Living in the Post-Truth World

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By Graham Simon

gs-1308The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is “post-truth – an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

In October, a British filmmaker, Adam Curtis, produced a 2 hour 46-minute documentary titled “HyperNormalisation.” The provocative trailer to the film starts with the words:

We live in a world where the powerful deceive us
We know they lie
They know we know they lie
They don’t care
We say we care but we do nothing
and nothing ever changes
It’s normal
Welcome to the post-truth world.

The fundamental thesis of Curtis’s documentary is that governments and politicians, themselves beholden to business interests, have deceived us so brazenly and for so long, that we no longer expect to be told the truth. Bereft of the hope that we can shape the world in which we live in a meaningful way through the political process, we channel an increasing amount of our energies into inconsequential pursuits that take place in cyberspace rather than the real world. When we do participate in the political process by casting our vote, our selections are frequently made not on the basis of truth, facts or likely outcomes, but out of frustration, confusion and disaffection. To Curtis, both Brexit and Donald Trump are evidence of this post-truth world.

This article addresses two questions: Whether the notion of a “post-truth world” actually describes a new reality, and, how we got to where we are today.

The “post-truth” world: a new reality or sour grapes?

The notion of post-truth suggests that people have historically had access to objective information and possessed the ability to assess the objectivity of facts presented to them when forming an opinion.

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Does the Unification Movement Flourish More Under Republican Administrations?

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By Michael L. Mickler

Mickler full-sizePundits and candidates continually debate which of the two major political parties is better for the United States, particularly on the economy and keeping the peace.

During the most recent election cycle, Hillary Clinton claimed, “The economy always does better when there’s a Democrat in the White House.” On the other hand, it has been pointed out that all of the major U.S. wars in the 20th century—World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam—were entered by Democratic administrations while Republicans began détente and ended the Cold War peaceably. Partisans on both sides argue their positions, mostly to the bewilderment of the public.

If the situation is murky with respect to the economy and war, Republicans and Democrats have settled into less ambiguous postures vis-à-vis religion. Gallup Poll research shows, “Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party,” whereas “non-religious Americans” are significantly more supportive of the Democratic Party, the exception being Black Americans who are “very religious on average” and heavily Democratic.

Pew Foundation research indicates the same. A recent study showed, “About two-thirds (68%) of white evangelicals either identify as Republicans or lean Republican” while “61% of those who do not identify with any religion lean Democratic.” This has led to a “God Gap” between the two parties.

Still, the question is whether Republican administrations lead to the flourishing of religion in general or, for the purpose of this article, to the flourishing of the Unification movement.

Simply put, “very religious” American churches and organizations, which include the Unification movement, do better under Republican administrations but not because of Republican administrations. Rather, the social forces and conditions that sweep Republicans into power are the same ones that reinforce values and goals of “very religious” Americans.

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“Collateral Beauty”: A Conversation with Time, Death and Love

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By Kathy Winings

kathy_winings_3_profileThe death of a child is probably the most devastating experience a parent can go through. This is made all the more devastating when the child is very young and has just begun to spread his or her wings.

This is the experience of Howard Inlet (Will Smith) in the new film “Collateral Beauty.” Howard’s whole life has been turned upside down with the death of his six-year old daughter. Unable to deal with her death, Inlet, once the creative force behind a successful New York advertising agency, withdraws completely from life. Over the year following her death, he only comes to the office to create massive and intricate domino-like designs that he proceeds to topple once the masterpiece is complete. He retreats so far into his grief that he does not eat or sleep, does not communicate with his business partners and friends, sits alone in a dark apartment, and cycles recklessly through the city day in and day out.

During one of his daily cycling rides, Howard appears to stumble on a support group for parents who have lost a child. He finds himself periodically sitting in on their meetings only to leave if asked to share about his experience. Over time, he begins conversing with the group’s director (Naomie Harris) who also lost a child, a six-year old daughter, to cancer. It is during one of their conversations that she shares a concept that helped get her through her grief. This concept is the phrase “collateral beauty.” As she describes it, collateral beauty is recognizing the possibilities of meaning and beauty that are all around us even in the midst of death and pain. But Inlet cannot move past the pain of his loss and cannot or will not acknowledge what happened to his daughter.

