To Bigotry, No Sanction, Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church
by Dr. Mose Durst
4. Prisoner Number 596
For those of us building the spiritual community, a great source of strength is the example of the founder of our church, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Although Onni did not meet Reverend Moon until 1965, five years after she joined the church, I was able to meet him in December, 1972, just five months after my initial involvement with the movement. My heart was already open to him, for I felt I already knew him through his teachings. Indeed, his emphasis has always been that human beings must be people of principle, not followers of personality.
When I heard that Reverend Moon was actually coming to San Francisco in December of 1972, 1 did not think much about it, for he was not coming to make a public speech. I was surprised, however, when Onni asked me whether I would like to have dinner with him and a number of other guests at the Sacramento Street Unification Church in San Francisco. On the night of the dinner, I took the most beautiful plant in my home, a flowering bromelia, and brought it with me to present to Reverend and Mrs. Moon.
A Catholic priest, a lawyer, a professor, and several Koreans were sitting in the living room when I entered. When Reverend and Mrs. Moon came into the room we all stood to greet them. They shook hands with the Western guests and bowed to those from Korea. We then proceeded to the dinner table, where my eyes were shocked to discover plates of raw fish. As dinner proceeded, I gulped down a few pieces of raw tuna wrapped in rice, hoping to avoid any taste and desiring to show the breadth of my worldliness or the insouciance of my spirituality. Fortunately, there was plenty of rice and vegetables on the table so I was not called upon to show any more gustatory courage.
Reverend Moon was very attentive during dinner, for he listened with great interest to all of us who, almost compulsively, shared with him everything of interest to us about the United States. His concentration, focus, and quiet reserve struck me more than anything else. His dark brown eyes twinkled, and when he was pleased his entire face lighted up with a broad, expressive smile. Since I valued quiet, courtesy, and kindness, I was not disappointed to find that he and Mrs. Moon showed an abundance of these qualities. I was not looking for spiritual showmanship, so I was not disappointed with people who could listen. Of course, neither Reverend and Mrs. Moon were fluent in English at this time, and when they spoke to express their gratitude, it was through an interpreter.
Reverend Moon was to come to California many times in 1973, and as I became more involved in the church, although I was still working full-time as a professor, I met with him at each visit. We shared many meals, and I was to learn that he could speak about many things as well as listen. Perhaps the central theme of his discourse, and of his teaching, then as well as now, is to have faith in God's principles and to reflect God in His eternal and unchanging quality. When we had breakfast, for example, Reverend Moon would speak to the four of us gathered around the table for four or five hours about God, His principles, and our responsibility. We would then go for a walk. As I took Reverend and Mrs. Moon to one of my favorite spots, the botanical garden in the Berkeley Hills, Reverend Moon would continue his conversation about God by making reference to the creation.
"What is it," he would say, "within the acorn that moves to make the magnificent oak tree? It is a force of mind, of lawfulness, of beauty, but ultimately of love. God is the original force." He would continue, "He is that original mind, and He is that original love. We are, then, standing on holy ground, so let us praise our Creator. " Then he would slap me on the back like a Zen master awakening his pupil from a mindless stupor.
Our conversation would continue as we drove across Golden Gate Bridge to the top of the hills in Marin County, overlooking San Francisco Bay. Reverend Moon would always allow me to take him to my favorite place first, but then invariably would ask to be taken to the highest point in the area, where he would then pray to God. As we would often go to the hills in Marin County, I would ask him about human suffering, for it was his understanding of this subject that made me feel especially close to him. My entire life, through the study of literature, psychology, and religion, has been at its heart an attempt to understand the nature of suffering and how to end the tragedy of human history. My name "Durst" means "thirst" in German, and indeed my life has been a thirst to understand. In Reverend Moon I found a man with a similar thirst, but also a man with much understanding.
"We are made for each other," he would say, "to love, honor, and cherish each other. If we resemble God, as the Bible teaches, then we must resemble Him in that we are able to love. Love is the core of life. It is the motivating force for the desire to know, feel, and act. To love well," he would go on, "is to know the ethics of love. We must be mature and lawful in our love if our love is to bring us joy. If we don't know the law of love, then we cause great suffering instead of great joy. Why do we exploit the environment? Why do we abuse each other? Why do we suffer unnecessarily? Because we do not know how to love in a mature way."
As I came to know Reverend Moon personally, I asked every Korean about his history and that of the Unification Church. I then realized that the teaching I had come to treasure came from a man whose experiences were broad, powerful, and deep. For the first time, too, I realized the importance of an idea to the context in which it is lived.
