Family Federation Is Not a Church

By Eugene Harnett

Four years ago, in October 2013, then-President Dr. Michael Balcomb circulated a “National Charter” for the Family Federation for World Peace USA, which was adopted. It set forth the structure for Local Family churches as well as purposes and policies for Districts and the National Council of FFWPU.

The Family Federation’s National Charter in America currently is written using sectarian language. It refers to local bodies as “churches” and local leaders as “pastors.” Thus, it gives definition to our national movement, leaders and members, and provides direction for who we are and how we operate. Without saying so outright, by default it affirms the Family Federation is a church.

Our organization’s mission is broad. The language it uses to define its functions and bind its members must also be broad and inclusive to reach out to the family of humankind in a welcoming manner. However, we use language that shapes us as a church in the pattern of Christianity, putting us in a sectarian box and making it difficult to act and grow beyond our sectarian nature.

Being defined as a church is a hindrance to the development of our family movement in America. It was appropriate for a time in history when we had to restore Christianity’s failure. That time has passed. In our founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s words, “The reason I brought an end to our ‘church’ and established the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification is because the time had come to focus on the family.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, p. 1103)

Further, he stated, “The time for me to lead the Unification Church has passed. Now is the time for horizontal expansion.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 9.1.3.22) We may understand this to mean that the vertical responsibility of faith has been secured by the Unification Church and the Family Federation has a different mission to express the love of God in the world.

In 1993, Father Moon officially changed the name of the Unification Church to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. But the church nomenclature persisted. Thus, Mother Moon before Foundation Day reemphasized this prior change: “I am changing the name of the Unification Church to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 12.4.3.38)

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Warfare in World Religions: Has the Time Come to Junk All Religions and Found a New One?

By Ronald Brown

I adopted my traditional “stick of dynamite” approach to get my students out of their Sunday school, Hebrew school and Madrasa ruts.

“All the world religions are so mired in religious warfare they should be destroyed,” I said. “What humanity needs is a new god, a new holy book, and a new religion.  Warfare and violence are so deeply rooted in the religions of the world they are beyond saving. They cannot be salvaged.”

So began my UTS course on “World Religions and Global Conflict” (LTR 5513) in the spring semester 2017.

Such a time to take over the course! “Christian” United States was bogged down in wars in Muslim Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia were threatening to go to war; Orthodox Russia was reasserting its superpower aspirations; Israel was expanding Jewish West Bank settlements and carrying out ethnic cleansing against Palestinian Christians and Muslims in East Jerusalem; China was fashioning Confucianism as the nation’s national religion; India and Muslim Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, were fighting over Kashmir, and the BJP Hindu nationalist party was busily transforming India into a Hindu nation.

My 20-some students reflected the diversity of UTS – American Christians of various denominations, students from the Philippines and Africa, Unificationists, and of course their residually Catholic professor. Many of the students were active in interreligious dialogue and eagerly spouted the tried and true seminary and church slogans, “God is love,” “All religions strive for peace,” “Only a few radicals believe in holy war,” and “A nice dialogue over coffee and cookies will bring world peace.” Other students were dedicated to peace studies and taking UTS courses in the topic.

My goal for the semester was to blow up the “God is love” myth and zero in on the centrality of holy war, jihad, crusades, terrorism, and genocide to world religions.

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Music as Universal Language

By David Eaton

Is music a “universal language” as Longfellow suggested? Or is this merely a platitude, easily debunked as a truism rather than an immutable “truth?”

Most of us would agree with Heinrich Heine, the noted German poet whose poems were set to music by Robert Schumann, Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn, who averred, “Where words leave off, music begins.”

Regardless of our cultural upbringing, we intuit that music possesses the unique ability to reach places in our soul and psyche in ways that words simply cannot.

Our Founder once said music is analogous to the spiritual realm in that it is invisible, vibratory and touches the heart. We all sense that music “speaks” to us and possesses the ability to convey and express emotions in powerful ways.

Though we may consider music to be a language, the way it speaks to us remains inscrutable and enigmatic. Mendelssohn, a composer whose music exhibits great lyricism and warmth, suggested music is more specific in what it expresses than words written about it could ever be.

That may be true. However, the same piece of music will often “say” different things to different people. Why this happens remains a mystery, but Albert Einstein (who played the violin and loved the music of Mozart) believed there was beauty in the mysterious, and perhaps that’s why we find the transcendent aspects of music to be so enchanting and enticing.

Music’s connection to spirituality and religious ritual can be traced to the earliest civilizations precisely due to its transcendent characteristics. The Sumerians, Chinese and Greeks held to the idea that communication with their gods and ancestors could be more easily facilitated when music worked its conscious-changing magic.

Taking their cue from the Greeks, early Christian philosophers — most notably Boetheus, Augustine and Aquinas — considered music to be a potent moral and ethical force that could either benefit or harm an individual or society due to effects on consciousness — individually and collectively. What music “said” and how it could potentially benefit society became important considerations.

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