A Street Filled With Spirits of the Long-Term Dead

By Larry Moffitt

It’s morning rush in the spirit-filled streets of Seoul, at the corner of overpriced hotel and shoe repair guy. In the corner coffee shop the cup is held close in both hands, fingers of hot, steamed aroma gently massage my face. I pause to solemnize the moment before taking the first sip. No other taste of coffee the rest of that day will be its equal. My early-hour grogginess and that very first slurp run toward each other in slow motion across a meadow, jump into each other’s arms and tumble as one into the waving wheat as the violins reach a crescendo.

People who want to live to be a hundred and ten never eat chocolate-filled croissants, but I heard on the bedside radio that today is National Self-Sabotage Day. I’m always good for a holiday. People have written whole chapters in cookbooks about the natural harmony of coffee and chocolate. You would instantly trust the intentions of a country that had a steaming cup of hot coffee and a chocolate-filled croissant on its national flag. That would be a nation that knows peace.

At a back table of the coffee shop by the window, my attention is drawn to something unusual outside and I briefly touch the glass because I want to assure myself that at least something, the window, is tangible and real. I am watching spirits plod along. Spirits usually know they have died when they naturally cross over. These folks I am watching may not have gotten the memo. They appear to be earthbound spirits, marooned between here and there, and for about twenty seconds I can see them. There are hundreds of them walking along, still going to work, as they must have done for decades during their lives.

They look less distinct to me than the living. They are dull and slightly faded. The living walking past the window, and the dead, pass among and through each other without noticing. As a group, the spirits look less hopeful or expectant than the living commuters. The spirits look as though they have exhausted their to-do lists. There is nothing new to accomplish, no new appointments or meetings, no calls left to return. Not a one of them looks content. A few are obviously anxious. Perhaps they know something is amiss, but what?

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Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

By Eileen Williams

Unificationists all desire to live for the sake of others, become tribal messiahs to our loved ones near and far, and reach out to our families with the message of love and hope that inspired us decades ago.

After going through so many crises and phases as a movement, many of us feel an urgent need to reflect on what works and doesn’t work in terms of nourishing and growing our roots — whether that involves community activism, event planning, or reaching out to our second generation.

To move forward, the first gen, in particular, need to develop what is popularly known today in education pedagogy as a “growth mindset.” This is in contrast to a “fixed mindset,” but more about that later.  Let me explain what the two are and how a growth mindset might be applied to our unique faith community.

“Growth mindset” is a term coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck to explain how children learn.  The latest research shows that the brain is far more malleable than previously believed. Research on brain plasticity reveals how connectivity between neurons can change given new input and experiences. Medical cases of stroke and brain damage have demonstrated in surprising ways how neural networks can grow new connections while at the same time strengthen existing ones.

What this proves is we can increase our neural growth by the actions, choices and decisions we make. Asking questions, using problem-solving strategies, even experiencing failure and trying again all serve to help a child learn.  Studies have shown that when educators can change student mindsets from fixed (“I can’t do this, I fail at this”) to growth (“I can keep trying, step-by-step”), then motivation and achievement is increased.  But why stop with children; aren’t adults strengthening their brain connections as well?

In her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessDweck describes a growth mindset as one that “thrives on change and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a springboard for growth.”

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Religion, Sci-Fi and the Age of Disposable Human Bodies

By Ronald Brown

As I stood by one of the burning gats on the bank of the sacred Ganges River, I couldn’t help but contemplate the Hindu approach to death.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims view the death of the body as the end of our earthly existence. The individual then goes on to either heaven or hell if he or she is religious, or we simply cease to exist if we do not subscribe to one or the other of the major world religions. For Hindus, on the other hand, one body is disposed of and the person takes on another to continue his or her spiritual voyage.

As I watched one worn-out garment after another being consumed by flames, I couldn’t help but think of challenges disposable human bodies will pose for Christians in the future.

Unfortunately, the only serious discussion I found of this topic was not by religious thinkers but rather in serious Sci-Fi literature such as Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel, Childhood’s End. Transcendent evolution is also a theme in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a film co-written by Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick.  I contend religious leaders must begin to confront this urgent question.

The time has come for humans to ponder their post-body existence and the freedom this will result in.

For too long religions have not only venerated the human body but idolized it. At the dawn of the 21st century, humans are slowly ending their millennia-long romance with physical bodies and are surging into the brave new bodiless world. The profound influence material bodies have exerted on human religions is coming to an end. Before the age of embodied humans is relegated to the trashcan of human history, I chronicle in this article the impact of material bodies on religions.

The body in world religions

Judaism, Christianity and Islam place great emphasis on the human body.

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Emerging Women’s Ministry

By Grace Selover

Jesus taught the early Christians that they should open their eyes, look closely at the fields and realize the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matt. 9:37). Indeed, the current situation of the Unification Church is as pressing as it was in Jesus’ ministry.

With the Vision 2020 deadline approaching, there is immense demand for the workers of God to labor in the field of evangelism and ecumenism for the Unification Church, particularly in pastoral ministry. From the visitation of individuals to pulpit supply of the church, from the revival of church life to influential contributions for society through Heavenly Tribal Messiah ministry, more activists are needed.

Where can we find these activists?

Currently, there are women who are lay leaders in local churches working behind the scenes. They are organized to support and revitalize the life of the church and provide pastoral care to church congregants in support of their pastors and church ministries. They reach in to current congregants to help them become more engaged in the vitality of the church, as well as reach out to new members and the general public by identifying, helping and serving their needs. They consult, educate, cultivate, communicate, and evangelize with members, converts and supporters.

