The Hoon Dok Family Church Breakthrough in Brazil

Home Group Festival

By George Kazakos and Glenn Strait

“I want all of you to learn from the Brazilian [and Philippine] situation and take it with you back to your home. …If you are willing to change, miracles can happen.”

True Mother during the Foundation Day 2014 meetings (paraphrase)

George KazakosGlenn_Strait_edited-1

Right now in Brazil many people are joining. Their strategy does not involve new individual ideas. We have heard most of the ideas and strategies before. What is distinctive is the way it is being done, not what’s being done. We Americans humbly need to learn from our brothers and sisters of FFWPU Brazil.

In the post-Foundation Day era of Cheon Il Guk when “True Parents have perfected, concluded, and completed the providence of restoration [through indemnity] and have begun a new era” (True Mother, “Korea Global Joint Worship Service,” May 11, 2014), we can expect to discover new openings for personal and collective growth.

The Brazilian Hoon Dok Family Church model appears to demonstrate one such opening by integrating some of the functions of Inreach, Outreach, and Education into the mutually reinforcing components of Small Groups, Witnessing, and One-on-one Divine Principle Teaching.

Within that model, revitalization of the church community, though profound in itself, is likely not as significant as the witnessing breakthrough that taps directly into the networks of new members. This development would be essential for achieving their growth pattern of starting slowly then later accelerating rapidly.

Continue Reading→

A God of Second Starts


By Tyler Hendricks

tyler_hendricks_edited-1We find ourselves in 2014, when the spirit of “we’re marching to the blessed land of Canaan with delight” is a little harder to come by. We no longer have the power of True Father shielding us. As a consequence, are we bound for demoralization and decline? Or will God’s revolutionary movement maintain and grow?

Let me start by saying that the church was just as messy before I joined as it is now, but somehow God worked through it to save my life. God’s given me more than one second start. God also does that for churches as a whole.

When it comes to second starts, the Jesus movement has had many. It is a religion that continually renews and reshapes itself. Pentecost was the first episode. The foundation for that was that the followers, although demoralized, united in prayer and fellowship. The Holy Spirit came, and Peter gave it a voice in the public square. Even if the dramatic sermon recorded in Acts, Chapter 2, didn’t really save 3,000, what the early Jesus community accomplished changed the world.

They were able to articulate the core gospel, which turned lemons — the crucifixion of a discredited Messiah — into lemonade: salvation through the resurrected Christ who shed his blood to redeem you from sin. Peter and the early community affirmed everything that had come to pass, while giving a dose of judgment to those who murdered Christ, and called it all something God would build on. Then they gave a simple prescription for what the people should do: repent, accept Jesus, be baptized, and follow his way.

The next great reshaping was Paul’s ministry, and I won’t go into that or the 2,000-year story of constant new starts, but will mention one that I observed — the Jesus movement emerging out of a stagnating Protestant mainstream in the early 1970s. This movement gave us mega-churches, cell churches, independent Bible churches, the Religious Right, and, oh yes, Christian rock.

Continue Reading→

The Meaning of Humankind

God and Eve Detail

By Dave Tranberg

Dave TranbergWe exist in a world in the throes of great conflict, wherever we turn, internally and externally. There seem to be nothing but conflicting worldviews, animosity and strife. How human beings view ourselves is at the core of this conflict, and also the basis of progress we make towards becoming a true and peaceful society.

At the root of these different points of view is the conceptualization of exactly what humanity is. Are we just a lump of animated carbon? Or an animal? Are we God’s child? Or a “god” in our own right? It seems every culture, ethnicity and race has a different view of this important question.

The ramifications of this point of view cannot be overstated. Every action we take, as individuals, families, societies, and even as a world, depends on the answer we adopt.

The materialist-humanist side of this argument relies on old theories of reality based on Newtonian physics of the last century. The religious side of the controversy tends to rely on scripture, itself millennia old.

Today, we have clear scientific evidence for the ancient origins of man, yet the religious side of the controversy does not have a way to digest that evidence. On the other hand, the materialist side has no answer for the endlessly malleable, creative and faithful nature of mankind, other than “chance.” This is a very unsatisfactory answer for most people.

What is needed is an understanding of humanity that takes both views into consideration: humankind’s connection to the natural animal world, as well as the origins and ramifications of our eternal, spiritual nature. We must clearly explain “man the animal” and “man the eternal spirit.”

Continue Reading→

BBC Interview: Twenty Years After the Death of Kim Il Sung


 Dr. Antonio Betancourt meeting President Kim Il Sung in January 1994.

