Catholic Times. Often it is the small things, overlooked, that cause the problems. A priest writer wants us to understand how this reality is manifested when speaking about matters of justice.

The social gospel is the foundation of our teaching:   the principles of human dignity, common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, the universal use of our resources for the good of all, are all basically accepted by most Catholics. In the details is where we have disagreement.                                                                                                                                                                                          We are made in the image of God and have dignity,  but when we bring up issues in our society and our place besides the poor, and those whose human rights are ignored we have a difference of opinion. We speak a lot about the  common good but when it comes in conflict with our good we have a can of worms.

Solidarity is where one is willing to strongly  participate in the work for the common good, uniting ourselves with the sacrifice of Jesus for us. However, the problem comes when instead of working to undo the darkness in the world we add to the darkness by being more concern with our benefits and interests.

Subsidiarity is respecting a person's autonomy, spontaneity and independence. To explain this principle he uses the example of a person who knows how to catch a fish and give it to another, not feeling a need to help the other to catch the fish. If we look at the family we see where this principle is often ignored and the  government when she doesn't respect the characteristics of different areas of the country and uses benefits to the country as an excuse, to bring harm to its citizens.

What we possess is not only for our use but for the good of all. My money, possessions, and knowledge are to be used for the good of all. A very beautiful teaching we can admire from afar but when we get into particulars such as raising the tax on the wealthy and trying to achieve a better balance on equality we have confrontation.

In the Church Today Document  of Vatican II #24 we hear: "This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." When we are in church praying and feel close to God, and the small detail of 'the other'   comes to mind and the way we need to put what we believe into practice we can't just be content with knowing the principles. 

Today in Korea at all the Masses we are collecting funds for aiding the poor overseas, another prod to open our eyes to the other, and not just a small detail.                                                           

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Manipulation of Our Emotions

"I don't like it. When you don't like something, that's it." You are cut off from any more interaction. This is a problem that a religious sister whose field of study is Media Ecology brings to our attention. Our emotions have become a consumer product.

She recalls going to a play. The heroine was a plain looking woman who was on the chubby side. The sister's first brief impression was one of doubt but very quickly she was absorbed by her performance.  In the row in front of her sat a group of college students who began to giggle and laugh, spending most of the time showing little interest on what was happening on the stage. They were not impressed with the heroine; their emotional involvement had been shut down.

Walter Benjamin a German cultural critic, she quotes as saying: our popular art is no longer the type where we contemplate, get involved and attached, but see, hear, and enjoy, an object of feelings. Not something to appreciate but rather a play thing that diffuses our mental faculties. To the college students the external appearance of the heroine was all important. Their sense of sight had not been satisfied and that was the end of their interest. The play was a consumer product they passively examined; not an artistic creation they were to appreciate and critique. 

When something is not liked, that's that. They are not interested in the product.  It has to be interesting,  fun and an object of amusement or they lose interest. "I don't like it." I don't like to meet that person."  When they put in the word just, it becomes hopeless: "I just don't like it."  This closes down all the feelings. When alone, they go to the  movies for interest, when sad the television screen and laughter, when lonely the SNS where they can acquire friends.                     
In our economic system our consumer product is feelings. Consequently, the strategy is to use children and women as the objects for advertising. Our feelings take over from our processes of thought.  Emotions become the tools and the consumer product. The process of thought is circumvented and feelings become all important. When the feelings are not satisfied then it's bad, the reason? It just is. 

Even though the system is trying to deceive us we should not be sad or get angry. We are still the spectators who are active critics who are the creators of meaning. We still have strength to make sure that our emotional life is not made an object of the consumer society, are we not?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dreaming of Reunification of the Country

From the time of the division of Korea, North Koreans have fled to the South. Those who leave the North after entering China go to a third country because China refuses to grant refugee status to the defectors, and considers them illegal. If caught in China they are repatriated back to North Korea to face serious consequences. 

The Inchon Diocese's Committee for the Reconciliation of the Nation works to improve the relations between the two countries. On Jan. 15-16, 18 young people of the two sectors of the country met in a School for Unity Program. They began with some awkwardness  but quickly developed into a closeness of friendship.

There has been in the diocese programs where those who were refugees from the North were invited to live with Catholic families to accustom themselves to the culture and the South Korean way of doing things, but this was the first time that young people of the North and South spent time in a formal way to get to know each other, and dream of a united Korea.

Defectors in South Korea are usually called refugees but in recent years we have been using the words "people of a new land",  less disagreeable to the North than the word they used in the past: "people who fled the North."  There is also the word with a stronger meaning: "residents who renounced North Korea."  During this program we heard "people of a new land."   

After the start of the program on the mainland with a welcoming and a Mass they came to the Gyodong Peace Island, and to the mission station. Kim Young-Ai (Theresa) one of the committee members  and a parishioner of the  mission station gave a talk on Gyodong as the Peace Island and how many of  the citizens still consider themselves as people from the North who now live on the island, but dream of some day returning to their place of birth. 

There are still many persons living here in the South who at the big holidays come to Gyodong with nostalgia for their homeland. They may be those who left the North during the Korean War or family members of those who left. The distance to the nearest point in North Korea is about 2.5 kilometers. On a clear day you can see the North Koreans working in their fields.

The group was taken on a sight seeing tour of the island by Theresa and they spent some time in the area overlooking the North. After the  trip they returned to the mainland and spent time together in discussion and expressing their views on the days activities. They want to continue this school for unity in the future.