Posts by Webmaster

“Welcome to Marwen”: The Remaking of a Life

By Kathy Winings

In April 2000, just across the Hudson River from UTS’s Barrytown campus, a terrible assault took place outside a bar in Kingston, New York, an historic city that served as New York’s first capital.

Mark Hogancamp, an artist and showroom designer, was beaten almost to death by five young men using just their fists and feet. While drinking, Hogancamp had let slip that in the privacy of his own home, he was a cross-dresser. Taking exception to that, the thugs waited outside the bar and attacked him.

Suffering extensive brain damage, Hogancamp spent over 40 days in the hospital, including nine in a coma, healing and relearning how to walk, talk, eat, and trying to live a normal life.

Fortunately for him, Hogancamp awoke with no memory of the attack — but he also lost memory of his past life. It meant he had to find a way to deal with his constant anger and depression — all of which resulted from his traumatic brain injury. Thus was born the tiny village of Marwencol.

Built out of plywood scraps and other materials he found lying around, Hogancamp created an imaginary Belgian village and populated it with Barbie dolls and World War II action figures. Daily life was built around World War II narratives that he created, featuring the women as a band of heroes led by one American solider — Captain Hogie — going head to head with five Nazi soldiers in these different scenarios.

Marwencol became Hogancamp’s therapy on a daily basis. It also became a way for him to find a new career. As he played out his stories through posing the dolls in Marwencol, Hogancamp began to photograph them, ultimately coming to the public’s attention and establishing his career through gallery exhibitions that showcased his unique photographs.

This is the background story for director Robert Zemeckis’ new film, “Welcome to Marwen,” starring Steve Carell as Hogancamp and Leslie Mann as his neighbor, Nicol, who becomes his good friend as well as the inspiration for one of his female soldiers in Marwencol.

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Solving Unsolvable Problems

By Robert S. Kittel

True Mother (as Unificationists call Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, wife of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon) recently concluded her world summit tours. The first continental-level event was held in January 2018 in Senegal, Africa, and the last in December in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The hallmark of these summits, as well as programs in Korea, Japan and America, was her proclamation that she is the only begotten daughter of God. She wanted to make this bold statement on the world stage and in front of heads of state and government as well as distinguished leaders in all fields.

Including both the first and last summits, eight sitting presidents, prime ministers and monarchs attended. Additionally, in the audiences were former heads of state and government, deputy prime ministers and vice presidents, government ministers, speakers, members of parliament, elected officials, other high-level dignitaries, along with eminent religious leaders. It was a collective victory for God by us all.

In announcing she is God’s daughter at these summits, True Mother is solving one of the most critical problems of our time. In societies around the world and throughout history, women have been raped, trafficked into prostitution, beaten at home, murdered, unwillingly impregnated, and forced into life-threatening abortions (mostly when the fetus in their womb was known to be female).

The solution to the way we mistreat women will never be fully addressed through the power of police, the number of prisons, the verdicts of courts, more laws, or even the fear of capital punishment. These have been tried but the problem remains unsolved.

The lasting solution is a fundamental change of attitude towards women, incorporated in a new heart and culture. We need something original and innovative; something never thought of or done before.

No woman in history ever proclaimed on a global stage that she was God’s only begotten daughter. No woman ever invested so many resources in making this bold statement. True Mother’s investment of financial and human resources is unparalleled. At the age of 76, she is investing all her energy. For older people, extensive travel, changing time zones to distant locales, and walking through long airport corridors is very difficult.

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Physical Proof of Spiritual Energy

By Lloyd Pumphrey

There are “invisible” spiritual influences which affect people without their realizing it.

This article considers phenomena that reinforce and may prove the existence of these non-physical forces.

Initially, I intended to research “physical proof of spirit world.” However, after consideration and discussion with others, I realized there is no way to “physically” prove the existence of spirit world.  The only way to prove its existence is to open one’s spiritual senses.

