Book Review: “The Psychology of Prayer”


By Josephine Hauer

HauerThe Psychology of Prayer: A Scientific Approach, by Bernard Spilka and Kevin L. Ladd, New York: The Guilford Press, 2012. Excerpted from the Journal of Unification Studies, Vol. XIV, 2013. Dr. Hauer (UTS Class of 1990) is a family specialist for the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Psychology of Prayer: A Scientific Approach offers a dense yet remarkably useful tour de force through the last 30 years of social scientific research on prayer. It is a major contribution that highlights the expanding role of prayer in the psychology of religion. While authors Bernard Spilka and Kevin Ladd view prayer as a critically important personal religious activity, their discussion is uncompromisingly scientific and offers substantive insights and recommendations for an empirical study of this rich human experience. Locating prayer as a psychological phenomenon, the authors offer a straightforward conceptualization: “Prayer is the psychology of religion in action and literally reflects virtually every facet of behavioral scientific psychology, from its neural roots to complex social responsivity.”

This book is a useful introduction to the various ways researchers have approached prayer psychologically. My own experience of prayer seems to be more expansive than the categories covered, but this is understandable since empirical approaches necessarily slice up experience into quantifiable pieces. People have been praying for thousands of years, and it is heartening to see that social scientists are beginning to chart this vast territory replete with religious and psychological meanings.

Spilka and Ladd accomplish a remarkable undertaking, given the range of studies critically scrutinized. As respected leaders in this field, these authors stake out prayer’s central place in the psychology of religion….

⇒ Click to read the full book review from the 2013 Journal of Unification Studies.

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A New Model for How We Gather in Our Local Faith Communities


By Jack LaValley

Jack LaValleyAmerican Unificationist faith communities need to adopt a new model for worship. This will solve three major headaches currently facing our American movement: lack of numerical growth, aging local congregations and the absence of a compelling and persuasive national vision.

Robin Debacker’s recent article, The Present and Future of our Unificationist Sunday Service, provides a clear indication it is time for us to earnestly consider creating a new style and kind of worship program. I also believe the 1996 inauguration of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) in Washington, DC, marked the beginning point for the American movement to create and adopt a different model and style of worship.

A proposed new model

Under the old Sunday service model, we understood we were meeting to “hear the word of God” delivered through our local pastor (or someone else who volunteered to deliver a message). Through hearing the word, we would be edified and encouraged to better ourselves in all areas of our lives. Under the new model I’m proposing, the worship service style we’ve been using for the past 25 years will stop. Instead, we would start meeting as a faith community once every five weeks (maybe shorter or longer). When we do come together, we will do so with a different orientation and purpose for why we’re gathering.

This proposed new model calls for us to gather together and experience the presence of God as Blessed Central Families, without the burden of inherited sin and where all people can be “reborn” by receiving the Blessing from True Parents. Such a gathering will be, in effect, a recognition ritual where we share in how God’s love is revealed and experienced within the context of “Blessed Family Life.” Children will be recognized. Husbands and wives will be honored. Parents will be praised. Friends and neighbors will be invited to participate in this joyous gathering and they will want to return again and again to get more of the same.

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To Promote the General Welfare


By Scott Simonds and Megan Simonds

SSimonds_1In my previous article, “The Freedom Society: Headwing Thought or Tea Party Politics?”, I said I would next take up the issue of government spending on human services.

megan-simondsThe political right advocates for smaller government, addressing domestic issues of poverty and healthcare through private enterprise.

The left advocates for government agencies and programs to provide healthcare, a safety net for people temporarily in need and ongoing support for citizens who cannot “enjoy the blessings of liberty” independently as social responsibilities.

The right claims that government power should be limited to the common defense, brick and mortar infrastructure, law-making and law enforcement. For them, government’s basic purpose is to protect individual rights and freedoms and should keep its hands off the free market system.

Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this worldview, it is not complete. The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution includes the phrase:

…[To] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…

The right argues that protecting the free market system is promoting the general welfare. But is there such a thing as equal opportunity in a purely capitalist society? Do the values derived from capitalist principles, such as independence, self-reliance and faith, apply in every circumstance?

In fact, values such as “justice” and “compassion” (for those who cannot survive independently in civilized society) often conflict. Success and failure, right and wrong, are not as clear cut as some would have us believe.

