“Welcome to Marwen”: The Remaking of a Life

By Kathy Winings

In April 2000, just across the Hudson River from UTS’s Barrytown campus, a terrible assault took place outside a bar in Kingston, New York, an historic city that served as New York’s first capital.

Mark Hogancamp, an artist and showroom designer, was beaten almost to death by five young men using just their fists and feet. While drinking, Hogancamp had let slip that in the privacy of his own home, he was a cross-dresser. Taking exception to that, the thugs waited outside the bar and attacked him.

Suffering extensive brain damage, Hogancamp spent over 40 days in the hospital, including nine in a coma, healing and relearning how to walk, talk, eat, and trying to live a normal life.

Fortunately for him, Hogancamp awoke with no memory of the attack — but he also lost memory of his past life. It meant he had to find a way to deal with his constant anger and depression — all of which resulted from his traumatic brain injury. Thus was born the tiny village of Marwencol.

Built out of plywood scraps and other materials he found lying around, Hogancamp created an imaginary Belgian village and populated it with Barbie dolls and World War II action figures. Daily life was built around World War II narratives that he created, featuring the women as a band of heroes led by one American solider — Captain Hogie — going head to head with five Nazi soldiers in these different scenarios.

Marwencol became Hogancamp’s therapy on a daily basis. It also became a way for him to find a new career. As he played out his stories through posing the dolls in Marwencol, Hogancamp began to photograph them, ultimately coming to the public’s attention and establishing his career through gallery exhibitions that showcased his unique photographs.

This is the background story for director Robert Zemeckis’ new film, “Welcome to Marwen,” starring Steve Carell as Hogancamp and Leslie Mann as his neighbor, Nicol, who becomes his good friend as well as the inspiration for one of his female soldiers in Marwencol.

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Solving Unsolvable Problems

By Robert S. Kittel

True Mother (as Unificationists call Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, wife of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon) recently concluded her world summit tours. The first continental-level event was held in January 2018 in Senegal, Africa, and the last in December in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The hallmark of these summits, as well as programs in Korea, Japan and America, was her proclamation that she is the only begotten daughter of God. She wanted to make this bold statement on the world stage and in front of heads of state and government as well as distinguished leaders in all fields.

Including both the first and last summits, eight sitting presidents, prime ministers and monarchs attended. Additionally, in the audiences were former heads of state and government, deputy prime ministers and vice presidents, government ministers, speakers, members of parliament, elected officials, other high-level dignitaries, along with eminent religious leaders. It was a collective victory for God by us all.

In announcing she is God’s daughter at these summits, True Mother is solving one of the most critical problems of our time. In societies around the world and throughout history, women have been raped, trafficked into prostitution, beaten at home, murdered, unwillingly impregnated, and forced into life-threatening abortions (mostly when the fetus in their womb was known to be female).

The solution to the way we mistreat women will never be fully addressed through the power of police, the number of prisons, the verdicts of courts, more laws, or even the fear of capital punishment. These have been tried but the problem remains unsolved.

The lasting solution is a fundamental change of attitude towards women, incorporated in a new heart and culture. We need something original and innovative; something never thought of or done before.

No woman in history ever proclaimed on a global stage that she was God’s only begotten daughter. No woman ever invested so many resources in making this bold statement. True Mother’s investment of financial and human resources is unparalleled. At the age of 76, she is investing all her energy. For older people, extensive travel, changing time zones to distant locales, and walking through long airport corridors is very difficult.

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Physical Proof of Spiritual Energy

By Lloyd Pumphrey

There are “invisible” spiritual influences which affect people without their realizing it.

This article considers phenomena that reinforce and may prove the existence of these non-physical forces.

Initially, I intended to research “physical proof of spirit world.” However, after consideration and discussion with others, I realized there is no way to “physically” prove the existence of spirit world.  The only way to prove its existence is to open one’s spiritual senses.

