Tag Archives: charity

The God of the Old Testament

Buddha

Outside of my office, there are street preachers which I usually tune out. The other day however, one of the speakers came out with a particularly interesting rant:

“Don’t treat Jesus like garbage. He’s not garbage. YOU’RE GARBAGE!”

Now, I don’t really know who the speaker was referring to, but as I know, Jesus (despite not being garbage) preached humility and lowered himself to wash the feet of his disciples. I also remember Jesus saying blessed be the poor and the meek. Jesus was never proud. In fact, pride is one of the seven capital vices. So while I’m not saying that it’s right to say that we should treat Jesus like garbage, it’s probably safe to say that Jesus would be the last to accuse anyone of being garbage.

But then again, looking at the signs surrounding the preachers I see in the country. They’re very heavy on the condemnation.

“Believe or you’ll go to hell!”

These are people who are heavy on the condemnation. They spend more time preaching and condemning people on the street than actually doing good works. I sometimes wonder if anyone is ever converted by the regular blaring sermons on the street. I seriously doubt it. This is like the religious equivalent of negging… undermine someone’s self esteem in order to make them seek out your approval. That, couple with threats of eternal damnation.

But why do it then? Why do it if it’s not working? Simple. Because it’s easy.

Or rather it’s easier than actually following Jesus’ example. If you’re religious there are two common arguments to reaching heaven: believing in God or doing good works regardless of believing in God. There’s injustice in reaching heaven simply for believing in a deity. A Buddhist could be a much kinder and generous person than me, but just by virtue of me believing in God, I would go to heaven and they would rot in hell. The problem with reaching heaven simply for doing good works however, is that it makes religion irrelevant. Why study the Gospels and listen to a preacher? I don’t need to do all of that in order to do good deeds. I’d just spend my time volunteering or something.

And that right there is the key. It is easier to claim rights to the kingdom of heaven simply by believing in God and making everyone else feel like sinners. It is much harder to follow Jesus’ teachings and simply be good to others.

Another thing that’s key in ignoring Jesus’ teachings is simply devoting one’s self to the Old Testament, the old God. See there are two main Gods in the Christian bible. There is the vengeful God in the Old Testament. And then there’s Jesus, the God of the New Testament. The thing about following the Old Testament is that he is more exciting. There’s more condemnation. There’s more us against them. There are more sinners being wiped away by flood and fire. Compare that to the New Testament where all sinners are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice. Outside of the crucifixion, it doesn’t get extremely violent and judgmental until Revelations. The excitement brought by the jealous, judgmental, and sometimes incomprehensible God of the Old Testament brings a tribal sentiment much like sports. “We are going to heaven. You suck! You’re going to hell!” It must feel very good. And it’s definitely much easier than giving out soup to homeless people.

This reminds me of the newly appointed religious advisor in the Trump administration, the grifter Paula White. She was recently “praying against President Trump’s enemies.” Praying against… like she’s sending a vengeful spirit to curse people, like voodoo magic or something. I ask why aren’t people, religious scholars in particular, not speaking out against this. But then again, I realize that the God of the Old Testament seems to be more popular than Jesus these days. I mean, it’s easy to invoke Jesus by name. But in everything else, condemnation, tribalism, curses… everything is Old Testament.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gah! School Girls!

homeless

I don’t normally give money to panhandlers and charities, but I decided to start doing so, actively pushing myself to giving. This is not humblebragging or anything, but me trying to do something while I can still afford to be generous. It came to me the other day: there might come a time that I won’t be able to afford to give to others. Might as well do my bit now.

I usually take the bus home. During traffic, I sometimes walk a few blocks and take the bus much closer to my place.  I tell myself this gives me a bit of exercise while skipping all the traffic. That’s what I did last week. I decided to walk a few blocks after work.
As I was walking past the shopping district (Myeong-dong) near where I work, I passed by this foreign couple as I turned a corner. They were being followed by a mob of teenagers. This annoyed me since not only were the teenagers blocking my way and drowning out ‘This American Life’ on my earphones, but I can’t stand gawkers. I didn’t bother paying too much attention at the couple I just passed. I just assumed that the man was some minor, white, foreign celebrity that the school girls were gushing over.