Although Reverend Moon's life has been filled with pain, suffering, and persecution, the meaning that he has sought to give to his experience has been one of constant faith in God and His principles, and a commitment to reflect God in His eternal and unchanging quality. Here is a man who grew up in poverty, who was imprisoned and tortured numerous times by totalitarian governments, and who has been vilified by the public media in virtually every country he has visited. Yet his response to all of these barbarisms has been the same: forgive, love, and unite.
Reverend Moon was born on January 6, 1920, in what is now North Korea. He was the second son of a farmer whose family converted to Christianity when Reverend Moon was 10 years old. All those who knew him as a child have testified to his profound seriousness about the suffering of the world. His immediate family was trapped in North Korea at the outbreak of the Korean War, and all contact has been lost with them, as is the case with many thousands of Korean families. His cousins have told me how, as a young boy, he would ask God many questions in prayer. At the age of sixteen, on Easter Sunday morning, Reverend Moon was in prayer when the spirit of Jesus came down to him and said: "The mission for the accomplishment of God's will on earth has been unfulfilled. You, now, must be responsible for the accomplishment of that mission."
This particular prayer was one of the most deeply moving of Reverend Moon's life. But he knew that if the meaning of the vision was to be understood fully, he would have to pray more powerfully, to study more seriously, and to act with greater focus on a religious ideal. For the next nine years then, he embarked on the classical spiritual path of devotion, study and service. Profound religious conviction, not cheap spirituality, has always been the foundation of his wisdom.
During the years 1941-44 he attended school at Waseda University in Tokyo. Since the Japanese had occupied Korea for many years, and sought to destroy all of Korean culture, Waseda was the foremost university that would accept Koreans. At Waseda, however, he was able to pursue with full vigor his religious quest. A schoolmate and church member, Mr. Duk Moon Aum, tells of visiting his room:
Father was always very studious, and when I went to his room I saw Japanese, Korean, and English Bibles on his desk; many passages had been underlined and the margins filled with notations. On Sundays I never found Father home, because he always went to a Christian church, no matter how bad the weather was that day. 1
Although he sought in Japan to understand the nature of God and the purpose of life in a studious way, he did not keep himself from political action. Soon after arriving in Japan he joined an underground liberation movement that sought to bring freedom to his Korean homeland. Several times he was arrested by the Japanese police and, when he refused to disclose information about the underground movement, he was beaten and tortured. In August 1945, after the American defeat of Japan, Korea was liberated, and Reverend Moon decided to return to Pusan, South Korea.
Upon returning to Korea in 1945, he made further preparations for his ministry. He married and began making his family into the God-centered ideal of husband and wife in service to God and humanity. Later, this first wife would divorce him after seeking to destroy the work of his church. She was wildly jealous of the time that Reverend Moon would spend with church members and church activities rather than with her.
In 1946, as refugees were streaming from the north of Korea to the south, Reverend Moon went north to teach about God; he wanted to confront the godless ideology of communism with his understanding of and his personal relationship with God. He arrived at Pyongyang in June of 1946. Here in the heart of communist North Korea, in a city that at one time had so many churches that it was called the Jerusalem of the East, Reverend Moon began his ministry. He began to teach about God's purpose, God's ideal, and God's love. Many people were attracted to the man and his teaching and, although religious teaching was not yet forbidden by the authorities, Reverend Moon's activities were in complete disfavor with the North Korean communists.
Finally, on August 11, 1947, Reverend Moon was arrested by North Korean authorities. Once again, as with the Japanese police, he was beaten, tortured and this time left for dead outside the walls of the prison in Pyongyang. He was found by his followers, however, and with the help of prayer and herbal medicine was nursed back to life. As soon as he was well enough to talk, he began again to teach his message. This time even more were attracted to what they heard. Numerous members of traditional churches, realizing that something was lacking in their own faith, began to follow Reverend Moon. Irate ministers began writing letters to communist authorities about the danger of Reverend Moon's activities, and on February 22, 1948, he was once again arrested on the charge of advocating social chaos. On April 14, 1948, he was sentenced to five years in Hungnam concentration camp in North Korea. No longer was he Reverend Sun Myung Moon, but Prisoner 596.
Reverend Won Pil Kim, the oldest member of the Unification Church, a follower of Reverend Moon from the days in Pyongyang, describes the situation in Hungnam:
For the first three months he [Reverend Moon] gave away half the portion of his meal to others, and he determined that he had to survive for five years with half the food ration. Some prisoners in the same room died while eating, because they were starved.
There were piles of fertilizer from before the war, but they had become as hard as rock because nobody used them during the war. The prisoners had to dynamite them to pieces to pack them into bags. The fertilizer was nitrogenous .... They organized ten people into one team and there was a work quota, as is usual in a communist society. When the quota was not fulfilled, they halved the already small amount of food.
Gradually, Father's hands became chapped and torn and started bleeding. Nobody thought that medical treatment was necessary; they only thought of how to finish thirteen hundred bags a day. Father told me he could see his bones. Ammonium sulfate penetrated the wounds; the pain was indescribable.
It was such hard work that the prisoners, dressed only in trousers, were dripping sweat. In this situation Father caught malaria. . . . 2
Perseverance, endurance, and an incredible will to serve God's purpose allowed him to endure almost three years in Hungnam. Most prisoners did not live past the first. Death seemed imminent for Reverend Moon, too. As United Nations forces were approaching the area of Hungnam in the autumn of 1950, Number 596 was told to prepare for execution. However, on October 14, 1950, UN forces arrived at Hungnam and liberated all the prisoners. With Won Pil Kim, and a Mr. Pak, Reverend Moon started the journey back to South Korea on November 4, 1950. Since Mr. Pak had broken his legs and could not walk, Reverend Moon carried him on his back when he could not be pushed by bicycle. Won Pil Kim writes that:
Taking along a person with a broken leg, Father was risking his life. But to Father, Mr. Pak was more than an individual; he was a representative of all mankind. From God's point of view, all mankind is in a sense crippled.
Even in the very cold winter weather, Father was sweating as he pushed the bicycle. At the foot of a hill, we stopped to rest, even though the sun was still shining. The guns of the Red Chinese army could be heard in the distance. 3
To celebrate his release from captivity and express his faith in God, Reverend Moon wrote the song "Blessing of Glory":
The light of Glory shines on us from afar,
Revive in strength, you Sacred Spirits of freedom.
These hills and streams, even those valleys awake.
Eternally radiate the reviving light.
He has called us together to realize His glorious existence.
His greatness encompasses the universe.
As he searches for those awakened Sacred Spirits,
How can I attend this Lord?
I have awakened from death.
When I am embraced In the bosom of He who woke me,
I rejoice eternally in His eternal love and words
Be joyful eternally and praise His glory.
It was by His grace that I could be embraced,
It is also by His grace that I can be wrapped
To try to return this blessing to Him on high,
That my heart is so unworthy!
Won Pil Kim, Mr. Pak, and Reverend Moon left Pyongyang on December 4, 1950, and arrived in Pusan, a city in the southernmost part of South Korea, on January 27, 1951. Although for most refugees the trek south took between ten days and two weeks, Reverend Moon's party traveled for almost two months, since Mr. Pak had to be carried most of the trip. Reverend Moon would establish his first church in Pusan, and in this church he would begin to systematize the teaching of the Unification Church, in his revelation entitled Divine Principle.
When I speak of this first church, I am always reminded of the photograph that depicts it so clearly. From old cardboard refuse left by the American forces, as well as from scraps of tin, Reverend Moon constructed tiny room-like quarters that he dedicated to God. Several years ago I drove with Reverend and Mrs. Moon from Seoul to Pusan. In my joy of being along for the ride, I had forgotten the significance of Pusan. As we approached a hillside section of the city, I noticed a large group of people gathered for what looked like a festival. There were bright-colored streamers hanging from buildings, men and women wore badge-like insignias with official looking stamps, and children were running to and from, making a loud hullabaloo.
Reverend Moon's car approached a new, recently decorated building, and it appeared that he was about to commemorate something. We got out of the car, entered the building, and stared at a huge glass covering a large brown rock. I thought, "Of course, this is the rock upon which Reverend Moon built his first church; the cardboard and tin church was built next to this rock. My God, he started here! With nothing! and he actually believed that he could comfort God and bring God's redemptive love to the world. He had the hope, even though very few people were with him, that the world would be moved by his love." I realized how I myself was moved by his love, thousands of miles away and years later.
Won Pil Kim describes how he and Reverend Moon first lived in this small church building in 1951 and how the Divine Principle was written:
As soon as he woke up in the morning, Father would start writing, and after he had written a few pages, I would read them back to him, and he would make corrections and additions. We did this every day for a few days. . . .
Once, very early in the morning, Father woke me up and told me to light the lamp and prepare paper and pencils. Except for that one lamp, everything was dark. Father instructed me to write down what he was going to say, and then he dictated the chapter about the Second Coming.
