Sunday, July 30, 2017

We Become Happy by Laughing

Depression is a common malady. An article in the Catholic Times treats the need for humor in our world today. 1 out of 4 persons in life is faced, for some time, with a type of mental problem because of the harshness and overly competitive society in which we live. We have lost the ability to laugh.

In Korea, the people's traditional culture can't be explained without understanding the place of satire and jokes. Satire shows the irrationality of much of what we see in life and opens it up to mockery. An example would be the Bongsan Mask Dance in which the degenerate life of the aristocrats was exposed. The audience relaxes and gets the strength to endure reality.  Laughter rather than the criticism gives a feeling of compassion to the objects of the laughter.

A director of a counseling center says: laughter helps us bring positive emotions out of the negative and these positive emotions make us happy.

Since 2001 the Ministry of Health and Welfare in its survey of the mental health of the country excepting the related diseases from nicotine and alcohol,  depression was predominant. 

In service work, we hear about the 'smile depression' on the outside a kindly smile but on the inside depression. A problem with those who are always dealing with the public. 

A priest who works in counseling mentions that people in modern society, especially in Korea, are faced with political anxiety, recession, job hunting, job insecurity, polarization etc. which requires living in constant tension and stress. The development of the healing industry reveals this reality.

The clinical effects of laughter are well known with professional verification. A professor at Stanford University defines laughter as mental jogging. It clears the circulatory system, stimulates the digestion, lowers blood pressure, relieves muscle tension and stress, increases endocrine secretions.

In the Bible, there is no mention that Jesus smiled or laughed but Jesus who lived with all our human attributes would have laughed like everybody else. Jesus did  give us the Beatitudes.

The French writer Didier Decoin went through the Bible verses for a book and showed where Jesus would have laughed: Jesu le Dieu qui riait. It is the laughter of Jesus restored by the imagination of a writer but it explains the validity of the context. A priest wrote a theology of laughter and argued for a need to recognize God's sense of humor and include it as an attribute of God.

The article concludes with the words of a priest who has worked in counseling for many years. "The Catholic Church has tended to focus on suffering and death in the whole of our religious life, including the liturgy. We must make the believers feel the joy of the gospel." 

True laughter is only possible for those who hope. Laughter is another name for hope and for Christians always associated with the glory and joy of the resurrection. The 'Joy of the Gospel' when this is shown in our lives and we express this by our joy and laughter we are helping to overcome the frustrations and despair we see all around us.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Growing Up Well Nurtured

A priest working in counseling writes in a pastoral bulletin about a newly wed couple waiting for their first child and asking what is necessary to have a child with a good family background. They wanted to know what they had to do to raise the child to hear this compliment in the future.

In psychological therapy language, the good relationship between parent and child is the sign of a good family background: the results of the proper upbringing of a child. He compares the two words used for raising in Korean, one used for children, the other in the raising of animals. One is to nurture and the other to train.

Nurturing a child is to appreciate the growing period of a child and not to confine growth to a mold of one's own making but to the needs of the child. Putting it simply, to give the child liberty to grow creatively and freely. The other would be to raise the child according to a standard with coercion and  without accepting criticism.

Both with children and animals when you take away freedom they become cruel. They in turn in dealing with others want to do the same. They want to force their ideas on others and when this is not possible they get angry and have problems controlling their anger. We see this is in psychopaths and dictators.They force their ideas on others and will not take criticism.

We have this situation not infrequently also within  religion. We have those speaking in the name of God and giving their personal violent teaching in the name of God.They do not consider the diversity of believers and act as dictators. We have the dismantling of existing groups. There is not a nurturing but a standardizing which destroys the spirit of the community. 

They have a weak sense of humor. They have a stiffness about them. We have this example in some of our leaders, they become an object of ridicule. In the church, we have those who speak the Gospel message but it feels like we are eating rice not well prepared.

Those who are not nurtured correctly will not be creative. They have been raised in an uninformed and forced manner. They are not able to forsake their way of thinking and accept a wiser opinion. They lack freedom that does not allow them to grow.

