Ten Things I Think I Think (
As a part of my year-long intensive doctoral program, I am currently in
At museum, a seven minute video on a wrap around screen was shown that is supposed to be a history of the experience. But, instead, it basically talks about how the DMZ, after the 2000 accord, is now becoming the center and symbol for peace in the world…. which given the recent tension over the North Korean’s testing nuclear weapons just seems bizarre. That and the soundtrack to the video was a re-incarnation of bad 80’s American Hair Metal. It was the most unsettling piece of propaganda I’ve ever seen.
3) The second visitor center we were able to see (a third was closed because of tension over the center and symbol of peace in the world) was an observation post where you can stand on a big platform and see the DMZ. Unfortunately, it was foggy, so all the stuff I wanted to see (particularly Propaganda City, which is a fake town built by the North Koreans in the DMZ right after the war that nobody lived in until about three or four years ago) wasn't visable. Of course, because I’m me, standing on that platform, I took out my camera to start videoing the foggy scene, when I thought better of it, and put my camera away. Good thing, because apparently the guy at the door who was supposed to tell me not to take pictures of the DMZ wasn’t around as I walked outside (I was one of the last folks out cause I was asking a tour guide some questions). Of course, two minutes later, a South Korean soldier asked to see my camera, and after my showing him many of the pictures on the memory chip, he finally let me go. Of course everyone enjoyed watching me almost go to prison. Randy Jessen, the program director, said that he had composed a letter to Aimee on this very subject before he left on the trip, because he thought the possibility of my imprisonment while here to be high. Such is my stellar reputation.
Yeah, it was a surreal kind of day… the realization of nuclear annihilation and Abercrombie and Fitch knock offs connected by one two hour bus ride.
Apparently, at some point, Beeson Pastors started going to a particular tailor (one of hundreds) in
7) Pastor Kim’s sermon was interesting in and of itself. Since today is Palm Sunday, he focused on the text in Matthew where Jesus rides into
My theory is that in the end, the country who makes DVD players, watches American Idol, and who sports citizens who carry cell phones always, in the end wins these kinds of battles. While ideology can inspire a degree of loyalty, and coercion can keep everyone else in line, hunger has a way of overcoming ideas and guns. That’s what ultimately sunk Communism in
8. The Koreans believe in prayer. I'm not sure if this is the legacy of the teaching of the missionaries, or a connection to the ancestor worship and Confuscionism that shaped this nation for generations. A general message we hear from every pastor is that belief in Jesus will bring a happy, blessed life, and peace, which sounds suspiciously like the kind of folk religion connected to animinism. But it's impossible I think to peer into the human heart and discern its intent. All you can assume is that if people wholly devote themselves to Jesus, that to Jesus they will be devoted.
That said, the Korean fascination with prayer, regardless of wherever it comes from, is absolutely amazing. Prayer services are offered at multiple times every day of the week. I'm typing this right now from a huge retreat center dedicated wholly to encouraging constant prayer from those who attend, and it's packed every day of the year. What's more, every large church in Korea has a retreat center like this one, and they're all booked. At Yoido yesterday, a group of teens (about 100) were leaving for Yoido's prayer retreat center to for a week-long prayer retreat.
Here this: they missed school for a week to go pray. And this isn't an isolated occurence.
The results are that there are a lot of hardworking and believing Christian people in this country. Korean churches are filled with folks ready and eager to go all over the world to share the Gospel. They are afraid of nothing, and ready to tackle the world. They not only believe they will reunite the Koreas, and eventually win the entire world for Jesus Christ. It's an amazing kind of faith that's really humbling.
9. That being said, the same kinds of erosion we're seeing in the United States to the basic foundation of spiritual belief and Christian influence is operating too here in Korea. Secularism, materialism, and a growing belief in the power of the sciences (natural and social) to solve all ills are claiming more adherants, particularly among the young, each and every year. While about 30% of the nation claims Christianity (30% also claim to be Buddhist) the fast growing segment of the population in Korea are those who claim to be nothing. And the younger the demographic, the greater the percentage (to the point that pastors we've talked to believe that less than 20% of people under the age of thirty claim Christianity. It is a strange dynamic, at work here, but as the country westernizes, moving even more solidly in the affluent first world of nations, spiritual faith of all kinds continues to diminish. What challenges this will present to the church over here are unknown, but I suspect the same kind of post-modern "question why everything is the way it is" and a growing fascination with the rest of world will leave pastors scratching their heads, much like most of us are doing in the US. But such is life in this day and age, where the young are seen flocking to Starbucks, even in Seoul, South Korea, while churches wonder what they need to do in order to reach them.
10. And finally, be it known that I am rooming with a University of Florida graduate, Aaron Wymer. Given that OSU has to play Florida, again, for another National Championship, I'm wondering what lesson it is God is trying to teach me in this experience. Here's hoping that it's not that I need to become even more humble through additional humiliation of watching the Buckeyes lose, again. Although "watching" is just a euphanism. I'll actually be in a bible study with about 4000 other people. I'm sure the rest of Buckeye nation will pick up the slack of my absence.
On that note, tonight I will be engaged in prayer for family, friends, our congregation, and the world. I've have tried to remember as many of your needs as I could. As I seek the mystery that is in the power of prayer, may you be blessed in the midst of it.