Chaplaincy: A Gift from Heaven

By Barbara Robertson and Kathy Winings

Since March 2020, so many in our communities and families have come face-to-face with tragedy, death or a personal crisis of some type. Whether the crisis was due to the loss of a loved one from COVID-19, personal illness, loss of a job, hunger for human contact, or any number of issues, people have turned either to professional counseling, spiritual guidance or to a chaplain.

In particular, over the past year, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of hospitalizations — especially with long-term stays. What has made this more difficult for both family members and patients has been the hospitals’ “no visitation” policy or the allowance of just one visitor for the general medical floors.

Added to this has been the stress on the medical staff of long hours, increased patient loads and number of patients who did not survive. This context has increased the importance and value of the work of chaplains — most particularly hospital chaplains. This article presents the role and value of chaplains from a very personal and direct perspective.

One year ago, Dr. Winings began a new journey that started with a medical crisis resulting in a very long recovery period. While the outcome has been good, the journey itself could have been much worse if it had not been for the co-author: a professional chaplain. Even though Dr. Winings encouraged her UTS students to complete at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), she had never been on the receiving end of chaplaincy. That changed this year.

Based on Kathy’s experience, she now realizes what a gift chaplaincy is and how much a chaplain contributes to someone’s life. Pastor Barbara Robertson begins their story, sharing what a chaplain is, does and how they are trained. As a professional chaplain, Barbara has impacted so many people through her work at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, 85 miles north of New York City overlooking the Hudson River.

Barbara Robertson: What does it mean to be a chaplain? People often ask, “What is a chaplain?” My usual response is: we are like a minister without an agenda. Our role as chaplains is to meet you where you are, and help you identify your own inner resources that you can use to get through the crisis you are facing. We are not there to preach, convert or proselytize.

Thirteen years ago, while studying for my Master of Divinity degree at UTS, I was offered the opportunity to do an internship as a chaplain at Vassar Brothers Medical Center. With that first unit of CPE, I was hooked. Chaplaincy training is based on the model of “act, reflect, act.” What an amazing experience and what an amazing life lesson to always take time to reflect and then shift as needed.

Continue reading “Chaplaincy: A Gift from Heaven”

Let Your Light Shine Before Others: Spiritual Formation in the Age of COVID-19

By William P. Selig

When the test result came back positive a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d followed all the recommendations — two vaccine shots, physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing — yet still, I was infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Thankfully, the symptoms were mild, but for the following 10 days, I self-quarantined, which meant staying in my office, eating by myself, and distancing from my wife and family.

The experience was terrible. It was not so much the illness itself — I could deal with the flu-like symptoms — but I was troubled by the sense of “uncleanliness,” and that a passerby could “catch” my disease. It was also impossible not to feel fear and ponder the worst-case scenario. Instead of imagining a future with our grandchildren, I was left to wonder — are my affairs in order?

During this period of uncertainty, I drew on my experience teaching “Spiritual Formation and Integration,” which I describe as a process to discern God’s presence in our lives. I explain to the students that His concern is not how much money is in our 401(k) account, but the amount of love in our hearts. Through self-reflection, self-examination and contemplation, the students are guided to identify the “sacred” in the “ordinary,” and move closer to our Heavenly Parent.

Though there are different ways to understand spiritual formation, I resonate with Christian scholar Dallas Willard (1935-2013), who believed that people of all faiths go through spiritual formation. He uses the metaphor of flying to demonstrate its meaning: “One of the things I most like about flying is when you take off through the clouds and finally break through them into the sunlight.… It is so thrilling to break into the sunlight.” I appreciate this colorful image of breaking through the clouds into the sunlight as a way to describe spiritual growth. “Very likely we will not become perfect for some time yet,” he says, “but we can, as Paul urged the Philippians to do, ‘become blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.’”

An excellent resource for our class discussions is Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by J. Robert Mulholland, Jr. (1936-2015), who defines spiritual formation as “the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others.” This is a straightforward definition which uses Jesus as the model for a person who loves and serves selflessly, and lives/dies for a greater cause.

Continue reading “Let Your Light Shine Before Others: Spiritual Formation in the Age of COVID-19”

Constant Germany: Lessons of Steadiness in an Uncertain World

By Laurent Ladouce

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped down on December 8th after 16 years of political leadership. This unassuming person won international recognition as a model of leadership and was considered the most influential woman of the world for the past ten years.

