Friday, April 29, 2016

Is it Wrong to Wish that Swords and Spears be made into Farming Tools?

A priest writing in the diocesan bulletin recalls the time he was with seminarians in their military reserve force training, required after discharged from the military. They were on the shooting range when one of the seminarians raised his hand and told the officer in charge: "I don't want to use the gun." The officer asked jokingly: "Did you have a  bad dream last  night?"  "I  was discharged as a soldier in the military chaplaincy," replied the seminarian, which got a laugh from the group.

Should it be a surprise for a soldier who was in the military chaplaincy to refuse a gun which is aimed at another human being to kill? Would it be strange for a Christian to refuse the use of a gun?

Recently, the conservative press with the doings in North Korea as they are, with the nuclear and rocket experimenting, there is movement to return tit for tat and expand the armament race. Seeing the response of Russia and China there has been a recent hesitancy on part of the conservative press.

The liberal press sees the power struggle between China and the United States as the problem and the build up of armaments. Talk about an anti-ballistic missile system will just increase the armament race and distance Korea from China. Lack of trust is a reason for the struggle in East Asia.

After presenting the conservative and liberal press response he gives us the  thinking of the bishops of Korea in an appeal by the president of the Korean Conference of Bishops.

The bishop was not happy with the returning to use of amplifying speakers for propaganda to the North and the withdrawal from the Kaesong Industrial Complex.(This was a joint venture in North Korea which was a source of income for the North) He also mentions the military maneuvers with the Americans that have brought more tension to the peninsular. 

The writer mentions in more detail what the military maneuvers entail, They were joint maneuvers with 20,000 American military and 30,000 Korea military lasting for almost 2 months with nuclear powered submarines, aircraft carriers,destroyers,and fighter aircraft. The only ones who will feel pleased are the militarists of Japan and the defense industry. China and Russia are not pleased and it makes for tension on the peninsular. Korea is one of the biggest importers of munitions and most of it from the defense industry of the United States.

The bishops would like both North and South to follow their previous declarations and agreements made together and to continue in that spirit.  Kaesong Industrial Project was a sign of working together and wants the closing to be reconsidered. They hope the six countries concerned will meet together for talks that will deal with the problems of the build up of armaments on the peninsular.

" He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They  shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks...." These words of Isaiah are the hope of the bishops and the Church of Korea.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Spirituality of Shame

On the opinion page of the Catholic Times, a columnist gives us his thoughts on the Korean movie, Dong Ju: Portrait of a Poet, a black-and-white movie about Yun Dong Ju.

During the Japanese colonial period, while studying in Japan, Dong Ju suffered much at the hands of the police for his thinking. He was imprisoned  and died in 1945.  Each scene of the movie was for the columnist a verse from a poem.

At that time in history, the connection between life and thinking was stronger and deeper, he writes. The nation, world peace, justice, morality were considered noble truths but wonders if the will that existed to give one's life for these truths, still exists.  In these postmodern times, these noble ideals both in Korea and the rest of the world are forgotten and considered like a throwback to the rustic black-and-white  movies of the past.

However, the movie Dong Ju moved him, and left him with nostalgia for the past. The movie showed him the depth and extent of shame in the life of Dong Ju.

Below are some verses where shame was depicted in his poems translated literally:

I would wish  to look up at heaven without a jot of shame up until the moment I die. I suffer even when the wind moves between the leaves. ( Prologue)

Life is difficult and writing poetry is so easy.
I feel shame.  (Poetry is easy to write)

I cry as I hug the wall, the sky shamefully blue. (The Way)

The poet felt he stood before God naked: the reason for his shame. A person who thinks is one who wants to be different, but  there is always a gap between what a person shows to others and who they are. Within this gap lies cowardice, weakness, self-deception, rationalization, darkness: the generic name is sin. 

We prefer to call sin by another name and look up to heaven without shame. How many times, called before a tribunal for suspicion of wrong doing, do we hear the words: "I look up to heaven without a jot of shame' and misunderstand the meaning of the poet.

The faces of these persons outwardly seem to be at peace but internally not clean and transparent but a soul muddy and shameless. We should be like the poet upset with shame:  a sign of a mature person and hope for the world.

Pope Francis was asked who is Jorge Bergoglio. He answered after some thought: a sinner. To feel shame is a grace from God. Another Korean poet thundered out: "In a  world that doesn't have shame, to know shame is not shame." Shame teaches. "Blessed are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled" (Matt. 5:4).  Columnist concludes with  hope this Year of Mercy will help us understand shame is a grace from God.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Women in Korean Politics

Hatshepsut  was the first female pharaoh of Egypt. Writing  in View from the Ark of the Catholic Times, a professor wonders how a woman could be a pharaoh back 3,500 years ago when women were considered the possession of men.

