屌: 자지 조
絲 (丝): 실 사
중국어 [신조어] 돈도 없고, 외모도 별로고, 집안 배경도 없고, 미래도 어두운 사람
屌: 자지 조
絲 (丝): 실 사
중국어 [신조어] 돈도 없고, 외모도 별로고, 집안 배경도 없고, 미래도 어두운 사람
議: 의논할 의
題: 제목 제
오늘 뉴욕타임즈에서 Sestan 의 두뇌 연구에 대한 글을 읽고 잠깐 생각에 잠겨본다. 몇년 전에는 MIT Technology Review 에서 Doudna의 CRISPR 유전자 편집, 그리고 현재 진행형으로 매우 급격히 그리고 조용히 적용되고 있는 인공지능의 생활화. Sestan 장기관류장치의 발전을 통해 돼지의 두뇌를 신체밖에서 계속 살리는데 성공했고, Doudna는 CRISPR이란 유전자 편집 기술을 완벽한 수준으로 올리었고 컴퓨터를 이용한 인공지능의 발전은 다음 몇년 안에 실용화 될 수 있는 양자 컴퓨터(quantum computer)와 같이 합하여 적용되면 (적확히 어떻게 적용될 수 있는 것 또한 연구 분야이지만) 어떤 놀라운 발전을 이룰 수 있는지 인간의 상상력이 한계란 말까지 나올 수 있는 시대가 지금 사는 이 시대이다. 이러한 것들이 학구적으로는 쉽게 외면당하는 철학부 같은 곳에서만 논의되고 있고 아직 일반인들에게는 논의되지 않고 있는 것을 보면 마치 운명의 종착역에 다다른 타이타닉호를 타고 있다는 느낌을 받는다. 다니엘서 12장에 마지막때에는 사람들이 빨리 왕래하며 지식이 더하리라 라고 두가지의 요소를 따로 말하고 있는 것 같은데 빨리 왕래할 수 있기 때문에 지식이 더해지는 것이 아닐까란 해석도 가능하지 않을까 한다. 지금은 인터넷을 통해서 꼭 물리적으로 왕래를 하지 않아도 정보의 왕래로 지식의 유포와 공유가 말 그대로 빛의 속도로 이루어 지고 있다. 이러한 공유의 속도는 사람들이 알 수 있는 지식의 분량을 상당히 넓히는 효과를 초래하고 정보의 분산효과를 잘 활용하는 분야에서는 또렸한 의지와 지원만 있으면 상당히 빠른 인적 넷트워크 형성과 팀구성으로 은유적으로 말하면 인간의 바벨탑 올리기는 누워서 떡먹기가 된다. 지금은 인간 두뇌와 유전자 편집같은 의학기술들에대해 기독교인으로서 진지하게 바른 세상관으로 바라봐야 할때인것이다.
인간은 동물들과 달리 하나님의 숨을 불어넣어 만드신 영적인 존재인것이다. 그러나, 두뇌 연구분야에 있어서는 인간의 두뇌는 인간의 의식을 가능하게 하는 물질적인 原物(원물)로 보는 것이 定說(정설)이고 지금은 과학자들이 인간의 의식을 나름 과학적으로 정리하는데 혼신을 다하며 대중에게 제일 잘 팔리는 책으로도 쓰이고 있는 중이다. 영적인 세계가 있다하더라도 믿지도 않을 뿐더라 언급하지 않는 것을 어떤 침묵의 규정으로 둔 과학계에서는 무신론적인 입장이다기보다는 의식세계를 감싸고 있는 영적세계의 언급에 있어서는 절대적인 불가지론적(不可知論者)인 입장을 취하고 있다는 것을 알 수 있다. 만약 죽은 사람의 두뇌만을 다시 소생시켜 살린다면 마치 나사렛처럼 다시 부활한 사람인가? 예수님의 초자연적인 힘으로가 아닌 의학의 힘으로 부활된 사람인것인가? 사실, 놀라운 사실이지만, 최근에 이미 어느 중국 의학계에서 인간의 머리를 다른 몸에 붙여 실험을 한 사례가 있었다. 물론 두뇌 세포가 부패되기 전에 소생시키는 것이라 나사렛 처럼 나흘동안이나 시체로 있었다면 의학의 힘 밖에 있었던 것이라 간주할 수 있다. 아무튼, 30분 동안 산소 공급이 중단된 두뇌세포를 소생시키는 일은 예사롭게 여길 수 있는 일이 아니다. 전쟁터에서 심하게 부상당해 죽은 군인의 두뇌를 다시 소생시켜 다른 건강한 몸에 이식시켜 살릴 수 있다면 어떤 도덕적 문제가 발생하겠는가?
내 몸은 과연 나의 것인가? 물론 쉬운 답으론 하나님의 것이다. 그러나 육신은 다 썩어 없어질 것. 동시에 성령의 성전인 것. 기꺼이 육신된 목숨을 내주는 것은 인간으로 할 수 있는 최선이라할 수 있다. 주는 사람의 입장은 그러하다. 내 몸이 죽어 썩어 없어지는니 타인이라도 계속 사용할 수 있으면 좋겠다 생각해서 내어 줄 사람은 얼마든지 있을 것 같다. 내 두뇌에 대한 결정권은 당연히 인간법적으로서는 내가 가지고 있다, 그러나 자각능력을 상실한 사람에게는 보통 법적 결정권이 허락되지 않는다. 바른 결정을 할 수 없기 때문이다. 즉 죽은 두뇌를 소유하고 있는 의식불명의 사람이 결정할 수 있는 것이 아무것도 없는 것이다. 사전 결정되거나 사전 위임된 타인에게 결정권의 행사권이 주어지게 된다. 엄격히 법적으로만 따지면 이렇다. 자신의 몸을 내어 준 사람에게 나의 두뇌가 들어가 어떤 불행한 이유로 죽었던 내가 다시 살 수 있다면 이것이 최선의 정의일 수 도 있다란 생각이 들 수 있다. 이런한 배경에는 인간의 의식또는 자아의식을 가능케하고 인간에게 정체성을 부여해 주는 것이 단지 물리적 두뇌 세포와 그 소생으로 말미암아 가능하게되는 어떤 존재의식에만 있다는 전제에서만 가능한 논리인 것이다. 의학적으로는 그 단계까지 단숨에 갈 수 있는 것처럼 보여진다. 그러나, 알파와 오메가가 되시는 만군의 여호와 하나님께서 인간의 생명의 시작과 끝을 정하시는 것이라면 의학적으로 가능하다하여 인간의 죽음과 의식또는 영적인 존재감을 가지고 이렇게 계속 실험을 진행해야하는 것인지 질문을 해야하며 하나님의 형상으로 지은바된 인간의 존엄성을 해칠 수 있는 실험을 허락해야 하는지 진지해야 더 심사숙고하고 논해야 될때이다.
