The Hope and Promise of the Singapore Summit

By Mark P. Barry

I usually tell people that if you visited Earth from Mars, looked down at the Korean Peninsula and saw it’s divided and technically in a state of war since 1950, you’d say, “This has got to end.”

In other words, this kind of situation is simply unsustainable, despite that many practitioners of international relations seem to believe it’s possible to manage conflicts in perpetuity.

Last Tuesday’s summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is at least notable for one important thing: it potentially changed the trajectory — hopefully for the better in the long run — of events on the Korean peninsula. This is because no sitting American president had ever met a North Korean leader. Previous presidents generally would not even consider the idea; Bill Clinton was the exception, but in the waning weeks of his presidency, he chose to focus on Middle East peace rather than Korean peace.

Ironically, Jimmy Carter was the first former U.S. president to meet his North Korean counterpart, Kim Il Sung, in 1994. He wisely observed at the time that “we should not ever avoid direct talks, direct conversations, direct discussions and negotiations with the main person in a despised, misunderstood or condemned society who could actually resolve the issue.” To his credit, Carter brokered an agreement, concluded months later, that froze the North’s fledgling nuclear program — which endured until the early years of the Bush 43 administration.

This simple truth — of the need for top-to-top communication and relationship-building — was easily grasped by President Trump because it had been a key lesson of his years of business experience. Kim Jong Un knew he had to take advantage of the opportunity to meet the U.S. president — the one person who could make fundamental foreign policy decisions without the encumbrance of a bureaucracy with a long and deep institutional memory.

It matters less what were the motivations of Trump and Kim; in both cases they were a mixture of the strategic and the selfish. But history shows that key figures, sometimes with unsavory motives, nonetheless produce changes, however unintended, whose impact endures for decades or even centuries (e.g., Henry VIII’s disagreement with the Pope over marriage annulment led him to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority).

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Truth and Authority in Scientific Discovery: Implications for the Religious Quest

By Chris Le Bas

Trusting something is true really comes at the point when your life depends on it.

An astronaut trusts the engineers who made the rocket and calculated the trajectory to the Moon and back.  In turn, the engineers trust the scientists who told them how cold it would be on the Moon and what force of gravity they would have to work against to take off from its surface. And the scientists trust the theories behind the solar panels that would power their return.

In the same way, a patient trusts the surgeon preparing to cut open his heart, the surgeon trusts the medical experts who weighed the risks of not operating against the dangers of open heart surgery, and the medical experts trust the interpretation of gamma camera scans and calculations made by microchip-based computers.

When our theories are correct, namely, they resonate with nature and identify natural processes, then we can predict (or at least know the degree to which we can predict) the outcome of our actions.

“Truth” in the scientific sense means we have a description, a pattern, law, or principle accurately matching the nature of the world around us.

This may come in the form of an image or model of something we are unable to see, such as a molecule or subatomic particle, or a mathematical equation that provides the link between different quantities we can measure. Or it may be the explanation of a technique or process that takes place in nature or can be made to happen under the right conditions.

Those who act as guarantors of the reliability of such information are often called “scientific authorities,” be they individuals like Isaac Newton, or institutions such as the Royal Society. Teachers and lecturers act on behalf of these authorities, relying on the historical hand-me-down record of constantly edited information from senior teachers, books and articles.

Some aspects of this knowledge can be tested and observed in classroom experiments, considered in the light of “common sense” and logic, but the majority of it relies on the authority it came from.

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Seeking Vital Community

By Mi Young Eaton

In fall 2014, I lived for two-and-a-half months with a small, Evangelical Christian community in Greatham, England, called L’Abri (French for “the shelter”). The L’Abri Fellowship in Greatham is one of eight such communities which have been established around the world and grew, like the rest, out of the pioneering ministerial efforts of Francis and Edith Schaeffer.

Although I was at L’Abri for only ten weeks in my senior year of college, I was transformed by my experiences there. Deep wounds began to be healed and confusions clarified; the spiritual life as fundamentally a relational life with God, others, and even myself began to open like never before, as concepts of faith became lived realities.

I experienced challenges, of course, understanding for the first time key differences in belief, from a Christian perspective, between the Christian and Unificationist worldviews, and carry fundamental questions of faith that arose from my time there even now, almost four years later. Principal among these is the question of the replicability of L’Abri as a model of spiritual community.

