Music’s Moral Power: From Christianity to 2020 and Beyond

By David Eaton

In a recent conversation with Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon regarding the creation of new Holy Songs and whether we should compose “new songs in the old tradition,” she mentioned she enjoyed Italian classical music because of its Christian heritage.

In another conversation with her, I inquired about including more popular styles in our request for new songs for the ongoing Holy Song competitions. She cited the need for songs younger Unificationists could identify with, and as such, there should be a willingness to be open to all musical genres.

As we move toward 2020 and beyond, Mother Moon is emphasizing mentoring the next generations of musicians with regard to having a principled view of their creative gifts.

Her comment about the Christian heritage of music reminded me of Arnold Toynbee’s observation that the Christian church was the “chrysalis” out of which our Western society emerged, “the germ of creative power.” As Christianity in Europe emerged from its chrysalis, a substantial body of liturgical music was created as an expression of the faith.

Gregorian Chant and the early settings of the Catholic mass by Renaissance composers Jacob Obrecht and Josquin des Prez, and eventually Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert, as well as the sacred motets by Léonin and Pérotin in 13th century France and cantatas and oratorios of Bach and Handel, point to the importance of music in the evolution of Christian ritual and worship. Well-known hymns such as How Great Thou Art, Praise to the Lord, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and Be Thou My Vision remain staples for many church choirs and congregations.

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Right Sequencing: Wisdom for Life from the Game of Go

By Incheol Son

I love the game of Go or Baduk, as Koreans call it. I don’t play often, but frequently apply the wisdom learned from it.

Go is an ancient strategy board game where the player’s objective is to surround a larger total area of the board with one’s stones than your opponent. The board, marked with a grid of 19 lines by 19 lines, may be thought of as a piece of land to be divided between two players.

One player has a supply of black pieces, called stones, the other a supply of white. The game starts with an empty board and the players take turns, placing one stone each turn on a vacant intersection point. If a player claims the first move, the black stones are assigned and the opponent is given the white stones.

A territory is represented by the sum of empty points, called the “house” (집) in Korean, as encircled and enclosed by stones much like walls. The minimum points one can have are two, called a live territory. And it’s technically separated into at least two empty points, called “eyes” (눈). This is based on the rule of Go that a player cannot place more than one stone at a time.

Stones that fail to form a live territory can be taken out by the opponent whenever the opponent’s enclosing stones remove all the empty points adjacent to the failed stones, which are automatically used at the end of the game to remove the live points of a territory of one’s own. So the opponent’s attack point is to remove the chance for the other player to form two eyes.

Playing Go is different from playing chess in Western culture, typically in that a placed stone can never be moved again unless it’s taken out as a “dead stone” (사석). So, Go or Baduk, is a game of filling up the board with one’s stones like a construction project. The game of Go has no kings or other pieces with specific roles like queens, knights or rooks — just plain stones.

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Submissions Invited for “Where Do We Go from 2020?”

The Applied Unificationism Blog invites special submissions to be occasionally published between now and January next year of your vision of “Where Do We Go from 2020?”

Emphasis should be on practical steps for the future that the Unification Movement should take on the worldwide, national and local levels after the upcoming commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s birth and the 7th anniversary of Foundation Day.

Theological issues may be discussed, but the focus should be on their practical implementation in society. Submissions from second generation Unificationists are especially welcome.

Submissions should be between 1,200 (minimum) and 2,000 or so words. All AU Blog guidelines apply. Please send your submissions to the managing editor, Dr. Mark Barry, at m.barry@uts.edu. The AU Blog editorial committee makes recommendations for publication and may suggest revisions to the author.

During this period, the AU Blog will continue to welcome and publish a full-range of articles exploring the application of Unificationism to the wider world.♦ 

Finally, After My 70 Years of Searching, a Definition of Religion

By Ronald Brown

“Oh, God,” I thought, another temple. Like cows in India, taxis in New York, musicians in Mexico, and nuns in Rome, I barely noticed temples in China anymore. But that spring day in Shanghai in 2005 was hot and humid so I decided to stop in for a visit.

The “god” was a rather ruthless looking person, flanked by equally fierce sword-wielding guards, all enshrouded in incense. Compared to a loving Jesus, scroll-bearing Confucius, or a serene Buddha, this god seemed fierce. Not on the tourist beaten track, the signs were all in Chinese so I asked a young guy to translate one for me.

