Will We Ever Walk Justly?

Mother Emanuel

By Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2Headlines across the United States on June 18 blared the news of yet another shooting. The evening before, 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, spoke with its pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and participated in the weekly Bible study that had just begun. Towards the end of the session, Roof rose uttering racist remarks, pulled out a gun and began firing. He killed nine people, including Pinckney; three survived. The shooting has been called a hate crime, and Roof reportedly left a manifesto indicating he wanted to foment a race war.

The shooting is just another example of acts of injustice that haunt us every day. One would think that in the 21st century, amid cries for greater peace and harmony, and with a more educated populace, that incidents of injustice would be lessened and efforts to bring about a more just society would be more successful. Yet we continue to live with a seemingly endless parade of justice issues coming to the fore on a daily basis. We read of religious radicalism and fanaticism, poverty, starvation, human trafficking, global warfare, violence, sexual abuse, racial discrimination, internecine fighting — to name just a few. With all of our knowledge, wisdom, wealth, understanding of history, and our sophistication, why is it still so difficult to achieve a more just and loving world? What are we missing?

As Unificationists, we turn to Unification thought and theology to try to make sense of injustice and to answer the question of what it takes to live justly in the 21st century. However, Unification thought and theology are limited in terms of presenting a practical answer as to why it is so difficult to create a just world. At best, Unification thought and theology use only broad strokes to meet this challenge by presenting theories concerning ontology, original human nature, universal values, ethics, order and equality. Therefore, our challenge is to take these theoretical concepts and develop them to give a more effective practical understanding of how to address injustice.

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The Misinterpretation of Emperor Constantine’s Vision and Its Consequences

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By Rohan Stefan Nandkisore

EditorEmperor Constantine’s victory against Maxentius in 312 AD is commonly understood as the first battle under the banner of Christianity and seen as a major shift from its status as a persecuted religion of outlaws to the established power that would reign for over a millennia in the world. But is this really the case?

Emperor Constantine had a vision of a cross in the sky. This was interpreted by his advisors as a divine sign of good fortune in coming battle. The cross as a symbol of power in battle originated here. Until then, the cross and more so, the letter “p,” standing for pax or “peace,” were symbols for Christianity.

In still earlier times, the fish was the secret symbol for Christians. In the Greek language, ichthys was the word for fish. Each letter was the beginning of this message: Iesous Christos theou yios soter, “Jesus Christ, son of God, Savior.”

Until Constantine, bloodshed was not caused by Christians. The idea to shed blood in the name of Christ, in the sense to harm others, was alien and not supported by its founder — quite the contrary. As a result of its way of life, this religion of persecuted outlaws eventually brought the Roman Empire to its knees. It did so without military power but through devotion to Christ and by filling the cup of indemnity until finally released. This was perhaps the most honorable victory in Christian history.

The Vikings and the adaptation of Constantine’s conquest

When Reverend Moon travelled through Europe in 2005 (then banned from the Schengen Area), he strongly addressed the Viking mentality of Europeans. At that time, I did not get it, because by my understanding, the Viking age was between 800 to 1000 AD. However, this applied only to the well-known Viking raids that occurred in Western Europe mainly from Norway. In the eastern part of Europe, Vikings travelled as traders and settlers along the rivers, particularly in Russia, until they met Muslim communities on the shores of the Mediterranean. According to the most prevalent theory, the name of the Rus‍ ’ people is derived from an Old Norse term for “the men who row.”

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The Power of Words

By Hiroshi Nakata

Nakata_IMG_01Human communication is fundamentally mediated by words. Even though there are many different languages in the world, they all utilize words. Although there are numerous studies on communication, less attention has been given to the words that constitute the basic elements of communication. What are words? What is the purpose of words? Do words contain an essence or power intrinsic to themselves? Uttering certain words can affect human relationships for good or bad. Speaking fitting or poorly chosen words can even affect one’s health.

This article investigates the power contained in words. This power can operate in two directions: for good or for bad. If we are aware of this fact, we can change the way we use words. We will use them only for good purposes and apply them with a positive attitude to daily life. Words constitute a big part of the environment of everyday life. According to Unification Thought [UT], human beings stand in a subjective position to nature and all things.

Among the elements of nature, water is fundamental and crucial for life. All plants and animals require water for their existence, and human beings do as well. If our water is polluted, it brings serious problems. In this light, I examine evidence that water is affected by human words. If there is a resonance between water and the words we use, then this would mean that bad words can pollute the human environment no less than toxic waste.

People use words to hurt others. Yet the words we use affect not only the other person, they also affect ourselves. When we use good words when speaking to others, our words foster meaningful human relationships and help to raise humanity. Furthermore, good words nourish health, both spiritually and physically. The contents of words relate to the Three Great Blessings: maturity of individual character, building a good family, and dominion over the natural world.

This article offers useful information for understanding the power of words and their value for building of one’s character, improving communication, and improving the environment. It is particularly important for parents, who are constantly speaking to their children, and educators, who are every day speaking words to their students, to be aware of the power of words.

