Unification Sermons and Talks

by Reverends Rubenstein

President's Introduction of Rev. Sun Myung Moon at Honorary Degree Convocation University of Bridgeport

Richard L. Rubenstein
Bridgeport, CT
September 7, 1995

Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is now my high honor to introduce the University of Bridgeport's newest honorary alumnus and its most important benefactor, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. I have known Rev. Moon since November 1976 when I attended my first International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, ICUS for short, in Washington, DC. At the time, I was a Fellow of the National Humanities Institute of Yale University. Word had spread among my colleagues at Yale that I had accepted the invitation to attend. A prominent member of the Yale faculty invited me to lunch at Ezra Stiles College where he earnestly attempted to dissuade me from going. Finally, I asked the gentleman, "What concrete evidence do you have that I would be harmed or do harm by attending?"

"Haven't you read the newspapers?" he replied.

"Don't you realize that I am a theologian and an historian of religion, trained at Harvard in the scientific study of religion, and that I might be better able to understand a new religious movement than the vast majority of media reporters? I am going to find out for myself," was my response.

I did find out for myself. That meeting of ICUS was one of the finest international scientific conferences I have ever attended. I want to stress the abiding importance of my vocation as an historian of religion in my participation in activities and institutions sponsored by organizations supported by Rev. Moon from that day to this, including meetings of the ICUS, the Professors World Peace Academy, the World Media Conference, the Summit Council for World Peace, the Assembly of the World's Religions, the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace, and the Women's Federation for World Peace. Both Dr. Betty Rubenstein and I are grateful for the intellectual and spiritual enrichment we have derived from listening to and learning from scientific, scholarly and theological colleagues from every continent and every major religion.

The extraordinary effort and expense involved in these activities and institutions are the fruit of a unified and unifying religious vision, the pursuit of world peace for humanity as one family under God. For example, at the meetings of the World Media Conference, journalists have been called upon to consider the moral responsibilities appropriate to their vocation; at the International Conferences on the Unity of the Sciences, scientists and philosophers have been asked to reflect on the role of absolute values in their respective disciplines; at the Assemblies of the World's Religions, religious leaders of every tradition have been brought together to work for inter-religious fellowship and understanding in the global village. In sum, leaders in science, government, religion, journalism and scholarship have all been asked to transcend the confines of their respective professions and work together for the radical improvement of humanity.

I must confess that, as an historian of religion, I have found those occasions on which Rev. Moon has shared his understanding of his mission with those in his presence to be among the most extraordinary moments of my entire career. That understanding has been based upon a revelatory experience that he has characterized as "astonishing and fearful." By contrast, for myself and for most of my peers whose vocation is the scientific study of religion, awesome religious inspiration is something that happened, if at all, long ago. We are most comfortable studying derivative accounts of religious inspiration and revelation in books and manuscripts. Engaged in this labor, we are interested in our subject matter; we are calm; we are dispassionate and without inner disturbance. The situation is radically transformed- indeed, it is, as Rev. Moon has said, truly "astonishing"-when we are confronted by an inspired religious leader whose vocation is in the process of unfolding in our own time and even before our very eyes. We are not accustomed to such a manifestation of spiritual power and charisma. Our scientific and professional training has not prepared us for the encounter. Hence, we guard ourselves against it by inventing psychological categories to neutralize its potency as well as our discomfort before it. Nevertheless, the spiritual power is there and, whatever may be the religious tradition in which we are rooted, we feel it. Of one thing concerning Rev. Moon's self-understanding I am certain: all of his works, from which the world has already derived so much benefit, have sprung from that vision. Without it, there would be no ICUS, no PWPA, no Washington Times, no Assembly of World Religions, and certainly no revivified University of Bridgeport.

The University of Bridgeport is a non-sectarian institution. We are proud of the fact that every one of the world's major religions, including Judaism, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, is represented among our students and faculty. The free expression of every religious faith is welcome on our campus.

Rev. Moon: In the spirit of the highest regard for you, our benefactor, and in loyalty to our own religious traditions, we respectfully await your message as one of the world's most renowned religious leaders.

Richard L. Rubenstein

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