The Words of the Schanker Family
How Firm a Family Foundation?
Rev. Phillip Schankar
Unification Church Washington DC
May 2, 1999
I arrived early this morning after a marathon fishing challenge. For the first time in my life in this movement I observed that Father canceled a meeting because there weren't enough people there. When he was ready to begin the leaders meeting, he looked and saw some 200 people there and said, "I expected 800. I want to completely reorganize and redirect and tighten and clarify the direction of our movement in America centering on blessing and blessed families."
He also announced, as you may have heard, the age of familyism, where not only family churches should be led by individuals but by parents, husbands and wives together. But also departments, businesses and everything, that parents should be the models of leadership in all areas. But he felt that there was not enough of a foundation of people there for him to share. He had a notebook full of points. He said, I have two days' worth of material.
Of course we felt burdened by his stern and disappointed spirit, but within minutes we were out on the Hudson instead, fishing in a marathon condition that, because we couldn't easily fulfill it, took us until past 9 o'clock. We were fishing in the dark and singing on the way home in the dark. It was a wonderful and joyful time. Father's spirit suddenly changed so much and his mind opened completely to the people who were there. He said, when my mind is open to you like this and we're this close, the gates of heaven open in our midst. But if my mind is closed to you, then you'll feel the gates of heaven closing as well. He was talking just about the intimacy and closeness.
So it actually turned out to be a very beautiful day, although we weren't able to receive what Father had prepared. But he turned a loving and inspired heart toward us. Many of our members are still there.
My sermon this morning is, How Firm a Family Foundation?, and through it I want to share the essence of what Father shared with us yesterday as well.
From The Way of God's Will, the section on family and family life, page 395.
When you love children, don't love them as individuals. You must raise them to express filial piety toward True Parents and loyalty toward the ideal. For that purpose you must build a certain foundation so that your children will, without fail, become loyal subjects, women of fidelity, and sons and daughters of filial piety. Only this way can you become ready to enter heavenly life. It is greater filial piety to serve the parents of the nation than those of your own family, and even more so to serve the parents of the world, and much more so to serve the parents of heaven and earth.
The tradition of a family should be established by each of three successive generations. A blessed family is the fruit of the 6,000 year history. If the Unification Church has to leave the tradition for the rest of the world, then most important is how it leaves the standard of family unity to the cosmos." And finally, "A family is the mother of the Kingdom of Heaven and its ideal is love.
I want to share some important words about our family life, and I know for many of us who are challenged on the level of relationship with spouse, unity in the family, raising our children, that the challenge of these words may be painful. I know for any parents it's among the most difficult things in the world to look at my children, feeling responsible for their outcome and their situation and when they are going through difficulty or face trials and tribulations, how to bear that in my heart.
Certainly that is one profound way to understand God's heart as well, God's own pain, frustration, and perhaps self-reflection. But when we consider the foundation of my own family, how firm it is, how it will affect my children, my community, my future, I'd like you to reflect from the standpoint of True Father's mission. Father proclaimed already clearly that he was born with the mission to save all of humankind, to turn the world in the direction of God's will and providence, to lead all human beings, past, present and future, back to God. The song we sang today, New Song of Inspiration, is Father's own testimony:
Upon the earth I came to life, in this world God prepared.
One rejoicing land of freedom I am chosen to build,
to reveal the truth of God, His purpose and His will.
That song not only for him but for all who sing it.
I reflected this morning driving back to Washington on this self-proclaimed mission which has called us all to be here, and has caused us to dedicate a huge portion of our entire life to its fulfillment. Father's mission can be compared to one man trying to change the direction of the Titanic, one person by himself starting alone, seeing a huge multi-ton ship moving through the water and feeling responsible single-handedly to figure out the way to mobilize enough people change enough of the direction, influence the direction of this huge monolith so that it actually can turn its direction and avoid disaster, knowing that if he doesn't do it, no one else will. Looking nowhere, left or right, to anyone else. The buck stops here.
Father's mission can be compared with a flea landing on the back of an elephant, trying to figure out how to make the entire elephant follow the flea. How to establish a new direction, a new tradition to stop the momentum of the fallen world, the false ways, false words, hurtful direction of the world, and turn the whole thing in a different direction, starting alone. And it becomes clearer and clearer that the main instrument of that process is a network of blessed families.
When we think about that, and how to bring success in our family -- it's already challenging enough, isn't it? Just as a family in the worldly sense to establish harmony, love, understanding, to protect and guide my children. But from Father's viewpoint, success in my family is not just experiencing love, spending time with my children, reading to them, the things that are or should be close to the heart of every parent. It's not just a matter of leading my children to external success.
