The Korea Times 칼럼

Easter After Tragedy (2010년 4월 10일)

divicom 2010. 4. 11. 13:20

Easter spirit and related events were everywhere last weekend. As my sister's family and mine were going to a ``samgyetang'' restaurant to beat the spring fever, we were greeted repeatedly by both Protestant Christians and Catholics soliciting entry into their realm of faith. ``Accept Jesus, the resurrected, and live forever,'' we were entreated. Resurrection, does that really happen? Can anyone get resurrected today? I was thinking as I struggled with the chicken ribs.

In Seoul and many other cities, believers gathered to mark the day. President Lee Myung-bak went to the famous So-mang Church in the lucrative Gangnam District, and was criticized later. Korean political leaders used to abstain from going too public about their credos out of respect for the nation's religious diversity, but Lee has broken the tradition and the Protestants are more outspoken about their faith now than any other time in history.

Lee has also issued an audio-visual Easter message: ``It is a really joyous day today ― I wish God's great comfort will be with the patriotic soldiers who suffered the accident while defending the nation and the many families in sorrow.'' By ``accident,'' he was referring to the sinking of the warship, Cheonan, off the West Coast last month, in which 44 are still missing. I wonder why he called the tragedy an accident, as it has yet to be determined if it just happened or was made to happen.

In the U.S. capital, President Barack Obama met criticism for talking about ``shared spirit of humanity'' on the eve of Easter instead of focusing on the Christian religion. If the two Presidents changed their seats, critics wouldn't have raised their voices. Korea would appreciate a ``broad-minded'' president like Obama. Fervent Christians in America would be happy to have a ``focused'' Chief Executive like Lee.

The History Channel has recently aired a documentary showing the ``true face of Jesus'' created by a team of computer artists based on the Shroud of Turin, the blood-stained linen believed to have been used in wrapping the body of Jesus Christ. The program has provoked a fresh debate about the face of Jesus and the shroud.

I, for one, used to imagine his looks but have lost interest after observing his fall from an incarnation of unlimited love to a wizard-like figure that materializes the secular wishes of the faithful. His image has been ruined by his own worshippers who publicize Jesus will offer what you want from life. So-mang Church is one of the greatest attractions for those who think Jesus gives a ticket to worldly success.

While I am no longer interested in Jesus' looks, I still hope his spirit of love will survive and prevail. I hope the numerous Protestant churches in Korea will open up, literally. Churches once open to public are all locked up these days and that may symbolize the love of many church-goers that stops at their own families and churches.

The Cheonan tragedy has exposed the most sublime form of love through a few heroes. one of them is Han Joo-ho, the Navy warrant officer, who volunteered to search for the lost sailors and died after experiencing decompression sickness. There also are the families of the missing soldiers, who voted to cease the dangerous search for their beloved ones for fear of causing more deaths of searchers like Han.

It is not clear why President Lee had to observe Easter at So-mang. I hope it was a purely religious deed, not an act serving political purposes. The nation will go to polls on June 2 to elect mayors, governors, city and provincial council members and other local post-holders and campaigns have already begun. I don't want to see my 95-year-old mother-in-law, a deaconess, choose certain candidates for the same reason as she voted for Lee during the last presidential election: her pastor told her and other believers that Lee should be elected because he was a fellow Christian.

In June, I hope, love will guide the voters as it did the bereaved families of the Cheonan victims. I hope church-goers here will heed what Obama said on April 3: ``while we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all ― Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike.'' Should resurrection occur, I hope life will return to officer Han, the Cheonan sailors, and the fishermen of the Geumyang 98, another ship that went down after searching for the Cheonan crew.


백령도 부근 서해상에서 침몰한 천안함의 실종자들을 생각하면 밥을 먹기도 소리 내어 웃기도 미안합니다. 이럴 때 찾아온 기독교도들의 축제, 부활절이 여러 가지 생각을 하게 합니다. 부활이란 무엇인가, 그것은 과연 축복인가, 축복이라면 그 축복을 받아야 할 사람은 누구인가... 이명박 대통령은 왜 소망교회에 가서 부활절 예배를 드렸을까, 그건 정녕 아무런 정치적 고려도 하지 않은 종교적 행위일까, 여러 종교가 평화롭게 공존해온 한국이라는 나라에서 이 대통령이 기독교 장로로서 취한 일련의 행동은 옳은 것일까, 자신은 기독교도이지만 부활절을 앞두고 예수의 부활 대신 인류애를 강조한 오바마 미국대통령은 비난받아야 할까... 부활이 축복이고 누군가에게 주어질 수 있는 거라면 제일 먼저 천안함 실종자들과 그들을 구하려다 불귀의 객이 된 한주호 준위와 금양98호의 선원들에게 주어졌으면 좋겠습니다.