“Black Panther”: Theological and Moral Issues Add Impact to Film

By Kathy Winings

It’s official: “Black Panther” is now the third highest-grossing film ever in America, surpassing 1997’s “Titanic,” though it was released theatrically only in mid-February.

Even before the film opened, it enjoyed one of the most aggressive promotional campaigns in recent history and maintained first place in ticket sales for many weeks.

So when I decided to see the movie, I wasn’t sure what to expect – would it live up to the hype or would it be just another Marvel escapist movie? I was so surprised when I found the film was everything it was promised to be and more.

“Black Panther” offers more than the usual Marvel Cinematic Universe fare. It has considerable substance that speaks to our modern world. The film picks up from “Captain America: Civil War” with the return of King T’Challa, known also as the Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman), to his home country of Wakanda for his coronation as its new leader.

From this point forward, though, we begin to see what distinguishes this film from other superhero films. On one level, it offers an interesting balance of traditionalism and modernity.

We are introduced to a point of traditionalism with the coronation process that includes the right to challenge the future king in mortal combat. The example of modernity, on the other hand, is seen in the fact that Wakanda’s technological advancements are far beyond that of the rest of the world thanks to its secret natural resource – a special mineral called vibranium.

The film is built around three challenges facing the new king. Two of the challenges involve threats to T’Challa’s reign. One of these threats is in the form of Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a black market arms dealer, smuggler and general nemesis to the King and to Wakanda; your classic bad guy/good guy and good and evil script.

The second challenge comes from an American-born ex-military man, Erik Stevens, a.k.a. “Killmonger,” revealed to be T’Challa’s cousin. An angry young man who was orphaned at a young age and who experienced a race-torn world, Erik (Michael B. Jordan) becomes a formidable opponent to T’Challa. More profoundly, this challenge raises theological and moral questions around the concepts of resentment and anger vs. revenge and forgiveness.

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Filial Piety to God and True Parents

By Andrew Wilson

True Mother calls the culture of Cheon Il Guk “hyo-jeong culture.” Hyo is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese character 孝 (Chinese pronunciation xiào) meaning filial piety, and jeong (정) is a pure Korean term meaning a deep connection of heart to one another.

Dr. Thomas Selover, in a brilliant paper presented at a PWPA conference in Korea in February, described hyo as defining our vertical relationship to God and True Parents, and jeong as our abiding connection of heart to brothers and sisters horizontally, extending to all humankind. Thus, to have hyojeong is to have a mind and heart devoted to Heaven and that also connects us to everyone in our family and to our community, nation, world, and cosmos.

The two concepts hyo and jeong naturally create a world that is a perfect sphere because God and True Parents, the object of hyo, have love that is universal and impartial. True Mother said as much when she declared at the opening of the HyoJeong World Peace Foundation, “I will expand the foundation to give equal benefits to mankind, making people know the original meaning of heaven and of our Heavenly Parent.”

Thus, in loving God and True Parents with filial piety, our jeong, manifest in living for the sake of others, also becomes universal. It does not discriminate or show partiality to family, tribe, race or nation, because it is imbued with the universal love of God and True Parents.

Here I focus on the concept of filial piety. The etymology of the character hyo, 孝 is commonly described as a son, 子 (Korean ja, Chinese ) carrying an old man 老 (Korean no, Chinese lao) on his back.

Several deeper spiritual meanings of hyo have been suggested; one takes the topmost strokes as a cross, while the intersecting horizontal and diagonal strokes resemble an A-frame carrier that a man in old Korea might have used to carry a load on his back; hence the whole character depicts a son carrying the cross of the providence. Or, the topmost cross is the Chinese character for the number 10, meaning completion, which gives a similar meaning: carrying the burden of completing God’s Kingdom. Certainly this has been True Parents’ heart in attending Heavenly Parent.

What’s important to understand about filial piety is that it mainly describes an adult child taking care of his or her elderly parents. It is not to “honor your father and mother” by being an obedient child while you are young and your parents are in their prime and in command.

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Healthy Minds and Mental Illness: A Brief Review

By Catriona Valenta

This article describes background research for a proposed project initiated under Cranes Club Europe.

The project, “Healthy Minds,” aims to assess the mental health needs of the Unificationist community — its prevalence, attitudes and support available. I review:

  • Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s (SMM) words about mental illness (MI). Quotes were found mostly in the Cheon Seong Gyeong; the source speech was then identified on Tparents.org, which hosts a comprehensive database of SMM’s speeches translated into English listed by year and month.
  • The basic premises of the Divine Principle (DP) and Unification Thought (UT). Do they offer insights which may be helpful for sufferers and therapists in our movement?

