The bitter partisan divisions in American politics have several roots: political, economic and cultural.
In my 2009 book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, I explain how a number of the political roots, like viruses, particularly through political parties, have hijacked the political system. The economic roots of the struggle essentially boil down to whether policies support an economy based on production for all (a win-win market economy) or taking from one group and giving it to another (a win-lose, hunter-gatherer economy).
This article focuses on the cultural roots of the struggle, looks at how deconstruction brought a crisis to post-modern thought, and considers whether a “constructivist” approach can overcome that crisis.
Several articles on the Applied Unificationism Blog have sought to understand the evolution of the idea of “truth.” Dr. Keisuke Noda discussed (July 23, 2018) the correspondence theory of truth, coherence theory of truth, pragmatic approach to truth, existential approach to truth, linguistic approach to truth, and an integral approach to truth.
I followed up (March 11, 2019) with a discussion of how our level of consciousness affects the way in which we understand the truth. I showed a cultural development of theological consciousness, metaphysical consciousness and scientific consciousness in the study of scripture and also argued for an integral understanding of scriptural truth (inherited cultural narrative).
The Death of Truth
However, we now find ourselves in a world where a significant part of society considers we are in a “post-truth world.” The April 3, 2017 TIME magazine cover story, “Is Truth Dead?” was a replica of TIME’s “Is God Dead?” cover story from April 8, 1966.
The parallels are striking. I remember when I was a student at UTS the notoriety and angst of Dr. Richard Rubenstein, an ordained rabbi, talking about “God is Dead.” That angst can be viewed as arising from cognitive dissonance between inherited scriptural truth that the Jews were God’s chosen people, and the deaths of over six million Jews in the Holocaust. Those, like Rubenstein, who confronted and worked through this seeming contradiction, did so by evolving their understanding of God, realizing that God was not dead, but their own former understanding of God (as all-powerful dictator) was dead and had to be replaced by a view of God who allows human beings freedom and responsibility. This view can be said to be an integration of the traditional view and stark contradiction posed by the Holocaust.
Today philosophers are discussing a similar crisis in post-modern thought. Is truth really dead? Or is contemporary post-modern thought at a level of consciousness below what is required to understand it? This is an important question if many in the media are not interested in truth before an election, but turn into propaganda organs for partisan narratives. After “deconstructing truth,” many post-modernists are left with the arbitrary truth claims, values and norms promoted by identity groups. No universal truth seems possible to them. In that case, political policies are reduced to a power struggle between identity groups; and the idea of “good” policies or “bad policies” becomes relative and irrelevant. It’s all about who can impose their group narrative (beliefs) on others.
Politics in a Post-Truth World
Ken Wilber, in Trump and a Post-Truth World (2017), was the first scholar, to my knowledge, to make the argument that the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016 was the result of the dysfunction and failure of the “post-truth culture” — the baby boomers, liberals, the environmentalists, globalists, and their post-modern social media groups. They had a consciousness at the level of the “green meme,” which is “pre-integral” and are unable to point a constructive way forward for the entire society. At this “green” stage of consciousness, post-modernists could see problems that the “orange” (modernist and capitalist) stages of society created, but they were unable to defend any value in traditional society and threw out the baby with the bathwater. This failure of liberalism, unable to offer anything but idealistic platitudes and criticisms of current society, without a clear direction forward, opened the door to Trump’s election.
The vehement and uncivil reaction to Trump’s election further verified the post-modernist inability to think constructively. Unable to act gracefully, question what had gone wrong, or believe themselves responsible, they resorted to investigating, attacking, and discrediting Trump, rather than analyzing his policies or showing a way forward with metrics rather than hyperbole. When policies like the “Green New Deal” were put forward, they were so irrational as to appear as social suicide. Then the inability of these post-modern elites to condemn the violence, looting, and racism associated with the protests after George Floyd’s death reflected an abandonment of the green meme principles of non-violence and cooperation and a reversion to a tribal (red) meme and a lower level of social consciousness than traditional (orange) conservatives.
