“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the slopes and go in search of the one that has wandered off?”
— Matthew 18:12
The Unification Movement has no shortage of programs for youth. In addition to Sun Moon University in Korea, there is CARP (Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles), GPA (Generation Peace Academy), the Youth Federation for World Peace, the Crane’s Club, and many other youth-centered organizations.
When I see groups such as CARP or GPA at public events, they are truly an inspiration and are some of the loveliest fruits of the decades-long global investment of True Parents.
Yet there is a part of me that always hurts at the same time, a part that asks, “What about the other children?” I mean, the ones who were raised in the movement but became estranged.
I can think of so many families where all three, four or more siblings became completely disengaged from the church after high school. (Note: This is not a data-driven study based on scientific research. It is simply one mother’s personal experience and observations)
What are the possible causes of such alienation? How do we address it and stop the hemorrhage? Finally, who will go after the lost lambs of the Unification Movement and bring them back, like the good shepherd of the Gospels?
Here are some of the issues I see in our movement which appear to be contributing to the alienation of our young, followed by my suggestions for their remedy.
Church culture and conservative vs. progressive politics
Right-wing politics is a huge turn-off for many young people. The modern “millennial” generation (people born, roughly, between 1981 and 1996) are often progressive in their thinking, concerned about social injustice, economic inequality, gender issues, and the environment, whereas older generation members who joined during the Cold War-era saw the world differently and likely were raised on a spiritual diet of CAUSA and Victory Over Communism.
Older members need to temper their political views when at home in the presence of their children, or when attending church. If politics must be discussed, it should be strictly respectful, bipartisan, collaborative, and consensus-building. Fortunately we can get an abundance of inspiration for such balanced discussion from the head-wing teachings of our founders.
Listening to them
We first generation members do a lot of teaching and preaching to our kids. From early childhood until they leave (or perhaps flee) the nest, we subject them to Sunday School, home school, church service, summer camp, and probably daily Hoon Dok Hae spiritual readings. These things are our parental responsibility. But there is a need for us also to listen to our children both at home and at church. In the old song, “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, one verse is all about children teaching their parents:
“And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears
That your elders grew by.
And so please help them with your youth.
They seek the truth
Before they can die.”
As one blogger put it so well, “Millennials value voice and receptivity above all else. When a church forges ahead without ever asking for our input, we get the message loud and clear.”
Caring about what they think
Millennials often ask: “Why then, should we blindly serve an institution that we cannot change or shape?”
Wisdom can come “from the mouths of babes,” but it will be lost if there is no receptive ear. We need to create regular opportunities for inter-generational conversation (forums, surveys, meetings) where we listen to the hopes, fears, dreams, needs, opinions, and dilemmas of youth and young adults with respect and love. We can also invite millennials to serve on church councils or leadership teams where they can actually make a difference.
Some may feel traumatized by fear and shame-based purity education
Purity education for girls and boys in the Unification Movement has been based on an evangelical model which, in recent years, has been found to have fallen short. The Internet has an abundance of high-quality search results on the topic.
Programs such as True Love Waits teach children to associate sexuality with shame and depravity. For example, a girl who loses her virginity is compared to a variety of spoiled things: a flower whose petals have all fallen off, a crushed soda can, a chipped cup, a soiled napkin, a cup of water tainted with spit. Many children subjected to this model of education arrive in adulthood suffering from depression, anxiety, fear of relationships, and an inability to achieve sexual satisfaction.
We need to re-think and re-visit how we educate our youngsters in this highly sensitive area. I propose that, rather than being taught by well-meaning youth leaders not much older than their audience, purity education should be taught only by trained specialists, with parents present. Content should include Chapter One (the Principle of Creation) education on the divine beauty and joy of original sexuality rather than excessive emphasis on Chapter Two (the Fall of Man). In the case of sexual mistakes that might unfortunately happen in the future or may have already happened, educators should emphasize the grace, forgiveness and unconditional love of our Heavenly Parent, or as the song goes, “the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”
A discrepancy between our words and our actions?
Modern youth seem to have a highly sensitive radar when it comes to double standards and hypocrisy. If we are talking about building an ideal world but not actually doing anything to contribute to that vision, our children will be quick to spot the contradiction. If we are teaching about ideal marriage while obviously having marital problems, the incongruity will be painfully obvious. Such inconsistencies damage and erode the immature faith of youngsters.
We have to practice whatever we’re preaching to our kids. At the family level, by getting off our couches and into Home Church and tribal messiahship activities, we can live out the principle of living for the sake of others. At the church level, at least half of our programs should be concerned with outreach rather than in-reach. Outreach programs could include interfaith and interdenominational activities as well as social justice projects to alleviate poverty, hunger, interracial tensions, and other social ills in our local communities. They could include service projects to care for the environment such as tree-planting, community gardens or collecting trash in a run-down neighborhood.
We can learn a lot from our Christian friends. For example, some Christian churches have graffiti removal ministries; some offer tattoo removals. Others adopt babies born to imprisoned or drug-addicted mothers. I’m not suggesting we copy these specific programs, but rather we try sincerely to identify issues that plague our specific communities, then use our imagination, creativity and available resources to address those issues.
With regard to marital problems of blessed couples, it is imperative we seek help, whether from outside the movement or within it. We cannot effectively promote marriage and the family ideal to our children (or anyone else) unless we’re “walking the walk.” Whether it involves individual counseling, couples therapy, group programs such as The Marriage Course, blessed couples absolutely must work on their marriages. Considering the huge array of resources now readily available and affordable, we have no excuse.
Too few young leaders
As True Mother has emphasized time and again, our national and worldwide leadership must increasingly be led by second, and even third generation, Unificationists. Yet, new, younger leaders will not emerge where there is no real democratic process for them to partake in. If church governance is characterized by entrenched elders, the next generation is unlikely to aspire to leadership, no matter how gifted or prepared they may be. If it seems they would have to wait for a current leader to die before an opening becomes available, they are more likely to drop out of the movement and seek other avenues where they can utilize their talents.
Allow the winds of change and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to freshen our old ideas and stagnant organizations. Remove ineffective leaders through democratic processes and let God fill the vacuum.
Going after the lost lambs
Despite the obviously steep drop-off of millennials from church, our Unification Movement seems not to publicly acknowledge it or react with a sufficient level of concern. If the focus is all on the “good children” who do show up and get involved, it’s easy to consider the absent ones as an anomaly. Or, to dismiss them with some superficial explanation, like “Oh, they live too far away,” or “They’re just busy with work/school/family,” or “They joined the ___ group” (fill in the blank), without ever following up and actually speaking to the persons in question to find out why they really stopped coming. The answers could be illuminating.
If we continue to do little and largely ignore the gravity of this problem, we may be fairly accused of being “complacent, irrelevant and approaching extinction.”
One thing that could be immediately implemented is the exit interview. This is a practice used by business organizations for the purpose of improving the organization. In the exit interview, a terminating employee meets with a human resources staff member. Through the frank and honest feedback of the departing employee, the organization often receives helpful information pertaining to workplace culture, management solutions and employee morale. Done effectively and consistently, such interviews contribute to fostering a more welcoming work environment and more positive workplace relationships. This concept could easily be adapted and adopted for our church organizations.
Second, we desperately need to train and hire youth pastors who have the desire and skillset to work with millennials, so we can keep the young members we still have. We also need to train and hire the kind of pastors who have the heart to reach out and witness to the alienated. Where are the ones with the heart of the missionary, such as exemplified by the memorable words of Charles Thomas Studd?
Some want to live within the sound
Of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop,
Within a yard of hell.
Our children are wonderful and exemplary. But too many struggle in some kind of earthly hell. We must find and call upon those good shepherds with the guts, gumption and love that is required to climb through the thorns and thickets of hell, and commission them to go after and witness to the lost lambs of the Unification Movement and bring them back.♦
Maree P. Gauper is a graduate of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and holds an Associate’s Diploma in Piano Performance from Trinity College, London. She married Robert Gauper in 1982 and they have four adult children. The Gaupers reside in Northern California. Her memoir, Free Maree: When Faith, Family, and Freedom Collide, was published in January and is available on Amazon.
Photo at top: A lamb in Auckland, New Zealand, courtesy of Bill Fairs on Unsplash.
Whether True Mother or one (any) mother, it is virtually impossible to argue with such deep matters of (our) children’s hearts.
Appreciate the message(s) and effort(s), as not only a father and husband, but as a fellow traveler in the “true and universal” faith. Would that life itself were not often so challenging and “alienating.”
Within the (Christian) blog noted above (now subscribed; thank you!) I found something further to ponder (and appreciate) on this concerning matter:
Just as Millennials are struggling with where they fit into the church so is the church at large struggling with how to respond to them. To the church at large I offer this warning- Do not try to appeal to or appease wrong thinking. The brilliant Christian author Michael Horton, in his book Ordinary, says it well:
“It is nothing new when young people want churches to pander to them. What is new is the extent to which churches have obliged. In previous generations elders – both officers and simply older and wiser members – wouldn’t let that happen. They took young people under their wing and taught them by word and example what it meant to begin to accept the privileges and responsibilities of membership in Christ’s body.”
Horton then identifies the core reason young people are abandoning church:
“For the first time in the history of the church it is now possible to go from the nursery to children’s church to Sunday school to the youth group and college ministry without ever actually having experienced church membership. Shocking surveys abound reporting that many of our children are dropping out of church by their college years. But maybe it shouldn’t be so shocking if they were never actually involved in church to begin with.”
The generation that has been taught it is all about them desperately needs to be confronted with that lie. It is not about them. It is about God. It is about what God says, what God proclaims and what God commands. God’s commands, while never burdensome, challenge our comfort and disrupt our lives.”
And from Pastor Rick Warren, this also seems relevant:
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
Even a “true and universal” culture (or culture-building organization) will ultimately fail if it somehow cannot sufficiently and efficiently manage (in word as well as deed) both its convictions and compassion.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you enjoyed the Christian blog!
I had to wonder, while reading the exerpts you shared, if you are assuming that young people are usually guilty of wrong thinking. Could it be that sometimes we are the ones who are wrong?
Very well stated, Maree. Thank you for this clear description of the problems of bequeathing, and your thoughts on moving toward solutions. More than the calcified conservatism of the first generation (which came by their beliefs in natural response to the issues they faced), I think the problem of there being too few open vertical paths to leadership in our movement is by far the bigger issue. I would love to have a motivated, mid-to-late-20s gunslinger I could park at the desk outside my office and teach him/her all the tricks and work-arounds I have learned. I would help them develop their own voice and then a year later slip off to enjoy the harvest of my life, and somewhere down the road, cowboy heaven.
Hi, Larry. Thanks for the validation.
When I read your comment, it brought to mind that old Australian song, “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,” which is all about a departing elder being able to successfully delegate his various responsibilities to younger “mates” who will outlive him.
