The Future Belongs to Those Who Build It

By John Redmond

Here is the good news:  The Heavenly Kingdom is coming whether or not the Unification Movement has anything to do with it.

I’ve been reading a series of future-oriented books: Al Gore’s The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, and the most interesting, Who Owns the Future? by computer scientist and father of virtual reality Jaron Lanier.

All three books tackle the same theme: how the convergence of multiple areas of science and technology, each developing at exponential rates, will transform the world in an unrecognizable way in the next 20 years. It takes about two decades for an idea to move from the lab to mass acceptance.

The iPhone debuted in 2007 and in 10 years both it and its competitors have made humans omniscient all over the planet, each with a library and powerful computer in the palm of their hand. “Google it” has become the ultimate argument settler.

In this sense, we are not predicting the future; we are timing the growth of ideas from concepts to products to mass acceptance.

The computer revolution by itself has been shocking and globally transformational and now add the imminence of robotics and the ability to end world hunger with genetically engineered protein.  Whether you like “Franken food” or not, starving people will love it.

Both artificial intelligence and robotics are on the cusp of creating either mass unemployment or a world where 80% of the people can live like the European elites did in the last century: vast houses, helpers everywhere, lots of leisure time to improve yourself, and cheap or free transportation everywhere.

Artificial Intelligence is demonstrating that it can not just calculate your bank balance in a microsecond, but predict health issues better than doctors, write better news stories than reporters, and beat anyone at Jeopardy.

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Battle of the Sexes in the Unification Movement

By Michael L. Mickler

The Unification Movement (UM) is embroiled in a battle of the sexes.

It began with the passing of Rev. Sun Myung Moon (True Father) in September 2012 and intensified as his widow, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon (True Mother), consolidated her position as head of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) and the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC or Unification Church).

The battle lines are drawn between True Mother and her eldest and youngest living sons, Hyun Jin and Hyung Jin Moon, both of whom lead break-away organizations. Conflicts among these three leaders and their followers have led to the fracturing of relationships among the movement’s membership and leave-taking by some with little or no resolution in sight.

In this struggle, gender has become a flashpoint of contention. True Mother made it clear after her husband’s passing she would assume direct authority over the UM.  Her sons condemned her presumption and stated definitively that neither she nor any female will ever be in a position to inherit True Father’s authority or lead the UM because of their gender. Thus, the dynamic of gender conflict in the post-Sun Myung Moon UM has been one of matriarchal assertion and patriarchal reaction.

This article outlines patterns of matriarchal assertion and patriarchal reaction in the UM. The concluding section proposes gender-neutrality as an alternative model of UM leadership.

Matriarchal Assertion

True Mother’s assertion of authority followed a four-stage trajectory in the years following True Father’s passing. These included 1) her assertion of leadership; 2) a critique of masculine leadership; 3) altered practices and innovations; and, 4) theological interpretations from a matriarchal perspective.

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Culture Wars: Myth or Reality?

By David Eaton

Does the “Culture War” actually exist or is it purely a myth?

In the aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, Morris P. Fiorina of the Hoover Institution published Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, in which he contends the idea of America being a “deeply divided” nation is specious.

Offering copious data, he claims a high percentage of Americans possess moderate viewpoints regarding social issues and politics, and we are not as “deeply divided” as those on the fringes of the political spectrum (or the news media) would have us believe.

Yet, the divisiveness that has become so pervasive in our culture indicates that our country is, in fact, highly polarized.

According to Fiorina, these fringe elements tend to confer with coteries who reinforce their particular perspectives and do not represent the large, moderate and politically ambivalent demographic that seeks pragmatic solutions to problems.

This is a countervailing argument to that of Pat Buchanan who has long held America is under siege due to the encroachment of non-traditional religious (or contra-religious) influences and not-so-well intentioned multiculturalists who see little or no value in the Western tradition. For Buchanan, nothing less than the soul of America is at stake.

Fiorina admits, perhaps unwittingly, that there is something to Buchanan’s claim when he states:

“The culture war metaphor refers to a displacement of the classic economic conflicts that animated twentieth-century politics in the advanced democracies by newly emergent moral and cultural ones. Even mainstream media commentators saw a “national fissure” that “remains deep and wide,” and “Two Nations under God.”… [M]any contemporary observers of American politics believe that old disagreements about economics now pale in comparison to new divisions based on sexuality, morality and religion, divisions so deep as to justify fears of violence and talk of war in describing them.”

