The Hope and Promise of the Singapore Summit

By Mark P. Barry

I usually tell people that if you visited Earth from Mars, looked down at the Korean Peninsula and saw it’s divided and technically in a state of war since 1950, you’d say, “This has got to end.”

In other words, this kind of situation is simply unsustainable, despite that many practitioners of international relations seem to believe it’s possible to manage conflicts in perpetuity.

Last Tuesday’s summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is at least notable for one important thing: it potentially changed the trajectory — hopefully for the better in the long run — of events on the Korean peninsula. This is because no sitting American president had ever met a North Korean leader. Previous presidents generally would not even consider the idea; Bill Clinton was the exception, but in the waning weeks of his presidency, he chose to focus on Middle East peace rather than Korean peace.

Ironically, Jimmy Carter was the first former U.S. president to meet his North Korean counterpart, Kim Il Sung, in 1994. He wisely observed at the time that “we should not ever avoid direct talks, direct conversations, direct discussions and negotiations with the main person in a despised, misunderstood or condemned society who could actually resolve the issue.” To his credit, Carter brokered an agreement, concluded months later, that froze the North’s fledgling nuclear program — which endured until the early years of the Bush 43 administration.

This simple truth — of the need for top-to-top communication and relationship-building — was easily grasped by President Trump because it had been a key lesson of his years of business experience. Kim Jong Un knew he had to take advantage of the opportunity to meet the U.S. president — the one person who could make fundamental foreign policy decisions without the encumbrance of a bureaucracy with a long and deep institutional memory.

It matters less what were the motivations of Trump and Kim; in both cases they were a mixture of the strategic and the selfish. But history shows that key figures, sometimes with unsavory motives, nonetheless produce changes, however unintended, whose impact endures for decades or even centuries (e.g., Henry VIII’s disagreement with the Pope over marriage annulment led him to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority).

Continue Reading—>

Truth and Authority in Scientific Discovery: Implications for the Religious Quest

By Chris Le Bas

Trusting something is true really comes at the point when your life depends on it.

An astronaut trusts the engineers who made the rocket and calculated the trajectory to the Moon and back.  In turn, the engineers trust the scientists who told them how cold it would be on the Moon and what force of gravity they would have to work against to take off from its surface. And the scientists trust the theories behind the solar panels that would power their return.

In the same way, a patient trusts the surgeon preparing to cut open his heart, the surgeon trusts the medical experts who weighed the risks of not operating against the dangers of open heart surgery, and the medical experts trust the interpretation of gamma camera scans and calculations made by microchip-based computers.

When our theories are correct, namely, they resonate with nature and identify natural processes, then we can predict (or at least know the degree to which we can predict) the outcome of our actions.

“Truth” in the scientific sense means we have a description, a pattern, law, or principle accurately matching the nature of the world around us.

This may come in the form of an image or model of something we are unable to see, such as a molecule or subatomic particle, or a mathematical equation that provides the link between different quantities we can measure. Or it may be the explanation of a technique or process that takes place in nature or can be made to happen under the right conditions.

Those who act as guarantors of the reliability of such information are often called “scientific authorities,” be they individuals like Isaac Newton, or institutions such as the Royal Society. Teachers and lecturers act on behalf of these authorities, relying on the historical hand-me-down record of constantly edited information from senior teachers, books and articles.

Some aspects of this knowledge can be tested and observed in classroom experiments, considered in the light of “common sense” and logic, but the majority of it relies on the authority it came from.

Continue Reading—>

Seeking Vital Community

By Mi Young Eaton

In fall 2014, I lived for two-and-a-half months with a small, Evangelical Christian community in Greatham, England, called L’Abri (French for “the shelter”). The L’Abri Fellowship in Greatham is one of eight such communities which have been established around the world and grew, like the rest, out of the pioneering ministerial efforts of Francis and Edith Schaeffer.

Although I was at L’Abri for only ten weeks in my senior year of college, I was transformed by my experiences there. Deep wounds began to be healed and confusions clarified; the spiritual life as fundamentally a relational life with God, others, and even myself began to open like never before, as concepts of faith became lived realities.

I experienced challenges, of course, understanding for the first time key differences in belief, from a Christian perspective, between the Christian and Unificationist worldviews, and carry fundamental questions of faith that arose from my time there even now, almost four years later. Principal among these is the question of the replicability of L’Abri as a model of spiritual community.

Were there spiritual principles at work in the structure, practices, and functions of L’Abri that allowed it to so deeply touch not only my heart and life but the hearts and lives of many others? Could these principles be applied in another context, for instance, either an extant or a potential Unification faith community?

My time at L’Abri and other experiences in the last few years have convinced me of the value of having the home serve as the hub or basis of ministry, as well as True Father’s prescience when he attempted to initiate the home church providence in the Unification Movement over 40 years ago.

I don’t think that the work of L’Abri fully answers the question of how Unification members should proceed with home church today. But I do think the current relevance of their work reveals a need and an entry point for the renewal of this kind of ministry

An Unusually Ordinary Evangelical Community

When I first left for L’Abri, I had little sense of what the experience would entail. I had heard about L’Abri like most others who have walked through the doors of its various branches around the world, by word of mouth, since L’Abri has eschewed any formal advertising about their work.

Continue Reading—>