I hope you will enjoy that same satisfaction before you ride off into the heavenly sunset.
I believe there are many reasons for disaffected young people, and not only in our church. The ascendance of certain ideological views in academia in the West has contributed to the millennial dissatisfaction with religion in general. A prevalent and pervasive narrative in academia is that there is no absolute truth or transcendent morality that society can look to for moral and ethical clarity. Moral confusion and unbridled emotivism (“it’s all about my feelings”) is the result. The comments of Michael Horton and Rick Warren (cited by EG Pierson) point to that confusion.
That said many older blessed children of the early UC blessings who are now in their 40s and 50s in Korea, Japan and the USA opted out of the church decades ago — long before there was the kind of political polarization that we have witnessed in the West over the past three decades and likely before they formulated their own political views.
Having met a few older blessed children since being in Korea for the past three years, I’ve noticed a common denominator — they don’t accept the tenets of Divine Principle nor the authority of the founders. They opted for a different set of values; getting a good education, landing a good job, living well. The sacrificial course of their parents was not at all appealing to them. Progressive or conservative political views had nothing to do with it.
With regard to the comments offered by EG Pierson and not pandering to “wrong thinking,” I believe this is an important point in the context of the current iteration of social justice. Being compassionate or empathetic without a principled view of morality can have the effect of being compassionate about the wrong things. As our founders constantly articulate in their copious speeches, all of us — young and old — should be seeking to know and understand life in the context of Godism. Our task as parents was to inculcate our children accordingly. Headwing is predicated on Godism and our millennial children may not always be comfortable with having to take a stand for what is godly because it can disrupt their lives and it puts them at odds with their social justice-oriented peers.
In his final book, Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is, Catholic author and commentator Michael Novak makes the point that empowering individuals, families and communities in accordance with the teachings of the church requires getting beyond personal comfort and the idea that “it’s all about me.” As we understand, it’s all about living for the sake of others. That can be a tough course but there’s an old sports axiom: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Following the tenets of Godism requires a certain toughness in trying times, but our courses and those of our children are likely not as severe as our elders — thanks to their sacrificial lives — and the foundation laid by our founders.
You make some excellent points. However I find it unsettling that you appear to characterize today’s young people as materialistic, self-absorbed, morally confused, and guilty of wrong thinking. Is this really fair?
From what I’ve witnessed and have been told, almost all (perhaps 90%) of the second generation children of the 36 blessed couples have opted out of the UC. Also, it’s difficult to identify second generation children of older American blessed couples who are active in leadership roles. There are but a few that know of. Again, the reasons are many as you cite in your essay. And many young people (BCs or not) are really confused about many issues and noted by Mrs. Horton and Mr. Warren (not only me).
For instance, several polls (including Pew Research) found that between 40% and 60% of people in the 18 to 34 age bracket in the USA have issues with free speech and would like to see the First Amendment amended to make it illegal to say certain things that these young folks find offensive. When anyone (regardless of age) advocates for government intrusion on speech, I say that’s an indication of confusion and it could lead to a scenario where reading scripture or DP could be considered objectionable. (Jordan Peterson’s objection to Canadian law C16 wasn’t about using certain pronouns to identify transgender people, it was about the government having the power to mandate speech).
Another example: In Korea and Japan many young people are opting out of marriage and birthrates are dropping dramatically — another sign of confusion from the perspective of DP and our founders.
I’ve seen many (thousands) of 2nd and 3rd generation come to Korea to attend the large-scale workshops here, so things are not entirely hopeless. But as Dr. Ferrantello pointed out, there has been a concerted and purposeful effort in academia in the West to subvert the Judeo-Christian ideals that are the foundational aspects of our culture and replace those ideas with something that is antithetical to those ideals. That’s not debatable as I see it. For Godism to take hold, there ought to be an emphasis on living for the higher purpose, and in Cheon Syeong Gyeong (pp. 1063 to 1068) the way of Godism is clearly laid out for all generations to study and practice.
I have rather mixed feelings on reading this article.
Just a few thoughts: I am sure many of the disaffected young people would be amused, if they are not offended, by the assumption that they are “lost sheep” if they have distanced themselves from the UC. By no means are all former members, 1st or 2nd gen, “struggling in an earthly hell.”
Regarding handing over the reins: from my observations (here in Europe), the older members are desperately trying to retire from church positions and encourage, even plead with, younger ones to step up, but they are just not interested — even if the way is open for them to implement any changes they would like to see. And there are initiatives like Project Phoenix that have greatly contributed to good intergenerational cooperation, but it is up to all of us to extend to and support our young people…actually simply to be friends. It always returns to the same point. Unless we are a life-giving movement with real, workable answers, then we won’t bring back any “lost sheep,” let alone give birth to any new ones.
This is interesting. You write that older members are desperate to retire from church positions, and I wonder if that really is so. Just recently I was told of two cases, where the “older member leader” did seemingly hand over the reins to a young second generation, but under the condition, that he (the older) would still have the last say in decision-making.
Frankly, I am not so convinced that our elders in general really are ready and willing to “let go.” I see quite a bit of “holding on.”
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. When I used the words “earthly hell” I was thinking of situations where a young person might struggle with depression, anxiety and loneliness after they become alienated from their spiritual support network. Or where a young person struggles with shame and guilt over mistakes made, because they never experienced God’s forgiveness and grace.
Maree, thank you for such a clearly stated article. This is something that has concerned me for a number of years, and I think you have really hit the nail on the head. This speaks to the long term survival of our church.
Where I live in America, there has been no (or perhaps one family) new active membership in years despite lots of programs, good external contacts, and Blessings. In fact, the opposite has been true with many first generation families slowly drifting away. When you combine that trend with the observation that many, if not most, second generation do not continue to be involved, then it is clear that we have a critical situation. The average age of the remaining active congregation is steadily increasing, Sunday school enrollment is decreasing, and every day we hear of more and more of people passing. The key question then is what happens when first generation have gone?
If current trends continue, and I see no reason why they should not, then our church in America will not survive much beyond first generation. This is such a critical issue and your content addresses exactly what we need to be thinking about and acting on. Thank you so much for bringing this up. I pray we are not already too late.
David, thanks for validating me. Since we are making similar observations, I wonder if we are living in the same geographical area?
Maree, I am in Connecticut.
Okay! Well, so much for that theory!
As a longtime educator for both college and high school, I think the K-12 and college education curricula are greatly responsible for students being disaffected with faith, family and freedoms.
At one point, I homeschooled my daughter and found it more fruitful in both content and external results. Then, we placed her in Catholic school, thinking that it would be better than public school; but learned that out of financial necessity many Catholic schools take used public school textbooks. So, in 8th grade science, students were reading a McGraw-Hill textbook with a chapter on Darwinian evolution only. I gave a selection of materials to the principal that represented three camps on evolution: Creationism, Intelligent Design and Darwinian theory. This is how to teach our young about the different viewpoints and biases. We give them exposure and then discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each. Discussion and debate are good methods of teaching for young and adult. But, of course, a religious or private school has the right to emphasize what resonates with their mission.
Likewise, in my freshman Writing and American Literature courses, I asked students to read an article on the historic encounter between the Native Americans and the European settlers. The article excerpted passages from 10 different historians to show that each had a different bias and set of facts or interpretations. Students were fascinated to see that these varying viewpoints were stated and how bias can shape interpretation. This kind of education is essential so that students can then transfer their learning/listening skills on bias and history when reading the newspaper, listening to media news reports or reading authors’ books and articles.
Consider the timeline of over 50 years of indoctrination in our public education:
In 1965, my high school economics teacher had the class researching the Soviet collectivization of farming, the five-year plans, etc., without critical commentary on totalitarian controls, subsequent famines, Stalin, etc.
In 1977, graduate English Departments promoted Deconstruction theory, Marxist theory and feminist theory. If a student soaks up all of Derrida, et.al., the idea of the transcendent is missing.
In 1983, New York high schools were already debating teaching American history from 1800 on, with the excuse that World War II and contemporary history were in need of more time in survey courses. Yet, we know the hidden agenda was to leave out 200 years of American heritage and the most theological era, the Judeo-Christian foundations. And what about the historic creation of the Constitution?
In 1996 New York bureaucrats tried to introduce Common Core in the history curriculum, emphasizing only progressive viewpoints. Later it was accepted in 2009 when many states drank the cool-aid that came with promise of monies, In 2015, an AP History Exam Review Text had a table of contents that cited the second President of the United States. But what about the first president, George Washington? When I perused through the text, it mentioned President Ronald Reagan without highlighting any of his legacy or accomplishments, but instead said that his term was marred by the Iran-Contra Deal. Okay, I then looked at the section on President Clinton where it read that he accomplished great things for the economy and only was subject to some “allegations of personal impropriety.” Oh, really? Nothing on the facts of Monica Lewinsky affair in the Oval Office.
In 2014, when visiting New York high schools while on fact-finding research, I learned that the school administration would not let teachers discuss Common Core while in school. Suppression to an extreme due to the upcoming gubernatorial election. Teachers who want their pension have to comply with CCC.
And, on today’s college campuses, there is no freedom of speech for different viewpoints. The result of years of indoctrination and inadequate teachers.
Thank you, Donna, for this valuable input. Yes, I agree that public education has a lot to do with the decline of faith.
So what is the solution? Home schooling and private, faith-based universities? If so, how practical is that in reality?
Yes, Maree, more homeshooling needs to be created at this time. There are ways to make it practical and churches have resources and homeschooling groups. Second gen parents will realize that they need to mobilize and create church schools also. Our founder knew and advocated church schools in every state. Public education will not get better due to the culture. Hillsdale College has spearheaded a private school movement called the Barney Schools Initiative. They have 14 schools so far and teach American heritage/history, civics, the Constitution and are Judeo-Christian, interdenominational. Recently I heard former senator Rick Santorum speak on education at the Values Voter Summit in D.C. He has become so experienced and knowledgeable (He has 7 homeschooled children). As a CNN commentator, he holds his ground and can dialogue well on these issues. One memorable comment I won’t forget: “Stop It! Stop funding these schools. Parents, send your children elsewhere if at all possible.” (He meant state universities as well.) There are growing Christian universities and online universities now. Unfortunately, many UC parents are seeing the consequences of sending their own “out to graze” on secular, atheistic campuses.
I can certainly relate to your final sentence. Unfortunately, that ship has already sailed in my case. My youngest is about to go to UC Berkeley.
So, for those of us for whom homeschooling and faith-based colleges are no longer an option, how might we go about countering the devastating effects of a secular, atheistic education, after the fact?
Prayer is the first and best way before all else. Asking God to guide our young and give them wisdom and understanding and protection etc. God can provide creative ways. For example, my husband and I just went to see the film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” about the true story of a journalist’s encounter with Fred Rogers and how he was helped to understand his father as well as the example of faith and service in Mr. Rogers. There are some new films being produced that show the lessons of life and faith. Hopefully, more and more filmmakers will influence people and culture this way. Encouraging others to go into filmmaking and expressive endeavors.