New Post-Modern Religions
Some philosophers believe that post-modernism has entered a crisis similar to that which traditional religions faced with the rise of science. Before that, religions were social identity groups operating on beliefs based on their collective scriptures, norms and group values. The wars of religion in Europe before the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) parallel the post-modern culture wars of today in that they are wars of identity group narrative and belief. This tribalism of political parties and identity groups, which seeks to impose one group’s norms and values on the entire society, reflects the pre-modern Muslim attempt to impose Sharia law, and certain fundamentalist Christians who believe their doctrines should become state law.
Most Americans and Europeans are moderns who have adjusted their traditional religious “truths” to the discoveries of science. The average person has somehow managed to practically integrate science and religion and move on with his or her life. However, one of the pathologies of post-modernism is that both traditional and scientific worldviews are considered to be “metanarratives” that need to be jettisoned.
But, in jettisoning traditional and modern norms, values and knowledge, there is nothing left but power, narcissism and new group narratives that appear as new “religious” doctrines. “Political correctness” looks like the official religious doctrine of post-modern university cultures.
John McWhorter, in an article in The Atlantic, argued that the new “third-wave anti-racism” has become America’s newest religion, complete with doctrines, confession and a new original sin. Such post-modern religions, unmoored from traditional (pragmatic) and modern (scientific) truth, are rooted in highly unreliable emotion and feeling — sometimes noble feelings and sometimes reptilian. When “news” is viewed through the prisms of these identity group doctrines, it is seen as “fake news” by other groups. “News” thus becomes propaganda reminiscent of Pravda in the Soviet Union, and Westerners are having to learn to decipher what is the real truth by applying subconscious filters to what they hear in the media the way the Russians did.
There is a way beyond this “Death of Truth,” just as there was a way beyond the “Death of God.” A few scholars are beginning to find a way beyond the post-modern crisis. In his book, Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow into a Better Version (Paragon House, 2020), Steve McIntosh begins with the argument that hyperpolarization, if not war, between the two political parties in the United States is based on radically different group identities and narratives in U.S. politics. These narratives are limited and incomplete belief systems.
Mainstream culture is modernist and rooted in science with some respect for traditional liberal values. Traditional values that enabled society to evolve to modernist culture are part of the conservative political platform. Post-modern progressive values critique the negatives and pathologies of mainstream and conservative values without understanding that many of these values are necessary to sustain and grow society into a better form. McIntosh considers the identity politics we witness today as one of the “pathologies” of a post-modern worldview decoupled from the traditional and modern worldviews. After explaining the positive and negative values of each worldview, McIntosh argues that cultural evolution is an integration that enhances the positive values in each worldview and constrains the negative pathologies of each.
|Individual Liberty||Environmental degradation|
|Human Rights||Economic injustice|
|Rule of Law||Nuclear Proliferation|
|Economic and Scientific Progress|
|Achievement and Prosperity|
|Loyalty to God, Family, Country||Racism|
|Duty and personal responsibility||Sexism|
|Post-Modernist Progressive Values|
|Diversity and inclusion||Unpatriotic|
|Social justice||Divisive identity politics|
McIntosh’s process of integration of values parallels the “constructivism” that has emerged recently. In her article in the edited book, International Relations Theory, Sarina Theys, citing political scientist Alexander Wendt, explains constructivism as follows:
Alexander Wendt (1995) offers an excellent example that illustrates the social construction of reality when he explains that 500 British nuclear weapons are less threatening to the United States than five North Korean nuclear weapons. These identifications are not caused by the nuclear weapons (the material structure) but rather by the meaning given to the material structure (the ideational structure). It is important to understand that the social relationship between the United States and Britain and the United States and North Korea is perceived in a similar way by these states, as this shared understanding (or intersubjectivity) forms the basis of their interactions. The example also shows that nuclear weapons by themselves do not have any meaning unless we understand the social context. It further demonstrates that constructivists go beyond the material reality by including the effect of ideas and beliefs on world politics.