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Anger and Our Modern World

Road rage

By Bruce Sutchar

bruce_sutcharAs we grow into adulthood our adolescent anger subsides beneath our productive lives, but at some point it could begin to rear its ugly head once again. One day you just lose it — you start yelling at a clerk in a store, something you had never done before. Then you begin yelling at people on the phone (like computer repair people) and your kids begin to wonder why you are always yelling, on the phone or at their mom and them.

Some people get continuously frustrated driving and began to develop anger for people who, for example, drive slowly in the left lane. They would drive by them very closely in the right lane and give them a dirty look and sometimes even slow down in front of them until they moved into the right lane. At night some even turn on their bright headlights from behind until the other car finally changes lanes.

Most of these people already had college or even graduate degrees. None had ever gotten into trouble before the above incidents either as youths or as adults. So why all this anger and detrimental behavior?

What is anger? It can be hurt or frustration at not being able to get one’s way. Psychologists say that when a man is hurt he expresses anger and when a woman gets angry she expresses hurt.

Some people develop different levels of what is called a “Don Quixote Complex.” That is, they think that they can change someone else’s behavior. In reality, the only thing that they can even possibly change is maybe themselves. Some people arrogantly think the world should acquiesce to their needs and desires while others narcissistically believe somewhat similarly, that the world revolves around them.

Divine Principle teaches some very simple lessons. Terms like “love your enemy,” “love your neighbor,” “live for the sake of others,” and “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3)

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“The Hundred-Foot Journey”: Food for the Soul

Film Review The Hundred Foot Journey

by Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2An old adage used to be that there were two constants in life: death and taxes. For the 21st century, it seems that we have two new constants: cultural conflict and food. The news is replete with stories of the latest cultural clash, whether it is Palestinian/Israeli, Black/White, Muslim/Christian, Ukraine/Russia, and on and on. There seems to be no end to the cultural conflicts.

Then there is food. Food plays an important role in our lives. The popularity of top shelf cooking shows attests to this point. Food sustains our life, it comforts us during stressful or difficult times and it brings people together. It certainly isn’t by accident that food has played an important role in Christian ministry and spiritual life. Whether it is the feeding of the 5,000, the Last Supper with the disciples, or Holy Communion, food has been intimately connected with worship and liturgy. This is also true for other faith communities. Food’s ability to reconcile humanity — whether to God or with each other — and to heal our emotional and spiritual wounds is well understood.

This is what makes The Hundred-Foot Journey, based on a popular novel by Richard C. Morais, such a powerful and inspiring movie. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules; Chocolat), The Hundred-Foot Journey presents the challenges of getting along in our multicultural world and how food can be the vehicle for reconciliation and forgiveness during times of conflict as it focuses on the dynamic of a family from India and a French restaurateur.

The Kadam family business is food. The second son, Hassan, brilliantly played by Manish Dayal, is singularly blessed with a gift for cooking, a gift he inherited from his mother. Hassan is just beginning his training as a chef when his mother is tragically killed during a riot that also destroys the family’s restaurant. Having nothing left, the Kadam family leaves India and resettles initially in Great Britain before finally settling down in a small village in the south of France.

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Divine Principle, Quantum Physics and Interstellar Migration


by Richard L. Lewis

rlluti0289The Divine Principle is unequivocal in its view that the vastness of space, with its quintillions of stars, was carefully designed to be the home for humankind to mature, multiply and have dominion of love. This is implicit in the Divine Principle, since an unfallen human race would quickly outgrow a single planet.

In modern cosmology, the Earth is at the center of the visible universe, a sphere with a radius of 13.5 billion light years. The boundary is 80 quintillion miles away in every direction and is visible in the light of cosmic microwave background radiation. The modern concentric spheres are crystalline but it is the Earth that rotates so that our view of them repeats every 24 hours. These spheres are not simply spatial but spatiotemporal; as we observe farther away in space, we also observe farther back in time. The Sun, for example, is eight light-minutes distant in space and eight minutes in the past as we see it.

The only galaxy visible to the naked eye (other than the home galaxy we are embedded in, the Milky Way) is Andromeda, which is 2.5 million light years distant and we see it as it was 2.5 million years ago.

With a modern telescope, however, we can see billions of galaxies out as far as 12 billion light years and as they were 12 billion years ago. There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way and about the same number of galaxies in the visible universe. It is only recently that technology has developed to the point that it is apparent that most of these stars have planets revolving about them, the exoplanets.

