Unification Faith Parenting: Thirteen Best Practices

By Jennifer Tanabe

Unification Faith Parenting: 13 Best Practices, by Michael H. Kiely, a recent publication I edited, is based on his dissertation for the Doctor of Ministry degree at Unification Theological Seminary.

Much more than an academic exercise, it documents the real-life faith parenting experiences of six Unification families, an opportunity for first generation parents and their adult second generation children to share what worked and what didn’t in passing on their faith.

Their honest testimonies are fascinating, funny, heartbreaking, and enlightening. They faced practical as well as spiritual challenges, adapted when things went wrong, and celebrated when they experienced success. The understanding gained from their experiences is presented in the form of 13 “best practices”:

1. Attend passionately
2. Model attendance with love
3. Read the word together and translate it
4. Trust in heaven and in original nature
5. Love each other, and love children unconditionally
6. Know and understand them
7. Converse with them
8. Practice heavenly tradition together
9. Pray for them
10. Protect their virginity for the blessing
11. Liberate ancestors and other spirits and bless them
12. Create and shape the environment
13. Keep learning, adapting and trying new things

Continue Reading—>

Passing on Our Religious Tradition to the Next Generation

By Jennifer Tanabe

My new publication, The Quest to Pass on our Religious Tradition to the Next Generation, co-authored with Dr. Rollain Nsemi Muanda, discusses the difficult challenge faced by all parents of faith in passing on their tradition to their children. The following is based upon excerpts from this book.

*     *     *

When we think about passing on our religious tradition to the next generation, we can assess how successful our parents were in passing on their religious tradition to us, their children. If we happily accepted our parents’ religion, there is no problem. The job was well done.

However, in many cases, including both of the authors, the children do not accept the religion of their parents, never committing fully to the beliefs, values and traditions. They pursue their own quest, searching for answers that they did not find in their own parents’ faith tradition. They may reject outright their parents’ beliefs to join a different religion, or even embrace atheism. In such situations, how should the parents respond?

Continue Reading—>

Preparing for Our Eternal Life in the Spirit World

By Jennifer Tanabe

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

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

But what kind of eternal life will it be?

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading—>

The Kalki Avatar and the Second Coming of Christ, the True Parents of Humankind

By Jennifer Tanabe

“Christ at the Second Advent, who is to come as the center of Christianity, is the person of the Maitreya Buddha who is to return according to the teachings of Buddhism, the True Man who is awaited in the Chinese religious tradition, and the Chongdoryong for whom many Koreans yearn. He is the central figure whose advent is expected in other religions as well.” (Exposition of Divine Principle, Part I, Chapter 5: Resurrection, Section 3: The Unification of Religions)

This passage is familiar to all Unificationists, and it is our understanding Sun Myung Moon is the fulfillment not only of the Second Coming of Christ but, together with his wife, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, fulfills the ultimate role of the True Parents of humankind. Thus, we easily recognize the Mahdi in this role of the awaited returning central figure in Islam whom we can see fulfilled in the True Parents.

But what about Hinduism? If there is no corresponding central figure in Hinduism, with a billion adherents, how will all religions come together under one God, one True Parents?

I knew little of Hinduism until recently, finding the many gods, some with the heads of animals or many arms, rather unattractive. On the other hand, the greeting “namaste,” which a colleague at an interfaith gathering explained means “I bow to the divine in you,” has a deep spirituality that impressed me and evoked my respect.

When I reflected on it, I knew there must be common ground with the other religions, and this must include the expectation of a messianic figure to come, soon.

Continue Reading—>

Can We Create a World of Perfect People?


Part II

By Jennifer P. Tanabe

JenniferTanabeIn my previous article I asked, “What would a world of perfect people be like? Is it desirable? Would you want to live in it? And is it even possible?” I discussed several possible reactions, and presented the Unification Thought (UT) viewpoint. However, I did not address the big issue of whether it is even possible. Yes, UT presents a positive picture of perfect human beings, but we all know the real world we live in is very far from that ideal.

Why do we have difficulty believing such a world is possible? I think one of the reasons is because of our misunderstanding of what it means to be “perfect,” an issue that was addressed in my first article. Are any of the characteristics of original human nature described in that article impossible to achieve? They are difficult, but not inherently impossible.

Then it comes down to our effort, and overcoming what can be termed our fallen nature, or our tendency to take the easier way instead of challenging ourselves to greater heights in relating to others and in doing good toward others. For example, “I can’t imagine it really” can be translated into “I won’t ever be perfect because I have this and that imperfection which I don’t think I am going to overcome in the foreseeable future, and everyone else I know is like that too.”

Perhaps one way to make perfection seem more attainable is to remember that we don’t have to achieve it in one step. Even in the ideal, with no fallen nature to get in our way, human beings develop through three stages of growth, over a period of say 21 years, to reach maturity. So, it certainly makes sense that as fallen people who face not only the original growing up, in an environment that is far from supportive of the ideal, but also the restoration of all our mistakes and that nourished our fallen nature, we might expect it to take time and to go through a number of steps.


Figure 1

Here I am reminded of the diagram used to describe the “Law of Turning” in the Unification Thought theory of history (see Figure 1). This diagram illustrates how a united subject and object make progress in a particular direction that begins far from, even opposite to, the direction of goodness, but through a series of encounters with other subjects whose purpose and direction is closer to that of God’s, adjustments to the direction are made. Thus the direction of progress turns closer and closer toward being in alignment with goodness.

Continue Reading→

What Would a World of Perfect People Be Like?


Part I

By Jennifer P. Tanabe

JenniferTanabeWhat would a world of perfect people be like? Would you want to live in it? And is it even possible? There are several possible reactions to these questions. Let’s consider some of them from the viewpoint of Unification Thought (UT), which answers them in a positive and encouraging way.

The first possible response to the question of what a world of perfect people would be like is: “How boring to have everyone be the same!” Another, “Impossible, only Jesus can be perfect, the rest of us are only human.” A variation from those who do not believe in God might be, “Impossible, only machines are perfect, human beings always make mistakes.” Yet another reaction, “I can’t imagine it really, but I believe that some time in the future that ideal will come.” Not really a resounding affirmation of the possibility of a world of perfect people and how much we would all want to live in it!

How does UT address the idea of human perfection? To start with, UT does assert that human beings can achieve perfection. So that negates the “only machines are perfect” type of response. Let’s look at the various aspects of human perfection from the UT perspective, where it is discussed under the “Theory of the Original Human Nature.” The essential point is that perfection means fulfilling one’s potential in every aspect.

The second reaction I mentioned, the “impossible, we are only human” one, is easily dealt with by explaining the UT perspective on human nature. A perfect human being is who has grown to maturity. Thus, an adult has become a being with all the attributes of original human nature, namely, a being with Divine Image, Divine Character, and Position (see Figure 1). Divine image and divine character: sounds like we will be like God! But, before you go back to the “impossible” reaction, didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 5:48 that we are to be perfect, like God? So if we take Jesus’ words as well as the pledge offered by all blessed families seriously, being truly human means to become divine, God’s true sons and daughters, and thus to be perfect.

Let’s look at the details of this original human nature. First, a being with Position: the point here is that there are always different positions in any relationship, and the ability to recognize one’s position and to relate to the other person from that position appropriately is essential to harmonious and successful human relationships.

Next, Divine Image. This has three aspects: united Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, harmonious Yang and Yin, and individuality. Briefly, united Sung Sang and Hyung Sang refers to a person whose internal character or values (Sung Sang) take priority over physical desires and material life (Hyung Sang).

Continue Reading