Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 8

Working for the weekends and living for the weekends are much different. I think once we move beyond high school jobs or enter adulthood (which happens somewhere between 25 and 65) we no longer are working for the weekends, but actually living for them. I try not to think about it too much, but it's impossible sometimes. Work gets in the way of a lot of things and I would think my secular jobs would get in the way of heaven. After all, I earn money and buy things on earth. Colossians 3:2 would lead me to believe that my earthly urges aren't important though. Buddha and God match again, here.
"Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth."
Still, I earn money so I can buy some stuff. For instance, today is a beautiful Saturday and the Hogan family is heading to the park. I live in Seoul. There are 24 million people around me. They ruin everything. They ruin my sleeping and waking hours. They ruin my water and air. They ruin my commute to and from work. And above all else, they ruin nature. Seoul is surrounded by mountains, but the beauty and calm they should provide is ruined by the herds of middle-aged people throwing themselves to the top whilst chanting company slogans or other equally nonsensical mantras as they acsend the rocks. However, my wife and I know a spot that most Koreans don't take to all that much. Han river beaches.

It's simply too dirty or windy or buggy or chilly or something for most Koreans, so it's perfect for us. We can let our dog off his leash while the two of us relax in the warm spring air that finally decided to visit Korea. In fact, we have such a good time there that we've named it "Bear's Beach" (after our dog) and will continue to rock out there. My favorite part of this beach is not just the relative calm and privacy it offers. That's great, but the best part of it is what the task of getting to the beach has taught me about my wife and myself.

We live in Gangnam.  In fact, we're in the very center of it. Flashy clothes, more than ten huge screen TVs that make Time Square look like an ancient relic and upscale bars. Our rent is crazy expensive, the area is filled with young professionals and the streets are littered with imported cars. The term yuppie wouldn't work here. It's not obnoxiuos enough to capture the absurd lengths some of the locals go to in order to display their wealth. And somewhere in the middle of all that is my little family.

We live well, though. We have a six-figure income; can travel the world anytime we want and receive a very low amount of stress from work and family. One might think we'd be living it up with the rest of the locals, but we don't. We don't buy expensive clothes, nor do we flaunt our money. In fact, I prefer sandals, an old Tennessee shirt from 1986 and packing shorts that I bought 10 years ago. And to get around the city, we use a motor-scooter that cost us a little over a thousand bucks two years ago. It's that motor-scooter that we use to get to the park that's about 4km from our house.

We load up a fully-packed cooler; two tents (one four-man and another we use for shade); three ground mats; a grill; a couple packs full of supplies; two people and a dog. Most people laugh at us. Sure, some might laugh because it looks cute or absurd, but many of them laugh because we look ridiculously out of place. I once asked my wife if she was ever embarassed about our appearance and she responded, "Who cares? We're happy and having fun, right?"

She was right and eventhough it was unintended, she taught me something about satisfaction. Buddha really stressed satisfaction as well and I really dug it, so I'm thrilled to see this in the Bible. Also, I'm a sucker for a good parable and Luke 12: 16-20 nails it for me.
Then Jesus told them this parable: "There was once a rich man who had land which bore good crops.  He began to think to himself, 'I don't have a place to keep all my crops. What can I do? This is what I'll do' he told himself". I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I will store the grain and all my other goods. Then I will say to myself, Lucky man! You have all the good things you need for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and enjjoy yourself.'  "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself ?'
He's right. Regardless of faith, it's about living decently and creating memories rather than accumulating stuff. I like Luke. Nothing weird though. We're just friends.


  1. LOL..

    " Seoul is surrounded by mountains, but the beauty and calm they should provide is ruined by the herds of middle-aged people throwing themselves to the top whilst chanting company slogans or other equally nonsensical mantras as they acsend the rocks."

    not only a terrible version of what I've observed on mountain climbs - the best and most sharing Koreans - but written in and Old Testament style..

    with "herds," "chanting," and "nonsensical" as the key words...

    There is some stupid religion I don't subscribe to..

    but it has this clever saying you might be able to complete..

    "For with what judgment ye judge.."

    I dunno.. maybe not..

  2. Gosh, I got right beyond that part (mountain climbing Koreans) of this post to the focus on materialism vs. NOT.

    You have never been has to almost force you to shop for anything! That is pretty amazing considering the environment in which you grew up.

    Go has such a balanced outlook on life also. You are lucky to have found each other.

  3. I agree with the Geezer. She, Carole, and I have always thought of you as the air fern, someone who can not only survive but thrive on next to nothing. Greg is a lot like that. Good traits.

    Luke, the physician, is probably my favorite Gospel author -- poetic, human, inspirational, and so very simple.

    So what does your sister think about all this? It's her world.

  4. Harriet,

    It's probably the environment I grew up in that made me go the opposite direction. And don't worry about Charles. He likes to nitpick.


    Agreed there. Luke is easily my favorite. I'm waiting for Kristin to chime in, but the whole mother-of-two thing might be slowing her a bit.