Cremation: An Acceptable Alternative to Burial

By William P. Selig

Bill SeligMany members have asked what is the Unificationist position on cremation. As a dynamic Movement relating to our Heavenly Parent, it is natural our traditions will continue to be reexamined and updated. Such is the case with our position on cremation.

The Tradition, published in 1985, was the first attempt to describe in an orderly form the official traditions of our faith – attendance, prayer, pledge, holy songs, holy salt, holy grounds, tithing, holy days and holidays, and birth and death rituals. It also put in writing for the first time our position on issues such as abortion, contraception, circumcision, as well as cremation.

Regarding cremation, it was declared to be “not in accordance with the Unification view, as it does not allow the physical body a natural return to the physical (material) world.”

Mother’s Position

After the ascension of Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 2012, the movement’s leadership passed to his wife, Mother Hak Ja Han Moon. On the one-year anniversary of Father’s ascension, Dr. Chang Shik Yang, former FFWPU Continental Director, North America, spoke with Mother and asked about cremation. She acknowledged that cremation has become common in Korea among members. Statistics are not available for the movement, but in the general population of Korea, almost 80% of people who die are cremated, while in Japan it is nearly 100%.

According to Seoul’s Hankyoreh newspaper, “A recent study shows eight out of every ten funerals is now carried out by cremation. It’s the result of a combination of factors, including changing family structures, more favorable perceptions among South Koreans, and a lack of space for burials.” There has been a big shift in South Koreans’ thinking due to Western influence and recently a strong government push to consider cremation as a way to save space. A law passed in 2000 requires anyone burying their dead after 2000 to remove the grave 60 years after burial.

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On the Internal Meaning of Lineage

By Andrew Lausberg

75995_459821110372_999357_nIn the teachings of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, lineage comes up time and time again. Lineage is cited as a significant element in a number of ways: the need to restore humanity, originally of God’s lineage, from Satan’s lineage back to God’s lineage; the significance of lineage in terms of a person being chosen by God for providential work; the significance of lineage in terms of what kind of sin needs to be resolved on earth; etc.

Despite the prominence of lineage as a concept in Rev. Moon’s teaching, there is surprisingly little extrapolation on the topic. He frequently used all sorts of real world and theoretical examples to illustrate his understanding of how God’s creation works. Concepts such as internal and external, vertical and horizontal are pivotal to illustrating the ideas he is dealing with. The Principle itself goes into the idea of “spherical movement” of living beings. How then does lineage fit into this conceptual framework?

In many cases, Father Moon discusses different dimensions. Consider the eight-stages of restoration. He describes eight horizontal stages: individual → family → clan → ethnic group → nation → world → cosmos → God; and eight vertical stages: servant of servants → servant → adopted child → stepchild (or illegitimate child) → true child → mother → father → God. We can understand that these two dimensions as interacting or interfacing like an x and y axis. At any given point in time, a person may be at one of the horizontal levels, such as at the level of nation. By this, we mean that the person is dealing with issues that impact on a national level of existence.

Likewise, at any given point, a person may be at a vertical stage of restoration or growth, such as the stage of adopted son. We mean that the person is dealing with issues that impact or are related to a quality of relationship typified as that of an adopted child and his or her adopted parent. One axis deals with dimensions of human existence embodied in larger or smaller social groupings, the other deals with dimensions of relationships of heart — equated with “internal dimensions.”

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Hollywood, Sexuality and Cultural Marxism

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By David Eaton

david_eatonConfucius once averred:

“If one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well governed, if its morals are good or bad, the quality of its music will furnish the answer.”

I contemplated his observation as I watched the telecast of last month’s 88th Academy Awards. If we were to substitute the word “music” with “cinema” or “culture,” the Chinese sage might be more than a bit angst-ridden given the tone and tenor of the Oscars.

Predictably, the show’s host, Chris Rock, pummeled the Hollywood establishment for its lack of racial diversity among the nominees — a major issue in the run-up to the Oscars. But not far from the surface was Hollywood’s seemingly incessant need to sexualize the proceedings. Comedienne Sarah Silverman’s riff on sexual intercourse viz. James Bond, and Rock’s quips, about helping the show’s music director “get l__d at the Governor’s Ball” and the panties of a female pop star in the audience, were reminders of Hollywood’s duplicity in matters of sexual probity.

I wondered how Chris Rock’s Girl Scout daughters reacted to Silverman and their dad’s overt sexual suggestiveness. Surely they were watching (as I was with my 21-year old daughter), and I cringed at the vulgar and completely unnecessary sexual repartee. But here again was an example of the in-your-face sexuality Hollywood both glorifies and aggressively markets while attempting to be viewed as virtuous on other social matters.

To be fair, the serious issue of sexual abuse was front-and-center at the Oscars with “Spotlight” spotlighting the problems within the Catholic Church (and winning Best Picture). “The Hunting Ground,” dealing with the problem of campus rape, was not nominated for Best Documentary Film, but the film’s song, “Til It Happens To You,” was a nominee for Best Original Song.