Father didn't stop until he had finished the entire chapter. Usually an author will write down a portion and read it over, reflect on it, and make corrections before going on. But Father dictated without a pause and finished the whole chapter in one sitting. It seemed to me as if Father were reading aloud from a book, since he spoke without stopping, from beginning to end. 4
The quality of church life in this first, small, cardboard and tin room was to become a prototype for Unification Churches throughout the world. At first, someone would hear about an unusual place where people talked about God, sometimes all night long. One or two people would be seen meditating or praying at all hours of the night. Often, songs and joyful laughter would emanate from the small building. Slowly, guests would come to inquire about what was going on, they would listen to Reverend Moon's. teachings, they would return to listen to more, and the congregation would grow.
Just as in Pyongyang, people received so many blessings from God that at night they wouldn't want to leave the church and return to their homes, so we built a small tent in the garden where people could stay and pray all night.
There was a certain pattern by which members were restored: First they heard some kind of rumor about the church, then came and visited it, listened to Principle, and accepted it. Feeling resurrected, they would remain for hours on end at the church, even spending the night there. As a result, opposition would develop. This pattern from Pyongyang was repeated in Pusan. 5
I have often been with Reverend Moon and felt the joy of his teaching. Listening to him, I have literally felt like I was being "teased into eternity." In a church or on a mountain walk, I am always moved deeply by the reality of God as I listen to him. I remember a trip with him a few years ago, when we traveled to Mt. Surak National Forest with several Korean and Japanese church elders. We started to walk up a trail to the top of Mt. Surak. Together there were about twenty-five men and women, with Reverend and Mrs. Moon in the lead. The last two hundred yards up the face of the mountain, was a sort of granite staircase almost straight up. We began climbing, by this time getting tired. It was a lovely autumn day, and Reverend Moon was indefatigable.
As we reached the top of the granite face, I noticed a cave with an enormous statue of Buddha looking out of the mountainside. I looked behind me and saw my wife talking with the other ladies; they were laughing and enjoying the walk, while some of the men were also talking and laughing. All of a sudden I looked at the Buddha and saw in his eyes the stillness that signifies eternity. I listened to the laughter, and then looked at Reverend Moon. I felt then that what he sought to bring to the world was not the stillness of eternity, but the laughter that would fill it. It was at that moment that time and eternity came together for me. I looked at Reverend Moon and he was laughing and talking. It seemed he was a man who sought to bring Heaven to earth, and paint earth with the primary colors of love. This memorable experience was like an epiphany, when a wholeness of harmony and radiance suddenly shone forth.
The church in Pusan had grown considerably when in September of 1953 Reverend Moon went to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to continue his ministry. On May 1, 1954, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity was established. The Unification Church was formally born. It was not then, nor is it now, Reverend Moon's desire to establish a new Christian sect or denomination. Rather, he seeks through the unity of Christian churches to establish a foundation for the unity of all faiths centered upon God. We speak of the Unification movement more than the Unification Church, for we seek to establish the reality of one human family under God.
The pattern of church growth in Seoul followed that of Pyongyang and Pusan. As most people were ignorant of what was being taught in this new church, rumors spread like weeds in the grass. One rumor was that a man who studied electrical engineering was the minister of the Seoul church. He invented a special apparatus, according to rumor, that would hold anyone who came near it. Hence, those who entered the church could not leave.
Mrs. Gil Ja Eu, another early member of the Seoul church, tells of an extraordinary rumor spread around 1955. The church supposedly had three doors that one had to pass through before entering the central meeting hall. One had to remove, so the rumor went, an article of clothing as one passed through each door, so that presumably one entered the final hall completely naked. One courageous Christian lady came prepared, dressed in three layers of underwear, to find out the validity of this. She of course experienced nothing of what she expected, but instead listened to the church's teachings. She later became a member.
Remarkably, as sophisticated as the United States is, the rumors that spread here about our church in the 1970s paralleled those in Korea. There were articles about how one who entered our church building would be immediately hypnotized by people with glazed eyes, If one ate even one meal in a Unification church center, critics maintained, one would either be drugged or made mindless because of carbohydrate glut. Cartoons depicting our members as robots or puppets and Reverend Moon as the puppet master have filled the most popular newspapers and magazines.
Church membership grew in Seoul, as elsewhere in the world, because people came to see for themselves what was happening. They found the rumors were false and that what they heard in the teachings was true. Moreover, they found a community filled with a spirit of joy, love and serious dedication to an ideal. As more and more were attracted to the Unification Church, however, many other traditional social institutions reacted negatively.
