By Young Oon Kim
(This article originally appeared in The Cornerstone, Vol. 1, No. 8, February 1977)
Some years ago, I urged Reverend Moon to start a seminary for the training of our future leaders. At first there was no way to see that dream realized but we never gave up hope. So you can imagine how happy we were with the purchase of Barrytown (1974) and the actual establishment of Unification Theological Seminary (1975). But there is more to a seminary than buildings, textbooks, the hiring of professors and selection of students. As necessary as all these are, even more important is the purpose we have and the spirit we seek to create.
In my opinion, there is no need for another theological seminary like those the traditional churches now have. What value would there be in duplicating Harvard, Union, Chicago or Princeton? We must provide something different, something extra, a superior education for a new way of life.
To help you to understand what our seminary’s function should be, could be and must be, let me briefly remind you of what education has been in the past.
Because of the numerous barbarian invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire, the church was forced to become a school teacher. In the Dark Ages there was nothing but the church available to keep the light of learning from being extinguished. Therefore in the monasteries or attached to the cathedrals, schools were set up to preserve the wisdom of the past and transmit it to the younger generation. These schools were often only modest creations but they provided the foundation for what was to follow.
As Christians, men of the Middle Ages believed that one should “love thy God…with all thy mind” like Jesus taught. Religion involves what you think as much as how you pray. So the schools were connected with the church, financed by the church and usually staffed by clergymen. In addition to such external characteristics of medieval schooling, education even in the humanities was built upon a spiritual foundation and was designed to realize a spiritual quality of life. Until our own time the motto of Harvard University was “For Christ and His Church.”
By Keisuke Noda
Unification Thought, as systematized by the late Dr. Sang Hun Lee, is currently the only major “philosophical” exposition of the Divine Principle in the Unification Movement. While some appreciate Unification Thought, others find its contents puzzling. I am both fascinated and perplexed by Unification Thought. In this article, I articulate some critical areas to be explored in transitioning from Unification Thought (UT) to Unification Philosophy.
What is the heart of philosophical discourse? It is self-examination. Many may recall from high school or college the Socratic method or the emphasis on self-examination. Self-examination is intrinsic to the discipline of philosophy. Philosophy examines its points of departure, presuppositions, approaches, and processes of reasoning. It questions and tries to justify its own discourse: why, how, and where it can start, proceed, and finally conclude.
UT lacks in the area of self-examination. It is a reiteration of various truth-claims from the Divine Principle (DP) with some additional truth-claims. It presupposes various assumptions from the DP without critically examining them.
In philosophy, the reader does not necessarily share the same assumptions with the author. Yet, readers can learn from and gain irrefutable insight through the author’s rigorous process of reasoning. For this reason, non-believers can enjoy reading Augustine and gain invaluable insight and theists can learn from reading Nietzsche and Sartre, who were radical atheists. Readers learn more from honest and sharp critiques than mediocre apologetics.
The lack of critical self-examination is the most glaring deficiency of Unification Thought, which therefore makes it unattractive to some readers.
By Tyler Hendricks
I believe that True Father did not establish Unification Theological Seminary primarily for the sake of educating Unificationist ministers. Of course, Father’s mind is 360 degrees and ministry preparation was part of the picture, but he already had fine ministry preparation with the workshop system. The main purpose for UTS, as far as I am aware, was that of teaching our leaders about what the other religions believe, so that we could, 1) have intelligent and respectful dialog; 2), help them succeed in their ministry by introducing True Parents’ spirit and truth; and 3), build coalition with them that would eventually create the foundation for what Father later came to call the spiritual “upper house” of the United Nations.
I won’t rehearse the history of that plan and the role of UTS in it, but simply say that even in failing to reach the heights of Father’s vision, UTS accomplished an incredible feat, and that the vision is still worthy and true and capable of achievement, and that its achievement—at least until the people God has prepared to partner in it (e.g., the UN) do so — would cost our movement a huge amount of money.
In the latter years of my UTS presidency, I outlined to the UTS Board of Trustees this interfaith path, including the broad stroke path that UTS was designed to take. The Board liked the path, and said to follow it. Unfortunately, they didn’t pay enough attention to the price tag (which I actually low-balled).