Fast forward to Sunday and my wife was watching some fashion talk show and they were interviewing some female celebrity. Apparently, she’s visiting Korea to promote a couple of brands and there are always lines of people on all the events she went to. She then brings out her brother who she says always accompanies her on her trips. I didn’t pay too much attention until I recognized the couple.

chloe_moretz

Hello Chloe Moretz.

My wife was like, “What?! You should’ve stopped her and asked for her autograph!”

And what? Creep a child out?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AIDS for Cancer

contortionist

I saw the VICE News report on new cancer treatment recently. I have to say; some things about VICE turn me off. I believe some pieces on VICE are being “edgy” just for edginess’ sake and really have no redeeming value.  But overall, VICE News is amazing. They do wonderful journalism and are not hindered by the news media’s myopic attention on issues. I’m so glad that they’re now on HBO. While the Internet is more popular than traditional media, it helps to get the show out there on TV screens for people who don’t even know what VICE is.

I remember when I was twelve and I was reading about Taxol on LIFE Magazine and how it was the miracle drug that could wipe cancer off the planet. While many cancer patients’ lives were prolonged by Taxol, it wasn’t the miracle drug that the magazine article made it out to be. People still died from many forms of cancer. Along with the lack of a reliable cure for cancer, treatment was still expensive, and the chemicals and radiation would often harm patients just as much as the cancer would.

The use of viruses to treat cancer looks very exciting. It’s heartwarming to see the patients in the documentary basically snatched from death’s door and given new hope, even new cancer-free lives. It is a shame however that much of the research still struggles to find funding. It is a shame that so much money is being spent on other useless things instead of helping find a cure to deadly diseases. There’s so much brainpower and genius wasted on products that don’t really help humanity in comparison. I don’t care much about the new Apple watch. I care more about using the AIDS virus to kill cancer cells. How about we all pool our collective intellects and resources to solving that one problem for a year? I wonder how far we could go.

While the documentary makes me feel hopeful for the future, in many ways, it depresses me as well. What have I done with my life? How come I’m not helping cure cancer? How come I’m not putting money out there for cancer research? Maybe I should start putting my money where my mouth is. We should all be invested in this. It’ll affect us one way or another.

I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer years ago. She was misdiagnosed by a careless physician for months, and by the time they confirmed it was pancreatic cancer, she only had a few months to live. Perhaps if she had been diagnosed earlier, she might still be alive today. Or perhaps if more people cared about curing cancer…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dead Strangers

motivated

I was reading a great obituary over the weekend. It was tragic, but inspiring. It was of this young lady who devoted so much of her life to charity, so much of her life to helping others. It’s really sad, but she was one of those people whose life Lao Tzu was referring to when he talks about flames that burn bright but burn half as long. (http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/jennifer-joy-logan-1982-2015/) Though younger than me, she probably helped more people in her short life than I ever did… than I ever will. I was and am not as generous as she was. And for that I do feel a tremendous amount of shame and regret.

The beauty of such obituaries (and no, I don’t often read strangers’ obituaries) is that not only do they celebrate a person’s life, but they also inspire others. Perhaps they push others to be more grateful for what they have, enjoy the moment more, or in this particular young lady’s case, be kinder to others. It is like the one last good the departed could do, to inspire and teach.

Speaking of death and remembrances, I watched the documentary about Vivian Maier over the weekend.  (http://www.vivianmaier.com/) What a fascinating life! Her works are amazing. It’s such a shame that she didn’t push harder for them to be shown while she was still alive. Of course, the woman was suffering from some mental illness, the film made sure to explore that aspect of her life, but it doesn’t remove the fact that she was an utter genius who had an eye, not just for light and composition, but for human drama.

Again, the documentary, even the current interest in her life and work, serve as form of obituary, a tribute to an artist that was almost forgotten. And while the first obituary I was talking about was about a life of charity and giving, Vivian’s was a life that appears she never wanted to be shared.  She was never particularly kind. In fact, some of the children she cared for described her to be cruel. But she was relentless in her art, and in it, her humanity blossomed. It’s as if what she lacked as a participant, she made up for as keen observer. And what she saw was beautiful.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,