The Five Pillars of Religion

By Esfand Zahedi

When speaking of religion, we often think of different belief systems with different goals.  Each religion has a holy book which, being revealed by God, becomes the source of the practices and beliefs of that religion and is often considered a sufficient source of truth for the religion’s followers. In many cases, the followers of one religion reject the authenticity of other holy books and religions.

A different perspective is to accept the divine Origin of all religions and scriptures, using all of them to know God and His will more intimately.  According to Divine Principle,

“…the purpose of every religion is identical. However, religions have appeared in different forms according to their various missions, the cultures in which they took root, and their particular historical period. Their scriptures have taken different forms for similar reasons. All scriptures have the same purpose: to illuminate their surroundings with the light of truth.” (Introduction)

One major world religion, Islam, was founded by the prophet Muhammed, who revealed the Koran. He confessed he was sent by God to the Arab people, teaching that he came with the same authority as the other prophets and that all the scriptures are from God. He called Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets Muslims, simply because they submitted to God’s will and worship no other.

According to Muhammed, the message of all the prophets is simple: there is one God and we are to worship Him. The word “Islam” means submission to God’s will and this is the essence of the religion. Aside from this, there is also the established religion of Islam which developed along certain lines and is often considered to be one religion as opposed to others. This is natural with all human institutions. If we can, however, think of an “institution of God,” not man-made but natural and universal, we can understand the essence of Islam, transcending all historical circumstances and remaining the same over time.

I believe that Islam — in this sense — is true, and have come to call myself a Muslim. I also seek to follow Jesus’ teaching and example in all things and that of Reverend Moon. I believe in the word of God as expressed in the Koran and the world’s scriptures, and in the prophet Muhammed and all teachers of God’s word. I find that the Holy Koran and the Holy Bible don’t contradict each other but lead in the same direction toward God. I also accept and practice the five pillars of Islam and follow the religion’s guidelines inasmuch as they are an authentic expression of faith.

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Revelation and Theology

By Jennifer Tanabe

The new publication, Reflections on Unification Theology: Revealing the World of Heart, which I co-authored with the late Dr. Dietrich Seidel, offers reflections and insights into Unification Theology.

These insights come not just from the hard work of the intellect, but more subtly and quietly through that small voice that speaks to the heart, that reveals the heart of God. Beyond theological expertise, it takes heart to understand God.

As Rev. Sun Myung Moon himself remarked, God is a God of heart:

The Bible is like a love-letter written by a bridegroom searching for his bride and containing many secret codes. Why does God write in code? It is because God is a God of heart. Not everyone is meant to decipher the Bible … only those who have prepared themselves to attend the Lord with a heart akin to God’s heart can decipher the Bible; to anyone else it is an impenetrable mystery. … It does not matter how well you know theology. You cannot understand the Bible unless you interpret it by the flow and feeling of heart.

So, what is the purpose of theology? It is to understand God, God’s purpose for creation, and particularly the purpose of the creation of human beings, namely us.

How do we do this? We need God’s help. How do we receive God’s help in understanding God? Through revelation, and revelation comes not from our own rational intellectual efforts, but through the heart.

Without revelation, we have only our human reason to try to make sense of our Creator, the being who transcends human history in time and space. An impossible task! In fact, any description and understanding of God that we come up with on our own is doomed to be incomplete, and probably misleading.

Unification Theology depends not only on human reason but also on divine inspiration, or revelation, to bring its new understanding of God. I can attest that the insights contained in this book are not based on intellectual reasoning alone, but include inspirations that came through the heart.

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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:

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Leading America Back to the Center

By John Redmond

After the recent election cycle, America has become more and more polarized. This is destructive to national and social harmony and, at its worst, a prelude to national collapse. 

Historically, other nations that have reached this level of conflict and verbal invective have descended into partisan bickering, self-absorption and global irrelevance. On other occasions, they have moved past the argument, re-located common ground and moved forward. The British debate over slavery was a division that healed successfully but the American Civil War left scars still felt today. 

National challenges are to be expected in the growth of a nation.  How that nation responds depends on whether it rises or falls. According to historian Arnold Toynbee, most civilizations thrive when they are inspired by a creative minority of their citizens, visionary, educated and engaged.  They fail when this leadership group becomes defeatist or mired in conflict or despair. 

This is good news for Unificationists who regard development coming through Origin-Division-Union action and see that they are themselves part of the constructive creative minority. With Toynbee’s lens, this deep polarization is a challenge that can be overcome only if the creative minority steps up and meets that challenge with constructive responses.

This breakdown in civic discourse is driven in part by the change in how Americans currently get information they think they can trust — through the Internet. In the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” computer scientists discuss how search engines never send a balanced set of results for a search request or news feed; rather, they send information based on one’s browsing profile. 

Two people sitting side-by-side can type in the same search term and get completely different links to pursue based on their past browsing history and economic situation. Additionally, search engine companies get paid by how long you linger over an article or link, so it is in their best interests to send provocative articles and create an emotional tie to information to give advertisers a few more seconds to catch your eye.

It is ironic Americans are more educated than at any time in history with information literally at their fingertips and yet cannot understand how to find common ground with people who disagree with their political opinions. This is true of both right and left partisans.  

