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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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.

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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.”

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The Ethics of Care

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cognitive Dissonance and the Human Fall

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By Gordon L. Anderson

GordonI find it increasingly difficult to talk about the human fall in a secular culture by using scriptural justifications. The Divine Principle is a book written in the language and culture of Judeo-Christian thought, but the language of our current culture is more shaped by universities than by churches. I have found audiences show greater understanding of concepts like the Fall when using terms from social psychology.

Reaction and integrity

My basic position is that reaction is a characteristic of the growth stage and integrity is characteristic of the perfection stage or maturity. Adam and Eve were given a commandment “not to eat of the fruit” when they were children because they did not live in a state of integrity, and were subject to impulsive reactions. Adam and Eve fell at the top of the growth stage through such a reaction and disobeyed the commandment. If they had reached integrity they would understand the consequence of their actions and would not have acted blindly. Obeying the commandment would have kept them on course so they could each grow to maturity and be in a position to raise children from integrity before consummating their marriage.

Cognitive dissonance

The concept of “cognitive dissonance” can help us understand the motivation for the human Fall. Cognitive dissonance is when we expect one thing based on our beliefs and understandings, but experience something else. Cognitive dissonance causes frustration and is uncomfortable.

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Want To Be a Minister?

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By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmThe path to professional ministry would seem to be simple, but it is very complex — for the aspirant and for the community they hope to serve.

In order to ordain their spiritual leaders, i.e., pastors, religious institutions have to: define their purposes, their beliefs, their standards of practice for members as well as leaders, put all this in writing, and set up methods to inculcate these things. Methods include general pastoral care and education as well as pastor preparation, measuring people’s performance in achieving them, and helping people overcome their failures in achieving them.

One indicator of the difficulties involved is that our Unification community, after over 60 years of formal existence and spreading throughout the world, has no ordination. What does one do to become a Unificationist pastor? What do pastors do? Do we even want pastors? Should pastors get paid? How do we assign a pastor to a congregation? By election or appointment? We have no formal or consistent answers to these questions.

Another indicator is the fact that it was not until now that we in the U.S. have set forth publically what it means to be a Unificationist, what is unique about us, what is our position on smoking and drinking, abortion, religious freedom, and many such matters (to get involved in this discussion, see the PDF “FAQ” on the FFWPU-USA site).

From the viewpoint of human history, this is not surprising. It takes religions a long time to decide these things. And there is a very compelling reason: in reality, for religions that last, the answers to these questions are not decided by theory, but by practice. We could call it “form follows function,” or use the traditional saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

What follows is a progress report on how this is working for our Unificationist community here in the U.S.

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An Inquiry into “Parallels of History”

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By Michael Mickler

Michael_MicklerUnificationists are, if anything, a people who take their history seriously. Reverend Moon continually spoke of divine providence in his speeches and sermons. Wolli Kangron (1966), translated into English as Divine Principle (1973) and Exposition of the Divine Principle (1996), also focuses to a large extent upon historical matters, devoting more than half its content to a comprehensive survey of salvation history.

Unificationists, likewise, are encouraged to view themselves as being responsible for “all the unaccomplished missions of past prophets and saints who were called in their time to carry the cross of restoration.”

A striking feature of Unification theology is its exposition of “parallels” in history. The basic premise is when a “central figure” fails to fulfill his or her portion of responsibility, God will set up another person in place of the former.

This applies not only to individuals but also to collectives. The Principle focuses special attention on “parallels of history” between Judaism and Christianity. It highlights six specific parallels:

  1. Israelite slavery in Egypt and Christian persecution under the Roman Empire;
  2. Israelite conquest of Canaan under the Judges and Christian conquest of Rome under the patriarchs;
  3. The United Kingdom under King David and the Holy Roman Empire under Emperor Charlemagne;
  4. The Divided Kingdoms of North and South (Israel and Judah) after Solomon and the Divided Kingdoms of East and West (Germany and France) after Charlemagne’s successors;
  5. Jewish Captivity and Return (from Babylon) and Papal Exile and Return (from Avignon, France);
  6. Jewish Preparation for the Advent of the Messiah (from Malachi) and Christian Preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah (from Luther).

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Transcending Cain and Abel: Revolutionary and Reactionary Consciousness

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By Gordon L. Anderson

GordonIn the Divine Principle, the biblical story of Cain and Abel is seen as two brothers in a fallen family. Abel’s offering was accepted by God and Cain’s was not; Cain got angry and killed Abel and then fled his parents to start a new life. Abel is described as “closer to God,” but his consciousness is still that of an immature son and not a mature parent.

I often think of Cain and Abel as representing reactionary and revolutionary consciousness in the wider political spheres we see around us today. By “revolutionary” I mean the idea of “revolt” like Cain’s, and not peaceful revolution. These two different approaches to politics each claim to be right and when they compete with one another for political power, often end up repeating the “Fall” on a national scale.

Human society is always evolving as changes in science, technology and population lead to changes in human life. The reactionary refuses to adapt and looks for refuge in the past. The revolutionary recognizes the need for change but wants to violently jettison the past. The French Revolution and Communist Revolution in Russia are examples of “Cain-type” revolutions that led to violence and murder on a massive scale. By wiping out the traditional “reactionary” rulers, the Ancien Regime in France or the Czarist feudal system in Russia, and starting over, creating a new society, they ended up re-inventing many wheels and causing much evil, death and human suffering.

In developmental psychology, Cain and Abel attitudes represent typical responses of children who begin to compare and question at age 12 or 13. Children are born like sponges and soak up the environment of their parents and nurturers; they initially know no other way of life than the traditions they are given. However, as they begin to individuate, particularly in middle school, they begin to compare their lives to those of other schoolmates who came from different homes, with differences in wealth, discipline, religion, family integrity, etc.

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