Jesus was a free spirit. He criticized the Pharisees for keeping the people locked up and force fed with their ideas. Those who grow up with freedom have a joy and openness that comes from a home in which they have been well nurtured.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

500th Anniversary of the Reformation

This year is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's break with the Catholic Church. Undersecretary of the Korea's Bishops' Conference writes in View from the Ark of the Korean Times on taking another look at Martin Luther.

The way the Catholics and Protestants look upon the Reformation are obviously different. Catholics see the Reformation as dividing the Church. There is no way one can justify breaking the unity of the Church that Christ established. (Johannes Cochaleus, 1479-1552) strongly opposed Luther. "He was an apostate monk, destroyed Christendom, threw off morality a depraved individual, a heretic"  this was his view of Luther and what is embedded in the minds of many Catholic even to this day.

On the other hand, the Protestants see the Reformation as rediscovering the Gospel, gaining an unshakeable faith and freedom, they were freed from the corrupt Catholicism of the middle ages and returned to a Gospel teaching Church. Very naturally they see Martin Luther as a witness to the Gospel.

The 500 years of conflict are not going to be easily overcome. However, the Second Vatican Council did open the gates with the notions of reform, renewal, dialogue and cooperation being stressed we are beginning to relate with the Protestants.

"Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ" (Decree on Eucumentism #3).

In 1999 the Lutheran Federation and the Vatican came to a consensus that the teaching on justification no longer needs to separate the two communions. In 2013 a joint statement was released From Conflict to Communion. This year 16 Korean theologians have got together to translate the document and to publish it, expressing a desire to work for unity.

The writer mentions that after finishing his studies in Germany in 2003, in his office as a seminary professor, he has continually encouraged ecumenism within the Church. In his experience, most of the pastoral workers within Catholicism and lay people are prejudiced and misunderstand ecumenism.  Among the Protestants, we hear the voices saying that the Protestant Church in Korean is more corrupt than the Catholic Church in the time of Luther.

The main stream of Protestantism in Korea has no desire to dialogue with Catholicism. They have not been brought up with the teaching of a universal Christianity and the need for unity among Christians, for the writer a great tragedy. 

He concludes the article with the hope that we can get over our emotional feelings, forget the scars and work towards unity. During this anniversary year of the Reformation, we don't want to change the history of what happened but to change the way we talk about the history.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Bed of Flowers

In the random thoughts on religious life column, a university professor recalls a visit to a book store where a green cover of a book caught his eye. He fingered through the book, memoirs of the family members of those who committed suicide. The book was published by a center in the prevention of suicides.

It easily brought tears to those who would read the book Each day almost 40 dies from suicide in South Korea.

Each of those who died was hurting. It's important to see the way we encounter the adversities that come in life. Often in the book, there are pictures taken from books of psychology. One picture is a composite picture of a witch's face and the face of a beautiful young woman. Depending on the viewer one can see an old witch's face or that of a young woman or both.

The example is also given of a half filled bottle of wine, One person sees the empty section and laments while another person sees the wine and rejoices: same reality with different responses. Our values determine our viewpoint and our future.

Ku Sang was a well known Korean poet who was known for his Christian sensitivity. (His parents were Catholic, an older brother a priest. He studied in Japan was raised in North Korea and the Communist regime had little sympathy for his poetry so he fled to the South. He suffered from tuberculosis and died in 2005)

The professor includes a section of one of his poems the Flower Bed. "Delighted, thankful, joyful/ I am in a flower bed/ you are seen as a place of thorns/ However I see you as a flower bed." ( a literal translation) Depending on our attitude we can see our situation as a bed of thorns or one of flowers.

He recommends to the readers to take the few lines and keep them in their pocket note book and glance at it often. We can turn negativity into something positive. As in the poem about the Chinese date. The date doesn't turn red on its own but needs the encounter with typhoons, thunder, and lighting and we have the reddening of the fruit.

St. Paul says the same in Rm. 5: 3-4 "These suffering bring patience, as we know, and patience brings perseverance,  perseverance brings hope, and this hope is  not deceptive because the love of  God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Zero Sum Game in Children's Upbringing.

A four-year-old child on the 14th-floor of an apartment went out to the veranda, climbed over the rail and death. The family was out. The grandmother checked to see the child who was sleeping and went out to find another grandchild who was playing outside. During this short time outside, the child woke up and tragedy. Both parents were working. A university art professor recalls the incident in his column in the Catholic Peace Weekly.