Mrs. Eu tells of how many students and professors at Ehwa University, the largest women's university in Korea, were attracted to the church in 1955. Ehwa was founded and funded by the Methodist Church. When numerous students and several outstanding professors became Unification members, they were given an ultimatum: Leave the Unification Church or leave Ehwa University. Mrs. Eu writes:
. . . fourteen of us were called to the office of the dean of students. The dean told us, 'The Unification Church is heresy, and they dance around in the nude. You mustn't go there.' We answered, 'We haven't even danced fully clothed, much less nude. If we wanted to dance, we would go to a dance hall. Why should we go to church to dance?' But she said, 'That's not true. You don't know because you're not in very deeply yet. If you keep going, they will make you take your clothes off and dance. 6
All fourteen women chose to leave Ehwa University, a great hardship and sacrifice for them, rather than to leave the Unification Church.
The persecution of the church, as it grew quickly in Seoul, culminated in the arrest of Reverend Moon and four other church leaders on July 4, 1955. Twenty days after the arrest, Reverend Moon was charged with draft evasion. Since, however, he was imprisoned in a North Korean concentration camp during the war, he could not have been available for conscription by the South Korean army. On October 4, 1955, he was released, and on November 21, the Korean Court formally declared him not guilty.
The late '50s in South Korea was a time of church growth. Pioneers were sent by Reverend Moon to almost every city in the nation, and although the church prospered, the pioneers offered themselves as sacrifices for the sake of God and the nation. "Much walking, much persecution, and little food," writes Mrs. Eu, was the life of the pioneer.
In 1957 the first president of the Unification Church of Korea, Mr. Eu, wrote Explanation of the Principle, an elaboration of Reverend Moon's revelations, which later became the basis for the English version of Divine Principle. Since many concepts in the Korean language do not translate easily into English, there have been a number of English translations of the Divine Principle. Although the essential ideas are presented clearly in each, the depth of the concepts varies in precision. Therefore, there is a need for constant examination and revision of translations.
As the church was firmly established in Korea by 1957, in 1958 Reverend Moon sent Mr. Sang Ik Choi as the first missionary to Japan. The pattern of church growth followed by persecution continued in Japan as in Korea. This time as the church grew it would face the formidable enemy of the Japanese Communist Party. Eventually, hundreds of anti- Unification Church articles would appear in Akahata, the Japanese communist publication. The communists said that the Unification Church was actually founded by the Korean CIA, that it was not a religion, that it was not even a cult but a business to cheat the public. As an organization that sought to expose the false ideology of communism, the Unification Church was, and still is, a prime target for all communist organizations.
On February 2, 1959, Dr. Young Oon Kim, one of the professors dismissed from Ehwa University (she is now a professor of religion at our own Unification Theological Seminary in New York) was sent by Reverend Moon as the first missionary to the United States. Several months later, on September 18, 1959, David S. C. Kim, now president of the seminary, came as the second missionary. Where for so many decades Europe and America had sent missionaries to the East and South, now a new movement would bring sweetness and light back to the West.
In 1960 the entire Unification movement celebrated the marriage of Reverend Moon to Hak Ja Han. This marriage of now twenty-four years is an example to Unification members of a family dedicated to establishing God's ideal upon the earth. The love of husband for wife, the respect of children for parents (Reverend and Mrs. Moon have thirteen children) and the loyalty of parents to God's ideal is a model of what we members want to create in our own lives.
Mr. Sang Ik Choi, Kenji (Daikon) Ohnuki, and Onni, because of their success in Japan, came to the United States as missionaries in 1965. This was the year too, that Reverend Moon first visited the United States as part of a world tour of forty countries. This was the tour on which he dedicated 120 prayer grounds or holy grounds, places especially dedicated to God. He would return to the United States on December 18, 1971, and plan his work here.