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Interpreting the Principle: The Transformative and the Objective

By Keisuke Noda

The Unification Movement (UM) faces a number of challenges, most obviously denominational divisions. But another challenge is the relevance of the UM and its core teachings or beliefs to contemporary society and future generations who are expected to respond and succeed.

Such a challenge is difficult because it is not readily observable, and the way to approach or conceptualize this challenge is unclear. The issue is “hidden” presuppositions we take for granted that shape a wide array of our understandings and experiences.

For some, this article may seem merely an intellectual exercise. But the matter of presuppositions has far reaching implications for all practical exercises and activities, particularly the question of what they mean.

The Principle as Interpretive Framework

The Divine Principle (the Principle), the core teaching of Unificationism, provides a framework with which to interpret biblical texts, human experiences, historical narratives, and a broad range of phenomena from a theological perspective. The Principle is thus a Unificationist theoretical framework of interpretation.

But is the Principle free from interpretation? Or is human understanding necessarily interpretive and is the Principle thus subject to interpretation?

Human understanding is unavoidably interpretive and the framework of interpretation (the Principle) is subject to interpretation. I consider how one’s ontological stance affects his/her interpretation of the Principle.

First, I highlight two contrasting stances in interpreting the Principle, the objective and the transformative.

I then explore how such contrasting perspectives affect one’s interpretation of religious phenomena in Unificationism.

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America and Islam: “The Time of Humiliation” as a Determining Feature in Modern Politics

By Ronald Brown

Most commentators call the current American involvement in the Muslim world the “War against Terrorism,” “War against Islamic Extremism,” “War against Radical Islam,” or one or the other pseudonyms that politicians, analysists, and journalists have dubbed it. In essence, it is simply the latest installment in the millennium-old confrontation between the Christian and Muslim civilizations.

The Rise of Islam

Since God first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed that he was the completion of a long line of divinely inspired prophets, Islam has considered itself the authentic religion of God. Each of the many prophets from Adam and Abraham through the prophet Dhul-Kifl to Jesus revealed elements of this primal religion, but sadly their followers failed to understand the content of these revelations.

Jews turned the revelations of Abraham into a tribal religion that shunned outsiders while Christians distorted Jesus’ teachings and declared him a deity equal to God, thus abandoning the core monotheistic goal of God’s revelation. But finally, God called up still another prophet to return humanity to his path and Islam was the result.

The Golden Age of Islam

Sweeping across the Arabian Peninsula and into the heartland of the Middle East, Islam was confident that Jews would emerge from their self-imposed ghettos and embrace the “fulfillment” of the religion founded by the prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, and Christians would abandon their deification of Jesus and return to monotheism.

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How American Christians from North Korea Could Have Altered Korea’s Future in 1945

By Mark P. Barry

Few Americans realize that the hasty 1945 division of Korea and ensuing communist eradication of Christianity in the north occurred despite the efforts of a handful of uniquely qualified American officials. These men were born in the pre-World War II American Christian community in northern Korea, and were concerned, while serving in the U.S. government, about the fate of a land no less their home than America.

Historians generally maintain the U.S. government was largely uninformed about Korea during the Second World War and paid it scant attention. But these American Christians, serving in significant roles in the wartime U.S. government, sought to direct U.S. focus and efforts toward Korea. Despite their best efforts, they were unsuccessful and there is an almost complete absence from the historical record of their efforts.

Dr. George M. McCune was the best-known of these second-generation born and raised in Korea of American Christian missionaries. He became the main expert on Korea for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. His father, Rev. George S. McCune, a Presbyterian missionary, headed Union Christian College (also known as Sungsil School, both a high school and college) in Pyongyang, where, interestingly, Kim Il Sung’s father (who later married the daughter of a Presbyterian minister) attended (the late Ruth Graham, wife of Rev. Billy Graham, also attended high school there for three years).

The younger McCune was born and raised in Pyongyang, the “Jerusalem of the East,” and earned the first doctorate in the study of Korea from an American university in 1941. He served in the OSS from 1942 and the next year became Korea desk officer for the Department of State, the leading official in the U.S. government on Korean affairs. His brother, Dr. Shannon McCune, was an expert on the geography of Korea and East Asia.

