Seeking Vital Community

By Mi Young Eaton

In fall 2014, I lived for two-and-a-half months with a small, Evangelical Christian community in Greatham, England, called L’Abri (French for “the shelter”). The L’Abri Fellowship in Greatham is one of eight such communities which have been established around the world and grew, like the rest, out of the pioneering ministerial efforts of Francis and Edith Schaeffer.

Although I was at L’Abri for only ten weeks in my senior year of college, I was transformed by my experiences there. Deep wounds began to be healed and confusions clarified; the spiritual life as fundamentally a relational life with God, others, and even myself began to open like never before, as concepts of faith became lived realities.

I experienced challenges, of course, understanding for the first time key differences in belief, from a Christian perspective, between the Christian and Unificationist worldviews, and carry fundamental questions of faith that arose from my time there even now, almost four years later. Principal among these is the question of the replicability of L’Abri as a model of spiritual community.

Were there spiritual principles at work in the structure, practices, and functions of L’Abri that allowed it to so deeply touch not only my heart and life but the hearts and lives of many others? Could these principles be applied in another context, for instance, either an extant or a potential Unification faith community?

My time at L’Abri and other experiences in the last few years have convinced me of the value of having the home serve as the hub or basis of ministry, as well as True Father’s prescience when he attempted to initiate the home church providence in the Unification Movement over 40 years ago.

I don’t think that the work of L’Abri fully answers the question of how Unification members should proceed with home church today. But I do think the current relevance of their work reveals a need and an entry point for the renewal of this kind of ministry

An Unusually Ordinary Evangelical Community

When I first left for L’Abri, I had little sense of what the experience would entail. I had heard about L’Abri like most others who have walked through the doors of its various branches around the world, by word of mouth, since L’Abri has eschewed any formal advertising about their work.

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The Technology-Empowered Cleric and the End of Religions as We Know Them

By Ronald Brown

Thomas Friedman argued in Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11 (2002) that modern technology had given rise to “super-empowered individuals” such as George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, and Osama bin Laden, who have amassed more power than traditional presidents, kings, generals, and dictators.

I believe super-empowered clerics have joined Friedman’s list of super-empowered individuals shaping the 21st century. These clerics are doing religion in ways never before imagined, hastening the decline of historic religions, and pioneering the rise of new global religions. Super-empowered clerics are taking religions to places where no one has gone before.

Here, I analyze the six (sometimes conflicting) characteristics of emerging religious movements: 1) The centrality of super-empowered clerics, 2) the merging of past, present and future, 3) the transience of religion, 4) the globalization of religions, 5) the deification of humans, and, 6) the politicization of religions.

Super-empowered clerics

The modern technological revolution is radically altering thousands-year-old systems of religious leadership. Super-empowered clerics such as Rev. Billy Graham, Menachem Schneerson of the Lubavitch Jewish sect, the Dalai Lama, Christian televangelists Robert H. Schuller and Joel Osteen, the Brazilian cleric Edir Macedo, ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Buddhist Dhammakaya Chandra Khhonnokyoong, and bin Laden emerged as religious superstars. They preside over virtual congregations, even empires, that exploit the Internet, cheap air travel, mass communications, videos, neuroscience, and have at their disposal colossal financial resources made possible by the new global economy.

Brazilian pastor Macedo is a prime example of the cleric of the future. Unlike traditional religious leaders who received their authority from long-established institutions, Macedo claims he received his calling and empowerment directly from God. He did not consider himself bound by ancient tradition, long-decided dogmas, historical precedent, or hierarchical superiors.

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Confessions of a Divine Principle Editor

By Dan Fefferman

I had the privilege of working on both the 1973 edition of Divine Principle and consulting on the 1996 new translation, known as Exposition of the Divine Principle (EDP). Here, I offer some recollections and confessions, with a view toward giving our community some information for our reflection.

Prior to 1973, most of us in the USA used Dr. Young Oon Kim’s “Red Book” titled Divine Principle and Its Applicationor the blue study guide that complemented it. A smaller number used Sang Ik Choi’s Principles of Education. As part of his late 1971 push to unify the groups that had formed around the various Korean missionaries, Rev. Sun Myung Moon ordered the translation into English of the official Korean version of Divine Principle, Wolli Kangron. This task was given to Mrs. Won Pok Choi. She later told me she had to finish this work in great haste, over a period of 40 days, at the Soo Taek Rhee training center.