There have been many attempts to demonstrate the existence of spirit world, such as The Afterlife Experiments by Gary E. Schwartz. The major flaw in these experiments was the participation of well-known spiritual mediums.  This is evidence that the only proof of spirit world or afterlife is the testimony of those who can, or have, seen it for themselves.

For the skeptic, in order for an experiment or proof to be valid, anyone should be able to experience it. For example, it is impossible for a male to experience the pain of childbirth.  He can see it, empathize with it, share the experience with his wife, but cannot feel the actual pain of childbirth.

The same goes for spirit world. Most people cannot see or feel spirit world; therefore, it cannot be proven to a skeptic on a basic level.

However, by considering proofs of spiritual energy, we may come to an understanding of it as a building block of the spirit world. Spiritual energy can and has been measured for some time through various means.

External evidence of spiritual energy

Qi is vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some Eastern systems of medical treatment (such as acupuncture) and of exercise or self-defense. It is the Chinese term for spiritual energy. There have been countless books written on Qi, but some of the most convincing proofs are filmed demonstrations that can be viewed on YouTube.

Several Qi masters, including monks and healers, have allowed themselves to be filmed showing their ability to control people’s movements without touching them, setting paper on fire, turning mud into dust, and treating patients.

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Unificationist Reflections on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

By Laurent Ladouce

Bohemian Rhapsody” — the all-time highest-grossing music biographical film in just two months since release, a huge success in Korea, and a 2019 Oscar nominee for Best Picture — has prompted me as a Unificationist to reflect on the life of singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury (1946-91).

Directed by Bryan Singer, the movie focuses on a critical period of Mercury’s life, 1970-85 (portrayed on screen by Rami Malek). We watch movies with various glasses, and among Unificationists, each of us may see “Bohemian Rhapsody” very differently.

Rather than comment in the light of the Principle, I focus in this review on a few themes from the biopic to shed light on several aspects of our teaching.

The film, for example, depicts an artist imitating the three blessings, then trying to separate from his antichrist demons. In a sense, “Bohemian Rhapsody” features Adam, Eve and the Archangel in a garden. Their behavior is quite reminiscent of our teaching on the Fall, but reveals other dimensions of sexual disorder than the typical kind of adultery. The movie helps us understand what kingship and a coronation entail.

This film also causes us to reflect on notions such as symbol, image and substance. It helps us understand the path to becoming a false idol, to becoming an iconic figure, and leaves the door open to the path of substantializing true love.

Creation, fall and redemption of an idol

“Bohemian Rhapsody” depicts the growth and ascension of one of the greatest voices in rock music (the Rock God, according to Britain’s OnePoll), and how the stage persona of Freddie Mercury was created gradually, mostly by himself, so that he became idolized by millions. In this ascent, Mercury was driven by the power of an absolute narcissism, which brought him to the summit.

We then see his spiritual and physical fall, and descent into hell. The narcissistic idol is transformed into a puppet driven into hell by sexual passion, until a ridiculous man is disguised as a king enjoying evil joy in the kingdom of loneliness.

The film ends with the consequences of his physical fall and early steps toward what can be seen as a form of human redemption. The person who has suffered so much because of sin begins the suffering course of redeeming his mistakes.

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Infallibility: Reflections from Roman Catholicism

By Franco Famularo

Should we be guided by our conscience or obey authority? Should one be loyal to the leader or be honest and straightforward? Both? Such questions have troubled human beings since antiquity.

Unificationists have at times been asked if they would obey the Founders without question with queries such as: “Would you do anything Rev. Moon asks of you?” or “Do you believe Reverend and Mrs. Moon are infallible?” After all, “absolute obedience” is a term found in the pledge regularly recited by Unificationists.

Recently, an article on this site by Dr. Michael Mickler discussing a Unificationist position on birth control referenced the 1968 papal encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae and its impact on the Roman Catholic world. As is widely known, Roman Catholics generally do not strictly follow church teachings on birth control and other matters.