Constructivism has been adopted by some Chinese scholars like Yaqing Qin. Drawing on the yin and yang in Taoism, there are parallels in this view to the Unification Thought idea that Hegel’s dialectic is not resolved through struggle, but through constructive give and take action. McIntosh makes a similar critique of the Marxist-Leninist use of Hegel’s dialectic, arguing that “synthesis” is not the victory of one group over the other, but an integration of the good of each.
Further, constructivism in the study of Chinese international relations theory is often tied to another relatively new field in social theory called “civilizational analysis.” Chinese scholars tie the idea of protecting “civilization,” which includes Chinese social norms and values, from destruction by anarchy and states with less civilized values. Ironically, President Xi Jinping, whose primary concern may be promoting Chinese civilization values, has appeared to others — by burning churches and interning Uighurs — as using power to promote the values of a specific identity group by force. This is not viewed as civilized behavior and in contradiction to a constructive civilizational approach to international relations. In McIntosh’s view, while Xi would be right to reclaim traditional values, his actions also reveal the negative side of traditional values.
I propose that we work on developing an integrationist or constructivist approach that salvages the philosophical quest for truth from the wreckage of deconstructionism in post-modern thought. Such an approach would resonate with McIntosh’s call to integrate the positive values of the traditional, modern and post-modern approaches to Western civilization, and it would also resonate with a constructive civilizational approach advocated by 21st century Chinese scholars.
Further, I argue that, on the intercultural level, Eastern and Western values are also incomplete worldviews and constructive integration of the Eastern values of loyalty, piety and personal responsibility coupled with the freedom and human rights values in the West would serve as a corrective to 1) the pathologies of post-modernism ripping apart U.S. society, and, 2) the heavy-handed authoritarian tactics endemic in the East.
Finally, I continue to maintain that the cultural sphere is just one of three social spheres, in the “subject position,” centering on love. However, it must recognize that the primary principle of the sphere of governance is force of law and it needs a measure of autonomy. Also, it must recognize the primary principle of the economy is production and exchange, which also needs a measure of autonomy. Thus, a constructive integration of the cultural sphere should be further integrated with the political and economic spheres in a fully developmental society.♦
Dr. Gordon L. Anderson (UTS Class of 1978) is the President of Paragon House, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal on World Peace, and Adjunct Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He earned an M.Div. in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Claremont Graduate University.
GRAPHIC AT TOP: Comparison of TIME magazine’s covers from 1966 (left) and 2017.
Thank you for this insightful and timely essay.
Your referencing Ken Wilber reminded me of his book A Brief History of Everything, in which he posits that one of the problems in contemporary culture has been the segregation (or differentiation) of truth, beauty and goodness — what he calls “the big three.” Wilber views the continual disassociation of emotion, values and rationality to be a disastrous cultural blunder. But this analysis is rendered meaningless in a context where truth is fungible. If truth, like beauty (or morality), is based solely on subjective interpretation — in the eye of the beholder or a power broker, e.g.– then any attempt at integration of “the big three” becomes a futile endeavor. When reason itself becomes a victim of the postmodern trope that “truth is dead,” one third of “the big three” has thus been “cancelled” altogether and the other two-thirds are on life support.
As for throwing the baby out with the bath water, F.A. Hayek warned of such in his book The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism. Hayek was not completely opposed to the “ideal” of socialism or the importance of diversity (because diversity is in nature), but like Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, he was highly skeptical of government-oriented programs that dictated how distributive social justice would be implemented and how an individual’s volition could be militated. Hayek, like John Locke, understood that humankind’s fallen nature was always going to be in the socio-cultural equation, so any utopian prescription that necessitated the complete overhaul (destruction) of a society would not necessarily yield a better social modality. Humanity’s better angels wouldn’t always win the day, so why jettison everything in a society when certain traditions and customs had actually proven to be beneficial for the welfare of a majority of citizens? (This was Edmund Burke’s contention as well).
