Giving an Adversary the Respect They May Not Deserve

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Note: This article from Nov. 11, 2013 is being re-posted on Applied Unificationism in remembrance of Antonio Betancourt (1944-2022).

By Mark P. Barry

In April 1990, after his Moscow meeting with Soviet President Gorbachev, Rev. Sun Myung Moon asked Antonio Betancourt, Secretary General of the Summit Council for World Peace, to reach out on his behalf to North Korea. Dr. Betancourt had many years’ experience working with former heads of state and government from Latin America and elsewhere. On several occasions, Rev. Moon gave him specific instructions how to conduct diplomacy prior to undertaking this overture.

Shortly afterward, Dr. Betancourt started to visit North Korean embassies in Beijing, Lisbon and other world capitals. He would walk into an embassy, introduce himself and his affiliation, and quickly would be bodily escorted outside, and told he was not welcome. The reason was our worldwide movement’s strong anticommunist stance. Although he gave them the precedent of Rev. Moon’s meeting Gorbachev, it made no difference.

Through sheer persistence, he eventually impressed the North Korean diplomats because he showed both a willingness to listen, as well as displayed a refreshing attitude. On one occasion, he went to the North Korean UN mission in New York and met with their deputy ambassador. This official carried on for three hours condemning the United States, Japan and South Korea for many of the North’s ills. Dr. Betancourt said that once he did his best not only to endure the diatribe but listen attentively, an unexpected change in the atmosphere occurred.

The North Korean diplomat suddenly became curious and willing to listen to what he had to say. The deputy ambassador was amazed this visitor had taken his verbal punishment, digested it, and was willing to proceed to more constructive conversation. What came from this meeting led to Dr. Betancourt’s first of 17 visits to Pyongyang in May 1991, accompanied by Rodrigo Carazo, former president of Costa Rica.

Once in Pyongyang, Dr. Betancourt’s real test began. He was subjected to verbal berating for two days, despite being a state guest, because the North Koreans wanted to test his true intentions and capacity to deal with them. He concluded they do not trust someone unless proven trustworthy. This is part of understanding and managing North Koreans’ complex logic used when dealing with those with whom they have grievances.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bo Hi Pak, assisted by Dr. Betancourt, laid the foundation for Rev. and Mrs. Moon’s historic meeting with President Kim Il Sung in November 1991, as chronicled in Chapter 20 of Dr. Pak’s Messiah: My Testimony to Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Vol. II.

Dr. Betancourt notes, “Dr. Pak practiced the application of Rev. Moon’s teachings in his diplomacy and exemplified the principle of respecting and honoring everyone, including his enemies. He could speak very strongly against communism in his lectures, but in personally dealing with adversaries, he never demonized them. That’s why he could convince North Korea to invite Rev. and Mrs. Moon to Pyongyang. Without Dr. Pak’s sincerity, that would never have worked.” He adds, “When Rev. Moon embraced Kim Il Sung, it was not a political act or a pose for a photo-op. It was a heart-to-heart embrace that won Kim Il Sung’s heart. Father understood the art of turning enemies into friends.”

Continue reading “Giving an Adversary the Respect They May Not Deserve”

Unearthing My DNA: The Lost Sister

By Eileen Williams

It’s natural to presume that family are the people who think like us, are born into the same cultural group, share similar political stances, and even look like us. A homogenous comfort zone called “family” might be nice to ponder, but the reality is often a far cry from this rosy Rockwell-esque tableau.

The unexpected discovery of a half-sibling made me re-think “family” and my place in it down to my very core. To put this in a Unificationist perspective: the reality of tribal messiahship with diverse members spanning two coasts and two continents sometimes requires both flying far and digging deep.

It was Thanksgiving 2020, and I was participating in a Zoom meet-up through my local library with Libby Copeland, author of The Lost Family: How DNA is Upending Who We Are. That might make a good Christmas present for someone, I thought, unawares that the very person to benefit from the book would be me.

Inspired by Copeland’s case studies delving into family heritage — its twists, turns, and surprises, the medical miracles, the family drama — I turned to my sister Mary: “Let’s buy ourselves Ancestry.com DNA test kits for Christmas.”

Mary and I were curious about where in Ireland our relatives came from; she was readying to visit my father’s second cousins in Germany. However, we had not anticipated that we were about to “out” our own family skeleton, although that doesn’t seem a nice way to describe a newly-found half-sister.

