Does the Unification Movement Flourish More Under Republican Administrations?

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By Michael L. Mickler

Mickler full-sizePundits and candidates continually debate which of the two major political parties is better for the United States, particularly on the economy and keeping the peace.

During the most recent election cycle, Hillary Clinton claimed, “The economy always does better when there’s a Democrat in the White House.” On the other hand, it has been pointed out that all of the major U.S. wars in the 20th century—World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam—were entered by Democratic administrations while Republicans began détente and ended the Cold War peaceably. Partisans on both sides argue their positions, mostly to the bewilderment of the public.

If the situation is murky with respect to the economy and war, Republicans and Democrats have settled into less ambiguous postures vis-à-vis religion. Gallup Poll research shows, “Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party,” whereas “non-religious Americans” are significantly more supportive of the Democratic Party, the exception being Black Americans who are “very religious on average” and heavily Democratic.

Pew Foundation research indicates the same. A recent study showed, “About two-thirds (68%) of white evangelicals either identify as Republicans or lean Republican” while “61% of those who do not identify with any religion lean Democratic.” This has led to a “God Gap” between the two parties.

Still, the question is whether Republican administrations lead to the flourishing of religion in general or, for the purpose of this article, to the flourishing of the Unification movement.

Simply put, “very religious” American churches and organizations, which include the Unification movement, do better under Republican administrations but not because of Republican administrations. Rather, the social forces and conditions that sweep Republicans into power are the same ones that reinforce values and goals of “very religious” Americans.

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“Collateral Beauty”: A Conversation with Time, Death and Love

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By Kathy Winings

kathy_winings_3_profileThe death of a child is probably the most devastating experience a parent can go through. This is made all the more devastating when the child is very young and has just begun to spread his or her wings.

This is the experience of Howard Inlet (Will Smith) in the new film “Collateral Beauty.” Howard’s whole life has been turned upside down with the death of his six-year old daughter. Unable to deal with her death, Inlet, once the creative force behind a successful New York advertising agency, withdraws completely from life. Over the year following her death, he only comes to the office to create massive and intricate domino-like designs that he proceeds to topple once the masterpiece is complete. He retreats so far into his grief that he does not eat or sleep, does not communicate with his business partners and friends, sits alone in a dark apartment, and cycles recklessly through the city day in and day out.

During one of his daily cycling rides, Howard appears to stumble on a support group for parents who have lost a child. He finds himself periodically sitting in on their meetings only to leave if asked to share about his experience. Over time, he begins conversing with the group’s director (Naomie Harris) who also lost a child, a six-year old daughter, to cancer. It is during one of their conversations that she shares a concept that helped get her through her grief. This concept is the phrase “collateral beauty.” As she describes it, collateral beauty is recognizing the possibilities of meaning and beauty that are all around us even in the midst of death and pain. But Inlet cannot move past the pain of his loss and cannot or will not acknowledge what happened to his daughter.

Trying to salvage a now-suffering business and also wanting to reach out to their friend, Howard’s business partners Claire (Kate Winslet), Whit (Edward Norton) and Simon (Michael Peña) take the drastic step of hiring a private detective to follow Howard in the hope of obtaining evidence that can be used to force him to turn over his controlling stock in the agency.

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What Does “Begotten” Really Mean? How Misunderstanding Words Can Lead to Unnecessary Division

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By Franco Famularo

ro.vis1b_3343.famularo.f51The English word “begotten” is problematic for Unification teaching both within the Unification family and in efforts of Unificationists to reach out beyond Unification circles – especially, but not limited to, Christians. This article seeks a mediating position.

There are too many lessons from history that demonstrate how one letter, one word or one phrase led to divisive misunderstanding, and in some historical and exceptional cases, violent conflict.

For brevity, consider that the Christian church in the third and fourth century eventually split over the use of one letter.

Was Jesus “homoousios” (ομοούσιος) or “homoiousios” (ὁμοιούσιος)?

Without knowing Greek, it is easy to miss the nuances. However one of the main issues at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. was whether Jesus was of the same substance as God (homoousios) or of a similar substance (homoiousios). The letter “i” made all the difference.

This led to the split between Arius, who believed Jesus was of a similar substance but not God himself and Athanasius and those who eventually aligned themselves with Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea and concluded that Jesus was of the same substance — God himself.  In the view of Nicean Christianity, Jesus is God.