Mickler’s article also demonstrated that Unificationists also apply church teachings differently on a variety of issues, including birth control. It can further be assumed that given the international nature of Unificationism, responses to authority vary depending on culture, ethnicity, upbringing, and a variety of other factors.

Regardless of theological differences, it may be helpful to study how Roman Catholics relate to papal statements on matters of faith. This article briefly explores the dogma of infallibility and how it is viewed within Catholicism, and offers some reflections in the hope of stimulating discussion about Unificationism’s relationship to conscience, culture and authority.

It has been almost 150 years since the dogma of papal infallibility was proclaimed on July 18, 1870. During the final public gathering of Vatican I, a bishop received from Pope Pius IX’s hand the document defining “Papal Infallibility.” Pastor Aeternus contains the following statement that has been the subject of intense debate to this day:

“The Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he discharges his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals, that is to be held by the universal Church, through the Divine assistance promised him in St. Peter, exercises that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed to endow his church.”

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Adding Tools for Building a New World

By Rob Sayre

One assumption suggested by the Divine Principle and Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon’s theology is that applying the fundamental lessons and tools for the individual and family to ever-larger spheres will produce similar results as can occur on the individual and family levels.

It is my experience and belief that we also need improved tools to build successful extended families, tribes, communities, nations, and a world of peace.

This article discusses a few tools and provides a cursory overview that can aid in building a culture and communities centered upon God. It builds upon my previous article, “Converting Good Intentions into Results.” The tools discussed were used in the development of the Shehaqua Ministries.

First, some introductory quotes on leadership and the family as the cornerstone of society:

“The man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others.” Analects 6.28 (Confucianism)

“The Way lies at hand yet it is sought afar off, the thing lies in the easy yet it is sought in the difficult. If only everyone loved his parents and treated his elders with deference, the Empire would be at peace.” Mencius IVA (Confucianism)

“Family education determines the future destiny of the entire nation. When there are many families living by the principle of public service, the nation will flourish; when there are many families living with a private standard, the nation will perish.” (31:243) Rev. Sun Myung Moon, June 4, 1970

Do Good and Righteous People Create Good and Effective Organizations?

The simple answer is: not necessarily. It’s true that without a quorum of righteous people in any community, organization or nation, creating a good society is a tough slog. New tools, however, make the job easier and more people can be involved in the effort.

The tools of Cain-Abel relationships, leadership and governance rooted in biblical stories and Confucian thought applied to the individual, family, and extended family provide valuable insights into Western culture and indeed the world.

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Do Animals Have Eternal Souls?

By Peter Stephenson

What happens to animals when they die is a question many people wonder about, especially those who form close bonds with animals.

Do animals experience the meaningless oblivion that atheists insist await us all or do they transition to another plane as people of faith believe is their own fate after the body fails?

As we observe animals give and receive joy, love, and also suffer true grief over the loss of their offspring or human companions, it is difficult to still hold that they do not have a soul.

But nor is it easy to imagine that, on completion of our life on earth, we transfer to the afterlife to find it teeming with the souls of every biological creature that has ever lived like some overstocked Jurassic Park — tens of millions of years’ worth of T-Rex’s and every other dinosaur that ever lived and died on earth.

The former is hard to accept as we have experience of forming deep and reciprocal loving bonds with animals, and as love is a spiritual element, that would imply there is something spiritual being loved by us and returning love to us.

The latter is hard to accept because it just seems so bizarre that thousands of trillions of animals would pile up in the afterlife as the earth and possibly other planets swarm and crawl with creatures in a continuous generational cycle.

But life and existence itself is bizarre when you think about it. Something cannot be said to be untrue just because it seems bizarre. In any case, the real estate in the afterlife may well accommodate any number of arrivals. However, believing something exists because we have a deep emotional and spiritual relationship with it is quite rational.

“Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:21)

The idea that animals do not have souls has no scriptural basis. It’s just something people communally decided. In my view, they did so to artificially accentuate their own importance in the scheme of things and to God. This came from insecurity as it is not actually necessary to establish uniqueness in order to have intrinsic eternal value and to be counted as a child of God. Others need not be excluded so that we can be included. Our status before God is not a zero sum game.

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Religions that Thrive and Religions that Die

By Ronald Brown

Jacques Marion is one of those first generation Unificationists who, he told me, “dropped everything” when he met Reverend Moon and set off to spread the teachings and vision of Unificationism to the world.

He described his years as a missionary in Russia and Africa and the enthusiastic welcome the movement is receiving there. He concluded that it was in times of turmoil and trouble that people are most open to new and often radical solutions. Russia and Africa were in such states when he was there and largely remain so until today.

My conversation with Jacques and other Unificationist missionaries evoked major questions regarding how religions take root, thrive or die.

Why did Buddhism thrive in China, Korea, Japan, and South Asia, while it all but disappeared in its Indian homeland? Why did the Russians adopt Greek and not Roman Christianity, or even Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism as their national religion? Why is Evangelical Christianity sweeping the USA while mainline Christian churches are at best lingering?

In Paris this past summer, I decided to explore how Catholicism became and remains the dominant religion of France. My experience there led me to reflect on how Unificationism might fare in Africa.

The Thermes de Cluny: The latest in modern technology

In the early centuries after Christ, the Gauls swept out of the forests of northern Europe, eliminating all traces of Roman civilization in front of them. They sacked Rome in 387 B.C. but mighty Rome was not so easily humbled. Rome drove them out and back into their primeval forests. Finally, between 58 and 51 B.C. Julius Caesar conquered the barbaric Gauls and founded the city of Lutetia along the banks of the Seine River among the local Gallic tribe of the Parisii.

Little remains of the Roman town of Lutetia except for the underground ruins of the Roman Northern Baths beneath the ruins of the medieval Monastery of Cluny. Of all that remains of the ancient Roman bathhouse the most impressive and insightful was a massive marble bathtub dating from the 2nd century. According to the sign, the tub was made in Rome and brought to Lutetia to serve the ruling elite in the gigantic domed bathhouse.

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Where Are We Going and How and Why?

By Michael Hentrich

In some ways it seems our movement is suffering from an identity crisis.

Many of us are not really clear about where we are going or how we are trying to get there and why, even if we are doing our best to unite with True Mother. (The “we” in this article addresses Unificationists who understand Rev. and Mrs. Moon as the True Parents of humankind and who strive to fulfill their vision and directions)

Everything Father asked us to do was for multiple purposes. When we did campaigns, for example, we did it for our own spiritual experience and development, to make a good condition for ourselves, for the movement, for America and the providence, and usually it was to help create social and political capital so Father could get more social and political leverage and influence.

In addition, it was also to create a mechanism by which to overcome the exploding world population (there are 1.6 million more people on this earth every week!). And, it was also to stir up, inspire and motivate the spirit world.

When we went to workshops, it was to improve our personal understanding, elevate our ancestors, and hopefully improve our level of enthusiasm and commitment to the providential life we live every day.

When we went to Cheongpyeong, it was to bring healing to our ancestors and other spirits who were dragging us down, clean up our own spirit, nurture us through the educational classes, and hopefully inspire and empower us to be more active and effective back home.

So, there were multiple reasons for everything that we and Father did.

What about our lives today? What are we doing and why? Where are we trying to go in the long-term and short-term? We like to do campaigns, events and programs. That is what we did for the past 40 years. We should keep doing them. We know how to do them. We can bring some guests. We felt good doing them and we could make a positive report to headquarters and to True Parents.

Did we bring success? It depends what we were trying to accomplish. What were we trying to accomplish? People participated in our campaigns, events and programs, but too often they didn’t go deeper with us and become members. Why not?

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