In church life, fellowship with others as well as educational presentations may draw some to participate. Dr. Lewis has given two one-day Saturday seminars on “God and Science” which drew about 20 participants in Clifton, NJ. I recommend panel discussions on issues of interest to our young adults. By learning about and/or meeting people who show examples of integrity, faith and service and/or overcoming obstacles, we all learn from them.
In my view, the article addresses a number of relevant issues, and the author even offers her solutions, which is a huge step beyond just lamenting.
However, the issues raised in the article are not new, but have been around for many years. What can be done about these issues, if anything at all?
Perhaps one thing that could be done by International HQ and Regional HQs is to have outside experts perform a survey among the second generation, inviting all who are willing to participate — whether they are active in or very distant from the movement. Those concerned must be listened to, if something should change/improve.
The other thing that came to mind is the question of “a calling from God;” perhaps only few of our second generation experience such a calling. Without such a calling, people will look at being active in the movement of their parents more externally, i.e., whether there is a job that pays at least reasonably.
Johann, thanks for your thoughts.
I agree with you that a survey would be a good idea. With regard to a “calling,” I heard once that only one in ten people has a religious calling in life. So we should expect that only one in ten Blessed Children might aspire to a position of leadership in the Movement. But I would hope that the other nine would aspire to be blessed, raise a family, tithe, serve their community, and otherwise live a godly life for the sake of others.
I am very grateful for this courageous piece by Maree Gauper. It addresses a sensitive issue in our community, with clarity, simplicity, using a sound methodology. Moreover, I appreciate the tone of the article. Because the issue is so sensitive and because we may not agree with some minor arguments of Maree’s, there is a risk of being a bit defensive in our remarks. I tried to read the whole article with a very open mind.
Having accompanied dozens of second gen either in HARP, CARP or STF, I cannot but agree with Maree on most issues. Just like her, I think that a shame-based education about purity is nonsense. Recently, High Noon started to talk about sexual integrity, rather than sexual purity. That may be one step, but the problem is more complex.
I would like to add two points to Maree’s reflections.
1. A movement where women and the young people are hidden
If our movement has difficulty to keep its young people, the reason may be that it does not make much space for women either. I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a few days ago for the Asia-Pacific Summit. The second panel of speakers included 13 men and one…”charming lady” (the moderator said). The Khmer moderator was also charming, bright and smiling, he spoke perfect English, but his remarks about the only daughter (of Eve) at the panel made some people quite nervous. Even UPF is (sometimes) not able to meet international standards and may appear to some as a movement of men, for men and by men. We are surely beginning to start and contemplate thinking about it, but anyone who attends conferences put on by other groups can see that we are quite lagging behind.
It is only an hypothesis, but I believe that the same reasons may explain the absence of women and absence of young people in the leadership of our movement. I hope I am wrong. But looking at facts, I am sometimes puzzled. We have a whole notion of leadership which does not make much space for women and young people. Those who believe this will honestly say, “I wish that women and young people could be more involved, but they don’t really want to, I guess.” We know that this is poor thinking, but it remains prevalent and quite entrenched, except in some places.
2. A strong “veteran’s mindset”
A Unificationist parent, more than any other parents, would like his/her children to be better, more capable, and more happy than him/herself. The question is, “Do Unificationist leaders believe that young leaders can be better than themselves?” Consciously or not, they often believe the opposite.
They think that those whom God called personally will never be replaced. We had children born without original sin, they may be more pure, but they did not have the calling that we had. As long as I live, I have to be in command, in charge.
A former missionary to Africa (1975) amazed me by her evident lack of trust in second generations:
“At 19 or 20, you are just a kid,” she said.
“Could be, indeed,” I said. “But you also left for Africa at that age and started the missionary life and leader’s life at this age?”
“Hmmm…yes, but the times were different.”
This is typical veteran’s language (with my sincerest respect for veterans, especially the 1975 missionaries, whom I admire, needless to say).
The Unification movement, in its early years, was created to serve as the army of Heaven. Many of our holy songs are marches. During three decades, we were called in a movement which wanted to be as warm as a family of brothers and sisters (and often was). But it was functioning more efficiently as a very disciplined army of comrades in arms, with some commando elite troops. We had a culture of campaigning, mobilizing, fighting, and we declared war upon enemies. We were dreaming of very heroic and sacrificial lives, and we often thought of the religious life as thrilling, exciting, involving much testosterone, competition, winners and losers, plaques, honors, awards, and ribbons.
Even when STF was established, I sometimes challenged the leadership, saying, “Do you really think that they need to have three years of fund-raising?”
“You are right,” one answered. “Ideally, they would need maybe four or five years.”
This person did not know what was in my mind. I actually thought that three months were more than enough and that if you had to take three gap years, you’d be better off investing this time in witnessing, learning skills, helping others, and developing compassion.
My conclusion is that we should work on becoming more like a big family, with a sense of team-building where everyone feels included, especially the women and the future generations. Thanks again, Maree.
With regard to becoming like “a big family,” or even a harmonious small family, the question of “universally shared values” becomes a central point. Whether veterans or rookies, there needs to be a clear idea of what those universally shared values are. It has become apparent to me that not all of the veterans of which we are but two, understand the essence of headwing thought, or heavenly socialism, or globalism, for instance. This observation is born out by numerous discussions on various social media platforms where there have been heated debates among us veterans on these issues. Yet our founders were very clear on all this.
I agree with Mr. Hinterleitner that taking church leadership responsibility is “a calling” and perhaps only a few BCs will hear that call. My eldest daughter earned her degree in religious studies, but she is seemingly one of the very few BCs who felt called to study comparative religion and philosophy. In the USA, there are more second gene women now taking leadership roles.
How about these universally shared values, as articulated by UPF:
Can we agree that we are one human family created by God; that the highest qualities of the human being are spiritual and moral; that the family is the school of love and peace; that we are created to live for the sake of others, and that peace entails cooperation beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and nationality?
Thank you, Laurent, for your very interesting observations about UPF and also the veteran’s mindset.
Regarding women in the movement, when I joined the UC in Australia in the 1970s, a German woman was national leader. She put sisters in charge of every state center. Observing this, I thought, how awesome! They teach the equality of women and practice it as well! Coming from a Catholic background, that was so refreshing.
Fast forward to the 1990s. I came to America where it was quite different. This country is more patriarchal in its history and culture, which carries over to the church, even in this Era of Women.
I guess it takes time for the reality to catch up with the ideal.
Thank you for your heartfelt and solutions-based article.
A few of your observations and solutions really apply across the board. Everyone responds to being heard via the act of active listening and the same goes for caring about what people think. This is active listening, not waiting to make your point or respond, but letting people have their say. We can and should always do this within our families and how we speak to each other. At a certain point, I stop engaging with people who do not at least listen to me and value my viewpoint. We do not have to agree, but contempt and arrogance are the opposite of humility and gratitude. I actively engage and work, or try to work with people of broad backgrounds and cultures. This is one of the strengths of the UM, but as an organization, this is not always practiced or valued within.
As an organization, the UC and really the broader UM faces the challenges of conveying its culture and keeping the essence of it intact, while responding to new ideas and indeed new circumstances. This is not easy and the UM is not unique in this regard. Organizations learn change and adapt by setting up regular processes of evaluating what works and what has not. Without this organizations can actually become worse over time and continue to make bad decisions that undermine their own goals and values. Own own ministry, now 25 years old struggles with this, but we do this every year. Currently, our decision-making Council is composed of 4 second generation and 3 first generation and 3 women and 4 men. See Shehaqua Family Council.
The issue of shame and purity education is important. What I have witnessed over the years is that those who stress the positive aspects of marriage and parents who indeed are happy and fulfilled in their own marriages, have more success with passing on the values to their children and others. This is word and deed in action within our own families. Still, many are influenced on college campuses and by the secular culture we all live in. I think we need to maintain our family connections, a place where all can return to and learn to let go and really trust that God does indeed love them more than we do and is not finished with them. God has been in this restoration business a lot longer than we have.
My wife was a public school teacher in an English Middle School until she retired a few years ago. She taught what she terms her Four Rules of Life to hundreds of kids which really was a positive way of staying the Four Fallen Natures. First, you are valued because you are unique, created by God. Second, it is important for you to stay in your position as a student to learn from your teacher and to be loved and cared for by your family and parents. Third, you can’t be the boss of anyone until you can learn to control yourself. Finally, you can’t spread gossip, negative energy and chaos in this classroom. I think we need to learn how to translate most of what we teach into contemporary language while keeping the core message. This is easier said than done.
The dangers of socialism I think are best combated by showing people, concretely the benefits of capitalism. I attend on a very regular basis business networking groups and they include lots of young people who are actively building businesses. I think the direction of the Crane’s Club is a very positive example of this; long, intellectual lectures or programs are much less relevant these days. As an overall construct, they are fine, but they rarely really provide any actionable activity from them.
As far as too few young leaders, the organizations will have to adapt and change or go out of business. They younger generation can and will build what works for them.
Hi Robert, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I looked at your Shehaqua Family Council. It looks like a beautiful model of cooperation that other regions might do well to follow. I enjoyed reading about your wife’s Four Rules of Life. She sounds like a wise woman. And yes, young people want practical solutions, rather than long hours of spiritual lectures.
Amen, Maree. Our movement needs to welcome new leaders with new ideas, not just for our physical children, but for our spiritual children as well.
I’d like to see what someone like Noel Jones or Prophet Radebe (Dr. Prophet Uzwi leZwe Radebe from South Africa) could teach us about how to grow a church. I’d like to see us serving those new members by listening to them and practicing what they suggest.
How about merging some ACLC congregations with ours?
A bunch of 70-year-olds, who are more concerned with getting 430 folks to drink holy wine than concretely saving our brothers and sisters can’t save the world. If we want a real Kingdom of Heaven, we need to take risks to find real citizens of Cheon Il Guk.
The 430 Heavenly Tribal Messiah directive is a providential endeavor and by attempting to fulfill that directive we are attending to our True Parents’ wishes as filial children in the spirit of Hyo Jeong culture. Those of us, regardless of our age, who are taking that directive seriously can be said to be justifying our faith by our actions. And I might remind you that Father states in CSG that “our proprietary rights in spirit world will be determined by how many people we save.”
The various events in Cambodia, Taiwan, Niger, Palau, Dominican Republic, South Africa, and the USA have Blessing components for a reason — a providential reason. Folks like Noel Jones and Samuel Radebe are on board with True Mother in this initiative.
And this brings up a salient point in these discussions: Do our children take seriously the idea that “saving souls” by witnessing to the ideals of the Three Blessings and change of blood lineage is something they should be engaging in? Do they see this as important? As their parents, are we taking it seriously?
