The Need for a Unificationist Blessing, Marriage and Family Theology and Education Providence

By Alice Fleisher

I experienced a flash of insight a few days ago while looking at Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s picture (who Unificationists call True Father).

The gist of the revelation was that some 30+ years ago, I was in a position to facilitate and contribute towards the development of a Unificationist Blessing, Marriage, and Family Educational (UBMFE) providence.

If that was the case, you may wonder why am I only now proposing the development of such a providence rather than 30 years ago? (I was first active in the American branch of the Unification Church’s marriage and family ministry — known as the Blessed Family Department [USA BFD] — between 1987 and 1989 and then reconnected in 2004)

In the 1970s and 1980s, the USA BFD work consisted of supporting and administrating the Blessing providence. The providence of guiding Blessed couples and families mainly consisted of preparing couples for their three-day ceremony, counseling, and the publication of two Blessing-related magazines, which included True Parents’ speeches and some educational material, called The Blessing Quarterly and The Blessing Journal.

Family education was not pressing because most couples were just starting out and few had children. However, anyone connected to the USA BFD who was even remotely observant could see we were eventually going to need education material and programs that could minister to and provide life guidance for these Blessed couples and families.

Unfortunately, budgetary concerns and administrative decisions occurred that had a major impact on the USA BFD and the development of that kind of material. Around 1990, the USA BFD was completely shut down, an action that wasn’t reversed until 2004 (due to True Father’s prodding).

Upon reflection, I believe that from the 1990s going forward, the development of mature, professional and comprehensive educational material on the Blessing, Marriage and Family derived from the revelations of True Father and Rev. Hak Ja Han Moon (who Unificationists call True Mother; together they are called True Parents) would have occurred. Sadly, such efforts were stillborn and cut-off abruptly due to the USA BFD’s demise.

It was not a coincidence that during the time the USA BFD was dormant, the Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education, LLC (CMFCE) was founded by Diane Sollee in 1996. I believe through the CMFCE and the Smart Marriages Conferences they sponsored, God worked to encourage faithful professionals who were caring for beleaguered families to identify and make available to the greater public, ministries, clinical practices, and educational programs dedicated to enriching healthy marriages and saving marriages that were in trouble. The purpose of the CMFCE, found on their website, is below. These are worthy and laudable goals.

The coalition serves as an information exchange and clearinghouse to help couples locate marriage and relationship courses; to help professionals, clergy and lay educators locate training programs and resources; to connect those with an interest in the continuing development of the field; to support community initiatives, legislation and research; and to promote the effectiveness of marriage education programs and increase their availability in the community.

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Spiritual Connections: Living in the Flow of God’s Love

By Gordon L. Anderson

Spiritual Connections: Living in the Flow of God’s Love (Circle of Angels Press, 201 pp., 2022) is an engaging spiritual autobiography of Nora Spurgin, who joined what was then called the Unified Family (later Unification Church) in New York in 1967. She served in many central positions as the movement led by Rev. Sun Myung Moon developed into a new global culture. Nora’s identity is shaped by her connections to others in her lifelong pursuit to be in the flow of God’s love.

Her story begins with her ancestors who came to America for religious freedom. Her sixth great grandfather authored Confessions of Faith, which is still used for religious instruction among the Mennonites. She grew up in Lancaster County, PA, in a farming community with large families, connected to her parents, siblings, extended family, and nature. Life was a mixture of hard work, fun play, and worship of God. Personal responsibility and maintaining the community was stressed. Her community was self-sufficient. Nora learned to design and sew clothes and her father even taught her every step in building a house!

At a young age, Nora’s curiosity prompted her to ask questions about her faith in comparison to Catholics and others. She studied the people she met, wanting to learn behavior patterns and whether people were genuine or putting on a façade. She learned to approach others with confidence. While Nora wanted to learn fastidiously, her parents believed outside education would corrupt children’s faith. She dropped out of high school after one year and worked at home and in a sewing factory until she turned 21 and became a free adult. Then she grabbed lots of books, studied, passed the GED exams, and set out on the world.

A Mennonite Voluntary Service program caring for children of migrant workers in Florida exposed Nora to poverty and other cultures and broadened her faith. In college, she loved philosophy and history. On weekends she visited and served people in Appalachia, and experienced charismatic spiritual events. Then she went on for her master’s degree in social work at New York University. The intellectual confrontations and big city life were far different than life on a simple Mennonite farm. Through all her encounters, she continued her search for connections to God and was prepared to meet the Unification Church.

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What Is Love? Here’s What to Know

By Tom Froehlich

Human love is passionate by default, as in “being in love.”

Poets and novelists intuit love as a most delightful phenomenon of highly personal and deeply intimate relationships. Love begets new belongings and makes life worth living. Thus, human love is rather virtuous.

Unification leaders talk a lot about love, that is, about God’s love and true love. Human love, however it may be implied, is usually not distinguished as a worthwhile virtue. This may have resulted in many Unificationist offspring seeking love outside their parent’s faith community.

More clarity and an appreciative attitude toward human love may help Unificationists to better reach out to a world full of smart and curious young folks.

Surely love — passionate as it always is — cannot arise without mutual attraction and be nothing less than profound affection and some esteem for each other. Reciprocal and non-exploitative, love eventually kindles surrender due to enchantment and thus delight in each other, both in body and mind so as to not leave anyone wanting.

Yes, that is a lot to ask of love.