Just this week Israeli philosopher and Bible scholar Yoram Hazony published an essay on neo-Marxist progressivism in Quillette that echoes many of your concerns and solutions. Two takeaways: First, for the progressives, pluralism is no longer relevant. The idea that civil debate and discourse between conservatives and liberals in a democratic fashion was a necessary exercise to arrive at a consensus and mitigate violent political upheavals is no longer viable, and worse, it’s a perpetuation of the evils of capitalism, racism, cultural imperialism, et. al. Theirs is zero-sum-game approach, thus there is no need to accommodate or compromise with those who perpetuate what they view as the “immoral” status quo. Violence and militancy are thus considered apropos. Secondly, traditional liberals are now being targeted in much the same way that Christians and conservatives have been for holding on to their Enlightenment beliefs that reason, rights, freedom and empirical science were germane in the development of a better society. We view Godism as being elemental for a “constructionist” vision for betterment, but even liberals who are “believers” are now under assault because religious belief is considered to be a “false consciousness” and anathema to the post-modern, progressive mindset that views power as the ultimate goal.
Oppressor vs. oppressed is the new modality that is driving much of this. Resentment and retaliation are never the basis for productive revolutions — political, societal, cultural.
Thanks for writing this article. I’ve studied Ken Wilber’s book you mentioned in this article, and glad to see you making effort to have his approach be more readily acceptable to the wider public.
I agree with Wilber’s assesment as to why Donald Trump got elected, i.e., due to the positive leading-edge of liberal progressive thought spining out of control and descending into a rampant relativism, claiming all knowledge (truth) is “nothing but a fabricated social construction driven only by power.” Wilber sees this devolution of liberal progressivism as a complete failure to occupy a position in society as a leading-edge mover and shaker of continued cultural evolution.
I couldn’t help but see parallels between Wilber’s narrative on the failure of liberal progessive thought to act as a leading-edge for continued postive cultural evolution, with that of our own Unification movement. It appears to me the positive aspects of Unification progressive, liberal thought (saturated throughout the DP book) has also lost its way as a leading-edge thought movement in America. As one of our few academic scholars, perpaps you can conduct such an assessment as to how and why this has happened, and propose some solutions to the problem.
The Divine Principle was written from inside a Christian worldview, attempting to lead it forward by enlarging its consciousness with science and Eastern thought. That explanation doesn’t have power today because the Christian worldview is neither dominant nor the leading edge of Western thought. The theological language used to convey concepts does not convince many people. The Divine Principle has not fallen off the leading edge, but its delivery system has.
Whereas TF wrote an explanation of the Divine Principle in the Christian language, today these principles need to be explained in the language used in universities: philosophical, sociological and psychological concepts. These concepts need to be employed to reach elites in society as well as the next generation. One reason Wilber has been so influential is that, as a professional in psychology, he is able to explain Buddhist principles in the language of the average American. Unless Unificationsts can do that, they will continue to preach a message aimed at their grandparents 50 years ago.
I am grateful to Dr. Anderson to address the issue of post-modern truth. It is a challenge for Unificationism. I was surprised that Dr. Anderson does not refer to Unificationism, at least directly. I don’t suggest that articles on the AU Blog always need to quote the DP, Unification Thought or Reverend Moon’s words.
But I was just wondering, “how can we explain post-modern truth from a providential viewpoint?” In light of the “new expression of the truth” (Introduction of EDP), how can we explain the possibility of “post-truth?”
The Unificationist view of the Providence explains why and how lies and illusions (false truths) can rule the world. But there is no explanation that human beings can reach a stage where they totally deny the existence of any truth at all.
Unificationism has produced brilliant explanations about falsehood preceding the truth. Marxism-Leninism is presented as both a pseudo-science and pseudo-religion. Marxist dialectics mimic, and at the same time distort the true theory, i.e., the existence of dual characteristics, O-D-U action, give and receive action, and the four-position foundation.
In light of the Divine Principle, we were able to offer an analysis, critique and counterproposal of Marxism-Leninism. Freud’s psychoanalysis is another ideology where falsehood and illusion sometimes look like the truth. In Why Freud Was Wrong, which I translated from English into French, Richard Webster explains the genesis of a pseudo-science and pseudo-religion in the field of sexuality. He shows that Freud had the complex of being a messianic figure.