I also informed the Board that if they did not want to undertake that expense, there is an alternative path, and that is to learn from the grassroots Christian start-up churches and how they are educating their pastors. I’m talking about the Vineyard movement, the Calvary Chapel faith movement, Saddleback, Willow Creek, and something that emerged since then, Nelson Searcy’s Renegade Pastors; and there are many others. These churches are educating hundreds of thousands of pastors around the world, in-house and online, at very low cost. I advised the Board that going online would require care in terms of preserving the accreditation, but that the industry is changing.
by Alison Wakelin
Recurrent woes are symptomatic of an underlying problem, and Unificationists are experiencing issues with stewardship of external resources. This has potential to create deep rifts unless we manage the transition from a system where a leader could remove manpower and resources from any project at a moment’s notice, and place both elsewhere. In moving beyond continued emergency status, we must establish stability and settlement in accordance with our own values.
The Western world is struggling with its relationship with the creation, just as are Unificationists. Americans and Europeans are facing a new reality of poverty and real challenges to economic growth. We find ourselves trapped in a system where governments have caused the population to become dependent on government income and support, and we seem powerless to go beyond this state of affairs.
But there are solutions, and we must look clearly, then make the requisite changes.
Firstly, women especially do not find it acceptable that any person should be impoverished and left to die by a system that demands they must work in order to survive, and yet cannot come up with enough jobs, let alone reasonable incomes. We cannot accept that humans should be thrown away because they didn’t work hard enough. A reasonable distribution is not a distant goal to be desired, but an immediate reality that must be accomplished.
When it comes to inequality, people get upset (depending on where they are in the distribution), but so far none of the attempts to put things right have worked. This is because any plan encompassing the ownership of property comes up against very deeply hidden barriers.
Historically, there was plenty of land and villages could easily be arranged so that each householder had access to land and the crops he could grow. Simple arrangements for simpler times – and simplicity is usually the best guide even when things seem to have gotten very complicated.
By Andrew Stewart
It’s been a good year for biblical movies. “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is the last major biblical film to hit theaters this year, with “Son of God” and particularly, “Noah,” making waves earlier on. The first two films met many expectations, yet surprisingly, the third falls short.
Advertised as a biblical epic, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” has issues with characterization, pacing, as well as wardrobe. In contrast with 1956’s “The Ten Commandments” (starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner), “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is shorter, covering less of Moses’ life. Directed by Ridley Scott of “Gladiator” fame, it takes a much more unconventional approach to a well-known story. So which does “Exodus: Gods and Kings” resemble more: Cecile B. DeMille’s epic or Scott’s 2001 “Best Picture” Oscar winner?
“The Ten Commandments” is the standard by which any film about Moses should be measured, and is probably the best known religious film alongside the 1959 “Ben-Hur.” “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (not to be confused with the 1960 film “Exodus,” about the founding of the state of Israel) like “The Ten Commandments,” focuses on the extra-biblical side of Moses’ life. There are a few themes present in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” that might be a homage to those same extra-biblical themes, such as an exchange where Moses asks Ramses to improve the lives of the Hebrews and pay them wages. But that is where the similarities end, with even some biblical story elements missing. The question of why they were not included is that they probably are not realistic enough to fit into the feeling of the movie. The film tries very hard to be faithful to a realistic approach, becoming a battle between Moses and the Hebrews versus the Egyptians. The film attempts too much, and ends up not progressing much in any one area it tries to tackle.
It all begins with a prophecy, that God has not forgotten his people. After a few epic CGI renditions of Memphis at the height of its glory, Moses (Christian Bale), Ramses (Joel Edgerton), and his father, Seti (John Turturro), are sitting around a table, arguing about going to war with the Hittites.
By Donna Ferrantello
The Geese at Belvedere Holy Rock
It was early morning.
Walking at the Belvedere Estate along the Hudson River…
I heard a great flock of Canadian geese from afar away,
And then, saw them circling around in the sky.
They flew off in the distance…honking, honking, honking,
I continued my walk…
in prayerful wondering about nature’s ways…
Then, one flock of geese returned,
Riding high — as though on an invisible highway
of going places at high speeds —
and somehow, almost decidedly
circling and returning to see the rock where I stood,
their honking stopped…
One by one —
each goose slowed to an abrupt stop way above my head….
Each one glided down,
braking like tiny airplanes preparing for landing…
and each landed gently on the ground near me….
A congregant of geese now stood attentively on the grass,
next to our Holy Prayer Rock on the hillside
(where many prayers have been offered here….)
All awaited in this landscape amidst the spacious beyond.
Again, from the distant sky,
a second honking flock of geese circled around above me
and they too stopped honking….
Noiselessly, one by one,
each began to float down,
with wings extended like a parachute.
Each floating goose
made landing on the grassy hillside.