The professor presents to the readers the famous painting of the Sistine Madonna by Raphael the Renaissance artist. At the bottom of the painting, we have two angels. They are waiting for Madonna's direction. If one looks closely at the background of the painting one sees hundreds of faces of babies. Each baby selects the parents they want and the person on the left and the woman on the right agree and the Blessed Mother takes the child in her arms and gives it to the angels to deliver to the parents on earth.

The interpretation according to tradition is the way parents should see their children.They have been selected in heaven and given to the parents. This is the way the professor says Catholics should look upon the children born.This makes each child all the more precious.That is why they are to be respected and not ignored.

In Germany, the Sistine Madonna painting was placed on the walls of kindergartens to show how the children should be treated. 

A zero sum game theory is common in our society. In the raising of children, this theory is central. The time spent at the workplace has to be taken away from the child. Both can not win. One has to take a loss for the benefit of the other.

This theory briefly says the time spent away from the child is a loss to the child. We don't have a win/win situation. Parents who spend less time working outside the home have more time to spend with the children, benefiting the children emotionally, intellectually and physically. Who in the family is benefiting when parents are always working? Is the extra income worth the loss to the children?

In some way this is understood by all but sadly society does not give us the environment that allows this to happen. This is probably one of the reasons we have the kind of society we have and it will take a revolutionary change in thinking to see a different future.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Red Queen's Theory

An article in the Kyeongyang magazine by a member of the diocesan pastoral committee for family introduces the readers to the words of the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."

Simply expressed,  if we do not continue to move we will be overtaken by others and fall behind. This is the kind of society we have made. The children, especially in their studies, are faced with this reality.The older generation feels sorry and helpless for their plight but is this the correct direction?

A wise person needs leisure. Our situation in Korea is gloomy. According to OECD in 2016 Koreans on the average worked for 2,113 hours a year. Of all the member countries, Korea was the second highest. Japan was 1,719 hours a year, 400 less than Korea.

The word leisure comes from the Latin word licere (be allowed) freedom from necessary occupation. The word school derives from the Greek word schole, originally meaning leisure. We can see how far we have come from the original meaning of leisure in our schooling, because of competition. We have to outdo others. After school, the speed continues to increase and we have personal and family accidents.

Speed has to be reduced otherwise we miss the most important moments of life. We have to slow down to a pace where we can stop and look around. We should take time to measure the speed in which we live. 

Psychologists distinguish between pleasure and enjoyment. Both give happiness but there is a world of difference between them. Pleasure takes little energy, effort and easily achieved: eating a good meal, watching television, playing with the handphone etc. but it is temporary and disappears with the end of the action.

Enjoyment, on the other hand, the energy expended gives rise to more energy. We don't have only instant gratification but the added satisfaction that continues: reading, playing an instrument, a sport, study, prayer etc.. Pleasure is a good but we need the proper balance of pleasure and enjoyment.

He concludes with a layman's treatment of the brain waves: alpha and beta. The alpha appears when at peace and the beta when anxious. When these waves appear at the proper times we have health. Koreans because of the fast pace of life and stress, the beta waves are predominant.

If we want to supplement the alpha waves we have to take time our of our busy life and spend time in prayer and meditation. Where have we come from and where are we going? We have been given this moment in time and need to live it fully.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mothers Have to Change for Society to Change

The Korean Bishops' subcommittee on women's issues recently in their regular yearly seminar used a different approach than in the past. They decisively jettison the old system in which a talk and authorities in their field would discuss the topic and the participant would listen. Both Catholic papers and editorial brought the meeting to the attention of the readers.

This time they used the principles of the Open Space Technology to conduct their meeting. The idea is attributed to Harrison Owen an American who gathered the many ideas on meetings to form this new technology of coming to a decision. The participants freely expressed their opinion, they selected what they wanted to talk about and determined how they wanted to make the decisions.

They became active participants from the beginning to the end. This was a strange method compared to what they were accustomed to from the past. 

As the meeting progressed they began to find a vitality present. Under the big heading of the  meaning and role in the call to the feminine they considered: * motherhood and the feminine * recruiting of women experts * religious education in the family * child care within the Church * care for the women who are marginalized * relationship within the community of faith these and four more  the participants selected.

