Lineage and God(zilla): 60 Years of a Film Icon

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By Andrew Stewart

(Note: This film review contains spoilers)

AndrewStewartThe newest Godzilla reboot starts with a nuclear bomb, a ridge of spines in the azure waters of the Bikini Atoll, and a clever retelling of some of the most painful parts of human history. Expectations are set high at the start of the movie with bits of nuclear testing footage interspersed with “secret documents” that turn into credits. An organization named Monarch, that was part of the movie’s viral marketing campaign, is revealed in snippets and glimpses. “Godzilla” gets the plot underway with a panoramic shot of a beautiful unnamed Pacific island, and an introduction to the bones of a giant prehistoric being.

It should be easy to figure out where the plot goes in “Godzilla;” it takes a backseat to the action and is rather simple with a heavy focus on wide shots of monsters, destroyed military bases, and burning cities. Humans unwittingly cause their own problems in the film by waking up monsters that should have been left alone. The militaries are very ineffective when dealing with the beasts and of course the brunt of the battle lies in Godzilla’s hands. It’s a common trope in Godzilla films that the monsters themselves represent nuclear power, but they are portrayed more as a force of nature rather than malicious beings, and there is an eco-friendly message that the monsters are merely seeking to restore balance. Perhaps the best feature of the giant monsters is that they absorb radiation, thus, a relic of the old Cold War fear of nuclear winters and radiation poisoning is dispelled by the very beings that come to destroy humanity.

Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe) basically reveals the message of the movie, that Godzilla himself is a balancing force, and humanity’s fate lies in his hands: An angry reptilian guardian angel who does not mind wrecking cars and knocking down buildings like bowling pins.

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The Basis for a Constitution

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By Alison Wakelin

Alison WakelinNew times require new thought.

Western Unificationists cannot simply offer the U.S. Constitution as a model constitution for Cheon Il Guk because it is based on a worldview that increasingly reflects the way Americans used to think, not the way we would like to think in the future. It defines life in terms of ownership of material resources and the overarching need to escape the oppression of authoritarian leadership. More human rights-based thinking crept in over the years, but was relegated to the Bill of Rights that is supplementary to the Constitution itself.

The proper order for a healthy society is the reverse. The original purpose of life and identity of a human being should be the primary thrust of a constitution, while the regrettable need for some governmental authority and control should become secondary.

It could be argued that the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights are so obvious they don’t need verbal expression. To young people they probably are.

However, we see much evidence in today’s society that competing in the marketplace and living subject to the many and proliferating instruments of governmental regulation and control has produced a population that lives defensively. Society is finding self-preservation so burdensome that there is little room to care actively for human rights on a larger scale. Those who have been successful in the financial world tend to speak of their own rights much more than of the needs of others, and tend to see poverty as a sign of failure more than anything else.

Constitutional rights have become legal rights, and the legal world dominates modern economic life. Without a wide, encompassing basis for a constitution, it is inevitable that the restrictions will eventually become part of everyday life via a system of laws and societal institutions.

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What Is Absolute Obedience and How Do We Practice It?

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By Dan Fefferman

“Absolute faith, absolute love, absolute obedience…”
— Family Pledge, # 8

Dan FeffermanThe idea of absolute obedience, enshrined in the Family Pledge alongside absolute love and absolute faith, is problematic.

How can we be “absolutely obedient” to something or someone without violating another cherished teaching of Father Moon, namely “conscience before teacher, conscience before parent, conscience before God?” Moreover, if we practice complete obedience to any external authority, don’t we risk compromising our integrity in case that authority proves to be less than absolutely just?

One way of dealing with this problem is with reference to what I call the “three stages of obedience.” In a relatively early speech, Reverend Moon explained the three stages of obedience in the following manner:

“There are three types of obedience. One is just to obey whatever is told you. The next type is to obey while always seeking to know God, Truth and the why of things. The third type is obedience after knowing the heart of the Father.” (Leaders’ Address, 5-1-65, The Way of Tradition, Vol. II, p. 137)

Clearly there are three stages here. The first is childlike obedience (without questions), the second is adolescent obedience (with questions), and the third is mature obedience (already knowing). From this, we can deduce that unquestioning obedience is the formation stage, obeying-but-questioning is the growth stage, and already knowing God’s heart is the completion stage.

“To obey whatever one is told” is a necessary stage of development. If a child does not obey unquestioningly the warning voice of her parent, she puts herself at risk.

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Towards a Cheon Il Guk Society: Transcending Democracy

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By Gordon Anderson

GordonDerek Dey’s comment on my prior post, Updated: Thoughts on a Cheon Il Guk Constitution, is very astute. Understanding systems analysis in political theory fills an extremely important void in modern thought, within and without the Unification Movement. Derek’s discussion further supports the idea that a constitution should reflect the principles of the “ideal world” as explained in Divine Principle, Chapter 1. He noted that “Americans believe their constitution defines all,” that other people view the ideal society in the image of their own.

His comment raises the basic point of whether members actually believe their own political system is ideal. I don’t think anyone would join the Movement if they thought their own system was the ideal. They join because they realize they live in a fallen world and changes are necessary. Members in various countries are, nonetheless, aware of virtues in their own societies they would like to retain. Sometimes those things we consider good actually aren’t so good. Other times those things we want to retain are principled.

For example, if we have a society that says “each person has a right to a fair trial,” this is consistent with the Divine Principle, because it affirms the idea that each human being is an individual truth body of infinite value and worth. On the other hand, the idea of “one person, one vote,” might be inconsistent with the Principle because it denies the concept of qualification for citizenship based on having passed the growth stage to become a responsible adult.

What to transform and why

The real challenge in designing a constitution for an “ideal world,” is (1) to learn what has to change and why, and (2) how to implement the change without causing unnecessary pain and death.

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Democracy, Theocracy or Both? The Politics of Cheon Il Guk

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By Michael Mickler

Mickler full-sizeMore than 20 years ago, in an unofficial Unification publication titled Currents (Fall 1989), Bruce Casino asserted that Unificationists hold four distinct positions on democracy:

  1. Some members, he said, believe that a republican democratic form of government is required in God’s ideal.
  2. Other members believe God alone knows what the ultimate political system is, but democracy is the best way to get there and is certainly the political system God wants at present.
  3. A third group believes a democratic, constitutionally limited monarchy after the British model is the ideal.
  4. A final group believes the ultimate goal is a non-democratic monarchic feudalism patterned after the movement’s internal polity — the “Korean kingdom” approach.

Casino argued that “close examination of fundamental Unification concepts leads inescapably to the conclusion that democracy is mandated by the religious doctrine of the Unification movement.”

He went further, stating that Unification religious tenets “support a republican, democratic system modeled after the American constitutional system, with elected representatives and a separation of powers between legislative, executive and judiciary.”

What the movement sought, he contended, was not to alter the republican, democratic system, but to focus it on “higher ideals,” a “greater spirituality” among citizens, a stronger sense of community, and to combat immorality, materialism, and racism.”

The question is whether Casino’s conclusions apply in the Cheon Il Guk (CIG) era.

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“Heaven Is for Real”: Profound Truths Are Not Complicated

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by Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2Hollywood these days is rolling out religiously-themed movies for the big screen with marquee name actors. So far we have seen Son of God, God’s Not Dead and Noah.  Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale, will be released in December. Heaven Is for Real is the latest in this line-up of the faith-based genre.

Based on the bestseller of the same title written by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, the film focuses on the experiences of Burpo, a Wesleyan pastor in a small Nebraska town and his four-year-old son Colton, who has a near-death experience while he is undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix.

Colton’s experience is unusual in that he does not die during surgery, which is the case with most near-death experiences. On the operating table, Colton sees himself being operated on and is then escorted to heaven by angels where he ultimately meets Jesus. Jesus then proceeds to take him on a quick tour, introducing him to some of Colton’s relatives including his great-grandfather and older sister who died in the womb. As Colton describes it, heaven is more beautiful than anything he has seen before. The remaining focus of the film shifts to his father’s struggle to make sense both personally and theologically of his son’s experience. This in turn has a serious impact on Todd’s congregation.

The movie paints a picture of a typical Midwestern farming community in which everyone, the Burpos included, is struggling to make ends meet. Todd pastors a small Wesleyan Church, but like so many contemporary churches, he must maintain a full-time outside job in order to take care of his family.

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Applied Unificationism’s First “Blog-iversary”

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The Applied Unificationism (AU) Blog launched a year ago on May 1, 2013. Its hosts, Unification Theological Seminary and Barrytown College, as schools for people seeking to understand how to bridge faith and reality, aimed to create a site where worthy ideas applying Unificationism to all aspects of society can be discussed among members and friends of the FFWPU and related organizations. In a time of transition since the passing of our Founder, we have also sought to make it a place where the future of the Family Federation and its work may be thoughtfully discussed.

Since then, the AU Blog has received 48,000 hits from over 150 countries with more than 200 email followers, published over 75 articles and posted 400 comments. Our material is regularly linked to from Facebook (where we get the majority of our referrals), email listservs, the UTS Alumni site, and occasionally the FFWPU-USA opinion page. We began a Twitter account last year (@UTS_AU_Blog) and will create a Facebook page soon.

At the end of last year, we unveiled a new site design that has been very well-received, and from January have published a number of articles that generated a large number of site hits, in one case almost 1,000 in a day. Article contributors have expanded from largely UTS faculty to a broad and international range of writers, which continues to grow each month. In April, we began a new feature: film and book reviews, and especially encourage reviews from second generation Unificationists. As always, we welcome new op-ed/commentary submissions of 1,000-1,500 words.

And if you haven’t already, please “Follow” the AU Blog by signing up on the home page to receive an email each time we post something new.

If you like what the AU Blog is trying to achieve, please consider sending a monthly (or even one-time) donation to UTS/Applied Unification Blog.

This will specify the use of your donation for this Blog. Use the Donation Page on the Barrytown College website and select the “Applied Unificationism Blog” on the pulldown menu.

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