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.”

Continue Reading—>

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.

Continue Reading—>

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.

Continue Reading—>

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.

Continue Reading—>

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.

Continue Reading—>

Teaching World Religions in the Age of the Clash of Civilizations

by Ronald Brown

Unification Theological Seminary is not only in the middle of New York City, the Empire City, but is literally in the middle of the world because of its unique student body. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon founded the institution in 1975 as a seminary where students, scholars and clergy of all the world’s religions would meet, interact, and hopefully engage in creative dialogue. As an  adjunct UTS faculty in world religions for the last ten years, my students have been drawn from every continent, included all age groups, and claimed worshippers of all the world’s faith communities.

Since the Seminary’s founding, the planet has moved from “The American Century” to what Samuel P. Huntington characterized in his 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, as a world engaged in a cataclysmic “clash of civilizations.”  This clash of civilizations takes place daily in my UTS classroom as well as at Touro College, a largely Jewish school where I teach, and in lectures I deliver throughout the city.

This article summarizes three separate battlefields: 1) The struggle for my students to understand their own religion from a historical and academic perspective; 2) the struggle for students to keep an open mind while studying other religions; and, 3) the struggle to elaborate new strategies in  teaching world religions in a multi-religious environment.

Understanding one’s own religion

Studying the major religions of the world sounds like a good idea to most of my students, at least until it comes to a scholarly and historical study of one’s own religion. Students are inevitably fascinated by and curious about the other religions of the world and rarely if ever doze off. But as soon as I begin lecturing about their own religion the going gets tough.

Continue Reading—>

The Royal Road to Original Design: Divine Principle Post-Foundation Day and the Questions to be Asking

By Kathleen Burton

The 2013 advent of Foundation Day for the Unification Movement was the pinnacle of achievement of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon, known as the True Parents, accompanied by True Mother’s instructions in January 2013 to pray to our Heavenly Parent. A plethora of questions arise with this declaration.

Heavenly Parent means the recognition of Heavenly Mother as well as Heavenly Father. How do we develop a relationship with Her? How is Her essence different from that of Heavenly Father? How do we expand our understanding of God’s dual characteristics in light of “Our Heavenly Parent”?

These ontological questions clearly point to a serious contemplation of a veritable cosmic paradigm shift in our understanding of the Godhead in the Unification Movement as we begin our journey of discovery toward God’s true essence of both femininity and masculinity. This “Royal Road” explores the need for a gender-balanced view of God and Divine Principle coupled with an equally important understanding of the more fundamental aspects of God’s internal nature and external form and how they are manifest in harmony with the gender-balanced  concept of “Heavenly Parent.” This is the process of getting to the Ideal. The journey on this royal road of inquiry and discussion requires asking questions and waiting and listening for Heavenly Parent’s reply.

True Parents’ Foundation Day victory has ushered in an era where long-awaited events, the foundation for which the Unification Movement founders and membership labored tirelessly, were achieved.  Unificationists believe Lucifer surrendered in 1999, and both the end of indemnity and end of the restoration providence were declared. These events, culminating in the advent of Foundation Day itself, establish a turning point for the study of Divine Principle. It pivots the providence from a linear restoration understanding, beginning with the Human Fall and quest for salvation through restoration history, toward what could be termed “The Royal Road”: a pursuit of God’s original design as discussed in Chapter One, “The Principles of Creation.”

Continue Reading→—>

The Ethics of Care

lh_beam2_lucid

By Keisuke Noda

Keisuke_NodaThe ethics of care is an emerging discipline developed by feminist ethicists in the latter half of the 20th century. It has gradually gained support from non-feminist ethicists and is now examined not as a feminist ethics but as a possible general ethical theory.

Care ethics has three main characteristics:

  • It views the human being as interdependent, who values caring relationships and recognizes the family as the primary setting where interdependence is evident and caring relationships are cultivated.
  • It recognizes the moral value of emotional feelings and emotion-based virtues such as benevolence, empathy, receptivity, and sensitivity.
  • It acknowledges the moral value of partiality in intimate relationships, such as those defined by family ties and close friendships.

This article considers each of these characteristics, notes criticism from traditional ethicists, examines the Unificationist perspective, and suggests that it offers the basis for a global ethic.

 Interdependence. Major proponents of this theory such as Carol Gilligan, Virginia Held and Nel Noddings argue that dominant modern ethics, such as Kantian ethics and utilitarianism which they characterize as ethics of justice, were built upon the assumption that the human being is an autonomous, rational, independent individual.

Care ethicists disagree. They point out the fact that no human can survive without caring adults who nurture and raise him or her at the early stages of life. Later in life, one also becomes dependent upon others who take care of them. It is an illusory view, care ethics theorists argue, that a human being is independent. Rather, they argue that an adequate ethical theory must be built upon the understanding that human beings are essentially interdependent.

This insight is similar to the Unificationist understanding of co-existence. One’s identity is not an isolated, atomic entity. It is intertwined with others.

Continue Reading→

The Third Great Awakening

By Hugh Spurgin

This article is adapted from a sermon delivered May 15, 2016, in the UTS Chapel to a FFWPU New York regional congregation.

UTS 43rd Street

We are living in a special time in history due to the role and mission of the co-founders of the Unification movement, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.  The time of Jesus was a period of transition from an old world to a new one when a new religion was born.   It took nearly 400 years for that religion, Christianity, to gain acceptance by the Roman Empire.   It will not take centuries for the Unification movement to be accepted because events are happening much more quickly in our lifetime.  It will take decades, not centuries.

Jesus proclaimed good news based on a new revelation that established a new religion.  Externally at that time, the power of the Roman army created stability in the Mediterranean world, establishing the Pax Romana that allowed Christianity to spread widely.  At the same time, new mystery religions internally caused uncertainty and insecurity for people; even Christianity had many different sects.

Out of that confusion, an entirely new world, not just a new religion, emerged.

There is a parallel between the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago and America after World War II.  The power of the American military and economy provided for a time of relative peace and stability called the Pax Americana.  Yet in the 1970s, when Rev. and Mrs. Moon arrived in the U.S., America was in a chaotic state.  Many people were confused and could not understand what was happening.  From my perspective, America was in a state of decline.  There was a danger that the United States would fall in the same way that Rome did when Christianity emerged.

During that time, Father and Mother Moon played a major role in helping to revive America, even though most people still do not know their historical role. Nor did people know who Jesus was, since very few people heard about him.

Continue Reading→