“March Madness” and a Real Spiritual Life

UVA vs Duke

by John Redmond

JohnRedmond2We are big basketball fans at my house. Every March we fill our brackets and root for our team to go all the way. I usually pick the underdogs and end up enduring a lot of “trash-talking” when they lose.

For the people who are focused on things like jobs, politics and careers and missed the text message, “March Madness” refers to the NCAA Division I national men’s and women’s tournaments of the top 68 teams (64 for women) in college basketball, “win or go home” contests with no consolation prizes. For most of these athletes, this represents the biggest stage they will ever perform on. Very few will continue on to pro basketball after college, and most of those that do will have unremarkable careers. This is their big moment!

What makes this tournament so special is the unscripted drama of ten young men or women and countless coaches, parents, students, and alumni locked in a battle that will never be replayed. Players have prepared their whole lives for this moment: morning practices, evening games, endless drills, miles of laps around the gym, that lead to a nationally televised championship game in front of a full field house of screaming fans.

Professional sports often seem like a soulless battle of technically excellent players with no feeling required. College students do not have the cynical detachment of the pros; they believe, and pour themselves into their game with raw emotion.  Victories often hang on a lucky, last second shot, the momentum swings back and forth, the fans sometimes seem to boost their team over the opponent in spite of impossible odds. This tournament sees all of these moments.

Continue Reading→

Cultural Wars and Headwing Alternatives

Polarization

By David Eaton

david_eatonDoes the “Culture War” actually exist or is it purely a myth?

In the aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, Morris P. Fiorina of Stanford University and the Hoover Institution, published his book, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, in which he contends that the idea of America being a “deeply divided” nation is a specious claim. Offering copious data, Fiorina makes the case that a high percentage of Americans possess moderate viewpoints regarding social issues and politics, and as such, we are not as “deeply divided” as those on the fringes of the political/cultural spectrum (or news media) would have us believe. According to Fiorina, these fringe elements tend to confer with coteries who reinforce their particular perspectives and as such, do not represent the large, moderate and politically ambivalent demographic that seeks pragmatic solutions to problems.

This is a counter to the views of Pat Buchanan and others who have long held that America is under siege due to the encroachment of non-traditional religious (or anti-religious) influences and not-so-well intentioned multiculturalists. For Buchanan, nothing less than the soul of America is at stake. That said, Fiorina admits that there is something to the “newly emergent” idea of “Two Nations Under God.” He writes:

The culture war metaphor refers to a displacement of the classic economic conflicts that animated twentieth-century politics in the advanced democracies by newly emergent moral and cultural ones… [m]any contemporary observers of American politics believe that old disagreements about economics now pale in comparison to new divisions based on sexuality, morality and religion, divisions so deep as to justify fears of violence and talk of war in describing them.

By characterizing the idea of a culture war as a “myth,” while admitting that cultural concerns have displaced what heretofore had been conflicts born of economic concerns, is Professor Fiorina conceding that the “culture war” is more than just a metaphor?

Continue Reading→

The Crossroads: Finding One’s Path as a Second Generation Member

crossroads1

By Jenny Cox

Jenny CoxI think many members of the second generation are standing at a spiritual crossroads. One course leads the way we’ve been going our entire lives: the way of our parents, the way of the Blessing, the way of inheriting the faith tradition we were born into. The other course lies outside, through what we fondly call the fallen world.

Kind of a scary ultimatum, isn’t it?

In a time of many transitions and new starts — life goals, career ambitions, even marriage prospects knocking at one’s door — it’s almost too much for a young person to handle at one time. All of the most critical decisions of one’s life seem to be clustered in this tender three-to-four year gap between teenagehood and college graduation. On top of that, add the fact that most young people, in their late teens and early twenties, are still desperately trying to find themselves.

Young people are especially vulnerable to the whims of the world, as they are also expected, and sometimes herded, to go to college during this pivotal, impressionable stage of their lives. I regret to say that, while colleges do provide a wealth of knowledge and opportunity, college campuses are also rife with harmful influences. In such an environment, confusion on many levels is likely to trouble a young person’s mind; some would even say this is calculated.

At college, students are presented with a smorgasbord of various ideas and intellectual concepts. While a few of these may be true, it is difficult for a young person to discern between truth and mere conjecture, between fact and theory. When a theory is well-supported and popularly acknowledged as gospel, it is easy to be compelled to go along with the common opinion that it is fact. Uneducated young people are in this position to judge a vast array of conflicting ideologies without a point of reference. If they are already uncertain about their own identity and beliefs, by what standards will they be able to judge the rest of the world, especially when that world is speaking from a position of authority and experience?

Continue Reading→

Preparing for Our Seonghwa: Life as an Exclusively Spiritual Being

June 2005

By William Selig

William SeligWe live in a death-denying culture, the result of a human-centered worldview instead of a life centered on God. Because of the Fall, we lost not only the true understanding of life, but of death as well.

Reverend Moon said:

“I talk about death in order to teach the meaning of life. Who really knows the value of life? It is not the person who is going all out to preserve his life. The only person who really knows about life is the one who goes into the valley of death. He confirms the meaning of life as he desperately cries out to Heaven at the crossroads of life and death.” (“Understanding Life and Death,” Dec. 18, 1998)

Most people don’t think about death until we are forced by circumstances beyond our control, primarily, from illness or accident. Those fortunate enough to recover know how precious life then seems. When we assume that our life here on earth will go on as normal, we tend to take it all for granted, but when we are reminded that it has an end, then every moment and every day takes on a new and revitalized meaning.

We Are Not Alone

For the past six years, I have been working in a hospice or hospital environment. It is a precious and profoundly spiritual experience. Based on my observation, one of the biggest challenges facing a patient, particularly those in an end-of-life situation, is the sense of loneliness. Spirituality and religion offer patients a chance to reconnect to themselves, family, community, traditions, and ultimately to God.

According to the Principle, the cause for this sense of loneliness can be traced back to the Fall. By disobeying God and succumbing to temptation, our ancestors inherited the element of fear, which comes from a guilty conscience. This unnatural element has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is fear that drives people apart from one another, but most significantly, from our Creator.

Continue Reading→