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Remembering Father: A Poetic Tribute

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By Lloyd Howell

LloydTo “remember Father” is to remember what it is to love, to remember how to give unconditionally, to remember how to laugh when weary and burdened and how to press on in the face of enormous obstacles. The writing of this book was an attempt to come to terms not only with the departure/loss of True Father’s day-to-day earthly presence but also to grasp the impact and significance his life had on mine and the greater Unificationist community. The reflections were various and often moved me to tears. I include four poems for the reader’s interest.

The following poem began with a random thought of how pure the snow must’ve been in the remote countryside of Rev. Moon’s boyhood (north) Korea. I could easily imagine the forceful winds driving it across the land and next I realized that an invisible wind was also blowing into the life of the young Sun Myung Moon. And I understood how he opened his heart and let it take him along and thus, as I too opened my poetic sails letting this concept carry me along, the poem then became something parallel with Father’s life.

The Wind in Your Sails

Father, I can see you as a young boy –
pure as the wind-driven snow of northern Korea,
even then there was an invisible force gathering behind you
and to it you dared to open your sails
thereafter finding yourself doing strange things:
inviting beggars home for dinner,
sharing the melons of your uncle’s field
with the village boys –
even then seeds of concern for others
were taking root deep in your soul –
single-minded, nothing could stop you –
certainly not the fear of punishment.

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My God Has Morphed: My Journey to Heavenly Mother

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By Jeanne Carroll

A testimony of the unfolding of my relationship with God, our Heavenly Parent.

Jeanne CarrollBeing raised a Catholic in a family of three girls, I had my issues in relating to God. There was a point in my mid-teens when I decided I was finished with all the religious dogma I had toyed with. I knew it was easy to say you believed in something but just as easy to live your life as if your belief was not true or vital to all decisions made on a daily basis.

I just wanted to connect with God. Those days of my youthful quest led me to the “peace movement” of no war, flower children and back to nature. I moved into an adobe house with no running water in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

In my quest to “see God’s face,” I fasted for 40 days on water. I saw lots of colors and entities, but no God. A few weeks later, I did another 40 day water fast, figuring I’d get it right this time. It ended with a horrid experience in which the devil peeked out from behind the mountain and laughed until the whole world vibrated. With that, I headed off to really find God. I did not want any part of living in Satan’s land.

I landed at the Denver bus station and sat on the floor. It was 2 a.m. and I was faced with the night life of downtown Denver after living in a simple, safe cocoon for two years in my adobe house. I was then approached by an understanding fellow who offered me a place to stay until morning. How nice, he was going to take care of me.

But he brought me to a basement apartment in an urban neighborhood. Inside there were more men. Apparently I was to be the life of the party. After being assured that the gun was loaded with one bullet and the trigger pulled once to prove they were serious, I was raped by several of these men. As they proceeded, I called out to God. I said these guys should kill me since I had pretty much screwed up my life until that point. But I added, “If you can be in charge of my life absolutely, then let me live.”

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Mormon Lessons for the Unification Church

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By Takayoshi Sugawara

TakaSugawaraThe rise of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) is an incredible story of a persecuted Christian offshoot that has grown to become the most successful, new global religion in the 14 centuries since Islam. It boasts 4.5 million active members worldwide (15 million recorded), and the church itself is estimated to be worth $40 billion. Its membership has included a 2012 U.S. presidential candidate.

All this membership, wealth, and a permanent footing in mainstream consciousness was achieved within a 185 years of its founding. This is a monumental achievement. Rodney Stark, a highly regarded sociologist of religion, declared this ascent to be “one of the great events in the history of religion.”

In contrast, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (Unification Church) is a new faith experiencing difficulties in all these areas. Currently, the church finds itself in much turmoil in areas such as finances, leadership and growth. If the Unification Church is to survive and grow, changes need to be implemented.

It is fortunate for the Unification Church that the Latter-day Saints have proved it possible for a new religion to find success globally, bucking declining trends experienced by other Christian sects. Many studies of the Church of the Latter-day Saints have attempted to explain its enviable growth. Let’s consider ways the Unification Church might attempt to replicate its success.

To begin with, the development of the two faiths are strikingly similar. A charismatic leader raised in the Christian faith started a new religion upon experiencing a supernatural vision. After initial growth and success, both their fledgling churches experienced severe persecution from their communities, and the founders were jailed several times during their ministries. And now, the factionalism that Unification Church is experiencing soon after the death of its founder is eerily similar to the “Succession Crisis” experienced by the Mormons following the assassination of its founder.

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Neo-Confucian Principle(s) in the Thought of Sun Myung Moon

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by Thomas Selover

2014-04-23 15.01.09 croppedReverend Moon was arguably one of the most influential of modern Koreans, and certainly one of the most controversial. In order to better understand his thought, it is natural and helpful to pay attention to Korean cultural influences, including Confucian and Neo-Confucian content, which have helped to shape the patterns of his thinking.