I think Gary’s point was that the 430 blessing Providence can be superficial if conducted for the sake of numbers only, and while neglecting to substantially care for those who receive the blessing.
I’m a believer in the 430 HTM movement. It is clear that Mother’s intention is to make real members from our 430 couples.
However, you can’t make a believer of someone who you get to sign a petition outside of a grocery store or at an airport; whom you never see or contact again. Someone who might be ready to receive True Parents if they were cared for, beyond being on a list.
From the day that Rev. Chung Sik Yong began blessing people as a way of witnessing to them in 2008, the idea has been to bless people and raise them to become members.
True Mother’s idea was the same — the purpose of Heavenly Tribal Messiahs was to make more Heavenly Tribal Messiahs.
I think it is shameful that many church leaders are directing members to give what amounts to misleading or false reports of 430 HTM victories. We shouldn’t be sacrificing people so leaders can report victories that are really defeats. We need to make a real Cheon Il Guk filled with real, not pretend citizens.
Wow, Gary, I like your radical thinking!
Some of those Christian leaders are dynamic and spirit-filled in the way our early church in Korea is said to have been. Merging ourselves with ACLC congregations might be like performing CPR!
Again, I want to thank Maree for raising this issue of the second generation and I also thank all those who expressed their views on this topic during the last few days.
What was Isaac doing?
One hypothesis needs to be contemplated. Regarding our second generation, some might be in a situation which is reminiscent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in some ways. Abraham is the first generation and is called the father of faith, even though the will of God was finally carried out in the third generation, i.e., with his grandson Jacob. When we look at the life of Isaac, apart from being one with his father Abraham at the critical time of the offering, he “did not do much” the rest of his life. Apparently, God could not do much in his generation. However the Providence which had been at a halt with Isaac, was suddenly dramatically revived in the third generation, through Jacob’s course.
Jacob represented the best of Abraham, this means whatever Isaac embodied. Isaac was good, but did not do much. Jacob did. To be and to do, cause and effect.
Some recent events seem to show that we might be in a similar pattern. This is just a personal hypothesis, and I may be completely wrong. Apparently, True Mother is realistic about the “second generation,” based on facts and the current reality. She seems to invest tremendously in the third generation, particularly with the four children of Hyo Jin Nim and Yeo Na Nim. It does not mean at all that True Mother is unintested in the second generation — far from it. But she might consider that the best thing the second generation can do is to give a very good education to their own children, a balanced education combining faith and academic, artistic achievement.
Rebecca, the wife of Isaac, received a message from God about Jacob. Jacob was not really “called” by God. God spoke to his mother Rebecca, when she was pregnant. Rebecca, the rest of her life, decided what Jacob should do. She really took the lead and told Jacob how to receive the Blessing. Jacob was not “called,” he was trained by a very strong mother, who was acting like God. Sometimes it is better. We don’t see God, but a mother is very real.
The children of HJN and YNM are taken care directly by True Mother at the palace. They receive a special education. Yeo Na Nim and Julia Moon, two “widows,” like True Mother, are being promoted to high positions, and True Mother is investing tremendously and ostensibly in her four special grandsons from Hyo Jin Nim. In some ways, it is a bit odd, isn’t it? I mean, if you look at it from a human point of view, it does not look completely based on “common sense.”
It may look like a “selection,” if not a “discrimination,” in a sense. But True Mother is also exposing those four and we need to pray for them. This may be an indication for the first and second generation.
First and second generations, let’s unite strongly to help the third generation.
Ladies and gentlemen of the first and second generations, let’s not waste time to argue with one another. First and second generations both have a portion of responsibility in the current stalemate of the Unification movement (so to speak). Let us not blame each another. Let us repent together.
Instead of finger-pointing, let us join our forces to prepare carefully the third and fourth generations. It does not mean that we “retire,” but we are all ready to “learn from the future.” If the first generation is a bit stuck somewhere in the past, and the second generation stuck somewhere in the present, the third generation has a future wide open.
True Mother always tells us to unite the past, present and future every day. Personally, I shall try as of today.
Thank you, Laurent, for these observations.
After a study of new religious movements, Dan Fefferman found that often its the 3rd and 4th generations of these groups that actually “get it right” when it comes to implementing the tenets of the founders. True Mother’s direct education of Hyo Jin Nim’s children makes sense from a monarchic perspective in that they are the children True Parents’ eldest son.
This morning while reading from Cheon Syeong Gyeong (p. 1069) I read where Father states that the age of globalism is passing and we are entering the era of a “cosmic level ideology” (aka Godism) and that this is “the meaning of the great judgment.” He reminds us that when Moses brought the commandments on the tablets of stone the Israelites bowed down in humility to the new truth of the era. When accepting this new truth the Israelites then followed their conscience and miracles (e.g., the parting of the Red Sea) took place. The reality of the spirit world being a significant aspect of “the cosmic level ideology” that Father speaks of is no small matter.
We know that many young people are “allergic” to the idea of judgment. They find it harsh, lacking compassion and empathy. It requires a mature mind and heart to understand that in any attempt to fashion a moral and ethical culture requires that judgment be in the socio-cultural equation. Living and loving according to a particular tenet/truth requires making judgments as to whether that truth is morally correct and worth practicing. In a sense we judge ourselves by choosing to comport with the tenets of Godism, or not.
Several years ago I had two identical dreams(!) of True Mother (which I was able to share with her in 2016). In those dreams she had invited my family and two other families who have music missions for lunch. After inquiring about our musical endeavors her attention quickly turned to our children and she asked us if they were studying DP, were they reading TP’s words every day, were they being raised according to the tenets of the faith? She then said that it’s important to remember that before we are musicians we are children of our Heavenly Parent and parents to our children and as parents the mentoring of our children in the ways of our faith should be our primary concern.
If the next generations are going to successfully take up the mantle of the providence they will need to be inculcated with the tenets of Godism and follow their consciences accordingly. It seems that our BCs (disenfranchised or not) need to become more aware of the reality of spirit world and that judgment is not intrinsically bad, untoward or unnecessary. True Mother’s recent messages about living according to God-centered values only reinforce that idea as we pass into this new era.
Thank you, Maree, for your pertinent and heartfelt observations.
One book that left a very deep impression on me many years ago was Chaim Potok’s The Chosen. It highlights the conflict within a hasidic Jewish community when the rabbi’s son decides to follow his own path in life. It raises the question, “What do we really want for our children?”
Doubtless, all parents within the movement want their children to be happy, fulfilled and, if possible, live a principled life. But for some parents, perhaps because of an attachment to their own beliefs, it becomes paramount that their children also inherit their faith and views.
Until we decide as parents which is more important to us — having our children follow in our footsteps or letting them find their own way through life, knowing that they are loved whatever path they choose — the problem of alienation will unfortunately persist.
Graham, yes, The Chosen is a remarkable book and the movie is just as remarkable. I used this book and movie for an AP high school class. Many in the class were not particularly religious and some openly acknowledged being atheist in reference to the book’s content. The excellent character portrayal of the two fathers and sons affected my students so personally and dramatically. Some seemed to admire the faith and love of the orthodox rabbi regardless of the son’s struggles, and they voiced admiration for the faith heritage. As the book demonstrated, some are attracted to what they don’t have and feel they missed out on. Several of my students cried during the movie.
The friendship of the two sons, one from a “liberal” Jewish family and the other from an “orthodox” rabbinic family, impacted on students. Students wrote essays on issues in the text and offered both personal and creative responses. One student wrote about how he learned more about Jewish history and the origins of the Hasidic movement, as well as the Zionist movement. Potok’s book superbly reached into different levels of historic cultural contexts and character study. I highly recommend both the book and movie for those who study religion and society.
Thanks so much for your honest appraisal of a problem that we might shy away from looking at directly and, most important, for offering thoughtful, sensible solutions. Families, local groups, and hopefully a few people at HQ will surely find here a point or two of workable inspiration.
Yes, hopefully! Thank you, Louise.
Thank you. The Principle is clear that one needs substance, not just faith. Vast sums and enormous amounts of time have been invested in trying to get “other” people to have faith, but comparatively little in doing what is necessary to show what “heaven on earth” looks like in reality — thus creating a magnet for those who value all things good.
Also, as you say, there is a cultural war going on. The only way to fight this war is with education. Thus, the substance that needed to be shown was most likely to be educational.
Here the movement was selling flowers, pompoms, pictures, etc., for years — people visited every house in America and Europe a hundred times. But why would a movement that wants to help people improve their marriages, help people become better parents, etc., sell these things? Surely, the sensible thing would have been to sell marriage education, character education, self-development books and courses, etc. Maybe if this had happened, the state of marriages — both inside the movement and in the West in general, would have improved. Maybe the people that were met on the doorstep would have come to marriage enrichment or parenting programs. Maybe various people would have developed their counselling skills. Maybe expertise would have developed . Maybe today we would be a movement of experts in the fields that are most dear to the Unificationist heart.
And in understanding the role of education — and based on the expertise — educational programs might have been developed to help parents talk about important issues with their kids. Maybe some experts would have understood the need to show what schooling looks like in a righteous and good society — and made model curricula — like the Chesterton Schools network are doing — and shared those good models with the world. And maybe then the second gen would have been better protected from this horrible social justice warrior worldview that is out to destroy them, not uplift.
Put simply, for too long the attitude that the founders might be accepted tomorrow, so let’s focus on almost everything else but education — held the minds of too many. So, the movement today is left with very few people who have faith because they don’t see — or even understand — the substance. And the young who drift away are just a reflection of that lack of substance — in their homes and in the actions that the movement itself promotes. They are sensible people. They understand faith without action is meaningless.
If a movement that says that a good world is built upon ideal families doesn’t even develop holistic educational programs to help families on their path — then what is the point? Yes, some small sprouts are finally happening in the US. But its about 40 years late.
Right now, many things are happening in Africa. Many of the nations would like to go in a different direction than the West is going. Show me what we can offer them in substance so they can build a new future for their nations. A well-developed K-12 school curriculum? Marriage education and parenting programs and experts to do the training? Anything anyone?
Some of those in the movement did develop useful programs — and these programs have helped many children. But the lack of the ability to build on those programs and make them much more accessible makes the dream so much harder to achieve.
The young are so precious. They need to learn what goodness is — and they can only do this with a broad education based on a good civics, arts, and science curriculum.
The enemies of goodness have taken over the education system — they understand they can bring a nation down through education.
One can only get out of the difficulty by going forward using a clear educational strategy.
But let’s go forward and see what can still be done.
Steve, you say “… there is a cultural war going on.” Your response, and that of others in this discussion, is predicated upon this idea. It is a central issue, certainly, but perhaps not in the way you think it to be. Though in the past there was clearly a global Cain-Abel conflict, that time period came to a complete end in Foundation Day, and the main battles were won years before that. The premise that we are still at war is faulty.