There have been many attempts to demonstrate the existence of spirit world, such as The Afterlife Experiments by Gary E. Schwartz. The major flaw in these experiments was the participation of well-known spiritual mediums.  This is evidence that the only proof of spirit world or afterlife is the testimony of those who can, or have, seen it for themselves.

For the skeptic, in order for an experiment or proof to be valid, anyone should be able to experience it. For example, it is impossible for a male to experience the pain of childbirth.  He can see it, empathize with it, share the experience with his wife, but cannot feel the actual pain of childbirth.

The same goes for spirit world. Most people cannot see or feel spirit world; therefore, it cannot be proven to a skeptic on a basic level.

However, by considering proofs of spiritual energy, we may come to an understanding of it as a building block of the spirit world. Spiritual energy can and has been measured for some time through various means.

External evidence of spiritual energy

Qi is vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some Eastern systems of medical treatment (such as acupuncture) and of exercise or self-defense. It is the Chinese term for spiritual energy. There have been countless books written on Qi, but some of the most convincing proofs are filmed demonstrations that can be viewed on YouTube.

Several Qi masters, including monks and healers, have allowed themselves to be filmed showing their ability to control people’s movements without touching them, setting paper on fire, turning mud into dust, and treating patients.

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Unificationist Reflections on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

By Laurent Ladouce

Bohemian Rhapsody” — the all-time highest-grossing music biographical film in just two months since release, a huge success in Korea, and a 2019 Oscar nominee for Best Picture — has prompted me as a Unificationist to reflect on the life of singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury (1946-91).

Directed by Bryan Singer, the movie focuses on a critical period of Mercury’s life, 1970-85 (portrayed on screen by Rami Malek). We watch movies with various glasses, and among Unificationists, each of us may see “Bohemian Rhapsody” very differently.

Rather than comment in the light of the Principle, I focus in this review on a few themes from the biopic to shed light on several aspects of our teaching.

The film, for example, depicts an artist imitating the three blessings, then trying to separate from his antichrist demons. In a sense, “Bohemian Rhapsody” features Adam, Eve and the Archangel in a garden. Their behavior is quite reminiscent of our teaching on the Fall, but reveals other dimensions of sexual disorder than the typical kind of adultery. The movie helps us understand what kingship and a coronation entail.

This film also causes us to reflect on notions such as symbol, image and substance. It helps us understand the path to becoming a false idol, to becoming an iconic figure, and leaves the door open to the path of substantializing true love.

Creation, fall and redemption of an idol

“Bohemian Rhapsody” depicts the growth and ascension of one of the greatest voices in rock music (the Rock God, according to Britain’s OnePoll), and how the stage persona of Freddie Mercury was created gradually, mostly by himself, so that he became idolized by millions. In this ascent, Mercury was driven by the power of an absolute narcissism, which brought him to the summit.

We then see his spiritual and physical fall, and descent into hell. The narcissistic idol is transformed into a puppet driven into hell by sexual passion, until a ridiculous man is disguised as a king enjoying evil joy in the kingdom of loneliness.

The film ends with the consequences of his physical fall and early steps toward what can be seen as a form of human redemption. The person who has suffered so much because of sin begins the suffering course of redeeming his mistakes.

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Climate Change and Citizen Involvement

By Rob Sayre

At an October meeting in South Korea, the working group of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a revised report on the Paris Climate Agreement. It makes new forecasts, based upon new data assuming average world temperature rises 1.5 degrees C. compared to 2.0 degrees.

In my earlier article on this blog, “Climate Change: Rethinking the Debate,” I argued that only using one metric was insufficient and proposed others. This article considers the implications of the new IPCC proposals to help people understand them and offer some new thoughts and solutions. It is meant to complement Dr. J. Andrew Combs’ article last week on this site.

Probability vs. prediction

Conveying large and complex concepts and data that include probabilities can paralyze the general public. People confuse these with predictions like the weather forecasts they use everyday to plan their commutes to work and daily life. Probabilities with degrees of confidence do not mobilize people to act. Why is this?