And when I say that, I want to strongly caution you. This does not mean that you or I should look toward any family that has invested a lot of time in a particular hobby or sports activity or career direction or something special for their children -- nothing that I'm saying means that we should look toward someone who's gone in that direction with any critical eye or judgment. The point is that external success alone is not the measure of our family life and success. The point is internal success. To establish a family with which God can be proud and bequeath a new tradition to all humanity through three generations of my family. To be part of that process of changing the direction and leaving behind a legacy which all humanity can look to and learn and inherit from.
Father, of course, has been most strict and absolute in an unswerving conviction that his mission with his own family is not about the way that you or I might judge or evaluate family success, but it's about establishing a spiritual tradition that can be multiplied and spread and inherited, a tradition of loving the world first. And Father has been strict to the point beyond reason in many ways. And again, perhaps because he wakes up every day knowing that he's the flea that has to turn the elephant.
As I've said before, I don't wake up with that sense. I read in Father's words that sometimes he'll wake up in the middle of the night and find himself on his knees in prayer, without even thinking, crying out, unable to sleep. And so true to that concern, he's walked such a strict and difficult path.
Then if that's the mission of a blessed family, then what does my family success rest upon? There are challenges for all of us in our family life. Let me preface this by saying that it's very difficult to evaluate the situation of any one family. I know there are people here, our brothers and sisters, who have offered no less faith, no less sacrifice, no less commitment, no less desire and determination, but finds that their particular challenge on a family level is an extremely difficult one.
In the first place, just as we can't compare ourselves to each other as individuals, there's no way I can compare my life and course with yours because I am not a 44-year product. I'm a 6,000 year product. The thoughts in my head, the way I respond to crises, the way I communicate with my wife or children -- all that is about me is not just the result of how hard I try, how much I give. It's the result of my particular ancestral course. Is that point clear to everyone? So you cannot compare because no one's path is your path.
But isn't the same true with the family? Isn't the same true with a marriage? It's difficult to evaluate. I shared with you about Muriel's situation. I had cancer four years ago and was told by the physician that I should prepare to die, and if I was lucky, I would come out of it with only a leg missing, that that was the best case scenario. It's easy for those who have a disease like cancer to begin to question, why am I sick? What's happened to me? What's wrong with me? But it's difficult to tell because there are environmental factors, food factors, personality factors.
Oncologists, cancer experts are able to predict about 80 percent of the time the personality type of a person who's susceptible to cancer. But there are also all kinds of factors, even in the strength of my own constitution hereditarily. I had an analysis done when I was young, actually twice, by a naturopath in the 70s, and later at Ishiin Hospital in Japan when I was very ill, and the conclusions were the same. They were able to tell me exactly the strengths and weaknesses of my constitution, based on heredity, what I had inherited from my ancestors, and therefore what I was susceptible to. I was told that if I didn't balance my body and mind, that my personality and character were so intense and my body was not strong in certain areas, and if I didn't rectify that balance that I would fall apart in my 30s. And that's exactly what happened. I still haven't rectified the balance.
But it's the very same with my individual character and personality and what I've inherited internally from my ancestors. And it's also the same in a marriage relationship, a blessed marriage relationship, because you can't simply say, these marriages are for the purpose of incredible joy. Therefore, the purpose of creating great children, or for the purpose of walking a path of indemnity. I've heard all of these things. The simple fact is that God gave me this person so that through them I could become the person I need to be to enter the gates of heaven, to live in the city.
And so even in this beautiful movement, with a wonderful ideal of family, and tremendous standards of how to live and act personally in a relationship, how to sacrifice and live for the sake of another. Even if I've argued in the morning, I should give my spouse a smile at night. I should act as if nothing has happened. Even with all of the wonderful guidance and ammunition that we have, it's still a very difficult path to walk because of the historical mission and meaning of our marriage. So some of us find ourselves for periods of time, or perhaps more than a period of time, without a partner. We find ourselves not able to give two parents in the home to my children.
Yet whatever the situation, you can't just simply predict -- although these things are difficult for a child, difficult for a young person, difficult for children being raised in that environment -- but sometimes because of ancestry, because of destiny, because of so many things, a child will grow up and develop a mighty character in the midst of unbelievable adversity. Have you seen that happen?
As I talk about the family ideal, I don't want those of us who face challenges that seem already overwhelming to feel burdened by guilt. Guilt has nothing to do with God. Guilt was created by the one who stepped outside of God's will, stepped out of the light into the shadow. The author of guilt is Satan. The author of self-accusation is Satan. Those feelings have nothing to do with God.
The fact that you may feel them in a sermon given at the church, or even in the words of our Father, doesn't mean that the person who is speaking are doing guilt. It means you and I are doing guilt, in the words of Est seminars that I attended many years ago.
What you feel and how you respond and what goes on within us -- we look back on our years in this path of faith and what we experienced and felt, don't too quickly assume that someone else was doing that to you. That's what you and I were doing inside. Do you understand my meaning? But in my brief experience in ministry, I've found that the foundation of our family rests on three things.
