Chaplaincy: A Gift from Heaven

By Barbara Robertson and Kathy Winings

Since March 2020, so many in our communities and families have come face-to-face with tragedy, death or a personal crisis of some type. Whether the crisis was due to the loss of a loved one from COVID-19, personal illness, loss of a job, hunger for human contact, or any number of issues, people have turned either to professional counseling, spiritual guidance or to a chaplain.

In particular, over the past year, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of hospitalizations — especially with long-term stays. What has made this more difficult for both family members and patients has been the hospitals’ “no visitation” policy or the allowance of just one visitor for the general medical floors.

Added to this has been the stress on the medical staff of long hours, increased patient loads and number of patients who did not survive. This context has increased the importance and value of the work of chaplains — most particularly hospital chaplains. This article presents the role and value of chaplains from a very personal and direct perspective.

One year ago, Dr. Winings began a new journey that started with a medical crisis resulting in a very long recovery period. While the outcome has been good, the journey itself could have been much worse if it had not been for the co-author: a professional chaplain. Even though Dr. Winings encouraged her UTS students to complete at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), she had never been on the receiving end of chaplaincy. That changed this year.

Based on Kathy’s experience, she now realizes what a gift chaplaincy is and how much a chaplain contributes to someone’s life. Pastor Barbara Robertson begins their story, sharing what a chaplain is, does and how they are trained. As a professional chaplain, Barbara has impacted so many people through her work at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, 85 miles north of New York City overlooking the Hudson River.

Barbara Robertson: What does it mean to be a chaplain? People often ask, “What is a chaplain?” My usual response is: we are like a minister without an agenda. Our role as chaplains is to meet you where you are, and help you identify your own inner resources that you can use to get through the crisis you are facing. We are not there to preach, convert or proselytize.

Thirteen years ago, while studying for my Master of Divinity degree at UTS, I was offered the opportunity to do an internship as a chaplain at Vassar Brothers Medical Center. With that first unit of CPE, I was hooked. Chaplaincy training is based on the model of “act, reflect, act.” What an amazing experience and what an amazing life lesson to always take time to reflect and then shift as needed.

Continue reading “Chaplaincy: A Gift from Heaven”

Let Your Light Shine Before Others: Spiritual Formation in the Age of COVID-19

By William P. Selig

When the test result came back positive a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d followed all the recommendations — two vaccine shots, physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing — yet still, I was infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Thankfully, the symptoms were mild, but for the following 10 days, I self-quarantined, which meant staying in my office, eating by myself, and distancing from my wife and family.

The experience was terrible. It was not so much the illness itself — I could deal with the flu-like symptoms — but I was troubled by the sense of “uncleanliness,” and that a passerby could “catch” my disease. It was also impossible not to feel fear and ponder the worst-case scenario. Instead of imagining a future with our grandchildren, I was left to wonder — are my affairs in order?

During this period of uncertainty, I drew on my experience teaching “Spiritual Formation and Integration,” which I describe as a process to discern God’s presence in our lives. I explain to the students that His concern is not how much money is in our 401(k) account, but the amount of love in our hearts. Through self-reflection, self-examination and contemplation, the students are guided to identify the “sacred” in the “ordinary,” and move closer to our Heavenly Parent.

Though there are different ways to understand spiritual formation, I resonate with Christian scholar Dallas Willard (1935-2013), who believed that people of all faiths go through spiritual formation. He uses the metaphor of flying to demonstrate its meaning: “One of the things I most like about flying is when you take off through the clouds and finally break through them into the sunlight.… It is so thrilling to break into the sunlight.” I appreciate this colorful image of breaking through the clouds into the sunlight as a way to describe spiritual growth. “Very likely we will not become perfect for some time yet,” he says, “but we can, as Paul urged the Philippians to do, ‘become blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.’”

An excellent resource for our class discussions is Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by J. Robert Mulholland, Jr. (1936-2015), who defines spiritual formation as “the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others.” This is a straightforward definition which uses Jesus as the model for a person who loves and serves selflessly, and lives/dies for a greater cause.

Continue reading “Let Your Light Shine Before Others: Spiritual Formation in the Age of COVID-19”

Fulfilling the Four Freedoms Eighty Years Later

By Laurent Ladouce

With the pandemic rampant and lockdowns imposed worldwide, an economic crisis destroying jobs, political turmoil in much of the West, and religious fanaticism elsewhere, we ought to proclaim, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1941: “Freedom of worship, freedom of expression, freedom from fear, freedom from want — everywhere in the world.”

