Authoritarianism and the Unity of Denominations / Religions

By Keisuke Noda

Denominational splits are one of the most challenging issues in the Unification movement. As Unificationism presents itself as the “new truth” to resolve religious/denominational divides, the claimant carries the burden of demonstrating its truth with evidence. Even if Unificationists cannot solve this reality immediately, they should at least be able to articulate the Unificationist approach to religious/denominational unity.

Underlying these splits is the idea of authoritarianism, found in religious fundamentalism in other religions as well. This position enhances division and is contrary to Unificationism as exemplified by Reverend Moon. Within the broad spectrum of Unificationism, there are various interpretations including authoritarian.

I will explain what authoritarianism is in the current context of denominational splits, why and how it can be a problem, and how religious authority can be established in a non-authoritarian way. I contrast Rev. Moon’s approach to an authoritarian one.

Since authoritarianism is a complex and broad subject in social science and found in all types of institutions and organizations, be they religious or not, I focus only on the question of the process of establishing religious authority.

Authoritarianism results in an authoritarian personality and creates such a culture. Although Rev. Moon’s critics characterized him as an authoritarian, he seemed to be trying to eradicate such tendencies from the Unification Movement. I highlight his non-authoritarian approach to religious/denominational unity.

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A Needed Reset for Liberal Culture

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.”

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Draining the Swamp? Trump Should Look to Canada for More than Immigration Policy

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).

Immigration

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.”

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“Fences” and “Hidden Figures”: Finding Purpose in Unexpected Places

By Kathy Winings

kathy_winings_3_profileTwo recent films, each nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, help white America understand the challenges and struggles of black America from different perspectives. On the one hand, “Fences” is a story that shines a light on the challenges and issues faced by black families in the 1950s. On the other hand, in “Hidden Figures,” we have Hollywood telling the amazing story of three immensely talented black women who made invaluable contributions to NASA and the American space program.

August Wilson has been called one of the finest American playwrights of the 20th century. His plays have highlighted and brought to life African Americans in everyday roles dealing with everyday issues including love, struggle, duty, and betrayal. The impetus behind his plays was so white Americans could begin to see African Americans in a different light; see them dealing with the same issues that define life for most whites so that whites just might treat African Americans differently. “Fences” was one of his best-known plays for which he received both a Pulitzer and a Tony award.  In 2016, “Fences” came to the big screen directed by Denzel Washington.

“Fences” is the story of Troy Maxson, a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh.  Portrayed passionately by Denzel Washington, Maxson is a bitter man whose dream of becoming a professional baseball player died early on because he was too old by the time Major League  Baseball began admitting black players. As a result, after spending time in prison, he now struggles with his own ambitions to find success in his job and as a man needing to feel vibrant and loved. Yet, he looks for this, as the proverbial song says, “in all the wrong places.”

His main support is his long-suffering wife, Rose, played brilliantly by Viola Davis, who won the 2010 Tony for best actress in the role and the 2017 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the same role (her Oscar acceptance speech was deeply moving).

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Resentment, Multiculturalism and Identity Politics

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By David Eaton

david_eatonDuring the post-World War II era the influence of multiculturalism and identity politics in the West became a pervasive and potent force in politics, academia, sociology, and culture. So-called “social justice warriors” (SJWs) have taken activism on a variety of issues — race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preferences — to such extremes that it is near impossible to engage in reasoned debate or discussion without finding oneself mired in invective-laden exchanges drenched in political correctness.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains that the term “identity politics”

“…has come to signify a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant oppressive characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination.”

There is an emphasis on the need for various social groups to use political means to attain social justice — justice not necessarily based on principle or universal truths, but rather on “political formulations” or an affiliation with a particular political party that will legislate according to a specific set of concerns. Current iterations of multiculturalism and identity politics can be traced to Marxism and the Cold War, particularly the Marxist ideological tenets of the Institute for Social Research at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, known as the Frankfurt School.

As the Industrial Revolution led to the emergence of a substantial upwardly mobile middle class, the issue of economic disparity between rich and poor — a main Marxist premise — began to dissipate, hence the revolutionary urges exploited by earlier Marxist revolutionaries were mitigated.

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Providential Necessity of the Only Begotten Daughter

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By Andrew Wilson

No doubt the years since True Father passed have been difficult for True Mother. But it should not surprise anyone that her course would be difficult. As the Original Eve, she is the pioneer for the entire female gender. She has obstacles to overcome that are uniquely her cross, which True Father, as a man, did not have to deal with. Proclaiming herself the Only Begotten Daughter is her way of directly facing this task.

Mother has no victorious representative of womankind as her feminine forbearer. In fact, she alone carries the burden of all the pain of womankind through history, going back to Eve. Mother has to deal with the fact that after the Fall there was no respect for Eve whatsoever. People have a better feeling about Adam; he was somehow redeemed by Jesus as the victorious Second Adam. But not Eve. She was always associated with the Fall and failure.

At the Fall, Adam was brought low because he followed Eve. The woman led the man to ruin. This led to the widespread view that no woman is worthy to be the leader of men. As a result, fallen societies always put men on top, while women were treated miserably, even as the man’s property to do with as he wished.

