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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CAUSA Work in Real Life

By Thomas Schuhmann

As I studied German and English literature in order to become a teacher, I sometimes cannot help but wonder why my life led me into the profession of a security guard, teaching me to raise my fists up and staring things straight in the face instead of beating around the bush.

Let me first express my gratitude to the man of my heart, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, because he is a forgiver and on the same wavelength as a Catholic poet who I much admire, Reinhold Schneider. Schneider wrote something like: “I learned the best things in life from my enemies.”

Because I grew up with my grandmother and her three daughters, I became oversensitive in life, a freak, very far from being the “Real Man” we used to sing about in CARP.

My life had turned into a catastrophe; I became self-destructive, in the wake of my rock and roll idols. When Rev. Moon matched me to a Brazilian factory worker, he seemed to tell me in plain language: “Buddy, you’re a dreamer, so you need a hard-working wife, otherwise you will starve.” You know how arrogant students can be, heads deep in books, mistaking themselves for another Dostoevsky or whoever. In reality, they often live in an ivory tower, estranged from life.

When German unification came in 1989, sentimental pictures, cries of hurrah, brotherhood in action could be seen on TV and the mass media. Everybody was hysterically joyful, having experienced the walls of Jericho tumbling down just like in the Old Testament.

I felt bored in the West and decided to become a teacher in Brandenburg, surrounded by the old structures of the GDR. My project sank like the Titanic, but I felt so sorry that I could not befriend those people who resented me and prayed for them. I gave all my books away as presents before I left.

Back in West Germany, all those guys you really didn’t want to meet came over, tough guys who were soldiers, spies, Stasi (East German State Security) people, and rather well-prepared, they took over the jobs in the security industry, ready to rumble. What did I learn from them? I learned to work 12 hours shifts non-stop for the last 20 years, living between madness and desperation. My wife, however, stuck it out with me. It takes a Messiah to spot such a woman; I for sure would not have been able to look into the deep and find her.

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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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Mother and Child Reunion

By Thomas Schuhmann

Mother and Child Reunion” is my favorite song by Paul Simon.

My grandmother’s maiden name was also Simon. Her parents owned a restaurant in Veitshöchheim, near Wuerzburg, which has a public park with lakes and waterworks, filled with hundreds of allegorical sandstone sculptures, an enchanted place for a child to roam about. My grandmother took me there when she visited her sister.

I loved to feed the fish in the pond of the Hofgarten which were majestic carp swimming lazily about in the sunshine. In the middle of the pond was a statue of a winged horse. The carps and Pegasus, the quietness of the place, the Main river nearby, the swans: it gave me a feeling what the “mother and child reunion” could be about.

I had become a follower of my grandmother and accompanied her to our church named “The Holy Family” where she prayed the rosary in October and where she attended Mother Mary again in the month of May for devotions. I listened to the old women whispering the rosary, murmuring the holy words, in a room with a side altar. Mother Mary’s statue stood there, immaculate, holding a rosary, candles burning in front of her, the smell of wax. I read much later that the Irish poet Seamus Heaney went through a similar experience, the Catholic experience, just as Bruce Springsteen did.

The lower Franconian version of Catholicism was a religion of sadness, of somber words, mysterious details, the value of suffering was constantly stressed, the confession, the holy communion, the church songs stemming mostly from the baroque era. I developed my first Top Ten by waiting for certain songs to appear again and again each Sunday. My favorite was “O Lamb of God, innocent”:

O Lamb of God, most stainless!
Who on the Cross didst languish,
Patient through all Thy sorrows.
Though mocked amid Thine anguish;
Our sins Thou bearest for us,
Else had despair reigned o’er us:
Have mercy upon us, O Jesu!
Grant us Thy peace today, O Jesu!

The King of the world, despised! I couldn’t get this paradox into my head, but singing it made these words become one with my soul and filled me with the longing to follow the misunderstood, rejected, lonely person of Jesus Christ.

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Aquarian Angst: Woodstock at 50

By David Eaton

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival.

Flashing back to that “summer of love,” I’m reminded of two iconic before-and-after photos: one depicting a sea of humanity reveling in the music of their idols on Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York, the other revealing the horrible mess of mud and refuse left behind.

Juxtaposed, these two images are emblematic of a generation that grew up on rock and roll, loved to get high, party hard, and indulge in “free love,” often with reckless abandon. Living the Bohemian lifestyle of carefree license, unfettered by “traditional values,” became the fantasy of an entire generation — and music was at the vortex of that counterculture revolution.

The Woodstock generation waxed poetic about peace, love and universal brotherhood, and music was deemed a leading force ushering in a utopian era in which greed, selfishness and all manner of “plastic” values would be expunged. John Lennon and Yoko Ono implored us to “give peace a chance.” The hopes and dreams of an Aquarian Age, a time when “love would steer the stars,” and “we’ll study war no more” would become a reality — or so we thought.

Our love of music became a quasi-religion. “Make love, not war” was our credo, sex and drugs our sacraments, and rock ‘n roll was the music that accompanied the liturgy. In spite of our New Age optimism about making the planet a better place for our children and “getting back to the garden,” the spirit of rebellion and defiance was pervasive, and the music of the era reflected that rebelliousness.

In retrospect, Woodstock may have been more of a moment rather than a movement. As that “after” photo might suggest, the Woodstock generation has been rather messy in the ensuing decades with regard to love, life and its pursuit of happiness.

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Deep History

By Ronald Brown

“Deep history” is the deeply-rooted impulse that drives a nation, shapes the identities of peoples, and determines its present activities and future goals.

For many nations, some mythical past shaped this impulse while for new nations it is still being created. Here, I apply “deep history” to mean those primal characteristics of a people that defy the tumult of the centuries, remain immutable to individual leadership, and determine the destiny of a people.

This theory slowly evolved during my five years of university study in Jerusalem (1971-76), many visits thereafter, and most recently, my trip to the Holy Land last August.

Examples of deep history

The challenges of nationalism, socialism, communism, and Western-style separation of church and state have done little to undermine the fundamental and deeply-rooted Muslim belief that the goal of the religion is to create an Islamic state. The current global crusade to defeat so-called “Islamist ideology” is fated to failure. Muslim dedication to an Islamic state is as deeply-rooted in the faith and resistant to the vicissitudes of history as the resurrection of Jesus is in Christianity.

Western colonial expansion into North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, the 1924 abolition of the caliphate, and 1948 Jewish occupation of Palestine resulted in a rebirth of Islamic deep history. The Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al-Qaida rejected Western nationalism, socialism, communism, secularism, and separation of church and state to reunite the shattered body of the Islamic umma and restore the caliphate.

China likewise is permeated with the idea that the Confucian social, economic and political order is universally applicable, and that its destiny is to spread this model worldwide. Even during the “Century of Humiliation,” when it was at the mercy of Western imperial powers, China remained firm in the belief of its divine destiny.

Political scientist Francis Fukuyama greeted the fall of Soviet Marxism in his 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. The Soviet Empire would finally join the rest of the planet in embracing parliamentary democracy, capitalism, and the rule of law. But by 2000, Russian deep history reared its head from the rubble of the collapsed Soviet Empire and Vladimir Putin resumed Russia’s imperial march as the Third Rome.

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“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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