For Reverend Moon and members of the Unification Church, the United States is a special nation in God's providence. It is a nation that has received abundant blessings: spiritually, politically, and materially. But as it has been given much, we believe, much is expected of it. Reverend Moon came to America to remind this nation of its original ideals, and to urge its people to be an example of God-centered service and love to the rest of the world. On October 21, 1973, in Washington, D.C., during one of his many speaking tours here, he said:
It is America's position to say to the communists, 'What are you talking about? God exists. God dwells right here with us.' Is America taking this position? No! Today's America is quickly turning self-centered and away from God. America doesn't seem to care about the rest of the world. But you must give America to the rest of the world as a champion for God. 7
In December of 1973 Reverend Moon came to San Francisco to speak at the Opera House. He and his wife stayed at the church on Washington Street, and I was invited for lunch there the day before his speech. By now I had introduced him to the delights of bagels, so I didn't have to worry about raw fish for lunch. After lunch, he invited me to his sitting room. He began by asking me about marriage, and whether I thought I was serious enough to be married, and whether I understood that the purpose of marriage was to establish a dwelling place for God. After a conversation of several hours, he asked me whether I would consider Onni for my wife. I was ecstatic. When I could speak, I said yes. I then went down to the living room, and Onni was asked to go upstairs to visit with Reverend Moon. I waited for what seemed like forever until I was asked to go upstairs again. Mrs. Won Pok Choi, another of the professors who was forced to leave Ehwa University and who is now the principal of the Little Angels School in Korea, was the translator. Reverend Moon, in a very parental way, spoke to Onni and myself about the seriousness of marriage. Finally, he asked us whether we would consider an engagement for marriage. We both said yes. Several weeks later we were married in our Pasadena, California church when all the leaders of our American church were gathered for a conference.
As with the church in Korea and Japan, the Unification movement in the United States grew rapidly in only a few years. From 1972 until 1976 thousands joined the church as hundreds of thousands came to hear Reverend Moon speak from Portland, Maine, to Los Angeles. In 1976 three hundred thousand went to hear him speak at the Washington Monument. In 1975 missionaries were sent to 127 nations. Literally, a worldwide movement was making itself felt on the stage of history. With the extraordinary growth came the inevitable persecution.
During the past few years, I have appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs, and have given numerous newspaper interviews. After all this experience with the media, I can say that their purpose is more to entertain than inform. This is ironic when the subject is one as profound as religion. They have especially entertained the American public with grotesque images of Reverend Moon. Distorted photos of him, with hands raised in a seemingly menacing gesture, are the normal fare. The content of the stories is no less distorted.
In 1975, NBC presented perhaps the first typical hatchet job on Reverend Moon. Film clips of his public speeches were selected to show what looked to be an obvious fanatic. With deep guttural voice and flailing hands, Reverend Moon came across in the show as an Oriental despot. Billy Graham often speaks with gestures similar to those of Reverend Moon, but since Reverend Moon does not speak English, he is more easily perceived as a fanatic. The NBC show also had a sinister sounding narrator read from Reverend Moon's speeches. Curiously enough, the narrator had a Japanese accent and sounded rather like a cross between Gen. Tojo and Peter Lorre. Obviously Reverend Moon was not to be trusted.
I have seen articles describing the vast wealth of Reverend Moon, so vast that it is said each of his children goes to school in a separate limousine. Well, that's not true. When I travel with Reverend Moon he almost always stays in a local church center. In Korea or Japan the local church is well below the standards of a Holiday Inn. When we travel in the United States, we buy bread and lunch meat at a grocery, or more typically we eat at McDonald's. Surprising, isn't it? Reverend Moon loves McDonald's.
Mornings, I usually go for breakfast at East Garden, the church parsonage where Reverend Moon lives. Although we eat at seven o'clock, he has been up praying since five a.m. He arises at 4:30 and, while it is still dark, goes up to a prayer rock on a hill, sometimes taking one of his children with him. In all church centers there is, of course, a sanctuary for prayer, but wherever Reverend Moon stays he chooses a special rock, tree, or garden for prayer.
Over breakfast there is usually a conference with church elders. There are never fewer than ten or twelve people, and sometimes fifty to a hundred, who have come from all over the world to talk to him. He is concerned about each of us and our work. He regularly gives spiritual advice to members and, when asked, offers his blessings on the many projects discussed. He is, at these gatherings, a source of wisdom, inspiration and strength. Several times I have spoken to him, for example, about how hurt and angry I am at how the public abuses our members and our church. His response is always the same: "Forgive, love, and continue to work hard for the sake of others."
Yet the media and public so misunderstand him. He is a Korean and generally speaks in that language. It is unfortunately a harsh language to Western ears. The harshness of the Korean language is part of the problem the American public has with accepting him. When my Korean wife calls out, "Darling, breakfast is ready," our neighbors probably think we are fighting!
We must also face up to the latent racism in America. Here is an Oriental, a yellow man, attracting and leading bright, capable Americans. Certainly that stirs some people's feelings! We in the West like to believe that only we are capable of bringing advantage to other cultures. It is difficult for American men and women to believe that someone from a "backward" country like Korea could possibly have anything to say to such advanced, modern people as ourselves. Most of those who are hostile to Reverend Moon have never read or even heard one word from him directly.