Eighty years later, though global circumstances have changed, his call remains valid.

The domestic circumstances of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech were highly exceptional. Ordinarily, Roosevelt would not have sought a third term in office; yet he even ran and won reelection to a fourth term in 1944. In normal times, there would have been no need for that special section of his speech to be given. 

It was exceptional, because the Great Depression had lasted a decade already. It was exceptional, because Nazism was then controlling almost all of Europe. Roosevelt faced two totalitarian threats, from Hitler and from Stalin. It was exceptional because of Roosevelt’s confidence that the call for more freedom everywhere would guarantee greater safety everywhere. We need such confidence today.   

The Four Freedoms guided democracy for eight decades. They should continue to do so, adapting to the challenges of the 21st century. They should again guide us in times of uncertainty, of great insecurity and major restrictions to our freedoms everywhere.

More than a major political manifesto, the Four Freedoms speech amounts to a prophecy. Its eschatology inspired many artists.

Here, I evaluate the spiritual and cultural importance of the Four Freedoms from a Unificationist viewpoint. I suggest Norman Rockwell’s four paintings offer the deepest interpretation of the Four Freedoms, by insisting on the primacy of family values. Finally, I discuss how the speech should inspire us today. 

Balancing freedom and security

The Four Freedoms are the centerpiece of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of Union Address on January 6, 1941:

Continue reading “Fulfilling the Four Freedoms Eighty Years Later”

Science, Unification Thought and a Post-Materialist Era

Science, even physics, has in recent years moved much closer to Unification Thought, which certainly places life, especially human life, as the center of the universe.

The over-specialization of the past meant that an astronomer well-versed in planetary astronomy may know almost nothing about the research of the early universe astronomer in the office next door. However a concerted effort to encourage interdisciplinary research over the last two decades has brought about a newly-integrated understanding within science, a much more comprehensive picture that incorporates many diverse fields.

As a result of the rapid pace of discoveries in biology in particular, the importance of life and the recognition of much more about the mechanisms of evolution have changed our thinking of the role of life and consciousness.

Books such as Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe by Robert Lanza have been transformational, especially in allowing the average academic to feel more confident in publishing on controversial topics. Philosophy is experiencing an upsurge with the popularity of panpsychism, and old philosophers long overlooked have experienced a revival in popularity, as the themes of their writings have become the themes of today’s science.

In early December, a conference entitled “The Primacy of Consciousness” was convened under a partnership between the Galileo Commission, the Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Science, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and the Scientific and Medical Network in the UK. Scientists and thinkers of all varieties gathered virtually to discuss consciousness from their own perspectives as physicists, biologists, psychologists, etc. There was a strong feeling among the 700 participants that we are finally witnessing the breakthrough to a new paradigm.

The very basis of Unification Thought is precisely the new paradigm toward which science is moving.

Continue Reading—>

Unification Thought Principles of Education in the Coronavirus Era

By John Redmond

Across America, governors, administrators, teachers and parents are sending their children back to school.

A big problem is that the science around preventing the spread of coronavirus is almost completely opposed to the way schools have been designed and run for the last 150 years. When viewed from an epidemiological perspective, “social distancing” and “centralized schools” are almost complete opposites.

This is a perfect time to use the disruption of the Internet and the pandemic to rethink education, from its purpose and desired outcomes to effective use of the new technologies that are quickly becoming universally available. Unification Thought provides a useful framework that can refocus universal education on the skills, abilities and heart necessary for citizens of the 21st century.

The Research Institute for the Integration of World Thought has a great section on the Principles of Education.  Several educational philosophies are reviewed and contrasted to Unification Thought.

The ultimate goal of Unification educators is to co-create with the student a person of character and love, a good individual, parent and citizen, and a natural genius. This large and visionary purpose of education is what sets the Unification approach apart from most education policy today.

Education of Heart: Unificationism assumes that human beings have an original nature of love that has to be intentionally and freely cultivated by the parents and the child.  This is considered the fundamental goal and foundation of the educational process.

Education of Norm: This is where the student learns how others act and why, and practices the form of relationship that is culturally appropriate. In the best application, children follow role models and learn how to communicate love at many levels.

Continue Reading—>

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.

