Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverends Rubenstein
Prospects For A Global Community - The Family Of Man - Reverend Moon's Vision
Richard L. Rubenstein
Richard L. Rubenstein is Robert 0. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Religion at Florida State University and is president of the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy.
When we ponder the likely course of events in the early decades of the twenty-first century, our initial inclination is to extrapolate from tendencies currently visible in our own turn-of-the-millennium decade. Insofar as these tendencies are expressions of the modernization process, that is, the ongoing rationalization of the world's economies and societies, we would expect to see a continuation and an intensification of the processes of secularization, urbanization, and industrialization - which have been all too apparent during most of the twentieth century. This would, in all likelihood, entail the further decline of religion as a cultural force, the spread of anomie or the loss of meaning associated with human existence, and a further loss of any sense of community among the inhabitants in the megapolitan centers of the next century.
There is, however, the possibility that the negative effects of modernization may prove so disorienting that the majority of the peoples of the world will seek alternative forms of modernization in which religious values and spiritual experience would play an increasingly important role. In reality, the turn to religious fundamentalism in contemporary Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, as well as among other religious traditions, can best be understood as a postmodern response to the relativism of values and the psychological insecurities engendered by the modern, secular world.
There is yet another reason why the present worldwide turn toward religion is likely to intensify - namely, the coming of the year 2000 and the beginning of the third Christian millennium in the year 2001. Granted, the new millennium is based solely on the Christian calendar, but that calendar has a global influence that no other system of time reckoning can match. The idea of the onset of a new millennium is likely to impress deeply hundreds of millions of non-Christian as well as Christians, turning their minds and hearts to questions of ultimate concern.
Much good can come from a return to religion. Regrettably, so, too, can much evil. The twenty-first century could witness the return of wars of religion on a scale and with a bitterness that the world has not known for several centuries. We have already had a foretaste of such wars in the holy-war rhetoric that Saddam Hussein has employed in his attempt to enlist the support of the Islamic masses for his conquests. Although Saddam Hussein is said to he a nonbeliever, he knows of no stronger appeal to the Arabic masses than religion.
Moreover, a global civilization can also generate bitter ethnic and national conflicts that are, in turn, related to religious conflict. Those peoples who feel that their culture is being submerged in an all-encompassing global civilization are likely to reaffirm their ancestral traditions with especial vehemence in a way that is likely to engender intergroup hostility. Such communal conflict is already manifest in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
As a theologian and a historian of religion, I am convinced that the promise inherent in religion can be fulfilled only to the extent that the divisiveness and conflict to which the great religions have at times been prone can be overcome by a commitment to the unity of mankind under God as reconciling the differences among us. A way must be found for men and women to be faithful to their own traditions while at the same time sharing the deepest kind of unity with the other world religions. I know of few, if any, men who have worked for this goal as faithfully as the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Few religious leaders anywhere have the name recognition of the Reverend Moon. However, because of a largely hostile press, the public has tended to regard him as a figure of controversy. I am a university professor and a theologian whose religious ideas are in many respects very different from those of Reverend Moon. Nevertheless, after knowing and working with him and his disciples on their ecumenical projects for fourteen years, I have become convinced that he is one of the most important and imaginative religious leaders of our times, whose global vision can be expected to have a significant impact on the world of the twenty-first century. In this essay, I seek to explain why I hold this opinion.
If Reverend Moon's ideals can be summarized in a single idea, it is that as children of God, all men and women are members of one global family living in one global house. The idea itself is very old. Prophets and teachers of all of the major religious traditions have preached a similar message. What is novel is that the idea is being preached in an advanced technological era by a religious leader for whom the world has truly become a global village and who has both the resources and the imaginative daring to attempt to realize his ideals in the first years of the third Christian millennium.
In spite of the glare of publicity, the public is almost completely unaware of the fact that Reverend Moon has initiated an impressive array of innovative projects and institutions for the purpose of resolving contemporary international political, religious, and cultural conflicts. He is by no means the only religious leader working for a better world. Nevertheless, while many religious leaders offer their followers the hope of an ideal world, Reverend Moon has initiated a wide range of concrete projects for its implementation, including economic assistance to the Soviet Union, the Peoples Republic of China, and many Third World countries.