Yet it is the message of Reverend Moon that stirs up the most vehement opposition. Here is a clear call to the spiritual life, to put religion first in a day of deep seated materialism, hedonism, and sensualism. Many cannot believe that anyone will willingly turn away from doing "whatever feels good," from promiscuous sex, alcohol, and drugs to instead serve God and humanity. To such people, those who embrace a self-sacrificing religion must have the power of some sort of mystical, incomprehensible mind control.
For my part, I am inspired by Reverend Moon. He works with church leaders all day until very late at night. I have never seen him turn in before midnight or one a.m. I've seen him preach, teach, lecture ten or more hours at a time, often right through the night. For me and many others, his prayer, his devotion, his constant thought for the members and for the world, and his dedication to reducing the suffering of God, are the truth about him.
There are many sides to Reverend Moon, and one seldom seen by the public is his humor. I have often been touched by his sense of the comic and the picaresque. I hope someday to select even from his sermons an anthology of Reverend Moon's humor. It is a most cosmic humor in that he often attempts to make God laugh. I suppose that the ultimate comfort of God is in being made to laugh, and I think that Reverend Moon tries, not only with passionate tears, but with loving laughter, to comfort Him.
One evening at East Garden, the church parsonage, I was having dinner with him and a number of attorneys working on his tax case. While sitting at the table he said, "We really have to get close to each other, we really have to work together as a harmonious team." He looked at one of the lawyers, grabbed his tie, rubbed his hair, and said, "We should feel this close. You should be able to grab me like this, and I should be able to grab you like this! " Everybody laughed. Reverend Moon was not about to let a serious report obstruct his close, human relationship.
He then spoke in a more serious vein: "Well, fine, whatever happens, ultimately we're religious people. All we can do is to forgive and to love those who have persecuted us. The most important thing is to build something for the future. We need an international judicial system. We need an international standard of justice."
As the attorneys were about to leave after the dinner, Reverend Moon spoke to them at the door. "I know you have been working hard, but I, too, have been working, in New England." He was speaking of the special guidance he was giving to our members in the Unification Church project called Ocean Church, in which young people are encouraged to develop their character through fishing. "I must give you this souvenir," he said as his wife came from the kitchen dragging, one at a time, three fifty-pound striped bass. He gave one to each lawyer. The fish were wrapped up and laid on the carpet. As Reverend Moon opened the wrappings, the lawyers stared incredulously at the striped bass. They then went away in their lovely suits and their Mercedes, with bags full of fish. Reverend Moon was laughing at the door as they left.
For me the most ordinary, and yet most significant experiences with him are the daily ones. Breakfast, for instance, is not just an eating of food, it is a constant conversation about God and the religious life. He is always talking about God -- and he acts in such a way as to inspire others to think about God's situation. His words are meant to inspire, to guide and instruct the elders of the church as to how to end God's ancient grief.
One morning, for example, he spoke to me in a very typical way about how in the beginning Adam and Eve cried for themselves when they were cast out from the Garden, cast away from God. Now, however, we must cry for God and mankind in order to be restored to God. Man fell because his thoughts were centered upon himself. The question then is: Can I elevate myself to the point of crying for God and for the world? When I laugh, for example, it should be for God and the world, not arbitrary, or indifferent, or self-centered laughter. When I cry it must be for God and the world. But this sensibility, he went on, is not easy to develop, for it requires self-sacrifice.
Reverend Moon knows that our church could have more members if we were only interested in membership. He is not a fool. He could give joyful talks that merely comfort people. But the central message of the Unification movement is that God suffers, the world suffers, and that it is through sacrifice, through offering ourselves in service to God and in service to the world, that we can end this suffering.
Reverend Moon constantly evaluates himself: How often have I shed tears for the sake of God and for humanity? To be a responsible member of the Unification Church one cannot just fill out a form, but rather must sacrifice one's entire self in service to God and humanity. In the early days, our church used to be called the Church of Tears, for anyone who is truly a member of the Unification movement must have an awareness of sacrifice.
One wonders: What is the magic this man has that people are automatically drawn to him? He has a special, powerful love as he expresses the heart of God. When the heart of God and the heart of Reverend Moon become one, it is natural for people to be drawn to him.