Kim Il Sung passed away 20 years ago on July 8. The BBC World Service broadcast an interview (click here to listen to the full interview) with Unificationist Dr. Antonio Betancourt on meeting President Kim five times (on the foundation of Reverend and Mrs. Moon’s visit with the North Korean leader in 1991), being in Pyongyang when he died, and,  with Dr. Bo Hi Pak, attending Kim’s state funeral. Dr. Betancourt is currently Director, Office of Peace and Security Affairs, UPF International, in Washington, D.C., and Secretary General of the Summit Council for World Peace. A nine-minute podcast of the BBC interview may also be downloaded here.

In an analysis of the missed opportunities 20 years ago upon Kim’s passing, AU Blog Managing Editor Dr. Mark P. Barry posted an essay on, the leading site for researchers and journalists on North Korea, that provides an overview of what could have happened on the Korean Peninsula over the past two decades. Dr. Betancourt provided valuable assistance in the essay, and a great debt of gratitude is owed to Dr. Bo Hi Pak for his unique insights in Chapter 21 of Messiah: My Testimony to Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Vol. II. London’s The Guardian newspaper picked up Dr. Barry’s article days later, providing a vastly wider online readership, and he was also interviewed at length by South Korea’s OhMyNews.

World Peace Center

The World Peace Center in Pyongyang (photo taken in December 2011 upon the 20th anniversary of Reverend and Mrs. Moon’s visit). The Peace Center was later used to receive condolence visitors upon the passing of Reverend Moon.

Continue Reading→

What is “Attendance”? Musings on a Core Unificationist Practice


By Andrew Lausberg

75995_459821110372_999357_nAccording to the Unification Principle, the Completed Testament era is the one in which human beings are to resurrect both spiritually and physically, justified by attendance. As one of the fundamental concepts of the practice of Unificationism taught by Reverend Moon, a clear understanding of “attendance” seems critical.

When looking at the question “What is attendance?”, one has to factor in Korean and, to a lesser extent, Far Eastern culture. On the other hand, Korean culture alone cannot provide a complete answer to this question because it has never yet risen to the level of a Completed Testament culture. The answer must bring together Completed Testament elements (as introduced through Father Moon, e.g., the supremacy of true love, purpose of creation, human responsibility) with the Korean context (Confucianism, Korean history, Korean character and environment).

In Korean, the word we use to signify attendance is 모심 — [moshim] (attendance, pronounced “moe + shim”) or 모심생활 [moshim saeng hwal] (attendance life/practice). Moshim derives from the verb 모시다 [moshida], which is related but not identical to the Japanese concept of [haberu] 侍る. The cultural interpretations of Korean and Japan are different when dealing with “attendance.”

Considering Korean culture, we should recognize that it comprises both “fallen” aspects, which we should avoid, and “original” (unfallen) elements we should learn to recognize and embrace. Unfortunately, just as is the case with Unificationists from other cultures, Korean Unificationists can also fall into cultural traps. A fallen expression of “attendance” in the Korean mode would be, for example, the expression of false loyalty, or the giving of reports designed to make Father (or the leader) “happy” but which, in fact, misrepresent how things actually are. This corrupted form of attendance is the semblance of loyalty at the cost of true inner service. It pays lip service with the primary goal of maintaining one’s position or perks, or avoiding difficulty.

Continue Reading→

A Principled Approach to Tackling Inequality

File photo of a rubbish collector carrying a bag on her back as she walks past a construction site near a recently finished residential complex in Hefei

By Graham Simon

gs-1308Income inequality has come to the fore as the most pressing economic and social issue facing the world today. According to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report 2013, 0.7% of the world’s inhabitants possess 41% of its wealth, 10% have 86%, and the poorest 50% hold a mere 1%.

A new book by French economist Thomas Picketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has topped the bestseller lists. Picketty’s central thesis, supported by a wealth of historical data, is that over time the relative gains to owners of capital in peacetime economies are significantly higher than the returns to labor. His book proves beyond doubt what everyone has long known – the richer get richer while the poor get poorer, at least in relative terms. Pope Francis tweeted in April that “Inequality is the root of social evil.” Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, recently added her voice to the debate, warning that rising inequality threatens global financial stability, democracy and human rights.

While all may agree that inequality can tear nations apart, there is no consensus on the solution. Policy proposals to reverse inequality center upon taxation and redistributive measures. These are inevitably contentious. When owners of wealth, who came by their riches honestly, legitimately and, in their opinion, deservedly, are forcibly dispossessed through taxation or government fiat, resentment arises. If those same governments then expend the proceeds wastefully or corruptly, this resentment only deepens.

But there is another approach. It requires a basic understanding of economics and the application of some principled thinking.

Understanding Economics

The starting point of economics is scarcity. With scarcity comes the need to make choices. The economic cake is not infinite in size and there are a lot of hungry mouths to feed. The two perennial questions nations seek to address are how best to make the cake bigger and how to divide it up.