The crisis that befell the communist world in 1989 and 1990 did not come as a surprise to Reverend Moon. On the contrary, he predicted it more than ten years ago, and, in 1984 he advised officers of the Professors World Peace Academy to hold an international conference on "The Fall of the Soviet Empire" in Geneva, Switzerland the following year. At the time, the Soviet empire seemed so firmly entrenched that his suggested conference topic seemed hopelessly unrealistic. Several academic advisors sought to persuade him to choose what they thought would be a less sensational subject. In retrospect, however, he had a far more prescient understanding of the political and economic situation in the Soviet empire than most academic and government area specialists.
Unlike those intellectuals in the Free World who have been enamored with what Marxism promised while ignoring what it actually delivered, Reverend Moon had direct personal experience with communism at its harshest and most repressive. He began his preaching career in June 1946 in Pyongyang, now the capital of communist North Korea but then the most Christian part of the Korean nation. In February 1948, he was arrested and sent to a communist prison camp in Hung Nam for two years and eight months. On October 14, 1950, he was liberated from prison by UN forces. He then made his way to Pusan, 1,000 kilometers to the south, accompanied by two disciples, one of whom had a broken leg and could not walk. He literally carried this disciple the entire distance.
When he arrived in Pusan, he created his first church. It was an extraordinary church, made out of mud and cardboard boxes discarded by the United States Army. In the beginning, only three people came to hear him preach, but out of that beginning has come an extraordinary worldwide movement.
Given his bitter experience with communism and the ignorance about its true nature in the Free World, Reverend Moon committed himself to a worldwide educational effort to identify the intellectual weaknesses of Marxism and the human rights abuses committed by communist nations. Among the organizations he established for this purpose were the International Federation for Victory Over Communism (IFVOC), the VOC Institute, CAUSA International, and CARP, a worldwide organization of university students.
Just as a tendency exists in some conservative circles to identify every liberal movement with socialism if not communism, so, too, there is a tendency in some liberal circles to equate anticommunist movements with right-wing reaction. There is no doubt that Reverend Moon was perceived in this light. Nevertheless, his views are far more complex and sophisticated. He is definitely not a naive defender of free-enterprise capitalism and its Social Darwinist corollary that economy is and should be the arena of merciless competition between independent, self-aggrandizing economic actors in which the fittest survive and those unable to compete deservedly go under. His political thinking cannot be thought of as uncritical approval of any current economic system, communist or capitalist. In the last twenty years he has been keenly aware that both communism and capitalism are systems in need of repair.
Moreover, his anticommunist educational projects will likely outlive similar efforts whose sole objective was to bring down communist regimes. Some anticommunist educational programs have been motivated by hate, resentment, and a desire for revenge, whereas his critique of Marxism appears to reflect a fundamental commitment to build a better world and is filled with compassion.
Reverend Moon's sensitivity to the limitations of free-enterprise capitalism is due in large measure to his concern for the poor and the dispossessed and to his conviction that radical individualism cannot serve as the basis of a just and moral social order. The roots of the latter conviction go back to his early education at a Confucian sodang (elementary school) and to Confucianism's stress on the public realm as a moral political order ideally governed by sages who are men of virtue. Instead of seeing human beings as isolated human atoms fundamentally motivated by the impersonal pursuit of self-interest, Confucianism presupposes a view of human beings as essentially social animals. Unwaveringly critical of communism's godlessness, he has also criticized free-enterprise capitalism's heartless indifference to the fate of the poor and the helpless. In fact, Reverend Moon frequently calls for unifying aspects of right- and left-wing ideology in a coherent whole which he dubs "head wing" thought. Thus there is a pragmatic aspect to his social commentary that can, hopefully, prove more effective in dealing with contemporary social problems than more rigid and simplistic approaches taken in response to contemporary problems. Regrettably, this part of his teaching has been seldom noted in the liberal media, which has tended to portray him as a reactionary defender of a heartless system.