In a True Love culture, we can reasonably expect the human population to double every 50 years or so. So Y years after Adam and Eve, the population P of the Earth would have grown to P(Y) = 2Y/50 and the exponential growth would reach, according to the logarithmic graph below, current population levels in only 1,500 years.

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The Present and Future of the Unificationist Sunday Service


By Robin Debacker

Photo on 2014-03-29 at 18.55 #2My husband and I were empty nesters when we realized that our expectations and needs were no longer being met by the weekly Sunday service. We were newcomers to Europe, having spent 12 years in Korea, but we’d been feeling the same there, too. An idea whose time has come, mixed with the need to become an agent of change, plus the prospect of a long, dark Belgian winter — these are what propelled me in fall 2013 to begin a survey that became a labor of love, and helped me identify what was missing, and what I could do about it.

I set about asking Unificationists in various parts of the world, “What is the format of your service, what inspires you, and what would you change if you could?” I realized quickly that many were also longing for a more authentic spiritual experience. The responses I received were thoughtful and honest and I think they deserve to be shared with the wider Unification community and beyond.

The process

My instincts told me to avoid using SurveyMonkey and make personal contact with each person instead. I sent a private Facebook message to 930 people from September through November 2013. I was blocked three times, and Facebook eventually threatened to shut me down permanently, which halted the surveying stage and kick-started me into the data-coding process.

By that time I had collected 350 responses — two-thirds from the 50+ age group, and 103 from second gen. Meant to take the temperature of the average Unificationist, this grassroots survey focused primarily on people who are not in leadership positions. They came from 195 cities around the world — 38 states in the U.S. and 32 countries worldwide. Because so many thanked me for asking them, I called it the Thankyou4asking! project.

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The Growth Period: An Opportunity for the Unification Movement


By John Redmond

JohnRedmond2My niece recently had a baby. My family and I went to see him after they recovered from the first wave of family visits. The great thing about a baby is that although he is tiny, all the pieces are there. He is in the formation stage.

In contrast, I have a teenager. Since he’s been gone for a few weeks, we’ve saved $15 or $20 a week on milk bills. He is not tiny at all; in fact, he’s pretty big.

When my kids were little and I said that clouds were made of dandelion fuzz that floated up and clumped together, they believed me because I was their dad. However, when they become teenagers in the growth stage, you can tell them the absolute truth and they won’t believe it. “Yes, that T-shirt looks really ugly, don’t wear it.” They wear it anyway. Your position shifts and your relationship changes.   In the growth period, all relationships shift and there is a different approach to how good things happen.

All things reach perfection (completion), after passing through a growth period, by the authority and power of God’s principle.  So this experience, passing from the formation stage to growth stage and at some point on to the completion stage, is not unusual or weird; it’s how things are supposed to work.

We, however, often get locked into a snapshot. We forget that things are going through a growth period and get stuck in a concept that things will always be like this. So, your kid is six or seven years old and he behaves a certain way. As he grows up a little and starts behaving in a different way, it surprises you.

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Chávez’s Legacy and Worsening Conditions in Venezuela


Venezuelans hoarding cornmeal flour.

By David Stewart

David Stewart_edited-1I had been in Caracas for just a few days in June when a friend called me and excitedly said, “I have good news. They are selling sugar here and each person can buy four kilos. Come quickly with whoever is at home.” It was a 20 minute bus ride away and then we had to wait over an hour in line. But one spurns such opportunities at one’s peril in Venezuela in recent years.

I never had this experience when living in Caracas in the late 1990s, but this is now the norm. When visiting in March, I asked a clearly irritated mother, just leaving a supermarket, how long she and her young son had waited to buy harina pan, the cornmeal flour used to prepare the Venezuelan staple arepa. “Three and a half hours” she snapped. I could only sympathize and decided not to wait in line myself. The shops are now forbidden to sell this most essential product to anyone under 18, as, with its sale being rationed on the rare occasions it can be bought, whole families wait together in line to maximize their purchasing power.

The harina pan and sugar story is the same for toilet paper, milk, coffee — indeed over 25% of all necessary staples are rationed, being rarely available, according to the last scarcity figures published by the central bank in January. Even the government admits that the poverty rate leapt from 21% to 27% last year, mainly because incomes failed to keep up with soaring inflation, now officially over 60%. The economy is set to shrink this year by at least 1% according to even the government’s predictions. Yields on Venezuela’s sovereign debt skyrocketed in the past year, to just under 14%, tops among 50 emerging markets tracked by JPMorgan Chase. The latest hard-to-find item — coffins!

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