After Christmas, I received my test results, and there staring back at me from the Ancestry.com website was a photo of a woman tagged as a first degree relative. I determined after a few stunned moments that she could neither be aunt, niece, nor cousin but rather was/must be a half-sister (really?).

She had lurked on the Ancestry.com site for two years hoping to “strike” a match. I would come to learn that she had longed most of her adult life for someone — anyone — she could call family. And strike a match she did.

Although myself and three of my siblings had managed to forge a bond despite the childhood rupture of divorce, my younger adopted sister cut all ties with the rest of us. Sadly, family is not always what folks want to find, and sometimes it’s even those we want to lose. Yet, here on the site was a half-sister hoping desperately to discover family connections.

The first thing I learned about DNA testing is people can inherit different pieces of DNA from their ancestral gene pool. One does not neatly inherit 25% of your genetic traits from each grandparent, and then 12.5 % from each great grandparent; rather hereditary traits are expressed in a random manner.

My sister and I share a 58% DNA match, which is normal for siblings or fraternal twins; identical twins share a 100% DNA match. My sister has a higher percent of Scottish DNA than I do (ah, the red in her hair!).  My half-sister was a 27% DNA match with me.

All humans share 99.9% percent DNA in common, so why bother researching your genealogy at all?  Some DNA test sites suggest you can form meaningful connections from doing this — second and third cousin discoveries, famous relatives. Maybe your ancestors go back to a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as a proud friend of mine discovered.

Continue reading “Unearthing My DNA: The Lost Sister”

A Proposal to Allocate More Resources for Counseling

By Incheol Son

A two-year-old child sat on the floor in a relative’s house, wearing only one piece of knit in the cold winter. He was staring aimlessly and couldn’t recognize who had come before him.

This boy had forgotten the faces of his mother and father. He was left there all alone in “separation” from his parents who went out for witnessing. Immediately after his father saw the baby, his father escaped to the kitchen and cried quite a while.

This is the story my mother shared with me. It was about me. In fact, I have no recollection of it.

But, I surely recall the day when I tried to describe that scene in a testimony at a workshop. All those listening suddenly cried along. They were all second generation and had similar experiences as mine. I came to realize it was not just an individual but a collective one.

From a psychological point of view, however, the vulnerable little boy was exposed to an “overwhelming” event to lose his parents in his earliest years by being abandoned in what for him was a strange place. I had to face a series of similar events that continued to take place afterward, such as my mother’s sudden disappearance to go witnessing and my father’s quitting his job to become a pastor.

These experiences were very damaging to a child, though it’s been theologically justified as “indemnity” to build a condition that UC members tried to love the world more than their own children. I was educated in training programs to accept the logic as such. I tried and it worked — for a while.

I’ve even been encouraged to sublimate such primal wounds. But, they have never gone away. Rather they’ve accumulated; the emotional lump of trauma is still active inside me. And, now I realize it has kept influencing my life.

For example, I have a kind of “fear” of facing strangers, new people. Some say it’s just my character. And so I’ve also been encouraged not only to overcome it personally but to apply the ideal model of engaging in a new relationship. But, it’s like the fear of heights I have. I just react naturally to it. Fear is a psychological “symptom” of trauma.

When I served briefly as a pastor, one Japanese woman who had married a Korean man approached me for counseling. Her husband had no faith at the time and so was more like a secular man. He just joined the church because his older sister, from a senior blessed couple, had urged him to get married. The application forms were submitted and the man was able to participate in the blessing ceremony though he was not fully qualified.

On the other hand, the Japanese wife, who graduated from a renown university in Japan, entered the blessing by hope and faith. But the reality she had to face afterward in South Korea was far from what she had dreamed. Her specific difficulty she shared with me was her husband’s habit of inviting his friends over in the evenings. She had to welcome and serve those unexpected guests every time, but she, who already had two children and was pregnant with her third, couldn’t feel happiness from his habits.

Continue reading “A Proposal to Allocate More Resources for Counseling”

My Fellow Christians: We Are Challenged to Make the Case for Faith Itself

By Robert Duffy

Dear Christians,

Let me clearly state I have the greatest respect for Jesus, my Savior and Messiah. And I have great respect for the church universal that Jesus established after his death and resurrection, and which has served, however imperfectly, to care for our Heavenly Parent and to further God’s providence of salvation.