Participants came from different dioceses and parishes, all workers within the community of faith. They were all convinced of a need to change the way of doing things; agreed the change had to begin with themselves. A change from a passive to active participation in the life of the Church. A  change was also needed  in the system.

60 members attended and were convinced that they had to change if society was going to change. The bishop who is the committee chairman said that hearing the women talk, he had a need to change. Women have a great deal to do within the Church. Since the women's role and position in society has changed this has to change also in the Church. The women have a role also to make in the society and the Church needs to support them in this role.

The topics discussed at the seminar will continue to be  matter for study and development.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Encouraging the Middle Aged Men

A religious sister in View from the Ark of the Catholic Times begins with the news of a middle aged comedian's suicide. He was in his 50s, suffering from depression over money matters. The death shocked many because of his popularity and his recent appearance in a TV drama. The sister is in charge of a diocesan desk which works in the prevention of suicides in the diocese. She prayed that this suicide would not lead to imitations.

The suicide rate among middle-aged men continues to increase yearly. More than 70% of all suicides are male and half are men between the ages of 40 and 65.

Most of the suicides are related to work: failing in their work, losing their job or not properly assessed in the workplace. Depression and thoughts of suicide enter. Men, even at the sacrifice of family, often give themselves to their jobs to such an extent that when things goes wrong, despair, great shock, and suicide is the result.

Men in our society are judged by their work and consequently, the responsibility they feel is great. Unlike women, they are not able to express in words the pressures and frustrations they face. This means they carry it with them, it isolates them, despair follows and the last escape is death at their own hand.

Even though this is the case, in Korea, in the mass media and in our approach to the problem, we continue to concentrate on the youth and the elderly.  Problems with the middle age men are not seen as important. Considering the current social situation with the lack of employment opportunities and economic slowdown, the problems will increase.

What can we do? What can the church do? We need to be more attentive to this group of men and understand the difficulties they face. Family and acquaintances need to show concern and sympathize with them. In her counseling, she hears often how responsibility they have for the family and their abilities make for conflict and trials. She has much sympathy for them living in our present society.

The nation has to become involved and a national response is necessary. Money, both public and private needs to be set aside for suicide prevention and to establish a safety net. We need to help the men to express themselves and find ways to lighten their burdens. "I am tired. it's difficult,  I want to rest, I am lonely," we need to help them say what is inside. All of us need to show concern.

We need to get out of the functional mode which society puts us in at an early age and begin to see life from a contemplative and being mode. Show gratitude for what people have done, instead of saying "fight the good fight" better to say, "you have done much, thank you". Need to remember that life is more precious than what we do.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Who Is The Sermon For?

In the Peace Column of the Catholic Peace Weekly, the writer mentions a book he received from a publisher.The subtitle grabbed his attention: A believer looking into his storage room. It was a short piece of only two pages. For whom is the sermon written? He summarizes the contents for the reader.

"The sermon at Mass is like a flower in the liturgy. The congregation is looking forward to smelling the fragrance. What they get at times is a nasty smelling sermon. There are all kinds of people listening. There is no way of knowing for whom the sermon was prepared. To side with one group against another is dangerous. It exposes oneself. The parishioners are looking for nourishment for their spiritual life and often receive only stress. He asks the Christians are they progressive or liberal. Whatever the reason to expect the parishioners to be at his understanding of reality is rude.  The sermon from the pulpit is not master to slave or superior to an inferior. We need equilibrium between the priest and congregation.

The columnist wasn't in complete agreement in the way the author expressed his thoughts but did agree with the point he was making. The sermon is for the people and not the priest and it's not only saying pleasant things. We need to hear at times what is unpleasant and makes us uncomfortable. It's impossible to please everybody. Jesus himself said that he did not come to give comfort to all.

Depending on the Christian's disposition in being conservative or progressive, will determine the acceptance of what is said.  A priest like all of us will speak from his own set of values but since he's human this will not be always in harmony with the teachings of Jesus. We shouldn't react too sensitively here. In many cases, opposition to the sermon on the social doctrine of the Church can be ignorance of the teaching of the Church.

