Original Sin Re-visioned

By Alison Wakelin

We as humanity face a reality today, especially in the Western world, where our original values are threatened.

We have focused on the nature of original sin in our attempts to return to goodness, but the true depths of the problem have not yet been clarified enough to comprehend why we experience division and conflict between groups who believe in the same origin story.

A lack of clarity and insight has led to unexpected loss of unity and love, even as Unificationists have been able to claim the victory of Foundation Day.

This same loss of love is manifested in an explosion of violence and political enmity in the world around us. In America, we are experiencing pointless mass killings, and our jails have become filled with lives destroyed by the atmosphere of violence and disunity which haunts our streets.

Humanity has been caught up in the story of the first transgression as a means of explaining our traumatized reality since people first began to wonder why human lives were dominated by suffering in a world of so much beauty and harmony. For thousands of years, our existence has been almost entirely dictated by religious thought, demonstrating the absolute need for a sense of meaning and purpose at the core of our being.

But the Western world moved on to a purposeless model for life, based on a materialistic paradigm within which science could grow, and current developments have brought us to a singular challenge — in which our choices today determine whether we move forward to a true spirituality, or whether we hold on to the flaws in thinking that designed our past.

We must make decisions about the myth at the root of so much of our troubles. Therefore, let’s look at an alternative telling of the story of our original human ancestors:

“Eve was feeling confused. She really loved their teacher Lucifer, and he seemed incredibly wise and knowledgeable, but she had to admit what he was teaching her wouldn’t pass the Adam test. But then, since Adam hardly ever turned up for their lessons anymore, she felt annoyed she should even think about how Adam would react. He was missing out on so much stuff that was really fascinating, and he would just never know how the universe came into being, for one thing.

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“I Have an Issue with That!”

By Andrew Wilson

The other night, I felt Rev. Moon say to me, “My son marrying me off — I have an issue with that!” To which I thought, “That’s for sure!”

Many Unificationists have heard about the goings on in the breakaway Sanctuary Church, where on September 23, their leader, Hyung-jin Moon, decreed True Mother divorced from True Father and then proceeded to “marry” True Father to Mrs. Hyun-shil Kang.

Mrs. Kang, who in December last year joined Sanctuary Church, has the distinction of being the first disciple Rev. Moon made in Busan after he finished writing Wolli Wonbon. Further, True Parents had blessed her to St. Augustine in 1998.

The strangeness and irregularity of this event is beyond question. We have heard of children wanting to divorce their parents. But this is even stranger: the youngest son, who claims authority from his deceased father and has a quarrel with his mother, divorces his parents from one another. Then he weds his deceased father to a follower who is submissive to his will.

His motive is to establish his claim to be his parents’ sole heir, and it is quite convenient for him if his mother is out of the way. That the parents whom this son are divorcing are the True Parents, who in the past stated publicly he was to succeed them as leader of the church, is the theological overlay providing Sanctuary supporters with a justification for this deed. Yet it only makes this human farce more unsettling.

Like all members of FFWPU, I can testify that Mrs. Moon remains devoted to her husband and never ceases striving to fulfill the goals that God asked him to achieve during his lifetime. I have ample reason to believe that the True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humankind are eternally one, love each other deeply, and that God fully participates in their love.

Furthermore, it is the bedrock of FFWPU theology that the eternal oneness of True Parents is the core and foundation for God’s Kingdom to be established throughout heaven and earth, and without that oneness there is no Kingdom. Also, the eternal oneness of True Parents is the basis of the Blessing that has defined our lives and affords all of us the hope that we as Blessed Couples can become eternal citizens of God’s Kingdom.

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Family Federation Is Not a Church

By Eugene Harnett

Four years ago, in October 2013, then-President Dr. Michael Balcomb circulated a “National Charter” for the Family Federation for World Peace USA, which was adopted. It set forth the structure for Local Family churches as well as purposes and policies for Districts and the National Council of FFWPU.