Two cognitive biases come into play for both ardent believers in climate change and those who think it is a hoax.

The first is anchoring, the tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (usually the first piece of information acquired on that subject). We tend to incorporate how we see an issue in its most simple explanation. This is as true for “deniers” as for “believers.” These labels by themselves say a lot about the veracity of this bias.

Those who doubt humankind’s role in climate change also show another bias: the ambiguity effect, the tendency to avoid options for which missing information makes the probability seem unknown. Very simply, complex probabilities that form the basis for assessing climate change seem fantastic and unrealistic for many.

Everyone is comfortable with predictions in weather, economics and elections to some degree. We accept that, within a margin of error, we are able to order our lives and make decisions. Probabilities, especially when they involve large sets of data, the climate, world GDP, exchange rates, and elections set for a time in the future, can be easily discounted.

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Climate Change: Is It Real? If So, How Much and How Fast? And, What Then?

By J. Andrew Combs

The climate change debate should be a scientific discussion, but it has become more of a political one. The political discourse, along with the money it can bring to grant funding, has infected the scientific community and its objectivity. This makes what is already a complex scientific problem a difficult sociological one.

If science seeks to advise politicians, it must be objective; but objectivity has been to an extent lost, especially among scientific leadership. We must be able to sort out the politics and misinformation from the truth and correct information if we are to make good decisions as a society going forward.

The camps.The basic debate is between two polarized advocacy camps: the “human-made global warming” camp and the “skeptics” camp. The human-made global warming camp asserts our climate is warming due to excessive pollution of our atmosphere with greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) from our dependence upon fossil fuels. And warming is producing sea-level rise and changes in weather patterns that will yield negative, damaging results.

The “skeptics” claim that while there may be warming, it is most likely caused by natural cycles. A key difference is the human-made global warming camp insists on action such as global taxation (e.g., carbon credits) to control greenhouse gas emissions, while the skeptics say our actions are not only ineffective in changing nature, but unfair, as it is poor nations who want cheap energy (e.g., coal burning) to gain wealth and prosperity and advance into the league of advanced industrialized nations.

The increasing polarization of the camps into extreme views — “alarmist” claims of cascading catastrophes (such as offered by a recent U.S. government report) vs. outright “denial” of the human-made global warming hypothesis some skeptics hold to (like radio host Michael Savage) — is unhelpful. So are false assertions that conflate weather with climate, or that justify any unusual event as due to “climate change;”  these attitudes inevitably lead to irresponsible governance.

Just look at California governor Jerry Brown, who laid blame for the recent terrible forest fires in California to “climate change” while many others saw such fires coming due to the buildup of pine and other natural fuels (e.g., the former fire chief of Paradise, who quit a year before the “Camp Fire” because of these dangers that local and state authorities refused to address).

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Infallibility: Reflections from Roman Catholicism

By Franco Famularo

Should we be guided by our conscience or obey authority? Should one be loyal to the leader or be honest and straightforward? Both? Such questions have troubled human beings since antiquity.

Unificationists have at times been asked if they would obey the Founders without question with queries such as: “Would you do anything Rev. Moon asks of you?” or “Do you believe Reverend and Mrs. Moon are infallible?” After all, “absolute obedience” is a term found in the pledge regularly recited by Unificationists.

Recently, an article on this site by Dr. Michael Mickler discussing a Unificationist position on birth control referenced the 1968 papal encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae and its impact on the Roman Catholic world. As is widely known, Roman Catholics generally do not strictly follow church teachings on birth control and other matters.

Mickler’s article also demonstrated that Unificationists also apply church teachings differently on a variety of issues, including birth control. It can further be assumed that given the international nature of Unificationism, responses to authority vary depending on culture, ethnicity, upbringing, and a variety of other factors.