Marxism-Leninism offers an imitation of the theory of Cain and Abel (the problem of violence), Freud’s theories offer a false solution to the fundamental problem of Adam and Eve (the problem of sex).
In the Gospel of John, Jesus explains the possibility of truth and of falsehood in the following way, “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!” (John 8:43-45)
In the 20th century, True Father suffered tremendously in his mind and body to defeat Satan in the realms of violence and free sex.
Now, we are beyond the zeitgeist of falsehood, false ideologies. We have entered the zeitgeist of, “there is no truth, nothing is true”, “there is no fact, nothing is actual”, “there is no reality, nothing is real.” Is deconstruction another name of absolute skepticism, nihilism, total relativism that already existed in the past? Or is it new?
Is it specific to our times? If so, what is the meaning for us?
I see it as a serious warning. We are supposed to be the central blessed families guiding mankind to Cheonilguk, where truth is self-evident. A certain number of Unificationists maintain an absolute faith and hope in the coming of CheonIlguk, but this belief becomes dogmatic if the foundation of faith is not followed by a foundation of substance.
I believe that, to some extent, the HTM victors who have completed the 430 blessings vertically and horizontally should serve as beacons of hope and “high priests” in our age. We are to guide a certain number of followers into Cheonilguk.
We are to reach a critical mass. And we are to blast the message to every corner of the world. There should be a mass production of Unificationist truths becoming highly contagious. I hope this is understandable.
Critical numbers are very important. One life matters. Many lives matter more. And so on.
Now, True Mother wants to stage rallies of hope regularly and reach millions of people at a time. If we see these as just more events, we may fail. I guess that we need a global theory of the rally of hope. Our scholars should work very hard to understand the concept, and “sell” it to the world. Mother knows what she is doing, but we also need to know what she is doing and why she is doing it, what for. If our whole movement can 100% unite, and create momentum, we may establish the foundation of faith and foundation of substance for the next 7 years. If we don’t, then even with powerful rallies of hope, we may not be convincing enough. It has to be done with spirit and truth combined, by all of us.
Otherwise, post-modern truth will rule the real world for years. What is going on in the USA, in China? Is it really the main thing?
The main thing is what I, as a Unificationist, am feeling, thinking and doing everyday. The future of the world’s 7.8 billion people is decided by the heartbeat of each Unificationist, now. It is the time where all of us have to feel, “I am the truth, the love, the life and the truth.”
Thank you, Gordon, for a very insightful article on the confusion of today’s times, where all prior truths seem to have lost their moorings.
Unificationism would seem to be caught between the three currents discussed above. It has some modernist values, supporting human rights, freedom of thought, free markets and science, especially through the agency of UPF and its former anti-communist work. At the same time, many Unificationists are trying to work within Christianity, and hence within the framework of traditional values, although in that context True Mother is trying to elevate Christianity beyond tribalism to become inclusive of all, representing God’s heart for all Her 7 billion children. The Asian church has lifted up the Eastern religions vision with its call to practice filial piety (hyojeong). However, the tide of traditional Christianity is inexorably receding, having been found wanting by the measures that you indicate. Not very many first generation Unificationists have been as comfortable to work within the post-modern progressive world, although many second generation swim in those waters. It may be a factor in the generation gap that afflicts many of our families. We are caught up in the same maelstrom that is afflicting the larger society, whose centrifugal forces are pulling us apart.
You recognize the need for a higher way, and point to Constructivist efforts to move forward. I would rather look to the resources Unificationism has for constructing a philosophy that can guide us beyond the wreckage of traditional values.
I see this period as an inevitable manifestation of the providence, in which the decline of Marxism-Leninism as manifest in the downfall of the Soviet Union is now joined by the decline of democracy and the decline of religion. After all, religion, especially Christianity, was established as a vehicle of restoration, but today the era of restoration is over. The time of Cheonilguk is the era when we should be building the original world, in which people live by the Principle of Creation.
