Building a Platform for Peace

By Andrew Wilson

On February 26, the Fourth Think Tank 2022 Forum for the reunification of North and South Korea was held which featured former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Appearing with him were former military leaders, former senior officials, and academics from the United States, South Korea and Japan. Afterwards, Secretary Esper took questions from the public of these nations, including students.

Think Tank 2022, which developed as an outgrowth of the eight Rallies of Hope for the reunification of North and South Korea that began in August 2020, is holding numerous such events throughout the world, focusing on leaders in government, religion, business, the academic world, women leaders, etc.

In my view, these Rallies of Hope and Think Tank forums are intended to provide the platform for Mother Hak Ja Han Moon to work for peace if she is able to visit North Korea, as she has stated she would like to undertake in the near future. Thereby, she hopes to build on the work for Korean reunification of her late husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, when they traveled together to Pyongyang and met with North Korean President Kim Il Sung in December 1991.

Let us look at platforms and the purpose of building them. First, we should recognize that this is a methodology that True Parents have used throughout their ministry. In the 1980s, Rev. Moon built a platform to prepare for his trip to Moscow, where in April 1990 he and Mrs. Moon met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, accompanied by a large delegation of former heads of state and government.

Rev. Moon began constructing his platform with the Washington Times newspaper, which President Ronald Reagan is said to have read every day. He added leading academics in the field of Soviet studies through the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), which held a major conference in Geneva in 1985 titled “The End of the Soviet Empire.” He further built his platform with the World Media Association, which gathered journalists from major media outlets including the Soviet press agency, Novosti, and a delegation of former heads of state and government brought together under the Summit Council for World Peace and AULA. He extended his platform to the realm of sports, when he asked Unificationists to offer warm hospitality to the athletes from communist nations at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

This was the broad platform by which Rev. Moon demonstrated both strength of conviction and solicitude for the communist world. Upon that platform, he was able to meet with President Gorbachev. Without such a powerful and distinguished platform, it is doubtful Rev. Moon could have met with Gorbachev, or even if they had met, for Gorbachev to treat him with commensurate respect.

Continue reading “Building a Platform for Peace”

The Unity of Science and Religion: How We Can Save Ourselves and the Planet from Ourselves

By Henry Christopher

Since the creation of Adam and Eve — according to the Bible, or the evolution of humans, if you prefer Darwin — it seems humankind has been hurling itself towards self-annihilation and the destruction of the planet. Creationists would say that goes back 6,000 years. According to scientists, it’s more like 2-3 million years ago, but it appears the pace has picked up dramatically in the last few hundred years.

Where can we turn to save ourselves and the earth from ourselves? Could a coalition of religion and science lead the way out of our dilemma?

What if they could work together towards a truer understanding of who we are, where we came from, and why we are so torn between destructive behavior and the need to live together in peace and harmony?

An area that clearly needs new understanding and attention, if we are to “save” ourselves, is the creation myths of various religions and early cultures throughout history. They could use some updating.

A good example is the Judeo-Christian creation story in the Bible. God makes Man, and then decides Man shouldn’t be alone, so one night, when Man is sleeping, God opens him up, removes a rib, and makes for him a mate — Eve. They are told not to eat the forbidden fruit, but she is tempted by Lucifer, eats it and gives some to Adam.  They are kicked out of the Garden, and told they and their descendants will have to work for a living for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps science can contribute to our common understanding of what this story means, and what really happened in the Garden. It might give us some clues as to how to control our wild, destructive nature.

Science has been trying to shed light on the origin of our species through years of painstaking research and investigation by paleoanthropologists, geologists, archaeologists, and others. This is the story of human evolution.

Religion fiercely resisted at first. But in time most major religions have accepted the scientific theory by adding that God is the force behind evolution.

Today, only a small group of religious fundamentalists cling to creationism — a “literal” understanding of the story in Genesis that God made everything, including humans, whole and complete in one fell swoop in just six days.

Continue reading “The Unity of Science and Religion: How We Can Save Ourselves and the Planet from Ourselves”

Learning from Therese Stewart, True Pioneer of Faith

By Jennifer P. Tanabe

A memoir is a treasure trove filled with precious nuggets of information about a person’s life. No matter how well you may think you know someone, reading their memoir illuminates parts of their life that you knew little to nothing about. Dr. Therese Stewart’s memoir, My Life of Faith, does not disappoint.

Therese was born and raised on a farm in rural Minnesota. As a child, she learned and practiced her family’s Catholic faith, and when her older sister became a nun, she told God she would follow in her footsteps. World War II somewhat delayed that plan, diverting her to nursing. This proved a minor delay, however, as she joined the same Franciscan order as her sister in 1948.

