Chinese Autumn

This afternoon I was walking in the golden-brown harvested fields of Kildare when I remember that it was Mid-Autumn Festival in China, Korea , Japan and much of the rest of Asia. As a celebration, it is rivaled only by the (Chinese) New Year.

The harvest is almost over in Ireland, and there are free ripe blackcurrants in the hedges, but we no longer celebrate one of the most important occasion in the ecological year.

At the recent China-European meeting near Cologne, this topic came up, indirectly.  Drawing on the wake-up message of Pope Francis , Laudato Si, we were reminded that people, technology and nature are all bound up together. When one is emphasised over the other two, the outcome is not good. When technology makes us forget that bread comes for the earth, not machines, and people become objects which technology steers into consumption and politically approved patterns, it is time to wake up.

In Cologne, behind the magnificent cathedral, we were reminded of this.

There was a monument to Adam Schall von Bell, born in Cologne in 1591, who became astronomical advisor to the Shunzhi Emperor in Beijing where he died aged 75. He introduced new technology into China, not as a way of controlling people but of opening their eyes to a wider world.

There is also the grave of  Vitus Chang, first Chinese bishop of Xinyang but forced to leave his country in 1949. He spent the rest of his life in Hong Kong, the Philippines and, finally, Cologne where he died in 1982.  The modern technology he encountered along the way did little to improve his life, it was the kindness of the people he engaged with.   

Must walk in the fields more often!

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