According to Reverend Moon, the looming crisis confronting the world cannot be overcome simply by the economic and political transformation of capitalist society. The difference between a society composed of uncaring, self-aggrandizing individuals and a cooperative social order is essentially moral and spiritual. Convinced that America was chosen by God to play a crucial role in the redemption of humanity - a view shared by American Protestant dispensationalists from the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 - Reverend Moon began a campaign for the moral and spiritual awakening of the American people with a series of evangelical crusades in the 1970s. These crusades were in the tradition of the great revival meetings that have played so important a role throughout American history. His object was to revive the spirit of true Christianity, which he taught was a spirit of love, forgiveness, and unity. Between 1972 and 1978 he spoke in all fifty states. His most important rallies were at New York's Madison Square Garden (1974), Yankee Stadium (1976) and the Washington Monument (1976). The last was attended by more than three hundred thousand people and was the largest religious rally ever held in the nation's capital.
In 1976 he founded the New York City Tribune, a small but influential newspaper in the business and financial capital of the United States. The Tribune called attention to the problems of the family, an issue of paramount importance to Reverend Moon, long before that issue became a matter of general concern. The paper has specialized in news and background reports on national security issues and Eastern European affairs to a far greater extent than have much larger dailies. As a result, exclusive City Tribune reports have been regularly cited in the Pentagon's daily and weekly digests.
It is frequently noted that the world is passing from an industrial age to an information age. In the twenty-first century, the electronic and print media will in all likelihood play an even greater role in our lives. In recent years, the role of the media has been the focus of much discussion and controversy. How does a democratic society protect the freedom of the press without leaving itself vulnerable to abuses by media monopolies? To explore such questions, Reverend Moon has sponsored world media conferences yearly since 1978 as forums to define and elevate journalistic ethical standards. Conferences have brought together participants, from as many as 106 nations, who include not only professionals in electronic and print journalism but media scholars, statesmen, and government officials.
In addition to conferences, the World Media Association has sponsored fact-finding tours to parts of the world where regional conflicts would benefit from greater public attention. For example, in 1983 the association took two hundred journalists to Europe to examine all sides of the growing peace movement through a series of public debates and panel discussions. The association's rationale for such tours is to provide media access, whenever possible, to the people in power, major opposition parties, and other key players in order that the widest possible understanding can be gained in the shortest possible time.
During the same decade, he also created an array of scientific, cultural, ecumenical and media institutions to offer practical embodiment to his spiritual message. The practical and the spiritual have always gone hand in hand in his ministry. In 1982 he founded The Washington Times, today one of America's fastest growing and most influential newspapers. At the time, the liberal Washington Post enjoyed a newspaper monopoly in Washington, D.C. The conservative Washington Star had been unable to compete with the Post and was forced to go out of business, creating an unusual media situation for a national capital in a democracy. Unlike London, Paris and Tokyo, the capital of the most important nation in the Free World was served by only one newspaper. Moreover, the defunct Washington Star had been owned by one of the world's most important media corporations, Time, Inc. Although many conservative Americans saw the need for a second daily newspaper in Washington, they were discouraged from making the necessary investment. If Time, Inc. could not succeed, they reasoned, how could anyone else start a newspaper to compete with the Post?
Had material gain been Reverend Moon's motive, he would never have founded the Washington Times. Only a religious leader with extensive resources who was committed to carrying out his ideals in the real world could have undertaken the enormous task of creating the Washington Times. According to the Far Eastern Economic Review, he has invested over $250 million in the Times since its founding, which is currently incurring an annual deficit of $35 million. The investment has been more than justified by the results. It is one of the most widely quoted American newspapers, often cited by rival newspapers such as the New York Times as the source of important news stories. Its regular readers have included the President of the United States and his cabinet, most congressmen, and other leading national decision makers. Because of its high journalistic quality, the newspaper has earned more than fifty important awards. Its editor, writers, and columnists appear regularly as hosts or participants on TV news programs.
Important factors in its influence are its editorial autonomy and its credibility. When the Times was first established, critics predicted that it would never be taken seriously as a newspaper because the Unification Church would use it as a house organ. The critics did not know Reverend Moon. He understood that a great newspaper required a staff of first-rate professionals who could be trusted to use their editorial freedom in a responsible way. Eight years have now passed since the Times began publication, and its reputation for journalistic excellence and editorial autonomy is firmly established.