But it seems to me there are many in our culture who are philosophically Christian, but not church-goers — would-be Christians who have become discouraged as I had in my teenage years.

In my current experience, churches today can deliver a somewhat satisfying experience on the spiritual and emotional level, but without a more credible philosophical substrate, lack the capacity to support a moral or ethical context on which further societal development can be built.

More modern referents are called for — those of technology, film, popular culture, science, art, and social media — in telling the story of salvation, promoting the predominant need for moral transformation and spiritual growth rather than a rescue from sinful depravity, although that approach is sometimes appropriate. Many consider social salvation more important than mere personal salvation, though the causal relationship should be clear.

The world today is experiencing some of the worst convulsions from the widest possible number of sources in history — wars, extreme climate change, ideological and cultural conflict, dysfunctional social systems, family and societal breakdown, to name a few.

One of the factors holding a society together, historically, has been the acceptance of similar values among its citizens, values which most of the population held in common.

In our age — with peoples and their cultures, languages and customs interacting in sometimes competitive and combative ways, sharing space with each other through the relative ease of migration and travel — societies, particularly in the developed world, have experienced unprecedented levels of social confusion as the demographic complexion of nations changes, and with it, the political and spiritual environments.

And so, dear Christians, although we may feel that our religion is the greatest (and final) one, our witness to Christ in our time must take on an interreligious character. Indeed, we are challenged not to convert people of other faiths to ours, as much as to make the case for faith itself, allowing God to move in us in our ways of thinking and acting in the world. The real object of our evangelical efforts is the modern cynic, agnostic or atheist, devoid of faith and unable to realize the omnipresence of our Creator God in their midst in everyday life.

But to reach said cynics, it will be important to have an intellectually sound basis for advocating a perspective of faith. A common value system, based on biblically-rooted first principles, would be interesting if and only if it was able to encapsulate the essentials of both a spiritual and physical view of life. In other words, it would have to embrace both religion and science.

Continue reading “My Fellow Christians: We Are Challenged to Make the Case for Faith Itself”

How to Meet My Ancestors: A Theory of Spirit

By David Burton

For me one of the more fascinating requests Rev. Sun Myung Moon gave to us was his request to WRIST in 1984 to develop technology to communicate with spirit world. It is not something I would ever have thought of doing myself, but after I became aware of the problem he posed, it has stayed with me throughout my spiritual life.

The possibility of such technology requires a re-envisioning of what spirit world is. From 2005, and for about seven years, I was part of an online spirit world machine (SWM) discussion group called Technician2, or T2 for short, dedicated to keeping alive the dream of building a SWM. We even began some rudimentary experimentation, which, unfortunately, did not yield any results.

What we did have was lots of discussion, and differences of opinion, but that just petered out over time because we had nothing constructive to show for our work. It was on the science that things got stuck — and are still stuck. We agreed that spirit world existed and could be communicated with, but for a SWM we needed more than that. What we lacked was an experimentally testable theory about the nature of spirit world. Without such a theory we were groping in the dark while hoping for someone in spirit world to turn the light on.

Fortunately, our group was not completely in the dark. We did receive some communication through a medium in 2009 that we should look for a digital interface and that the Internet was being developed as a SWM. These insights, combined with my own writing on Divine Principle and Unification Thought, have led to the theory I present here. I am not claiming this must be true; just that it is a possible explanation for the nature of spirit world, one I believe is compatible with science. It is fully natural and potentially amenable to experimental investigation — in other words, a theory that could be tested experimentally.

Divine Principle

My beginning point is in Divine Principle and a passage I had read, re-read, and overlooked again and again for years. I believe this passage to be one of the most important in the Principle of Creation:

When [subatomic] particles join with each other through the reciprocal relationships of their dual characteristics, they form an atom. Atoms, in turn, display either a positive or a negative valence. When the dual characteristics within one atom enter into reciprocal relationships with those in another atom, they form a molecule. Molecules formed in this manner engage in further reciprocal relationships … [EDP, p. 16]

For us today, with our contemporary scientific knowledge, this seems obvious, even perhaps old-fashioned. Yet I believe it to be the key to the whole of the Principle of Creation, and is what allows the explanation in Divine Principle to be continuous with science. Here in one paragraph is the basic understanding of existence as presented in Divine Principle. We can restate it in one sentence: existing beings are compound beings of particles in relationship. That’s it. However, the implications of this simple statement are enormous.