CRISPR 에 있어서는 이렇다. 예를 들어 임신한 아이가 다운증후군의 유전자를 가지고 있지만 CRISPR를 통해 유전자를 다시 재프로그램해서 바꿔 정상인으로 태어날 수 있게 할 수 있다. 이러한 적용사례만 가능한 것이 아니라 유전자 편집을 통해 아기의 눈 색깔 또는 지능까지 향상시켜 태어나게 할 수 있다. 첫 사례와 같이 유전적 병을 고칠 수 있는 것에 대해 반대하는 사람은 별로 없다, 그러나 두번째 사례처럼 어떤 유전적 향상에 있어서는 쉽게 남용의 사례를 떠올릴 수 있기 때문에 보통 거부 반응을 보인다. 여기서 난자가 수정되면서 동시에 혼합되어 만들어지는 유일무이한 유전자의 조합이 하나님의 손으로 된 것이냐 아니면 많은 과학자들이 말하는 大찬스, 즉 비유적으로 표현되는 맹인 시계 제작자의 손으로 된 것이냐 라는 질문에 답이 필요한 것이다. 성경을 믿는 기독교인의 답은 한 가지 일 수 밖에 없다. 그런데 이상하게도 요즈음에는 오히려 성경보다는 전통을 더 중시여긴다는 카톨릭 신자들이 이 부분에 있어서는 더 성서적인 입장을 취하고 있는 것처럼 보인다. 그 만큼 기독교인들이 성경의 말씀에서 떨어져 나갔다는 것을 볼 수 있다.
인공지능(AI = Artificial Intelligence) 에 있어서는 Oxford 의 젊은 철학자 Bostrom 부터 시작해서 시간이 지날 수록 더 많은 사람들이 경고의 메시지를 던지고 있다. Bostrom 은 무신론적 철학파적인 관점에서 접하고 있으면서 문제를 아주 잘 파악하고 있지만 그 사람의 관점에서는 한가지 언급을 못하는 부분이 있다. 바로 인간관이다. 인공지능의 절정은 바로 인간과 같은 지능을 가진 로보트의 실현이다. 인간관에 있어 문제를 쉽게 빨리 설명하기 위해 조금 억지스러운 예를 들어보겠다. 인공지능을 개발하는 과학자가 자신이 사람이 아니라 곰이라고 믿는다고 가정해 보자. 이 과학자를 그냥 곰이라고 하자. 이 곰이 자신을 흉내네는 인공지능을 만드는데 성공했다 치자. 만들어진 로보트는 사람일까 곰일까? 답은 당연하다. 여기서다 다가 아니다. Bostrom 과 많은 사람이 AI 가 만드는 사람의 수준에 도달하면 (HLMI = Human Level Machine Intelligence) 그 때부터 기하급수적으로 만든 사람의 수준보다 더 빠르게 지능이 상승하며 만든 사람이 만들었던 모든 안전 제한은 순식간에 해제될 수 있다는 것이다. 이것은 이론 실험에서도 이미 입증이 된것이다 (“AI box problem”). 즉 개미 한마리 잡으러 굴로 들어갔다가 순식간에 호랑이 천마리가 둘러싸이는 상황을 만나는 격이다. 대다수의 과학자들은 인간관을 언급할때 너무나도 쉽게 Dawkins의 이기적인 유전자를 언급한다. 그것이 정설로 통한다. 곰이 곰을 만들어 버리면 마늘먹고 웅녀가 되지 않는한 곰보다 더 곰같아 지는 것은 그냥 더 무서운 맹수 한 마리일뿐이다. AI의 결과물은 그것을 지금 만드는 사람들이 자신이 하나님의 형상으로 지은바 된 사람이 아니고 그 다른 어떤 관점에서 시작해 버린다면 너무나 당연한 꼴로 나올 수 밖에 없는 것이다. 하나님은 자신이 누구이신지 성경 말씀을 통해 알려주셨고 그러한 하나님께서는 인간이 무엇인지 그리고 어떤 자리에 있는지 확실히 보여주시고 어떤 세상관을 가지고 살아야하는 가르쳐 주셨다. 인간의 학문과 발전은 자신들이 심은대로 거둘수 밖에 없다.
이미 스스로 은퇴하시고 이 지역에 오셨다고 말씀하신 분에게 일부러 직접 물어봤다. 사업을 성공적으로 잘 하고 계시는 분이었다. 답하시기 전에 조금 주저하셨다.
또렷하게 답하신 것이 아닌 것을 보면 더 하실 말씀이 있으신가 해서 대화를 하다보니 금세 자신의 아들의 대한 언급이 나왔다. 그의 아들은 특별한 예술가로 미국 어느 대도시에서 일하고 있으며 저명한 잡지와 회사들을 고객으로 두고 일하고 있는 사람이었다. 그런데 나의 귀를 의심할 정도로 놀라게 한 것은 아들을 돕기 위해서 수 만불이나 되는 장비를 사주고 계신다는 것이었다. 그것도 수 년째 아들을 지원하고 있다는 것이었다. 나에겐 마치 환상적인 소설의 단면을 듣고 있는 것 같았다. 나의 부모 세대정도 되시는 분이었고 그의 아들은 나와는 너무나 다른 삶을 살고 있는 친구같이 느껴졌다.
“그렇게 도와 주시면 혼자 지속하지 못하잖아요. 선생님이 안계셨으면 그런 수준의 사업도 불가능하고요.”
좀 당돌하고 무례하게 들렸겠지만 나는 내 스스로가 아버지로서 아이를 대하는 마음과 방법이 어떠해야 한다는 나름 철학이 있다고 생각되서 어떤 생각을 하시고 계신지가 궁금했고 심지어는 무슨 부당한 일을 하시고 계시것 같다는 마음까지 들어 단도직입적으로 질문을 했다.
“그런 일을 할려면 매우 비싼 장비가 필요하고 혼자 스스로 설려면 시간이 걸려서 내가 그 때까지 돕고 있는거에요.”
나의 머리속에서는, “그래도, 혼자 고생하면서 스스로 독립해야지, 그렇게 부모에게 큰 도움받아가면서 어떻게 혼자 계속 그런 사업을 유지할 수 있을까?” 하고 반문하고 있었다. 그러나, 엄연히 나와 다른 삶인고로 그것에 대한 존중은 잊지않았다.