“Back a long time ago, the British Empire attacked the city to force the people to become Christian and take opium. Chen Huacheng was a Qing Dynasty general who vowed to defend his city to the death,” he freely translated. “He roused his fellow residents to resist but they were defeated and Cheng was killed.” In honor of his heroic qualities and dedication to his homeland, the government of Shanghai declare him a god, placed a statue in the temple in his honor, and instituted a priesthood to worship him forever.

The god of Shanghai was about as far from the almighty, eternal and omnipotent god of Jews, Christians and Muslims as one could get. Jews might write books about such great men, and Catholics might construct elaborate visions of heaven, hell, purgatory, and until recently limbo, but only Confucianists would make a hero a god and celebrate the survival of a city as the goal of religion.

Standing in front of the incense enshrouded statue of Chen, I realized that deep beneath the centuries of encrusted rituals, traditions, beliefs, and deities of the religions of the world was a common quest: The creation of a perfect human being and placing this human in a perfect human society.

The evolution of religions

As humans evolved from their tree perches in East Africa to orbiting space stations, they have elaborated a host of unique religions.

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A Street Filled With Spirits of the Long-Term Dead

By Larry Moffitt

It’s morning rush in the spirit-filled streets of Seoul, at the corner of overpriced hotel and shoe repair guy. In the corner coffee shop the cup is held close in both hands, fingers of hot, steamed aroma gently massage my face. I pause to solemnize the moment before taking the first sip. No other taste of coffee the rest of that day will be its equal. My early-hour grogginess and that very first slurp run toward each other in slow motion across a meadow, jump into each other’s arms and tumble as one into the waving wheat as the violins reach a crescendo.

People who want to live to be a hundred and ten never eat chocolate-filled croissants, but I heard on the bedside radio that today is National Self-Sabotage Day. I’m always good for a holiday. People have written whole chapters in cookbooks about the natural harmony of coffee and chocolate. You would instantly trust the intentions of a country that had a steaming cup of hot coffee and a chocolate-filled croissant on its national flag. That would be a nation that knows peace.

At a back table of the coffee shop by the window, my attention is drawn to something unusual outside and I briefly touch the glass because I want to assure myself that at least something, the window, is tangible and real. I am watching spirits plod along. Spirits usually know they have died when they naturally cross over. These folks I am watching may not have gotten the memo. They appear to be earthbound spirits, marooned between here and there, and for about twenty seconds I can see them. There are hundreds of them walking along, still going to work, as they must have done for decades during their lives.

They look less distinct to me than the living. They are dull and slightly faded. The living walking past the window, and the dead, pass among and through each other without noticing. As a group, the spirits look less hopeful or expectant than the living commuters. The spirits look as though they have exhausted their to-do lists. There is nothing new to accomplish, no new appointments or meetings, no calls left to return. Not a one of them looks content. A few are obviously anxious. Perhaps they know something is amiss, but what?

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Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

By Eileen Williams

Unificationists all desire to live for the sake of others, become tribal messiahs to our loved ones near and far, and reach out to our families with the message of love and hope that inspired us decades ago.

After going through so many crises and phases as a movement, many of us feel an urgent need to reflect on what works and doesn’t work in terms of nourishing and growing our roots — whether that involves community activism, event planning, or reaching out to our second generation.

To move forward, the first gen, in particular, need to develop what is popularly known today in education pedagogy as a “growth mindset.” This is in contrast to a “fixed mindset,” but more about that later.  Let me explain what the two are and how a growth mindset might be applied to our unique faith community.

“Growth mindset” is a term coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck to explain how children learn.  The latest research shows that the brain is far more malleable than previously believed. Research on brain plasticity reveals how connectivity between neurons can change given new input and experiences. Medical cases of stroke and brain damage have demonstrated in surprising ways how neural networks can grow new connections while at the same time strengthen existing ones.

What this proves is we can increase our neural growth by the actions, choices and decisions we make. Asking questions, using problem-solving strategies, even experiencing failure and trying again all serve to help a child learn.  Studies have shown that when educators can change student mindsets from fixed (“I can’t do this, I fail at this”) to growth (“I can keep trying, step-by-step”), then motivation and achievement is increased.  But why stop with children; aren’t adults strengthening their brain connections as well?

In her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessDweck describes a growth mindset as one that “thrives on change and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a springboard for growth.”

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Religion, Sci-Fi and the Age of Disposable Human Bodies

By Ronald Brown

As I stood by one of the burning gats on the bank of the sacred Ganges River, I couldn’t help but contemplate the Hindu approach to death.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims view the death of the body as the end of our earthly existence. The individual then goes on to either heaven or hell if he or she is religious, or we simply cease to exist if we do not subscribe to one or the other of the major world religions. For Hindus, on the other hand, one body is disposed of and the person takes on another to continue his or her spiritual voyage.