Sometime in 1972, Mrs. Choi’s text arrived in Washington, DC. Each chapter was given to a different editor, living in various centers, and we did not have a style sheet to guide us. Editors were relatively inexperienced and used various standards of punctuation and capitalization. In addition, there were lots of new terms.

Dr. Kim’s book was relatively short and did not use terms like “foundation of substance,” “foundation to receive the messiah,” or even “internal character and external form.” So in some chapters of Mrs. Choi’s translation, “foundation of substance” was rendered as “substantial foundation” or even “foundation of heart.” I myself changed “time-identity” to “time-indemnity” until I realized my error.

Editors agonized over whether Moses led the course of “restoration of Canaan” or “restoration into Canaan.” We also wondered how strict we should be about retaining “therefore,” instead of “thus” or “so.” Adding to the angst of the editors was the fact we had been instructed to stick closely to Mrs. Choi’s translation rather than risking a change in meaning. This meant avoiding changes in sentence structure and length.

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Filial Piety to God and True Parents

By Andrew Wilson

True Mother calls the culture of Cheon Il Guk “hyo-jeong culture.” Hyo is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese character 孝 (Chinese pronunciation xiào) meaning filial piety, and jeong (정) is a pure Korean term meaning a deep connection of heart to one another.

Dr. Thomas Selover, in a brilliant paper presented at a PWPA conference in Korea in February, described hyo as defining our vertical relationship to God and True Parents, and jeong as our abiding connection of heart to brothers and sisters horizontally, extending to all humankind. Thus, to have hyojeong is to have a mind and heart devoted to Heaven and that also connects us to everyone in our family and to our community, nation, world, and cosmos.

The two concepts hyo and jeong naturally create a world that is a perfect sphere because God and True Parents, the object of hyo, have love that is universal and impartial. True Mother said as much when she declared at the opening of the HyoJeong World Peace Foundation, “I will expand the foundation to give equal benefits to mankind, making people know the original meaning of heaven and of our Heavenly Parent.”

Thus, in loving God and True Parents with filial piety, our jeong, manifest in living for the sake of others, also becomes universal. It does not discriminate or show partiality to family, tribe, race or nation, because it is imbued with the universal love of God and True Parents.

Here I focus on the concept of filial piety. The etymology of the character hyo, 孝 is commonly described as a son, 子 (Korean ja, Chinese ) carrying an old man 老 (Korean no, Chinese lao) on his back.

Several deeper spiritual meanings of hyo have been suggested; one takes the topmost strokes as a cross, while the intersecting horizontal and diagonal strokes resemble an A-frame carrier that a man in old Korea might have used to carry a load on his back; hence the whole character depicts a son carrying the cross of the providence. Or, the topmost cross is the Chinese character for the number 10, meaning completion, which gives a similar meaning: carrying the burden of completing God’s Kingdom. Certainly this has been True Parents’ heart in attending Heavenly Parent.

What’s important to understand about filial piety is that it mainly describes an adult child taking care of his or her elderly parents. It is not to “honor your father and mother” by being an obedient child while you are young and your parents are in their prime and in command.

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Converting Good Intentions into Results

By Rob Sayre

A camping weekend in summer 1994 with other Blessed Families has grown and evolved for almost a quarter of a century.

Known first as the Pennsylvania Family Camp, Shehaqua Ministries is now known as “Shehaqua,” denoting specific activities, an organization, with a brand and specific worldview about education and community.

This article is about the early years, the evolution from a small startup to a more mature organization that has passed on leadership to a new generation, and how we found solutions to financial and organizational challenges while keeping our core values intact.

Certain comments are my personal reflections, others are the story of the development of the organization, and still others are lessons we applied from a book I repeatedly read for the first ten years, Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Principles and Practices (1990) by Peter F. Drucker. I hope others can learn from our success, failures and endurance.

How We Began

The first two years, 1995-97, were three-day camping outings, with each family in their own tent, cooking for themselves, but we organized Divine Principle (DP) education, sports and crafts by age groups. We stayed at two different campgrounds in 1995-96. In 1997, we rented a large, old farmhouse for a separate program for the older kids and families stayed in their tents.