She was the daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose I. After the death of her father, her half-brother and husband became pharaoh. They had one daughter,  from a royal concubine. Thutmose III was born but died early, and she became Pharaoh.

She wore men's clothes and even a fake beard. In later times, her rule was seen  as a time of great progress, launching building programs and bringing  prosperity.  Her reign was known as a time of peace. Instead of pyramids built by her predecessors, she started  cutting back by building obelisks: beginning a new tradition. She united upper and lower Egypt and ushered in a time of peace. She is remembered as a woman who received great respect from the citizens.

In the world today, we have many women in political leadership positions around the world. They have broken the unfair system that prevented a woman from reaching top positions in society. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been elected three times and the first woman to lead the country. She has shown a strong stand in dealing with migration and terror, and other crises, the personification of a mother as a leader of a country.

Liberia's  president has with patience, and nonviolence changed a system of government, and in Croatia, Kolinda- Grabar-Kitarovic has with her simple honest attitude  got rid of the authoritarianism in the government of Croatia with which the people had grown tired.

The world today is different from the world of 3,500 years ago, No longer is the feminine seen as a fault but something that we need in society. There is a need  for a mother's approach in  the way a country is led.

Fiercer, competitive, combative and at times more destructive than men is not what we are looking for in  women leaders but women with a mother's instincts. She finishes her article by hoping that we will have more of this  leadership in the world.

In the recent election in Korea on April 13, there were 100 women who registered to  compete and 844 men vying for 253 seats. 51 women were elected: 4 more than in the last election.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Catholic Statistics For Korea

Both Catholic Weeklies gave us articles on the 2015 statistics showing us the present situation of the Church. Overall we see a continual increase in the number of Catholics. Total Catholics rose by 1.7% to 5.65 million, 10.7of the country's total population of 52.67 million, but at the same time a decrease in the religious practice  of the parishioners. Substance is not following appearance.

From 2009, the number of Catholics continue to increase yearly to over 10 % of the total number of citizens. The number of clergy continues to increase. Numbers of  women religious, on the other hand, remains stagnant and the number in formation continues to drop.

Women number 57.9% of the total number of Catholics, and men 41.8% but last year there was a slight increase for the men. Under 20 years of age the males have a slight edge. After 25 the number of women increase until after 80 years of age, women are 73.7% of the total.

17% of the  Catholics are over 65 years old.  Number of those baptized, attending Mass and frequenting the Sacraments continues to fall. The number of Catholics in Korea numbers 10.7 % of the population. Seoul Diocese has 15 %,  highest of all the dioceses.

Ages of those between 50-54 number 9.3%, 45-49, 8.9%, 40-44, 8.2%, those over 65 number 17%. The church continues to age. Last year the numbers baptized dropped 6.9 % from the previous year: 116,143. The number of those married decreased 3.9% from the previous year.  Confessions dropped 6% and there was a drop in confirmations, marriages, and first communions.

Mass  attendance increased by 2 % from the previous year and  the percentage of those attending Mass on any one Sunday would be 20.7 % of the total number of Christians.
Korea has two Cardinals, 36 bishops,  4,909 Korean priests, 182 foreign priests, for a total of 5,129. This has increased 145 from the previous year. Male religious increased 0.7 % women religious remain about the same but those in formation: men 59 and women 335 is a decrease of 28 % for the men and 7.2 % for the women.

There are 1706  parishes an increase of 24 from the previous year. Mission stations continue to decrease 3.9% from the previous year with 761.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Talents And Their Meaning

In Korea the word talent is mostly used for TV  personalities. But it's also used for vocalists, comedians, master of ceremonies, actresses and actors. A word used for performers of all types. An article in a diocesan bulletin mentions that it was first used at the inauguration of the Korean Broadcasting System back in 1961.

The word comes from talanton a Greek word meaning a weighing scale, and gradually transferred to what was on the scale, and to the most precious thing on the scale. In Roman and Jewish cultures it became understood as a kind of currency.  In the Jewish culture a denarius was the daily wage of a worker. In the time of Jesus one talent was 6,000 denarii. It was a lot of money and heavy.

The meaning we have today comes in great measure from the parable in Matthew's Gospel 25:14-30. A land owner goes on a long journey and gives his servants bags of money according to their ability. One person gets 5 bags another 2 and and another 1. The  person with five bags earns another five, and the one with two,  another two but the one with one bag is fearful and buries the bag and returns it to the owner. He was not happy with what was done, and takes his bag and gives it to the one who has five.

It  is a parable and no need to examine every point made but the message is clear, Jesus wants us to use what we have been given and see it increased and the way this is done is to use what we have been given. In our culture we think gifts of appearance, intelligence, personality, and many other gifts are means of benefiting ourselves on the road to success, and with little concern how they are useful for the common good. 

God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained mission.

"As generous distributors of God's  manifold grace, put your gifts at the service on one another, each in the measure he has received" (1 peter 4:10).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Politics without Philosophy

Korea on April 13th had their parliamentary elections. A seminary philosophy professor expresses his opinion in a column of the Catholic Times on the absence of philosophy in politics. Noise is what we hear, and he believes it's the natural outcome of politicians trying to persuade citizens to vote for them.

He laments the effort is not to present the truth to citizens but crudely to separate themselves from others with whom they are contending for votes. They don't  seem conscious of the voters need to be given life, but only their greed and lack of concern for the citizens and absence of authenticity.

Plato in his dialogues on Law writes that the duty of a nation is to give citizens a correct understanding of "God" if we want order throughout the country, this is similar in meaning to the teaching of Jesus: "Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well" (Matt.6:33). 

Both Plato's right understanding of "God" and Jesus's kingdom and righteousness is asking us to choose life, and to do this we need a correct philosophy that precedes politics. Politicians need concern for problems if we want a healthy society, and right reason to address the problems. 

The writer mentions a person who was the governor of a municipality in Germany, who he met and on one, occasion asked: what was his philosophy of politics? He answered without delay: to prevent harm being  done to the citizens. The professor liked what was said.  

Our politicians speak about the crisis of economics and ask the voters to vote for them to better their lives: nothing about policies and visions.  With this kind of silly propaganda, "let us live well" we are not dealing with philosophy.
He is not surprised when many reading his shallow words retort: does philosophy put  food on our tables? When we deal with temporary methods and lack a correct understanding of family and educational problems, we are mortgaging the future. Koreans have seen the harm done in our history with policies that have not been grounded in right reason. 

He concludes his article  reminding the readers of the recent competition in the board game of Go: a computer program in which the human lost four of the five games played. In a game, we have the human player spending the night going over his moves and trying to find the mistakes. If this is true in a game, how much more for those who are looking forward to leading the country.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Seeing the Diciples at the Last Supper

On the opinion page of the Peace Weekly, the columnist introduces us to an aspect of the Last Supper that is very easy to miss and which many of the artists were quick to see and express in their masterpieces.

Homilies, was the subject of one of the classes the columnist was taking at a School of Theology. In many of the mission stations, catechists take the place of deacons and priests in the administration and pastoral work of the mission station. The priest usually visits the station once a month. Consequently, those in the formation programs for catechetical work prepare themselves to give sermons.

When the columnist's turn came to give a sermon, it was the passage in Luke 22:14-23 on the Last Supper. He mentions he knew the story very well: Jesus was showing his love to his disciples he was leaving them his body and blood. " I will not drink from the fruit of the vine until the coming of the reign of God." He was telling them this was his last supper with them.

During the last visit to Jerusalem a few days earlier the crowd was all enthusiastic hoping that the time had come to get rid of Roman rule and Jesus was the new general and leader. The disciples were even more excited. They were all dreaming the same dream despite the fact that Jesus told them repeatedly of his coming death they were not listening.

That night these words did not make any impression, after seeing what they did, how could they? He was not going to die. That night they had no inkling this was the last meal and testament nor were they interested. They were dreaming of a bright future and fighting over who would have the first places.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Battista Tiepolo, Albrecht Durer and Tintoretto expressed this very clearly in their paintings of the Last Supper. The columnist was surprised to see the greed on their faces; the distracted environment, self-righteousness and signs of betrayal filled him with dismay, sorrow and curiosity. They were even crazily pouring wine into the crocks, which made them just like all of us, even after their experience of Jesus.

Mencius said: when  we are embarrassed at not being embarrassed, we will not do things that are embarrassing. The disciples after the Resurrection did feel great embarrassment at their behavior, and we know how remorse and contrite they were, giving their lives completely to Jesus. He concludes the article with his understanding changed about the Last Supper: before only Jesus and holiness. He never saw the human embarrassing behavior of the disciples.