“아, 예… 저는 어릴때부터 혼자 bootstrapping (독력/獨力)하는 식으로 살아와서 그런 관점에서는 미처 생각을 못해봤습니다. 다른 환경에서는 그럴 수도 있겠군요.”
영어로 했으면 더 자연스럽게 들렸겠지만 한인들끼리 어떤 식으로 표현해야 자연스러운지는 몰라서 일단은 직역으로 표현하여 답하였다.
육신의 아버지의 도움이란 것이 생소한 나에게는 밀려올 수 있는 자기 연민 같은 것 까지 무시하고 살아왔다는 것을 새삼스럽게 느끼게 되었다.
20여년 전에 작았지만 시카고에서 몇년 동안했던 자사업을 처분하고 가족 모르게 표류된 배같은 마음으로 늦은 밤까지 같은 길을 계속 운전하다가 결국 섬기고 있던 교회 예배당 십자가 앞에서 무릅을 꿇게 되었다. 처절한 마음에서 솓아나오는 눈물은 어쩔 수 없이 터져나왔다.
얼마나 기도했는지 모르겠다… 마음의 쌓여있던 것들을 다 토해내고 마음이 조금 가라앉아 잠잠한 상태였다. 그리고 가까이 어딘가에서부터 잔잔히 속삭이며 들려오던 말.
“네가 나를 아버지라 하면서 왜 걱정하느냐?”
“나는 모든 것을 소유한단다. 이 우주만물이 나의 것인데 네가 무엇이 부족해서 근심하느냐?”
그 때 다시 눈물이 솓아져내리기 시작했다. 바로 감격의 눈물이었다. 앞 길이 보이지 않았던 갑갑함은 온데 간데 없이 사라지고 하나님께서 나의 앞길을 온전히 책임주신다는 믿음이 나의 마음을 감싸버렸다.
내면 깊은 곳에서부터 터져나오는 찬양도 계속 되고, 들어올때 가지고 왔던 절망은 이제 하늘을 치솟는 소망과 절대적인 믿음으로 바뀌어 교회 앞문을 나갔다. 그 다음 2주 동안은 마음이 너무나 편안했었다. 하나님께서 책임져 주시는데 무엇이 걱정이냐 하며 너무나도 평온하게 기쁨으로 하루 하루 지냈었고 일을 찾기보다는 하나님께서 어떻게 역사하실까하는 마음으로 2주를 기다리니 기적적으로 지역 방송국에서 나를 찾는 다며 전화가 와서 일을 시작하게 되었다.
살아계신 하나님을 몸소 채험하였는데 어떻게 육신의 아버지의 도움을 받지 못했다고 자기 연민에 빠질 수 있겠는가? 육의 아버지가 부유해서 그리고 그 도움으로 내가 도움을 받았다면 이 교만에 빠지기 쉽고 죄로 너무나도 빨리 달려가는 이런 마음으로는 하나님께 예배드리며 찬양하는 삶보다는 나의 영광을 추구하며 살았을 것이 분명하다. 누구보다도 더 흠도 많고 손 볼때가 많은 사람이기에 더 겸손하고 더 깨져야 하기에 나에게는 보통 사람들의 어린 시절보다는 더 굴곡이 심한 시절을 허락 하신 것이고 고로 그것또한 하나님의 은혜인것이다.
에프킬라 때려 맞은 모기처럼 비실 비실거리며 기운빠지는 모습이 조금은 측은했다. 캐이는 일그러진 아픈 표정으로 마지막 대련에는 더 이상 참여하지 않을 표시를 나에게 했고 제르미는 나중에 알게 된 사실이지만 화장실에서 토하고 있어 마지막 한시간 동안 통 보이지 않았고 그나마 군대 생활 수십년의 경험이 있는 비게이 사범과 페리는 뚝심있게 버티고 있었고 나는 갑자기 나타난 봄 꽃가루 알르레기 증상이 나지막하게 갑자기 나타나는 바람에 숨이 차 헐떡 거리다가 끝 례에서 6초 간격으로 연달아 몇십번의 멈추지 않는 재채기를 유발하는 실례를 범했다. 그리 몸에 무리가 되게 하던 연무도 아니었는데 왜 다들 보통 때보다 유난히 더 맥빠지는 모습이었을까?
로스앤젤레스 중앙검도도장에서 40년 검도를 가르치신 시카이 마사시 사범이 방문하는 연무가 오늘 시작했다. 내가 10여년전 검도를 시작하고 나서 뉴멕시코에 3번째 방문하셔서 특별 연무를 통해 가르쳐 주시는 유일한 고단자 7단 검도 사범이다. 2006년 대만에서 열렸던 세계선수권검도대회에서 미국 검도팀의 코치로 역사상 딱 한번 일본검도팀을 이겨 미국팀을 우승으로 이끌었던 당사자이기도하다. 엘에이에 음식업계에서 종사하고 계셔서 한국친구들도 많아 기본적인 한국어와 한국 검도 용어에도 능숙하신 분이라 친근감이 더 가는 일본계 미국인이다. 전에 북쪽 타오스에서 특별 연무하고 나서 어느 검사(劍士)의 집에서 저녁을 같이 하며 젊었을때의 눈부신 활약을 들으며 부러워 했던적도 있었다. 이런 미국 검도세계의 大家가 이런 보잘 것 없이 작은 곳에 와 주시는 것은 사실 감사한 것이다. 10여년 연무하면서 이렇게 와서 가르쳐 주는 사범이 없었기 때문에 더 그렇다. 고령인데도 불구하고 마치 마흔의 젊은이처럼 바닥을 누비며 대련하는 것을 보면서 끝에서가서 숨을 헐떡대는 자신을 보며 부끄러워지기까지한다.
타오스는 여기보다 더 높은 산맥같은 곳. 거기서 3명 정도가 왔는데 전부터 안면이 있는 딕슨 사범하고 지금은 나보다 한참 고단자가 되어 버렸지만 (미혼에다가 여유가 많음) 친구같이 지내온 20대의 아론과 그리고 새로 보는 폴이란 50대 정도 되어 보이는 신참이 오셨다. 여기보다 더 고지라 폐활량이 더 많은 것은 알겠지만 아론 같은 경우는 실력이 검사가 많은 콜로라도의 대회에 참여해 일 이등 자리를 차지할 수 있는 능력있는 검사다. 맨 처음 아론을 만나 대련을 했었을때 기억이 생생하다. 잠깐 눈 깜빡하는 사이에 훅 들어와 머리를 치고 이미 옆을 지나가고 있었다. 물론 20대와 40대의 차이는 생각보다 크다. 그러나 보통 여기 4~5명 정도의 사람들과 매주 마다 하는 연무의 속도보다 매우 빠른 속도에 놀라게 된다. 그리고, 처음에 그런 것을 경험하게 되면 어떤 억울함 같은 것 까지 느끼게 된다. “내가 여태 무엇을 한것인가?” 가르치시는 사범님도 나이가 지극하고 그 다음 윗 선배도 관절 여기저기가 다 맛이 가고 있는 고령이 되어가는 상황에 고도의 연무를 기대하기는 힘든 현실. 여기 지역에서는 그 다음 등급에는 내가 있고 다음은 다들 초보자들이다. 외부에서 오는 이들과 대련하는 것은 쓰라릴 수 밖에 없는 현실을 다시 맛보는 것 뿐이다.