Before starting the Washington Times, he founded Noticias del Mundo in 1980 for the large and growing U.S. Hispanic population. Published simultaneously in New York, and Los Angeles, Noticias del Mundo is America's only Spanish-language newspaper published nationwide. The Washington Times has also been responsible for two other exciting publishing ventures, The World & I and Insight magazines. Insight is a news weekly that has achieved a paid circulation of over five hundred thousand copies in a few short years. The appearance of Insight was hailed by MediaGuide as "one of the major press developments of 1986."
The founding of The World & I provides yet another example of Reverend Moon's daring. When the magazine was in the planning stage, he told the editors that he wanted each issue to be an educational tool for scholars the world over, containing seven hundred pages of in-depth analysis and commentary on the most important issues currently confronting the world. Some of the editors felt that the assignment was beyond their capacities. Reverend Moon had more faith in them than they had in themselves. In addition, each issue is enhanced by the finest graphics technology. No smaller magazine could have done justice to Reverend Moon's objectives.
Many religious leaders simplify their message in order to appeal to a mass audience. That has not been Reverend Moon's way. His background in the culture of the East has given him an appreciation of the importance of the sage in providing intellectual and moral leadership. Hence, he has had a strong interest in reaching the scientists, academics, and intellectuals who fulfill that role - not so much by preaching to them as by providing an appropriate framework in which they can freely dialogue with each other. This has led him to create institutions where these scholars and scientists can share their knowledge and insights concerning the creation of a better world.
One of the best known of these institutions is the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS), founded in 1972. ICUS is an international interdisciplinary forum in which scientists and scholars address themselves to issues of worldwide concern. Reverend Moon has commented on his reasons for founding ICUS: "What we need is not an industrial or technological revolution but a great revolution of human consciousness. The solution to social problems is not limited to the natural sciences but must be transdisciplinary and influencing the areas of social science, the arts, religion." Alexander King, president of the Club of Rome, said that "ICUS is the only world occasion where scholars from diverse disciplines can come together to discuss mutual interaction in their work as a multidisciplinary attack on global problems." As has been the case with all of the scientific and cultural institutions that he has founded, the intellectual and academic freedom of the participants is the undisputed precondition of all genuine dialogue.
Other organizations founded by Reverend Moon include the Professors World Peace Academy, a worldwide network of academics with chapters in over ninety countries; the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, a nonpartisan, research institution focused on the political implications of domestic and foreign policy issues with a strong emphasis on the ethical implications of public policy; and the International Religious Foundation, which brings together representatives of virtually all of the world's religions to work together for world peace through inter-religious dialogue.
Projects For A Post-Communist World
From 1984 onwards, Reverend Moon's long-range goal changed from fighting communism to finding ways to save the countries of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union, from economic collapse and spiritual crisis. Long before the initial euphoria with the collapse of communism in 1989 was spent, Reverend Moon understood that there could be no easy transition to democracy or economic stability in countries that had endured between forty-five and seventy years of communism. Unfortunately, neither the United States nor Japan had any realistic plans for meeting the most important historical challenge since the end of World War II - the peaceful reconstruction of the defunct communist societies of Eastern Europe.
Reverend Moon understood that the worst possible case involved doing nothing, thereby permitting the Soviet Union to disintegrate. In spite of the crisis, the Soviet Union still maintains the world's largest land army with an awesome arsenal of the latest weaponry. The Soviet Union also possesses more than twenty thousand nuclear missiles. A coup engineered by elements in the KGB and the military committed to the old communist system remains a constant threat. So, too, does the possibility of civil war in the multiethnic empire.
Long a supporter of glasnost and perestroika, Reverend Moon believes that the United States has the capacity to shore up perestroika. He also believes that, with properly administered foreign aid, President Gorbachev can bring about the necessary reforms. Moreover, he has excellent sources of information concerning the Soviet Union. More than ten years ago, he encouraged a small number of his disciples to learn Russian and undertake the hazardous task of going to Russia as missionaries. When the Soviet Union began to adopt a more tolerant attitude toward religion, his disciples were already in place and knew the country from the inside.