Laurent calls for us to give up finger-pointing and for first and second generations to work together for the future. This is something I totally agree with, but would add one thing. That is, in order for us to do that we will first need to let go of the mindset that we are in a war.
We may say (and agree) that we are no longer in a “war” with the anti-God elements in society, but those elements remain clearly at war with what they see as the source of the world’s problems and that includes religious belief — including the values of Judeo-Christian Western culture. One only needs to examine the current scenario within academia (now, today — as my millennial daughters will tell you), or the media, or Hollywood — to see that a “war” against fundamental values such as free speech and religious practice are clearly under attack. The idea attributed to Sun Tzu of “knowing your enemy” remains relevant, IMO.
We may be willing to “work together” with the anti-God folks, but are they willing to work with those who espouse Godism in the manner that you and I do? I don’t see it. Do you? If so, where is this happening to significant degrees within the political, entertainment, academic, and media establishments. Those who espouse the values of Godism and the liberal values of the Enlightenment are more often than not derided, de-platformed, harassed, dismissed from their jobs and vilified as “reactionaries.” That’s a reality, not some conjured up “false narrative.”
It’s probably a matter of viewpoints. I guess what you mean by your statement is that the era of Cain/Abel is over — that the movement should be above this, embracing both sides, and showing a better way (a better foundation of substance). Yes, to have respect for all people and to be able to listen to their side of the story is important. But if this is what you mean, this raises several issues.
1) Clearly we have a viewpoint and it has much more to do with the wholesome world that is built upon the foundation of individual integrity and wholesome families — the idea that Christianity kind of once espoused.
2) If we have a viewpoint, then we need to be able to convey that worldview in a way that explains the root cause of the “cultural war” that is clearly evident in our nations today. In my mind, the DP states that there are three fundamental ways that humankind receives God’s ongoing blessings — and progressives wish to redefine both the inner workings and the social purpose of each of the three blessings — thus making it ever harder for increasing numbers of individuals to understand how one receives God’s blessings through living up to one’s natural responsibilities. To convey an idea, one has to study, think and educate. There has been so little coordinated investment in this as a movement — but that is not to say individuals in the movement have not been working on developing their ability to explain the Principle in their own field of expertise.
Thus I come back once again to the question that Maree has raised — and the idea of education — and how the lack of the development of it has led to many of the next generation having no idea where the movement is heading, what it wants to offer the world, and why what it wants to offer is a big improvement on what progressives offer. If we can’t explain it to our kids, then what hope have we to share the idea with the world?
Are we at war and against whom and for what reasons? It is good to study again Jacob’s course. Again, Jacob was the third generation in Abraham’s family. Jacob was responsible to set the course to subjugate Satan naturally, not by force.
I guess that this is what our second or third generations would like to see more often than not in our movement. They wonder if we sincerely try our best to follow Jacob’s course, if we are willing to subjugate Satan naturally.
Jacob never fought or confronted Laban who was exploiting him. He married his daughters and finally became very rich by cheating Laban after being cheated. When he left Haran after 21 years in exile, Laban became upset and started to pursue Jacob, But, with the witty complicity of Rachel and his own wisdom, Jacob managed to calm down his uncle, who then proposed a covenant (Gen. 31:48).
This was not the end of Jacob’s “wars”. When he was informed about Esau’s very aggressive intentions, Jacob did not hide his fear to God, “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me.” (Gen. 32:11)
First, Jacob started to prepare a very subtantial gift for Esau (Gen. 32.13-14). This giving attitude was not enough, however; Jacob could not escape the fight. But instead of fighting his brother, he had to fight the angel and he managed to obtain a blessing from his angel. Laban had offered a covenant, the angel agreed to bless Jacob. Well done! Rather smart!
The rest was almost a piece of cake, apparently. What our second and third generation need to learn from the first generation is fighting the angel, not fighting Esau. A fight is needed, the greater jihad, as the Muslims would say, i.e., to control oneself.
We sometimes would like to see our enemies as extremely dangerous and aggressive, harmful, villains. If we see them like this, they will surely like to play this role. But we should do our best to see the divine in them. In our movement, not everybody likes to interact with Muslims, for instance, and there are many who will never volunteer to do that.
They don’t feel any calling to embrace their Muslim brothers. They prefer to love more friendly groups. There is nothing wrong with that, and we do need whistleblowers, otherwise, we would become naive. Jacob did not rebuke those who reported about Esau’s very aggressive intentions. He knew that the danger was very real and was not stupid. Jacob indeed feared Esau and reported to God.
True Mother just went to Niger and this Muslim nation still dependent on France is pretty insecure, as well as all its neighbors. It is not typically a “Judeo-Christian and enlightened environment” sharing our Western values, right? Some Unificationists may be very skeptical about this kind of summit, but I guess it is typically the attitude and strategy that can appeal to some second and third generations, provided we explain to them what we are doing and why. As you could see, our Blessing ritual was adapted in Niamey. True Mother did not sprinkle water on the couples but rather “washed their hands” with water. True Mother did not need to wear a hijab to do that. She did not force herself to look like a Muslim woman, she remained a very dignified lady from Korea but she embraced another culture with a mixture of warmth and polite distance. I guess that these are things to consider practicing at our own level. We don’t need to kiss our enemies and be in love with them, but we can show our respect and positive attitude.
There has been criticism about using the “war” analogy because the next gens in the USA don’t really care for that terminology — nor the type of battle songs that were part of the early church holy song canon (“fighting on/till the day/Satan falls/in defeat”). I understand.
However we wish to characterize it, there are serious opposition forces at work in society thwarting the advance of Godism –which according to CSG is less about “working with both sides” and more about promoting the metaphysical truth of God-centered marriages and family as heaven’s way to attain interdependence, mutual prosperity and understanding universally shared values.
Those opposition forces reject our truth claims and are actively working to undermine all metaphysical truth. It is, in my opinion, a low percentage prospect to “work with them” in an efficacious way. Father created the federation concept (FFWPU, UPF, WFWP, etc.) in order to find allies who already share our ideals and who might join us in advancing Godism and Headwing thought.
Though you and I may understand the biblical significance of Jacob’s course and defeating Satan, I would venture to guess (and may be wrong) that very few BCs actually contextualize their feelings and attitudes about Unificationism or the “outside world” in those terms…and that may be the biggest aspect of our challenge. Educating the next generation(s) in the ways of DP and UT or the other “textbooks” will provide our children with the necessary understanding to deal with those aforementioned opposition forces and build alliances with other God-centered people.
Both Laurent and David Eaton give needed understandings. Yet, it is important to see the different levels being addressed and not to mix them together. When we have viable relationships in which good exchange can occur, regardless of differences, hopefully learning can happen on both sides. However, at other levels, we are dealing with violent opposition, as David reminds us, that seeks to annihilate Godism and peaceful values. These levels include such actions as: the Iranian regime’s recent slaughter of hundreds of unarmed protestors, governments arresting people for criticizing government violence, and human trafficking and drug trafficking with the intent to kill our vulnerable people, just to name a few. Do we not have to “fight” for the physical and spiritual lives of our people? And let us not get tripped up by language. What is meant here is to stand strong for God, goodness and truth; and “when you see something, say something….and also do something about it.”
My comment concerning no longer being at war sparked some response derived from cherished beliefs. Though I definitely did intend to point out that there is a valid counterpoint to those beliefs, it is not my purpose to debate them here. Maree is bringing up questions about how we interact with second generation, and now from Laurent, it is clear that we also need to think about third and succeeding generations. The focus here is the young people and why they leave.
Look at the strength and type of reaction to my comment, not directly the content. This exactly illustrates part of the point of Maree’s article, and gives insight into why young people leave. Imagine that instead of talking to me, a long time first generation, you were talking to a young person of second or third generation who had just voiced their own thinking. With the focus on the young person imagine how they would feel or react to this kind of rejection of their ideas. If this happens to them repeatedly what place does that young person have in our church?
Looking at Laurent’s posts and Maree’s observations it does seem clear that second generation have been on the receiving end of ongoing interactions of this type. This is a problem. If those young people leave as soon as they can choose for themselves it doesn’t matter whether you were right.
To Laurent: Have you given any thought to third generation children from second generation families that left but stayed together as a family? Is there any hope there?
There has been a great deal of discussion here about mentoring. Mentoring means imparting wisdom, truth and knowledge regarding a variety of issues…religious, social, cultural, political, philosophical, etc. Parents are generally wiser than their kids on a host of issues. When we were teens and twenty-somethings we thought we knew better than our parents. We now know better.
Yes, we need to listen to the concerns and critiques of the next generation, but we also need for them “to get real” with regard to the “real world” and how we expect to bring change to that world according to the tenets of DP, UT, etc. In EG Pierson’s comments he cited Michael Horton’s observation: “The generation that has been taught it is all about them desperately needs to be confronted with that lie. It is not about them. It is about God. It is about what God says, what God proclaims and what God commands. God’s commands, while never burdensome, challenge our comfort and disrupt our lives.”
This is in accord with the central teachings in True Father’s Philosophy of Peace as cited in the 16 Peace Messages and CSG. I’m working with dozens of third generation children in the HJ music program in Korea and we are emphasizing the idea of attendance to Heavenly Parent and True Parents as an expression of “heavenly art.” Many BCs here are influenced by K-Pop, an art form that is often at odds with the culture of heaven. In our mentoring we need to explain why this art form is morally questionable (and that’s putting it mildly) and why it has little redeeming social value — and then provide alternatives that comport with principled attitudes about art and music. That’s what mentoring is all about, IMO. The children will make their own decisions, but as mentors we need to articulate the principled view on a host of issues.
I’d like to share my experience over the last 25 years and give others some homework. Our programs at Shehaqua have always focused upon building a community of faith, experiencing joy within that context and included the entire family. Community and shared experiences trump theology, they just do. We teach DP and the Bible and give everyone an experience of prayer. Don’t believe me? Ask the new District Pastor, Crescentia DeGoede, or Tasnah Bercy, my daughter Laurel Nakai, and any of the Council Members.
Another is Denthu Leary who is an active Second Gen not just in our small ministry but in the larger providence as well. So, ask them yourself and report back their answers. And not just those who stayed involved but many who are not are still connected here because of their experiences and the community. I know many in this category as well. When we give people an all or nothing choice we should not be surprised when many choose to walk away.
One of the insights we learned early on was it was our responsibility to create many ways for people to make an offering, to serve and feel included in our community. We did not insist that they fit into our roles, though some were, but we created many ways. And you know what, when they made that offering, they experienced joy, they felt included and served a real purpose and all we had to do was say “thank you.”