Our goals from the beginning have been to provide age appropriate DP education for the entire family; to facilitate a personal or “skin touch” experience with God for every participant; and to demonstrate what a community of faith looked and felt like.

This quote from Rev. Sun Myung Moon reflects some of the guiding theology that rooted our thinking and programs:

“How should you raise your children? You should raise them like God, to have beauty and excellence, as God did when He created Adam and Eve. This is the standard of education…. Then, what is God’s love? If you analyze it, it is manifested through parental love, conjugal love, and filial love. There is nothing more. There are only those three kinds of love. This is why children love their parents, husbands and wives become one, and parents love their children. The three generations must be one.”

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Toward a Headwing Idea for America

By Henri Schauffler

In the past two years, many Unificationists have found themselves very troubled by the extreme divide we find ourselves in culturally and politically in the United States.  It can be easily understood that the political spheres are driven by the cultural spheres.

We seem so divided that the two cultures can barely even understand what the other is thinking, saying or doing. It’s almost as if we have two Americas at this point. We have been in similar situations before: the Civil War era; and the 1960s into the 1970s. We always got through it because God was still guiding and protecting America. God willing, that is still the case.

In various conversations with Unificationist elder friends, many younger Unificationists, family, clergy, clients, and in the larger community, it seems that Unificationists feel we do not fit comfortably into the conservative mantle as in the past. Nor do we appear to fit into the liberal sphere of the present.

How does a Unificationist react to the highly charged issues of the day with a Divine Principled response, rather than just one’s own ideas?

For example – what about the gun violence debate? Is a Unificationist position pro-gun or anti-gun? Some gun control or none? Is the Second Amendment sacred under the Divine Principle or is it open to discussion? What about the immigration debate? Would the Divine Principle and True Parents’ teachings tell us to “build the wall” or to show compassion and accept refugees from struggling nations?

How about environmental laws? Do we want the government to control individual and industrial activity so as to curtail environmental impact? Or is decreasing government control more important? Do we decry the rise of the LGBTQ movement or embrace these folks with God’s love as brothers and sisters? These are just a few of the issues a Unificationist encounters on a daily basis.

With conservatives, on the one hand, one might resonate with the principles of self-reliance, free markets, America as a beacon of freedom for all those in the world (including a strong defense to help those in need), love for America and respect for its founding principles, a strong moral code, and so on.

On the other hand, it may have been difficult for some Unificationists to relate to the “America First” idea and the suspicion of all immigrants. Clearly, Unificationism is pointing towards a world culture where a “God First” idea will prevail.  From that, an “all of us first” idea might follow.

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Gun Control or Heart Control? A Great Awakening?

By David Eaton

In the aftermath of another heinous act of mass murder, this time at a high school in Parkland, Florida, there was the usual spate of hand-wringing over the question of gun laws in the United States.

For the record, I’m not fond of guns and would like to see greater prohibitions on the sale of automatic weapons. That said, it was not at all surprising to hear certain commentators reflexively cite and blame the usual suspects (the NRA, the GOP) for “America’s gun problem.”

In a discussion after the Parkland shooting, MSNBC commentator Mike Barnicle asked the rhetorical question, “Is this a cultural problem?” The answer should be fairly obvious.

Our “gun control” problem is a resultant phenomenon, a symptom of a serious cultural and spiritual disorder. By all means, let’s have the debate about guns and laws, but we need to understand this is not fundamentally a “gun problem” but rather a “heart problem.”

It’s well-known that politics is downstream of culture. The Greeks understood this long ago; Plato was very perceptive when he cited musicologist Damon’s assertion that “if you change the songs of a nation soon you will change the laws.”

Politicians and our political punditry are reacting to the Parkland tragedy in the way they have for decades. Rather than examine deeper cultural concerns — family breakdown, sexual immorality, a debased entertainment industry — their focus immediately becomes political.

This is not to suggest there isn’t a law-and-order aspect in the equation. However, we already have many gun laws on the books. Both the Parkland perpetrator and Las Vegas shooter obtained their guns legally. There are as many as 100 million gun owners in the USA and most are law-abiding citizens. Most gun-related crimes in the USA are committed with illegally obtained weapons. Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, yet annually leads the nation in gun-related crimes — over 4,000 cases in 2016.

A study on gun–related crime published in 2017 by the federal National Institute of Justice found that between 1993 and 2013 gun ownership increased by nearly 50%. Yet during the same period, gun homicides decreased by nearly 50%. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin pointed to the fact that in the 1950s there were far, far fewer gun laws on the books, yet the kinds of mass shootings we are seeing with disturbing frequency were almost non-existent.

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Experiential Education: Making the Classroom Relevant

By Scott Simonds

I’ve been a fan of experiential education since I was in high school.

I remember sitting in algebra class factoring quadratic equations, thinking, “Why am I learning this, how will I ever use this in the future?”  The teacher didn’t explain what a quadratic equation was used for (determining the area of a rectangle if the sides are increased).  That would not have mattered to me unless I was expanding the floor area of a room and had to determine how much ‘70s-style linoleum I had to order.

Although I can do the math now, over the past 63 years of my life, I never had to use it.  I have difficulty remembering events and dates, except those that recur in historical movies, like “The Guns of Navarone” or Ken Burns’ documentaries.  Movies, biographies and historical novels have been more helpful to me than history text books.

Robert Fulgham wrote All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  Learning to read and write, and a little math, opens the door to lifelong learning.  Certainly, classroom instruction has its place — I wouldn’t want to be operated on by a surgeon who learned only by trial and error — but even the surgeon’s book learning is connected to observing surgical techniques.  The surgeon acquires volumes of knowledge pertaining to the art of saving lives and improving health through a combination of study, observation and practice.

I’m partial to experiential learning because I had the good fortune to be born into a family that urged us to push the boundaries of exploration from an early age.  Our family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, when my father was appointed to a position in Washington, DC, by Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine.  I was 13.

Dad got me a job working at the Smithsonian.  I was very excited.  I pictured myself putting dinosaur bones together or hanging space capsules and bi-planes from the ceiling of the Air and Space Museum.

The job turned out to be cleaning up and organizing the pharmaceutical division of the Museum of Science.  It was interesting to see spring-loaded gadgets used for bleeding, hand-cranked drills for relieving pressure on the brain and remedies derived from animals burned to ashes (lizards that retained their shape).

But the lasting impressions I have are about what was happening outside on the grassy mall.  There were anti-war demonstrations and marches on poverty.

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The Challenges in Addressing White Normativity

By Kathy Winings

One of the greatest challenges facing the global community is humanity’s inability to live in authentic relationships with those considered to be “other,” to create what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called the “beloved community.”

Such a community, though it has seemed like an unattainable dream, is where all are equal in value, respected and loved, and in which there is no poverty, need or fear of the other, regardless of race, culture, religion, or gender.

Instead of enjoying authentic relationships, we continue to witness xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination due to our fears, perceptions and fallen nature that have helped create our hegemonic systems privileging one group of people over another.

In the United States, our xenophobic fears and intolerant attitudes, stemming from our history, have resulted in a society heavily focused on white privilege, white supremacy and systemic racism.

In other parts of the world, people’s fears and intolerance have focused on the large-scale influx of refugees and immigrants from Africa and the Middle East throughout Eastern and Western Europe; or the issue of the First Nations People in Canada; the aboriginal peoples in Australia; or, the tensions between Dominicans and Haitians on the shared Caribbean island of Hispaniola, to name a few.

Thus white normativity is an issue requiring our immediate attention. Otherwise, we will continue to hurt the hearts of these “others.” Religious, racial and ethnic disunity and conflict is one of the three headaches defined by Reverend and Mrs. Moon.

In speaking of white normativity, privilege and supremacy, it is important to clarify one’s definition of these terms and their interrelatedness.

White normativity is the defining of cultural practices, attitudes, assumptions, and ideologies in the wider society and culture using the white culture as the standard, the norm.  White privilege is similar in that there are freedoms, advantages, benefits, access, and opportunities whites enjoy — consciously and unconsciously — that are not necessarily enjoyed to the same degree by other ethnicities. White supremacy refers to the system of structural or societal racism that privileges whites, whether or not there is racial hatred present. Regardless of the term used, this is a serious issue in creating a beloved community.

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