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Medicine: Eastern or Western, Conventional or Complementary?

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By Catriona Valenta

img_0437-jpg_lucid_1Let me declare a conflict of interest. My career as a provider of Western medicine has greatly influenced me, and I have never chosen complementary medicine myself, nor have I recommended it to my patients.  And 38 years of membership of a spiritual organization has not left me unaffected. I have long been fascinated by the sometimes fine line between science, spirituality and superstition.

It is undeniable that there has been an enormous surge of interest in “alternative medicine,” and with the ageing of our own UC baby boomers, many of us have friends who may be tackling serious illness with non-conventional treatments.

What did Reverend Moon mean when in his 1987 speech to health care professionals in our movement he said we need a careful blending of the Eastern concept of medicine (what is already being done in the Orient) with Western medicine?

I offer my answers to the following questions:

  • What is the “Eastern concept” of medicine? How can we define Eastern and Western medicine? Is it a purely geographical distinction? Where does alternative medicine fit in?
  • What can the different approaches contribute to make a system of health care that is holistic, principled and ethical?
  • How can we make informed and balanced decisions and as health care professionals help our patients to do the same? What sources of information are trustworthy?
  • Why do so many people shun Western medicine and chose alternative therapies?

Definitions

“Western medicine” is a system based on science, and is “evidence-based.” Many cringe at this term, but can one criticize the wisdom of “the judicious use of best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients?”

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Meaning, Vacuum and Autonomy

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By Keisuke Noda

Keisuke_NodaExistential Vacuum” is a term coined by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor psychiatrist, best known for his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. It is the concept used to describe the meaninglessness or emptiness of life.

Critical issues in the Unification Movement (UM), such as denominational rifts and other matters previously unknown to the general membership, pose fundamental questions for Unificationism, both in theory and practice.  Even the most devoted members who sacrificed years or decades face complex, challenging questions, one of which is the meaning of their lives in the past, present and future.

A worldview (belief system) works as a framework of interpretation and serves as a framework to interpret one’s identity and life’s events. It is quite natural to encounter challenges when there is a shift in this framework since it affects how one sees the self and the world.

In this article, I explore how the meaning of life is always and necessarily individuated (no one can live another person’s life; death is uniquely yours) and the negligence of individual autonomy leads to feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness (Existential Vacuum). Although Unificationism in theory holds the development of the autonomous individual as one of its ideals, an uncritical (blind) faith stance can prevent it and lead one to fall into an “existential vacuum.” I illustrate how an existential vacuum can underlie even religious faith and how one can reconstruct the meaning of life by restoring one’s autonomy.

Why Meaning Matters?

The first question is why meaning matters. No matter what you do and how you do it, the question of why is unavoidable. Without an answer to the “why” of life, there is an emptiness that manifests itself in boredom, apathy, and even despair. Even if you try to avoid the question, the question flows from life itself.

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Predestination of the Only-Begotten Daughter

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By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pm“Who am I?” Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon opened her talk. She was at East Garden on December 4, speaking to some 300 teenagers and young adults. Not waiting to sort out their replies, she answered her own question: “I am the only-begotten daughter.”

She then explained that Adam and Eve had a growing period in which to fulfill their responsibility and, as a result, receive the marriage Blessing. But they became self-centered and never received that Blessing. She told her listeners: “It is the same with you. Your essence is True Parents. Your responsibility is to receive the Blessing.”

Mother Moon’s talks such as this have stimulated much discussion of the term “only-begotten daughter.” Some consider it a “heresy.” A well-known Korean lecturer is reported to have said, “The Only-begotten Daughter as Mother describes it does not exist.” The article citing him states that Mother Moon describes Only-begotten Daughter as “being born without Original Sin.”  I think this does not do justice to her self-presentation as only-begotten daughter. In this article I explain why.

Biblical and Historical Context

“Only-begotten” does not appear in contemporary Bible translations. And among older translations, by far the most influential that adopts it is the King James Version. There it appears exclusively in the writings of the Apostle John. (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; cf. 1 John 4:9)

But John is not insistent; he also calls Jesus “the firstborn”:

“Jesus Christ …is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 1:4-5)

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“Loving”: Outlawing Love and Marriage

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By Kathy Winings

kathy_winings_3_profileI am a romantic. Like many romantics, we like to believe that when two people share a deep and abiding love, there should be no problem why they cannot have a happy marriage. Unfortunately, we have come to see this is not always the case – especially when the two people are racially diverse. This is because we still live in a world that is racially charged and racially divided. Racism seems to be one of the most intractable problems to solve. Our inability to see “the other” as an equal, as our neighbor and as fully human, has plagued us since the beginning of the human race.

