Tuesday, July 12, 2011
We Make the Future with the Present
In Korea we are now wondering when the rainy season will end. To find out, we consult the weather forecasts. When there is concern for the economic situation, we go to the specialists in that field to find out. And when we try to get objective knowledge of what the future may hold for us, we often turn to science-based information to find out. However, in his column on Religion and Culture in the Catholic Times the columnist asserts that though science can predict many future events religion still has its attraction.
Why is that? The columnist believes that the more expectations we have for the future the more unexpected fears will come along with these expectations. Will I be able to find a job? Will I be able to keep the job and continue to support my family? What will happen to Korea in the near future? Science can tell us a great deal but not all of what the future holds in store for us--that, he says, is the reason religion still influences much of our life.
Throughout history, we have had those who considered the past more important than the future. During the Chosun dynasty, when Confucianism held sway, the ideal kingdom of the past was looked upon as the mirror for the present. The past was the yardstick by which they judged the present, believing that the ideal present was the repetition of the ideal past,--an attempt to return to its garden of Eden and its golden age.
And then you have those that looked forward to the future, each of them having a blueprint of the future that they would like to see; some in search of the millennium kingdom. Others in search for Utopia and the messiah who will bring it about. These attempts to do away with faults and even small deviations from the ideal, while searching for the Utopian World, often end up as a nightmarish experience.
Whether it's a return to a pristine state of the past or a preparation for living in a perfect world of the future, our columnist says Catholics would not be in either group. Words referring to the end times in Scripture are taken, he says, more as analogy and signs than as predictions of future events. With Christ entering our world we have already begun our life in his kingdom in the here and now. We do not sacrifice or toss aside the present. Neglecting the present life or dreaming of a new future at the expense of the present is not our Catholic way of thinking. "We are making our future," he emphasizes, "by the way we live the present."