A European Earthquake of Epic Proportions

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By Graham Simon

gs-1308On June 23, Britain held a referendum in which the public voted whether to remain part of the European Union (EU) or leave. While 48.1% chose to stay, 51.9% chose to leave.

The result reflected deep-seated frustrations within the British people, which had built up over an extended period of time, that neither UK politicians nor the leaders of the EU had fully recognised or made any meaningful attempt to address.

To grasp the truly momentous significance of this decision to leave the EU and its implications for Britain, Europe and the rest of the world requires some understanding of the political, economic and social history of Europe since the 1950s.

Following the Second World War, there was a resolve among mainland European leaders, particularly the French and Germans, not to allow the rivalries that had devastated the continent over the previous decades to occur again. In 1957, six nations — France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — signed the Treaty of Rome with the aim of creating a single economic market for the free movement of goods and services, capital and labour.

The economic union known as the European Economic Community (EEC) came into force ten years later in 1967. In 1973, Britain joined the club along with Denmark and Ireland. By 1986, the nine had become the twelve, bringing in Greece, Spain and Portugal, and in 1995, they were joined by Austria, Finland and Sweden.

In 1991, with the passage of the Maastricht Treaty, the EEC dropped the word “economic” from its name and soon thereafter became commonly known as the European Union. The Maastricht Treaty also heralded the formation of a common currency bloc, with member countries adopting a single currency, the euro. Britain opted out and kept its own currency, sterling.

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Can the Humanities Still Humanize?

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By David Eaton

david_eaton“The humanities are ruined, and the universities full of crooks. Art in America is neglected, coddled, and buried under chatter. The right looks down on artists; the left looks down on everyone.”

This caustic bit of pessimism is from a 2005 interview by Robert Birnbaum with Camille Paglia in the online magazine The Morning News. Paglia is one of the great straight-shooters in contemporary academic circles and a provocative read.

Though I share some of the pessimistic derision Paglia expresses regarding the perfidy of the “effete literati” (her term) that is now ensconced as the arbiters of cultural discernments and values, I remain hopeful that we can find our way out of the malaise of misguided misreadings regarding art, culture and the human condition. It is without question the humanities as understood and appreciated by those of a generation or two ago have undergone a radical transformation due to the pervasive and deleterious effects of postmodernism and political correctness. But this is not a new phenomenon.

In 1977, the American sociologist Peter L. Berger despaired over the condition of American universities as they evolved into “vast identity workshops,” where “for four years…students sit under trees with their shoes off and engaged in the not so arduous task of finding out who they really are.” For Berger, this kind of speculative navel-gazing had the effect of turning students into creatures of comfort rather than inquisitive seekers of higher knowledge.

In his book, The Victim’s Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, literary and film critic Bruce Bawer alludes to the stark contrast between John Stuart Mill and his advocacy of free speech as an essential characteristic of university culture, and neo-Marxist Herbert Marcuse, who called for “the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly” from groups and movements that didn’t advocate the leftist, progressive agenda.

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Challenges to True Mother’s Leadership

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Part II of a two-part article. Part I can be read here.

By Thomas Selover

2014-04-23 15.01.09 croppedMany factors can be identified as contributing causes to the direct challenges that True Mother’s leadership has faced. Here I will focus on two elements of East Asian culture, the concept of filial piety and the Korean royal tradition.

The Problem of Filial Piety

One of the issues concerns the strength as well as the limitations of the traditional concept of filial piety (효孝). The centrality of filial piety in East Asian culture is widely recognized. Moreover, there are many passages in True Father’s teachings that emphasize the father-son relationship, particularly toward God as Heavenly Father.

A specific Confucian requirement of filial duty relevant to understanding the present controversies in the Unification movement is that a filial son should not make changes to his father’s ways for three years after the father has passed on. According to Confucius, “If for three years he makes no change from the ways of his father, he may be called filial.” Therefore, according to this tradition, it is a son’s duty not to make changes for at least three years. Thus, from a son’s point of view, objections to changes that were made during the three-year mourning period for True Father would have the backing of centuries of Confucian moral sensibility.

Filial piety is indeed a strong cultural virtue in East Asia, especially in Korea, and is good as far as it goes. But, in contrast, the classical Confucian tradition offers very little content on the husband-wife relationship. At best, the ontology of East Asian philosophy supports a concept of reciprocity between husband and wife, based on the yin-yang model, but reciprocity by itself can be emotionally cold. The Buddhist tradition also, with its emphasis on celibacy as a path of spiritual discipline, is lacking in persuasive accounts of relational love and virtue between husband and wife. The way that True Parents teach about the relationship between husband and wife, emphasizing true conjugal love as the core, is a missing ingredient in East Asian tradition.

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The Providential Significance of True Mother’s Leadership

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This is Part I of a two-part article. Part II will appear next week.

By Thomas Selover

2014-04-23 15.01.09 croppedOn September 3, 2012, the Unification Church and movement entered a new and critical phase in its development. Long foretold by sociologists of religion and new religion watchers, the seonghwa (ascension) of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification movement, was accompanied and followed by anguish, confusion and realignment on various levels.

Even a brief review of the history of major religious movements shows that, in each case, the passing of the founder occasioned a fundamental transformation of the religious movement. Those movements that successfully transformed were able to survive and develop; those that did not have disappeared. The crisis of succession, or what sociologist Max Weber termed the problem of “the routinization of charisma,” would seem to be an inevitable turning point in the history of religious movements. The Unification movement is not an exception; this crisis and transformation were unavoidable.

The Unification movement is now in a very new stage of the providence, beyond what has been charted in previous understandings of the Principle and of Rev. Moon’s teachings. Even if events after his passing had unfolded in a different way, the novelty of the situation and its challenges would have been present nonetheless. Unification sources — especially the Divine Principle books, but also True Father’s speech volumes from earlier days — do not give us a comprehensive account of this time, although they do contain insights that we need. So there is a necessity for members to pray, study, and discuss together, seriously and respectfully.

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