물론 대단한 인물이 오는 것에 대해 불안감 같은 것 때문에 심신이 편하지 않아 구토 현상도 보이고 몸이 보통때 처럼 말을 안들을수 있다. 그래서, 캐이나 제르미가 보였던 증상을 이해할 수 있을 것 같다. 나의 저질 체력도 바닥을 이렇게 빨리 들어내 보이는 것은 불쾌하지만 나이가 들어서 그런지 이제 사람들 앞에서는 무덤덤해 보인다. 속은 사실 조금은 뒤집혀진다. 가까운 친구라도 옆에 있으면 나의 어린 시절에 어떤 고초를 겪었는지 다시 상기시켜주며 잠깐 자기 연민에 다시 빠져있기라고 했으련만… 가까운 친구도 너무 멀리있다. 더군다나 자기 연민 같은 사치는 이제 즐길 수 있는 나이가 아니다. 오늘 이렇게 맥없는 모습이 나타났을 것을 미리 알았다면 몇 주전부터 고도의 훈련이라도 더해 준비를 할껄이라는 생각까지 든다. 한 때 매일 한시간씩 수영을 할때는 이보다는 났었는데… 매일 아침마다 뛰었을때는 이보다는 났었는데… 아무리 길게 했어도 단지 몇주만 하지 않으면 금방 초라하게 되는 이 놈의 허약 체질. 항상 준비하고 있지 않으면 바닥이 너무 빨리 드러나는 이 허약 체질. 몸도 이런데 우리의 영은 얼마나 더 바닥을 빨리 드러낼까?
그나마 매주 일주일에 두번 연무를 해서 간신히 고단자와 버티면서라도 대련을 할 정도의 실력이 되어 있다. 사실 일주일에 세번 연무가 기본인데 여기는 장소를 구하기 힘들어 사정상 두번만 만나 연무를 하고 있다. 보통 연무는 2시간. 일주일에 총 4시간. 아침에 큐티는 30분. 일주일에 총 3시간도 못된다. 가족과 성경읽기 20분. 일주일에 2시간 반. 큐티와 성경읽기를 합치면 많아야 6시간 정도이다. 대략 보통 타지에서 사회인 검도인이 기본 연무하는 시간이랑 비슷하다. 시간적 양의 투자로 따지기는 적절하지 않은 부분도 있지만 선수권대회에 참가하는 검사들이 연무에 투자하는 시간에 빗대면 대략 어떤 실력의 사람들이 나온다는 것을 대략 감할 수 있다. 마태복음 25:10b, “준비하였던 자들은 함께 혼인 잔치에 들어가고 문은 닫힌지라.” 잔치에 들어간 자들과 들어가지 못한 자들의 차이는 단지 정신적과 물질적 준비의 차이였다. 에베소서 5:16, “세월을 아끼라 때가 악하니라.” 때가 악하기 때문에 허송 세월을 지내기가 더 쉬워졌다. 정신차리라는 소리이다. 깨어있으라는 말씀이다. 디모데전서 4:8, “육체의 연단은 약간의 유익이 있으나 경건은 범사에 유익하니 금생과 내생에 약속이 있느니라.” 검도같은 운동은 심신을 단련하는데 유익이 있으나 할때 잠깐일뿐 말씀의 순종은 모든 것과 관련되어 유익하니 현제와 미래 모두의 해당되는 하나님의 약속의 은혜를 누릴수 있는 길이다.
예수님께서 말씀하셨던 핍박, 즉 디오클레티아누스의 핍박같은 것이 다시 우리에게 닺쳐오면 과연 기독교인으로서 우리는 목숨을 바쳐 예수님을 시인할 준비가 되어 있는가? 충무공 이순신 장군의 명언인 필사즉생행생즉사(必死則生幸生則死)는 사실 무사의 기본적인 태도을 반영한 것이다. 검도에서도 사신(捨身)이란 단어가 있다. 자신의 몸을 희생하며 던지듯 공격해야 한다는 뜻으로 고단자들이 숙지해야 하는 기본적인 정신적 태도와 기술을 말한다. 아무리 오랫동안 연무를 해도 바른 정신으로 하지 않으면 오는 공격에 방어 자세만 취하든지 점수 얻기 쉬운 공격기술에 의존하게 된다. 진정한 一本은 捨身精神이 모든 면에서 깃들여져 있는것이다. 즉 최고의 기술은 제일 단순하면서도 기본 정신을 제일 잘 나타내는 것이다. 기독교인은 하나님의 최고를 반영해 보여주어야 한다. 하나님의 道에 어울리게 사람들과의 기본적인 信도 두텁게 하며 세상 꾸정물 한 숫가락 더 퍼먹을려는 비겁한 모습을 보이는 것이 아니라 하나님의 나라와 그의 의를 위해 목숨을 다하는 모습을 보여줘야 할 것이다. 당신은 준비하고 있는가 아니면 핍박도 아닌 작은 바람이라도 불때 에프킬라 맞은 모기처럼 비실 비실 거리며 죽어갈 것인가? 연무하라. 지금부터. 매일같이.
In August of 2018, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (in Korean, “한국보건사회연구원“) had published a report stating that the Korean population will be halved by 2115. That’s about 100 years from now — like 3 or 4 generations of people by that time — but considering, comparatively speaking, the dismal number of Koreans in the world, that is rather sad state of affairs as a part Korean myself. As an expert demographist (his primary profession is as a medical doctor, btw), Hans Rosling, recently pointed out there will be many more Africans as the number of people living on the continent of Asia will decrease. (White, Europeans will remain nearly same over the same time period.) There is a little doubt that the Asian population decrease is being heavily contributed by Koreans themselves. It’s no surprise considering the fact that Koreans have achieved a reversal in the population growth rate at a pace much faster than that of Japan. The growth rate started to slow in early 1980s, so, as of 2019, it’s been 39 years — 9 years beyond a generational maturation age — a significant event that happened in a generation of time, albeit silently.
