Climate Change: Rethinking the Debate

By Rob Sayre

The debate about climate change has mirrored the political divide in the U.S., with the political party in power standing behind their own understanding and agenda.  President Obama signed the Paris Climate Accord and in June, President Trump pulled out of this international agreement to limit CO2 emissions and reduce the worldwide temperature by 2°C.

At the heart of the disagreement is whether or not the rises in temperatures are manmade. Over 30,000 scientists and others insist no. Just as many other scientists, including those from NASA, say yes.

The U.S. military is already planning how to respond to rising sea levels regardless if this is due to man’s activity, natural forces, or both. Pope Francis in his encyclical on climate change, exhorts us: solving climate change means protecting the planet and vulnerable people, and we must hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”  Faith can guide us. “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains – everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”  Other religious views provide a similar outlook.

The Foreword to God’s Will and the Ocean, Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s collected words on the ocean providence, notes,

“The Third Blessing exhorts humankind to take its proper position in the universe: ‘. . . and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and of the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ Thus humankind indeed becomes the God-centered caretaker of the world, empowered by the benevolent love of God rather than greed and selfishness. In essence, these are the responsibilities of humankind, and when respectively fulfilled, they become the wonderful blessings of life.”

If we substitute stewardship for dominion, I think we get the essence of what Father Moon taught about man’s proper relationship with the Creation.

One Metric is Not Enough

Worldwide temperatures are too broad a metric to use as a decision-making tool. This one metric is being used to guide nations worldwide to make significant policy decisions and monetary investments. The scope is too large and while not inaccurate, it is less relevant and helpful in making decisions. Does anyone use the average temperature of their country to determine their current driving conditions? Of course not. We use more relevant and local predictive tools. And so it should be with climate change.

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The Wounded Healer Paradigm: A Spiritual Approach to Conflict Resolution

By Drissa Kone

The term “wounded healer” was first coined by psychologist Carl Jung. It described the healing of the patient while the healer himself is in pain. For most people, the immediate reaction to hurt and pain is the fight or flight paradigm.

The flight or fight human response is similar to what animals do when in danger. From this perspective, protecting oneself, and in most cases, taking revenge against one’s oppressor became highly valued.

The flight-fight response was challenged by an alternative response to threat. Victor Frankl, the 20th century psychiatrist, impacted the world with his view of the stimulus and response to suffering and torture. He himself was tortured in a Nazi concentration camp and while enduring suffering, he discovered the truth about human response to pain and hurt.

He said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” In fact, in a conflict situation, we can chose to flight or fight but also to treat our opponent as a patient, a person who is also hurt and needs help. Frankl’s experience in the concentration camp opened a new paradigm to resolving conflict in our everyday relationships.

Conflict is a sad reality of our everyday human experience. Historically, religious conflict has often led to misunderstanding and division between people. The Unification Movement, founded in 1954 by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, which aims to bring peace between people from different faiths and cultures, is facing internal turmoil. Though the Unification Movement has been a major advocate of unity among religions, it currently faces internal division and conflict.

Could the wounded healer paradigm be applied to the current conflict to bring the divided family back together again?  Can the conflict be seen from a spiritual dimension? A spiritual approach to conflict includes the search for human soul, which also extends to the death of ego and the emergence of the spirit.

During the first 40 years of its development (1954-94), the Unification Movement flourished under the charismatic leadership of Rev. Moon. Father Moon’s wife, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, began to take a more prominent leadership role in the worldwide movement with the establishment of the Women’s Federation for World Peace (1992).

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Experiential Education: Making the Classroom Relevant

By Scott Simonds

I’ve been a fan of experiential education since I was in high school.

I remember sitting in algebra class factoring quadratic equations, thinking, “Why am I learning this, how will I ever use this in the future?”  The teacher didn’t explain what a quadratic equation was used for (determining the area of a rectangle if the sides are increased).  That would not have mattered to me unless I was expanding the floor area of a room and had to determine how much ‘70s-style linoleum I had to order.

Although I can do the math now, over the past 63 years of my life, I never had to use it.  I have difficulty remembering events and dates, except those that recur in historical movies, like “The Guns of Navarone” or Ken Burns’ documentaries.  Movies, biographies and historical novels have been more helpful to me than history text books.

Robert Fulgham wrote All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  Learning to read and write, and a little math, opens the door to lifelong learning.  Certainly, classroom instruction has its place — I wouldn’t want to be operated on by a surgeon who learned only by trial and error — but even the surgeon’s book learning is connected to observing surgical techniques.  The surgeon acquires volumes of knowledge pertaining to the art of saving lives and improving health through a combination of study, observation and practice.

I’m partial to experiential learning because I had the good fortune to be born into a family that urged us to push the boundaries of exploration from an early age.  Our family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, when my father was appointed to a position in Washington, DC, by Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine.  I was 13.

Dad got me a job working at the Smithsonian.  I was very excited.  I pictured myself putting dinosaur bones together or hanging space capsules and bi-planes from the ceiling of the Air and Space Museum.

The job turned out to be cleaning up and organizing the pharmaceutical division of the Museum of Science.  It was interesting to see spring-loaded gadgets used for bleeding, hand-cranked drills for relieving pressure on the brain and remedies derived from animals burned to ashes (lizards that retained their shape).

But the lasting impressions I have are about what was happening outside on the grassy mall.  There were anti-war demonstrations and marches on poverty.

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God’s Will and Christmas

The speech below was given December 25, 1976, New York, NY

By Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon

Today is Christmas, 1976, and people around the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. In the history of the Unification Church the year of 1976 was a most critical and extraordinary year and today we have ample reason to be grateful, especially as we gather together for the first service in this holy place, our Manhattan Center.