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“Steve Jobs”: A Film Really About Heroines

Steve Jobs

By Mark P. Barry

Mark Barry Photo 2When Steve Jobs died in 2011, his authorized biography was rushed to press, quickly followed by the low-budget, independent film, “Jobs.” Fans of the Apple CEO had to wait until last October for the full Hollywood production, “Steve Jobs,” featuring an A-list cast and team, to reach the big screen.

Audiences were disappointed in the film because it bombed at the box office. Expectations surely were for a depiction of Jobs’ stellar technology and business achievements. But the truth is: this movie is more about its heroines than its hero.

For her performance in “Steve Jobs,” Kate Winslet won the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for an Oscar this year as well. She plays Joanna Hoffman, long-time marketing chief at Apple and “right-hand woman” to its co-founder. Known as the one person who could stand up to the difficult and temperamental Jobs, in the film Hoffman calls herself his “work wife.” Winslet, as Joanna, is the moral center of the movie.

Very loosely based on the Walter Isaacson official biography – a book Apple and Jobs’ family were not happy with – “Steve Jobs” is written by Aaron Sorkin, who won the 2011 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for “The Social Network” and this year’s Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for “Steve Jobs.”

“Steve Jobs” was lucky to get made. It was originally produced by Sony Pictures, but after North Korea hacked its computers in late 2014, divulging embarrassing executive emails, Universal Pictures acquired the film. A who’s who of actors and actresses were considered for parts. Oscar-winning director, Danny Boyle, chose Matthew Fassbender — despite looking nothing like Jobs — for the title role (he was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award).

Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell-Jobs, encouraged Isaacson to write his book, but her eventual dissatisfaction with it, as a less-than-flattering portrait of her husband, led her to reportedly block the film’s production. However, there may have been a more underlying reason.

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Lessons of Illness and Death

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by William Selig

WS CU cropIn my capacity as chaplain in an inner-city hospital, I deal with end-of-life situations as frequently as two or three times a day. My faith as a Unificationist accepts death as normal and part of God’s plan. I know that if God is in our life, then He must also be in our death, and this gives me a sense of comfort and the strength to offer spiritual support to the patient, family and staff.

When I enter the room and see the patient lying on the bed, the family is generally gathered around or standing outside in the hallway or hurriedly on their way to the hospital. The air is thick with emotion. My heart never fails to be moved by the sincerity and tears. I am deeply touched by the weeping and what I call “quiet tears” where I know the family’s feelings are building up inside and ready to overflow.

I try to provide a compassionate presence even if the patient is unresponsive. I always assume their spirit self or inner being is awake and appreciative of companionship.

When a person knows that death is imminent, what happens next really depends on their values and beliefs. Faith and spirituality often become very important even if he or she hasn’t set foot in a house of worship for years. Many appreciate hearing sacred words and prayer. Most often people request Psalm 23. It is known to everyone and provides a comfortable assurance that Heavenly Parent is in the room.

Besides the patient, I offer spiritual support to the family and loved ones through companionship, prayers, and a listening heart. Essentially the chaplain is a reminder that life has a spiritual dimension. I try to help them deal with the situation and find some sense of spiritual peace.

I’m always been inspired by how God opens the hearts of the families. Although I am a total stranger, I am immediately welcomed into the center of an emotionally intimate situation, certainly not as an individual, but rather as what the chaplain represents. The family wants to feel the presence of God. They want the assurance that God is in charge and that he’s there, even when things aren’t going according to their own wishes or expected plan.

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Cain and Abel Children: A Unification Parable

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Spanish, 1617 - 1682, 1667/1670, oil on canvas, Gift of the Avalon Foundation

by Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmIn the “Cain children” vs. “Abel children” dichotomy, I’m of a mind that the primary category is “children.” Looking at Cain and Abel, the parents would say: “These are all my children. Some are older, some younger, some look more like me, some less, but we are one family and they all receive my inheritance.” Thus I apply the family paradigm from the parents’ viewpoint, rather than as we usually do, from a sibling (rivalry) point of view. I’m also of a mind to bring out the virtues and responsibilities of Cain more than usual.

The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is instructive. Here, Abel took the inheritance, abandoned his father and wasted it in a self-centered life. But the spark of God within him woke him up; he realized his abject status as a sinner and returned to his father, ready to be a servant of servants. Based on this condition, the father bestowed blessings upon him. On the other hand, Cain served his father faithfully, building up the father’s fortune. He did not share the father’s willingness to bless Abel. But the father reached out to him and told him that all that was the father’s belonged to him and encouraged him to rejoice.

This reminds me of our relationship with True Parents over the years. We Cain children worked so hard, fundraising, witnessing, teaching, sleeping little, having nothing. We in New York would rise well before dawn on Sunday mornings to attend True Father’s sermons at Belvedere, only to get chastised for being sinners. I would think to myself, “But Father, we’re your children who are here attending you! What about those who didn’t even come here?” In the back of my mind was, “Father, you should be praising us, and chastising those who didn’t come.”

