Unification Faith Parenting: Thirteen Best Practices

By Jennifer Tanabe

Unification Faith Parenting: 13 Best Practices, by Michael H. Kiely, a recent publication I edited, is based on his dissertation for the Doctor of Ministry degree at Unification Theological Seminary.

Much more than an academic exercise, it documents the real-life faith parenting experiences of six Unification families, an opportunity for first generation parents and their adult second generation children to share what worked and what didn’t in passing on their faith.

Their honest testimonies are fascinating, funny, heartbreaking, and enlightening. They faced practical as well as spiritual challenges, adapted when things went wrong, and celebrated when they experienced success. The understanding gained from their experiences is presented in the form of 13 “best practices”:

1. Attend passionately
2. Model attendance with love
3. Read the word together and translate it
4. Trust in heaven and in original nature
5. Love each other, and love children unconditionally
6. Know and understand them
7. Converse with them
8. Practice heavenly tradition together
9. Pray for them
10. Protect their virginity for the blessing
11. Liberate ancestors and other spirits and bless them
12. Create and shape the environment
13. Keep learning, adapting and trying new things

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Imagining the Third Millennium

By Ronald Brown

As I walked into the monumental replica of the Temple of Solomon in a slum of São Paulo, Brazil, I was struck by the other-worldly atmosphere of the holy place.

Ushers were dressed in tunics and sashes like Jesus might have worn. In the center of the stage stood a gilded replica of the Ark of the Covenant with two angels keeping guard. Rows of temple candlesticks, menorahs, lined the walls, and copies of the Ten Commandments, Stars of David, and a plethora of other Judaica filled the interior. Forgotten was the downtrodden neighborhood in São Paulo. The congregation was treading the sacred ground of Jerusalem as Jesus had over two millennia ago.

Humans have never been satisfied with the world as it actually exists. Robins have built the same nests since time immemorial, but humans are never content with the world as it is. From the founding of the first Jewish Kingdom under Kings David and Solomon to the Marxist utopia of the Soviet Union, from Catholic monasteries to the Mormon utopia of Deseret, and from California communes to the Islamic State of ISIS, humans forever seek to fashion a perfect world out of the mud and rock of this world.

As I’ve argued on this blog, religion is the human quest to create a perfect human being inhabiting a perfect world. All else, gods and spirits, heavens and hells, creation stories and future bliss, rituals and theologies, are but commentary on this human quest. Here I focus on four of the most exciting experiments in religious engineering I studied during my 2019-20 university winter break in Brazil, Mexico and New York.

Envisioning the Third Millennium

As humanity plunges into the Third Millennium, chaos may best describe our condition. Global warming, epidemics, economic rivalries, wars of religion, immorality, crime, homelessness, the spread of nuclear weapons, and a host of other problems cause many to view the new millennium with fear.

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The Lost Lambs: One Mother’s Reflection on the Alienation of Unification Youth

By Maree P. Gauper

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the slopes and go in search of the one that has wandered off?”

— Matthew 18:12

The Unification Movement has no shortage of programs for youth. In addition to Sun Moon University in Korea, there is CARP (Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles), GPA (Generation Peace Academy), the Youth Federation for World Peace, the Crane’s Club, and many other youth-centered organizations.

When I see groups such as CARP or GPA at public events, they are truly an inspiration and are some of the loveliest fruits of the decades-long global investment of True Parents.

Yet there is a part of me that always hurts at the same time, a part that asks, “What about the other children?” I mean, the ones who were raised in the movement but became estranged.

I can think of so many families where all three, four or more siblings became completely disengaged from the church after high school. (Note: This is not a data-driven study based on scientific research. It is simply one mother’s personal experience and observations)

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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 Power of Listening

By Drissa Kone

Listening to someone in pain is the most valuable gift we can offer to heal a broken relationship. We may know that forgiving is a valuable thing to do, but most people do not know how to forgive someone who hurt them.

Choosing to listen to the pain of another helps us to be in touch with our true self, which indeed is not so different from the other person. When the connection is made through listening, healing and forgiveness happen. The powerful principle of listening is it creates space for understanding others and pursuing a deeper human connection.

The need to be understood and accepted is a universal psychological need for all people, and it can be done powerfully through listening. By listening, a broken relationship can be healed and opposing views united.

I have experienced these moments with people close to me. Several times my wife would scold me for not doing what she asked. Often, I tried to defend and protect myself and justify my behavior. However, those psychological defense mechanisms have their limits.

According to Richard Salem, empathic listening is a way of listening and responding to another that improves mutual understanding and trust. When we are attacked, we tend to react and defend, but when we can pause and listen to the deeper concern of the person attacking us, healing and understanding happen right away.

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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.♦ 

Finally, After My 70 Years of Searching, a Definition of Religion

By Ronald Brown

“Oh, God,” I thought, another temple. Like cows in India, taxis in New York, musicians in Mexico, and nuns in Rome, I barely noticed temples in China anymore. But that spring day in Shanghai in 2005 was hot and humid so I decided to stop in for a visit.

The “god” was a rather ruthless looking person, flanked by equally fierce sword-wielding guards, all enshrouded in incense. Compared to a loving Jesus, scroll-bearing Confucius, or a serene Buddha, this god seemed fierce. Not on the tourist beaten track, the signs were all in Chinese so I asked a young guy to translate one for me.

“Back a long time ago, the British Empire attacked the city to force the people to become Christian and take opium. Chen Huacheng was a Qing Dynasty general who vowed to defend his city to the death,” he freely translated. “He roused his fellow residents to resist but they were defeated and Cheng was killed.” In honor of his heroic qualities and dedication to his homeland, the government of Shanghai declare him a god, placed a statue in the temple in his honor, and instituted a priesthood to worship him forever.

The god of Shanghai was about as far from the almighty, eternal and omnipotent god of Jews, Christians and Muslims as one could get. Jews might write books about such great men, and Catholics might construct elaborate visions of heaven, hell, purgatory, and until recently limbo, but only Confucianists would make a hero a god and celebrate the survival of a city as the goal of religion.

Standing in front of the incense enshrouded statue of Chen, I realized that deep beneath the centuries of encrusted rituals, traditions, beliefs, and deities of the religions of the world was a common quest: The creation of a perfect human being and placing this human in a perfect human society.

The evolution of religions

As humans evolved from their tree perches in East Africa to orbiting space stations, they have elaborated a host of unique religions.

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