Friday, April 15, 2016

St. Teresa of Avila's Words of Wisdom

In the spirituality column of the Peace Weekly, we are introduced to St.Teresa of Avila, the first woman to be proclaimed Doctor of the Church. She mentions often in her writings the spiritual director. In her own life, she experienced many confessors and spiritual directors and reflected on their role and gives her opinion.

She recommends that all Christians open themselves up to a person who is well educated. There is nothing better to find a person who is steeped in learning. She is often quoted for having told her sisters that if they have to choose between a learned director and a holy one who is not learned, it is best to choose the one who is learned. Obviously if you have both, you are fortunate.

Presently according to spiritual theology, those who come for spiritual direction need confidence in those   they seek direction. Directors need to listen to all that the directee has to say and have confidence in their position as director. 

These are basic he says but beyond that they should not be limited by their experience but continue to study. This does not  mean that they  need an extensive knowledge of all the fields of learning but what is necessary to understand those who come for direction.

Basic knowledge of history, culture, philosophy and theology is a requisite. Of the required studies most important would be knowledge of the Scriptures and the fundamentals of modern psychology.

St.Ignatius of Loyola had the gift of discernment when it came to spiritual direction. This is not something that we can expect from those who give direction, and the reason one has to make the effort to have the necessary knowledge. This should be a life-long study.

Not all priests make good spiritual directors, he says. Many lay-people are capable of becoming wonderful spiritual directors.  We should not focus only on our own experience but our desire and the studies necessary to fill the role of a spiritual director. 

To be transparent is a quality that is very healthy, and in the spiritual realm one that gives great benefits. What St. Teresa has to say about spiritual directors should be remembered in searching for a person with cultivation and learning to develop our growth potential as human beings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pope Francis' Popularity in Korea

A Gallop International Survey made recently on the popularity of Pope Francis found that two out of three Koreans had a favorable opinion of the pope. This favorable rating was ten points higher than the average of the 64 countries surveyed.

After the visit of Pope Francis to Korea in 2014 the favorable rating went as high as 77%. In the recent survey 22% had an unfavorable opinion and 12 % reserved their opinion. Korea was rated 23rd of the 64 countries surveyed. 

Favorable ratings of some of the Developed Countries  were as follows: United States 58 %, Germany 57%, France 62 %,  England 37%. Survey was made last year from Oct. to Nov. taken among 1,500 Koreans not including Jeju Island.

Catholics had a 93 % favorable opinion, Protestants 64%, Buddhist and No-Religion 62%. In the overall survey the country with the highest favorable rating was Portugal with 94 %; only 2% with an  unfavorable opinion.  Philippines 93%, Argentina 89%, Italy 86%, Columbia 84%,  Spain and Lebanon were 80%. Countries with a large Catholic population in North, South and Central America were in the higher rank.

The lowest popularity rating came from Azerbaijan 5%, Algeria 9%, Iran 10%, Turkey 13% Mongolia 14%, Tunisia  15%,  Most of these countries, 60% of the citizens  give him little thought and have no real opinion on the pope.

Taking all the countries together Catholics have 85 % favorable opinion of the pope, Protestants 53 % and  Buddhist 33%. No-Religion 51%.

Korea has a openness to other religions. We see little prejudice and violence among religions and efforts are made to  work together.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Humanity and Artificial Intelligence

Recently, we had articles daily on the competition between the AlphaGo computer program and one of the world's best players in the board game Go. The first time the computer beat a professional human Go player. Articles in the Korean press were many and in the  Peace Weekly, we have a columnist giving us his ideas on the subject.
Work of the Church, he says, has become more difficult. In about 10 years, we will have Alpha doctors, lawyers, teachers and reporters. St. Benedict said many years ago that inactivity is "the enemy of the soul." Many will lose their jobs. Stephen Hawkins and Elon Musk have warned that within a hundred years, the end of humanity is possible because of artificial intelligence, and want some controls over the research.

Primitive artificial intelligence is not a problem,  but the strong advanced type should be controlled as is nuclear research. Terminator movies are examples of what is meant. Nick Bostrom of Oxford University says that in his research, humanity always ends up defeated.

AlphaGo program could upgrade itself and learn something new in the playing and be creative in beating the human player. Humanity in the use of natural resources has brought upon ourselves many problems, this, he says, will be the outcome of advances in artificial intelligence.  

AI will replace humans. Soon we will gain workers but lose more than are gained. With the loss of work, we will have the death of the human spirit and more suicides.  