Nowhere is the challenge of racism more evident than in the movie “Loving,” written and directed by Jeff Nichols, and nominated for two Golden Globes in acting. Loving tells the story of an interracial couple living in pre-civil rights, 1950s Virginia, who ultimately became the center of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that addressed the unconstitutionality of the anti-miscegenation law of Virginia and those of 24 other states (Loving v. Virginia).

Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), a white construction worker, and his wife, Mildred (Ruth Negga) a black woman, begin their arduous legal journey with the simple act of getting married in 1956 and creating a home in rural Caroline County in northeastern Virginia. Though they are legally married in the District of Columbia, their home is in Virginia and such an act is illegal under Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law.

It does not take long before news of their interracial marriage spreads, resulting in the couple’s arrest in the middle of the night after local police raid their home. When their case comes before the judge, the Lovings are given two options if they want to avoid prison: divorce immediately or plead guilty and leave their home and family in Virginia and not return for a minimum of 25 years. Though expecting their first child, the Lovings plead guilty and move to Washington, DC – leaving behind everyone they love and hold dear.

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The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Global Holiday

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By Ronald J. Brown

Ronald_BrownJesus may have been born in Bethlehem, but it was the City of New York that transformed the traditional day of his birth, December 25, into a national, and eventually global, holiday season.

The evolution of the Christian religious holiday of Jesus’ birth into a secular global holiday that embraces all religions, cultures and traditions is a unique example of the emergence of a global culture. Yet, today, the planet’s first global holiday is under siege from all sides and may not long endure.

The Need for a Unifying Secular Holiday

Compared to Spain, England, France, and Russia, the newly established United States of America in the late 18th century had no history, no national language, no national religions, no national identity, and no national culture.

Washington Irving, of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” fame, recognized the potential of the holiday as a force capable of uniting the northern and southern colonies, old family Knickerbockers and new Irish and German immigrants, upper and lower social classes, and rich and poor. He described how the celebration of Christmas in England bridged class and wealth and contributed to a stable and happy country. He stressed the holiday as one that not only transcended all social classes and could unite all New Yorkers and Americans, but transcended all religions as well.

Yet, as late as 1855, the grow­ing Christmas holiday was still shunned by many churches as a pagan festival.

Nonetheless, during the Civil War, Christmas emerged as a secu­lar symbol of American nationalism. In 1870, Congress de­clared Christmas a holiday for federal employees in Washington, DC, and in 1885 ex­ten­ded the holiday to all federal employ­ees.

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Creativity, Music and Sexuality

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By David Eaton

david_eatonI recently received a complimentary issue of classical music magazine, Listen. Of interest was the cover story wasn’t about a current firebrand on the classical music scene such as dynamic conductor Gustavo Dudamel or soprano Anna Netrebko. Nor was it about iconic figures of the past: Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan or Maria Callas. The cover story was about none other than pop music icon, Sting.

Anyone familiar with Sting’s musical career knows he has been venturing into the realm of classical music for some time. His recording of the role of Joseph the soldier in Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, with Kent Nagano conducting the London Sinfonietta, dates from 1988. In recent years, he has recorded the music of the English Renaissance composer, John Dowland, and is attempting to master the lute, Dowland’s primary instrument and the precursor to the modern guitar. In 2010, he recorded orchestral covers of songs from his Police days with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Symphonicities).

In his Listen interview, Sting referred to the lives and music of Robert and Clara Schumann, perhaps the most famous couple in the annals of Western classical music history; both were talented composers and pianists. Sting cites a letter by Robert in which the composer refers to music as being “nothing more than resonant light.” Sting observes: “I think resonant light is exactly right; scientifically, it’s a waveform just as light, just a different part of the spectrum. I don’t know whether he knew that or whether it was just a poetic intuitive image, but certainly it’s true scientifically.”

Speaking to the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of music, Sting states, “If I have a spiritual life, [it] is one of music. I seem to be, through music, in touch with something bigger than myself or bigger than the material world; it’s a spiritual path.”

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