Continue Reading→

The Sin in the Garden of Eden and Where America Is Headed


By Bruce Sutchar

bruce_sutcharGrowing up Jewish, I never understood original sin. I can remember my non-religious parents equating original sin with something that Christians believed, regardless that the story is wholly contained in the Book of Genesis. For those growing up in the 1950’s, the baby boomer generation continued the age-old tradition that no one ever talked about sex.

I remember in eighth grade we had a sex education class. This left me with the understanding that parents could conceive a child even though they slept in twin beds (just like all the TV parents on “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best”).

I remember a friend telling me that when he was 14 he had visited a 13-year-old girl in her home when her mother was not there. The mother then called his father about the matter. One day his father, while sitting in the backyard mentioned the fact to him as he was walking by. He said, “Now that you are older you have to take more responsibility.” My friend was so embarrassed that he just kept on walking. And that was the only conversation that they would ever have concerning sex.

I grew up in the era before AIDS. In my generation, gonorrhea and syphilis were the only dangers from unprotected sex. I remember in high school several boys in my class had an experience with a prostitute and were so that maybe they had contracted syphilis. I also had one friend who was frightened to death that his date might have gotten pregnant (I grew up with a group of friends who never drank even beer or smoked, so imagine the impact of the above two incidents)

As I entered college, like every one of my best friends, I was still a virgin (how does that compare to the average high school graduate today?). I remember being so disappointed because one of the elders in my fraternity, whom I really looked up to, had to move out of our fraternity house because he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant.

Continue Reading→

Let’s Hear It for the Dysfunctional Family


A review essay of the 2013 films “American Hustle,” “August: Osage County” and “Blue Jasmine.”

By Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2If it were not for animated films, I’m not sure our children would see anything in today’s popular media that would recommend the beauty and value of marriage and family. Too many films that received Oscar nods this year portrayed marriage and family as either a lost cause or totally dysfunctional. I’m referring to three where either the film or its lead actors were nominated for the 2014 Academy Awards: “American Hustle,” “August: Osage County” and “Blue Jasmine.”

The acting in each was Oscar-worthy. However, anyone watching those films would come to the conclusion that the American family is lost forever and there is little hope of anyone reclaiming the ideal God envisioned for marriage and family.

Set in the 1970s, “American Hustle” portrays a con artist, Irving (Christian Bale), and his girlfriend, Sydney (Amy Adams), who spend their days setting up Ponzi and get-rich-quick schemes. Unfortunately, they get caught in a sting operation led by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper). To avoid charges, Irving suggests he can help the FBI set up a major undercover operation that will expose a mafia boss and local politician. An elaborate operation is set up to catch the newly-elected mayor of Camden and a major mafia boss in the act of defrauding the citizens of New Jersey. There are plots and sub-plots with so many twists that the viewer isn’t quite sure until the very end who is crooked, who isn’t, who will end up in prison, and who will walk away.

But the sub-theme running throughout the film is the relationship between Irving, Sydney and his wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and young son. Irving views himself as a good husband and father, despite that he’s a con artist and has a mistress.

Continue Reading→

Perverse Incentives: When Uncle Sam Becomes Dr. Ruth

Capitol in Shadow copy

by Richard Panzer

Richard_PanzerEvery area of life involves choices that have a moral dimension. Whether we enter careers in business, education, government, science, health, art, or religious ministry, each one of us needs to be aware of incentives that could bring us closer to or further away from the original purpose that motivated us to begin with. After all, each system has its own openly stated, or sometimes hidden, incentives.

In this context, the recent article by Scott Simonds provides a valuable discussion about the role of government and its benefits to society. He makes compelling arguments, and certainly there are many dedicated people doing important work in government service, but if one looks closely, it also becomes apparent that governmental incentives can lead to the opposite of what any fair-minded person would want.

The federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) program, where substantial benefits are offered to mothers with dependent children based on one main condition — that the mothers not be married — is just a small part of a larger, disturbing pattern.

Simonds expresses doubt that religious agencies would be able to take on the burden of caring for the needy in this country. Maybe so, but when Uncle Sam gets involved there are often strings attached. Consider government actions that force religious organizations that do help those in need to choose between following government regulations and the dictates of their faith. Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington, DC, have been forced to shut down because they believe that, all else being equal, it is best for orphans to be placed with an adopting mother and father who are married. Isn’t that what most Americans believe? Isn’t that what you and I believe? Even if not, shouldn’t there be room for diversity in adoption agency policies? After all, isn’t the goal to help more, not less, orphans find loving homes? How does shutting down faith-based agencies help needy orphans?

Continue Reading→