Belief and the Power of Narrative

By Graham Simon

At midnight on December 31, 2020, the UK finally parted company with the EU.

After taking negotiations down to the wire, a beaming Boris Johnson, the unkempt UK Prime Minister and optimist extraordinaire, who five years earlier had promised the British people that they could leave the EU and still “have their cake and eat it,” declared that he had delivered a very “cakeist” treaty indeed.

The exit was mandated in a referendum in June 2016. The anti-EU faction had orchestrated a well-planned high-profile campaign which included catchy but less than truthful slogans on the sides of buses. Those who wanted to remain part of the EU dithered and presented their case badly. In the end, the “Leavers” won with 52% of the vote against 48% for the “Remainers.” Much rancor between the two sides followed.

Most economic forecasts have predicted a loss of UK GDP as a result of Brexit, ranging from 0.1% to 7.9%, with the official Treasury report coming in at around 6% over the next 15 years. Those who voted to leave tend to believe the lower figures or even outlying forecasts of gains, rather than losses. Those who voted to remain tend to believe the more pessimist numbers.

Regardless, the deed is now done and the probable outcome in five years’ time will be that the only things British citizens will notice are: the country is now able to exclude immigrants from Europe (but will probably still need plenty of Europeans to pick its fruit and staff its hospitals); there is more red tape when importing and exporting; and tourists need to keep showing their passports when traveling on the Continent. There is also an outside chance that Northern Ireland will no longer be part of Britain but be reunited with Eire (Southern Ireland) to become part of the EU again.

The UK was split down the middle with regards to Brexit, but people have managed to pull through without killing each other. As we look across the pond to the U.S., where the nation also seems split down the middle, we are perplexed and concerned at the severity of the divisions. While the fault lines may be different in the UK and U.S., the two situations have a lot in common — namely the centrality of belief and narrative in stoking divisions.

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Identity Politics, the Post-Truth World and Constructivism

By Gordon L. Anderson

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.

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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 Movement’s Next 100 Years

By John Redmond

The 100th birthday of Rev. Sun Myung Moon next February seems a fitting time for reflection, assessment and a reorientation to our shared providential course.

To do the topic justice, it’s necessary to back away from the disappointments, challenges and victories of the present, and give ourselves a comfortable seat to try to look with God’s eyes at the progress and potential of our relatively young Unification Movement.

Learning from history

There are several ways to plan for the future.  One is the religious way, to trust that God is in charge and close your eyes, do what you are told and go along for the ride.  Counter to that, leftist intellectuals may be certain they can manipulate history and force society into a pragmatic scientific paradise.

My preference is the method discussed in the Divine Principle, where patterns of history combined with human responsibility and God’s inspiration direct history toward tragedy or triumph.

It’s instructive to look at history and identify the success path of movements similar to ours to see what worked for them and how they broke through to become embedded in the culture to achieve their goals.

If we look back over the last few thousand years, there are several movements that lasted beyond the life of their initial prophet and created a significant impact on history. Buddhism, Confucianism, Judeo-Christianity, the early American Puritans, and Marxism all have a similar development pattern.

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The Korean Wave Matters: K-Pop Band BTS and the Providence

By Incheol Son

Recently, a Korean boy band hit the world stage and many of the youth generation have fallen in love with them. They’ve become so famous that even this band of seven boys was surprised to see the global level of reaction to their performances, far more than they anticipated.

The band is BTS. Their name comes from the English acronym of 방탄소년단 or BangTan Sonyeondan, literally “Bulletproof Boy Scouts” in Korean. They won the Billboard Music Awards for Top Social Artist for the past three years. They are almost like the Second Coming of the Beatles, at least for our present generation of young people.

This year, at least 100,000 fans in each city they toured turned out. In particular, they filled Wembley Stadium where Queen performed live in 1985. Their fans have created a kingdom-like quasi-religion of their own. On the Internet, such as YouTube, the band’s fan club is called the ARMY.

Fans are especially amazed by the dramatic growth of the band. Their production company was not one of the three major companies in South Korea. As they sang in “Silver Spoon/Baepsae,” there used to be a golden rule in the South Korean entertainment industry: a band should be promoted by one of the top three K-Pop companies to gain global popularity. But, BTS started at the bottom. And none of the seven boys was from the capital, Seoul.

They were initially ignored after their debut because their music was totally different from prevailing trends. But because of that ignorance they went on to win the Billboard award, as sung in “DDaeng.” The boys show their fans a humble attitude while singing “I Need U,” “Best of Me” and “Illegal/Dimple.” And they recently released the song, “Boy With Luv,” dedicated to their fans.

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Music’s Moral Power: From Christianity to 2020 and Beyond

By David Eaton

In a recent conversation with Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon regarding the creation of new Holy Songs and whether we should compose “new songs in the old tradition,” she mentioned she enjoyed Italian classical music because of its Christian heritage.

In another conversation with her, I inquired about including more popular styles in our request for new songs for the ongoing Holy Song competitions. She cited the need for songs younger Unificationists could identify with, and as such, there should be a willingness to be open to all musical genres.

As we move toward 2020 and beyond, Mother Moon is emphasizing mentoring the next generations of musicians with regard to having a principled view of their creative gifts.

Her comment about the Christian heritage of music reminded me of Arnold Toynbee’s observation that the Christian church was the “chrysalis” out of which our Western society emerged, “the germ of creative power.” As Christianity in Europe emerged from its chrysalis, a substantial body of liturgical music was created as an expression of the faith.

Gregorian Chant and the early settings of the Catholic mass by Renaissance composers Jacob Obrecht and Josquin des Prez, and eventually Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert, as well as the sacred motets by Léonin and Pérotin in 13th century France and cantatas and oratorios of Bach and Handel, point to the importance of music in the evolution of Christian ritual and worship. Well-known hymns such as How Great Thou Art, Praise to the Lord, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and Be Thou My Vision remain staples for many church choirs and congregations.

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Right Sequencing: Wisdom for Life from the Game of Go

By Incheol Son

I love the game of Go or Baduk, as Koreans call it. I don’t play often, but frequently apply the wisdom learned from it.

Go is an ancient strategy board game where the player’s objective is to surround a larger total area of the board with one’s stones than your opponent. The board, marked with a grid of 19 lines by 19 lines, may be thought of as a piece of land to be divided between two players.

One player has a supply of black pieces, called stones, the other a supply of white. The game starts with an empty board and the players take turns, placing one stone each turn on a vacant intersection point. If a player claims the first move, the black stones are assigned and the opponent is given the white stones.

A territory is represented by the sum of empty points, called the “house” (집) in Korean, as encircled and enclosed by stones much like walls. The minimum points one can have are two, called a live territory. And it’s technically separated into at least two empty points, called “eyes” (눈). This is based on the rule of Go that a player cannot place more than one stone at a time.

Stones that fail to form a live territory can be taken out by the opponent whenever the opponent’s enclosing stones remove all the empty points adjacent to the failed stones, which are automatically used at the end of the game to remove the live points of a territory of one’s own. So the opponent’s attack point is to remove the chance for the other player to form two eyes.

Playing Go is different from playing chess in Western culture, typically in that a placed stone can never be moved again unless it’s taken out as a “dead stone” (사석). So, Go or Baduk, is a game of filling up the board with one’s stones like a construction project. The game of Go has no kings or other pieces with specific roles like queens, knights or rooks — just plain stones.

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Submissions Invited for “Where Do We Go from 2020?”

The Applied Unificationism Blog invites special submissions to be occasionally published between now and January next year of your vision of “Where Do We Go from 2020?”

Emphasis should be on practical steps for the future that the Unification Movement should take on the worldwide, national and local levels after the upcoming commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s birth and the 7th anniversary of Foundation Day.

Theological issues may be discussed, but the focus should be on their practical implementation in society. Submissions from second generation Unificationists are especially welcome.

Submissions should be between 1,200 (minimum) and 2,000 or so words. All AU Blog guidelines apply. Please send your submissions to the managing editor, Dr. Mark Barry, at m.barry@uts.edu. The AU Blog editorial committee makes recommendations for publication and may suggest revisions to the author.

During this period, the AU Blog will continue to welcome and publish a full-range of articles exploring the application of Unificationism to the wider world.♦ 

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