The New York Times recently wrote of her legacy: “It is the end of an era for Germany and for Europe. For over a decade, Ms. Merkel was not just chancellor of Germany but effectively the leader of Europe.”

Rev. Sun Myung Moon often said leadership entails the ability to guide as a teacher, to embrace and unite as a parent, and to create projects as a master. Dr. Merkel, a theoretical quantum chemist from the former East Germany, rarely spoke like a scientist; her manners and rhetoric were simple, even dull. She never proposed any revolutionary project.

She was, however, the unbeatable team leader and referee who could get people to work together in a spirit of trust. She was perceived as the mother of the nation, affectionately called Mutti (mother).

Some saw her as an icon of female leadership. But more to the point, Merkel has been reassuring for Germans. Not just the exceptional woman, many Germans saw in her the average German they wanted to be, albeit in a leadership role. They felt secure with her. She was seen by large sectors of the German population as an embodiment of a cardinal virtue in German political culture: constancy.

*    *    *

Konstanz is a peaceful German university city on the Bodensee or Lake Constance. It is situated in the very heart of the German-speaking world, where Germany, Austria and Alemannic Switzerland meet.

Though this central spot of the German-speaking world is called Konstanz is a coincidence of geography, it’s also a good symbol. “Constancy is the complement of all other human virtues,” said the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72). Most German political leaders would agree. Modern Germany offers a model of political constancy which grew even stronger after the challenge of reunification. After Merkel is gone, this constancy will likely remain.

This essay focuses on Germany’s healthy institutions rather than on a remarkable person. Chancellor Merkel indeed has much merit. But German governance often allows for very capable leaders like Dr. Merkel to be elected and to remain. This is a lesson for us all.

Continue reading “Constant Germany: Lessons of Steadiness in an Uncertain World”

Balancing Elites and Masses in Two Legislative Bodies

By Gordon Anderson

Headwing society is one in which elites and the general population have a symbiotic and trusting relationship in all social institutions. Many types of social institutions exist in the different spheres of society: governance, economy and culture. However, because government involves legal power and can force people to serve the will of the elites who wield that power, government institutions can cause the greatest oppression and get most of our attention.

Sustainable societies need to be both intelligently managed and serve the needs of people, “the masses.” Slavery and serfdom are the starkest examples of the masses serving the will of elites. Only a small percentage of the population makes up the political class. But, without proper checks and balances, the elites in this class will use their power to become lords and masters, treating the masses as second-class citizens and expendables.

Earlier societies were governed by kings, princes and feudal lords. Aristotle referred to good kings as those who served the population, and bad kings as those who used the people to serve themselves. Today, in more complex institutional and bureaucratic societies, individual kings are often replaced by classes of elites in government administration, political parties, and those with great wealth or organizational power. Instead of merely focusing on individuals in power, we need to focus on social institutions and elites. While this problem needs to be fixed in universities, corporations, churches, NGOs, and all kinds of social institutions, this article uses the example of governance.

One way to balance the interests of the masses with the skill of elites in the law is with two legislative bodies. This can be constitutionally addressed with an upper legislative house representing elite expertise and a lower house representing the population, with each house having the power to veto one another. This allows only legislation that is deemed functional by the elites and enjoys the “consent of the governed.” This type of legislation began in ancient times and needs to be continually updated as societies evolve.

Ancient Rome and Tribunes’ Power to Veto

A significant historical development occurred in Ancient Rome when the “plebs” (the people, or working classes) decided they had enough of fighting in the armies of the patricians (ruling elite class) without any say in the laws their Senate passed. Without checks and balances, the Senate passed legislation that burdened the masses and provided the elite with special privileges.

Continue reading “Balancing Elites and Masses in Two Legislative Bodies”

The Five Pillars of Religion

By Esfand Zahedi

When speaking of religion, we often think of different belief systems with different goals.  Each religion has a holy book which, being revealed by God, becomes the source of the practices and beliefs of that religion and is often considered a sufficient source of truth for the religion’s followers. In many cases, the followers of one religion reject the authenticity of other holy books and religions.