As I watched one worn-out garment after another being consumed by flames, I couldn’t help but think of challenges disposable human bodies will pose for Christians in the future.

Unfortunately, the only serious discussion I found of this topic was not by religious thinkers but rather in serious Sci-Fi literature such as Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel, Childhood’s End. Transcendent evolution is also a theme in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a film co-written by Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick.  I contend religious leaders must begin to confront this urgent question.

The time has come for humans to ponder their post-body existence and the freedom this will result in.

For too long religions have not only venerated the human body but idolized it. At the dawn of the 21st century, humans are slowly ending their millennia-long romance with physical bodies and are surging into the brave new bodiless world. The profound influence material bodies have exerted on human religions is coming to an end. Before the age of embodied humans is relegated to the trashcan of human history, I chronicle in this article the impact of material bodies on religions.

The body in world religions

Judaism, Christianity and Islam place great emphasis on the human body.

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Emerging Women’s Ministry

By Grace Selover

Jesus taught the early Christians that they should open their eyes, look closely at the fields and realize the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matt. 9:37). Indeed, the current situation of the Unification Church is as pressing as it was in Jesus’ ministry.

With the Vision 2020 deadline approaching, there is immense demand for the workers of God to labor in the field of evangelism and ecumenism for the Unification Church, particularly in pastoral ministry. From the visitation of individuals to pulpit supply of the church, from the revival of church life to influential contributions for society through Heavenly Tribal Messiah ministry, more activists are needed.

Where can we find these activists?

Currently, there are women who are lay leaders in local churches working behind the scenes. They are organized to support and revitalize the life of the church and provide pastoral care to church congregants in support of their pastors and church ministries. They reach in to current congregants to help them become more engaged in the vitality of the church, as well as reach out to new members and the general public by identifying, helping and serving their needs. They consult, educate, cultivate, communicate, and evangelize with members, converts and supporters.

These women juggle multiple tasks and roles of being a mother, wife, daughter, and sister at home, as well as a team leader, counselor, mentor, cheerleader, and friend in the church setting. Many times, those roles and responsibilities leave them feeling exhausted. But their biggest challenge and limitation is they feel unsupported and unappreciated.

There are two sides to the phenomenon currently in the Unification Church. On one hand, there are many lay women leaders in the church who have worked voluntarily for decades, supporting their local church ministry, keeping church life going, and maintaining the church to be functional in the local pastoral ministry.

On the other hand, even though they have the experience, ability and capacity to lead, they are often overlooked or ignored. They ought to be appreciated, accepted and acknowledged formally as teachers, lecturers, preachers, evangelists, assistant pastors or even pastors.

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Love, Soccer and Rock ‘n’ Roll

By Thomas Schuhmann

It was a staggering moment for many of his fans when Germany’s funniest entertainer, Thomas Gottschalk (his name means “God’s fool”), 68, announced in March his divorce from his wife, Thea, after 42 years of marriage.

The couple seemed to be living proof that century-old values of fidelity within a marriage bond could stand rock solid in the treacherous waters of show business, an example for many of his peers.

Yet, what seemed everlasting on the outside had finally given in on the inside, and “Tommy” had already provided for a successor to his ex-wife. A life of rock and pop, and he is a connoisseur, did not keep his love life from petering out. It made me wonder, on that particular day, what one could do to avoid that.

“Are you alright?” Mr. V. the Siemens technician asked me, while I was the security guard at the reception desk, after he ordered that I should call up Ulli, as the other house technicians were occupied. He didn’t say “how are you,” but played a fast ball like a soccer dribbler and passed it to me.

After a while I said, “I struggle along.” After Ulli and Mr. V. did their job, they chatted in the backroom of the gate. I thought the time was right to interrupt them. “A question to the experts. Why wasn’t there a sabotage alarm in the marriage of Thomas Gottschalk? If there had been a fault message, the marriage could have been rescued.”

“If the interest is no longer there”, Mr. V. replied, “the interest in each other, then probably they grew apart. Her living in Malibu, him in Germany.”

“It used to be called love, or fidelity,” I said. “Now it’s called interest.” Ulli giggled and kept his arms crossed. I had equalized, and the match was now tied 1-1.

“I’m married for the third time.” Mr. V. continued, “Two marriages are already behind me.”

“What a pity,” I said.

“The first one lasted five years,” he said mercilessly. “I confronted my ex-wife with the choice, either your mother or me. She wanted to stay in her mother’s house, lacking in independence, but she couldn’t cope with the baby, and I bore the consequences.”

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