Reverend Moon believes the Bush administration should have offered substantial assistance to Gorbachev in 1989, but the administration mistakenly remained skeptical concerning perestroika long after it had become obvious that historic changes were taking place. By contrast, the Federal Republic of Germany has committed the equivalent of more than $15 billion in foreign aid to the USSR. According to Reverend Moon, an opportunity was lost. Had the United States and the Soviet Union achieved a united front earlier than they did, Saddam Hussein might not have invaded Kuwait.
Blueprint For Action
As had been the case so often in the past, he had a plan of action to match his understanding of the unfolding crisis. On April 11, 1990 an extraordinary meeting took place in Moscow between Reverend Moon and President Gorbachev. The meeting consisted of two sessions: the first with Reverend Moon and twenty-eight former heads of state and government for an hour and a half, the second a half-hour private meeting with Reverend Moon. Reverend Moon told the Soviet leader that a new value system was needed to incorporate the strengths of both free-market capitalism and socialism. Speaking as a religious teacher to the Soviet leader, Reverend Moon insisted that a God-centered worldview was necessary to achieve harmony between the aspirations of the individual and the requirements of the group. In essence, he took the position that an individual could find true self-fulfillment only through serving others but that such altruism was only possible if the individual believed he or she was acting in accordance with God's purposes. Without this sense of vocation and mission, individuals have little reason to transcend greed, egoism, and materialism as their primary motivations.
Unlike those Western leaders who interpreted the collapse of the communist empire as a victory for Western free-enterprise capitalism, Reverend Moon told the Soviet leader that there were redeemable elements in communism that ought not be lost as Eastern Europe moved toward a market economy. Moreover, Reverend Moon asserted, there was much that needed reform in the West. Among the positive elements he found in Marxism were its promise of hope for the oppressed and dispossessed, its call for an end to racism, and its quest for social justice. He also praised its call to sacrifice for the sake of the larger community and the part of its value system that insists that life is more than the accumulation of material goods.
Having endured incarceration in a communist prison camp in North Korea, he is fully aware of the extent to which the Marxist system became one of the worst forms of tyranny ever experienced by humanity. That is why he spoke of redeemable rather than redeeming elements in communism. Purified of the context of tyranny that has subverted the constructive elements in Marxism, that system's altruistic ideals have, according to Reverend Moon, much to offer the interdependent world of the twenty-first century.
Reverend Moon has long stressed that he is an opponent of Marxism but not of the people of the Soviet Union or the Peoples Republic of China. He believes that both countries can play a crucial international role in the twenty-first century. At the time of his meeting with Gorbachev, Reverend Moon outlined his vision of the future of the Soviet Union to participants at the international conferences, held in Moscow, by two organizations founded by him: the World Media Association and the Summit Council for World Peace, an organization whose membership is limited to former heads of state from around the world. He declared:
I clearly envision a moral and economic renaissance for the Soviet Union that will dramatically affect the entire world. I will do all I can to encourage and support that renaissance.... I believe that the Soviet Union will play a key role in God's plan to build a world of lasting true peace. This vast union of nations, which stretches from the Far East, with its border on my country of Korea, to the very heart of Europe .... has a natural destiny to be a bridge between Europe and Asia. We must regard ourselves as being members of one global family living in one global house.
At the meeting with Gorbachev, Reverend Moon told the Soviet leader that he would do all in his power to encourage investors and entrepreneurs to recognize the opportunities of joint ventures with the Soviet Union. This was no empty promise. Over the years, he has been responsible for establishing a worldwide network of business enterprises. To many Americans, this may seem like a strange activity for a religious leader, but the influential Far Eastern Economic Review (1 November 1990) has pointed out that he has told his disciples that ideas without the money to back them up are just dreams. As we have seen, Reverend Moon has sought to embody his religious vision of the world as one family under God in wide-ranging practical projects and to provide the financial base to make possible these projects.