Therese spent two decades as a Catholic nun. In the late 1960s came the first crucial turning point in her life of faith. She met a member of the Unification Church, Betsy O’Neill (now Jones), while studying at Columbia University in New York City. After studying Divine Principle for several months, and having a number of significant dreams, she committed herself to a new spiritual course.

Here is how she describes her early response to these new teachings:

I felt that my life had been preparation for this. Divine Principle reinforced much of what I believed as a Catholic but there was striking new content too. I had never thought of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as “spiritual true parents,” nor anticipated the coming of physical True Parents. Also compelling was the idea that the prophecy of the Second Coming was being fulfilled by a couple! The concept of True Parents as opposed to the fallen first ancestors, Adam and Eve, was new to me. (I had no problem accepting the idea that the fall of man was an illicit love relationship even though many considered that an archaic interpretation of the Genesis account). The idea that Jesus was to have married and extended God’s lineage immediately struck me as true. (I had read years before that it was not God’s will for Jesus to die on the cross but that someday we would understand why God had allowed it.)

I did not easily accept that the Second Coming would be fulfilled by anyone other than Jesus but neither could I deny that the allegedly unfulfilled part of his mission—to marry, create a True Family, and develop a loving dominion over the creation—required his having a physical body!

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The End of Accusation: Unificationist Lessons from the Dreyfus Affair

By Laurent Ladouce

A Unificationist heart cherishes reconciliation and abhors accusation.

If we connect with God’s heart, practice true love and attend our Heavenly Parent, we include others. Working to extinguish controversies, antagonism and accusation, we think and work together.

I honestly worry that this spirit of reconciliation may desert our Unification movement. I sadly see that some Unificationists have chosen their camp, loathing others’ opinions and promoting polarization.

We remember the work of CAUSA in the 1980s, where we had a clear enemy (Marxism-Leninism) and a cause. Many Unificationists still seek a crusade against a foe. This takes priority over building the ideal world. I proudly worked for CAUSA International, but I must say, “Times have changed.”

This essay sketches a Unificationist overview of accusation. But to place matters in a certain context, I also explain what happens when the demons of accusation haunt a rational society.

*    *    *    *    *

Today, accusation is raging everywhere, fueled by social media. If this culture of indignation becomes mainstream, it may block God’s Providence. Unificationists who love righteousness should offer convincing alternatives to accusation. We should promote a counterculture of I admit where we honestly look at our portion of responsibility, instead of accusing others.

As an example, I discuss Alfred Dreyfus, the falsely accused (but eventually exonerated) French army officer, who became an icon of injustice, steadfastly maintained his innocence but who never accused anyone.

French journalist Émile Zola’s letter, I accuse…! , should be placed in the context of the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906). In January 1898, L’Aurore (Dawn) published Zola’s open letter to the President of the French Republic. Zola accused several high-ranking officers of the French Army, and other officials, of falsely convicting Captain Alfred Dreyfus and of anti-Semitism, arguing that “the conviction of Alfred Dreyfus was based on false accusations of espionage and was a misrepresentation of justice.”

Zola appealed to international public opinion, using the mass media to defend an innocent man, in a charged atmosphere of nationalism, anti-Semitism and corruption. Zola had great courage. He was convicted of libel for publishing his letter and went into exile in London to avoid imprisonment and a large fine.

I admit versus I accuse

The 20th century was dominated by accusation and indignation. Totalitarian movements, in particular Marxism-Leninism, constantly leveled accusations. When the Cold War ended, the zeitgeist of perpetual accusation should have subsided. It did not.

Continue reading “The End of Accusation: Unificationist Lessons from the Dreyfus Affair”

Chaplaincy: A Gift from Heaven

By Barbara Robertson and Kathy Winings

Since March 2020, so many in our communities and families have come face-to-face with tragedy, death or a personal crisis of some type. Whether the crisis was due to the loss of a loved one from COVID-19, personal illness, loss of a job, hunger for human contact, or any number of issues, people have turned either to professional counseling, spiritual guidance or to a chaplain.

In particular, over the past year, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of hospitalizations — especially with long-term stays. What has made this more difficult for both family members and patients has been the hospitals’ “no visitation” policy or the allowance of just one visitor for the general medical floors.

Added to this has been the stress on the medical staff of long hours, increased patient loads and number of patients who did not survive. This context has increased the importance and value of the work of chaplains — most particularly hospital chaplains. This article presents the role and value of chaplains from a very personal and direct perspective.