The Family Federation’s National Charter in America currently is written using sectarian language. It refers to local bodies as “churches” and local leaders as “pastors.” Thus, it gives definition to our national movement, leaders and members, and provides direction for who we are and how we operate. Without saying so outright, by default it affirms the Family Federation is a church.

Our organization’s mission is broad. The language it uses to define its functions and bind its members must also be broad and inclusive to reach out to the family of humankind in a welcoming manner. However, we use language that shapes us as a church in the pattern of Christianity, putting us in a sectarian box and making it difficult to act and grow beyond our sectarian nature.

Being defined as a church is a hindrance to the development of our family movement in America. It was appropriate for a time in history when we had to restore Christianity’s failure. That time has passed. In our founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s words, “The reason I brought an end to our ‘church’ and established the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification is because the time had come to focus on the family.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, p. 1103)

Further, he stated, “The time for me to lead the Unification Church has passed. Now is the time for horizontal expansion.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 9.1.3.22) We may understand this to mean that the vertical responsibility of faith has been secured by the Unification Church and the Family Federation has a different mission to express the love of God in the world.

In 1993, Father Moon officially changed the name of the Unification Church to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. But the church nomenclature persisted. Thus, Mother Moon before Foundation Day reemphasized this prior change: “I am changing the name of the Unification Church to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 12.4.3.38)

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Warfare in World Religions: Has the Time Come to Junk All Religions and Found a New One?

By Ronald Brown

I adopted my traditional “stick of dynamite” approach to get my students out of their Sunday school, Hebrew school and Madrasa ruts.

“All the world religions are so mired in religious warfare they should be destroyed,” I said. “What humanity needs is a new god, a new holy book, and a new religion.  Warfare and violence are so deeply rooted in the religions of the world they are beyond saving. They cannot be salvaged.”

So began my UTS course on “World Religions and Global Conflict” (LTR 5513) in the spring semester 2017.

Such a time to take over the course! “Christian” United States was bogged down in wars in Muslim Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia were threatening to go to war; Orthodox Russia was reasserting its superpower aspirations; Israel was expanding Jewish West Bank settlements and carrying out ethnic cleansing against Palestinian Christians and Muslims in East Jerusalem; China was fashioning Confucianism as the nation’s national religion; India and Muslim Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, were fighting over Kashmir, and the BJP Hindu nationalist party was busily transforming India into a Hindu nation.

My 20-some students reflected the diversity of UTS – American Christians of various denominations, students from the Philippines and Africa, Unificationists, and of course their residually Catholic professor. Many of the students were active in interreligious dialogue and eagerly spouted the tried and true seminary and church slogans, “God is love,” “All religions strive for peace,” “Only a few radicals believe in holy war,” and “A nice dialogue over coffee and cookies will bring world peace.” Other students were dedicated to peace studies and taking UTS courses in the topic.

My goal for the semester was to blow up the “God is love” myth and zero in on the centrality of holy war, jihad, crusades, terrorism, and genocide to world religions.

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Music as Universal Language

By David Eaton

Is music a “universal language” as Longfellow suggested? Or is this merely a platitude, easily debunked as a truism rather than an immutable “truth?”

Most of us would agree with Heinrich Heine, the noted German poet whose poems were set to music by Robert Schumann, Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn, who averred, “Where words leave off, music begins.”

Regardless of our cultural upbringing, we intuit that music possesses the unique ability to reach places in our soul and psyche in ways that words simply cannot.

Our Founder once said music is analogous to the spiritual realm in that it is invisible, vibratory and touches the heart. We all sense that music “speaks” to us and possesses the ability to convey and express emotions in powerful ways.

Though we may consider music to be a language, the way it speaks to us remains inscrutable and enigmatic. Mendelssohn, a composer whose music exhibits great lyricism and warmth, suggested music is more specific in what it expresses than words written about it could ever be.