Therefore, in looking to be a Unificationist Constructivist, I would start with the Principle of Creation, which begins with the human being who is an individual embodiment of truth, living by his or her conscience. We have the principle of giving and receiving and the four-position foundation, which is really all about God’s love and making our lives symphonies of love. We have the principle of the dual characteristics, which means that women have equal value to men, and that women and men both have gifts for leadership. We have the principle of growth, which gives hope that as long as we continue to connect with God, our families and our society, we can and will develop towards a higher state of being. We have God, our Heavenly Parent, with whom we are related by an inseparable bond. By putting the Principle of Creation into practice, we can realize God’s love in our life.
The Principle of Creation has a fundamentally optimistic view of the future because the victories of True Parents have taken humanity to a level beyond the Fall and the heavy indemnity courses that were required through religion to restore the Fall. If we are beyond the Fall, then the Christian preoccupation with original sin is no longer in force. There is no longer a fundamental impediment to growth, as there was in the Christian era. As long as we connect with God, we should be able to grow towards more ideal relationships and more happiness. On the societal level, this would be manifest in a world of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values, as True Mother has been proclaiming throughout the events of 2020.
The Principle of Creation is beyond identity politics because Heavenly Parent is the parent of all. The Principle of Creation is beyond religion because its starting-point is a world where Christianity has already completed its mission. The Principle of Creation can solve the post-truth problem because it says that every person has access to truth through the conscience and their relationship to God, and on that basis they can discern the way forward for themselves. Another reason it is post-truth is that in the Principle, the truth is not contained in propositions but is established in relationships, so the wider and deeper the scope of our giving and receiving, the greater the truth that we can manifest.
Constructivism seems incomplete if it lacks a theory of God. Yet Constructivism is right in saying that we can no longer rely on past formulations of truth, but must push forward to a higher way. Unificationists sometimes have a tendency to attach themselves to older expressions of truth, especially traditional Christianity. A Contructivist might warn them that by doing so, they might find themselves chained to old ways of thinking that can hold them back. Are we at the point where we can develop a new universal expression of the Principle that is not specifically tied to the Christian narrative? If so, we might be able to make Heavenly Parents’ Holy Community into a truly universal movement that is supremely relevant to the times we are living in.
Like most every Unificationist, I wholeheartedly agree that the tenets of the Principle of Creation — polarity, the 3 Blessings, the four-position foundation, the reality of the incorporeal realm, etc. — are the basis on which humankind can fashion a culture of love and peace. However, whether we view truth from the Christian perspective, or the Oriental perspective, or even secular reason, the postmodernists will not have any of that because they take the Nietzschean view that there are merely interpretations of truth and no empirical truths, per se.
There is, of course, an inherent contradiction in the postmodern narrative regarding truth. Postmodernism argues that there are no absolute truths, which is in itself a truth claim. The idea that gender is a social construct rather than a biological premise is also a truth claim. The ideas that capitalism is the root of all problems, or that all white people are racist (Robin Di Angelo’s assertion), are also truth claims that postmodernists want us to accept as being true while arguing that there are no “truths.” It’s all rather Orwellian.
There may be more “believers” than “non-believers” in the world, but getting a critical mass of them to accept the tenets of Divine Principle and to acknowledge True Parents as the begotten son and daughter of our Heavenly Parent remains a daunting proposition. How do we accomplish that? What are the action steps?
One page 1107 of Cheon Seong Gyeong, Father states that we cannot do this alone and we need “to create a larger framework” and we should seek out those who might align with us to promote Godism. That was the rationale behind the “federation” concept. Christians have common ground with us but Christianity has succumbed to many divisions and schisms due to doctrinaire disputes. Even within ACLC we can see a certain bifurcation based on opposing views regarding how to achieve social justice.
As has been mentioned on other forums, an important first step might be to fashion an educational modality that uses a lexicon that isn’t so Unificationist, but can be effective in promoting the tenets of Chapter One in DP. This may be the task for Unificationist scholars, thought leaders and UTS graduates. Examining the texts of like-minded thought leaders like Ken Wilber, or Roger Scruton, or Stephen Hicks could point to a syntactical way to formulate an expression of truth that potential allies could find relatable.
