Posts by Webmaster

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

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Imagining the Third Millennium

By Ronald Brown

As I walked into the monumental replica of the Temple of Solomon in a slum of São Paulo, Brazil, I was struck by the other-worldly atmosphere of the holy place.

Ushers were dressed in tunics and sashes like Jesus might have worn. In the center of the stage stood a gilded replica of the Ark of the Covenant with two angels keeping guard. Rows of temple candlesticks, menorahs, lined the walls, and copies of the Ten Commandments, Stars of David, and a plethora of other Judaica filled the interior. Forgotten was the downtrodden neighborhood in São Paulo. The congregation was treading the sacred ground of Jerusalem as Jesus had over two millennia ago.

Humans have never been satisfied with the world as it actually exists. Robins have built the same nests since time immemorial, but humans are never content with the world as it is. From the founding of the first Jewish Kingdom under Kings David and Solomon to the Marxist utopia of the Soviet Union, from Catholic monasteries to the Mormon utopia of Deseret, and from California communes to the Islamic State of ISIS, humans forever seek to fashion a perfect world out of the mud and rock of this world.

As I’ve argued on this blog, religion is the human quest to create a perfect human being inhabiting a perfect world. All else, gods and spirits, heavens and hells, creation stories and future bliss, rituals and theologies, are but commentary on this human quest. Here I focus on four of the most exciting experiments in religious engineering I studied during my 2019-20 university winter break in Brazil, Mexico and New York.

Envisioning the Third Millennium

As humanity plunges into the Third Millennium, chaos may best describe our condition. Global warming, epidemics, economic rivalries, wars of religion, immorality, crime, homelessness, the spread of nuclear weapons, and a host of other problems cause many to view the new millennium with fear.

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‘Parasite’ and Viewing a Film in One’s Imagination to Overcome Cultural Barriers

By Incheol Son

You may be curious about the Korean movie “Parasite.” The film and its director, Bong Joon Ho, won Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards in February. Bong and “Parasite” also won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film.

Their winning streak began at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival last May by winning the Palme d’Or. Wins followed at the Golden Globe Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Award (for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture), and the British Academy Film Awards, to name a few. “Parasite” became the first South Korean film to receive an Oscar, as well as the first in a language other than English to win Best Picture.

Parasite,” or “Gisaengchung” (기생충) in Korean, was Bong’s descent into the “real world” from his previous films about social inequality such as “Snowpiercer” (2013) and “Okja” (2017). “Snowpiercer” was impressive because well-known Western actors and actresses were cast. I wondered, “Did they follow Bong’s direction with respect in every scene?” Later I learned they respected him a lot.

As Bong said, winning the Best Picture Oscar would not have been possible without the long-running success of the globalization of Korean culture or hallyu (한류, the Korean Wave) over the past 20 years. Especially, the boy band BTS has swept the Western world for several consecutive years. The West is now ready to recognize a new kind of cultural expression. I’m reluctant, however, to say that “Parasite” is from the East. It’s because the movie is rooted in Western culture as a motion picture. It’s like riding in a Hyundai sedan but never thinking it’s Korean.

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Films Shining Light on Three Lives that Mattered

By Kathy Winings

The great thing about movies is they often shine light on amazing people or bring to our attention issues that need to see the light of day. Last holiday season did not disappoint in doing both.

Three noteworthy 2019 films offer audiences not only Oscar-worthy performances but also a great deal of food for thought: “Harriet,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and “Richard Jewell.”

Harriet” not only gives us important information about the beginnings of a courageous 19th century freedom fighter but finally addresses a long-standing omission in our historical knowledge.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” moves our hearts and reaffirms the power that one ordinary person holds when they take the time to listen and offer genuine love and compassion to another soul.

And, “Richard Jewell” stirs our sense of righteousness as we witness an injustice that took too long to correct.

Growing up in the American public school system in the 1960s and 1970s, one topic was standard for U.S. history classes: the American Civil War.  Key themes always included the causes of the war, the Gettysburg Address, significant battles, and, of course, the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.  Though some textbooks noted the “Underground Railroad,” it was not a major focus in the schools I attended. If abolitionist Harriet Tubman was mentioned at all, it was more as an historical footnote than spotlighting a woman who helped bring hundreds of slaves to freedom.

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The Unification Community 100 Years After the Founder’s Birth: Are We There Yet?

By Franco Famularo

Where are we and where do we want to be?

By month’s end, the global Unification Family will celebrate 100 years since the birth of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and 60 years since his marriage to co-founder, Hak Ja Han, in 1960.

It might be helpful for us to take an honest look at where the Unification Community is at currently in relation to where it wants to be.

In this article, I draw comparisons between the early Christian movement and where it stood after the birth of Jesus in the year 100 A.D. and the Unification Community in 2020. Estimates of the growth of early Christianity are referred to.

Of course, there are different approaches one can take to assessing the current situation. One can be totally optimistic and conclude that the movement founded by True Parents is far beyond God’s expectations. One can be consumed by idealism. On the other hand, some may consider a more pessimistic view and conclude that the Unification Movement is not growing as rapidly as it could. Some may even say that it is in decline.

Is the glass half full or half empty?

More that 40 years ago, Rev. Moon asked a gathering of members, “Why are we here? What is our purpose?” Various answers were entertained until one young 20-year-old in the front row responded: “To restore the world,” to which the founder responded, “That’s right. We are here to restore the world.” A tall order by any measure.

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Religion as a Dream World and the Next Century of Unificationism

By Incheol Son

According to Chinese tradition, a sage named Chuang-tzu (莊子) once had a dream of a butterfly. In it, he became a butterfly flying over a garden and enjoyed the beautiful scenery:

Once upon a time, I, Chuang-tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

This story reminds me of the movie, “Inception,” where the people of reality become significantly confused from cyberspace. People need the “kick,” the only way to show whether the world one belongs to is physical reality or cyber reality. In particular, what impressed me was the scene full of the poor lying on beds in a dark room, connected to a device that enables them to “live” a happy cyber-life. Watching the movie in a dark theater, I was confused after it ended, wondering whether I held the kick in my pocket to return to reality.

Sigmund Freud discussed in his book, Dream Psychology, the will to remain in a dream. When the desire to remain in a dream is so strong, the dream itself twists all the physical senses caught into a dreamer. Light, sound, smell, and touch are transformed into properties in a dreamy scene.

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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?

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Why Does True Mother Call Herself the Only Begotten Daughter?

By Andrew Wilson

Since August 2014, Hak Ja Han Moon, the widowed spouse of Rev. Sun Myung Moon whom FFWPU members call True Mother, has been proclaiming herself “the only begotten Daughter.”

The title itself is well-established in Rev. Moon’s teaching: “The only begotten Son needs the only begotten Daughter” (May 1968), and “The Messiah, who comes as the only begotten Son, must find the only begotten Daughter” (January 1989). Yet, Mother calling herself by this title has caused some members considerable consternation.

First is the matter of disabusing Christians that Mother is not equating herself with God. This is because Christians understand the scriptural title “only-begotten Son” to mean that Jesus is God. Consider the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…

Jesus was “begotten,” not at his human birth but “before all ages.” It means he is of God’s very substance (consubstantial), “God from God.” He is made of God-stuff, not mortal flesh and bone.

However, “only begotten Son” in Unificationism means something very different. First and foremost, Jesus is a human being.

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The Lost Lambs: One Mother’s Reflection on the Alienation of Unification Youth

By Maree P. Gauper

“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)

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