By Ronald Brown
I adopted my traditional “stick of dynamite” approach to get my students out of their Sunday school, Hebrew school and Madrasa ruts.
“All the world religions are so mired in religious warfare they should be destroyed,” I said. “What humanity needs is a new god, a new holy book, and a new religion. Warfare and violence are so deeply rooted in the religions of the world they are beyond saving. They cannot be salvaged.”
So began my UTS course on “World Religions and Global Conflict” (LTR 5513) in the spring semester 2017.
Such a time to take over the course! “Christian” United States was bogged down in wars in Muslim Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia were threatening to go to war; Orthodox Russia was reasserting its superpower aspirations; Israel was expanding Jewish West Bank settlements and carrying out ethnic cleansing against Palestinian Christians and Muslims in East Jerusalem; China was fashioning Confucianism as the nation’s national religion; India and Muslim Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, were fighting over Kashmir, and the BJP Hindu nationalist party was busily transforming India into a Hindu nation.
My 20-some students reflected the diversity of UTS – American Christians of various denominations, students from the Philippines and Africa, Unificationists, and of course their residually Catholic professor. Many of the students were active in interreligious dialogue and eagerly spouted the tried and true seminary and church slogans, “God is love,” “All religions strive for peace,” “Only a few radicals believe in holy war,” and “A nice dialogue over coffee and cookies will bring world peace.” Other students were dedicated to peace studies and taking UTS courses in the topic.
My goal for the semester was to blow up the “God is love” myth and zero in on the centrality of holy war, jihad, crusades, terrorism, and genocide to world religions.
By Dan Fefferman
“Political theology” investigates the ways in which theological concepts relate to politics, society and economics. In this article, I examine the ways in which the expression of the political theology of the Unification Movement has evolved since its early days, especially in the U.S.
From its beginning, Unificationism has had to deal with tensions between its vision of One World Under God and its commitment to ridding the world of threats to that vision, especially that of communism. This tension led to various alliances in the political world that have impacted the Unificationist community significantly and remain unresolved today.
Victory Over Communism
From the 1960s through early 1980s, the expression of Unification political theology in the public realm was largely focused on “Victory Over Communism.” The movement’s commitment to world unity transcending race and nationality was prominent in its spiritual and evangelical work, but took a back seat to VOC in terms of activism.
Divine Principle (DP) itself provides the rationale for giving priority to VOC:
“The Third World War is the final conflict in the providence of restoration. Through this war, God intends that the democratic world bring the communist world to submission and build the ideal world… [W]hether the Third World War is waged by force of arms or as an ideological conflict depends upon the responsibility of the people…serving the providence of God…. [I]t is inescapable that this worldwide conflict take place.”
Reflecting this imperative, Rev. Sun Myung Moon founded the International Federation for Victory Over Communism in 1969 as a major ideological offensive. IFVOC established coalitions with other anti-communist organizations throughout the world. In the U.S., members created the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF) as the American affiliate of IFVOC. Thus, it created a “hawkish” face in terms of public image, despite its equally strong commitment to world peace, which remained somewhat hidden.
By Ronald Brown
Most commentators call the current American involvement in the Muslim world the “War against Terrorism,” “War against Islamic Extremism,” “War against Radical Islam,” or one or the other pseudonyms that politicians, analysists, and journalists have dubbed it. In essence, it is simply the latest installment in the millennium-old confrontation between the Christian and Muslim civilizations.
The Rise of Islam
Since God first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed that he was the completion of a long line of divinely inspired prophets, Islam has considered itself the authentic religion of God. Each of the many prophets from Adam and Abraham through the prophet Dhul-Kifl to Jesus revealed elements of this primal religion, but sadly their followers failed to understand the content of these revelations.
Jews turned the revelations of Abraham into a tribal religion that shunned outsiders while Christians distorted Jesus’ teachings and declared him a deity equal to God, thus abandoning the core monotheistic goal of God’s revelation. But finally, God called up still another prophet to return humanity to his path and Islam was the result.