One year ago, Dr. Winings began a new journey that started with a medical crisis resulting in a very long recovery period. While the outcome has been good, the journey itself could have been much worse if it had not been for the co-author: a professional chaplain. Even though Dr. Winings encouraged her UTS students to complete at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), she had never been on the receiving end of chaplaincy. That changed this year.

Based on Kathy’s experience, she now realizes what a gift chaplaincy is and how much a chaplain contributes to someone’s life. Pastor Barbara Robertson begins their story, sharing what a chaplain is, does and how they are trained. As a professional chaplain, Barbara has impacted so many people through her work at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, 85 miles north of New York City overlooking the Hudson River.

Barbara Robertson: What does it mean to be a chaplain? People often ask, “What is a chaplain?” My usual response is: we are like a minister without an agenda. Our role as chaplains is to meet you where you are, and help you identify your own inner resources that you can use to get through the crisis you are facing. We are not there to preach, convert or proselytize.

Thirteen years ago, while studying for my Master of Divinity degree at UTS, I was offered the opportunity to do an internship as a chaplain at Vassar Brothers Medical Center. With that first unit of CPE, I was hooked. Chaplaincy training is based on the model of “act, reflect, act.” What an amazing experience and what an amazing life lesson to always take time to reflect and then shift as needed.

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Let Your Light Shine Before Others: Spiritual Formation in the Age of COVID-19

By William P. Selig

When the test result came back positive a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d followed all the recommendations — two vaccine shots, physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing — yet still, I was infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Thankfully, the symptoms were mild, but for the following 10 days, I self-quarantined, which meant staying in my office, eating by myself, and distancing from my wife and family.

The experience was terrible. It was not so much the illness itself — I could deal with the flu-like symptoms — but I was troubled by the sense of “uncleanliness,” and that a passerby could “catch” my disease. It was also impossible not to feel fear and ponder the worst-case scenario. Instead of imagining a future with our grandchildren, I was left to wonder — are my affairs in order?

During this period of uncertainty, I drew on my experience teaching “Spiritual Formation and Integration,” which I describe as a process to discern God’s presence in our lives. I explain to the students that His concern is not how much money is in our 401(k) account, but the amount of love in our hearts. Through self-reflection, self-examination and contemplation, the students are guided to identify the “sacred” in the “ordinary,” and move closer to our Heavenly Parent.

Though there are different ways to understand spiritual formation, I resonate with Christian scholar Dallas Willard (1935-2013), who believed that people of all faiths go through spiritual formation. He uses the metaphor of flying to demonstrate its meaning: “One of the things I most like about flying is when you take off through the clouds and finally break through them into the sunlight.… It is so thrilling to break into the sunlight.” I appreciate this colorful image of breaking through the clouds into the sunlight as a way to describe spiritual growth. “Very likely we will not become perfect for some time yet,” he says, “but we can, as Paul urged the Philippians to do, ‘become blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.’”

An excellent resource for our class discussions is Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by J. Robert Mulholland, Jr. (1936-2015), who defines spiritual formation as “the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others.” This is a straightforward definition which uses Jesus as the model for a person who loves and serves selflessly, and lives/dies for a greater cause.

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Constant Germany: Lessons of Steadiness in an Uncertain World

By Laurent Ladouce

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped down on December 8th after 16 years of political leadership. This unassuming person won international recognition as a model of leadership and was considered the most influential woman of the world for the past ten years.

The New York Times recently wrote of her legacy: “It is the end of an era for Germany and for Europe. For over a decade, Ms. Merkel was not just chancellor of Germany but effectively the leader of Europe.”

Rev. Sun Myung Moon often said leadership entails the ability to guide as a teacher, to embrace and unite as a parent, and to create projects as a master. Dr. Merkel, a theoretical quantum chemist from the former East Germany, rarely spoke like a scientist; her manners and rhetoric were simple, even dull. She never proposed any revolutionary project.

She was, however, the unbeatable team leader and referee who could get people to work together in a spirit of trust. She was perceived as the mother of the nation, affectionately called Mutti (mother).

Some saw her as an icon of female leadership. But more to the point, Merkel has been reassuring for Germans. Not just the exceptional woman, many Germans saw in her the average German they wanted to be, albeit in a leadership role. They felt secure with her. She was seen by large sectors of the German population as an embodiment of a cardinal virtue in German political culture: constancy.

*    *    *

Konstanz is a peaceful German university city on the Bodensee or Lake Constance. It is situated in the very heart of the German-speaking world, where Germany, Austria and Alemannic Switzerland meet.