Ideally, if education interventions had been properly developed, then the second gen would already understand the difference between the two different worldviews that are battling for control in the US — thus they would not be shocked by comments. They would clearly understand why a “big state can fix all problems,” LGBT Marxist philosophy is doomed to failure, and why the self-responsibility, lineage-development, three blessings model is the only one that allows for the healthier development of our nations into the future. They would clearly understand that the government interventionist worldview, because it is a worldview that undermines the three-blessings, personal-responsibility mentality that God has given us — always ends up creating far more harm than good. Your comment then just highlights my point — the lack of educational resources that are aimed at explaining how the Principle works in practice.
Which brings me back to my original point: that the organizational structure itself has failed to create a space where those who value the Principle can sincerely reflect on what the DP means in practice. Then, based on that knowledge, developed educational programs to explain how a responsible life based on the three blessings framework — is manifested in reality. Then helped these programs be disseminated so that tribal messiahs can use them in their community work.
As far as I can see, there even hasn’t been an organizational attempt to develop and post some clear policy statements on the most pressing social issues that affect our nations today and how, as Unificationists we would go about solving these issues. If one cannot show how practical the Principle is, how can the young argue its case? If the young can’t see its usefulness, they will go somewhere else to look for ideas even if these ideas in practice, make things worse.
This isn’t to say that many members haven’t worked on these issues. But the management of organization itself seems to either be unwilling to develop “movement approved” resources or doesn’t understand their need. Some things are changing in the US — and the marriage project is gaining energy. Someone has provided some seed money and a leader has finally given his or her fairy dust blessing for this work to be integrated into the organizational structure. It doesn’t take much organizational input so that the thousands of ideas of members can be made useful to the whole. But the organizational blessing is key, and for whatever reasons, management blessing is as rare as a pink mouse. For some reason, the management seems far more interested in projects that cost vast sums of money, and seem to achieve little, than in coordinating thoughtful members so that they can develop educational materials — something that costs far less and has a much much wider impact.
Our children are naturally philosophical. Many are interested in the philosophical arguments of history — and social issues. Some parents have the capacity to explain a three blessings worldview to their children. However, many don’t — which is why educational resources are important.
I would like to thank Maree again for her well-documented article. There have been many reactions, a lively debate with many different contributions. The author motivated all of us to feel concerned and involved. When we consider the huge number of comments following her essay, we may see that this discussion was kind of a “model” to follow. Maree exposed situations and issues and proposed practical solutions. On that basis, we had many other thoughts directly or indirectly connected with the main topic. Thank you, Maree.
You’re welcome. 😊
Thank you for all the interesting contributions. I think all Blessed Families are concerned, without exception.
Br. Eaton suggests that academia may have had a negative and predominantly leftist influence on the development of our children. I’d like to mention two points here. From the DP viewpoint (especially the part on Abel-type philosophers like Emmanuel Kant), we learn that we ought to be people that have formed certain invisible, internal ‘vessels’, like moral and ethical principles, within ourselves and our children through the blessing, and that we act out according to those values in our day-to-day lives. This is contrary to what Marxists are teaching, namely that we are mainly influenced by our surroundings, and act accordingly. In his explanation, the last thing happened as we sent our children to various universities. Of course it is true that we are all influenced by our surroundings to a certain extent, but in our children, born of a new lineage, the first aspect ought to be dominant and determine their inclination towards God’s word and Kingdom-building. Another point is that, if indeed that influence has been too strong, why then would we continue to focus on sending our children to universities as if only that level of education counts. (according to Amish statistics on their children continuing their traditions, they claim it is 80%. So if in our case it is so much lower, could we learn something there? Or why don’t we send our children exclusively to Univ. of Bridgeport and Sun Moon University? Or any other pre-selected university on the different continents?)
The aspect of taking on leadership positions is important, but can we really go around the principle of new aspirant leaders working closely together with older leaders, so that they can ‘graduate’ towards a leadership position, so to speak, and only after that, then do things according to their own heart, intellect and will? This is how it has been, and just because there is the internet and smartphones now and we are dealing with millennials, doesn’t mean we ought to re-invent the wheel of leadership inheritance.
Did we provide our youth a good fight to fight? During the Second World War young people just couldn’t wait to join the fight, as it was with the young red Indians who were eager to to do battle with their elders. Did we possibly fail to provide our children with something to ‘fight’ for in society, besides their studies and preparing for building an ideal family?
When we look at the three central nations, we indeed see lots of male leaders, and the system is very patriarchal. Why would that be wrong? According to DP and True Father’s teaching/example men have a certain position and women too, and also certain roles connected. Of course, we very much welcome the present-day developments where women can be liberated from old oppressed roles/situations/suffering and we all applaud our sisters to join more public work and peace-building where they can, but this doesn’t mean that they should be taking over leadership from men. (although in certain cases this may be necessary). In fact, True Parents have shown us the heavenly way where couples can lead as husband and wife, representing both aspects of male and female.
Br. Ladouce’s comment that we have to be more like a family and practice the Jacob and Esau dynamic substantially is a very good comment, but have we not been trying this all along throughout our lives?
Would anyone know about the way our youth are educated now by internet? HQ? Is it known how under the present situation of educating our mistakes of the past are eliminated? Does anyone know how at this time our youth are educated in the newly established heavenly nations, like Senegal, Sao Tome and Albania? When TM says that only through True Parents education nations can be saved, which of the above mentioned opinions would come closest to TM’s vision? All of them combined, including our own view which is formed over the past 30-40 years? This would be very interesting and vital to know. Would it be possible for a Western leader like Br. Eaton who sometimes communicates with True Mother directly, to ask her in more depth about this topic? Is the outcome of this dialogue reported to international HQ at all? If not, what would be the use of this discussion?
Relevant to this conversation may be the new book by fellow Unificationist and UT graduate, Jennifer Tanabe: Passing on Our Faith to the Next Generation. It is on my ”to read” list, available as print or e-book.
Thank you Catriona for that suggestion. How can we get a copy of it?
[Editor: See this link]
First of all, I want to put a plug in for Maree’s book, Free Maree: When Faith, Family, and Freedom Collide. It’s extraordinarily well-written and a valuable read.
Members’ comments on Maree’s message and suggestions — topic headings below — are very insightful and thoughtful.
– Church culture and conservative vs. progressive politics
– Listening to them
– Caring about what they think
– Some may feel traumatized by fear and shame-based purity education
– A discrepancy between our words and our actions?
– Too few young leaders
– Going after the lost lambs
Being a Northern California “neighbor” with Maree and her wonderful husband, Bob, I am fortunate to be in a position to see them fairly regularly once or twice a year for sometime now. By now, I know Maree’s thinking on many of these topics, and I can say most (although not all) of it resonates.
One thing in closing: the Gaupers are more than good talkers or writers. In my opinion, they are truly walking the walk in doing tribal messiah work on a community level. That’s why, whether one agrees with everything or not, Maree’s words are powerful and important.
Thank you, Maree, for addressing issues that are not only pertinent to Unificationists, but to people of faith everywhere. I’ve read the article and comments with interest. From my limited research, there is an unprecedented crisis unfolding and impacting religious congregations everywhere, especially in the developed world. On the other hand, there are areas, in some parts of the world where one finds tremendous growth both among Unification communities and in other groups.
Recently a synagogue in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Montreal closed after almost a century and merged with another congregation due to aging and reduced membership. A major reason was that they could no longer afford the beautiful building that seated 1,000. I met the rabbi on several occasions and attended functions there. Fortunately, there was a related congregation to merge with not far away. It is a story that has been repeating itself among Christians of all stripes during the past 50 to 60 years in the West.
Data from about 20 Unification congregations in the West, Japan, Korea, and Australia demonstrates that the vast majority of activists and financial contributors are over the age of 60. On the other hand, congregations are younger in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America. It could be that the generational issues we currently face are symptomatic of the rapid changes due to technology, communities formed through the internet, and other forces. There are many reasons, but one point is certain; there is no easy solution.
Consider that most businesses have no succession plan. Surprising? A recent Canadian study informs that 50% of small to medium size businesses have no succession plan. And of the 50% who claim they do, only 8% have a written plan. Probably not much different elsewhere. Religious and non-profit organizations are not better at making plans for their future succession. But it is not too late for the Unification Community,
There are challenges ahead, but if dealt with now, there is hope for the future. If ignored, some areas will have to make some tough decisions. Merging with the congregation down the street may not be an option.
Thank you, Franco.
Catching up, this is a very insightful conversation. I have some experience that I think could be useful.
Our tribal messiah work began 25 years ago with camping trips with families and creating a place and planned experiences to share the DP with our children. Twenty-five years later this small ministry is still around and actually starting to grow again. We have had probably 400 families participate, probably 150 for seven years or more, that involve around 900 people and 300 kids respectively in those categories. Out of those 300, there are probably 30 that are actively involved in ministry in some capacity. These include Crescentia DeGoede who was Director of the Blessed Family Ministry in the US and now is the Pastor at the NJ Family Church, Tasnah Moyer Bercy, and my daughter Laurel and her husband Koichi Nakai. There are probably 75-100 of those 300 that are blessed. The rest is hard to know, but for many of those who chose to not follow in our faith tradition, probably half of the kids not involved or blessed are still connected, participate at times and know each other well.
Kids that grew up here are now returning with their kids and are actually leading everything. We stepped down in 2008 from our leadership position. So my observations and suggestions come from lots of experience, though certainly limited.
First, parents that love each other and are united in how they raise their children produce kids that are more likely to share in their faith or at least its ethics. In the time period of K-12, kids spend only about 8% of their time in school. The rituals the family practices, if consistent, are more important than what they actually are.
Peers are really important from middle school on. Families that participated in our programs and others year round provided a counter peer group to those in the secular world. Our kids and most we know attended public schools. The NJ church has some fantastic programs and other communities as well. These community level programs are vitally important.
College is a time where kids are on their own and many do not continue in their family life of faith, though, I have seen more coming back, at least in still wanting to be connected to our unique international and intercultural community. There are no easy solutions here, families and kids to make all kinds of choices. As parents, we also need to grow and part of that is letting go and allowing our young adult and adult children make decisions on their own, to own them and to continue to move forward in our lives. I know of many kids who are doing extraordinary things in part because their faith and cultural background who are not believers. Perhaps God is guiding them behind the scenes.
My experience and faith informs me that God is not finished with them or any of us. Their and our courses may differ, but our ties can last. They may not further the exact goals of the institutions or activities at the moment, but they can last. God loves them more than we do and if the history of restoration is valid at all, God will not leave them, ever.
One program that was closed about six years ago was the Educator’s Conference. This occurred at Barrytown annually and brought tougher people who were involved in Sunday Schools, summer camps, home schoolers, and leaders of programs like STF and church leaders and others. It was the one place where learning as a community occurred and was transmitted. As Steve Stacy noted, education is vital. I think that the focus on the Lovin’ Life Ministry abruptly ended that. Our small ministry has a circle or committee that is working on an educational framework for K-12 education. It is a slow process, but I think it will continue. A revived Educator’s Conference would be invaluable in my opinion. In responding to some survey in the last few years, this is the one thing I said would make a lasting difference and make a big impact.