That may be true. However, the same piece of music will often “say” different things to different people. Why this happens remains a mystery, but Albert Einstein (who played the violin and loved the music of Mozart) believed there was beauty in the mysterious, and perhaps that’s why we find the transcendent aspects of music to be so enchanting and enticing.

Music’s connection to spirituality and religious ritual can be traced to the earliest civilizations precisely due to its transcendent characteristics. The Sumerians, Chinese and Greeks held to the idea that communication with their gods and ancestors could be more easily facilitated when music worked its conscious-changing magic.

Taking their cue from the Greeks, early Christian philosophers — most notably Boetheus, Augustine and Aquinas — considered music to be a potent moral and ethical force that could either benefit or harm an individual or society due to effects on consciousness — individually and collectively. What music “said” and how it could potentially benefit society became important considerations.

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Another Way Forward: Our Next Steps to Take in Transforming American Culture

By Jack LaValley

Mother Moon (Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon) wants tribal messiah work in America to give millions of people access to God’s love through the Holy Blessing so they can practice “living for the sake of others” and usher in a new era of peace and security for all citizens. It’s a beautiful aspiration filled with expectant hopes and dreams.

The challenge to this ambition is few people know anything about us, and we are a group with limited financial resources. Our relatively small American movement has few resources to effectively tackle a multitude of serious social ills.

In this article, I explore how — after 40 plus years of unrelenting, sacrificial work by thousands of members and billions of dollars invested to “bring America back to God” — our movement has yet to emerge as a leader in transforming American culture.

I then look at how we might alter this situation and more effectively integrate Unification ideals into the fabric of American society.

I do not criticize any individual, institution or leadership, but prescribe next steps so we make good on our promise to transform American culture through Unification ideals.

Since the passing in 2012 of our founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon (Father Moon), our movement is in a period of reevaluation and self-correction.  From our IPEC 7-day National Divine Principle Revival Workshops, to the “God’s Hope for America: Remembered, Revived, Reimagined” bus tours, to the “miracle of the Madison Square Garden event” and our recently renewed “Blessing Movement” and tribal messiahship initiatives, we earnestly try to “get our message out,” hoping to influence people’s minds and hearts to embrace our worldview and religious teachings.  Our ongoing efforts to impact American culture come on the heels of some unthinkable internal setbacks.

Hundreds of our young adults experienced great shock and disappointed in 2012 when In-jin Moon, then president of our American movement and Lovin’ Life Ministries, abruptly resigned from her positions when it became known she had carried on an extramarital affair and secretly bore a child.

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Theological Developments in the FFWPU since the Death of Rev. Moon

By Andrew Wilson

This article discusses Mrs. Hak-ja Han Moon’s effort to assert her leadership and put her particular stamp on the Unification movement. Known as “True Mother,” she is emerging as an institution builder. If one likens Rev. Sun Myung Moon to Joseph Smith, then Mrs. Moon can be viewed as the movement’s Brigham Young.

She has faced opposition, because while both Rev. and Mrs. Moon have the theological status of True Parents, in practice members of the Unification Church made Rev. Moon, whom they regard as the Lord of the Second Advent, the focus of their devotion. There had been little reckoning with the prospect of his passing and how they would regard the leadership of his widow, who today is the remaining True Parent on earth.

The Question of Succession

At the time of Rev. Moon’s death in 2012, many members expected Mrs. Moon would merely lead from behind while training a designated male heir to take over leadership of the movement. Rev. Moon had made the issue of finding a suitable heir a matter of serious concern during the previous decade. But those efforts were unsuccessful.

The eldest son, Hyo-jin Moon, declined the position due to past overindulgence, which contributed to his early death from heart failure in 2008. Ironically, because he returned repentant as a prodigal son, he now occupies a place of honor among the True Children. The next living male heir, Hyun-jin (Preston) Moon had been widely regarded as the heir apparent, but that same year Rev. Moon appointed his youngest son, Hyung-jin (Sean) Moon, as president of FFWPU, and at a ceremony in January 2009 he and his wife stood behind Rev. and Mrs. Moon wearing crowns. The following year, Hyun-jin broke from the Family Federation to form a rival organization. Hyung-jin continued as president until early 2013, when he had a falling out with his mother and moved to Pennsylvania to set up a rival church.

Thus, while few members of FFWPU anticipated that Mrs. Moon would take the reins of leadership for an extended period of time, after the sons who were designated as heirs refused to work with her, most members gravitated to her. They were willing to accept True Mother’s authority after her husband’s passing because it fit with the church’s core teaching that Rev. and Mrs. Moon stand side-by-side in the capacity of True Parents.

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Collateral Beauty: Generated from the Midst of Chaos

By Jacob David

The last week of July was a horrible week in the political arena in our country.  The conversations that took place between some of the highest officials of our country and members of the press simply cannot be repeated to our children as the language and words used in communication left much to be desired.  I have seen plenty of animosity and hatred in the past.  But I have not heard such obscene and unacceptable language used at the highest level of the political hierarchy.

And now, we are here in this sanctuary to worship a Holy and Righteous God.  We come from such a chaotic world and we see ourselves worshipping and listening to the holy word and singing and praising a holy and loving God.  Here in this sanctuary we do have a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.  People from East and West, North and South, come together at this heavenly banquet.  And what we do here has profound significance and there is beauty in what we do.

This is deeply profound.

And here is where I find this beauty generated in the midst of chaos. Remember, Jesus was born also in a chaotic world at a time when there was so much political upheaval, movement, and migration of peoples around the world. He himself was part of a family that was moving – in that sense of the word, unsettled. He came into this world in that context.  Yet, at Christmas time, we celebrate the beauty of his coming into the world.

So, I like to think of this beauty that Jesus embodies as a collateral beauty, where there is a sense of beauty that is coming out of unexpected places, in the midst of events that were pretty chaotic.

In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God as a search for fine pearls, on finding one pearl of great value, and a merchant goes and sells all that he had to buy it.  A pearl is a thing of beauty (Matt. 13:45-46). It is fascinating how oysters make pearls.

Unlike diamonds and other gems, as well as gold, a pearl is the product of a living creature. It is also the result of suffering. Down in the depths of the ocean there lives a little animal encased in a shell; we call it an oyster. One day a foreign substance, a grain of sand, intrudes, and pierces its side.

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The Most Valuable Lesson of History

By Rohan Stefan Nandkisore

Most of us born in this era tend to take our advantages for granted. However the time of the Messiah living on earth is the shortest but most precious time period, especially compared to the providential time periods of previous ages. Studying history can be a valuable asset to learn and understand what privileged position we are in today.

Moreover, the contents of Divine Principle explain the purpose of life in great detail so that agony over fate, as seen in history, can be a relic of the past.

Contemporary science and comfortable living environments, though many are caught up by them, cannot compare with these deep contents.

Great chess players always study the historical masters in order to learn the art of playing at the highest level. So too can we Unificationists improve our attitude in this age if we study the lives of those who longed and lived for Christ in their ages.

In this article, I discuss two eras as well as two important leaders of their times.

The Era of Resemblance

A young mother approached a group of Roman soldiers, her clothes in disarray while she dragged her child along. She asked the whereabouts of the group of Christians that were to meet outside the city walls of Edessa. The prefect of the city, after criticizing her strange clothing, asked her if she did not know that they were about to search for and kill them. Her reply was this was the reason for her rush; she only was worried about coming late. When the prefect asked why she brought her child along, she answered: “It is that my child will participate in the martyrdom for God, suffer and receive the same reward as we will.”

According to the church historian Sozomenus, Eastern Roman Emperor Valens (364-378) had given a directive to punish those who came together for such meetings after he had spotted a gathering on his visit to the city the day before. He gave the order to prefect Modestus to intervene. He, in turn, sent out word about his intention of the next day’s hunt outside the city walls, intending to warn Christians so they would cancel their meeting.

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