Religion, Sci-Fi and the Age of Disposable Human Bodies

By Ronald Brown

As I stood by one of the burning gats on the bank of the sacred Ganges River, I couldn’t help but contemplate the Hindu approach to death.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims view the death of the body as the end of our earthly existence. The individual then goes on to either heaven or hell if he or she is religious, or we simply cease to exist if we do not subscribe to one or the other of the major world religions. For Hindus, on the other hand, one body is disposed of and the person takes on another to continue his or her spiritual voyage.

As I watched one worn-out garment after another being consumed by flames, I couldn’t help but think of challenges disposable human bodies will pose for Christians in the future.

Unfortunately, the only serious discussion I found of this topic was not by religious thinkers but rather in serious Sci-Fi literature such as Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel, Childhood’s End. Transcendent evolution is also a theme in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a film co-written by Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick.  I contend religious leaders must begin to confront this urgent question.

The time has come for humans to ponder their post-body existence and the freedom this will result in.

For too long religions have not only venerated the human body but idolized it. At the dawn of the 21st century, humans are slowly ending their millennia-long romance with physical bodies and are surging into the brave new bodiless world. The profound influence material bodies have exerted on human religions is coming to an end. Before the age of embodied humans is relegated to the trashcan of human history, I chronicle in this article the impact of material bodies on religions.

The body in world religions

Judaism, Christianity and Islam place great emphasis on the human body.

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Emerging Women’s Ministry

By Grace Selover

Jesus taught the early Christians that they should open their eyes, look closely at the fields and realize the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matt. 9:37). Indeed, the current situation of the Unification Church is as pressing as it was in Jesus’ ministry.

With the Vision 2020 deadline approaching, there is immense demand for the workers of God to labor in the field of evangelism and ecumenism for the Unification Church, particularly in pastoral ministry. From the visitation of individuals to pulpit supply of the church, from the revival of church life to influential contributions for society through Heavenly Tribal Messiah ministry, more activists are needed.

Where can we find these activists?

Currently, there are women who are lay leaders in local churches working behind the scenes. They are organized to support and revitalize the life of the church and provide pastoral care to church congregants in support of their pastors and church ministries. They reach in to current congregants to help them become more engaged in the vitality of the church, as well as reach out to new members and the general public by identifying, helping and serving their needs. They consult, educate, cultivate, communicate, and evangelize with members, converts and supporters.

These women juggle multiple tasks and roles of being a mother, wife, daughter, and sister at home, as well as a team leader, counselor, mentor, cheerleader, and friend in the church setting. Many times, those roles and responsibilities leave them feeling exhausted. But their biggest challenge and limitation is they feel unsupported and unappreciated.

There are two sides to the phenomenon currently in the Unification Church. On one hand, there are many lay women leaders in the church who have worked voluntarily for decades, supporting their local church ministry, keeping church life going, and maintaining the church to be functional in the local pastoral ministry.

On the other hand, even though they have the experience, ability and capacity to lead, they are often overlooked or ignored. They ought to be appreciated, accepted and acknowledged formally as teachers, lecturers, preachers, evangelists, assistant pastors or even pastors.

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Reflections on True Mother’s City of Refuge Speech

By Tyler Hendricks                    

In her April 6, 2019 speech at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, CA, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon made significant statements on environmentalism, the ethics of nations, the use of force, and her course as the True Mother. Her speech has raised some discussion among Unificationists. Here is my understanding of her statements.

Environmentalism

I categorize environmentalism under what Divine Principle (Ch. 1) calls the third blessing, through which “the entire universe becomes yet another good object partner giving joy to God.” No one can deny that we are not caring for the earth as much as we should. We certainly are not achieving the oneness with nature that Principle considers our original birthright. And indeed cultural Marxists exploit the problem, subverting young people’s love of nature for political purposes. Which means those young people, including some of our second generation, stop listening to someone who is complacent about the environment.

So, first of all, Mother has to assure those young people that she agrees with their concerns; she’s with them that climate change and ocean pollution are issues. Then idealists on the left say, great, this woman gets it. But then look at True Mother’s solution. It has nothing to do with carbon credits and bans on plastic straws.

Here’s what she said: “We should attend God, the Lord of creation, live in accordance with the eternal principles of creation and find the right solution.”

And then she went on to reject the view that science has all the answers. In fact, she stated that blind faith in science is actually part of the problem. She stated we are not here to live convenient lives, and that God and the marriage Blessing are part of the solution:

“What I am saying is that we should live in line with the principles originally established by God. …Blessed couples who received the Blessing today, you would not want your beloved children to live in an even worse environment than today’s. Isn’t that so?”

True Mother steered the conversation toward the headwing solution: attendance of God and the marriage Blessing.