Continue reading “How to Meet My Ancestors: A Theory of Spirit”

Idealism, Empiricism and Realism in Rev. Moon’s Philosophy

By Keisuke Noda

Conceptual frameworks for interpretation determine the limits, or horizons, of human understanding. This applies to the interpretation of Unificationism, the philosophy of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Here, I look to Platonic idealism and Aristotelian empiricism as two frameworks to interpret “reality;” and I use these frameworks to explore how we can draw out different aspects of Unificationism.  One can certainly use other perspectives to disclose other dimensions of Rev. Moon’s philosophy.

Nevertheless, I use these frameworks to explore how we interpret and relate to Unificationism, and conclude by looking at fishing to highlight the radical realism of Unificationism.

Platonic Idealism: Divine Principle

The most common reading of Rev. Moon’s thought is as a form of Platonic idealism. This aspect of Unificationism is best described in Divine Principle, the core teaching of Unificationism presented in the Exposition of the Divine Principle, the main text of Unificationism. Unificationists, for the most part, understand Unificationism from the way it is presented in this text.

Plato described in his Republic his ideal state as a hierarchical society governed by the Philosopher-King. Likewise, Unificationism presents the Heavenly Kingdom as a society governed by the Second Advent, the “True Parents.” Just as the Philosopher-King, who “knows” the ultimate truth, can tell others what to do, the Kingdom of Heaven is portrayed in the Divine Principle as a hierarchical society where True Parents are the central channel who convey God’s Will and His messages.

Plato viewed the unchangeable and eternal, such as the Ideas of Good, Beauty and others, as reality, and the changeable or temporal as less real, a sort of shadow of eternal Ideas. Hence, the world of Ideas, where souls go after leaving the body in death, is the real world. Accordingly, reality is grounded elsewhere, in another world.  Although Unificationism presents the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth as the ideal, the society it envisions is still a Platonic hierarchical idealistic world under the Messianic “True Parents,” and so the center of gravity exists in Ideas that are eternal, absolute and unchanging.

When I joined CARP, a student organization of the Unification Church, in 1970 on the Waseda University campus in Tokyo, a place occupied by communist radicals, I was inspired by this Platonic vision. Idealism, be it Marxism or Unificationism, was appealing to youth in the 1960s and ‘70s. The majority of my classmates joined Marxist movements to build a socialist utopia. A “Grand Narrative,” a one-size-fits-all theory of modernism, was dominant as the spirit of the era. Many approached these theories through the question of which grand narrative was right, rather than questioning whether a grand narrative was the right approach to begin with. Hence, the Unificationist grand narrative appealed to me as a 19-year-old college student, and I joined CARP to build an ideal world.

Continue reading “Idealism, Empiricism and Realism in Rev. Moon’s Philosophy”

Who Are We Really? Spiritual Psychotherapy and Understanding the Self

My interest in spiritual psychotherapy stems from over 40 years as a student of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Divine Principle.  This was a life changing event for me filled with the hope of transforming myself into a spiritually conscious individual embodying love for all and ill for no one.

 

When my wife, Laura, departed the earth plane in 2006, I had an epiphany that it was imperative for me to take responsibility for my own spiritual development beyond the level of the Divine Principle.

 

Today, my journey has brought me to conclude that the Divine Principle is a religious philosophy that can transform the way we understand the original world as created by God, including the historical processes that will bring it to fruition, but is not a transformative principle to change the individual.

 

Spiritual transformation, enlightenment, or whatever name you give it is an individual responsibility that requires each person to seek help in his or her self-discovery process.  I believe the practice of spiritual psychotherapy is one of the ways to the next level of spiritual development after religious training in Unificationism.

 

“In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth” (Gen. 1:1). This quote postulates that the initial idea of God’s Creation was for the existence of a spiritual and material realm as described by Moses. Thus, one can extrapolate today that humanity’s existence between Heaven and Earth is a mysterious connection between these two realms that is still being explored.

 

As we search for the meaning of our existence between Heaven and Earth, it can serve as a metaphor for our search to understand a much more basic connection — that between the human spirit and mind. Their function as a harmonious, integrated system of processes and energies has been the domain of both scientific research and religious faith.