Sermons are different than lectures and preaching at mass rallies. The sermon at the liturgy should become food for the lives of the believers who participate at the Mass. Of course, the subjective nature of the priest is bound to be reflected, but the priest who is a disciple of Jesus tries to minimize this.

Most priests know this. They prepare to give spiritual nourishment for the Christians. However, if there is even a small number who think differently he wants to ask the priest: Who is the sermon for?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Concern for Creation

Summer is the time for the hot weather and we see a warming that is not natural and a cause of concern for the majority of scientists who have studied the issue. Although some do not see a man-made problem, the majority of the scientists believe we are responsible for what is happening, we are the problem. Since decisions necessary from this conclusion are going to disrupt the way we live, we have hesitation and denial.

A professor at the Catholic University, who is working in the field of environment, writes in a diocesan bulletin to convince the readers of this serious concern. He wonders in his own mind if this is not the most serious issue that humanity needs to face at this time.

In the last hundred years the continual use of fossil fuels and the release of the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have formed a greenhouse which in the past was not a problem but the greenhouse that is formed now radiates the heat back to the earth instead of allowing the gases to enter space, accounting for the warming and the erratic weather.

In the past millions of years, plants and the oceans were able to absorb the gases. It was the natural make up of the world given to us by the creator. We humans with an insatiable greed for more energy have broken down the equilibrium that was present.

This makes living with air-conditioners a choice of many. The Han River no longer freezes over in the winter. Polar ice caps melting has raised the level of the ocean and he recalls a trip to Jejudo and walking along a path which is now covered with ocean water and no longer in use.

He often reflects on the words of Genesis. Seven times:  "God saw that it was good." Would God say that today seeing the condition creation is in? He concludes that this is not a problem for a few but of all. As Christians, we should realize that the conservation of energy is a need for all, otherwise it will come back to haunt us.

We need to realize that taking care of the beautiful creation is showing concern for ourselves and our posterity. It is an important offering we can make to God for his gift of creation.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How to LIve to be 125

A medical doctor who had a history of stomach cancer writes in the Catholic Digest on how to live to a ripe old age of 125. During the Joseon dynasty the average age was 47, today the average age is 80. Korea has joined the ranks of the long living nations. With the increase, the desire also to live longer has increased.

He gives a brief description of a chromosome and the role of a compound structure at the cap of a chromosome called telomere. At the beginning of life, they are long, with age they shorten. They will determine the life of the chromosome. A cell divides approximately 60 times in a lifetime the telomeres also get shorter and with the decrease in size, eventually the cell dies.

Our bodies, however, produce the protein Sirtuin which helps to nourish the cell and repairs the cell and renews its life. He reminds the readers there is a way of replenishing this protein: by eating little. The secret is to revitalize the telomeres that are being destroyed with each division of the cell.

He gives us the steps he recommends as a doctor. Those who study longevity list the places in the world with the largest number of those who have lived long lives: Sardinia,Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Seventh Day Adventist from Loma Linda, California; and the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. Korea also has its long living areas.

He lists the qualities that are common in these areas. First, movement of both body and spirit. Second, exercise using the body like exercise equipment. No need for extreme sports and going to health facilities. Third, interest in learning, positive in outlook and thankful. Fourth, maintains a good relationship with family and acquaintances, spiritual. Fifth, retiring means death to these people. Sixth, no medicine, food or place is the secret of a long life. Seventh, they rarely go to a pharmacy or hospital.

When it comes to eating they eat a variety of food but vegetarian is predominant and keep the portions small. Secondly, they stay away from processed and refined foods. Thirdly, they eat all colors of fruits and vegetables. Fourth, protein from animals is mostly fish and pork. Fifth, when they follow a vegetarian diet they supplement the B12 by fermented foods and sea vegetables.

The influence of Heredity in all of this is about 10 percent.There is no one way of doing what is necessary but to live in peace, be happy and don't eat much. When he goes into the hospital ward of the elderly sick the following words come to mind: "It's not living long that's important but to live the years we have fully, healthfully and with joy."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Pseudo Christian Movements in Korea

Articles on the front page and in editorials in both Catholic papers commented on the Shinchonji Church of Jesus. It goes back to the group known as the Olive Tree Movement by Park Tae Sun which lost many of his members after his death to be resurrected again in other apocalyptic Korean movements. Manhee Lee is the founder of this New Heaven and New Earth (Shinchonji) movement which continues to grow.