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Beyond Partisanship: A Proposal to Bring Our Divided Family Together Again

 

By Jack LaValley

At a recent scholarly gathering, one participant concluded it is likely the current divisions in the Unification movement will continue indefinitely. In this article, I propose a four-pronged approach to end the polarization between the disparate groups and bring them together to fulfill the highest aspirations of Divine Principle.

I do not intend to criticize any individual, institution or leadership, but want to present a conceptual framework upon which we can overcome the historical challenge of denominational/religious division we face.

First, I discuss how reinterpreting “True Family theology” changes the rules for who can be involved in putting an end to the conflict.

I identify how the conflicting groups can shift from position-taking to problem-solving and move beyond sterile debate to engage in genuine dialogue.

I suggest a third, alternative narrative to move us beyond the limiting narratives we’ve been told thus far by the conflicting groups.

Finally, I recast the conflict in terms of a need to heal broken relationships and strengthen bonds of love between family members.

The three groups involved in the conflict (Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Family Peace Association and Sanctuary Church) employ a variety of tactics to defend their positions, such as: assuming their group is always right; giving no possibility the other parties have parts of the answer to end the conflict; always trying to prove the other party wrong; listening to find flaws and refute arguments; defending “our own version of the truth;” seeing only one side of the argument; looking for weaknesses in the other’s position; creating a winner/loser mentality; and, seeking a conclusion that supports one’s own position.

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The Merit of the Age (Or, Why I Am an Optimist)

By David Balise

What is this time in which we are living?  The rapid changes taking place now are constantly in the news: globalization, the transforming effects of technology and communication advances, the looming possibilities of artificial intelligence, driverless cars, and the increasing ability of machines to do what used to be done by humans, to name a few.

But what about the internal side of this era?  Unificationists have a dramatic insight here.  Divine Principle explains that the great acceleration of external advances we are seeing has an internal cause, a “merit of the age.”

As Divine Principle says, “spiritual and intellectual levels have gradually been elevated due to the merit of the age,” “the merit of the age has increased in proportion to the foundation of heart,” and “with the flow of history, humankind’s spirituality has become enlightened due to the merit of the age in the providence of restoration.”

We are probably much too close to this historic transformation to understand it very well; in time the changes we are living through will become much clearer.  But it’s very helpful to have some kind of framework to understand, as best we can, the internal changes taking place, and our role in those changes.

When I reflect on the work of the Unification movement and of Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon (referred to by Unificationists as Father and Mother, or True Parents), I find it helpful to think of it in three broad areas.  Together, I believe these three areas represent substantial fruits of the merit of the age.  In some areas the changes are more visible, while in other areas they are still mostly hidden.  Time will show their true worth.

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Teaching World Religions in the Age of the Clash of Civilizations

by Ronald Brown

Unification Theological Seminary is not only in the middle of New York City, the Empire City, but is literally in the middle of the world because of its unique student body. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon founded the institution in 1975 as a seminary where students, scholars and clergy of all the world’s religions would meet, interact, and hopefully engage in creative dialogue. As an  adjunct UTS faculty in world religions for the last ten years, my students have been drawn from every continent, included all age groups, and claimed worshippers of all the world’s faith communities.

Since the Seminary’s founding, the planet has moved from “The American Century” to what Samuel P. Huntington characterized in his 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, as a world engaged in a cataclysmic “clash of civilizations.”  This clash of civilizations takes place daily in my UTS classroom as well as at Touro College, a largely Jewish school where I teach, and in lectures I deliver throughout the city.

This article summarizes three separate battlefields: 1) The struggle for my students to understand their own religion from a historical and academic perspective; 2) the struggle for students to keep an open mind while studying other religions; and, 3) the struggle to elaborate new strategies in  teaching world religions in a multi-religious environment.

Understanding one’s own religion

Studying the major religions of the world sounds like a good idea to most of my students, at least until it comes to a scholarly and historical study of one’s own religion. Students are inevitably fascinated by and curious about the other religions of the world and rarely if ever doze off. But as soon as I begin lecturing about their own religion the going gets tough.

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