Another valuable program that died out about the same time was the Character Education program sponsored by UPF. I think this is still happening to some degree, but in the US I am not aware of its impact at all; I could be mistaken. We took kids on service learning trips to countries in the Caribbean and had wonderful experiences for a few years.
A resource I would like to share is a book shared with me by a work colleague, The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. It describes how to create meaningful and lasting experiences and why certain experiences have extraordinary impact. You don’t need money, organizational buy in or even great ability to impact some of these.
Thanks, Robert. It sounds like you have an exceptionally successful program.
Have you shared this testimony at FamiCon or any gathering of FFWPU leadership where others might learn from it? Also, is there a Purity Education component in your program? If so, would you please share about that?
We ran the program for the first 12 years, 1995-2008 and during that time, yes, I met with many leaders, made presentations at various church groups and gatherings and made presentations at the Educator’s Conference. The response went from, “Who gave you permission to do this?” to, “This looks like completion,” to “This looks interesting, but we are busy with X activity,” to “Is there a way to take this across the country?” In all cases, they missed the point.
The one UC leader who did attend was Phillip Schanker. I explained to him that trying to even have a conversation with those in leadership positions was like trying to catch hold of a merry-go-round going very fast. Those in the center see things as stable, while those on the periphery experience it as nearly impossible to grasp onto. Because our movement is centrally guided, if you are not at the center or in a position already, it is nearly impossible to be heard. Maybe that is my failure, but I never held any position of influence and have mostly worked outside of the “Unification economy.” As such, you are almost invisible. So no, beyond writing some articles on this Blog, I have kind of given up trying to influence the UC so much.
As for purity education, we held annual ceremonies, used some traditional Christian texts like I Kissed Dating Goodbye. We simply tried to create a community and support the parents and kids involved. I’m not sure we had or have any “secret sauce.” We tried to express the joy of the Principle of Creation and less so on the dangers of “the fall.” We brought in guest speakers we knew who could speak well and with authenticity.
We have been talking a lot about second generation and third generation for two weeks and it seems that there was a real need for that. It was a very interesting discussion. Maybe what we need now is the voice and advice of a second or third generation, who would be interested by the topic and bring his/her insights. If we cannot get even one contribution, our conversation may lack something, don’t you think?
Yes, Laurent. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone under 60 reads this blog?
Hello all. I’m a 2nd gen. millennial (1983). One thing to note: Millennials are not “young adults” or “youth.” We are fully grown adults, many with families of our own. The current teens and college-age students are a different generation (Gen. Z) and are the ones who would benefit from suggestions like more youth pastors and stronger youth and young adults programs.
I have not considered myself in that group for about 12 years. We are simply in a different stage of life, and our generation faced different challenges and experiences growing up. There are many things that still resonate here, of course, but I want to make that distinction, because if you are talking about bringing people “back into the fold,” it’s going to require an understanding of that. Many in my generation are deciding how we want to raise our own kids (the kids that would benefit from all those youth programs, but if their parents don’t want to come, won’t), not away from home for the first time at college or at their first real job.
I’m open to questions if you have any.
Thank you so much Laurel for joining in this important conversation. Welcome.
Concerning who is a “young adult” versus a “fully grown” one, where should we draw the line? 30, 35, 40? Or is it case by case, depending on maturity?
I guess as an older person in my 60s, I tend to see anyone under 45 as young. Maybe because they’re young enough to be my children.
I am concerned that the way we typically do Purity Education (shame and fear-based evangelical model) is possibly doing more harm than good. Do you have any comments on that? For example, do you have an idea of what purity education will look like for your own children?
To me, anyone in their 30’s or above should be considered in that “adult” realm. Of course, it sometimes varies. I had my first kid when I was 25, so I transitioned out of the “young adult” stage before some of my peers just because of the stage of life I was in. I think the real problem is that for whatever age, there is not a smooth transition between that “young adult” stage into the “adult” one. My experience was that there was a huge gap between graduating from the “young adult” stage, and then realizing that the “adult” services were not geared towards or resonated with my needs.
Yes, I agree with you about Purity Education. I really want to give my kids a comprehensive sex education, including sharing my own experience of saving myself for marriage, so that they have the tools and knowledge they need to make good choices. I’m not quite there yet, though will be very soon, as my kids are still young. I definitely do not want to give them shame or fear around sex and relationships.
I am grateful that Laurel Nakai has joined our discussion. On December 10, I had suggested that we have more contributions from our second and third generations. Thank you very much, Laurel, for joining the debate and bringing your insights. I deeply rejoice.
Thank you, Laurent. Happy to contribute to healthy discussion.
I have a few questions for you, Laurel.
In the earlier stages of our comment discussion, it was suggested that many first generation had received what we termed “a calling” (from God). I would like to ask you if you ever felt called for something. Or, without speaking of a calling, what is your major concern as a second generation adult Unificationist in her thirties? How do you see the future of our movement, what are the areas where you contribute or would like to contribute?
I feel many second gen, including myself, feel a deep calling to make a difference in the world. However, that manifests in many different ways, often outside of the church walls. When I hear 1st gen talk about their calling to join the UC, it’s something I don’t think any 2nd gen can fully understand. Having been raised in it, we just do not have the same kind of conversion experience. That doesn’t mean we don’t find value in it, it’s just a fundamentally different cultural and generational experience.
I am hesitant to get too involved in the overall movement…I’m sort of one foot in, one foot out. I spent my teenage and young adult years being really involved, and became really burned out and disillusioned when I felt like the church no longer reflected my needs or beliefs, and there was a heavy resistance to change whenever we tried to have those conversations. As a result, my base mode is to be skeptical. I have seen changes in a lot of places, and some regions especially seem to be embracing younger leadership and really building things up around their communities. I would love to see more of this, really serving the needs of the local communities and less emphasis on a top down model where big events and initiatives overshadow and overwhelm.
Than you, Laurel, for this genuine, honest answer. Maybe you are “open-minded” more than merely skeptical in terms of convictions. Descartes started to doubt everything, not because he did not want to believe anything, but he wanted to believe in what appeared to be self-evident from within.
Whenever there is room for that, we all rejoice to involve in challenging debates. We then notice that people have other ways to express the same convictions that we have, but maybe in more practical ways, and not necessarily in our own circles. A genuine heart will never be in trouble with that, but may feel that it is a good education. Religious life should make us curious, open-minded, in a constant quest, just like scientific life or artistic life.
Spirituality is creativity.
In any religious movement, no one likes to end up being dogmatic. We search for new horizons, read books to broaden our minds, search for revivals. Doing so, we come across ideas that may seem to challenge our beliefs, when it fact they often confirm them, in a different language.
More importantly, I am sure that your heart and soul are not skeptical, and you really care. You entered our fireside discussion with a caring heart and vibration. I can feel it. I have noticed that some first generation harden their convictions but run the risk of hardening their emotions also, whereas some second generation make their convictions softer and their empathy warmer.
Thank you Laurent, I deeply resonate with this. Especially the lovely line “Spirituality is creativity.” Yes, this is one of my deeply held spiritual beliefs. What you are describing as skepticism sounds more like cynicism to me…and I agree, I certainly don’t consider myself a cynic. To me, open-mindedness is not incompatible with skepticism. A healthy skepticism is what keeps us seeking, questioning, and cultivating discernment. Skepticism can certainly turn into cynicism if it is not also side by side with faith, and trust. Yes, I do believe any time we harden our ideas and convictions, we loose some of the ability to truly embrace others and therefore to grow further on our own spiritual path.
Thank you, Laurel. It would be nice if you could discuss the few suggestions made by the author of the article, Maree Gauper. Her post has triggered many more reactions, some very constructive than usually found on this blog; the discussion had ended a few weeks ago, and you came in just yesterday to revive it, which is a good news for us, I believe. Mauree comes up with several practical suggestions. How would you react to let us say 3 or 4 of them, for instance the purity education, which she mentioned again yesterday? Sorry to ask you so many things.
I do agree with many of the suggestions in Maree’s article. There’s a lot I could say, but I’ll address each point briefly to start.
Politics: I agree, I don’t like to have politics in the pulpit. It’s a real turnoff to me, and I’ve experienced it more than once. I wrote more about this topic in a DP Life article a few years ago.
Listening and caring about what they think: Yes, of course. It can be easier said than done.
Purity education: I do like the idea of having trained professionals, or at the very least, there needs to be a very clearly defined curriculum that all of the teachers are consistent with. I like the positive reinforcement approach of showing what a loving healthy relationship looks like, and ways you can cultivate that. Yes, talk about the consequences in a realistic way, but fear and shame is not a productive education tool. Ever.
Dependency between words and actions: Honestly, I think this is the big one. If you do nothing else, do this.
Too few young leaders: Yes, new leadership is great. I think this becomes more natural if you are able to retain young people through the transition between young adulthood to adult and if you are actively working on the culture and community overall. It becomes something they naturally want to be a part of, and can see that their ideas will be valued and there is a willingness to try new things.
Going after lost lambs: As I noted before, there are really a few different groups you are speaking to. Those that are in their high-school and college years who are maybe just starting to move away from their faith of origin, and those in my age groups, that have maybe been away for many years already. The older ones, I’m sorry to say, may not ever be willing to come back. At the very least they will be harder to reach. There are lots of reasons for this:
1. They’ve functioned for a long time without their faith of origin community and have found new ways to supplement those needs.
2. There may be real deep resentment and traumatic experiences that caused them to leave. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it may take a lot more time than you would like. First off, I think there needs to be a public acknowledgement and reckoning that some of the older second gen experienced some real abusive and traumatic experiences within the church that were either condoned or swept under the rug. Honestly, to hear something from a church leader like, “Yes, that happened and it wasn’t right, we need to do better” instead of “that was an indemnity thing” would be a complete revelation. It would be noticed. It’s still going to take time though, and it involves consistently proving that you are trustworthy and have integrity with your words and values.
Ideally, building up the community culture and retaining those young people is easier than going after those that already left, but doing that will also be what builds up that trust and shows the integrity that will possibly be attractive to bringing people back in.
Laurel, thanks so much for your honest and heartfelt words, which validate my original post.
As a 1st gen parent I apologize and repent on behalf of my generation for all of our mistakes and shortcomings, known and unknown. I hope this conversation can be a catalyst for healing and for lasting changes that can revive our movement for every generation.
Thank you, Maree! I really appreciate that, and I appreciate you thinking about and having this conversation. I’m very aware that no one is perfect and that my kids will probably grow up and have all kinds of things to say about me! It’s the nature of being human that we all do the best we can with what we know at the time. That’s what we’re here to do, grow.
Thank you, Laurel! Your book is on our shelf for our grandchildren. They loved it.