The bishops have shown concern since Catholics are joining the movement and causing problems in families. Protestants have taken a more active stand, and earlier, against the movement and have warned the Christians. The movement seems to have found an easier time with Catholics. A book was published as a resource to help understand the aggressive tactics of the New Heaven and New Earth members.

Korea has a love for the occult and since pluralism is seen everywhere, Korea is open to accepting all kinds of religious ideas. According to some who have studied the situation: pseudo-Christian religions in Korea are many. They do not accept the historical understanding of Christianity that was handed down to us in history: Bible and tradition. They are attracted more to the teachings of a messiah type charismatic leader. 

In the religious census, every ten years the Christians are divided into two groups: Catholics and Protestants. Many do not care to be associated with Protestantism and many of the Protestants are not happy to be listed with many of those who consider themselves Christian, but Christian citizens have only two choices. 

The historical Protestant churches would consider many of these movements pseudo-religions. Many of the Christians participate in self-training groups of all kinds, many of which are religious in nature but since it is in the private domain, little is said and many who participate have no idea of the religious nature of the group they have joined. 

The intimacy of a small knit community is missing in many of the Christian churches and in Catholicism, this is a known problem. Consequently, we have those who just leave and join other Christian denominations that are friendlier and make them feel accepted. This is what the New Heaven and New Earth movement offer their new members but at a great price.

One editorial mentions that within the Catholic communities because of structures, Christians are not finding joy in their lives.  They are not experiencing God or expressing love in their lives but rather looking for personal peace and 'spiritual worldliness'. "This consists in seeking not the Lord's glory but human glory and personal well-being" (Gospel of Joy # 93).  A functional approach to Christianity, without the heart and joy that a disciple of Jesus should have, leaves these Christians open to the overtures that come from these fringe groups.

Hopefully, these pseudo-Christian religions will show how poorly we have done in building community and motivate us to remember what is important.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Alcoholic Disorder in Korea

"Teacher, I heard the lecture today. I have prepared a simple meal so let's have a drink." These words begin the View from the Ark article in the Catholic Times. The writer is responsible for the Alcoholic Treatment Center at a Catholic Hospital.

The lecture was given to a Catholic audience. Both the person who mentioned the drink and the lecturer had an embarrassed smile on their faces. The topic of the lecture was alcoholic addiction. To send off the lecturer without some sharing would be a breach of etiquette. In Korea, after the first meeting, the second meeting is even more elaborate and lasts longer than the first.

When the writer was assigned to the hospital which was mainly for those addicted he was glad to see the concern the Church had in this area. His friend a Protestant said he would be busy since Catholics love to drink. He laughed but it is not a laughing matter. Catholics who have more than one bottle of Soju  (Korean whiskey) are 39.3 % which is twice that of the Protestants and even higher than those with no religion.

We as Catholics can comfort ourselves in not seeing the problems of alcohol but this is a prejudiced understanding of the problem. Is it like diabetes and high blood pressure, anyone can have the problem?  In Korea close to 5 million are in danger of becoming alcoholics. In the United States, the Psychiatric Association changed the medical diagnosis of alcoholism to alcoholic disorder: showing concern for the problem right from the beginning.

Always thinking of alcohol, the increase of consumption, without alcohol not able to sleep, making mistakes repeatedly, not doing one's work well, are all signs of a disorder.This is suggestive of a form of dementia.

Most of the alcoholics at one time had no problem with drinking but with the continual use, there is no way to escape the changes to the brain and spirit: not because of a lack of virtue or will power. With the increase in use, depression, sleep problems, stress and becoming overly sensitive all may appear. With the continual use we have the beginning of dementia for which there is no cure.

Those who made a study of the problem see our present approach as ignoring the issue since at the beginning there are no serious problems but he compares it to the tower of Babel for the danger of self-destruction is real.

He concludes the article with a quote from Pope Francis who said to make a beautiful world, first there is a need to make a mess. He understands this to mean when we start challenging the evils in society and the way things are done: in this case a little tobacco and a little liquor what is the problem(?) way of thinking is to make a mess.