 

The discipline of spiritual psychotherapy has endeavored to unlock the mysterious connection between the spirit and the mind as a means of solving a problem that dates back to the Fall of Man and the accompanying social problems associated with it. Many of these social problems are aligned with mental health issues.  Let me address how well spiritual psychotherapy has been able to increase our understanding of the intricacies in the spirit/mind system that would enable the development of procedures and techniques to eliminate human mental and spiritual suffering.

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Spiritual Connections: Living in the Flow of God’s Love

By Gordon L. Anderson

Spiritual Connections: Living in the Flow of God’s Love (Circle of Angels Press, 201 pp., 2022) is an engaging spiritual autobiography of Nora Spurgin, who joined what was then called the Unified Family (later Unification Church) in New York in 1967. She served in many central positions as the movement led by Rev. Sun Myung Moon developed into a new global culture. Nora’s identity is shaped by her connections to others in her lifelong pursuit to be in the flow of God’s love.

Her story begins with her ancestors who came to America for religious freedom. Her sixth great grandfather authored Confessions of Faith, which is still used for religious instruction among the Mennonites. She grew up in Lancaster County, PA, in a farming community with large families, connected to her parents, siblings, extended family, and nature. Life was a mixture of hard work, fun play, and worship of God. Personal responsibility and maintaining the community was stressed. Her community was self-sufficient. Nora learned to design and sew clothes and her father even taught her every step in building a house!

At a young age, Nora’s curiosity prompted her to ask questions about her faith in comparison to Catholics and others. She studied the people she met, wanting to learn behavior patterns and whether people were genuine or putting on a façade. She learned to approach others with confidence. While Nora wanted to learn fastidiously, her parents believed outside education would corrupt children’s faith. She dropped out of high school after one year and worked at home and in a sewing factory until she turned 21 and became a free adult. Then she grabbed lots of books, studied, passed the GED exams, and set out on the world.

A Mennonite Voluntary Service program caring for children of migrant workers in Florida exposed Nora to poverty and other cultures and broadened her faith. In college, she loved philosophy and history. On weekends she visited and served people in Appalachia, and experienced charismatic spiritual events. Then she went on for her master’s degree in social work at New York University. The intellectual confrontations and big city life were far different than life on a simple Mennonite farm. Through all her encounters, she continued her search for connections to God and was prepared to meet the Unification Church.

Continue reading “Spiritual Connections: Living in the Flow of God’s Love”

A Remedial Shift to the Esau-Jacob Model: An Internal Monologue

By Incheol Son

As a second-generation Unificationist, I’ve suffered for a long time from the Cain-Abel model, a prototype relationship that has been applied to almost all kinds of personal as well as official relationships in the Unification movement.

The Cain-Abel model in the Divine Principle is one of the key concepts that have long been promoted. It describes the nature of relationships inside the first human family that ended with great tragedy. The relationship was of the two offspring of the first human ancestors, Adam and Eve. It was the start of a subsequent series of unhappy historical events for God after their fall.

On the other hand, there’s the very successful story of the grandchildren of Abraham, the model of Esau-Jacob, which has not been promoted that much relative to the Cain-Abel model. Yet, it was surely a restored and successful relationship and thus it laid the foundation for the birth of the Messiah, Jesus, from the family’s lineage. The reason why this latter model has been less promoted is the Esau-Jacob model is full of fallen human nature such as deception, running away, fighting back, betrayal, and total surrender in fear.

But, I believe now is the time we may need to intentionally move on to the next phase and start promoting the Esau-Jacob model more than habitually sticking to the first tragic Cain and Abel model. This is mainly because a trauma has been bequeathed to us, especially to the second and third generations, as a scar deep in our spirit. We’ve been inculcated with such traumatic and guilty feelings from early on, even from the mother’s womb, in the cradle, at Sunday service, to the university, the church, and providential organizations.

Fortunately, I am now somewhat recovered from such traumatic feelings.

The release from these traumatic feelings occurred when I realized the Cain-Abel model did not fit with reality all the time and was not the only model we could apply to human relationships. I rediscovered there was another model of human relationships between Esau and Jacob that had brought a great victory to the history of the providence. Yes, it is full of less admirable aspects of human nature such as deception. But I believe Abel should have been wiser in front of his elder brother Cain. It would have been much better than being killed by him. Abel should have been able to lie to Cain sometimes for the sake of the higher good. The first lie or deception in human history would have been much better than falling victim in the first homicide.

Continue reading “A Remedial Shift to the Esau-Jacob Model: An Internal Monologue”

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