“Noah”: The Limits of Patriarchal Religion

28NOAH-blog427

By Andrew Wilson

WilsonThe new film “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, has received mixed reviews. It partakes of the dark dystopian and apocalyptic spirit of so many contemporary Hollywood movies that is a turn-off to people seeking more wholesome and family-oriented fare. But if you sit through it, you will at least be rewarded with an encounter with some serious theology.

This is no simple-minded Bible movie. Director Darren Aronofsky said it is “the least biblical movie ever made.” He takes considerable liberties, including not giving Noah’s three sons each a wife to accompany them in the ark and portraying the Nephilim (Gen. 6:4) as Transformer-like rock monsters that defend Noah and help him build the ark. He makes the villain, Tubal-Cain, a stowaway in the ark and gives him some fine lines where he declares his resentment against God for abandoning humanity to destruction. Many Christian fundamentalists will take offense.

But adherents of the Divine Principle can find much to cheer about.

Continue Reading→

Russia, Crimea, Ukraine and Beyond

 VOA-Crimea-Simferopol-airport
by David Stewart

David Stewart_edited-1In a sermon I gave in Kiev in late 1991, I warned that the Israelites, upon escaping slavery in Egypt, still had to endure 40 years of suffering in the desert. So it has been for the Ukraine since the break-up of the Soviet Union. I had arrived there as a missionary a few months before and would stay in Kiev until the end of 1994, when my family moved to Moscow.

Warning of a potentially troubled future, I was reminded of the words of Leon Trotsky: “The Ukrainian question, which many…have tried to forget or to relegate to the deep strongbox of history…is destined in the immediate future to play an enormous role in the life of Europe.” Despite its own desires, Ukraine remains caught between two powers far greater than itself – Europe and Russia.

In December 1991, I witnessed Lenin’s massive head finally separated from his shoulders, hanging motionless from a crane above us at October Square (now Independence Square) in Kiev. The wildly cheering crowd was bursting with hope this would be the beginning of the end of Lenin’s communist legacy and the start of real freedom and a brighter future.

Ukraine had suffered the horrors of Stalin’s “dekulakization,” forced famine, the Holodomor (1932-33 extermination by hunger, with up to 10 million dead), “Russification,” the horrors of World War II (up to seven million Ukrainian dead), and life after the war under the heel of Moscow. It just wanted to be free and decide its own future.

Continue Reading→

The Evolution of God: When Evolution is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve

Evolution_vs__Creation_by_geekblz

By Larry Moffitt

Larry_Moffitt_edited-1I don’t approve of the way the argument over evolution has evolved. Darwin thoroughly yanked the chain of collective Christianity regarding natural selection.

And suddenly, by the standards of Christianity at that time, it became mandatory that an evolutionist also be an atheist.

However, Darwin was also a gnarly racist, claiming superiority of white over black. And he was a sexist, writing in his autobiography, “the average mental power in man must be above that of women.” Oddly, these two notions didn’t bother the Christian establishment one bit in 1859. That’s the part of Darwin they liked. Robber barons like J. D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, along with Karl Marx and Hitler, liked those parts as well, in addition to natural selection. Bummer.

Today, most religious people accept that a faster wolf will catch more bunnies and give birth to better bunny hunters, and that Leonardo Da Vinci’s kid was probably a good artist too. The original burr under the saddle of Christianity is a non-issue these days

Continue Reading→

Flesh and Bones: Experimental Outreach and Church Orthodoxy

Group of smiling friends standing against white background

By Scott Simonds

SSimonds_1The Unification Movement and our close cousins, evangelical Christianity, are struggling to engage young adults between the ages of 18 and 29.  David Kinnaman, a sociologist with the Barna Group research firm and author of unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why It Matters, analyzed data on what people in this demographic think about evangelical Christianity, and why it matters for outreach ministries.

While researching how “Outsiders” — those outside the church — view Christianity, he also discovered common reasons why young believers are leaving the church, which he documented in his follow-up book, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith.

Kinnaman and the Barna Group have delineated and characterized four generations which form the backdrop for his book: Elders, Boomers, Busters, and Mosaics.

Elders are characterized as having grown up in homogenous communities, engaged in organized churches, they are patriotic, and had limited means of communication outside of their neighborhoods.  They lived through the Great Depression, World War II and the Korean War.

Continue Reading→

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

arrow-road

By John Redmond

JohnRedmond2On the first anniversary of Foundation Day, Sam Nagasaka, project manager of the Vision 2020 Project of FFWPU International, presented in Today’s World a strategic planning document. It describes a process that each nation and city can follow to align their efforts with the current highest providential priority. Mr. Nagasaka (UTS class of 2000) served as a vice president for PR and marketing with World CARP International HQ and was part of the strategic task force team of Japan FFWPU HQ.

