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.

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