If one were to ask the question, "Who in the world talks most about God?" I can't imagine anybody talking more about God, feeling more about God, than Reverend Moon. He has a genuine desire to become a loving, serving, giving, healing human being. In a recent sermon entitled "Who is God and Who Am I," Reverend Moon said:
Why did you come here and sit on the floor? The difference is that this is a public-minded place. We pursue public-minded love because that is where God comes to dwell. To attract God to us we have to live a public-minded life. Last year some eminent professors came to see me at East Garden. One of them was a former Harvard professor, who said proudly to me, 'I am the first Harvard professor to become a Moonie! What can I do?' I answered him, 'I'll tell you what you can do, go out to the world, be persecuted and cursed and give your life for the sake of the world. This is the Principle.' The professor might have expected me to compliment him, but not so. The heavenly declaration is to go out and receive persecution, be condemned and die for the sake of the world. That Principle is the same for you, for the professor, for the president of the United States. If the president came to me and asked that question, I would give him the same answer. The tombs of people who die for the sake of God and mankind will never be dry. For generations people will come with flowers and shed tears there.
Without any hesitation I will let you go and suffer. God loves the world and He has many problems to bear in the world. Go to Him and say, 'God let me have the worst problem. I will solve it for You.' Now God's greatest headache is atheistic communism. Another headache is the decline of the Christian spirit. Go out to the world and revive Christianity; you be the true revived Christians. Another great headache for God is moral decline, particularly among young people. So go out to the world. Tell God you want to take that headache away by restoring the young people. Americans are individualistic and selfish. Become an example by serving the world, suffering for the sake of others. Because you do it people will say you are brainwashed. Why? You can reply, 'We are resurrected. We are the new breed of people, who hate injustice.' No one wants to suffer, that's human nature. But I am asking you to go down into suffering .... The third principle we must practice is sacrifice. Why? Again, the love of God dwells with you if you sacrifice. Sacrifice with love, give yourself to others with love, then you shall win everything there is. From the human standpoint Jesus Christ was miserably defeated. He was crucified and ridiculed by the Roman soldiers. Yet that same Jesus conquered the world because he sacrificed with love. There are many people who have died more miserable deaths than Jesus, but that didn't bring salvation to anyone, because they died for their own cause, or their own crimes. But Jesus did not have any sin, yet he died for the sake of the world with love. That is a true sacrifice. That love conquered the world. Amazingly, when you are conquered by love, you don't hate that conquest. When you become a prisoner of love, you sing and dance.
The three principles I have talked about this morning are points that a noble religious teaching always emphasizes: (1) you should follow the heavenly principle; (2) you should be public minded; (3) you should be sacrificial. Why? That is where the love of God shall come to dwell. That is the only way we can attract the infinite love of God. Therefore, you don't need someone looking over your shoulder to see whether you are doing it or not. You are bound by your own will, not someone else's. My life was so hard many times that I wanted to quit. But I couldn't. No one else forced me to go on. I kept going because I had tasted the love of God. When you experience the deeper love of God you can't for one moment go away from it.
From evangelistic work in a communist land, to hard labor in a concentration camp, from war and poverty to success in ministry, all of this was accomplished by faith and work. Reverend Moon has faced legal problems in Korea and has been vindicated. He faces legal problems in America, where I believe he will be victorious. The prophet is always rejected, always stoned. But the prophet, if he has the spirit of God, is also always proved right. Love, God's love, can and will conquer all.
During the year of his trial in New York, Reverend Moon comforted us, his friends and lawyers. We did not comfort him! How I loved him when, after the vindictiveness of the courtroom proceedings, he took us to McDonald's and sought to comfort us. Even when the verdict came down "Guilty!" and I burst into tears, he laughed and said, "Don't worry; no problem."
I can see him in my mind's eye now, praying at his prayer rock for hours. I hear him in my mind's ear, speaking for hours on end of the love of God. I know he drives himself. I know he feels the suffering heart of God and longs to comfort Him. I want to join him in that task.
1. Duk Moon Aum, "From Schoolmate to Disciple," Today's World, June 1982, p. 6.
2. Won Pil Kim, Father's Course and Our Life of Faith (London: HSA-UWC Publications, 1982), pp. 49, 62.
3. Won Pil Kim, "From Pyongyang to Pusan," Today's World, April 1982, p. 12.
4. Won Pil Kim, "Father's Early Ministry in Pusan," Today's World, May 1982, p. 12.
5. Ibid., p. 15.
6. Gil Ja Sa Eu, "My Testimony," photocopied essay in Unification Theological Seminary Library, Barrytown, New York, p. 27.
7. "God's Hope for America" in New Hope: Christianity in Crisis (New York: HSA-UWC Publications, 1974), p. 61.
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