Regardless of theological differences, it may be helpful to study how Roman Catholics relate to papal statements on matters of faith. This article briefly explores the dogma of infallibility and how it is viewed within Catholicism, and offers some reflections in the hope of stimulating discussion about Unificationism’s relationship to conscience, culture and authority.

It has been almost 150 years since the dogma of papal infallibility was proclaimed on July 18, 1870. During the final public gathering of Vatican I, a bishop received from Pope Pius IX’s hand the document defining “Papal Infallibility.” Pastor Aeternus contains the following statement that has been the subject of intense debate to this day:

“The Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he discharges his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals, that is to be held by the universal Church, through the Divine assistance promised him in St. Peter, exercises that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed to endow his church.”

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Adding Tools for Building a New World

By Rob Sayre

One assumption suggested by the Divine Principle and Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon’s theology is that applying the fundamental lessons and tools for the individual and family to ever-larger spheres will produce similar results as can occur on the individual and family levels.

It is my experience and belief that we also need improved tools to build successful extended families, tribes, communities, nations, and a world of peace.

This article discusses a few tools and provides a cursory overview that can aid in building a culture and communities centered upon God. It builds upon my previous article, “Converting Good Intentions into Results.” The tools discussed were used in the development of the Shehaqua Ministries.

First, some introductory quotes on leadership and the family as the cornerstone of society:

“The man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others.” Analects 6.28 (Confucianism)

“The Way lies at hand yet it is sought afar off, the thing lies in the easy yet it is sought in the difficult. If only everyone loved his parents and treated his elders with deference, the Empire would be at peace.” Mencius IVA (Confucianism)

“Family education determines the future destiny of the entire nation. When there are many families living by the principle of public service, the nation will flourish; when there are many families living with a private standard, the nation will perish.” (31:243) Rev. Sun Myung Moon, June 4, 1970

Do Good and Righteous People Create Good and Effective Organizations?

The simple answer is: not necessarily. It’s true that without a quorum of righteous people in any community, organization or nation, creating a good society is a tough slog. New tools, however, make the job easier and more people can be involved in the effort.

The tools of Cain-Abel relationships, leadership and governance rooted in biblical stories and Confucian thought applied to the individual, family, and extended family provide valuable insights into Western culture and indeed the world.

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Korean Reunification: Promise and Perils

By Michael L. Mickler

Rev. Sun Myung Moon (True Father to Unificationists) emphasized the “providential significance” of Korean reunification. To him, unifying the Korean peninsula would be “the final act of bringing the global Cold War to a conclusion” and “the blueprint for the unification of the world.”

He also envisioned a unified Korea as a driver of global development. He taught that the peninsula will provide a platform for oceanic and continental civilizations to fuse together and develop into a new civilization, inaugurating the Pacific Rim Era.

This article attempts to connect his vision of Korean reunification with current economic, technological, transportation, cultural, and political realities.

The Promise

Economy. The most optimistic appraisal of Korea’s economic future is a 2009 Global Economics Paper, “A United Korea? Reassessing North Korea Risks,” published by global investment firm Goldman Sachs. It contends that “North Korea has strong untapped potential, which could be unleashed once meaningful economic reforms start and investment flows in.”

In particular, the study emphasizes “synergies between South Korean capital and technology, and North Korean natural resources and labor.” It points out, for example, that North Korea has large deposits of minerals valued at 140 times its GDP while South Korea “has virtually no mineral resources” and “imports 97% of the energy and mineral resources [it] uses.” Apart from natural resources, the study references North Korea’s “abundant and competitive labor force.” It notes,

  • More than one-third of North Korea’s population (37%) lives in rural areas, as was the case in South Korea in the late 1970s when it began its economic ascent;
  • The labor force could increase substantially given the current large military population (nearly 1.3 million);
  • Pre-college education is compulsory;
  • Experience from the Kaesong Industrial Complex suggests that North Korean workers have a strong work ethic and a good potential for productivity enhancement; and,
  • North Korea’s demographics are relatively young and the population is growing roughly twice as fast as in South Korea.

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