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Excuse My Religion While It Slips into Something More Comfortable

By Larry Moffitt

I was speaking with the minister of a very large Christian church in Houston. We were in his office discussing the enigmatic lightning rod personality that is Reverend Moon, who was still living and quite active. He asked me by whose authority was Reverend Moon ordained a minister? A legitimate question. I replied, “Jesus spoke to him on Easter morning in 1935 when he was fifteen, and gave him his mission. So I guess that was his ordination.”

The minister’s back stiffened. He glared, making fists in his pockets. “Jesus did not speak to Reverend Moon!”

“I see,” I said. “I have to wonder how you could possibly know that.” I spoke evenly and without a hint of disrespect. If it’s audacious for me to believe that Jesus actually spoke to him, isn’t it also audacious for someone living on this side of the veil to be confident about what Jesus does to fill his time on the other side? Does he putter in the garden? Write music? Continue to guide people’s spiritual lives? I should have followed up with these questions because at least he knew what Jesus does not do: He does not speak to people.

“Well, God also spoke to him,” I added helpfully.

Surely this would clinch it because God has gone on the public record many times. I mentioned as examples, Noah, Moses and John the Baptist, in whose honor this minister’s church was named. It’s well-documented phenomena, so surely it would be easy for him to accept that God can speak to people if he wants to. But alas…

“God doesn’t do that anymore,” he said, slamming the door on the conversation.

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Mega-Cities and the Globalization of Religions

By Ronald Brown

At the dawn of the 21st century, the mega-city is rapidly becoming the stage for the transition of local religions to the status of global religions. Once relegated to the margins of world religions, migration to the world mega-cities has catapulted them to the status of world religions.

This article analyzes the five stages in the globalization of religions and applies them to the Unification Movement in the context of developments in Caribbean culture. The stages are: religions in the mega-city; the role of the media globalizing religions; the establishment of a formal clergy; the institutionalization of religions; and, religions and academia.

Religions in the mega-cities

United Nations statistics show that over half of the world’s population resided in cities over one million in population as of 2007 and urbanites are predicted to comprise 70% of the world’s population by 2050. These statistics include rural residents fleeing poverty to cities in their own country as well as mega-cities in other countries.

Among these new urbanites are some 60 million settlers from the Caribbean islands. This demographic reality has a double effect on the migrants. Firstly, Caribbean people are being transformed from residents of isolated islands into global urbanites. The majority are uneducated poor rural farmers fleeing poverty, landlord oppression, and semi-slave factory work. They establish urban ghettos in their new mega-city home and seek to recreate a semblance of their island homelands.

Secondly, in this often hostile mega-city environment, the migrants cling to the religions, cultures, and traditions of their island homelands. Isolated, fearful, and often persecuted, they construct ethnic neighborhoods. Often the citizens of their new homelands are intrigued by these exotic newcomers, visit their neighborhoods, and attend their religious observances. Suddenly, a local island cult is a global reality.

The Unification Movement was founded by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in Seoul, South Korea, in 1954.

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Oscar-Winning Films that Address Racism

By Kathy Winings

Three very different films released in 2018 address racism from unique perspectives. Two are based on real events and the third is an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel. Each film also won at least one Oscar at February’s Academy Awards.

Set in the early 1970s, “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a quintessential Baldwin story about poverty, race, family, and love. The film is directed by Barry Jenkins, director of the 2017 Best Picture Oscar winner, “Moonlight.” Regina King received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her strong portrayal of the mother of the story’s young heroine, Tish.

Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephen James) are a young black couple living in Harlem who fall in love and find themselves expecting their first baby. But Baldwin’s complex story doesn’t end there. At a time when a young couple awaiting their first child should be excited and anxiously preparing for the birth, the realities of one’s identity mars that anticipation.

As fate would have it, Fonny is wrongly arrested for the alleged rape of a young Puerto Rican woman. A white policeman known for his racist attitudes makes the arrest. While Fonny is lingering in jail awaiting trial, Tish, her mother and sister try to fight for Fonny’s freedom but it is an uphill battle. For one, the Puerto Rican woman who was brutally raped is not to be found. Second, the one witness, a young African American who can verify that Fonny was nowhere near where the scene of the rape, is also arrested on questionable charges. As a result, Fonny remains in prison while hoping for a quick resolution of his case — a fairly standard experience for black men in Harlem of that time.

Baldwin was gifted in portraying the challenges of the American working class black family struggling to survive, economically and emotionally, recognizing how tenuous life could be when you were black and fighting a system bent on ensuring you did not succeed. It is clear that fighting racism and racist attitudes is an uphill battle for Tish and Fonny. Young black men knew if they were arrested for crimes they did not commit, they could linger in prison for years with some even dying there at worst or learning destructive lifestyles at best. The longer Fonny is incarcerated, the more he begins to accept the inevitable. Tish, though, is relentless.

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Insights from the Bible for a Scripture of True Parents

By Andrew Wilson

I recently returned from a conference in Korea that asked, “What should be in a scripture that testifies to Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon as True Parents?”

In considering this question as a biblical scholar, there is no better starting point than to examine the Bible and its testimony to Jesus Christ. The elements of that testimony made the Bible an effective witness, which spread the faith of Jesus to the more than two billion Christians throughout the world.

There are many elements to that testimony which make it effective. For example, the Gospels make effective use of narrative, present Jesus’ words as short, pithy sayings, and convey his teachings through parables and incidents that are short and easily impress themselves on the mind. Words of Jesus are interspersed with his actions, creating a dramatic narrative.

There are also conversations between Jesus and his disciples that convey his teachings. Finally, there are theological assertions about who Jesus is. Through these literary devices, the four Gospels in little over 100 pages convey a clear impression of Jesus and his work.

I would like to see a scripture of this sort written. I envision it would not be an extensive anthology like Chambumo Gyeongour current scripture of True Parents. To keep it concise, it would have to be selective rather than comprehensive. Designed to move the heart, it would be short enough to be easily digested by all people of the world.

However, I leave aside this issue of style and form, although it deserves attention in its own right. Rather, I explore certain issues of content, focusing on three points: 1) The historical context of the advent of Jesus and its significance for True Parents; 2) the lack of historical context for the advent of True Mother; and, 3) the issue of endings.

The Historical Context of the Advent of Jesus and Its Significance for True Parents

The Bible includes as historical background the providence in the Old Testament that culminates in the Jewish messianic expectations and prophecies about the Messiah. These it weaves into its accounts of Jesus.

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The Concept of Truth and the Interpretation of Scripture

By Gordon Anderson

In most seminaries and academic institutions, since the rise of critical methods of scholarship, scripture has been studied by applying methods of literary and historical criticism.

Literary criticism views scripture as human writing that conveys moral lessons, values and truths rather than the direct writing of God. Yet, it does not deny the existence of God or imply that the writing is not important to read for attaining a better personal life, a better world or closeness to God.

Historical criticism investigates the historical world around the origin of the ancient texts to better understand the worldviews that shaped the writing and aids dating of writings and events.

Here, I propose the concept of “truth criticism” as a further tool of scriptural analysis.

Theories of Truth and the Interpretation of Scripture

One part of the truth criticism I propose is based on an integral view of truth. On this site last year, Dr. Keisuke Noda described four theories of truth that have evolved since ancient times. These are: the correspondence theory of truth, coherence theory of truth, pragmatic theory of truth, and existential theory of truth. Since each of these approaches describes ways in which something can be viewed to be true, the integral theory of truth Dr. Noda proposes enables us to see in which ways something being studied is “true” and which ways it is not.

For example, historical criticism tells us that the Ten Commandments are very similar to core elements of the Hammurabi Code found on a stone stele in Persia, now on display in the Louvre. This seems to disconfirm the “correspondence theory of truth,” or literal interpretation of the Bible, that these commandments were introduced by a supernatural event in which they miraculously appeared on tablets in Mount Sinai. Those commandments were part of a larger body of knowledge that Moses could have inherited and believed to be essential conduct for a godly society.

The idea that the commandments were emblazoned by fire from a supernatural being could well be a literary device.

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Reclaiming January 1 for a Heavenly USA?

By Alan Jessen

This year, on January 1, True Mother, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, had a midnight prayer and gave a motto, an event which was live-streamed. This may be an indication of her reinstituting in some way the observance of the New Year by the solar calendar.

Why is this important?

Consider Romania.  For 45 years under communist rule, Christmas was forbidden to be celebrated as a public holiday.  By law, there was no mention of Christmas, no days off for Christmas, no “Merry Christmas,” or even Santa Claus.  The Romanian communists tried to detract from Christmas by making grandiose plans for January 1 as a public holiday.  Communist doctrine was taught in schools from kindergarten through college.  Religion was considered the opium of the masses.

Despite this, they could not remove Christmas from the hearts of the people and on December 25, 1989, when dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was no more, the Romanians broke out in joyful cries of “Cracium Fericit” or “Merry Christmas,” and shouted out at the top of their lungs.

When I finished reading about this, I asked myself, what public holiday, what tradition do we Unificationists in America have that could sustain us under such conditions for two generations?

Think about what easily recognizable annual event we have as a tradition that can serve to unite us as one family at one time across America; that affords parents an opportunity to reinforce our values of putting God in the center of our lives; and, that serves best to create lasting spiritual impressions for our young ones?

During the years True Parents lived in America, that day was God’s Day — celebrated on January 1st.

We recently finished our 2019 Holy Week in Korea — a combination of Heavenly Parents Day, True Parents Birthday and the sixth Foundation Day.  Although I never attended these events in person, I can observe that True Mother has done a fabulous job of creating a world class hyo-jeong culture experience.  It is overflowing with dance, music, high-spirited celebrations, meetings of our global leadership, and opportunities to recognize and involve world-level leaders on issues of global peace.

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