There are many things that could be said but this morning I want to focus on three elements of a foundation for a meaningful blessed family life. All of them are about unity. Number one, unity between mind and body. That's described as integrity. Secondly, unity with God, the life of faith in my family. And third, unity with my spouse, the practice of true love.
In the first area, unity of my own mind and body, between my own words and actions. I want to share some of Father's words on the subject. "The home where children can proudly say that their father and mother are wonderful, and where they see their parents rejoice, is a resting place for the children. Don't have an unpleasant face during the daytime and at night. Wake up smiling. Work smiling. And go to bed smiling. No weed will grow in those who live with the heart of parents." "We should not become shameful persons in front of our offspring." "To live bothered by one's conscience is the worst, and it hurts not only oneself but his family, race, nation, the world, and even God. To establish the authority of your family, you must first establish the authority of your individual self. To establish the authority of your individual self you must heighten your consciousness of the authority of the Will." "A child is wordless, but he is a teacher who leads his parents. A child acts after he explores his parents' heart by himself."
In all of my work, although very brief, with husbands and wives, with parents and children, and with young people struggling to grow, the effect upon children of not what we say but how we live is most profound and impactful reality. No lack of integrity can be hidden, no difficulty of lying or covering the truth or making excuses. Any gap between my words and my actions, the ideals I espouse and my own struggle to live them, that gap will have an impact on my family, whether it's in the open or in private. We should be urgent and serious about the quality of my life.
My older brother once criticized me. My brother is actually a man of great integrity, but also a person who because of our own dysfunctional family experience growing up, like our other siblings decided not to get married, not to have children. I'm the only one with children, and I was always scared and challenged about whether I would be able to accomplish a loving family. My joining the church, my devotion to the Principle was largely because I felt now I know how to be a husband and how to be a father. I know what to teach my children. And no matter what else has happened to me until now, I feel confident that I can teach my children the keys to having a happy and a meaningful life.
But my brother once complained, saying, you always have some crusade that you're chasing after. You're always after some global salvation and you leave your family behind and you don't spend time. He said, which is very easy for him with no children -- he visits a couple of times a year, takes care of the kids, feels like a real hero -- and he's a wonderful person. I'm trying to match him, desperately. He said, don't you think that if every family in the world stopped trying to do things for the world and others and tried to teach people how they should live, and just went home and took care of their own family, wouldn't world peace be immediate, wouldn't everything work out? When you first hear that, it makes a lot of sense. But thank God that my incredible life has supplemented so many of my weaknesses with my children, and that my children have learned and inherited much from the church culture and the community.
As my brother has watched my children growing up, he finally came last year to visit and said -- and this is a transition from mocking me when I used to pray at the dinner table when we were younger. When I came home for the first time and would pray quietly to myself, my brothers would tease me in the midst of my prayer and mock my religiosity and my efforts to try and live that way. There were bitter times as well around how much I was serving the family or not.
But my brother last time said, I really see that what Rev. Moon is doing through the blessing is a great thing because I can see what it's done for you. I will tell you without question, my children are the messiahs of my brothers and sisters, particularly this brother, who was almost a hermit, a recluse. He let no one in his house. He had no personal relationships. He didn't live for love. He lived for food, for money so he could fly his plane and be on his computer. My brother's a wonderful person, but now the object of love in his life, that has moved him out of his house, across the country to live for the sake of others, are my children.
So when my brother asked me that question, wouldn't it all be solved if we just spent our time investing in our children, I acknowledged that I don't do enough and that many times my mission has been an emotional excuse for an inability for me to invest in my wife and my children. There are times when staying at the office late may not be a necessity for the providence, may not be a public act. But essentially I shared with my brother, my children learn not just from the time that I spend with them but from who I am and how they see me live.
Integrity. A unity between what I say and what I do.
The second pillar upon which my family's spiritual success rests is devotion. The life of faith in my family. I know that for many you are having difficulty wrestling your children to hoon dok hae at 6 in the morning, or at 7, or at 9 at night, if that works for your family. But in reading Father's words I came to reflect on the times when I don't get up because I got to bed at 2 in the morning, or I have some reason, or when I am not serious. Father's words challenge me to reflect on the impact of how I practice my faith, particularly men. Women are so much more naturally religious. Did you notice? Women are so much more naturally and effectively religious. But husbands and fathers, the practice of your faith -- and I'm not saying how many times you go to church, although that is an important element as well -- does impact your children.
Your attitude toward fulfilling a certain tradition or fulfilling a religious practice which, as I read this morning, from Father's viewpoint is not some empty tradition but a way of a family acknowledging what we are living for, what we hold to be most important, what we hold to be most dear. Your attitude will affect your children's attitude.