The Golden Age of Islam
Sweeping across the Arabian Peninsula and into the heartland of the Middle East, Islam was confident that Jews would emerge from their self-imposed ghettos and embrace the “fulfillment” of the religion founded by the prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, and Christians would abandon their deification of Jesus and return to monotheism.
By Mark P. Barry
Few Americans realize that the hasty 1945 division of Korea and ensuing communist eradication of Christianity in the north occurred despite the efforts of a handful of uniquely qualified American officials. These men were born in the pre-World War II American Christian community in northern Korea, and were concerned, while serving in the U.S. government, about the fate of a land no less their home than America.
Historians generally maintain the U.S. government was largely uninformed about Korea during the Second World War and paid it scant attention. But these American Christians, serving in significant roles in the wartime U.S. government, sought to direct U.S. focus and efforts toward Korea. Despite their best efforts, they were unsuccessful and there is an almost complete absence from the historical record of their efforts.
Dr. George M. McCune was the best-known of these second-generation born and raised in Korea of American Christian missionaries. He became the main expert on Korea for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. His father, Rev. George S. McCune, a Presbyterian missionary, headed Union Christian College (also known as Sungsil School, both a high school and college) in Pyongyang, where, interestingly, Kim Il Sung’s father (who later married the daughter of a Presbyterian minister) attended (the late Ruth Graham, wife of Rev. Billy Graham, also attended high school there for three years).
The younger McCune was born and raised in Pyongyang, the “Jerusalem of the East,” and earned the first doctorate in the study of Korea from an American university in 1941. He served in the OSS from 1942 and the next year became Korea desk officer for the Department of State, the leading official in the U.S. government on Korean affairs. His brother, Dr. Shannon McCune, was an expert on the geography of Korea and East Asia.
By Gordon Anderson
The rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, Geert Wilders, and Marine Le Pen can be seen as a reaction to the failure of Western liberal establishment culture to successfully lead the transition to global society. These popular figures do not represent a higher stage of development, but a return to the last successful level of social development—nationalism.
We could say it is a reset. A “headwing,” or integral, worldview should supply the necessary elements that liberalism has so far ignored in its zeal to create a more just and inclusive world.
A Fall at the Top of the Growth Stage
Unificationists can view this nationalist retrenchment as a fall at the top of the growth stage in Christian culture. Reverend Moon observed in 1960 that Christianity in the West had reached a peak and needed guidance to move the world to the next level. The cultural revolution of the 1960s sought equal rights, freedom from oppression, environmental sustainability, global harmony, and true love.
These were reactions against limitations in traditional societies that needed to be transcended. However, those who led the social revolution did not have solutions but reacted like children who had matured enough to sense injustice, but not enough to develop a parental heart or a responsible approach.
While a few extraordinary figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mohandas Gandhi sought to move to the next stage of development on spiritual foundations, the masses engaged in social movements that sought political solutions—solutions based on the force of law. The result was, in Unificationist terms, “a reversal of dominion.”
By Franco Famularo
In his first address to a joint session of the American Congress on February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump twice referred to Canada. Canadians generally have not been impressed with Trump and his style. However, given that what happens in the USA matters a lot to Canada, Trump’s remarks had many Canadians chatting.
In his speech, Trump mentioned Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighting the proposed women’s business group, led by his daughter Ivanka, to ensure female entrepreneurs have access to networks, markets and the capital needed to start businesses. He also referred to the Keystone Pipeline that will allow Canadian oil to flow to the U.S., which pleases the oil industry while at the same time is opposed by environmentalists in both countries. In addition, there was extensive analysis of Trump and Trudeau shaking hands and who had the upper hand.
One of the biggest surprises in Trump’s address was his call for immigration reform and recommendation to emulate Canada’s model. However, he should also take a serious look at the Canadian healthcare system as a potential solution to U.S. troubles with one of the most expensive and problem-laden healthcare systems in the industrialized world (more on this later).
Regarding immigration policy, Trump said:
“Nations around the world like Canada, Australia and many others, have a merit-based immigration system…. I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security and to restore respect for our laws. If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.”