Though this central spot of the German-speaking world is called Konstanz is a coincidence of geography, it’s also a good symbol. “Constancy is the complement of all other human virtues,” said the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72). Most German political leaders would agree. Modern Germany offers a model of political constancy which grew even stronger after the challenge of reunification. After Merkel is gone, this constancy will likely remain.

This essay focuses on Germany’s healthy institutions rather than on a remarkable person. Chancellor Merkel indeed has much merit. But German governance often allows for very capable leaders like Dr. Merkel to be elected and to remain. This is a lesson for us all.

Continue reading “Constant Germany: Lessons of Steadiness in an Uncertain World”

Balancing Elites and Masses in Two Legislative Bodies

By Gordon Anderson

Headwing society is one in which elites and the general population have a symbiotic and trusting relationship in all social institutions. Many types of social institutions exist in the different spheres of society: governance, economy and culture. However, because government involves legal power and can force people to serve the will of the elites who wield that power, government institutions can cause the greatest oppression and get most of our attention.

Sustainable societies need to be both intelligently managed and serve the needs of people, “the masses.” Slavery and serfdom are the starkest examples of the masses serving the will of elites. Only a small percentage of the population makes up the political class. But, without proper checks and balances, the elites in this class will use their power to become lords and masters, treating the masses as second-class citizens and expendables.

Earlier societies were governed by kings, princes and feudal lords. Aristotle referred to good kings as those who served the population, and bad kings as those who used the people to serve themselves. Today, in more complex institutional and bureaucratic societies, individual kings are often replaced by classes of elites in government administration, political parties, and those with great wealth or organizational power. Instead of merely focusing on individuals in power, we need to focus on social institutions and elites. While this problem needs to be fixed in universities, corporations, churches, NGOs, and all kinds of social institutions, this article uses the example of governance.

One way to balance the interests of the masses with the skill of elites in the law is with two legislative bodies. This can be constitutionally addressed with an upper legislative house representing elite expertise and a lower house representing the population, with each house having the power to veto one another. This allows only legislation that is deemed functional by the elites and enjoys the “consent of the governed.” This type of legislation began in ancient times and needs to be continually updated as societies evolve.

Ancient Rome and Tribunes’ Power to Veto

A significant historical development occurred in Ancient Rome when the “plebs” (the people, or working classes) decided they had enough of fighting in the armies of the patricians (ruling elite class) without any say in the laws their Senate passed. Without checks and balances, the Senate passed legislation that burdened the masses and provided the elite with special privileges.

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The Five Pillars of Religion

By Esfand Zahedi

When speaking of religion, we often think of different belief systems with different goals.  Each religion has a holy book which, being revealed by God, becomes the source of the practices and beliefs of that religion and is often considered a sufficient source of truth for the religion’s followers. In many cases, the followers of one religion reject the authenticity of other holy books and religions.

A different perspective is to accept the divine Origin of all religions and scriptures, using all of them to know God and His will more intimately.  According to Divine Principle,

“…the purpose of every religion is identical. However, religions have appeared in different forms according to their various missions, the cultures in which they took root, and their particular historical period. Their scriptures have taken different forms for similar reasons. All scriptures have the same purpose: to illuminate their surroundings with the light of truth.” (Introduction)

One major world religion, Islam, was founded by the prophet Muhammed, who revealed the Koran. He confessed he was sent by God to the Arab people, teaching that he came with the same authority as the other prophets and that all the scriptures are from God. He called Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets Muslims, simply because they submitted to God’s will and worship no other.

According to Muhammed, the message of all the prophets is simple: there is one God and we are to worship Him. The word “Islam” means submission to God’s will and this is the essence of the religion. Aside from this, there is also the established religion of Islam which developed along certain lines and is often considered to be one religion as opposed to others. This is natural with all human institutions. If we can, however, think of an “institution of God,” not man-made but natural and universal, we can understand the essence of Islam, transcending all historical circumstances and remaining the same over time.

I believe that Islam — in this sense — is true, and have come to call myself a Muslim. I also seek to follow Jesus’ teaching and example in all things and that of Reverend Moon. I believe in the word of God as expressed in the Koran and the world’s scriptures, and in the prophet Muhammed and all teachers of God’s word. I find that the Holy Koran and the Holy Bible don’t contradict each other but lead in the same direction toward God. I also accept and practice the five pillars of Islam and follow the religion’s guidelines inasmuch as they are an authentic expression of faith.

Continue reading “The Five Pillars of Religion”

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