In addition to encouraging joint-venture projects with the Soviet Union, Reverend Moon has proposed the establishment of a series of tax-exempt industrial zones of several hundred thousand acres each for the manufacture of domestic and export goods. One possible location is on the Soviet Far East coast.
Reverend Moon could make such a proposal and be taken seriously by Gorbachev because he has already established one such industrial zone in the Peoples Republic of China near Huizhou City on the south coast, approximately fifty miles from Hong Kong. At that site, the Panda Motors Corporation is building a giant assembly plant for the production of the Panda, China's first high-quality, lowcost automobile. When the plant is fully operational, it is expected to be able to produce as many as three hundred thousand cars annually. The Washington Post (4 December 1989) reports that the car will be based on the subcompact Chevrolet Chevette, greatly improved and brought up to date. The Post further quotes auto analysts who say that Panda's China strategy could prove to be brilliant because of the pent-up demand for automobiles in the Third World, the principal marketing target for Panda Motors.
In addition to encouraging Western entrepreneurs and governments to invest in the Soviet Union, he also enabled one hundred corporate investors from Japan to visit Moscow. At first, the Japanese were reluctant to go, feeling that the return of the Kurile Islands, taken by the Soviet Union from Japan after World War II, should precede any investment trip. Insisting, as a spiritual teacher, that giving must precede taking, Reverend Moon encouraged them to go. When their visit was over, they recognized that it was long overdue. Neither he nor his church gained anything materially from this visit. Its purpose was to support perestroika and help the Soviet Union through a very severe crisis.
As we have seen, Reverend Moon sees genuine opportunity for humanity in the twenty-first century. He also sees danger. In the language of religion, Satan is a tireless foe of a humanity who seeks to live as God intended human beings to live. Amid the euphoria attending communism's collapse, he has warned that the world's economic system is in crisis. For example, most American economists dismissed the "Black Monday" crash of the world's stock market's on October 19, 1987 as an event of little importance. Not so Reverend Moon, who has taught that the near collapse of the world's economy at that time was symptomatic of a far larger and more enduring crisis. He has pointed to the $500 billion failure of America's savings and loan institutions, a failure due in large measure to greed and the unpardonable betrayal of the fiduciary responsibility of the leaders of the failed institutions and those government regulators, senators, and congressmen who were more interested in the goodwill of bankers than in the financial health of their country. He has also pointed to the recent multibillion dollar corruption schemes such as the junk-bond scandal, which caused the bankruptcy of some of America's largest corporations and financial institutions.
Call For A Value Transformation
The problem to which Reverend Moon points is the outcome of a process that has unfolded over several centuries. In a pure money economy, goods and services are exchanged at the best price available to both the buyer and seller. In such an economy, the worker has only one commodity to sell, his labor. All too often, the relations between employer and employee can become totally depersonalized, with the employer recognizing no obligation to the employee other than the payment of the agreed-upon wage.
A technological society is of necessity a mutually interdependent society, and there is no reason to doubt that the pace of technological development will accelerate in the twenty-first century. A value system of self-aggrandizing individualism may have made sense in the take-off period of the Industrial Revolution in England and the United States. Today, as Reverend Moon recognizes, such a value system is counterproductive. To function effectively, corporations must become harmonious, productive communities rather than angry battlefields of competing class and economic interests. While the goals of labor and management will never be identical, a great deal more harmony is possible than has been manifest in individualistic capitalism.
According to Reverend Moon, a value transformation is required, and can be brought about only by religion. It is for that reason that he has placed so much emphasis on religious faith and commitment as indispensable to the needs of the world of the twenty-first century. This insight is in accordance with the scholarly findings of the great German sociologist of religion Max Weber, who advanced the theory that the religious values of Calvinism were an indispensable component in the transformation of the feudal societies of medieval Europe into the capitalist societies of the modern Western world. Weber especially took issue with Karl Marx, who had argued that material factors in the changing modes of production were alone responsible for the transformation. Reverend Moon's call for a spiritual transformation is thus soundly grounded in both a religious worldview and in the sociology of religion.
At the heart of Reverend Moon's teaching for the world of the twenty-first century is the need for an altruistic vision between persons and between nations. This was the basis of his success in persuading the Japanese corporate investors to visit the Soviet Union before the Kurile Islands issue had been resolved. It can, he believes, also serve as the basis for creating a harmonious society as well as alleviate the economic disparity between the technologically advanced nations of the North and the less developed nations of the South.
Living For The Sake Of Others
Reverend Moon defines true love as living for the sake of others. He holds that this must be the centerpiece of a worldview for the twenty-first century. He has commented that the crisis in the Middle East can be resolved if the world's religious leaders unite. Most recently, he has done his part in bringing together hundreds of the religious leaders of all of the world's major religious traditions at the Second Assembly of the World's Religions, held in San Francisco in August 1990. (He also met recently in Cairo with Islamic leaders.) The Assembly's program is interreligious and intercultural. Its objective is to uncover, from within the world's spiritual traditions, the resources and the inspiration that might help resolve the crisis of our times.
I was a participant at both the first and second Assemblies. Among my most valuable experiences at these meetings were the opportunities it gave me to meet and enter into dialogue with responsible Islamic leaders. It is highly unlikely that I would have had the opportunity for these encounters apart from the Assembly of World Religions. While I am considerably more pessimistic than Reverend Moon concerning the long-range potential for peace in the Middle East, the kind of interreligious and intercultural dialogue that he has initiated is surely one of the preconditions for lasting peace in the region.
The ideal of living for the sake of others is also evident in Reverend Moon's teaching that technology is a God-given resource that ought to be available to the whole world. As we know, such is not now the case. He has also taught that, from a religious perspective, it is wrong for the rich nations to monopolize advanced technology while forcing the less-developed nations into a condition of economic dependence upon them. Not only does he advocate the sharing of technology and technological equalization, but he has taken practical steps to bring this about. At the Panda Motor Company project in China, for example, state-of-the-art tool manufacturing technology is being imported from Germany to enable the Chinese to become competitive. Neither Reverend Moon nor the Unification Church expect to derive any material profit from this arrangement. He shares with Latin American liberation theology a deep concern about the exploitation of the less-developed nations by the developed nations of the Northern Hemisphere. (His church is especially well-developed in Brazil.) He does not, however, share liberation theology's uncritical faith in socialism as offering the Third World a way out of its economic and social problems.
With his feeling for practical affairs, Reverend Moon believes that resolving the disparity between the developed and the lesser-developed nations, between North and South, is a precondition to the resolution of the conflicts between the world's diverse races and cultures. To foster international conflict resolution, Reverend Moon has recently founded the International Foundation for World Peace (IFWP). Its underlying philosophy is the same ideal of living for others that is fundamental to his ethical and religious teaching. To date ten thousand scholars throughout the world have signed the IFWP declaration.
One of the most controversial aspects of Reverend Moon's ministry has been the large-scale international marriages he has conducted for his followers. Within the Unification Church members are encouraged to accept marital partners with religious and racial backgrounds different from their own. Sociologists have now determined that these marriages are far less likely to end in divorce than conventional Western marriages between contracting individuals. Moreover, the international marriages are an expression of his teaching, derived from the Bible, that all people are children of God, who has created the races in a condition of equality before him.
Among the other examples of his ideal of living for the sake of others are the International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF), International Christians for Unity and Social Action (ICUSA), and Religious Youth Service (RYS). IRFF runs programs in agriculture and rural development, technical training, health care, urban and community services, and emergency disaster relief. IRFF medical teams have been active in the fight against disease in Africa, South America, and Asia. IRFF teams are also at work helping Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees in Thailand.
ICUSA has been established in more than one hundred cities throughout the United States. It began with a grant from Reverend Moon used to purchase 250 eighteen-ton trucks to transport food, clothing, and medical supplies to the poor, both in the United States and overseas. ICUSA works in cooperation with community service organizations and Christian ministers to distribute more than six million pounds of food annually.
RYS enlists the cooperation of young people of every background and religious denomination to work on a number of service projects each year in a single country. To date, RYS has sponsored projects in the Philippines (1986), Portugal (1987), Spain (1988), Italy (1989) and Poland (1990). Most recently, RYS volunteers worked on three projects in Poland, one of which was to help build a school for visually impaired children in Krakow.