I was wise enough to realize a bit of what was going on, and now I’d like to expand upon that. We were True Parents’ Cain children. There’s one important distinction between their Cain children and Abel children: the Cain children were a lot older and so could serve as object partners doing the work with True Parents. We were young to Father, but to the Abel children, the biological children, we were a bunch of old folks running around exhausting ourselves in a missionary life, often joyful, sometimes resentful, but obediently lining up to bow in front of their parents. We had so many complicated feelings toward True Parents, and the Abel children, whose feelings for True Parents were simpler at first, could see it and feel it.

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Same-Sex Marriage: A Unificationist Response

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By Robert Beebe

Dr BeebeSame-sex marriage is now the law of the land, thanks to the recent 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite 30 states enshrining in their constitutions that marriage was the union of one man and one woman through the combined votes of 50 million people, all this was swept away in two years largely by federal court rulings that made same-sex marriage legal in 37 states, culminating in the Supreme Court decision. Along the way, a majority of Americans are said to now support same-sex marriage. The culture war is over, advocates say. The traditional view of marriage has been cast aside.

All this has occurred not for want of effort on the part of traditional marriage supporters. The National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and other Christian-based groups have fought tooth-and-nail for many years to prevent what has just happened. Despite their confidence in their cause, and believing that God was on their side, they ended up fighting a losing battle. How did this happen?

Looking back, it seems now an inevitable result of a half-century of cultural change beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Traditional marriage lost its honored place in American culture long ago when the divorce rate began to skyrocket towards 50%, where it remains today. What are we to expect when millions of children fail to experience the benefits of traditional marriage in their own homes during their formative years? Why should we be surprised when, as teens and young adults, they begin to look elsewhere and experiment in unorthodox ways in their desire to find love? The seeds for legalization of same-sex marriage can be found in the breakdown of the traditional two-parent family.

This has been accompanied by the indoctrination of our young people by a public school system that promotes in the name of diversity not only tolerance but the celebration of all sorts of lifestyles and personal expression. The Judeo-Christian values that once provided the moral foundation for our culture and informed the nation’s education system have been replaced by a godless secular perspective in which anything goes. From this new perspective, once accepted traditional values are now regarded as oppressive and bigoted. Having breathed this atmosphere day-after-day in the public schools, many of our own children have adopted the values of the popular secular culture.

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Mormon Lessons for the Unification Church

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By Takayoshi Sugawara

TakaSugawaraThe rise of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) is an incredible story of a persecuted Christian offshoot that has grown to become the most successful, new global religion in the 14 centuries since Islam. It boasts 4.5 million active members worldwide (15 million recorded), and the church itself is estimated to be worth $40 billion. Its membership has included a 2012 U.S. presidential candidate.

All this membership, wealth, and a permanent footing in mainstream consciousness was achieved within a 185 years of its founding. This is a monumental achievement. Rodney Stark, a highly regarded sociologist of religion, declared this ascent to be “one of the great events in the history of religion.”

In contrast, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (Unification Church) is a new faith experiencing difficulties in all these areas. Currently, the church finds itself in much turmoil in areas such as finances, leadership and growth. If the Unification Church is to survive and grow, changes need to be implemented.

It is fortunate for the Unification Church that the Latter-day Saints have proved it possible for a new religion to find success globally, bucking declining trends experienced by other Christian sects. Many studies of the Church of the Latter-day Saints have attempted to explain its enviable growth. Let’s consider ways the Unification Church might attempt to replicate its success.

To begin with, the development of the two faiths are strikingly similar. A charismatic leader raised in the Christian faith started a new religion upon experiencing a supernatural vision. After initial growth and success, both their fledgling churches experienced severe persecution from their communities, and the founders were jailed several times during their ministries. And now, the factionalism that Unification Church is experiencing soon after the death of its founder is eerily similar to the “Succession Crisis” experienced by the Mormons following the assassination of its founder.

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Preparing for Our Seonghwa: Life as an Exclusively Spiritual Being

June 2005

By William Selig

William SeligWe live in a death-denying culture, the result of a human-centered worldview instead of a life centered on God. Because of the Fall, we lost not only the true understanding of life, but of death as well.

Reverend Moon said:

“I talk about death in order to teach the meaning of life. Who really knows the value of life? It is not the person who is going all out to preserve his life. The only person who really knows about life is the one who goes into the valley of death. He confirms the meaning of life as he desperately cries out to Heaven at the crossroads of life and death.” (“Understanding Life and Death,” Dec. 18, 1998)

Most people don’t think about death until we are forced by circumstances beyond our control, primarily, from illness or accident. Those fortunate enough to recover know how precious life then seems. When we assume that our life here on earth will go on as normal, we tend to take it all for granted, but when we are reminded that it has an end, then every moment and every day takes on a new and revitalized meaning.

We Are Not Alone

For the past six years, I have been working in a hospice or hospital environment. It is a precious and profoundly spiritual experience. Based on my observation, one of the biggest challenges facing a patient, particularly those in an end-of-life situation, is the sense of loneliness. Spirituality and religion offer patients a chance to reconnect to themselves, family, community, traditions, and ultimately to God.

According to the Principle, the cause for this sense of loneliness can be traced back to the Fall. By disobeying God and succumbing to temptation, our ancestors inherited the element of fear, which comes from a guilty conscience. This unnatural element has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is fear that drives people apart from one another, but most significantly, from our Creator.

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