By Graham Simon
The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is “post-truth” – an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
In October, a British filmmaker, Adam Curtis, produced a 2 hour 46-minute documentary titled “HyperNormalisation.” The provocative trailer to the film starts with the words:
We live in a world where the powerful deceive us
We know they lie
They know we know they lie
They don’t care
We say we care but we do nothing
and nothing ever changes
Welcome to the post-truth world.
The fundamental thesis of Curtis’s documentary is that governments and politicians, themselves beholden to business interests, have deceived us so brazenly and for so long, that we no longer expect to be told the truth. Bereft of the hope that we can shape the world in which we live in a meaningful way through the political process, we channel an increasing amount of our energies into inconsequential pursuits that take place in cyberspace rather than the real world. When we do participate in the political process by casting our vote, our selections are frequently made not on the basis of truth, facts or likely outcomes, but out of frustration, confusion and disaffection. To Curtis, both Brexit and Donald Trump are evidence of this post-truth world.
This article addresses two questions: Whether the notion of a “post-truth world” actually describes a new reality, and, how we got to where we are today.
The “post-truth” world: a new reality or sour grapes?
The notion of post-truth suggests that people have historically had access to objective information and possessed the ability to assess the objectivity of facts presented to them when forming an opinion.
By Michael L. Mickler
Pundits and candidates continually debate which of the two major political parties is better for the United States, particularly on the economy and keeping the peace.
During the most recent election cycle, Hillary Clinton claimed, “The economy always does better when there’s a Democrat in the White House.” On the other hand, it has been pointed out that all of the major U.S. wars in the 20th century—World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam—were entered by Democratic administrations while Republicans began détente and ended the Cold War peaceably. Partisans on both sides argue their positions, mostly to the bewilderment of the public.
If the situation is murky with respect to the economy and war, Republicans and Democrats have settled into less ambiguous postures vis-à-vis religion. Gallup Poll research shows, “Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party,” whereas “non-religious Americans” are significantly more supportive of the Democratic Party, the exception being Black Americans who are “very religious on average” and heavily Democratic.
Pew Foundation research indicates the same. A recent study showed, “About two-thirds (68%) of white evangelicals either identify as Republicans or lean Republican” while “61% of those who do not identify with any religion lean Democratic.” This has led to a “God Gap” between the two parties.
Still, the question is whether Republican administrations lead to the flourishing of religion in general or, for the purpose of this article, to the flourishing of the Unification movement.
Simply put, “very religious” American churches and organizations, which include the Unification movement, do better under Republican administrations but not because of Republican administrations. Rather, the social forces and conditions that sweep Republicans into power are the same ones that reinforce values and goals of “very religious” Americans.
By Mark P. Barry
This week marks the 25th anniversary of Reverend and Mrs. Moon’s trip to North Korea from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, 1991. The key principle and motivation he followed in his visit to Pyongyang and meeting with the late President Kim Il Sung is that war must never again erupt on the Korean peninsula. It would be wise for policymakers in the U.S., South Korea and Japan to be reminded of that lesson today.
For Koreans old enough to remember the devastation of the Korean War, the importance of avoiding a new Korean conflict is very understandable. In fact, at the height of the original North Korean nuclear crisis in June 1994, when President Clinton was ready to dispatch advanced fighters and bombers plus 10,000 American troop reinforcements to South Korea, the person who stopped him was ROK President Kim Young Sam. His memories of the enormous tragedies of the Korean War were quite vivid (including the loss of his mother). The South Korean leader reflected that no major power, even an irreplaceable ally, can be permitted to provoke another outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula.
Today, despite all the rhetoric about North Korea’s five nuclear tests, numerous missile tests and general bellicosity, the principle of finding a peaceful solution is as relevant as in 1991. To continue on the path of increasing UN and bilateral sanctions, and even entertain talk of preemptive strikes against DPRK nuclear facilities, is a formula that will fail to get the North to back down or cooperate. Rather it increases the chances of escalation in which even a small action might be misconstrued and inadvertently trigger full-blown hostilities.
Twenty-five years ago, Rev. Moon demonstrated an approach towards a resolution of the North Korean issue in which all other parties would avoid backing the North into a corner where there would be no other option for it but resort to violence.