Were there spiritual principles at work in the structure, practices, and functions of L’Abri that allowed it to so deeply touch not only my heart and life but the hearts and lives of many others? Could these principles be applied in another context, for instance, either an extant or a potential Unification faith community?

My time at L’Abri and other experiences in the last few years have convinced me of the value of having the home serve as the hub or basis of ministry, as well as True Father’s prescience when he attempted to initiate the home church providence in the Unification Movement over 40 years ago.

I don’t think that the work of L’Abri fully answers the question of how Unification members should proceed with home church today. But I do think the current relevance of their work reveals a need and an entry point for the renewal of this kind of ministry

An Unusually Ordinary Evangelical Community

When I first left for L’Abri, I had little sense of what the experience would entail. I had heard about L’Abri like most others who have walked through the doors of its various branches around the world, by word of mouth, since L’Abri has eschewed any formal advertising about their work.

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First Step on the Royal Road: Living with God and the Angels

By Kathleen Burton

On March 16, 2018, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, True Mother, made an historical remark at Famicon 2018 at the International Peace Education Center in Las Vegas. In her address, she referenced the need for updating the Divine Principle: “In the future, the Divine Principle will need many updates. What I mean is that theories from the Completed Testament Age do not suffice.”

Last year on this site, I authored “The Royal Road to Original Design: Divine Principle Post-Foundation Day and the Questions to be Asking.” Reading True Mother’s words encouraged this second article on the Royal Road journey toward the essential lessons found in the Principles of Creation.  It is there that the building blocks of God’s Ideal are to be found.  Essential to keep in mind is a collaborative exploration. The Realm of Heaven is built together with God so in this article’s title is the concept of living with God.

As the Original Design takes shape, we open our hearts in intellect, will and emotion to build with God.  To consider an interactive approach for the new era of Cheon Il Guk is to move beyond the requirements of God’s providential history where living for God meant to accomplish the necessary restorational demands to defeat evil.  Yet, it is the working with God that will usher in the dynamic interaction needed to pursue CIG.

In a clarifying terminology note, this article does not use the term “Kingdom of Heaven.”  It is not a gender-balanced term since it does not reflect the feminine nature of God (Latin languages always used the term “Realm of Heaven”). In this new era of Post-Foundation Day, terms such as “God’s Original Ideal or Design,” Cheon Il Guk, or “Realm of Heaven” bring a newness not yet been seen until Foundation Day.

Are we, as human beings, on the threshold of creating this Original Ideal alone with only God’s guidance? What of the interconnectedness of the physical world and spiritual world in that creative process? A primary question to be sure. Gen. 1:28 was not to be achieved by humankind alone, either before or after the Fall narrative. The Realm of Heaven was designed to be built in conjunction with the angelic world, whose creation preceded human creation, and enabled God’s creative expression to have an active object partner with whom God’s Ideal could be accomplished on earth.

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The Technology-Empowered Cleric and the End of Religions as We Know Them

By Ronald Brown

Thomas Friedman argued in Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11 (2002) that modern technology had given rise to “super-empowered individuals” such as George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, and Osama bin Laden, who have amassed more power than traditional presidents, kings, generals, and dictators.

I believe super-empowered clerics have joined Friedman’s list of super-empowered individuals shaping the 21st century. These clerics are doing religion in ways never before imagined, hastening the decline of historic religions, and pioneering the rise of new global religions. Super-empowered clerics are taking religions to places where no one has gone before.

Here, I analyze the six (sometimes conflicting) characteristics of emerging religious movements: 1) The centrality of super-empowered clerics, 2) the merging of past, present and future, 3) the transience of religion, 4) the globalization of religions, 5) the deification of humans, and, 6) the politicization of religions.

Super-empowered clerics

The modern technological revolution is radically altering thousands-year-old systems of religious leadership. Super-empowered clerics such as Rev. Billy Graham, Menachem Schneerson of the Lubavitch Jewish sect, the Dalai Lama, Christian televangelists Robert H. Schuller and Joel Osteen, the Brazilian cleric Edir Macedo, ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Buddhist Dhammakaya Chandra Khhonnokyoong, and bin Laden emerged as religious superstars. They preside over virtual congregations, even empires, that exploit the Internet, cheap air travel, mass communications, videos, neuroscience, and have at their disposal colossal financial resources made possible by the new global economy.