This has come to fruition in an epoch of time that is distinctly marked by the ascent of sleeping dragon, China. Back in December of 1996, the Koreans celebrated as a new member of OECD, and immediately after, the Asian financial crisis of 1997 slammed down on them hard. What they had gained as a type of worldly credence to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s economic powerhouses, they had to pay it by yielding their own control of financial infrastructure over to foreign hands. It was not pretty, and most of Koreans seem to be blissfully unaware of the true significance of the event. In spite of their desperate gold donations, it was as if it were happening to a third-world country that is not theirs. It was an empty significance bought with a cheap sell-off of a country, and there’s still nothing to show, except a magnified mediocrity of life that Koreans themselves have to carry on their shoulders. Adam Smith might have been proud for finally opening up Korea for his market principle, but that came at the cost of skipping too many steps, at an eager, profit-driven hands of international monkey fund. You’d think the sapient Santayanan call on the city gates would be loud enough to be heard, but irony has had a long history in human affairs, especially in Korea, with exquisite twists. You think 1905 Eulsa treaty was bad? Clearly, it was a leadership failure pronounced over a background of over-reaching for a corporate significance — even Ye Wan-yong (the last Prime Minister of the Korean Empire) considered himself a high patriot — and it was no different in 1997. You could practically transpose the same characters out of the history books and place them anachronistically and still have the same, boring narrative, although it verges on an Oedipal tragedy many times over for a Korean who hasn’t been zombified through a silent, hysteric lobotomy. It’s a profound mystery of a human soul considering why those responsible haven’t gouged out their eyes out yet. Maybe, it’s a post-generational front-loading of guilty they were after. How convenient, and so effective!
The vanity of vanities whispered through the mouth of a serpent was, “you will be like G-d.” But מייקל (who is like God)! The desire for self-significance comes at the very reflection of who השם (the Name) is. The matchless, the incomparable, the one and only, the perfect, the eternal, and the attributes goes on. Plato’s abstract form is a sheer blasphemy, but the immutable attributes can, in an adjectival way, be described as such for our little minds. Isn’t it enough to be an imago dei? What more significance can he possibly achieve beyond that? That was the very reason for the fall — what may have truly inspired Milton, though he seems to obsess over the demonic fall more. We were created for other-significance, and that other being the creator himself, rather than self-significance. What is the chief end of a man? One needs not even touch a codified, catechistic words before coming to experience the sheer joy of helping others, which is a mere, experiential hint. It’s also mind-boggling the complexities through which our hearts are prone to grab the fruit while framing it as other-significance. Let’s not forget that Adam was also an accomplice. Noahic description of human heart was very telling. Nothing has changed. In the context of Korean history and the state of affairs today, it is an eulogy.
It was a hammer crashing down on an anvil of history. I personally hope to be disproved by time itself, however, as things stand right now, it seems to be another end to a short-lived dynasty. Yi dynasty at least has the bragging rights, but this dynasty without a monarch will go down in history as a mere blip, probably titled below as a footnote in a textbook on economy: “The Miracle of Han River.” Despite all of the marketing and PR efforts by the Korean government and affiliates, most of world’s attention is now on the awakened, giant dragon. The dragon swooped down on whatever was left of the Saemaeul Undong (New Village movement) on the small cheek of its butt, and farted. The light show going on under the banner of k-pop and other things prefixed by k was once enjoyed by Japan for a short time. The keyword here is “short.” Just as quickly as the speed of disappearing Danish pastries in a company breakroom, the consumers consume and they will just move on. It was personally a heart-wrenching experience to hear the significance of Korea come to fore with a blast of Psy’s Gangnam Style from the FM radio in the U.S. Lyrics are embarrassing to say the least. Sure, many of my Korean friends had enjoyed American music without knowing the lyrics, but I’m not sure if they’ll nominate Michael Jackson’s Beat It for a national Intangible Cultural Asset, or whether such things have a lasting value to withstand the weight of centuries. We have a gamut of personalities stating that Psy was a patriot. Did I mention that Greek actors were mostly philosophers? Sure, Psy can be a pop philosopher in the school of New Sophists — the school of self-significance. He’s successful, all right, for himself — and he’s a hero for it. Latest glitzy act from him was a song filled with thinly disguised profanities. Last I heard of what Korean elementary school children want to be when they grow up, they all wrote, “Rich” — not one dissident was found in that anecdotal example. The latest batch of over-educated kids from Korea have been full of disdain, echoing the sentiment of Hell Joseon, and the importance of their identity as Korean is as far removed as sinking Micronesian Islands are from the consciousness of the dazed teens playing PUBG.
What’s really going on here? How did we get to this place? TL;DR answer is the pursuit of self-significance at a fundamental level, but one of the more important symptoms is the way of the very fabric of any society. The new value system intently and silently imposed on the Korean people was not a Biblical one for sure. But, utterly, worldly. I’m not sure if G-d in mind the GDP, the cost of living, and the educational cost when he said, “be fruitful and multiply.” Did he have cheap imitation of equality in mind when he created woman as a divine helper for man? Maybe Adam should have thought long and deep before he exclaimed, “Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” but he couldn’t have known all the divorces that his sons and daughters would commit. The same drive that drove Eve to “be like God” and pick the forbidden fruit is the drive that is driving so many to waste their lives on pursuit of empty self-significance. Educators’ mantra, of course, is “education will improve people’s lives,” and what Confucianism has taught Korea for millennia wasn’t lost. Sure, the kids from Korea compete at the world-class level, but they are without chests. More a Korean family invests in kids’ education, the less they teach these kids at home. Kids learn nothing, and these kids trail right behind me in age. I usually have more fun talking to a grandpa reciting from his memory the Korean War and events related to that, than an over-educated, post-doc Korean kid who’s lived in a closed world of academia, and online games. He knows just enough social etiquette to get by, but again, I barely sense a heart that’s withered down to a nub. I once expected to connect with an adult, not aroused with a sympathy over a dwindling weight of a barely-human without a chest. So many Korean American families I’ve seen aren’t much of a family, but a machinery fit for a modern factory. Kids are expected to study and go to a good college and put their two feet on the ground as a financially successful member of the family. Parents toil day in and day out trying to make ends meet while enjoying social pleasantries at a local church or with golf buddies. Individuals living out their lives to achieve some means of self-significance, all with the banner of humble, normal family. There’s nothing normal about this modern snapshot of a Korean American family. White American families at least still share in some family tradition that may have trickled down from the days when everyone attended church, so, unbeknownst to themselves, the family culture still has a thick milieu of Christianity rubbed in many of its walls. Koreans, on the other hand, were passed down with a cultural milieu so robust and hermetic that it pervades in every word they speak. It actually goes much deeper than just labeling it Confucianism, and he wasn’t even Korean. The utter, this-worldly mindset that has pervaded most of Asia for millennia is still evident in Lexus-filled parking lot of so many Korean American churches. They aren’t teaching kids Christian values for sure. What little sense of Korean identity they have, they make it up by bringing kids to a Korean church bubble. I don’t think they do that anymore nowadays, but at least that’s what they used to, believing that somehow getting English-speaking Korean kids together helps to develop their Korean-ness — all that without teaching neither the language nor the history. Or maybe they believed that their kids wouldn’t have sex and have kids in high school like white kids do if they were churched this way. Whatever the reason, one thing became clear to me in my three decades of dealing with Korean American kids — Korean families don’t teach kids anything while they invest heavily in their education. It’s probably an exaggeration, but I think I still stand by it. I have heard enough lip service about Korean communities valuing the education of their children. It’s all a lie. It’s about valuing the significance of their organization, church, or whatever. If Josh Kim goes to Harvard, more kudos to the church, or the family, or whatever tickles their face. Don’t misunderstand. I have many friends who are worldly successful–even a Harvard professor at that — and are great human beings at the same time, but sadly, I have seen one too many families where it’s all about worldly success while claiming to be Christians. Eve was, after all, perfect, when she reached out for her self-significance, but Koreans have no time for that. Even Christian shepherds give undeserved encouragement by telling them they have to shine in the world by becoming the head and not the tail — without enough warning about this vicious pursuit for self-significance, the very tempting words of Satan himself. They have damaged themselves enough. Wake up to the fact that worldly significance is for those in the gutters, or risk the true insignificance before the Creator himself.
