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Profanity is Expensive

Interesting words to consider in light of the current global financial situation, its root causes, and its effects upon human beings…


Our technological resourcefulness is making our life expensive and lonely.  Technology is ambiguous.  It can enrich and impoverish our life.  Technology is like fire; it can cook rice for our enjoyment and nutrition and it can also reduce our house to ashes.

Can we bring about an inexpensive yet resourceful life style?  One way—perhaps the only way—to do this would be to cultivate, increase, and deepen human relationship.  Human relationship is inexpensive yet resourceful.  This is grace indeed.  The biblical God is the God of covenant relationship with man.  This means that the whole biblical teaching is rooted in relationship.  The salvation the Bible is talking about is “inexpensive yet resourceful.”  If salvation is expensive in terms of hard-cash, then something is wrong with that kind of salvation…

“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”  This is  the meaning of responsibility.  The concept of responsibility and that of sacredness are intimately related.  Irresponsibility is profanity.  Wild pursuit after private wealth and power is a profane activity since it is irresponsible.  Such irresponsibility produces alienation; “… We seek more and more privacy, and feel more and more alienated and lonely when we get it.

The meaningful life of which the Bible speaks is in the direction of human relationship instead of expensive self-enlargement.  It is in the direction of the meaning of the temple.  Jesus Christ fulfils the sacred intention of the temple.  His attention is focused on the restoration of the covenant relationship between God and man, and man and man.  This relationship is restored by him.  He is the Living Temple.  His name means; “You shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.”  He is Responsible Life.  This is the tradition we received from the apostles.  The apostolic tradition is inexpensive in terms of hard cash.  It is “expensive” in terms of love and self-giving.  Inexpensive yet resourceful apostolic style of life.  Both technology and temple must be influenced by this great tradition.  Profanity is expensive.

Kosuke Koyama, Three Mile an Hour God

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tyler #

    ” The biblical God is the God of covenant relationship with man. This means that the whole biblical teaching is rooted in relationship.”

    Relationship or contract? Forced contract at that.

    June 16, 2012
    • The biblical word is “covenant” which implies mutuality not coercion. However we might evaluate the terms of the covenant, it is not forced.

      June 17, 2012
      • Tyler #

        Please explain how it is not forced?

        I am trying to understand this I the context of the post.

        June 18, 2012
      • I guess I am just thinking in the context of the biblical narrative, going right back to ancient Israel. One of the consistent refrains throughout is, “choose whom you will serve.”

        Perhaps it would be more helpful for me to hear how you are thinking of a “forced contract?”

        June 18, 2012
    • Ken #

      It is forced in the sense that compliance results in blessings and noncompliance in curses. It is forced in the sense that it is a covenant or contract between unequal powers.

      I agree with Tyler that the covenant is like a contract. At the same time, the relationship associated with that contract is marked by great passion or desire on the part of God, so much desire that weaker party, Israel, has much power over God.

      Koyama was attempting to construct a theology for Asia out of western theological words. In our context, we can only partly understand what he meant.

      June 18, 2012
      • One could see it like this, certainly. Of course, understood this way, one could say that creation itself is “forced” because it is something foisted by a higher power upon those who do not possess these powers.

        As you say, even while the power is unequal, God’s role is characterized by desire. This desire is always for good—for his human and nonhuman creation. This is the context in which I understand blessing and curse language.

        June 20, 2012
      • Ken #

        Thank you for mentioning the nonhumans.

        Yesterday I almost stepped on one – a rattlesnake stretched in front of me on the trail. I had not been looking ahead. My wife alerted me just in time.

        June 20, 2012
  2. Ryan. Could you tie the last line in with the rest of what she (he) wrote? What’s the connection?

    June 18, 2012
    • Ironically enough, David, your comment nicely highlights the point of my “Ellipsis” post—those three little dots often provide important context :).

      In the intervening paragraphs, I think Koyama makes clearer the connection he is making between “irresponsibility” and “profanity.” He is reflecting upon the explosion in economic development in post-war Japan and how we tend to invest our time and energies into what is less important and will not last. To “profane” is to fail to honour what God has made us for (each other) and what God has called us to do (love God and neighbour).

      It is in this sense that “profanity” is expensive. To pursue only what can only be acquired in hard currency at the expense of relationship costs us the best part of ourselves.

      June 18, 2012

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