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Centenarian philosopher explores the meaning of faith

Posted January. 23, 2020 07:32,   

Updated January. 23, 2020 07:32


Professor Emeritus of Yonsei University Kim Hyung-seok, a revered scholar, mentor and philosopher of 100 years, has recently published a new book titled “Searching for the Path of Eternity during Life.”

The new book is not founded on academic research on religion, but a personal essay on the reflections of people, religion and society. According to the prologue of the book, the writings were mostly written by Kim in the 1980s, which means the old professor’s thoughts from 30 years ago are still relevant today.

“There are too many churches that are either too large or too small,” he said. “If the church neglects their original duty as a community of faith and value their responsibilities as a social community such as politics, it would lose universalism as a church.”

Kim confessed that he had been criticized as an atheist despite his leading a life of faith. He advocates “churches that truly serve churches.” He said that a life of faith can be practiced at home and at the office, adding that words and truths exist to build heaven, not to build the church.”

The book presents principles of many religions and famous quotes on God by philosophers such as Pascal, Nietzsche and Kant. Though the topics are not light. By using topics including “the existence of God,” “religious life and people relationships,” “freedom by truth,” and “questions from a believer,” the professor shares his own stories to make the topic more accessible.

The last chapter titled “Is Religion Really Necessary?” provides an answer to modern people who have pondered on the meaning of life and religion. “Pascal said religion was an adventure and a bet,” Kim wrote. “I bet my life and my entire character on it. If I lose, my entire self becomes nothing. But if I win, it will represent eternity and the existence of life.”

There are many valuable pieces of advice that are not relevant to faith but stem from years of experience. “When a person becomes old mentally, that means one is truly old,” the writer said. “One should know how to nurture oneself and strive to learn from everything.”

Gab-Sik Kim dunanworld@donga.com