Brazilian pastor Macedo is a prime example of the cleric of the future. Unlike traditional religious leaders who received their authority from long-established institutions, Macedo claims he received his calling and empowerment directly from God. He did not consider himself bound by ancient tradition, long-decided dogmas, historical precedent, or hierarchical superiors.

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Confessions of a Divine Principle Editor

By Dan Fefferman

I had the privilege of working on both the 1973 edition of Divine Principle and consulting on the 1996 new translation, known as Exposition of the Divine Principle (EDP). Here, I offer some recollections and confessions, with a view toward giving our community some information for our reflection.

Prior to 1973, most of us in the USA used Dr. Young Oon Kim’s “Red Book” titled Divine Principle and Its Applicationor the blue study guide that complemented it. A smaller number used Sang Ik Choi’s Principles of Education. As part of his late 1971 push to unify the groups that had formed around the various Korean missionaries, Rev. Sun Myung Moon ordered the translation into English of the official Korean version of Divine Principle, Wolli Kangron. This task was given to Mrs. Won Pok Choi. She later told me she had to finish this work in great haste, over a period of 40 days, at the Soo Taek Rhee training center.

Sometime in 1972, Mrs. Choi’s text arrived in Washington, DC. Each chapter was given to a different editor, living in various centers, and we did not have a style sheet to guide us. Editors were relatively inexperienced and used various standards of punctuation and capitalization. In addition, there were lots of new terms.

Dr. Kim’s book was relatively short and did not use terms like “foundation of substance,” “foundation to receive the messiah,” or even “internal character and external form.” So in some chapters of Mrs. Choi’s translation, “foundation of substance” was rendered as “substantial foundation” or even “foundation of heart.” I myself changed “time-identity” to “time-indemnity” until I realized my error.

Editors agonized over whether Moses led the course of “restoration of Canaan” or “restoration into Canaan.” We also wondered how strict we should be about retaining “therefore,” instead of “thus” or “so.” Adding to the angst of the editors was the fact we had been instructed to stick closely to Mrs. Choi’s translation rather than risking a change in meaning. This meant avoiding changes in sentence structure and length.

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The Christ-Being in the Present Age: “Christ” Seen from the Perspective of Mithraism

By Shinji Gyoten

Reverend Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012) diligently studied the Bible in his youth and the Divine Principle was written mainly for Christians in the framework of Christian theology. The Exposition of the Divine Principle has been the core textbook of the Unification Church for a long time; church leaders taught lectures based on Divine Principle and the Bible; in his early days, Rev. Moon himself spoke a great deal about Jesus and biblical stories.

However, in his latter years, Rev. Moon began to speak about God in a broader sense (e.g., the God of Night and the God of Day, in Hoon Dok Hae on April 10, 2011) and other religions beyond Christianity. One time, he referred to the Persian dynasty and said, “That was the absolute dynasty (which should have been realized on God’s side) before the human fall” (in Hoon Dok Hae on October 10, 2011).

This article rediscovers the position of True Parents in the study of comparative religion by exploring the Christ-being from the perspective of Mithraism.

In the 21st century, we have the opportunity to meet “Christ” through guidance of the Holy Spirit as Sophia, who represents the motherhood of God. However, throughout Christian history, “Christ” has been identified with Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God.

In the ancient world, such as Judea, Egypt and India before Christianity spread, “Christ” appeared on earth in the form of supernatural phenomena and incarnation of the gods. Even after Christianity expanded, in the extensive region from the Hellenistic world to central Asia where people believed in Mithraism and Manichaeism (which was influenced by Mithraism), and Buddhism, etc., “Christ” was regarded as Maitreya Bodhisattva.

In explaining the etymology of “Christ,” it is a title indicating a savior, messiah. The original word for“Christ” is the Greek “Χριστός, Christós,” which means “the anointed one” who brings salvation to humankind. This “Christ” is a translation of the Hebrew “מָשִׁיחַ” (Mašíaḥ, messiah) and originated in religious ceremonies in Judaism. However, there is a theory that “מָשִׁיחַ” (Mašíaḥ, messiah) was used in the coronation ceremony of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, while Cyrus the Great, founder of ancient Achaemenid Persia, was called “the messiah” in the Hebrew Bible. A scholar of Mithraism, Masato Tojo, points out that “Mitra was taken as a messiah (savior) and incorporated into Judaism. The word ‘Messiah’ comes from the name Mithia in the southern Iranian dialect of Mithra.”