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Harnessing the Potential of Divine Principle

By David Burton

An important thread to my spiritual life and time in the Unification Church has been the idea that science and spirituality should come together and work in concert — that there should be one unified worldview, not a worldview splintered and fractured into different parts. 

On and off for the last twenty plus years, I’ve been exploring how we can develop a theoretical basis for achieving this unity derived from the ontology of Divine Principle and Unification Thought. In the course of that work, I’ve come to believe that in the 1980s there was a real opportunity for such unity to develop, but something was missing from the mix. 

Today, I feel we are again at a point where that unity can be achieved. Alison Wakelin’s recent blog article on this site, “Science, Unification Thought and a Post-Materialist Era,” reports that among scholars in the field there is a growing sense of approaching a paradigm shift. 

Here, I briefly address what happened within Unificationism and what I see as the potential of Divine Principle for today.

When I first heard Divine Principle in 1979, I was a graduate student in chemistry and just starting out on my spiritual journey. I was impressed by the respect shown to science and excited by Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s work to bring science and spirituality together. 

Perhaps the very first gift from my spiritual mother was a bound copy of the proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS). This respect for science was one of the important reasons for my joining the church. When the Level 4 Divine Principle text came out, it was a major step forward, but it wasn’t until six years later that I got my own copy of the Brown Book.

In the Brown Book, the general introduction is a work of art and should not be overlooked. It sets the stage for the purpose of Divine Principle itself, and the parts related to science deeply resonated with me. From the most recent translation:

Eventually, the way of religion and the way of science should be integrated and their problems resolved in one united undertaking; the two aspects of truth, internal and external, should develop in full consonance. Only then, completely liberated from ignorance and living solely in goodness in accord with the desires of the original mind, will we enjoy eternal happiness. (Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 3)

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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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Belief and the Power of Narrative

By Graham Simon

At midnight on December 31, 2020, the UK finally parted company with the EU.

After taking negotiations down to the wire, a beaming Boris Johnson, the unkempt UK Prime Minister and optimist extraordinaire, who five years earlier had promised the British people that they could leave the EU and still “have their cake and eat it,” declared that he had delivered a very “cakeist” treaty indeed.

The exit was mandated in a referendum in June 2016. The anti-EU faction had orchestrated a well-planned high-profile campaign which included catchy but less than truthful slogans on the sides of buses. Those who wanted to remain part of the EU dithered and presented their case badly. In the end, the “Leavers” won with 52% of the vote against 48% for the “Remainers.” Much rancor between the two sides followed.

Most economic forecasts have predicted a loss of UK GDP as a result of Brexit, ranging from 0.1% to 7.9%, with the official Treasury report coming in at around 6% over the next 15 years. Those who voted to leave tend to believe the lower figures or even outlying forecasts of gains, rather than losses. Those who voted to remain tend to believe the more pessimist numbers.

Regardless, the deed is now done and the probable outcome in five years’ time will be that the only things British citizens will notice are: the country is now able to exclude immigrants from Europe (but will probably still need plenty of Europeans to pick its fruit and staff its hospitals); there is more red tape when importing and exporting; and tourists need to keep showing their passports when traveling on the Continent. There is also an outside chance that Northern Ireland will no longer be part of Britain but be reunited with Eire (Southern Ireland) to become part of the EU again.

The UK was split down the middle with regards to Brexit, but people have managed to pull through without killing each other. As we look across the pond to the U.S., where the nation also seems split down the middle, we are perplexed and concerned at the severity of the divisions. While the fault lines may be different in the UK and U.S., the two situations have a lot in common — namely the centrality of belief and narrative in stoking divisions.

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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.

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“The Life Ahead”: A Modern Love Story

By Kathy Winings

A new Netflix film, “The Life Ahead,” brings back to the screen the legendary Sophia Loren after more than a decade since her last film. Her performance in this film shows that age does not matter when it comes to giving an Oscar-worthy performance.

Directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti, and adapted from the novel, The Life Before Us by Romain Gary, “The Life Ahead” is the story of Madame Rosa (Loren), a Holocaust survivor and former prostitute who understands the challenges of young streetwalkers who are mothers, and Momo, a 12-year-old street-wise orphan from Senegal.

Finances are tight and as Rosa is preparing to sell her silver candlesticks, a young African street boy rushes in, pushes her down and steals her bag as she is waiting in line. The boy, Momo, played by young new actor Ibrahima Gueye, has been placed in the care of a local older physician, Dr. Coen, a friend and doctor for Rosa.

When he learns what Momo has done, he takes him to Rosa to apologize to her for stealing her silver.  Rosa, a crusty elderly woman who has seen it all, is skeptical of his sincerity, questions his apology, but grudgingly accepts it. The doctor then tries to convince Rosa to take the boy for a short period of time — just a few weeks or two months at most — believing she can do more for Momo than he can.

It is clear that he cares for Momo but his medical practice doesn’t allow him to spend the time and guidance the boy needs and he thinks Rosa has the grit that will be good for Momo and she can provide the guidance to try to set him on the right path. Of course, her response is, “Are you nuts? Over my dead body!” But she eventually relents and agrees to take him in for a short time.

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