A different perspective is to accept the divine Origin of all religions and scriptures, using all of them to know God and His will more intimately.  According to Divine Principle,

“…the purpose of every religion is identical. However, religions have appeared in different forms according to their various missions, the cultures in which they took root, and their particular historical period. Their scriptures have taken different forms for similar reasons. All scriptures have the same purpose: to illuminate their surroundings with the light of truth.” (Introduction)

One major world religion, Islam, was founded by the prophet Muhammed, who revealed the Koran. He confessed he was sent by God to the Arab people, teaching that he came with the same authority as the other prophets and that all the scriptures are from God. He called Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets Muslims, simply because they submitted to God’s will and worship no other.

According to Muhammed, the message of all the prophets is simple: there is one God and we are to worship Him. The word “Islam” means submission to God’s will and this is the essence of the religion. Aside from this, there is also the established religion of Islam which developed along certain lines and is often considered to be one religion as opposed to others. This is natural with all human institutions. If we can, however, think of an “institution of God,” not man-made but natural and universal, we can understand the essence of Islam, transcending all historical circumstances and remaining the same over time.

I believe that Islam — in this sense — is true, and have come to call myself a Muslim. I also seek to follow Jesus’ teaching and example in all things and that of Reverend Moon. I believe in the word of God as expressed in the Koran and the world’s scriptures, and in the prophet Muhammed and all teachers of God’s word. I find that the Holy Koran and the Holy Bible don’t contradict each other but lead in the same direction toward God. I also accept and practice the five pillars of Islam and follow the religion’s guidelines inasmuch as they are an authentic expression of faith.

Continue reading “The Five Pillars of Religion”

East Meets West Via the Arts

By David Eaton

Beauty has a transcendent aspect and whether we experience beauty through nature, or art, or through human relationships, we can be uplifted by beauty and attain a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Parent and with each other as brothers and sisters. In this sense the aesthetic beauty of art in general, and music in particular, can be considered religious.

Regarding the true spirit of artistic creativity, we read in Cheon Seong Gyeong, Book 10, Ch. 3:

The ultimate goal of artists, and those who work with the arts, is to reach the world of God’s heart … God’s ideal of creation for the created world arose from that heart. The starting point of art is the desire to represent that heart.

Accordingly, in the world of art there are no national boundaries. The purpose of art is not to serve as a tool of an ideology or an agenda. Its fundamental principles are harmony and unity. Divisiveness and conflict are fruits of fallen nature. Therefore the world of art demonstrates universal characteristics in all directions, bringing the East to understand the West and the West to accept the East.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon often said that “music and religion go hand in hand.” The word “religion” stems from the Latin ligare, which means “to bind.” Religion, then, is a process or method by which we can “re-bind” to God. Implicit in this explanation is the idea that at one point God and humankind were not separated and religion became a way to “re-bind” Heavenly Parent with the children who were separated due to the human fall.

Scripture also reminds us that all creation “groans in travail” awaiting the revealing of the children of God and the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:19-23). Attaining the Three Blessings and going the way of restoration is the means by which we can “re-bind” with Heavenly Parent and bring the creative process out of Lucifer’s domain and back to its rightful and godly position and purpose. Because Lucifer usurped creativity’s true purpose in Eden by way of false love, many artists have been similarly seduced by false attitudes regarding their creative gifts, and this has resulted in immorality, self-aggrandizement and selfishness in the artistic sphere for thousands of years. Rev. Moon often mentioned these pitfalls in various meetings with artists.

Continue reading “East Meets West Via the Arts”

The Principled Solution to the Tangled Skein of History Begins in Korea

By Sun Myung Moon

This is a selection of From the One to All Beings, commonly known in the Unification Church as Wolli Wonbon, which Sun Myung Moon wrote in 1951 while living as a refugee in Pusan. The only book that he wrote in his own hand, its nearly 700 pages covers all aspects of the Divine Principle and lays out a roadmap of the mission that he dedicated himself to fulfill in his lifetime.

Speaking of this book, the author said, “I wrote the ideas in condensed form, like poetry. Since I just wrote the essential points, people could not easily understand it unless I explained the main points to them.”[1] Here you can taste the poetic and allusive nature of this text and the special feeling that it conveys. To fully grasp the meaning of even a single paragraph, the translators[2] had to read and reread it at least 30 times. Even so, the reader may also find that it requires special effort to fully comprehend these words.

The chapter on Korea has four sections; this is the entire fourth section. It explains why Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon (True Parents) have been making efforts to bring unification to the Korean peninsula, which they see as the key to ending the historical conflict between democracy and communism and inaugurating a world of lasting peace. It also explains how this conflict can be ended; not mainly by political, military, economic, or diplomatic means but by having all people center on Heavenly Parent.