In his autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, Rev. Moon recounts his early childhood in an environment where fervent Christian revivalism was spreading in a society deeply imbued with Confucian patterns of life and thought. He noted,

When I turned ten, my father had me attend a traditional school in our village, where an old man taught Chinese classics… At school, we read the Analects of Confucius and the works of Mencius, and we were taught Chinese characters.

Through this education, he developed a life-long love of Chinese characters, and he delighted in expounding new insights from the form of the characters. This article explores some family resemblances between Neo-Confucian thought and Unification thought in four areas, hoping to shed some intriguing light in both directions.

Li  理 as “Principle”

The first evidence of Neo-Confucian content is in the phrase “Divine Principle” or “The Principle,” used in ordinary Unification parlance as shorthand for Rev. Moon’s teachings, particularly insofar as those teachings are understood to be revelatory. Because the Divine Principle (DP) text relies on biblical quotations to advance its philosophical and theological points, it has generally been  viewed in relation to Christian theology. However, the background for many of the ideas contained in the DP book, including the title itself, can be traced to Confucian and Neo-Confucian themes instead.

In Neo-Confucian thought, li (principle) signifies the inherent principles of the natural world, as well as our human ability to understand those principles (intelligibility). For Neo-Confucian thought, li are immanent in the world of experience, rather than being primarily conceptual or formulaic.

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Going Over the Number 70 in Divided Korea

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By Mark P. Barry

Mark Barry Photo 2This year marks 70 years since the division of Korea. From August 1945, the Korean Peninsula has been split between a communist North and democratic South. Unificationists know Reverend Moon foretold, exemplified by a 1985 conference, that the Soviet Union would collapse after going over the number 70, figured from 1917. While it took four more years, highlighted by the Soviet experiment with perestroika and glasnost, President Gorbachev resigned and dissolved the USSR on Christmas Day 1991.

With the Unification movement focused on Vision 2020, it begs the question: “Can the Korean Peninsula be reunified by the end of this decade?” or, at least, “Will the two Koreas develop a peaceful and constructive relationship, ending their decades of hostility and division?”

East Asia knows the special significance of 2015. For Korea, China, and Southeast Asia, it is a year to commemorate their liberation from Japanese military occupation. For Korea, 1945 also marked the end of 40 years of Japanese colonial domination and annexation. For Japan, as it has already experienced in recent months, this year has been a painful reminder of its wartime legacy in Asia, and the expectations of its victims of 70 years ago for Japan to sincerely apologize and take responsibility for the profound harm it caused. It’s also a time when East Asia is reacting to China’s bid for regional hegemony, given it recently became the world’s largest economy.

For Koreans north and south, this year also marks the 15th anniversary of the historic summit meeting between the North’s Kim Jong Il and the South’s Kim Dae Jung. Both leaders are no longer alive, but Kim Dae Jung’s widow is expected to make a goodwill visit to Pyongyang later this month to commemorate the June 2000 summit. Sadly, little progress was made between the two Koreas after that first summit, and in particular since 2010, their relations have gone steadily downhill.

The first commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II took place May 9 in Moscow, where Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, China’s President Xi Jinping, and other world leaders to mark the Allied victory in Europe. Up until the last moment, it was expected that current North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, would attend; but he canceled his trip.*

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Saints Behaving Badly: Nothing New

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by Jim Dougherty

Jim DoughertyIn the midst of struggles, early Puritan minister, Massachusetts Bay Colony political figure and Harvard president Increase Mather famously paraphrased I Cor. 10-13 as “Nothing has befallen you, but what is common to men, yea, and to the best of men.”

As Unificationists face the somewhat ironic spectacle of a movement dedicated to unity struggling to unify, amidst faction, division and strife, it’s important to remember we are not the first to stride, stumble, trip, and crawl down this path, and ask ourselves: “What has befallen us, that is not common to people?” — Nothing.

Most, if not all, of the problems we face are the same as others have faced before us. Those problems should not be dismissed or treated lightly, even if we’ve seen them many times before. Indeed, they should be taken all the more seriously as they have proven to be difficult, in many cases almost impossible, to solve. But neither should we be dismayed by those problems, or draw the false conclusion of discouragement because we still face them. Looking at history and what others have gone through can give us perspective, help us manage our expectations, and encourage us to work steadily on the problems we face with the many solutions at our disposal.

Great examples of historical church figures not always living up to our high expectations are found in Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil-Worshippers Who Became Saints (2006) by Thomas J. Craughwell, a respected Catholic newspaper columnist.

Pope Callixtus I, for example, martyred in 223 CE and canonized, was originally a Christian slave of another Christian, Carpophorus, who had Callixtus set up a bank of sorts for fellow Christians, to protect and invest the savings of widows and orphans, and to collect donations for them. Carpophorus had come to believe that Callixtus was a man of some financial acumen who could handle the job, but it turned out that trust was misplaced. Callixtus succeeded in losing all the money invested, and embezzled some of it in the process. With Roman Christians stripped of their savings and enraged, Callixtus fled to the nearest harbor and booked passage on the first ship he could find.

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