By Ronald J. Brown
The celebration of a mid-winter holiday is as old as humanity. The sadness of death and desolation that surrounded our ancient ancestors mingled with hope that the days would lengthen, the sun would grow stronger, the trees would burst into bloom, the animals would give birth, and the crops would again ensure their survival. In keeping with the mid-winter celebrations of their neighbors, the three early Christian Churches in Rome, Greece, and Egypt, assigned Christ’s birth on or near December 25 already by the 4th Century.
But the Protestant Reformation began to question any celebration that was not Biblical. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Huss, Knox, and other reformers sought Biblical justification for saints, statues, indulgences, seven sacraments, nuns, monks, popes, and Christmas. If none was found, then they were relegated to the dustbin of Christian history. Scotch Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers flatly rejected Christ’s-mass and even forbade its celebration while the Lutherans, Anglicans/Episcopalians, Dutch Reformed, and French Huguenots admitted that frail humans needed such holidays and it did little real harm even if there was no Biblical justification for it. The Dutch Reformed Church also allowed a sober celebration on December 25 but reserved the real fun for the December 6 feast of their patron saint, Saint Nicholas.
When the newly-founded Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was established in 1624 it literally threw the doors of immigration open to anyone willing to work and defend the colony from Indian, English, French, and even Spanish attacks. Soon the great Christmas controversy that divided Catholics and Protestants, and Protestants and Protestants, filled the streets and villages of the Dutch colony.
By Andrew Wilson
In a holiday season with a biblical blockbuster, Exodus: Gods and Kings, far more interesting from a theological perspective is the recent Lifetime Television miniseries, “The Red Tent” (video link), taken from the best-selling novel by Anita Diamant. “The Red Tent” is a retelling of the familiar stories of Jacob, his wives and children from the perspective of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter.
The Bible knows her only through the tragic story of her “rape” at the hands of Shechem, a prince of the land. As the Bible tells it, Shechem offered to marry her, but Jacob’s sons connived to murder him and all the men of his clan as retribution for defiling Dinah’s honor. Indeed, the rape of Dinah is the premise behind several Christian “Dinah” ministries to women who have suffered abuse. But as Dinah tells her story in “The Red Tent,” she fell in love with Shechem, they married according to the customs of his people, his father then asked Jacob’s permission to approve their marriage, but what Jacob’s sons did in the name of honor — slaughtering Shechem and his people — totally devastated her heart and left her bereft. Dinah cursed Jacob and went off to Egypt, eventually found a new life there as a midwife, remarried, and attained some closure after she met Joseph there some 20 years later.
It is not difficult to grasp that the Bible was written from a male viewpoint. Hence, we might find a woman’s viewpoint, though fictional, to be intriguing. It is actually quite plausible that Dinah fell in love with Shechem; after all, he was a prince of the land and would be a good catch for a shepherd girl. For that matter, if Leah and Rachel could speak to us, how would they characterize what the Bible describes as a catty relationship as they competed for Jacob’s favor? Did they ever reconcile? “The Red Tent” reminds us that they were first of all sisters, and some of the things they did together were kept secret from their father and their husband—and hence never made it into the biblical narrative. For that matter, what was Eve thinking when the archangel tempted her? What was the nature of her inner life after the Fall?
The following is a chapter excerpt from My Life with Rev. Sun Myung Moon, just published by Rev. David Kasbow.
By David Kasbow
In April 1973, I was 22 years old and in my third year of college at Wayne State University. As I was walking from the Student Center across the mall, a person came up to me. This young man asked, “What do you think about unity?” I said, “It’s great.” That afternoon I was on my way to a theatrical lighting class, a requirement for the minor in theater I was working on. As we walked, we talked about how people can come together. He said his group was having a lecture on this topic back at the Student Center and asked me to come. I told him I was on my way to class, but when he told me more about the people he was with, I got more interested. He had a German accent and explained he was traveling with a group of young people from Europe. Having had a great experience in Europe, I decided to go with him to meet these people and hear what they had to say.
When we got to the Grossberg Religious Center on the third floor of the Student Center, we sat with some other students. A young lady was standing at a chalkboard and began a lecture entitled the “Principles of Creation.” Over the next 45 minutes as she drew diagrams on the chalkboard, she explained God’s ideal for creation. She said that Adam and Eve, our first ancestors, were created to share God’s love as God’s children. They were the first human beings to have eternal souls and were thus the first people with human responsibility. She laid out God’s plan for a good and peaceful world that would have unfolded had Adam and Eve fulfilled their responsibility and not sinned so disastrously. I was intrigued by the ideas she was presenting.