I remember visiting my grandmother’s house when I was a young girl living in Korea. I have fond memories of playing in the madang (a Korean term that describes a courtyard within a traditional Korean home). Most Korean homes are protected by a large metal fence around the house with a front gate that leads into the madang.
A typical part of Korean homes, the madang is much like a family room where family and friends gather to rest, talk, share, and engage with each other. Most of the rooms in the home are entered through the madang and thus it serves as a space for encounter and sharing, celebration and fellowship, greeting a visitor and welcoming a stranger. Perhaps the madang is something like the courtyard at the Cloisters in NYC, although the surrounding building is far larger than what my grandmother had. My grandmother’s home was very small with just 2 rooms leading away from the madang. Ancient and medieval European buildings, and many buildings in Europe are built on the same principle today.
The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches was held in Busan, Korea from October 30 to November 8, 2013. The churches, ecumenical organizations and groups created a madang with informative booths, cultural performers, and workshops. This madang became an energetic meeting place where individuals and groups continued ongoing conversations, shared, brainstormed, envisioned and reimagined.
The final message at the 10th Assembly asked churches and Christians to join in a “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace”. The participants in the Assembly adopted the message and many are now working on what it means to be on this “pilgrimage of justice and peace.”
Part of this journey involves addressing the pressing issue of environmental justice and peace with the earth. Environmental justice is intimately related to economic justice and we need to take both seriously. To emphasize and illustrate the link between these two intertwined issues, the WCC adopted the term eco-justice. There needs to be a strong mitigation of CO2 emissions by wealthy countries, so those countries still developing do not suffer from a burnt out planet, through no fault of their own. The environment affects our economy and the poor are the most affected.
Furthermore, without environmental justice, there cannot be peace. The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, held in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2011, clearly stated that there is “no peace on earth without peace with the earth.”
However, the way we have related to the earth is with little conservation and no restraint. We have lost any tradition of being stewards of the earth. This path of violence and domination may not lead to open war, but it is leading to the destruction of the earth.
Therefore, there is an urgent call to join together to work towards climate justice and environmental justice. We need to advocate for the earth and be at peace with the earth. We need to come into the madang of the earth and be in that space to share, communicate, fellowship, and greet a stranger and welcome a friend. We need to bring Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, individuals, communities, politicians, churches, and corporations into the madang, so all can challenge one another to live a life of stewardship rather than of greed, domination, and destruction.
We all need to call out to the God of life and ask God to lead us to justice and peace. We need to join together and work for social justice as the earth is crying out and pleading with us.
The Interfaith Summit on Climate Change, to be held in New York in September 2014, co-organized by the World Council of Churches and Religions for Peace can also be seen as a madang where religious leaders from different traditions come together to express their commitment for climate justice and peace with the earth. Furthermore, there will also be a call to the Heads of States to attend the Climate Summit organized by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to respond effectively to the threats posed by the climate crisis.
The madang can be a place for the world-wide church to work together and do something together to make a change in the world. We need to work towards transformation and discipleship so that there will be peace with earth and then we can all have peace on earth. The madang is open, let us come in, converse, envision and reimagine.
[read: Advocacy and Action]
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University. She is the author of 6 books, Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style” co-written with Joseph Cheah, Reimagining with Christian Doctrines co-edited with Jenny Daggers (Palgrave), Contemplations from the Heart (Wipf & Stock), Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit (Palgrave Pivot), The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press). She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora”.