By Dan Fefferman
“Political theology” investigates the ways in which theological concepts relate to politics, society and economics. In this article, I examine the ways in which the expression of the political theology of the Unification Movement has evolved since its early days, especially in the U.S.
From its beginning, Unificationism has had to deal with tensions between its vision of One World Under God and its commitment to ridding the world of threats to that vision, especially that of communism. This tension led to various alliances in the political world that have impacted the Unificationist community significantly and remain unresolved today.
Victory Over Communism
From the 1960s through early 1980s, the expression of Unification political theology in the public realm was largely focused on “Victory Over Communism.” The movement’s commitment to world unity transcending race and nationality was prominent in its spiritual and evangelical work, but took a back seat to VOC in terms of activism.
Divine Principle (DP) itself provides the rationale for giving priority to VOC:
“The Third World War is the final conflict in the providence of restoration. Through this war, God intends that the democratic world bring the communist world to submission and build the ideal world… [W]hether the Third World War is waged by force of arms or as an ideological conflict depends upon the responsibility of the people…serving the providence of God…. [I]t is inescapable that this worldwide conflict take place.”
Reflecting this imperative, Rev. Sun Myung Moon founded the International Federation for Victory Over Communism in 1969 as a major ideological offensive. IFVOC established coalitions with other anti-communist organizations throughout the world. In the U.S., members created the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF) as the American affiliate of IFVOC. Thus, it created a “hawkish” face in terms of public image, despite its equally strong commitment to world peace, which remained somewhat hidden.
By David Payer
There are cultural forces from generations past that work unseen, influencing choices of a population.
These images, expectations, aspirations, and rules of thumb are taught through a weave of social institutions including church, government, educational and cultural organizations, broadcast media, and especially family.
Every family has stories that cause an instant reaction in the members. One joke retold dozens (yes, possibly hundreds of times) while growing up can be summarized with a single phrase or word and all the years of experience will be summoned back for reflection and enjoyment.
If I were to say “you can’t get there from here” to my brother or sister, an abundant laugh would emerge and years of memories about our father jesting of a man lost in the Iowa countryside driving back from a job, would be sparked — each one with a tale of its own.
Recently, an office meeting ended with the admonition: “Onward and upward!” and one of those “aha” moments stirred within. This was a phrase used by my parents and grandparents when an episode or an era was marked as ended and yet we had to carry on to the next task.
Even if something was not accomplished with success, we would move “onward and upward” to the next goal, always carrying on because that is what we must do. Life will continue regardless of what we do but we can decide to go forward and live to the best of our ability or allow it all to pass us by and miss out on any blessings it had to offer at that moment.
What was the root of this exhortation? My online search helped uncover a poem written in 1845 by James Russell Lowell, “The Present Crisis.” This poem addresses the evil of the era (slavery) and the need for us to adjust our views to that current reality:
By Tyler Hendricks
Rev. Sun Myung Moon spoke on both sides of many matters.
He considered God to appear as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, but addressed Him only as Heavenly Father.
He referred to himself and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, as being free from original sin and as having original sin.
Father Moon consistently proclaimed that the wholesale success of his movement was imminent and yet spoke as if successive 40 year courses were inevitable.
He referred to Mother Moon as queen of the universe and as hopeless without him.
Through database searches of Rev. Moon’s speeches, Unificationist scholar Dr. Jin Choon Kim found numerous examples of divergent statements. On some topics, Father Moon’s words are 100% consistent. On others the divergence is 95% to 5%, 80% to 20%, and as much as 50%-50%.
Rev. Moon’s words provide plenty of citations to justify the claims of any number of sects to be his sole orthodox successors and to excommunicate those who choose to follow his words that justify the opposite position.
The Introduction to Exposition of Divine Principle states this exact dynamic provided justification for Christians to divide into hundreds of denominations. “Divergent interpretations of such symbolic and metaphorical Bible verses have inevitably led to the division of Christianity into denominations.” (p. 11) It provides both an analysis and a solution to this problem.
Analysis of the Problem
One, scriptures are susceptible to diverse interpretations. In the Bible, the cause Exposition of Divine Principle points to is that it is written in parables and symbols which can be interpreted in different ways. Father Moon’s words also are susceptible to diverse interpretations.
By John Redmond
Here is the good news: The Heavenly Kingdom is coming whether or not the Unification Movement has anything to do with it.
I’ve been reading a series of future-oriented books: Al Gore’s The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, and the most interesting, Who Owns the Future? by computer scientist and father of virtual reality Jaron Lanier.
All three books tackle the same theme: how the convergence of multiple areas of science and technology, each developing at exponential rates, will transform the world in an unrecognizable way in the next 20 years. It takes about two decades for an idea to move from the lab to mass acceptance.
The iPhone debuted in 2007 and in 10 years both it and its competitors have made humans omniscient all over the planet, each with a library and powerful computer in the palm of their hand. “Google it” has become the ultimate argument settler.
In this sense, we are not predicting the future; we are timing the growth of ideas from concepts to products to mass acceptance.
The computer revolution by itself has been shocking and globally transformational and now add the imminence of robotics and the ability to end world hunger with genetically engineered protein. Whether you like “Franken food” or not, starving people will love it.
Both artificial intelligence and robotics are on the cusp of creating either mass unemployment or a world where 80% of the people can live like the European elites did in the last century: vast houses, helpers everywhere, lots of leisure time to improve yourself, and cheap or free transportation everywhere.
Artificial Intelligence is demonstrating that it can not just calculate your bank balance in a microsecond, but predict health issues better than doctors, write better news stories than reporters, and beat anyone at Jeopardy.