According to futurologist John Naisbitt (Megatrends 2000) the final years of this decade will see the arts gradually replace sports as society's primary leisure activity. In his words, "From the United States and Europe to the Pacific Rim, wherever the affluent information economy has spread, the need to reexamine the meaning of life through the arts has followed." Reverend Moon's patronage of the arts, clearly inspired by his religious vision, appears to have anticipated this trend. Through him, the New York City Symphony Orchestra has come under the patronage of the International CulturaI Foundation. He is also the sponsor of the Universal Ballet Company, based in Seoul, Korea, and the Universal Ballet Academy of Washington, D.C. The latter institution is led by Oleg Vinogradov, director of the world-famous Kirov Ballet of Leningrad. When the Universal Ballet Academy opened its doors in 1990, the Washington Post reported: "The Universal Ballet Academy ... will form a major center for instruction in Russian classical ballet style in this country that is bound to have major national impact.... Its affiliation with the Kirov, through Vinogradov and other staff, establishes a link between American dance education and the most renowned bastion of classical dance in the world."
Of especial importance is the Little Angels, Korea's national folk ballet, and its Little Angels Performing Arts School. Since 1965 the Little Angels, who range in age from seven to fifteen, have participated in sixteen world tours and have given more than twenty-one thousand performances in forty countries. Recognizing the need for a moral dimension in the arts, Reverend Moon has also founded the Artists Association International (AAI) to advance the cause of idealism in the arts. Among the many activities of AAI is the International Conference of the Arts, which provides a worldwide forum for artists and critics to explore the artist's role in enhancing communication and understanding among all peoples.
As noted, the extraordinary scope of Reverend Moon's activities flows from his religious convictions. He believes that God is a being of absolute love who originally desired to create human beings as objects of his love, capable of returning his love. God's purpose for human beings was and is to experience joy in receiving from and returning love to their Creator and each other. As a result of the Fall, the achievement of God's purpose was frustrated. Nevertheless, God seeks providentially to bring about his goal, which is nothing less than the restoration of the original ideal state that he had prepared for men and women - the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
Thus, the ancient yearning of Judaism and Christianity, restoration of the Kingdom of God, is at the heart of all of Reverend Moon's activities. Dedication to that objective has motivated all of his work and has given him the energy to develop his global activities from the very modest beginnings of a mud and cardboard church in a Korea torn apart by the worst kind of war, the war between brothers. Clearly his objectives are messianic, and many of his disciples are convinced that he is, in fact, the Lord of the Second Advent, called by God to complete the work of restoration of the humanity man as a single global family in an era in which technology is in the process of transforming the world into a single global village.
As I indicated at the beginning of this essay, my own theological perspectives are different from his, but that points to his unique genius. I know of no other religious teacher who has so comprehensive an outreach or whose activities embrace so wide a range of men and women of all vocations, nationalities, and religious commitments - from former heads of state and Nobel Laureates to ordinary men and women of good will. More than any other world-famous religious leader, he has been able to involve men and women from every continent in shared activities for the sake of the material, moral, and spiritual, improvement of mankind without compromising their own religious beliefs. Moreover, I doubt that any religious vision other than his could have provided the motivation necessary for his accomplishments or for the ecumenical scope of his activities. Put differently, only a man convinced that he has been called by God to restore God's Kingdom on earth for all of the descendants of Adam and Eve could have done what he has done.
One does not have to be a member of the Unification Church to understand the destructive character of the egoism, greed, and self-indulgence that have all too often characterized the radical individualism of the West, especially when that individualism has been stripped of its original religious context of the lonely believer standing in judgment before his Maker. Technological progress will accelerate in the twenty-first century. So, too, will the temptation to use technology to enrich a few individuals or nations at the expense of the majority of mankind. It will be more important than ever to take to heart Reverend Moon's teaching that men and women must learn to live for the sake of others as a united global family under God. Unless this lesson is learned, the promise of the twenty-first century will turn to dust and ashes.
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