I am not sure that the Principle teaching is obsolete, even for young people. CARP in Los Angeles had good results a few years ago, by teaching the black book, chapter by chapter, on a one-to-one basis. I am aware that one needs very special effforts to arrive at this result. The most amazing point is the impact of the Principle in such non-Christian nations as Japan (where we have the most members), in Cambodia or Nepal. I visited these countries, met the young people who had gone through a 21-day workshop and I am not sure if I can agree with some of your statements, Dr. Anderson. There is a real debate here, and we need to investigate this matter quite thoroughly.
Thanks for your comments which indicate that you understand the article quite well. I do not see an either/or contructivist/Unificationist approach as you first indicate, but later when you say Unification constructivist you don’t seem to have hung onto that dichotomy either. I wasn’t advocating the adoption of any particular constructivist approach, only the idea of constructing something out of the shambles of a post-deconstructionist culture.
I agree that one could start with the Principle of Creation. The main issue in teaching it is whether you teach it in religious language, e.g., as dogma/revelation, or in the modern language of the sciences. In which case you can explain stages of growth using the ideas of Clare Graves, Wilber, and Erik Erikson to provide a greater understanding of the concepts. There is nothing wrong in saying how Bible verses cited in the Divine Principle indicate some of the same concepts, but you cannot expect those verses will justify the claim as true in the modern world, even though it did for many traditionalists.
Further, I think that the value chart derived from McIntosh’s work describing cultural evolution might be a better way of approaching “the providence of restoration” and parallels of history rather than a fixation on biblical dates (which may have been pulled from the Scofield Bible and don’t all seem to be accurate in a few cases). Unificationists might want to discuss how they see a “divine hand” in this process of cultural evolution rooted in the Principle of Creation.
At a time when many of us joined up with the DP (late 1960’s into the early to mid-1970’s), the notion of surrendering oneself to some form of absolute/insired/revealed truth, and the efficacy of “sitting at the foot of a master,” were a vital part of the cultural environment. Those days have long passed.
If the American UC/FFWPU/UM/HPHC hopes to evolve from, in my view, its current status of a marginalized, “cult-like” minority group, the following assumed cultural norms embedded in DP dogma/revelation/theology need reinterpretation and reformulation:
1. Racial superiority (Chosen people )
2 Cultural superiority (Confucian norms)
3. Biological superiority (purified blood line)
4. Nationalism (loyalty and devotion to one particular country)
5. Messianism (An appointed human redeemer to save humanity)
6. Moral superiority (homongenous brotherly love)
I am not sure I can agree with everything you say. Some branches of Unificationism may indulge in a form of dogmatism, it is true, and I really don’t like that, but you will also find many Unificationists tempted by skepticism and relativism. Our movement may turn to appear like a cult in some parts of the world, but it is also too often perceived as just a philanthropic, humanistic movement, whose ideas remain very unclear, as if we had power and money, but no doctrine or credo.
Another point is to look at Judaism. You will hardly find any religious path more demanding and more strict than Judaism. But this creative minority has produced hundreds of geniuses in the fields of science, medicine, the arts, and politics. A movement can both be very strict and very universal.
Mathematics is not to be studied by everyone. Only a happy few are blessed to understand math, and I don’t belong there; but Mathematics is everywhere, and keeps holding the universe, and we don’t need to be many to understand what it teaches.
I understand that some members have had bad experiences with Koreans, or Korea. Nevertheless, this is where our movement can showcase its most convincing achievements. The recent Rally of Hope, though it certainly was not perfect, showed us, one more time, what can be done, in Korea, by Unificationists. I don’t know many religious organizations able to do that. I am not particularly “proud” of it, because it still has to be tested, but I found it rather impressive. So, I feel that some of your affirmations ought to be reformulated.