His document represents a significant change in the way strategic activities are developed in the movement.  Reverend Moon closely controlled strategic and tactical planning, seeking to move quickly and decisively, planning battles like a general, with short timelines and sacrificing long-term goals for short-term wins.  Based on his successful foundation, the shift to building and maintaining the movement for long-term effectiveness requires a different approach.

Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon has set large general goals, but expects the central blessed families to take the time and make the effort to plan and execute strategies and tactics for success in the areas of their local and national responsibilities.  Headquarters can’t effectively decide what your community does best and how to make a community that attracts young families; only those who know the local area and culture can be successful at that.

Continue Reading→

Leaving a Legacy of Heart

inheritance copy

By Kim Barry

Kim BarryIn the past few years, I have studied about and met some truly amazing people and looked at the legacies they left by their lives, impacting those around them and their descendants.  We don’t often see first-hand the influence one person has had on the lives of others, but recently some of us were fortunate enough to experience this.

On March 1st, 400 people gathered at UTS for a seunghwa ceremony to celebrate the life and give our final farewell to Bruce Bonini.  He was not a major leader in our movement, and I’ve yet to see an announcement on an official church site about his passing. What drew so many to his final farewell?  It was his heart.

The large attendance of so many young people attested to the fact he had a big impact across generations.  Several young men gave tearful testimonies of how just a few wise, kind words from Bruce had life-altering impact on them.

Bruce was instrumental in the development of Shehaqua Family Camp in Pennsylvania, the Pocono Family Ministries, which has been such a great source of inspiration, education and community.  It would take a book to document the impact that Shehaqua has had on the lives of countless families. All of those who started and invested in that camp should be proud of its legacy. Bruce more recently had invested himself in developing a music ministry in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Continue Reading→

Can an Organization Stay Great without Its Visionary Leader?

steve_jobs_by_subhraj1t-d4l06mu -2_edited-1

By Mark P. Barry

Mark Barry Photo 2Last June, in “Lessons from Apple under Steve Jobs,” I suggested what Unificationists could learn from the experience of Apple under its founder. Nine months later, and two and a half years since Jobs’ passing, Apple is facing more skeptics than at any point since its turnaround 16 years ago.

Now, many are asking whether Apple without Jobs can continue to make transformational products that will delight users. The reason is nothing Apple has introduced since fall 2011 — when Jobs died — has been innovative or disruptive, but simply modest improvements of existing products.

Has Apple lost the essence of what made it great? Is it struggling to find new vision and identity after Jobs? And what can we learn from its current experience as Unificationists?

In the business world, two and a half years is generally not sufficient time to make any judgments — except in the world of high technology, where new products are constantly introduced, superseded, disposed, and market share frequently shifts.

Continue Reading→

Giving, Freedom and the Future

ph_2046_1296296702

By Richard A. Panzer

Richard_PanzerIt could be fairly said the defining element of those who identify with the Unification Movement is that at one time or another in our lives, we have been touched by the teachings of Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. Reflecting on Father’s legacy, I have asked myself what is the core message he strove to leave behind? If I had to choose one word to describe Rev. Moon, what would that be?

For me, that one word would be: giving. To pick just two of countless times: his 14 hours of non-stop speaking about God’s nature, will and ideal I experienced in the 1980s at Belvedere; and when he returned during temporary releases from Danbury prison and spent that time telling us not to worry, that God would use his incarceration to further bless America. The main lesson, in my mind, was: here is a man who is constantly striving to find ways to give more and more.

While he was battling his federal court case in 1982, he launched The Washington Times, and in 1984, purchased 250 trucks to be used to deliver food to the needy shortly before entering prison. How many foreigners in the U.S. decide, while on trial or in prison, to spend more than a billion dollars of precious resources to serve the nation that incarcerated them?

Continue Reading→

The Seven Principles of Creation

Blue metal compass

By Stephen Stacey

Stacey copy_edited-1What does it mean to apply the Principle to life? Does it mean that we just understand that the world has the potential to be much more ideal than it is, and then go off and read the ideas of others who are succeeding in life? Or does it mean that within the Principle itself, and in the many speeches of Rev. Moon, there lie the principles upon which human beings can succeed in building a more beautiful world into the future.

For the last 10 years, because of my teaching work, I have had to ask this question every day. Over time, I believe I have gained new insights into how both the Principle and principle-related concepts are helpful in understanding human well-being and success.

My first deep insight was a revelation I received at 2 a.m. on a bus to Russia where I was to teach a marriage enrichment seminar eight years ago. Let’s start with a simple scenario.

If you were the head of a project team at work, what questions might you ask to be sure the project was on track? Some of your most important questions might be:

Continue Reading→