Saturday, September 24, 2016

Recommended: The Diplomat on "Christianity and Korea"

Recommended reading: The Diplomat did an article on "Christianity and Korea." This was just an all around interesting introduction to the various stages of Christian influence on Korea and does a nice job of tracing the history of the movements. I thought this quote was pretty insightful:

At the same time, Hong says, “It’s true that [a lot of] Christianity is corrupt. But there are a lot of hidden true pastors working hard, and their passion for God is why we are so successful in Korea.”
Christianity and Korea | The Diplomat

Very true, I'd say. There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of religious corruption around, and not just financial, but intimidation. Get on the wrong side of the church elders (who often aren't even pastors, just big shots in the congregation) and you and your family can see some opportunities cut off. But like the quote says, on the other hand there are a lot of hard working and selfless church-goers here, who work with passion and zeal and do some real good. These folks are deep into the Biblical life routine and can be the most selfless and good hearted folks. They can be intense and a bit "too much" day to day, but they'll come through for you in a pinch, which is more than I think we can say for most people around us these days. That's a good point I think the article could have looked at more -- how there was simply no or little government-sponsored welfare in the aftermath of the Korean war, and how religious organizations, as they do these days in the third world, stepped in to fill the void.

Religion is always a hot topic, but Korean religion is just so varied and so multifaceted, from Confucianism to Catholics, shamans to cults, anti-church politicians to gambling monks, you can never just box it in and say "this is how it is." But hey that's true for everything. You also can't just focus on the ajummas trying to serve you coffee on the street, or that wacky guy who roams the Airport Train with that massive cross. The ones who make the most noise get the most attention after all. I guess the best way I'd summarize my own experiences with ordinary religious folks is that they certainly don't half ass it.

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