Trying to salvage a now-suffering business and also wanting to reach out to their friend, Howard’s business partners Claire (Kate Winslet), Whit (Edward Norton) and Simon (Michael Peña) take the drastic step of hiring a private detective to follow Howard in the hope of obtaining evidence that can be used to force him to turn over his controlling stock in the agency.

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What Does “Begotten” Really Mean? How Misunderstanding Words Can Lead to Unnecessary Division

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By Franco Famularo

ro.vis1b_3343.famularo.f51The English word “begotten” is problematic for Unification teaching both within the Unification family and in efforts of Unificationists to reach out beyond Unification circles – especially, but not limited to, Christians. This article seeks a mediating position.

There are too many lessons from history that demonstrate how one letter, one word or one phrase led to divisive misunderstanding, and in some historical and exceptional cases, violent conflict.

For brevity, consider that the Christian church in the third and fourth century eventually split over the use of one letter.

Was Jesus “homoousios” (ομοούσιος) or “homoiousios” (ὁμοιούσιος)?

Without knowing Greek, it is easy to miss the nuances. However one of the main issues at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. was whether Jesus was of the same substance as God (homoousios) or of a similar substance (homoiousios). The letter “i” made all the difference.

This led to the split between Arius, who believed Jesus was of a similar substance but not God himself and Athanasius and those who eventually aligned themselves with Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea and concluded that Jesus was of the same substance — God himself.  In the view of Nicean Christianity, Jesus is God.

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Medicine: Eastern or Western, Conventional or Complementary?

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By Catriona Valenta

img_0437-jpg_lucid_1Let me declare a conflict of interest. My career as a provider of Western medicine has greatly influenced me, and I have never chosen complementary medicine myself, nor have I recommended it to my patients.  And 38 years of membership of a spiritual organization has not left me unaffected. I have long been fascinated by the sometimes fine line between science, spirituality and superstition.

It is undeniable that there has been an enormous surge of interest in “alternative medicine,” and with the ageing of our own UC baby boomers, many of us have friends who may be tackling serious illness with non-conventional treatments.

What did Reverend Moon mean when in his 1987 speech to health care professionals in our movement he said we need a careful blending of the Eastern concept of medicine (what is already being done in the Orient) with Western medicine?

I offer my answers to the following questions:

  • What is the “Eastern concept” of medicine? How can we define Eastern and Western medicine? Is it a purely geographical distinction? Where does alternative medicine fit in?
  • What can the different approaches contribute to make a system of health care that is holistic, principled and ethical?
  • How can we make informed and balanced decisions and as health care professionals help our patients to do the same? What sources of information are trustworthy?
  • Why do so many people shun Western medicine and chose alternative therapies?

Definitions

“Western medicine” is a system based on science, and is “evidence-based.” Many cringe at this term, but can one criticize the wisdom of “the judicious use of best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients?”

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Meaning, Vacuum and Autonomy

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By Keisuke Noda

Keisuke_NodaExistential Vacuum” is a term coined by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor psychiatrist, best known for his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. It is the concept used to describe the meaninglessness or emptiness of life.

Critical issues in the Unification Movement (UM), such as denominational rifts and other matters previously unknown to the general membership, pose fundamental questions for Unificationism, both in theory and practice.  Even the most devoted members who sacrificed years or decades face complex, challenging questions, one of which is the meaning of their lives in the past, present and future.

A worldview (belief system) works as a framework of interpretation and serves as a framework to interpret one’s identity and life’s events. It is quite natural to encounter challenges when there is a shift in this framework since it affects how one sees the self and the world.

In this article, I explore how the meaning of life is always and necessarily individuated (no one can live another person’s life; death is uniquely yours) and the negligence of individual autonomy leads to feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness (Existential Vacuum). Although Unificationism in theory holds the development of the autonomous individual as one of its ideals, an uncritical (blind) faith stance can prevent it and lead one to fall into an “existential vacuum.” I illustrate how an existential vacuum can underlie even religious faith and how one can reconstruct the meaning of life by restoring one’s autonomy.

Why Meaning Matters?

The first question is why meaning matters. No matter what you do and how you do it, the question of why is unavoidable. Without an answer to the “why” of life, there is an emptiness that manifests itself in boredom, apathy, and even despair. Even if you try to avoid the question, the question flows from life itself.

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