We had a deaf person join keiko (kendo practice session) today. He had dropped by to talk to the sensei near the end of the last year, and as he had promised, he started on the very first Wednesday keiko with us. With what little ASL I knew, I tried to communicate in a very basic way. He was very appreciative that I was at least attempting to sign his language. “I (am) nice (to) meet you.” My feeble attempt was with some boldness, and “I (am) nice (to) do kendo meet you” was done with a slight embarrassment at the fact that I was too slow to read his sign to me. I only caught his thanks, and merely bowed reverently as a response. I couldn’t remember the sign for “glad,” but he seemed to have gotten the message anyway. I was glad that he appreciated, and also that he understood me. We connected, albeit awkwardly, and it was satisfying.
What we often take for granted is this very basic need to connect with others. Obviously, connecting with others means that you understand and they understand you, but I goof up more often than I’d like to assume about myself. I excel at diving in when the other has yet to finish his sentence. I excel at believing myself to be a superhuman with a telepathic ability, so I’m amazingly quick at knowing what the other person thinks before he has even formed his mind or even utter a single word from it. There was more than one meeting after which I felt a form of remorse over what I had done, and in spite of such profound grief, it’s a hard habit to shatter. Over the years, I’ve learned that a humble heart is awfully needed to be any good at this game, and though hard to admit, and even often feel it to the bones, it’s something I probably lack. I’m too self-occupied with glorious thoughts that exalts themselves over and above all other possible thoughts in this universe. This at an expense of an appetite that is kept at bay from being satisfying. An appetite to connect more deeply with others. Whatever it is, it’s probably already dead by now, or has turned into a monstrous zombie with an appetite for human flesh.
There seems to be a type of innate fear, or an acute sense of mistrust, when I’m in a dialogue with a person. It’s usually a reciprocating mistrust of assuming the other person does not have my best interest in mind, or it’s more likely an unconscious assumption that the other person is as selfish as me. Sadly, I resort to Pavlov and assume the dignity of a dog to mention that I’ve been conditioned to assume this more often when a person I’m speaking to is an older male figure. And that usually means a person of authority. Should I invoke Freudian or Jungian theories at this point? And try to find correlating experiences of my childhood? It’s also probably warranted, knowing the obvious, but I decline to reaffirm the infirmities of a broken family life, as it usually is greeted with all-too-familiar taciturn nod of acknowledgment. For so many of us, life is a series of heart-breaking narratives, most sliding down on a declining slope. I just don’t know what to do. It’s like an automatic gearbox in my emotional nerve system, once past certain speed, it automatically goes into a modus operandi of mistrust. Mistrust begets mistrust, and the cycle of mediocre relationship continues. But, I can’t stop trying.
It’s been so many years ago, I don’t remember when it was exactly, but my wife answered the call and was left in a small shock. A friend who had graduated from the same Bible school had come out of the closet. He was kind enough to make a phone call to us and let us know. I guess it was a turning point in his life. He was more of a friend to my wife, but I knew of his existence and even met him with my wife in two different occasions. He was a handsome, blonde guy with an intelligence that far exceeds any average smart person. He had a knack of acquiring any language, including ASL in an amazingly short amount of time. He was conversant in Korean only after few months of studying it himself with a helper. I think he also taught himself Japanese and went to Japan to teach English. Most of English teachers I know who go to either Japan or Korea take years to learn those languages. He seems to just eat them up like sweet, little cheesecakes. Anyway, intelligence aside, why such lifestyle? I knew he was traveling around the world a lot for his work — so much so in fact that he said that he sometimes didn’t know where he was, and he was sick of sightseeing new places at one point. I don’t want to assume too much, but seeing some of my own friends, approaching a mid-life stage as an unmarried person seems to have a type of unsettling effect on a person. As far as I know, he seemed to be a Christian when he was younger, but life seems to have changed him. How? I really don’t know. But could it be the same human need? The need for a deep relationship. A need to connect with another human being at more than a superficial level. I remember reading about my own personality type many years ago, and it spoke of a great hunger to connect at such a profound level that other personality types often freak out. This, I can relate to.