At this time when True Mother is so focused on achieving this goal, the translators present this text to the public with the hope that Sun Myung Moon’s words of 70 years ago will provide people with vision and purpose for carrying out this essential task, which is for the sake of all humankind.

◊ ◊ ◊

History has been winding on and on through 6,000 years to arrive at today. It should have wound freely beginning with the One as the clue. But from the start its windings were twisted and tangled, so much so that it appeared like a lumpy pile of thread, and no one could recognize the beginning or the end of it. How can we not but lament over this history?

People have struggled to get through history that is tangled like a pile of thread in order to escape from their distress. Yet, history was too tangled for people to understand the reality of the Clue, and hence they could neither grasp its beginning nor its end.

Continue reading “The Principled Solution to the Tangled Skein of History Begins in Korea”

Revelation and Theology

By Jennifer Tanabe

The new publication, Reflections on Unification Theology: Revealing the World of Heart, which I co-authored with the late Dr. Dietrich Seidel, offers reflections and insights into Unification Theology.

These insights come not just from the hard work of the intellect, but more subtly and quietly through that small voice that speaks to the heart, that reveals the heart of God. Beyond theological expertise, it takes heart to understand God.

As Rev. Sun Myung Moon himself remarked, God is a God of heart:

The Bible is like a love-letter written by a bridegroom searching for his bride and containing many secret codes. Why does God write in code? It is because God is a God of heart. Not everyone is meant to decipher the Bible … only those who have prepared themselves to attend the Lord with a heart akin to God’s heart can decipher the Bible; to anyone else it is an impenetrable mystery. … It does not matter how well you know theology. You cannot understand the Bible unless you interpret it by the flow and feeling of heart.

So, what is the purpose of theology? It is to understand God, God’s purpose for creation, and particularly the purpose of the creation of human beings, namely us.

How do we do this? We need God’s help. How do we receive God’s help in understanding God? Through revelation, and revelation comes not from our own rational intellectual efforts, but through the heart.

Without revelation, we have only our human reason to try to make sense of our Creator, the being who transcends human history in time and space. An impossible task! In fact, any description and understanding of God that we come up with on our own is doomed to be incomplete, and probably misleading.

Unification Theology depends not only on human reason but also on divine inspiration, or revelation, to bring its new understanding of God. I can attest that the insights contained in this book are not based on intellectual reasoning alone, but include inspirations that came through the heart.

Continue reading “Revelation and Theology”

Fulfilling the Four Freedoms Eighty Years Later

By Laurent Ladouce

With the pandemic rampant and lockdowns imposed worldwide, an economic crisis destroying jobs, political turmoil in much of the West, and religious fanaticism elsewhere, we ought to proclaim, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1941: “Freedom of worship, freedom of expression, freedom from fear, freedom from want — everywhere in the world.”

Eighty years later, though global circumstances have changed, his call remains valid.

The domestic circumstances of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech were highly exceptional. Ordinarily, Roosevelt would not have sought a third term in office; yet he even ran and won reelection to a fourth term in 1944. In normal times, there would have been no need for that special section of his speech to be given. 

It was exceptional, because the Great Depression had lasted a decade already. It was exceptional, because Nazism was then controlling almost all of Europe. Roosevelt faced two totalitarian threats, from Hitler and from Stalin. It was exceptional because of Roosevelt’s confidence that the call for more freedom everywhere would guarantee greater safety everywhere. We need such confidence today.   

The Four Freedoms guided democracy for eight decades. They should continue to do so, adapting to the challenges of the 21st century. They should again guide us in times of uncertainty, of great insecurity and major restrictions to our freedoms everywhere.

More than a major political manifesto, the Four Freedoms speech amounts to a prophecy. Its eschatology inspired many artists.

Here, I evaluate the spiritual and cultural importance of the Four Freedoms from a Unificationist viewpoint. I suggest Norman Rockwell’s four paintings offer the deepest interpretation of the Four Freedoms, by insisting on the primacy of family values. Finally, I discuss how the speech should inspire us today. 

Balancing freedom and security

The Four Freedoms are the centerpiece of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of Union Address on January 6, 1941:

Continue reading “Fulfilling the Four Freedoms Eighty Years Later”

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: