Monday, July 9, 2018

Teaching Rather than Buildings

In the secular press, an article by the religious journalist of the paper headlines the article: the essence of religion is not buildings but teaching. Apparently, in his eyes, this was not what he saw and expresses his opinion.

The contrary opinion may be seen by the amount of money that is spent on buildings and compare it to the money spent on teaching.  Nonbelievers would no doubt think it better to spend the money on people directly rather than on buildings,  architecture and art. A simple answer would be interest in both but a community needs a place to meet and to hear the teachings.

He begins his article with a visit to a temple site that goes back over a thousand years to the Silla Dynasty. On a beautiful location remain two three story stone pagodas, the Buddhist service comes to mind but the area is now a place to play.No longer the place that it once was hundreds of years ago.

These are  the sights we see today in Europe. Churches that were built with great religious devotion are no longer used for such purposes but are sold and have other uses. This happens with a frequency that no longer makes it a news item.

Korea in the 20th century had a religious growth that was rare in comparison with other countries. However few are those who would not see the period of growth to have peaked. The drop in birth and the aging of the population has also affected the religious world. In Buddhism, the numbers who are entering the monastic life have dropped and you see posters inviting the young to the Buddhist way of life.

Protestantism has stopped their Sunday school programs in many places. Catholics have seen a drop to 20 percent of the Catholics going to Mass on Sunday and no signs for a future increase. The United States early on showed a disinterest in religion, still maintains a 40 percent Sunday attendance; this shows a quick decline of religious interest in Korea.

The banking system had no difficulty in lending money without security knowing the money was there from the collections and offering of the believers. From 1970-1980 was a period of much building. Many of the building were difficult to maintain. Some were built with great difficulty beyond the means of the community and brought about bankruptcy. The money to maintain the buidlings will be a problem in the future.The Buddhist have already set up a committee to make sure that the buildings will be maintained before approval is giving to build.

He mention a Protestant church that with growth had difficulty with parking and decided to extend the parking area  but  changed plans, no new members and spent the money in helping other small churches  and the elderly living alone, libraries for the young, the homeless.They chose to spend the money on the poor and disadvantaged in society.

For the most part according to our writer, the ordinary person is looking for better sermons, homilies, liturgies an inviting community and not magestic appearing buildings—the essence of religion, is not the building but the teaching.

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