It may or may not have anything to do with our friend’s decision, but it’s that very hunger that drives so many to despair or ecstasy of life. The intuitive feeling one has of this relational destination is that of an ideal spiritual union. It’s as if you want even the pulse of your own thoughts and heartbeats to be shared with the other. If you want to label it a hackneyed Platonic relationship, so be it. It can be quite overwhelming from a receiving end, especially if the other is clueless about the personality that is desiring this. I heard someone try to simply label it as a puppy love, or even a romantic love stage, described in neurobiological framework where a surge of dopamine is deemed culprit. A dopey teen love isn’t exactly where I’m going with this, but I admit that similar chemical reactions may be happening when hormones are pumping in our bodies. However, I hope it’s a common, intuitive human need that we can all relate to. I’d like to simply phrase it as an innate need to connect with another human being at a much deeper level. Even God acknowledged it when He said, “It isn’t good for a man to be alone,” and then proceeded to create the first woman, as a helper to the first-created person, namely, the first man. She was and, figuratively, still is biologically, psychologically, and spiritually compatible to another man. But, in this day and age of toxicity in the guise of tolerance, pluralism and human rights, we ourselves have made enemies out of ourselves by abandoning this multidimensional compatibility for a cheap, one-dimensional, superficial equality. When everything is interpreted in a wild-wild-west that is the Freudian sexual framework, the courtship is now reinterpreted as sexual advances, and the innate desire for a man to lead in a courtship is now labeled as being chauvinistic, or even worse, patriarchal — when did that word even become a derogatory term anyway? Don’t let me guess whether the chicken or the egg came first, but men in our society also have lost the moral leadership. It’s not too hard to spot hyenas laughing their heads off over their latest steal or over-the-hill guy spewing mysogynistic words in this wild-wild-west society. I dare not to offset the onus of responsibility for sins we commit, but for the same reason we allow some leeway for thieves stealing to feed their poor families, I’d prefer to understand first, as a same, fallible human being, but still loath the sin. We’re all flawed human beings, so this hunger, left unchecked, can be very dangerous. And it’s that dangerous because it’s like a river — it can kill when it overtops its banks. God made those banks there for a sustainable life.
So, what’s with this undercurrent of insatiable need inside of us? Is God pulling some type of joke on us? Was He mad? I think the answer is pretty simple. That was installed there to drive us to God. I’m merely echoing the writings in Pansee by Pascal here, but allow me to continue to simply speak from my own experience. I know so, because I’ve been married for over 20 years, and although I’d like to say more flowery things about marriage, the truth is that your spouse ain’t the destination of this channel. If you aren’t careful, and you’re still a foolish teenager, you’ll seek out another person, thereby making fool of yourself and many a lifetime victim of your foolishness. This drive wasn’t put in for another human being, but it was intended for a relationship with the Person, whom all the other persons that ever walked on the face of this green earth were created to take after. It’s no wonder why it’s so easy to have our eyes earth-bound. It’s merely easier to spot a cheap imitation. It required a special revelation through many special persons to let us know that it’s Him, our Creator, that our hearts have been seeking all this time. The closest thing is probably like a reconciling with your father who has been alienated for so many years. Our earthly fathers are full of holes, but He isn’t. He is reliable, trustworthy, and so powerful and almighty, that even a nuclear bomb wouldn’t be able to defeat him. He can flatten Mt. Everest in a blink of an eye if He wanted to. You can continue to read what he’s capable of in the Bible, starting with the book of Genesis, chapter 1. The point is, we can have an intensely, close personal relationship with this living God, the Father. So, why is it so hard to approach him? Have you spoken to him lately? Bible says that although He hates sin and wouldn’t have anything to do with it — not even come close to it — He promises to be very close to a person who admits his fault, and cries over his wrongdoings. This is the very reason why He sent His own Son to die in place of us, because we deserved to die for our sins. The moment that I had experienced that as a 14 year-old was the moment that I knew my life has been fulfilled. The emotion was what C.S. Lewis had described as being surprised by joy, an overflowing joy at that.
So, there. Sin, Jesus Christ, and God, have everything to do with this built-in, nagging sense of connectivity installed in us. It’s the answer as revealed by God himself through the Bible, and the choice is yours to accept it. Henri Nouwen, a very thoughtful priest, once warned against neglecting your local church. Don’t get me started with all the flaws of a church. I’m still struggling in there, with a spiritual ulcer to bust me out of it at any day, but as Nouwen had stated, you want to be listening to the church, because the Lord of the church still speaks through it in spite of all of its glorious flaws. As long as you know where this river is headed, don’t get your expectation too high for other flawed humans being like you at your local church. Love them just enough to gasp at you — with no expectation of returned favor. Remember, God loved us first.
First World problems, dealt in a First World way – via a WP blog. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be just another tirade, but a thoughtful reflection while letting go of another vexing thought.
It seems I have a unique skill of finding myself as an outsider. As of 2019, I live in a State where Asians make up only 1.7% of the total population. My family were at a nearly all-white, conservative church for nearly 6 years, and my wife did not have anyone who really wanted to get to know her. Looking back, it was probably a simple problem of her name. For an average American it’s something hard to remember and pronounce. It’s something akin to “Eu-eong.” Frankly, I think church members were afraid of mispronouncing her name or asking her name N-th time again, so, the best thing they decided to do was simply not approach her. Of course, there was one brave, blonde lady in the congregation, who approached my wife without fear and dared to ask her to pronounce her name many times over. She quickly became my wife’s friend, but sadly, she had to leave to another state only after about a year of knowing my wife due to some family issues. In this area, I sometimes find people who’ve never talked or worked with an Asian person before. At the workplace, a new IT director, I helped to hire because he was native to this area – I thought it’d be better for the company – came onboard offending not just every non-white person, but everyone in the development team by announcing, “I’m going to build an American software,” as if somehow the existing systems were all built by non-Americans. The subtle games he’s been playing from the beginning has been enough to cause me a serious ulcer, but decided to let go it for my own mental health sake. Mind you, he’s probably the best director we’ve ever had, and I force myself to think best of intentions for him, but what an insular, (bleep) of a town.