Dr. Anderson, Dr. Wilson and others,
Our ministry here in Pennsylvania, now 26 years old, began to explore a new framework for teaching the DP, called Truly Human Thought. Its essence is the Three Blessings but uses a somewhat different method of teaching, more asking questions; providing learning objectives, adding assessment indicators and experiences. Here is the introduction:
Truly Human Thought
→ Discover → Own → Apply → Innovate →
This is a pilot curriculum, being used at Shehaqua Family Camp, Week 1, 2019 with the intention to expand.
Truly Human Thought is a blueprint that utilizes a process of discovery, ownership, application, and innovation, for children and adults alike to deepen their roots of faith in relation to themselves, God, others and the world. Truly Human Thought (THT), based on the Divine Principle, was initiated by Lara Sawamukai, Amy Cuhel-Schuckers, Jana Iparraguirre, Dr. Ann Iparraguirre, Sally Sayre, and Liz Bonnini-Stewart in June 2019.
THT curriculum has three main focuses: “Me and God”, “Me and Others”, and “Me and Nature/Environment”. Through the “essential questions” in each focus, we hope teachers will create a space for students to ask questions and explore the depths of their curiosity and potential within each focus. Throughout the curriculum, children will learn love for themselves and others, discernment of what is true for them, and be able to grow and nurture their core beliefs; all to bring them closer to their true human self.
Questions lead to DISCOVERY
Questions are the first step in discovery. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Engage with and challenge the questions
Hold the space for OWNERSHIP
The process of ownership is not always neat, wrestle with how it feels, and determine what holds true for you
APPLICATION to you
Don’t think outside the box; break the box!
Reflect and INNOVATE
Did it work? What is the feedback from the real world application? innovate results and deepen the knowledge
The entire document is too long to post. If anyone would like to read the whole document, send me your email address, and I will provide it.
The results so far are good. We have been able to give this to people with little teaching experience with good results. It does not rely upon the biblical texts, but still uses them, which we have found to be effective.
Robert, this is exciting! This is just the sort of innovative post-Christian approach to the Principle that we need today. Less dogma and more personal discovery will lead young people to have ownership over their relationship with God. This is an appropriate starting point for truly grasping the Principle of Creation in this post-Christian age.
When a young person has ownership of his or her own truth, which includes God, they are inoculated from the overly-intellectual post-modernist ideas that David is rightly perturbed over. Assertions that there is no absolute truth are only corrosive to people whose truth is learned from church dogma. But for a person who knows God as his or her own truth, the assertion is meaningless. Because even if we assert that each person is unique and therefore cannot be defined or circumscribed by objective truth, we can still look within, connect to our own original mind, and find our own Truth.
Sadly, many of our second generation were exposed to the Principle through conventional church lectures. Their parents and church leader told them, “This is the truth,” but they didn’t own it themselves. Such people are like seeds sown on rocky soil that have no root within themselves. Therefore, we need programs like Truly Human Thought that cultivate the soil of each young person’s heart.
Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you for your response, I will email you the entire document and will welcome your insight. I hope that some of the actual participants will write something for this blog about this. Their insight will be more valuable than mine,
The context of this document was a desire of several women, who had Shehaqua as an important part of their faith journey and their desire to provide a way for them to convey their life journey to their children and to provide a resource for ongoing programs at Shehaqua and perhaps in other venues as well. It is a work in progress. You have been to Shehaqua a few times, but for the benefit of others in this discussion and this very thorough article written by Dr. Anderson, let me share two previous articles I have written for this Applied Unificationism Blog, here and here. Our job is much easier than that of True Parents or leaders of the larger movement; we are smaller and perhaps can be seen as a laboratory of sorts. But, after 26 years, Shehaqua is still around and have learned a thing or two along the way.
What we have been addressing, which I think may be relevant to the larger movement, is how to balance one’s core values with the need for continual improvement and innovation. Balancing that tension is not easy. Personally, I find theology and these kinds of highly intellectual discussions exhausting, but I do acknowledge their relevance. I think if we can see ourselves as holding lights or torches to help individuals and families find their way, to help light their own path, we will add some value to the larger providence. Only time will tell and others will be the ones to evaluate our success or failure.