An attempt is also made to integrate the words of SMM and the content of DP and UT into the more conventional psychiatric view of MI.

The words of Rev. Moon

Although he did not say a great deal about mental illness, quotes from the 1950s until the last years of his life confirm that SMM saw MI as a “spiritual problem,” i.e., as the result of the influence of evil spiritual beings. The speeches from which these quotes are taken were given to various audiences; the earlier ones are to smaller groups of followers in Korea, the later ones in the United States not only to leaders, but also to the broader audience of members who would regularly gather to hear him when he spoke. I am unable to find comments about mental illness in any of his speeches to the general public.

If his view of MI seems very limited, the spiritual aspect is arguably the only one about which SMM could have had any informed knowledge. Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that although an expert on love, SMM often made statements about fields in which his knowledge was lacking, and some of his comments may not even have been meant to be taken literally (for example, when he says, “with just a look, you can cure leprosy and other disorders”).

Divine Principle as a model of health

The core teachings of DP, upon which Unification Thought (UT), the teachings/philosophy of SMM systematized by Dr. Sang Hun Lee is based, are:

  • The Principle of Creation, God’s ideal
  • The Fall
  • Restoration

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Converting Good Intentions into Results

By Rob Sayre

A camping weekend in summer 1994 with other Blessed Families has grown and evolved for almost a quarter of a century.

Known first as the Pennsylvania Family Camp, Shehaqua Ministries is now known as “Shehaqua,” denoting specific activities, an organization, with a brand and specific worldview about education and community.

This article is about the early years, the evolution from a small startup to a more mature organization that has passed on leadership to a new generation, and how we found solutions to financial and organizational challenges while keeping our core values intact.

Certain comments are my personal reflections, others are the story of the development of the organization, and still others are lessons we applied from a book I repeatedly read for the first ten years, Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Principles and Practices (1990) by Peter F. Drucker. I hope others can learn from our success, failures and endurance.

How We Began

The first two years, 1995-97, were three-day camping outings, with each family in their own tent, cooking for themselves, but we organized Divine Principle (DP) education, sports and crafts by age groups. We stayed at two different campgrounds in 1995-96. In 1997, we rented a large, old farmhouse for a separate program for the older kids and families stayed in their tents.

Our goals from the beginning have been to provide age appropriate DP education for the entire family; to facilitate a personal or “skin touch” experience with God for every participant; and to demonstrate what a community of faith looked and felt like.

This quote from Rev. Sun Myung Moon reflects some of the guiding theology that rooted our thinking and programs:

“How should you raise your children? You should raise them like God, to have beauty and excellence, as God did when He created Adam and Eve. This is the standard of education…. Then, what is God’s love? If you analyze it, it is manifested through parental love, conjugal love, and filial love. There is nothing more. There are only those three kinds of love. This is why children love their parents, husbands and wives become one, and parents love their children. The three generations must be one.”

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Preparing for Our Eternal Life in the Spirit World

By Jennifer Tanabe

We are all familiar with the saying, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Death is indeed inevitable, but not necessarily a bad thing.

There is life after death, an eternal life. Divine Principle explains clearly that there are three stages to human life: in the womb, on the earth, and in the spirit world. Life in the spirit world is our destiny; there we find our eternal home.

But what kind of eternal life will it be?

A new publication, Eternal Life in the Spirit World, which I co-authored with the late Dr. Dietrich Seidel, discusses what we know about the spiritual realm starting with the thoughts of the Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, and their influence on contemporary understanding.

We continue with more recent sources, including Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Sang Hun Lee, as well as reports from those who had near-death experiences, which all serve to make the spiritual realm seem much more substantial.

If the theoretical sections and testimonies are not enough to convince you of the reality of the afterlife, the inclusion of several heartwarming “letters” between Dietrich, now in the spirit world, and Elisabeth, his beloved wife on earth, surely will.

Writings of this kind enlighten our understanding and, for the most part, provide hope that death is nothing to fear and that our eternal life holds the promise of great joy. However, we must prepare well while we still have our physical bodies so as to realize such a happy state. Otherwise we may enter a prolonged period of suffering and regret.

We can imagine that people would live their lives differently if they knew that there was an eternity awaiting their spirit after their body dies. But how differently?

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