Does love happen all the time, always to its fullest, and everywhere to everyone? No. Just imagine what a young, single male living with his parents in an Alaskan village of 187 people has to figure to make love come true for him. Or what about that single, middle-aged mother working as a street vendor in New Delhi, India? Can she worry about anything else than how to feed herself and her child?

Realistically, love seems to be out of reach or otherwise not feasible for a whole lot of folks on Planet Earth.

Forsaken Delights

Nevertheless, it is not just a safe, new belonging that people seek, but also the delights of a passionate love — often rather secretly.

There aren’t that many delights to be had while “being loved” or “being cared for” by either a mate or a deity. Such one-sided love induces shame after all. More delights are found in the undisturbed act of reciprocal and non-exploitative loving between a man and a woman. That is to say, “being in love” with another in both mind and body is truly exhilarating!

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Reflections on Dr. Hak Jan Han Moon’s Memoir, “Mother of Peace”

By Eileen Williams

Reading the memoir, Mother of Peace by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, became for me a contemplative personal reflection of the labyrinth-like journey of the Unification Church and its metamorphosis into Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community.

I was late to reading True Mother’s memoir.  It was daunting. I put it off. When I finally dove in, a few themes struck a reverberant chord: True Mother’s understanding of herself as a historical person, God’s healing power of love and forgiveness, and the singular purpose of the messianic mission.

I was moved by True Mother’s anecdotal retelling of her early life in the first four chapters.  Middle chapters lose some of their intimate narrative as they veer towards grandiloquence when describing some of the philosophical underpinnings of the various church organizations; however, there are some powerful testimonies regarding foreign missionary work and True Parents’ visits to countries, unthinkable to visit at the time.

The last third of the book, a head-spinning account of travels to Africa and island nations, highlights behind the scenes activities and their interplay within the international scope of the work of True Parents. Therefore, if the reader perseveres to the end (not a particularly easy task at 359 pages) then he or she could certainly be rewarded — as I was — with an amazing glimpse into a vast global vision whose purpose is to shine a spiritual light onto one’s own personal realm of influence.

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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)

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A Response to Andrew Wilson’s Article on the Only Begotten Daughter

By Claude A. Perrottet

This recent article, “Why Does True Mother Call Herself the Only Begotten Daughter?” by Andrew Wilson suggests that True Mother has chosen to lower herself by taking on the title of Only Begotten Daughter in reaction to failure and opposition.

While acknowledging the many insights of this factual article, I submit that True Mother (Mrs. Hak Ja Han) has not lowered herself at all, but promotes this view much in line with her role as the first woman in history to fulfill the purpose of creation. Being humble, at least here, does not mean lowering oneself.

It is undoubtedly true that True Mother had no choice but to engage in a sustained effort to create a foundation for herself, just as Jesus and later True Father had been forced to do. And it is obviously true that True Mother had to start her lonely course under circumstances that were not the ones she or anyone would have hoped for (an understatement).

True Father was entirely victorious, but he was largely deprived of the fruits of his victory, and so were God and humankind. In True Family and our movement at large, fractures had begun to appear even before True Father passed on to spirit world.

I never had any doubts about the status of True Mother before, during, or after True Father’s ascension, and believe I am part of an overwhelming majority on this point. However, when we first heard the expression “Only Begotten Daughter,” several thoughts came to mind.

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Why Does True Mother Call Herself the Only Begotten Daughter?

By Andrew Wilson

Since August 2014, Hak Ja Han Moon, the widowed spouse of Rev. Sun Myung Moon whom FFWPU members call True Mother, has been proclaiming herself “the only begotten Daughter.”

The title itself is well-established in Rev. Moon’s teaching: “The only begotten Son needs the only begotten Daughter” (May 1968), and “The Messiah, who comes as the only begotten Son, must find the only begotten Daughter” (January 1989). Yet, Mother calling herself by this title has caused some members considerable consternation.

First is the matter of disabusing Christians that Mother is not equating herself with God. This is because Christians understand the scriptural title “only-begotten Son” to mean that Jesus is God. Consider the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…

Jesus was “begotten,” not at his human birth but “before all ages.” It means he is of God’s very substance (consubstantial), “God from God.” He is made of God-stuff, not mortal flesh and bone.

However, “only begotten Son” in Unificationism means something very different. First and foremost, Jesus is a human being.

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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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Moving to More Widely Distributed Leadership and Decision-making

By Alison Wakelin

We are entering a time when the planets are aligned as they were a few years before the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and World War II. It’s hard to miss the chaos we are in, or the parallels with Britain, embroiled as it is in Brexit.

We also have some similarities to the period preceding the Reformation. This is good news, in that it offers the potential for something good to emerge. We are not doomed to fight another war.

What these eras have in common (and common sense tells us this about our time even if we aren’t swayed by astrological evidence) is they are all times that brought in a new order, economic and social, as well as spiritual. Whether we can avoid the war and fight on a purely theoretical level depends now on individuals, and our state of maturity.

The most hopeful sign is that women’s voices will be heard this time. Women in general represent a huge force on the side of peaceful resolution of conflict. The feminine side naturally seeks healing if there is pain and conflict, not to impose its will on the other. This path requires strength and self-confidence, and sadly has been obscured by the historical decision toward masculine dominance.

What we in the West have accepted as basic truth is coming unraveled, and our political systems are failing to deal with the situation because they are in fact part of the old order. Very simplistically, conservatives want to hold on to the status quo, progressives want to create a new world order, and President Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (a quick learner, to be sure) aid and abet the destruction of the old order by challenging all norms.

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