We are not an ordinary group. There are many Christians in the world but the Unification Church and this particular gathering have a special meaning and purpose in God’s dispensation. It is most important in celebrating this day of Christmas to know the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. Without knowing that purpose clearly this celebration is meaningless, so this morning I would like to deliver a message on the topic, “God’s Will and Christmas.”

When we ask if God’s original intention for this world has been completely fulfilled, the obvious answer is no. The will of God was thwarted because of the fall of man. Through history fallen mankind has been searching for the ultimate fulfillment of the will of God and the purpose of creation. As this providence has been advancing on many different levels of the individual, family, society, nation and world, God’s original will or blueprint has never changed. All the while that unchanging goal has been there for man to accomplish, waiting for man to catch up.

God is eternal, unchanging, absolute and unique; therefore, the will of God is also eternal, unchanging, absolute and unique. God cannot yield His original standard or give up His principle because of the failure of men. He cannot compromise or deviate from His original goal no matter how much sacrifice we men have to pay. He cannot come down to the level of men; men must go up to the level of God.

Realization of the ideal hinges upon the perfection of one man

As soon as the fall of man took place, God’s will focused on the goal of restoration. God Himself is destined to save mankind, to show people how to get out of the fallen state and into the original ideal of creation. That is the providence of God’s salvation, or restoration. Throughout history men have not been in a position to save themselves; salvation comes instead from a higher place. This is why a savior must come to save mankind. As yet no individual has successfully showed God’s original ideal of creation to the world….

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL SPEECH →

Global Warming from Mexico to Washington, D.C.

By Ronald J. Brown

The evening of October 9, 2017, I was sitting on the small balcony outside my budget hotel in Palenque, Mexico, when I first met the ancient Maya god Unen Kawiil.

I had learned to expect Mexican cataclysmic manifestations of nature from my many visits there. I experienced earthquakes strong enough to wake me out of a deep sleep, the periodic eruptions of a volcano near Mexico City, rain storms, lightning displays, hurricanes, and roaring thunder enough to make me appreciate the pagan gods who controlled them.

Mexicans are so accustomed to natural disasters and death they have created national holidays to them. The unique Mexican holiday called El Día de los Muertos, “The Day of the Dead,” stretches from October 31 to November 2 and is its most popular holiday. The residents of a death-plagued country spend an entire week honoring death.

My vacation in Mexico from September 25 to October 16 was preceded by natural disasters. On September 7, the state of Chiapas in the southernmost part of the country was rocked by an earthquake measuring 8.1, and aftershocks almost as strong for days afterwards. On September 19, another quake measuring 7.1 struck Mexico City, killing hundreds.

My rich experiences with the powers of nature well-prepared me for the arrival of the Maya god of lightning. I caught my first glimpse of Unen Kawiil announcing his arrival as he crept over the distant jungle. Like a giant, the storm marched across the fertile flat jungle, slowly approaching the base of the Chiapas Mountains and ruins of the many temples and palaces of the city of Palenque that once ruled the plains. Slowly the god crept closer and closer, each time announcing his presence with a flash of lightning from his eye.

Sent ahead to prepare his arrival was a windswept cloak of black clouds and the first pattering of raindrops. By my third glass of wine, he was hovering above, surrounding me with wailing winds, lashing rain, and most importantly, blinding bolts of lightning. It was not the rain or wind that announced the arrival of the god but rather the shattering bolts of lightning.

According to the complex mythology of the kingdom of Palenque, it was such bolts of lightning that first separated the earth from the primal sea and prepared the world for the advent of humanity some 5,319 years ago. According to Palenque inscriptions, Unen Kawiil was born in the year 3,121, only 188 years after creation according to inscriptions.

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The Challenges in Addressing White Normativity

By Kathy Winings

One of the greatest challenges facing the global community is humanity’s inability to live in authentic relationships with those considered to be “other,” to create what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called the “beloved community.”

Such a community, though it has seemed like an unattainable dream, is where all are equal in value, respected and loved, and in which there is no poverty, need or fear of the other, regardless of race, culture, religion, or gender.

Instead of enjoying authentic relationships, we continue to witness xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination due to our fears, perceptions and fallen nature that have helped create our hegemonic systems privileging one group of people over another.

In the United States, our xenophobic fears and intolerant attitudes, stemming from our history, have resulted in a society heavily focused on white privilege, white supremacy and systemic racism.

In other parts of the world, people’s fears and intolerance have focused on the large-scale influx of refugees and immigrants from Africa and the Middle East throughout Eastern and Western Europe; or the issue of the First Nations People in Canada; the aboriginal peoples in Australia; or, the tensions between Dominicans and Haitians on the shared Caribbean island of Hispaniola, to name a few.

Thus white normativity is an issue requiring our immediate attention. Otherwise, we will continue to hurt the hearts of these “others.” Religious, racial and ethnic disunity and conflict is one of the three headaches defined by Reverend and Mrs. Moon.

In speaking of white normativity, privilege and supremacy, it is important to clarify one’s definition of these terms and their interrelatedness.

White normativity is the defining of cultural practices, attitudes, assumptions, and ideologies in the wider society and culture using the white culture as the standard, the norm.  White privilege is similar in that there are freedoms, advantages, benefits, access, and opportunities whites enjoy — consciously and unconsciously — that are not necessarily enjoyed to the same degree by other ethnicities. White supremacy refers to the system of structural or societal racism that privileges whites, whether or not there is racial hatred present. Regardless of the term used, this is a serious issue in creating a beloved community.

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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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