These women juggle multiple tasks and roles of being a mother, wife, daughter, and sister at home, as well as a team leader, counselor, mentor, cheerleader, and friend in the church setting. Many times, those roles and responsibilities leave them feeling exhausted. But their biggest challenge and limitation is they feel unsupported and unappreciated.

There are two sides to the phenomenon currently in the Unification Church. On one hand, there are many lay women leaders in the church who have worked voluntarily for decades, supporting their local church ministry, keeping church life going, and maintaining the church to be functional in the local pastoral ministry.

On the other hand, even though they have the experience, ability and capacity to lead, they are often overlooked or ignored. They ought to be appreciated, accepted and acknowledged formally as teachers, lecturers, preachers, evangelists, assistant pastors or even pastors.

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Reflections on True Mother’s City of Refuge Speech

By Tyler Hendricks                    

In her April 6, 2019 speech at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, CA, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon made significant statements on environmentalism, the ethics of nations, the use of force, and her course as the True Mother. Her speech has raised some discussion among Unificationists. Here is my understanding of her statements.

Environmentalism

I categorize environmentalism under what Divine Principle (Ch. 1) calls the third blessing, through which “the entire universe becomes yet another good object partner giving joy to God.” No one can deny that we are not caring for the earth as much as we should. We certainly are not achieving the oneness with nature that Principle considers our original birthright. And indeed cultural Marxists exploit the problem, subverting young people’s love of nature for political purposes. Which means those young people, including some of our second generation, stop listening to someone who is complacent about the environment.

So, first of all, Mother has to assure those young people that she agrees with their concerns; she’s with them that climate change and ocean pollution are issues. Then idealists on the left say, great, this woman gets it. But then look at True Mother’s solution. It has nothing to do with carbon credits and bans on plastic straws.

Here’s what she said: “We should attend God, the Lord of creation, live in accordance with the eternal principles of creation and find the right solution.”

And then she went on to reject the view that science has all the answers. In fact, she stated that blind faith in science is actually part of the problem. She stated we are not here to live convenient lives, and that God and the marriage Blessing are part of the solution:

“What I am saying is that we should live in line with the principles originally established by God. …Blessed couples who received the Blessing today, you would not want your beloved children to live in an even worse environment than today’s. Isn’t that so?”

True Mother steered the conversation toward the headwing solution: attendance of God and the marriage Blessing.

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Excuse My Religion While It Slips into Something More Comfortable

By Larry Moffitt

I was speaking with the minister of a very large Christian church in Houston. We were in his office discussing the enigmatic lightning rod personality that is Reverend Moon, who was still living and quite active. He asked me by whose authority was Reverend Moon ordained a minister? A legitimate question. I replied, “Jesus spoke to him on Easter morning in 1935 when he was fifteen, and gave him his mission. So I guess that was his ordination.”

The minister’s back stiffened. He glared, making fists in his pockets. “Jesus did not speak to Reverend Moon!”

“I see,” I said. “I have to wonder how you could possibly know that.” I spoke evenly and without a hint of disrespect. If it’s audacious for me to believe that Jesus actually spoke to him, isn’t it also audacious for someone living on this side of the veil to be confident about what Jesus does to fill his time on the other side? Does he putter in the garden? Write music? Continue to guide people’s spiritual lives? I should have followed up with these questions because at least he knew what Jesus does not do: He does not speak to people.

“Well, God also spoke to him,” I added helpfully.

Surely this would clinch it because God has gone on the public record many times. I mentioned as examples, Noah, Moses and John the Baptist, in whose honor this minister’s church was named. It’s well-documented phenomena, so surely it would be easy for him to accept that God can speak to people if he wants to. But alas…

“God doesn’t do that anymore,” he said, slamming the door on the conversation.

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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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Oscar-Winning Films that Address Racism

By Kathy Winings

Three very different films released in 2018 address racism from unique perspectives. Two are based on real events and the third is an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel. Each film also won at least one Oscar at February’s Academy Awards.

Set in the early 1970s, “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a quintessential Baldwin story about poverty, race, family, and love. The film is directed by Barry Jenkins, director of the 2017 Best Picture Oscar winner, “Moonlight.” Regina King received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her strong portrayal of the mother of the story’s young heroine, Tish.

Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephen James) are a young black couple living in Harlem who fall in love and find themselves expecting their first baby. But Baldwin’s complex story doesn’t end there. At a time when a young couple awaiting their first child should be excited and anxiously preparing for the birth, the realities of one’s identity mars that anticipation.

As fate would have it, Fonny is wrongly arrested for the alleged rape of a young Puerto Rican woman. A white policeman known for his racist attitudes makes the arrest. While Fonny is lingering in jail awaiting trial, Tish, her mother and sister try to fight for Fonny’s freedom but it is an uphill battle. For one, the Puerto Rican woman who was brutally raped is not to be found. Second, the one witness, a young African American who can verify that Fonny was nowhere near where the scene of the rape, is also arrested on questionable charges. As a result, Fonny remains in prison while hoping for a quick resolution of his case — a fairly standard experience for black men in Harlem of that time.

Baldwin was gifted in portraying the challenges of the American working class black family struggling to survive, economically and emotionally, recognizing how tenuous life could be when you were black and fighting a system bent on ensuring you did not succeed. It is clear that fighting racism and racist attitudes is an uphill battle for Tish and Fonny. Young black men knew if they were arrested for crimes they did not commit, they could linger in prison for years with some even dying there at worst or learning destructive lifestyles at best. The longer Fonny is incarcerated, the more he begins to accept the inevitable. Tish, though, is relentless.

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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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