Secondly, we will have these advances in the wealthier countries of the world and more inequality in the world, more conflict, violence and the destruction of communities.

Thirdly, more primitive development of artificial intellect will bring the temptation to develop advanced types and more money.

Google DeepMind made the AlphaGo, and they have instituted an ethical committee for its use. However, in the future with the greed of the human mind, and the possibilities of profit, it will be difficult to control. All humanity will be influenced. He doesn't like the idea of Europe and the United States having control. Studies have to be made on the good use of  the new possibilities. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What Does It Mean to Understand?

We make a community by working with individuals. A philosophy professor in a Catholic University Theology Department begins his article in View from the Ark with these words, reminding us how important the individual was in Scholastic Philosophy.

He brings to our attention the principle of individuation a term which most of the readers would not be familiar, and wonders, whether he lost the interest of most of the readers by mentioning it. Most of the discussions we have deal with productivity, which makes this mode of talking unfamiliar and strange.  

Recently, a very popular TV program had three words  which they used in the title, and he had no idea what they meant, nor did the program interest him. Frequently, he hears words the young are using, original words; he doesn't understand, and admits  he is a member of the old school.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, English philosopher, mentions that women from a village, when he heard them talking, he didn't understand them even though they spoke his native language. Necessary is to know the rules they are following in speaking: accents, way of speaking, gestures, etc.. To understand another's words, knowing what the words mean is not all that is necessary. One has to understand the non-verbal, if we want communication.  

Presently, the word communication  is continually on our lips. However, if we don't understand the other person's life, and the word games used we will not understand what is being said. When we trust the words from our mouth and believe only that is necessary, we are bullies and talking down to the other.

When this is done even in the family, we are nurturing hatred, anger and even violence. Dealing with others in a different culture and with different patterns of life are we not making the same mistakes? In Korea when we use the word unification but use ridicule and threats, are we conscious of the harm that is being done to understanding? We are forgetting North Korea's history, for over seventy years is different from the South. We ignore the principle of individualization.  We need a language they understand. They are like another country.  

Even in the family when one justifies themselves, and nurses their hurts, there is little hope of a resolution, dialogue is impossible. Dialogue begins when we acknowledge the pain and scars of the other, and show understanding. Mutual understanding  does not take place with words but with sympathy for the other. He hopes that our leaders inscribe this on their hearts.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cultural Shock

Catholic Church of Korea is sending missioners both lay, religious and clerical to overseas missions in greater numbers, and we are beginning to hear stories about their experiences. Many are diocesan priests who volunteer for a period of years and return to their dioceses and pastoral work.   

One such priest writes about his experience after two parishes in which he worked as an assistant and sent to Bolivia. Missioners receive a certain amount of formation but they usually are persons with a recent desire for mission so the thought and new experience brings fear. How was he going to live by himself and adapt to the new culture? He spends some time in his article for the diocesan bulletin, explaining one of the difficulties he brought upon himself.

He was at a mission station that became a parish. One of the girls in the mission station came to speak to him. He had finished the study of Spanish and worked in the parish for about 3 months but when the girl spoke he didn't understand her.
He asked the girl to repeat what she said and she did, and this continued a number times. He told her: "padre, no entiende nada"  (Father doesn't understand anything).

As soon as he heard these words  he uttered, he was overcome with anger and returned home. He felt disregarded and his self esteem plummeted.
His  guilty conscience made him so distraught he was not able to sleep that night. With time he regained his composure. He reflected on what transpired that day, and realized  the reason for his anger was not the child but himself.

An adult, a priest he felt snubbed and it was hard to accept. His self worth had been damaged and he looked strait into the face of his pride. It was a great learning  experience.

He thanked  the child for helping him to face his problem.
Because of his position there is the danger of looking down on others;  when his own self esteem is hurt he can lose his stability.

We are all of us of great value. Jesus gave us  a running description  of how to accept  being snubbed and disregarded and we know  who he was. Humility and  love were his response.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Year of Mercy

Many initiatives made in society and within the Church often remain slogans that sound and make us feel good, but with little follow-up or change in what we do.  

"Merciful Like the Father" is the motto for the Jubilee of Mercy, we  began last year on Dec. 8th, and will continue to Nov. 20th. We try to reflect God's mercy in our everyday actions and as Pope Francis stressed to bring about a "revolution of tenderness."

Both Catholic paper gave us a report on the  priests in one diocese, who decided at a general meeting, as a group of 114 priests, to show mercy in three different ways. They discussed this among themselves in deanery meetings and on their own, initiative concluded with three distinct actions.   