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Applied Unificationism Celebrates Its 5th Blog-iversary

The Applied Unificationism Blog was founded five years ago today on May 1, 2013, hosted by Unification Theological Seminary. Its purpose is to explore the application of Unificationism to the wider world, but also occasionally posts significant articles on theology. It generally posts a new commentary article every Monday.

The Applied Unificationism Blog is broadly read by Unificationists in the U.S., as well as in Europe, Korea and Japan. One major leader termed it, “The best thing out there,” referring to its focus and discussion of how to apply Unificationist principles to today’s societal problems. Any article on the site is available for automated Google Translation from English to dozens of supported languages.

In its five years, the AU Blog, as it has become known, has posted over 275 articles nearly every week in 11 categories. It is followed (by email, Facebook or Twitter) by 800 regular readers; is read in 200 countries or territories; has received over 270,000 total page views, posted nearly 2,700 reader comments, and nearly 60,000 referrals to its articles from search engines alone and 27,000 from Facebook. Some articles have generated a large number of site hits in just 24 hours — in several cases over 1,700 in a day.

The AU Blog’s top three articles all-time are: “Morals and Messages from Harry Potter: Lesson Learned,” “The Only-Begotten Daughter,” and “Same-Sex Marriage: A Unificationist Response.” Other popular articles include: “Toward a Headwing Idea for America,” “You’re Not Really an Adult Until Your Father Dies: Reaching the Highest Stage of Filial Piety,” and “God as the Heavenly Parent of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.” Popular regular authors include Dr. Andrew Wilson, Dr. Michael Mickler and maestro David Eaton.

The Blog recently ran a series of commentaries by three different authors on the topic of gun control in America. AU Blog articles are often re-posted by the FFWPU International Headquarters site and by the FFWPU-USA site and gain even broader readership.

Original written contributions of 1,500-1,800 words are encouraged to be submitted by Unificationists, current and former UTS faculty, and interested others. Quality commentary or op-ed pieces are sought, written in a lively manner, on a wide range of subjects in which the writer exhibits a strong degree of familiarity with the subject matter. Broad topics include politics and economics, religion and spirituality, gender issues and the family, and culture and the arts. The Blog especially encourages article submissions from second generation Unificationists. It also posts occasional film and book reviews, and collections of poetry.

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“Black Panther”: Theological and Moral Issues Add Impact to Film

By Kathy Winings

It’s official: “Black Panther” is now the third highest-grossing film ever in America, surpassing 1997’s “Titanic,” though it was released theatrically only in mid-February.

Even before the film opened, it enjoyed one of the most aggressive promotional campaigns in recent history and maintained first place in ticket sales for many weeks.

So when I decided to see the movie, I wasn’t sure what to expect – would it live up to the hype or would it be just another Marvel escapist movie? I was so surprised when I found the film was everything it was promised to be and more.

“Black Panther” offers more than the usual Marvel Cinematic Universe fare. It has considerable substance that speaks to our modern world. The film picks up from “Captain America: Civil War” with the return of King T’Challa, known also as the Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman), to his home country of Wakanda for his coronation as its new leader.

From this point forward, though, we begin to see what distinguishes this film from other superhero films. On one level, it offers an interesting balance of traditionalism and modernity.

We are introduced to a point of traditionalism with the coronation process that includes the right to challenge the future king in mortal combat. The example of modernity, on the other hand, is seen in the fact that Wakanda’s technological advancements are far beyond that of the rest of the world thanks to its secret natural resource – a special mineral called vibranium.

The film is built around three challenges facing the new king. Two of the challenges involve threats to T’Challa’s reign. One of these threats is in the form of Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a black market arms dealer, smuggler and general nemesis to the King and to Wakanda; your classic bad guy/good guy and good and evil script.

The second challenge comes from an American-born ex-military man, Erik Stevens, a.k.a. “Killmonger,” revealed to be T’Challa’s cousin. An angry young man who was orphaned at a young age and who experienced a race-torn world, Erik (Michael B. Jordan) becomes a formidable opponent to T’Challa. More profoundly, this challenge raises theological and moral questions around the concepts of resentment and anger vs. revenge and forgiveness.

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