To make matters worse, this patriarchal attitude belittling women was inscribed in scripture, which led believers to justify it as if it were God’s way. The Bible, after all, was written by men. We search the Bible in vain to find the name of Noah’s wife, Lot’s wife, or the names of Adam and Eve’s daughters. No angel stayed the hand of Jephthah when he offered his daughter as a human sacrifice (Judg. 11:34-40), the way it stayed the hand of Abraham when he was about to slay Isaac. Polygamy became a norm, the atrocious practice even perpetuated in the modern era.

Men made things worse than they needed to be, continuing to harshly judge women while making themselves the arbiters of faith despite their own wrongdoing, and thinking their attitude justified by scripture. Such male attitudes towards women continue to this day.

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A Principle Viewpoint on the Only Begotten Daughter

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By Andrew Wilson

Recently, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon (True Mother) has been making a point of designating herself by the title “Only Begotten Daughter.” This term designates her special status among all human beings in history by lifting up her unique relationship with God that preceded her position as True Parent.

The title is founded upon Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s words, where on several occasions he spoke of True Mother as such. Therefore, on his authority, there should be no disputing True Mother’s declaration that she is the Only Begotten Daughter.

Also, True Mother finds this title appropriate to her own life experience. She testifies in the Chambumo Gyeong that throughout her early life she felt God’s special love. When True Mother was born, her mother, Hong Soon-ae (Daemonim), had a dream in which the late Rev. Kim Seong-do, founder of the Holy Lord Church, came to her and told her to raise her with special care because she was not her own but God’s daughter. When she was six, after Rev. Heo Ho-bin, founder of the Inside the Womb Church, had been imprisoned, Rev. Heo’s mother took her aside and gave her a special blessing, saying, “You are Heaven’s bride.” From a very early age, Mother knew she had been born with a special destiny and identity.

Those experiences made True Mother who she is, long before she met True Father. Hence, when True Father first met her, he said, “Heavenly Parent, I’m so grateful that You could present to me such a precious daughter.”

During the 52 years True Parents were married, True Mother could rely on being objective to True Father. But after True Father ascended, she found it necessary to make the point that she also stands on her own foundation.

The title, Only Begotten Daughter, serves this purpose. With it, she expresses her determination to stand on her own. It also gave her strength to overcome the many trials that came upon her after she became True Mother. It is thus a fitting description of who she is.

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The Paradox of Religious / Denominational Unity

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By Keisuke Noda

Keisuke_NodaUnificationism calls for the “unity” of religions. The Divine Principle (the Principle), the main text of Unificationist teachings and their systematic exposition, presents the Principle as the “new truth” to unify all religions/denominations and argues its superiority based on its capacity for unity.

Ongoing denominational divisions in the Unification Movement (UM) seem to be paradoxical, however, appearing as counter-evidence for this claim, raising questions regarding Unificationism’s capacity for unity and claim of religious superiority. Divisions run deep in relationships between families, friends, and communities, and the issue requires serious attention.

Denominational rifts raise the question of the concept of unification. What do we mean by the unification of religions and denominations? What forms does unity take? Is it a feasible goal or merely an aspirational vision? These questions require a serious exploration of the Principle.

Contrary to some opinions, the Principle’s key concepts and theses are ambiguous and there are diverse approaches to the Principle.

This article highlights the trans-conceptuality of God in Unification Thought (UT) as a possible interpretation of the Principle that may open the door to unity. I explain how this concept in UT implies the limitation of all conceptual, linguistic, and experiential understanding of God, including revelation. By imposing limits on the finality of knowledge, this perspective opens up a broader horizon in Unificationism to see the living God’s diverse works in others.

The unity of religions/denominations has socio-political-economic dimensions as well. I focus on the aspect of faith alone and propose a perspective as a step towards a complex, historical problem. I do not argue it is the definitive path for unity, but maintain such an approach can open up the possibility of unity and other interpretations of Unificationism.

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“Jackie”: The Legacy of Camelot

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By Kathy Winings

kathy_winings_3_profileThose of us of a certain age will never forget what we were doing on that fateful day — November 22, 1963 — when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.

I certainly remember where I was on that rainy day. I was returning to my fifth grade classroom with my classmates after having attended our weekly religious education class. For the next week, my parents and I followed the television coverage chronicling the events leading up to President Kennedy’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The assassination of JFK will remain one of those iconic moments in American history. All of these memories came back to me while watching “Jackie,” a new film starring Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy and directed by Pablo Larrain.

“Jackie” allows us to get a glimpse of what Jacqueline Kennedy may have been like those first few days after her husband’s death. She tells her story through the lens of journalist Theodore H. White’s interview in Life magazine conducted with the former First Lady shortly after she moved out of the White House.

White had been contacted by Mrs. Kennedy to write her story because of what she believed were unflattering and hurtful news stories written about her immediately after the assassination. The guarded and intensely private woman that the American public saw is juxtaposed with a picture of a very real, very human woman who had just experienced a brutal and violent end to her larger-than-life husband.

Throughout the film, Jackie struggles with finding meaning in what she witnessed while also needing to redefine not only her husband’s legacy but also who she is now that she is no longer First Lady. As she goes about arranging her husband’s funeral while also going through their living quarters at the White House in preparation for moving out, Portman shows a woman on an emotional roller coaster, unable to find her emotional rudder — chain smoking and drinking as a way to cope late at night when no one can see.

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