They will love the Sacrament of Penance and  experience the mercy of God in their time in the confessional. Secondly, they will tithe and give the money to the needy, and  in their  dealings with parishioners will show kindness, make efforts to be warm and  work for understanding  with all those they meet.

As messengers of mercy, they will  make this known to all the religious working in the diocese and all the parishes. The  motto is "Happiness of the Merciful."
After the visit of Pope Francis in 2014, the bishops of Korea also decided to prepare a bank book to help the poorer churches in Asia. This year they will help four of the churches, and continue in the future. Bishops and clergy of one of the dioceses, have set an example for the whole church. This has great meaning for all of us, were the words used in one of the editorials.

'Beads gathered together need to be threaded to be precious,' is a Korean proverb that the editorial mentions.  We need actions on these movements  if  thy are not to remain only slogans. The editorial  notes that the parishioners will be very happy to hear of the resolution, and hopes the example  will spread to other dioceses. The editorial concludes with applause for the bishops and priests.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Hidden but Important Work

Cleaning is a difficult job, and those that have experienced the drudgery of this work know it is never finished. There is always more to clean and little results are seen and quickly all returns shortly to the original condition. It is a war of attrition that continues. Rarely conscious of who, where and what, and easily forget the smell and the dirty environment.

Church buildings are also in need of cleaning. After many functions and events the cleaning awaits. After the events we leave behind litter but few are those who will spend time putting everything in its original spots, for we think it is the work for others. We who are Catholics have been given the mission of taking care of God's creation but she wonders how many are conscious of this mandate. A religious sister wants us to reflect on this issue in her article on the opinion page of the Catholic Times.

We need to consider the culture with its incessant drive to consume and to ignore  the ecological issues in our society. Trash, nuclear energy, environmental destruction, pollution, radioactivity and the like are put on the back burner, and even talking about the problems is considered out of place in many quarters.

There is always a minority who  see the problems and are willing to sacrifice for them. Korean Bishops during their spring meeting have decided to set up a committee to consider the problems we have with environment. She hopes priests will use the information in their sermons.

She wants us to be more sensitive to the many who work in the cleaning jobs of the world, who without notice, quietly work at their tasks. She hopes that we will be interested in their joys and sorrows  and she wants us to express thanks for what they do to care for our health and well being from early morning.

She concludes with the hope that when we use and discard anything we will give the action some thought. With the new committee she hopes the Church will take more interest in God's creation and its care and will be waiting to hear their voice.

Friday, April 1, 2016

God And Mammon

In the Seoul Diocesan Bulletin, a music critic gives us some thoughts on giving up love for gold. She goes back to her childhood, when she  occasionally saw neck scarfs made from the skins of foxes and weasels. She recalls how scared she was when she saw the face of the fox with its pointed nose and tail. The animals seemed ready to come back to life. They were killed to be of service to humans, and she found that sad.

Many years later when she was in Germany studying; she went to a natural history museum where she saw many fur coats on display. One of the coats was a leopard fur coat, with this explanation attached: "If you want to wear this beautiful coat it will mean that three leopards have to die." It was beautifully made, like a flower in bloom.

When she was visiting  there was a group of elementary school children present, and she over heard them say it was beautiful, and "I will never wear a fur coat." This was, she noted, the very feeling that those who  prepared the exhibition wanted  to hear. Educational results were quickly seen.

On German TV, you often see the places they raise animals, and the cruel ways the animals are killed for their fur. These scenes are shown to the viewers with the hope that shocked those buying fur coats will decrease. If citizens don't want them, the killings will end is the intention.  

In the past people who lived in cold places needed warm skins of animals to keep them warm but today more than warmth they are captivated by the beauty and hope it will reflect their own beauty, and a symbol of their personal abundance. However, fear that it will be lost is also the results of their possession.

A person who has an old car and another who has just bought a new expensive car and parks in front of an eating place their thinking is different. Where your treasure is there is your heart, Luke 12:34.

We can't find words that come right to the point, and said so clearly as these words of Jesus.

She brings to our attention the opera by Richard Wagner: The Ring of the Nibelung in which he used the mythical gods of the people of North Europe. A ring made from the gold from the Rhine River would give the owner all the power and wealth you'd want with only one condition: you give up loving and being loved. The water spirits were given the task to guard the gold; no one would be interested, they thought, and the gold was stolen.  

Her conclusion is the same as what Jesus said in Luke 16:13. "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or be attentive to the one and despise the other."