Unificationists in the Voting Booth

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By Joshua Hardman

hardmanThe 2016 presidential election is just six weeks away, and American Unificationists appear evenly split between the nominees of the two major political parties, with many believing they must decide between two highly imperfect choices. In a survey of 208 Unificationists I conducted in March, only 17% of respondents said Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump was their first choice.

Respondents were asked to rank their number one and two choices for the presidency from the five remaining major party candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump. The survey also included questions presenting respondents with general election hypotheticals.

Survey respondents were first procured by posting a message on the Facebook group “UC House and Travel Network,” a platform used by thousands of people around the world. I then had the help of pastors in major communities who made announcements and/or put a link to the survey in their community emails. Most respondents were from the East Coast, California and the Midwest.

This survey is not a perfect sample of the voting Unificationist population, and it is important to keep in mind that much has happened since it was conducted. The survey, therefore, is best taken as a snapshot in time, while its predictive value for the general election is limited.

With this in mind, I will mainly focus on the questions about the primary elections. Every state has different rules about who can vote in a party primary, complicating any nationwide analysis. The purpose of the survey, however, was to gauge voters’ inclinations rather than how they would, or could, actually vote.

Fifty percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 25% as independents, 16% were Democrats, 8% had yet to register to vote, and less than 1% were registered with a third party.

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True Mother and the Work of the Holy Spirit

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By Andrew Wilson

WilsonTrue Mother, according to the Divine Principle, is the substantial Holy Spirit. Now that True Father is in heaven, True Mother remains on earth, like the Holy Spirit was after Pentecost.

After Jesus Christ died, the primary subject partner that guided the early church was the Holy Spirit. In this parallel period after the death of Christ at the Second Advent, True Mother can be expected to lead the church and do works that are similar to those the Holy Spirit did after the death of Christ at the First Advent.

Accordingly, one way that we can appreciate True Mother and her works during these years following True Father’s Seonghwa is by understanding her mission in terms of the mission of the Holy Spirit. It is this role that I will address.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit fulfilled a number of missions in the years immediately following Jesus’ death, including: (1) bring the disciples to internal oneness with Christ; (2) promote evangelism to grow the church; (3) raise up new leaders; (4) establish new ordinances; and (5) clarify the meaning of Jesus’ words for the church. Let’s examine these five missions of the Holy Spirit and compare them with the work of True Mother over the last four years.

1.     Internal Oneness with Christ

Saint Paul describes the internal work of the Holy Spirit in the 8th chapter of Romans. The essence of this work is to bind Christians with Christ. Paul wrote, it is the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15-17). The Holy Spirit brings Christians into a parent-child relationship with God.

The Holy Spirit loves Jesus spiritually. True Mother loved True Father conjugally. Through the Holy Spirit, Christians are reborn as God’s adopted children. True Mother gave us rebirth as God’s direct children. True Mother spent three years to attend True Father on our behalf (in Korean Confucian tradition it is the children, especially the sons, who are supposed to mourn their deceased father for three years).

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Immortality: Reconsidering Unification Teaching on Eternal Life

By Jack LaValley

Jack LaValleyDivine Principle (DP) teaches all human beings are created to live forever in an invisible spirit world with God. In this article, I review Unification teaching on eternal life and suggest ways to improve it. This is important because the DP view of spiritual realities and how we can know about them is based on metaphysical assumptions no longer tenable in the modern/postmodern world. I make the case DP teaching on eternal life needs to be updated and offer points to consider to start this process.

Unification teaching demands no empirical evidence to verify its truth claims about eternal life. DP assumes when we die the same individual personality from earthly life continues in the spirit world:

“Our spirit self, or spirit, is a substantial yet incorporeal reality which can be apprehended only through the spiritual senses.  It is the subject partner to our physical self.  Our spirit can communicate directly with God and is meant to govern the incorporeal world, including the angels. In appearance, our spirit self matches our physical self.  After we shed the physical self, we enter the spirit world and live there for eternity (DP, p. 48).”

Based on the assumption human beings go to spirit world after bodily death and maintain the same personality embodied while living on earth, DP teaches the doctrine of returning resurrection. It explains how human beings living as spirit selves in spirit world “come down to earth” to exert influence over earthly people. During the 1980s and 1990s, two dramatic expressions of returning resurrection occurred in the Unification faith community, seeming to prove the existence of spirit world and spirit being interaction with earthly people (cf. 40 Years in America: An Intimate History of the Unification Movement, pp. 397-401; pp. 550-58).

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Mainstream Unificationism

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By Michael L. Mickler

Mickler full-sizeMainstream Unificationism upholds two core affirmations. First and foremost, it affirms Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon as the True Parents of Humankind. Second, it affirms the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC or Unification Church) and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) as the authoritative institutional expressions of Unification faith.

These dual affirmations are central to Unification identity and tradition. They are the sine qua non of mainstream Unificationism. Denial of one or both of them places one outside the Unification mainstream.

For most of its history, few within the movement questioned these affirmations. Members varied in their understanding of True Parents. They also behaved differently depending on their cultural background. But mainstream Unificationists did not challenge True Parent’s authority and did not seek to undermine Unification institutions.

That is no longer the case.

Mainstream Unificationism is now under attack. The most strenuous and ongoing attacks have come from Rev. Moon’s eldest and youngest living sons, both of whom at one time or another were considered likely successors. They have challenged True Parent’s authority, even their identity, and attempted to supplant Unification institutions.

Discord of this sort is far from uncommon in religious traditions. Sometimes, challenges to authority overwhelm communities of faith, especially new ones, driving them to extinction. Other times, religious traditions withstand attacks and root out opponents, stigmatizing them as heretics or schismatics. Occasionally, religious traditions channel dissent and opposition into sharpened or expanded versions of faith.

The intent of this article is to consider the structure, purposes and dynamics of mainstream religion as it pertains to religious traditions in general and Unificationism in particular.

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Evolution and Unification Thought

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By David Burton

BurtonWhen dealing with issues of science and religion, evolution is probably the most well-known point of contention. The two camps, “Creationist” and “Evolutionist,” are entrenched. Most Unificationists tend to side with the Creationist camp because of its support for theism. Although Unificationists often take a strong stance against evolution, a rejection of evolution is not required by the underlying teaching, and the situation is actually far from clear.

There is a middle ground in the debate between creation and evolution: It does not have to be creation or evolution, but can be both creation and evolution. This is the message of Divine Principle, when it suggests that internal and external truth should develop in full consonance.

If we are to bring about a true unity between science and religion, what is needed is a more inclusive approach, which can be derived from the ontology in Divine Principle and an acceptance of the validity of scientific knowledge. Unification Thought provides fertile ground for exploring the relationship between religion and evolution.

In contrast to the Creationist a priori rejection of evolution, one of the goals of Unificationism is to establish a unity between science and religion. Exposition of the Divine Principle clearly addresses the importance and significance of science. It states “the way of religion and the way of science should be integrated and their problems resolved in one united undertaking; the two aspects of truth, internal and external, should develop in full consonance.”

The text also acknowledges the validity of scientific knowledge, and even goes further in suggesting that religious teaching has changed over time to come closer to science. “Today,” it asserts, “people will not accept what is not demonstrable by the logic of science … Indeed, throughout the long course of history, religions have been moving toward the point when their teachings could be elucidated scientifically.”

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Cremation: An Acceptable Alternative to Burial

By William P. Selig

Bill SeligMany members have asked what is the Unificationist position on cremation. As a dynamic Movement relating to our Heavenly Parent, it is natural our traditions will continue to be reexamined and updated. Such is the case with our position on cremation.

The Tradition, published in 1985, was the first attempt to describe in an orderly form the official traditions of our faith – attendance, prayer, pledge, holy songs, holy salt, holy grounds, tithing, holy days and holidays, and birth and death rituals. It also put in writing for the first time our position on issues such as abortion, contraception, circumcision, as well as cremation.

Regarding cremation, it was declared to be “not in accordance with the Unification view, as it does not allow the physical body a natural return to the physical (material) world.”

Mother’s Position

After the ascension of Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 2012, the movement’s leadership passed to his wife, Mother Hak Ja Han Moon. On the one-year anniversary of Father’s ascension, Dr. Chang Shik Yang, former FFWPU Continental Director, North America, spoke with Mother and asked about cremation. She acknowledged that cremation has become common in Korea among members. Statistics are not available for the movement, but in the general population of Korea, almost 80% of people who die are cremated, while in Japan it is nearly 100%.

According to Seoul’s Hankyoreh newspaper, “A recent study shows eight out of every ten funerals is now carried out by cremation. It’s the result of a combination of factors, including changing family structures, more favorable perceptions among South Koreans, and a lack of space for burials.” There has been a big shift in South Koreans’ thinking due to Western influence and recently a strong government push to consider cremation as a way to save space. A law passed in 2000 requires anyone burying their dead after 2000 to remove the grave 60 years after burial.

