by Kathy Winings
An old adage used to be that there were two constants in life: death and taxes. For the 21st century, it seems that we have two new constants: cultural conflict and food. The news is replete with stories of the latest cultural clash, whether it is Palestinian/Israeli, Black/White, Muslim/Christian, Ukraine/Russia, and on and on. There seems to be no end to the cultural conflicts.
Then there is food. Food plays an important role in our lives. The popularity of top shelf cooking shows attests to this point. Food sustains our life, it comforts us during stressful or difficult times and it brings people together. It certainly isn’t by accident that food has played an important role in Christian ministry and spiritual life. Whether it is the feeding of the 5,000, the Last Supper with the disciples, or Holy Communion, food has been intimately connected with worship and liturgy. This is also true for other faith communities. Food’s ability to reconcile humanity — whether to God or with each other — and to heal our emotional and spiritual wounds is well understood.
This is what makes The Hundred-Foot Journey, based on a popular novel by Richard C. Morais, such a powerful and inspiring movie. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules; Chocolat), The Hundred-Foot Journey presents the challenges of getting along in our multicultural world and how food can be the vehicle for reconciliation and forgiveness during times of conflict as it focuses on the dynamic of a family from India and a French restaurateur.
The Kadam family business is food. The second son, Hassan, brilliantly played by Manish Dayal, is singularly blessed with a gift for cooking, a gift he inherited from his mother. Hassan is just beginning his training as a chef when his mother is tragically killed during a riot that also destroys the family’s restaurant. Having nothing left, the Kadam family leaves India and resettles initially in Great Britain before finally settling down in a small village in the south of France.
by Richard L. Lewis
The Divine Principle is unequivocal in its view that the vastness of space, with its quintillions of stars, was carefully designed to be the home for humankind to mature, multiply and have dominion of love. This is implicit in the Divine Principle, since an unfallen human race would quickly outgrow a single planet.
In modern cosmology, the Earth is at the center of the visible universe, a sphere with a radius of 13.5 billion light years. The boundary is 80 quintillion miles away in every direction and is visible in the light of cosmic microwave background radiation. The modern concentric spheres are crystalline but it is the Earth that rotates so that our view of them repeats every 24 hours. These spheres are not simply spatial but spatiotemporal; as we observe farther away in space, we also observe farther back in time. The Sun, for example, is eight light-minutes distant in space and eight minutes in the past as we see it.
The only galaxy visible to the naked eye (other than the home galaxy we are embedded in, the Milky Way) is Andromeda, which is 2.5 million light years distant and we see it as it was 2.5 million years ago.
With a modern telescope, however, we can see billions of galaxies out as far as 12 billion light years and as they were 12 billion years ago. There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way and about the same number of galaxies in the visible universe. It is only recently that technology has developed to the point that it is apparent that most of these stars have planets revolving about them, the exoplanets.
In a True Love culture, we can reasonably expect the human population to double every 50 years or so. So Y years after Adam and Eve, the population P of the Earth would have grown to P(Y) = 2Y/50 and the exponential growth would reach, according to the logarithmic graph below, current population levels in only 1,500 years.
By Robin Debacker
My husband and I were empty nesters when we realized that our expectations and needs were no longer being met by the weekly Sunday service. We were newcomers to Europe, having spent 12 years in Korea, but we’d been feeling the same there, too. An idea whose time has come, mixed with the need to become an agent of change, plus the prospect of a long, dark Belgian winter — these are what propelled me in fall 2013 to begin a survey that became a labor of love, and helped me identify what was missing, and what I could do about it.
I set about asking Unificationists in various parts of the world, “What is the format of your service, what inspires you, and what would you change if you could?” I realized quickly that many were also longing for a more authentic spiritual experience. The responses I received were thoughtful and honest and I think they deserve to be shared with the wider Unification community and beyond.
My instincts told me to avoid using SurveyMonkey and make personal contact with each person instead. I sent a private Facebook message to 930 people from September through November 2013. I was blocked three times, and Facebook eventually threatened to shut me down permanently, which halted the surveying stage and kick-started me into the data-coding process.
By that time I had collected 350 responses — two-thirds from the 50+ age group, and 103 from second gen. Meant to take the temperature of the average Unificationist, this grassroots survey focused primarily on people who are not in leadership positions. They came from 195 cities around the world — 38 states in the U.S. and 32 countries worldwide. Because so many thanked me for asking them, I called it the Thankyou4asking! project.
By John Redmond
My niece recently had a baby. My family and I went to see him after they recovered from the first wave of family visits. The great thing about a baby is that although he is tiny, all the pieces are there. He is in the formation stage.
In contrast, I have a teenager. Since he’s been gone for a few weeks, we’ve saved $15 or $20 a week on milk bills. He is not tiny at all; in fact, he’s pretty big.
When my kids were little and I said that clouds were made of dandelion fuzz that floated up and clumped together, they believed me because I was their dad. However, when they become teenagers in the growth stage, you can tell them the absolute truth and they won’t believe it. “Yes, that T-shirt looks really ugly, don’t wear it.” They wear it anyway. Your position shifts and your relationship changes. In the growth period, all relationships shift and there is a different approach to how good things happen.
All things reach perfection (completion), after passing through a growth period, by the authority and power of God’s principle. So this experience, passing from the formation stage to growth stage and at some point on to the completion stage, is not unusual or weird; it’s how things are supposed to work.
We, however, often get locked into a snapshot. We forget that things are going through a growth period and get stuck in a concept that things will always be like this. So, your kid is six or seven years old and he behaves a certain way. As he grows up a little and starts behaving in a different way, it surprises you.
Venezuelans hoarding cornmeal flour.
By David Stewart
I had been in Caracas for just a few days in June when a friend called me and excitedly said, “I have good news. They are selling sugar here and each person can buy four kilos. Come quickly with whoever is at home.” It was a 20 minute bus ride away and then we had to wait over an hour in line. But one spurns such opportunities at one’s peril in Venezuela in recent years.
I never had this experience when living in Caracas in the late 1990s, but this is now the norm. When visiting in March, I asked a clearly irritated mother, just leaving a supermarket, how long she and her young son had waited to buy harina pan, the cornmeal flour used to prepare the Venezuelan staple arepa. “Three and a half hours” she snapped. I could only sympathize and decided not to wait in line myself. The shops are now forbidden to sell this most essential product to anyone under 18, as, with its sale being rationed on the rare occasions it can be bought, whole families wait together in line to maximize their purchasing power.
The harina pan and sugar story is the same for toilet paper, milk, coffee — indeed over 25% of all necessary staples are rationed, being rarely available, according to the last scarcity figures published by the central bank in January. Even the government admits that the poverty rate leapt from 21% to 27% last year, mainly because incomes failed to keep up with soaring inflation, now officially over 60%. The economy is set to shrink this year by at least 1% according to even the government’s predictions. Yields on Venezuela’s sovereign debt skyrocketed in the past year, to just under 14%, tops among 50 emerging markets tracked by JPMorgan Chase. The latest hard-to-find item — coffins!