Jesus Heaven, Unbelief Hell - Chapter 6
On that day, I cancelled my rent contract and threw away everything unnecessary.
I withdrew all the money from my bank account in large 50,000 won bills, piled them up in a large duffel bag, and left the house with just the minimum necessary clothes and daily necessities.
To erase all traces my existence, I scrapped the PC containing my personal information, and called a cleaning company to clean it up before I left the house.
I took out my ID from the wallet. The ID photo still had a youthful vibe. There was also a family photo taken when I was much younger.
Ahh, Representative Han. You are no longer even a Representative, and yet you have regrets.
I crushed the hard plastic ID in my hand, crumpling it and flushing it down the sewer.
I tore up the picture of a little kid frowning as he held his parents’ hands in front of a church, and I tore up the old memories that came with it.
The faded photograph I had carried with me for nearly twenty years was no longer a link connecting me to my parents. It was just a by-product of the past binding my feet.
“If you were alive, you would have come to see me.”
Even though my parents always made me skip dinner and copy the Bible whenever I made a mistake.
Even so, I know they always made time to stay with me over the weekends, and on Christmas they became Santa Claus and left presents at my bedside.
If only I hadn’t quarrelled with my friends at school that day, if I hadn’t run out recklessly while being scolded by my parents and teachers, and if I hadn’t been spending time alone, far from home, late into the night.
If so, would my life have been very different from now?
“Unfortunately, that was also a choice.”
I am tired of this world where even the childish behaviour of a kid who knows nothing and cannot properly control his mental illness is regarded as a ‘choice’.
Because I made such a choice when I was young, I lost my parents, grew up as an orphan, moved back and forth between my relatives’ houses, and ultimately ruined my social life?
If such a dog-like fate was also God’s will, that is something I will gladly deny and disaffirm.
I didn’t flush the ripped-up pieces of the photo down the sewer. Instead, I walked straight to the Han River. As the chilly autumn wind blew, I scattered those remnant fragments of old memories towards the jet-black waterway.
There was nothing left of Representative Han anymore.
Come to think of it, I did quit working in the office, but I feel the title of Representative Han is pretty decent. Doesn’t it sound professional, as if you have a certain rank stipulated by society?
I fastened my coat at the front and pressed down my hat. As the darkness descended, I crawled into the city that was revealing its nocturnal splendour.
‘Compared to them, I fall far short.’
The exorcist and the deacon had been waiting for me at the bar, one step ahead of me, tracking my actions and mindset while I wandered around the city mindlessly.
They could not secure CCTV footage, but they still connected me to the first serial murder case through the testimony of the hophouse owner. They were experts who succeeded in tracking me and anticipating my course.
Although their exorcism was not able to corrode my spirit and belief, their resourcefulness was indubitably great.
Rather, they were able to find out my identity when even the police hadn’t succeeded, and moved one step ahead of me. Not to mention their skills and intelligence, you have to applaud their personal connections in this industry.
Actually, I couldn’t have expected the bar owner to be acquainted with the priest’s party, and to even secretly mix holy water in my drink at their order.
It’s really great.
Because it’s so great, they are able to preach the will of that handsome God with their own upright beliefs and faith.
So, I have to imitate them too.
‘Right now, I am just an ordinary person. Knowledge, experience, connections in this industry – everything is lacking.’
I didn’t have even have the least bit of basis on which to build my future operations.
Oh, but there was just one thing I was better at.
I was able to distinguish the sinners in the crowd walking around the city under the brilliance of night.
One who has committed a light sin, one who has committed a serious crime, one who will commit a crime in the future, one who will live as a good person for the rest of his life, a doll struggling with something not born of his own will, or a being not even human.
I stood still at the centre of the crowd, observed the various groups of people, and recorded their similarities and differences.
When the work that seemed unending was finally over, it was around the gloomy dawn when people no longer wandered around the streets.
Soon, the morning sun will rise again and rush hour will begin for office workers, but I didn’t want to keep standing in the middle of the street and repeat the tedious work of recording and sorting.
Because, at least, I got a feel for it.
Just like researching market information before starting a business, I too had a mountain of things I needed to know before entering this industry.
As it was not worth wasting even a minute or even a second, I left the downtown area without any regrets and headed for the large library in Seoul.
By the time I arrived there on foot, the library door was open, since it was morning already.
From there, I crawled into a remote unpopular nook, and started to read. Mainly, books about various religions and histories.
When did I become such a fast reader? It took me only ten minutes to read a thick book. So I continued to the next book, and then the one after that.
After finishing all the books that had piled up beside me like a mountain, I brought a new book and continued reading.
The librarian at the counter was sending me a puzzled look, but I just kept reading. Over and over again.
Fundamentally speaking, what is religion? What is human history according to religion, or does history have a deep religious connection? What did people in history think of religion, and furthermore, how did society as a whole come to accept religion? I devoured every single scrap of information without taking a breath.