Once, when I was in Chicacgo, it was at a church where key decision-makers were all related somehow as relatives in a large family. Of course, they didn’t make it apparent and having practically a no ear for gossips and rumors and working only with the youth members of the church, I had no idea for many years of serving there. It was a medium-sized church of about 100 or so members. The senior pastor was a proud graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary, and simply forced me to teach Westminster Confession of Faith after about a year of serving. It was good that he provided the curriculi, albeit many decades old. When you’re a youth pastor, you have very little choice but to follow the senior pastor who is supposed to set direction of the educational ministry at the church in spite of the fact that youth members started to resist and yawn. Yes, there’s a possibility that the growth to that point wasn’t really a growth that the senior pastor wanted to see, since more kids were coming to church compared to adults, and it had more to do with my own preaching and the dedicated worship team I discipled every Saturday. Then, the senior pastor started showing sharp attitude with me, although he’s usually a nice person, especially during staff meetings. It started to be more salient when I tried to have an open dialogue with the pastor about a troublesome teacher (who happened to be a son of an older church member), and then about how I dealt with a sexually promiscuous youth leader. I removed her from leadership without stating a concrete reason, and the pastor, who was annoyed with a constant pestering of a church lay leader who also happened to be the grandmother of the girl I had removed from the leadership, simply decided to accuse me of inexplicably ruining her life. If she had shown even just a little bit of remorse, or repentance, I don’t think I would’ve been so cut and dry about my decision, but she was adamant about her inappropriate behavior. What was apparent was the typical Korean grandparents’ response of “protecting my precious granddaughter,” not from sexually promiscuous culture, but from an aggressive youth pastor who is out to ruin her life by exposing her sin. I didn’t. My conscience couldn’t allow my own youth ministry leader to continue in sin while pretending herself that everything was okay. I told her not to come to Saturday leadership meetings anymore and that she was off of the praise team temporarily. I gave her time to reflect and repent of her sinful behavior. However, it was her who simply stopped coming to church and put herself in a teary mode for many days as if her life was about to end. I guess I overestimated a teenager’s maturity in this regard. In midst of this turmoil of human drama, the senior pastor had the guts to, in a calculated manner, state a proposal to financial help an young adult member of the church who was about to enter a seminary. He, of course, had to throw a statement about how it’d be easier to help this new guy if he was a youth pastor, but since I was already one, the church would have to find an alternative way. This was in a context of my own life, which also was on a struggle with financial hardship, trying to finish seminary, working full-time, three children, and a youth ministry on top of all that. The church merely provided a very tiny stipend every month, which was all used up on the youth ministry with no reimbursements. At that point, I decided to leave the church as he wished. Soon after, it was obvious from the Facebook posting of youth members, the younger guy took over the youth ministry. That younger guy was a son of the founding Elder of that church.
Then rushing to the present, I find myself at a Korean Methodist church. And long and behold, here comes a newcomer who also happens to be a graduate of the same Korean seminary that the pastor had attended. The support, of course, is channeled to her, with a more push for a change from the pastor that I’ve ever seen in last 3 years of being here. I really don’t have a problem with this oncoming pastor being supported by church. It’s good that we support someone more educated, and more dedicated, to be used for the body of Christ. However, the label “Baptist” started to precede the title of jundosa (a term for pastor trainee in Korean churches) for me as if I do not belong to this pastor’s Methodist church. He states it ever so more clearly and emphatically when people are around as if he’s stating something novel and interesting. Yes, I’ve gone to schools that more closely align themselves with Baptist theology, but I’ve never actually served at a Baptist church but for just first two year of being a jundosa 24 years ago. None of the schools, nor the churches I’ve attended since then ever claimed any direct Baptist affiliation whatsoever. Does a Baptist have a personal preference for liturgical worship? Does a Baptist pray in tongues, or sometimes pray with κομποσκοίνι? These are personal preferences, of course, but I guess it was because I had once told him that the schools I had attended had closer alignments to what Baptist teaches. As for the timing of him labeing me as such can only be idiotic unless he wants to make me feel more alienated than I already am. Regardless, it’s only natural thing for a person, especially for that of a Korean person, to show more favor to someone who is younger and originating from the same hometown or same school. I haven’t forgotten how, in spite of people today voicing opinions against oligarchy, they themselves tend towards one simply out of their own proclivities. After all, it’s a Methodist pastor helping another Methodist pastor — what could possibly be wrong with that? I know I’m just not Methodist enough, but why is this pastor trying to make me feel more alienated than I already am? I’m surrounded by first-generation Korean immigrants, with no like-minded peers. The little that we have in the same age-group are either preoccupied with accumulating wealth for a more comfortable life here, to prepare their old age, and there is very little else. The precious, little spare time they have is for themselves, not for any service for the greater purpose outside of their couches. I’m just doing my best to serve the body of Christ, and if that turns out to serve the denomination, fine, but my heart is for feeding the body of Christ, not some specific denomination. Are all Methodists this proud of being Methodists? Whatever happened to being a mere Christian? A mere Christ-follower? Why so proud of schools they’ve graduated? It may have made sense up until 1940s, but Harvard, Princeton, and other Ivy-League schools are no longer schools you go to learn the Bible properly, but in certain denominations pastors proudly carry those school logo as if it means something in the kingdom of God. They have indeed worked hard to gain worldly credence in a world of lost public confidence for church leaderships, however, one has to ask at what cost have these pastors done so? If it happens to have a worldly label, fine, that can be put aside as a none issue, but why are these leaders of church, while preaching love, love, love, ad infinitum, so unloving towards someone like me who has no honorary title, wealth, power, or influence? Maybe, they simply aren’t listening, or they’re just repeating the treatment they had received as ex-jundosas themselves — is “treat your jundosas like shit” one of the bullet points posted in a repository of best-practice manual for Korean pastors? Giving credit to where credit is due, the Methodist pastor is the least tyrannical of pastors I’ve served with. Irony of ironies, instead of churches, the collective body of Christ, reflecting the character of my Lord and my Savior, I find myself wishing to stay away this religiously proud corpus of so human of institution. In spite of such overpowering sentiment, I take heed of Nouwen’s advice to be listening to the church, thereby listening to the Lord of the church.
Jesus came to his own people as a Jew, and to many, a poor rabbi at that. Actually, he bore no worldly, honorary official title whatsoever. People simply called him by his first name as was the custom of the day: “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus of the Trash Dump, the commonly known slogan of Nazareth at the time. Yet, his own people went to the point of crucifying him on the cross, and here I am complaining about my first world problem of having my own boat shaken up a bit and hurt feelings. But I had to get that out of my chest, else, I’ll keep digging up more stories while connecting the dots and become embittered about all of these. My tooth is getting too long to keep pushing people away without long-term consequences. For these reasons and more, I find much solace in Jesus’ answer to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). Truly, this world isn’t my home, but I’m just passing through. My reward isn’t some tiny stipend from church or a denomination of this world, or some honorary title, or anything material, but only my Lord Jesus Christ, my Jesus of Trash Dump. He will be my only prize, and my reward. As for the turmoils of this luxurious U.S. life, I really don’t think it’d be much different when I leave this country for a missiological life once kids are out of school, but preparation, and this journey never stops.
Those who have torn the authority of the Scripture to shreds by denying the validity of the very first book, or relegating it to the level of an ancient myth, eventually get bored with the rest of the Bible and move onto developing a much more secular taste. Christian organizations that had a liberal slant in previous generation seem to be turning much more conservative these days, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that churches that have finally achieved the secular goal of some non-Biblical ideology and successfully stomped on the Word of God are closing their doors at a very fast rate. It’s really as simple as an organic maturation process, or as simple as reaping what you sow. Those who damn themselves to hell while boasting about their superior knowledge of the Scripture in their hands deserve no pity, except that of the atonement through the Christ’s blood. Only thing that trumps over the Babelistic pride is the Word.