Glad you expressed your honest heart with a realistic and deep maturity. 👍❤️
Thank you! That makes me so happy to hear!
Thank you for these precise answers, Laurel. It seems to me that you are involved in an interfaith project called “The World God Made for Me” (video). It looks interesting. You may wish to speak about this project. You also sing very well, I have to say. I really enjoyed your warm voice and peaceful joy in singing.
Thank you so much! The World God Made for Me is a children’s book that I wrote and published in 2015. We also did a video with it using the illustrations in the book (by Abi Reid) and music by Sarah Eide, two incredibly talented 2nd gen women! Interfaith ideals is one thing that I really like about the Unificationist perspective and one of the things I want to pass on to my children.
I remember your DP Life article in which you cite one of my favorite observations of Father regarding politics and art in his autobiography.
With regard to politics, I moved to New Jersey in 1999 and have attended hundreds of Sunday services at the Clifton church and I can’t remember even one sermon that was overtly “political.” There may have been oblique references to politics or a certain politician, but no advocacy of a political party or political agenda. Members do engage in political discussions on various platforms (Facebook, Twitter, e.g.), but I don’t hear it “in the pulpit.” The current Peace Starts With Me initiative is decidedly non-political in that True Mother is emphasizing cultural issues and a re-awakening of faith-based solutions in addressing many of our socio-cultural problems.
That said, politics is part of the human reality—a necessary evil as some might say. This can be “turn off” because politics by nature is adversarial and the pursuit of power often results in all sorts of acrimony and ill will.
Moreover, the history of art and music in virtually every cultural sphere—from ancient China, Greece, Israel to early Christian culture and today—politics and religion have been intertwined with art in significant ways. (I’ve written a book about this). That juxtaposition seems even more pronounced in our current socio-cultural reality. Just listen to the acceptance speeches at the Golden Globe awards, or the Oscars, or the Grammy awards show.
With regard to cynicism, this is usually the result of being burned in a love relationship—with our parents, our spouses, our church, etc. At some point in our lives we are hurt or betrayed by those who we loved or trusted. This too is part of the human reality. The essential trial becomes how we digest or overcome the hurt and become more mature in dealing with these scenarios. As we know, resentment is toxic.
I have two young adult daughters—28 and 25—and I know they’re concerns and difficulties because I do listen to them. But, we have a consistent HoonDokHae tradition in our family. We do reading conditions—CSG Books 9, 10 and 11 recently. When reading and discussing together in a quasi-prayerful atmosphere we get insights that help us come to consensuses—not based on OUR ideas, but the ideas and concepts that comport with TPs and DP. To me, this is no small matter regardless of 1st gen, 2nd or 3rd gen.
I believe this is why TPs have repeatedly emphasized Hoon Dok church. When left to our own designs, concepts and attitudes we can easily fall prey to cynicism, resentment and non-principled or humanistic concerns.
My work as a musician in our church for 45 years has been constantly refreshed and informed by reading the texts that TPs have advocated. This has helped me get beyond my own cynicism and resentments and get to a place where I can be productive for the providence.
Hi David, I’m glad you’ve had such positive experiences and found a way to communicate in your family and find such fulfilling work and spiritual nourishment!
Note to readers: “The Lost Lambs: One Mother’s Reflection on the Alienation of Unification Youth” was published on this Blog on condition that certain content be omitted. My original submission contained a section on the phenomenon of gay Blessed Children. To read this content, please click on this link:
The emerging concept of epigenetics might be able to shed light on the psychological dispositions regarding certain behavior and attitudes. I believe this is an important field of study. It would seem that if the unprincipled behavior of one’s relatives affects one’s psychological or spiritual disposition — a basic premise of epigenetics — then good behavior ought to provide good dispositions. This points to the importance of creating God-centered families and communities in order for the inculcation of values predicated on Godism to flourish.
That said, this brings up the question of whether or not the tenets of DP Chapter I (specifically the 3 Blessings and the 4 position foundation) are immutable truths that should guide us in our pursuit of a culture predicated on Godism. As I mentioned in previous comments, the issue of “judgment” is going to be in the equation whenever morality and ethics are being discussed, whether the issue is sexuality, governance, politics, the arts, et. al.
The late Roger Scruton observed that recently our intellectual life has become “one vast commotion of specialisms,” whereby making distinctions between the “virtuous and the vicious, the beautiful and the ugly, the sacred and the profane, the true and the false — is to offend against the only value judgment that is widely accepted, the judgment that all judgments are wrong.”
A prevailing opinion in contemporary culture is that exercising any kind of judgment is somehow illiberal and mean-spirited. Subsequently, the morality of our culture declines and we continue to be lost in the abyss of moral relativism, situational ethics or worse — a “post-truth” culture. It’s a slippery slope. Coming to the realization that there are moral truths, and not merely interpretations of truth (as Nietzsche and Sartre posited) is crucial. By accepting such, responsibility and accountability become significant aspects of our psychological maturation. That’s our 5%.
As it was for us, our children will face all sorts of moral challenges and we should have a parental heart in guiding them. But part of being a good parent is providing guidance according to DP in matters of sexual morality and other matters, that is if we consider the tenets of DP/Chapter I to be the standard for our way of living. As explained in CSG, (Book 10, p. 1065), the “ism” in Godism means “way of living.”
Although you didn’t mention the word “homosexual,” I assume you’re responding to my newly-posted content (off-site) regarding gay youth in the UM.
Reading your comment was like opening a beautifully wrapped present only to find something disappointing inside. You write eloquently about epigenetics and the need for God-centered families guided by moral truths, which are clearly laid out in the Divine Principle.
Then comes the zinger (I paraphrase): “We must provide guidance according to the DP to our children, in matters of sexual morality.”
If I understood you correctly, you seem to imply that homosexuality might be corrected or avoided if only parents would give their children the proper Principled education and moral guidance.
Yet, a child can grow up immersed in the Principle, and still turn out to be gay. I can think of examples of youngsters who were singing holy songs as they were learning to speak, hearing DP at home, at church, at camp, receiving purity education and making their Purity Pledge, ring and all, while preparing for the Holy Blessing. But they still turned out to be gay. How do you explain that?
You do a disservice to so many devout couples who have done everything imaginable to properly guide and raise their kids, including the liberation of ancestors, only to learn that one or more of them is on the LGBTQ spectrum.
It’s not only in the UM that I see this phenomenon. Among our extensive tribal activities in my husband’s home county, we held Parents’ Day award ceremonies for many years, in which exemplary couples had been nominated by other community members. Over the years I noticed a pattern emerging: a seemingly disproportionate number of these excellent families turned out to have at least one homosexual child. This included a Mormon bishop and his wife as well as devout Christian couples heavily involved in their churches, some as pastors. These people likely did not fail to give moral guidance to their children. Rather, they gave it in abundance, as do the typical blessed couples of the UM. It’s just not that simple.
Homosexuality is not a switch that can be easily turned on or off. For many it has been a deep, heart-wrenching, existential struggle. For that reason alone, surely those who have suffered along that road deserve our compassion and our generosity.
It has been a wonderful and enlightening experience to read this article (thank you, Maree!), and my emotions and thoughts run the gamut.
A great number of my esteemed, brothers and sisters, far more experienced and learned than I, have made many useful and pertinent comments and suggestions which I find interesting and illuminating regarding this topic.
One, aspect of this discussion that I found needing more input and, perhaps, reflection was that of the importance and significance of “calling”.
I think Laurel touched on it most significantly: Yes, a great number of us (1st gen) did have very deep transformational experiences with God, True Parents and truth. So many of us had those real “visions, voices from God, and of perhaps being “knocked off our horse” (on the way to Damascus) experiences, that sealed our destiny. This “calling” gave us the impetus, and the impulsiveness to completely change course in our lives. We quit our jobs. Moved out of our apartments. Sold our possessions. Gave up educational opportunities careers, etc. We cut our hair! Man…we heard…the call!
If our children heard these stories they would think their parents had lost their minds (as did most of our families and friends at the time). But so strong was our sense of mission and urgency.
As Laurel pointed out, the 2nd gen didn’t have that experience. Nor did they have the experience of hearing powerful words of truth fueled with real “true love energy” from the Messiah (Jesus of the 20th century). I believe that the providential timetable set the stage, for tens, hundreds of thousands of us baby boomers to respond to this urgent call as True Parents were beginning to embark on a very significant mission in America.
As many mentioned, we were a heavenly army, a family that sincerely did our best to live our truth daily. And we saw that truth slowly transform us into “new people”.
How can the 2nd, 3rd, etc., generations ever replicate that experience, that feeling? All of the youth programs that were created, could only give a brief glimpse and only scratch the surface of such a life. We’ve been challenged to figure out a way to “re-create” that sense of connection, love, urgency, and euphoria. How to make it real?
I believe True Mother understands this and has been bringing thousands of 2nd and 3rd generations to Korea to help give them and hopefully thousands more the real experience of True Parents absolute love. A love that goes beyond religiosity, beyond dogma, and beyond words. When they have that real “experience” (as we did), they will have their personal “fire”. I see and experience this now when I see the new younger leadership emerging.
Thank you, Greg, for your deep insights which are so relevant to this topic!
Greg writes of True Mother “…bringing thousands of 2nd and 3rd generations to Korea to help give them… the real experience of True Parents absolute love. A love that goes beyond religiosity, beyond dogma, and beyond words.”
Yet, as Maree so poignantly describes in that portion of her article that was deemed not acceptable for publication, the Unification movement offers no opening for homosexual 2nd and 3rd generation to experience True Parents absolute love.
She writes: “Much as we would rather see it as something that only happens to ‘outside’ people, we as a movement absolutely have to pull our collective heads out of the sand and acknowledge this phenomenon of homosexuality in our own midst, affecting the very fruits of our movement. After acknowledgment, we need to then explore new ways of thinking and teaching about homosexuality so that our gay children feel loved and understood rather than rejected, feared, abandoned, and condemned.”
Homosexuality is indeed a deep challenge to fundamental Divine Principle teachings. The parents of a sincerely homosexual or non-binary or transgender child are torn in their hearts, exploring the boundaries of love and judgment in the face of an absolute ideal.
My sense is that in a face-off of absolute love and the absolute ideal, absolute love demands acceptance and appreciation of sincere deviance from that absolute ideal. For we all know our own deviance from that absolute ideal.
Can we not see True Father’s absolute condemnation of homosexuality as words of the commander of the restoration army in the era of restoration through indemnity, words that need to be re-evaluated in the era of Cheon Il Guk?
Thank you, Glenn, for your suggestion that certain statements made during an emergency time period, or period of restoration, might now need to be reevaluated in this new era.
As far as I understand, everyone is included in Cheon Il Guk. That means everyone (for non-UC members, Cheon Il Guk means “one heavenly kingdom of peace and unity”).