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You Say You Want a Revolution?

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By David Eaton

david_eatonIn our current election cycle, we hear the customary calls for “change,” “moving forward,” and getting away from the debilitating “status quo.” Speech after speech is laced with calls for social and political revolution as candidates of both major political parties, as well as a few political outliers, vie for the presidency. Yes, change is necessary, but as we observe, everyone believes in change but no one wants to change what they believe.

Regardless of political affiliation, those seeking the highest political office view government as inimical to effecting change in the manner they consider most beneficial to the common good. Limiting government overreach is a concern of traditional conservatism while expanding the role of government is the aim of the present iteration of liberalism. This is an important debate, however. Whatever side of the political spectrum one chooses to identify with, protecting our civil liberties remains a significant issue.

The advocacy to utilize government censure as a way to achieve social justice is fundamentally at odds with our Constitution, not to mention Divine Principle. Regardless of what one may think about women’s, voters’ and minority rights, etc., we intuit that when freedom is diminished or oppressed, regardless of intention, our portions of responsibility cannot be exercised in a principled fashion and love becomes a casualty. Yet the impulse to coerce via governmental authority has become part and parcel of liberal, progressive orthodoxy when it comes to social matters.

As Charles Krauthammer reminds us, John Stuart Mill — one of the first liberals of the 19th century — argued in his essays, On Liberty, that “truth emerges from an unfettered competition of ideas,” and we improve our individual character when we are allowed to develop our ideas in a free and open society without coercion. Free speech zones, prohibitions on religious belief, ruling by judicial fiat — Mill would consider these to be an affront to a truly liberal society and a shift toward a dystopian culture. Today’s postmodern iteration of liberalism is a far cry from that of Mill, or even that of senators Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, or House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

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The Third Great Awakening

By Hugh Spurgin

This article is adapted from a sermon delivered May 15, 2016, in the UTS Chapel to a FFWPU New York regional congregation.

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We are living in a special time in history due to the role and mission of the co-founders of the Unification movement, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.  The time of Jesus was a period of transition from an old world to a new one when a new religion was born.   It took nearly 400 years for that religion, Christianity, to gain acceptance by the Roman Empire.   It will not take centuries for the Unification movement to be accepted because events are happening much more quickly in our lifetime.  It will take decades, not centuries.

Jesus proclaimed good news based on a new revelation that established a new religion.  Externally at that time, the power of the Roman army created stability in the Mediterranean world, establishing the Pax Romana that allowed Christianity to spread widely.  At the same time, new mystery religions internally caused uncertainty and insecurity for people; even Christianity had many different sects.

Out of that confusion, an entirely new world, not just a new religion, emerged.

There is a parallel between the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago and America after World War II.  The power of the American military and economy provided for a time of relative peace and stability called the Pax Americana.  Yet in the 1970s, when Rev. and Mrs. Moon arrived in the U.S., America was in a chaotic state.  Many people were confused and could not understand what was happening.  From my perspective, America was in a state of decline.  There was a danger that the United States would fall in the same way that Rome did when Christianity emerged.

During that time, Father and Mother Moon played a major role in helping to revive America, even though most people still do not know their historical role. Nor did people know who Jesus was, since very few people heard about him.

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Cognitive Dissonance and the Human Fall

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By Gordon L. Anderson

GordonI find it increasingly difficult to talk about the human fall in a secular culture by using scriptural justifications. The Divine Principle is a book written in the language and culture of Judeo-Christian thought, but the language of our current culture is more shaped by universities than by churches. I have found audiences show greater understanding of concepts like the Fall when using terms from social psychology.

Reaction and integrity

My basic position is that reaction is a characteristic of the growth stage and integrity is characteristic of the perfection stage or maturity. Adam and Eve were given a commandment “not to eat of the fruit” when they were children because they did not live in a state of integrity, and were subject to impulsive reactions. Adam and Eve fell at the top of the growth stage through such a reaction and disobeyed the commandment. If they had reached integrity they would understand the consequence of their actions and would not have acted blindly. Obeying the commandment would have kept them on course so they could each grow to maturity and be in a position to raise children from integrity before consummating their marriage.

Cognitive dissonance

The concept of “cognitive dissonance” can help us understand the motivation for the human Fall. Cognitive dissonance is when we expect one thing based on our beliefs and understandings, but experience something else. Cognitive dissonance causes frustration and is uncomfortable.

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