Continue Reading—>

A Unificationist’s Reflection on the Legacy of Rep. John Lewis

By Lorman Lykes

I am one of the early black members of the Unification Church in America, joining in 1973.  But as I reflect on my identity, I am the product of conflicting messages regarding my true value in the United States vs. the guiding light message of hope, love and truth which shaped me in the Unification Movement.

Unfortunately, there were times when I could not distinguish which message was the loudest.  After many years in a leadership capacity in the movement, I became inactive, preferring to focus on personal spiritual growth.

However, since 2020 has so far proven to be a transition year for enlightening people in America toward understanding the heart of black people, I feel I must express my opinion.  Especially, I want to touch on the intersection of race and the Unification Church.  I see this time as an opportunity not only for the racial reconciliation of America but also for the fulfillment of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s vision for this country.

I begin with a statement many are familiar with by Father Moon. When asked in a 1976 interview who was the greatest American leader of the 20th century, he answered: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What was the justification for such praise?  His wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, speaking at the 1985 acceptance speech for Rev. Moon’s honorary doctorate presentation, noted, “At a time when many oppressed people wanted to return hate for hate, Dr. King said, ‘We must return love for hate.’” This was a momentous occasion because it was a Historical Black College that bestowed the honorary doctorate upon Rev. Moon — Shaw Divinity School.

Was it a coincidence that the founder of the international Unification Movement, the embodiment of love for all people, received his honorary degree from a black college founded by ex-slaves? I think not.  Black people have had to overcome hate, fear and suffering to learn the lessons of true love, so it foreshadowed things to come.

Continue Reading—>

Unconscious First Principles

By John Redmond

Everyone has some blind beliefs about the nature of existence.  They will swear that their ideas are well-reasoned, tempered by experience and fully rational — but they are not.

This is due to the fact we do not cause ourselves to come into being. We can never be fully sure that our suppositions about where we came from and what our purpose might be are correct.  Most people seize on a likely explanation or adopt their family framework and get on with the business of day-to-day living.

The unusual ones search out the larger truths and struggle to understand the patterns that underlie their assumptions. Based on those assumptions, every human, even non-religious ones, “act in faith.”  They make decisions and act as if their concepts are true and blindly hope they are. Even existentialists, proud deniers of doctrine and belief, cling to a first principle of absurdity.

Historically, humans worshipped the sun or nature because of the power those things had over one’s continued existence.  As civilizations developed and the forces of nature were tamed, the elite of most societies sought to develop more sophisticated and well-rounded explanations of how things actually were and then what to do about them. They made ontological assumptions.

Much of the conflict in society today comes from people with opposing ontologies, both conscious and unconscious.

Ontology is the philosophical field revolving around the study of the nature of reality (all that is or exists), and the different entities and categories within reality. All ontologies are hypothetical.  They are a good guess about how things really work and what is behind them.  The way these hypotheses are tested for accuracy is by history.  As generations of humans live based on the assumptions of their ontology, they develop all the other philosophical practices based on those primary assumptions. They also test these for efficacy over time.

Continue Reading—>

Heavenly Parent and the God of Dual Characteristics

By Tyler Hendricks

Soon after the ascension of her husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon (for Unificationists, Father Moon), Dr. Hak Ja Han (Mother Moon) said that God is Hanul Bumo, Korean for Heavenly Parent(s). She thus upended 2,000 years of Christian understanding as well as the normative understanding of her own movement.

Some criticized her pronouncement and used it to justify rebellion. None of those people, to my knowledge, provided a meaningful theological basis for the rejection of Heavenly Parent.

Happily, others, including Dr. Ye Jin Moon and Dr. Andrew Wilson, developed meaningful theological reflections on God as Heavenly Parent. In 2013, I published on this blog an inquiry on the subject, and I appreciate the responses to it from both Dr. Moon and Dr. Wilson. Since then, I’ve continued my exploration into the idea of God as Heavenly Parent.

My purpose here is to show that the doctrine of God’s dual characteristics in Exposition of the Divine Principle (henceforth, Exposition) supports Mother Moon’s appellation of God as Heavenly Parent.

The Ontological God and Economic God

I begin with an important distinction. I will be talking about the dual characteristics in terms of the beginning of creation, the God beyond time and space, which I term the ontological God. God in relationship to time and space is the economic God. I derive these terms from the Christian theological categories applied to the Trinity. There is the ontological Trinity, God outside time and space, and the economic Trinity, God in relation to time and space. The subject of this article is Exposition’s teachings on the ontological God, which it calls the causal reality.” (p. 15)

Continue Reading—>

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: