Saturday, April 21, 2007

Han

Looking back it seems my last several posts have been fairly negative. Well, we aren't out of the woods yet. Thanks for reading along.

At a used book sale the other day a title caught my eye and for a couple bucks I bought The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christiain Doctrine of Sin by Andrew Sung Park.

This han thing is pretty interesting.

Han is a Korean word and it is better explained by stories than by definitions. The first chapter of this book is full of stories of the oppressed, the abused, the victimized, and the distraught---all of whom are experiencing han in some way. But Park defines han loosely as "frustrated hope, the collapsed feeling of pain, letting go, resentful bitterness, and the wounded heart." It can be aggressive or passive, conscious or unconscious, individual or collective. It is an almost inexpressible ache.

The crazy thing is that I think I have han.

But I haven't been oppressed. I haven't been abused. I have no good reason to lump myself in with the people of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, or Tiananmen Square and it even feels sort of offensive to them if I pretend to even feel half of what they feel.

I won't downplay the severity of the trauma and repressed anger and frustration which oppressed people must feel. It is unimaginable. But maybe we all have han to some degree. Maybe some of us are more in touch with it than others. Maybe we can even feel han for other people.

Thing is, I feel frustrated hope too. Big time. That's the part of the definition that really resonates with me. Part of me feels like it is part and parcel of being a Christian in the "already but not yet" of the Kingdom of God which we believe in, are trying to live, and long for so much.

Some people are able to live more in the "already", and maybe I'll be one of them some day. I'm sort of jealous of those people.

But I feel like I live in the "not yet". And I'm sort of comfortable there. It is easy to live there. No matter how happy I am and how well I'm doing there is always something going wrong out there that I can think about to bring me down to earth.

But it is hard living there too.

I'm only in chapter two, but I'm resonating at least in part with the stories told in this book and I am somewhat curious, and even a little bit hopeful, of where it is going to take me, based partly upon the title of the book.

I'll let you know.

3 comments:

Tony Tanti said...

Sounds intrigueing Jon. I agree with you about feeling frustrated hope. I feel that every waking moment.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You've put my turmoil into words. Thanks. - Becky

matthew a. wilkinson said...

this sounds fascinating.