The earliest primitive religions in human history did not have a distinct god.
For example, the god of lightning was not called Zeus, the god of wisdom was not called Odin, and the mother of all things was not praised as Gaia.
Ancient humans, who lived hard lives, venerated natural disasters which were also blessings of nature itself, as gods; and celebrated abundance. Naturally, they also practiced offering sacrifices to quell the wrath of nature, which is the opposite of the fertility festival.
In the first place, the God who has the largest number of believers on Earth was not even the first god in history.
From a Christian perspective, God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning, formed all things, and called it the Garden of Eden.
Adam, the first human and a male born in this way, felt lonely and appealed for a mate, wherefore God took out one of his ribs and fashioned Eve from it, who was the first woman and mother.
Then God said, “Adam and Eve, you may eat freely of all the trees in the garden, except for one. Do not partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
To this, Adam and Eve bowed their heads to their great Creator and Parent, God, and replied that they would obey. But in the Garden of Eden, where everything was perfect, some imperfect existences already existed.
One was the fruit of good and evil that was unnecessary for humans, and the other was an evil serpent that was looking for opportunities to push humans into the abyss of evil.
The serpent first tempted Eve to get the forbidden fruit, and then Eve seduced Adam into eating it.
Adam and Eve, who until then had neither the knowledge of nor the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ because they had not eaten the fruit, were fooled by the deceitful tongue of a vicious serpent and committed a great sin.
Because they did not have the knowledge and wisdom to distinguish between good and evil, ironically, they easily fell into the abyss of evil.
Because their great Creator and Parent did not show Adam and Eve how to tell the difference between good and evil.
Just because he gave an unexplained command, “Do not partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Thus, the stories spoke of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden, and of mankind’s beginning, from the Old Testament in the Bible to the New Testament and to modern society.
As I closed the last chapter of the Bible that Father Sung had, I once again felt the contradictions in God’s behaviour and the absurdity of the world, and set out to find more knowledge to understand it.
If God did so, there must have been a good reason.
You have to search, and search, and search again. Otherwise, you too will stumble at some point and fall into the cracks of contradiction. Imperfection is the greatest weakness.
“It’s closing time soon. I’m sorry, but you have to leave soon.”
At the librarian’s careful request, I checked my smartphone with its half-broken screen.
The battery was still charged because it was not used often, but the time was getting close to 10 o’clock at night. That meant I’d been reading books here all day.
“Excuse me. I’ll just organize my books and leave.”
“No, no. I’m the librarian, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
The librarian chased me out with a slightly tired face, so I left the library with a mountain of books she had organized.
Still not enough.
I need to know more.
I have to go through a lot more, experience a lot more, to become an expert.
Otherwise, I too would be as jejune as that Father Sung who couldn’t break my faith.
A single man in a coat carrying a duffel bag containing tens of thousands of won definitely was an uncommon sight in Seoul. In other words, I looked like a careless idiot who could be devoured in moderation.
As proof of that, I ran into a group of high school students smoking cigarettes as I passed an alleyway between the shops.
“Hey, uncle. Come here and open your bag.”
“Hey, he looks homeless, does he even have anything?”
“There are a lot of homeless people like that carrying a lot of stuff around.”
“Yeah, the homeless guy we robbed last time had a lot of alcohol and cigarettes in his bag, right?”
“It’d be great if it’s alcohol.”
Even in the dark, I could see the sins of the students giggling as they approached me.
In fact, just calling them sins didn’t properly describe their crimes. The deeper, the more, and the older the oily black aura lingering on you, the more sinful you are.
I sensed no small sin in these kids who hadn’t even become adults yet.
“Hey, uncle. Quickly open the bag… Guhk!”
As I swung my fists, my hands began to ache as I wasn’t used to such impacts.
The bastard who got hit with a bang fell down for a moment, and the others rushed at me haphazardly.
I was kicked, punched, hit and pushed against a wall, but I didn’t stop.
Even as my nose bled, the skin on my fists peeled off, even as my whole body throbbed like all my bones had cracked, I silently kept fighting.
“Aak! Aak! Why this fucking bastard…”
“Is this bastard drunk? He isn’t going down even after so many hits!”
“How long can a drunk bastard fight! Just step on it!”
Yeah, feel free to step on it. Because I’m going to step on it too.
After stumbling over each other and repeatedly stepping on each other like crazy, I finally stood in front of them with my face puffy and swollen, and my nose bleeding.
The kids fallen down before me were groaning, looking at me with fear in their eyes.
However, it is not me that you should be afraid of, but the poor victims you have wronged and tormented.
And as a bonus, be afraid of the handsome one who shall judge little bastards like you at the end of days.
I grabbed the head of the bastard who was the most sinful of the bunch.
“Do you want me to kill you, or do you want to believe in Jesus?”
 The myth usually goes that God instructed Adam, although Eve was definitely aware of the command.