The title of the article uses the Chinese character for liquor and the character for the Lord,  both have the same pronunciation. Not infrequently the liquor '주' (Ju) prevents us from being close to '주' 'Ju'  our God.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Who Am I?

A public service video shows a person who at the workplace was a gentle, affable superior to all the subordinates but in the home was rude, ill-tempered to the spouse and children. We have an example of a two-faced individual.

A psychology professor in the Kyeongyang magazine gives us an understanding of this phenomenon which is not rare. The public service video has pricked the consciences of many and helped them to see themselves objectively and to reflect on the problem.

However, the professor asks his readers is this only a question of good will? Is it all the fault of the individual?  He reminds the readers that we only have a limited amount of energy. Often the work and place of study consume all our energy and when we arrive home we are depleted, burnt out. In the home, even a small stress becomes overbearing with the weakened condition in which one is in.

After a day at work or in study the energy has been depleted and although one knows the place in the family as parent or child is calling for love and concern this is too much for the person.

He shows how studies have shown that what we eat and rest are some of the best restorative tonics available. These often are sufficient to restore the balance we need to be ourselves. To point out to a person that they are missing some human qualities will not often accomplish much. The body needs to return to its proper balance, to be recharged. The person needs rest. Prayer is also necessary to build up one's endurance.

Both our bodies and spirit are not independent entities. They are closely united. When the body changes the spirit changes and when the spirit changes the body is changed. When the body is tired the spirit will be affected and determine many of our actions.

Accordingly, to live with a peaceful spirit, our bodies need to find rest and to go one step further we need to find rest in the world in which we live. Our bodies, minds, heart and the society in which we live all have a strong influence on what we do. We are familiar with this reality but in the here and now of everyday living, easily forgotten.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Nuclear Power Plants In Korea

With a new government in Korea, we have the shutting down temporally of two nuclear power stations. This is good news for the anti-nuclear movement but opposed bitterly by some of the citizens and politicians. 

The two closed are earthquake proof and considered safe, an interviewer for the With Bible magazine begins. His questions to a priest who is the head of the environment committee of a diocese are preceded with the note that the two power plants have been good for the economic development of the area. Are the nuclear power plants safe? Do they make our lives more comfortable?
The priest mentions how the Catholic movement against nuclear power began. He visited Germany where they decided to stop all nuclear power facilities by 2022. His first visit was in 2011 and a second visit a few years later, he witnessed the green party and its efforts to gather the support of politicians, business, and citizens for the abolition of nuclear power plants. This gave him hope for the future anti-nuclear movement in Korea.

He was impressed with the ethical standards of the German people. Greenpeace Energy is a German electric utility which produces environmentally friendly energy. Even though the price of electricity is higher many of the Germans are willing to accept this for a cleaner environment.

Korea at present has 25 nuclear power plants and 11 are being built or are planned. The density is the highest in the world and the writer surmises that if we had an accident it would be worse than the Russian Chernobyl and Japan's Fukushima.

Abandoning the nuclear power plants is not so simple because of the money that has been invested. Billions of dollars have been used and those who have benefited in different ways are many: a case where politics and economy are interrelated.

Many say it's safe and clean. Those who support the building of nuclear power plants say that even if a missile hit the site there would not be a problem. No one really knows, he responds. Besides the nuclear reactor, the subordinate facilities are easily destroyed with simple munitions. These are where the nuclear waste is stored and where even a small accident will release radiation.

We know little about the storage of nuclear waste but know the toxicity lasts for thousands of years. In Korea over 700 tons of plutonium are produced every year. How can we call this a safe energy source? This doesn't only threaten our own lives but those of future generations.

The Catholic Church with other groups is working to change the thinking of our citizens and politicians. A big obstacle in the eyes of many is the price and production of sufficient electricity for the nation. He says if the production of all our nuclear power plants stopped we still would have no problem with our electricity needs. The government lowered the price of electricity last year which means that we have a sufficiency. The supply is bigger than the demand.

The interviewer concludes with the priest asking the readers to sanctify the world. We try to sanctify all of  creation. These nuclear plants are harmful not only to us but to creation and will continue to threaten creation. He hopes the readers will join in working to have a nuclear-free Korea.