Let me share from Father's words on this subject. "Blessed families must set the example in serving heaven. You must look forward to Sundays, and the first day of every month, with both your mind and body fully dressed. Early in the morning couples ought to pray in tears, holding the hands of their children. The children ought to be able to long for and adore their parents while their parents are away." "Even though blessed children may have hardships, you should not live according to their needs but in accordance with the destiny of God, the nation, and the world."
"Every Sunday you should bow to God in your own family. Prior to appearing at official meetings we must go through the ceremonies in our own families of having become children of filial piety, loyal subjects, and women of fidelity. Through these ceremonies, God, True Parents, ourselves, and all things become directly connected."
I say this as one who has not been naturally comfortable with the ritual aspects of our life of faith, and yet it's not just about the external action or ceremony, but about what it raises up in our consciousness and that of our children.
The third pillar, unity with my spouse. And I can't tell you how important this is. Unity doesn't mean we always agree. It doesn't mean we never fight. It doesn't mean we aren't going through difficulties. But unity means we are facing each other squarely and involved in give and take. And when give and take breaks down, when there isn't understanding or communication, we can either try harder to initiate or renew that relationship by giving more, or if that fails, what the Principle teaches is that to create unity between a subject and an object if there is no relationship, we should have a medium, someone with whom each one can communicate. Thereby through that mediator, those who can't understand each other's heart can be able to understand each other's heart.
Unfortunately what many of us do is withdraw into witnessing sometimes. There are people in our religious community somewhere in America that have incredible witnessing results and are loyal and faithful, investing in every campaign, and haven't been in the same bed with their partner that they're living with for months or years. That is not a healthy family. That is not a way to deal with the situation. There is nothing in the Principle that says that's how were supposed to live.
You cannot fake it. Your children know. It comes out in their struggles. They question the integrity of the family. Just like a gap between the mind and body means a struggle of the integrity of the individual, if children sense the gap between father and mother, it comes out in their struggles. It doesn't mean you're Mr. Religion. It doesn't mean you always do everything right, like get up on time and never make mistakes. It means you're accountable to your partner and you're investing in that relationship and you're trying to bring God into it. If that's not being done, your children know. I've seen it so clearly.
Many of our parents are facing a challenge raising our children. We've experienced naturally amongst 13 to 14 year olds waves of infatuation sweeping across the youth of our community all across America. It's natural when you're 13 or 14 to discover the mystery and attractiveness of the opposite sex, to be drawn to them. It's understandable for a 13-year-old, who can't look at a boy or a man and be able to tell if love is true or false, to recognize what's wrong with the love of the world. It's understandable for them to then question, how can I be matched by someone else when I feel an attraction for this. These are natural struggles. But the crisis comes when the gap of trust between parents and child begins. And I know that many of you are struggling with that gap and your children are as well.
There is a process by which every young person needs to establish who they are. "I am not my parents. I am me." So there's a natural tendency to want to reject everything that comes from my parents. But the bond of heart and your child's sense of the integrity of their individual parents and their relationship between their parents is the number one factor on their ability to keep that bond of trust. Otherwise you begin to sense, and all of us will go through it at some point, because we're not perfect. Our minds and bodies aren't one, our relationships aren't one, but when there's a gap of trust between me and my child, and when a crisis comes up, how to reach across that gap without watching it widen. It's like standing on two blocks of ice and they seem to be getting farther apart. I know many parents of teenagers know exactly the feeling I'm talking about.
A crisis arises because of the gap, and if you try to solve the crisis, it may widen the gap. Your children may want to reject who and what you are. Many of our families are facing these challenges in raising their children. Not unusual, not abnormal. Someone called me one time when a difficulty that had arisen for their child caused the parents to reflect again on their relationship, and to realize, maybe it isn't really real. Maybe we have to re-evaluate our commitment, our connection, our honesty. I'm not talking guilt or blame. But you can't fake it.
Believe me, if there's challenge or struggle or difficulty, if you feel miles apart from your spouse at times, but you're investing in it, working on it, reaching out for mediation when it's helpful, then your children read integrity in that. And you'll watch them grow with a sense of respect for that integrity.
From Father's words:
Origin-division- union action is manifested concretely in daily family life. When you leave home in the morning, do so with happiness. And when you come back home, do so with happiness. After coming back home you should talk to your wife and children about what happened that day. Discuss with them, correct things, connect everything with love and a smile. You may discuss the Will with your spouse, but if either of you wants to keep some secrets about the Will, you may do so, even for eternity. You should have that kind of relationship. Worldly couples have not been that way.
First we must express filial piety as children to our parents. When we grow up, we must be a couple of fidelity. These are internal, heartistic stages which we must go through, and what we must express externally is loyalty.
When you find some imbalance in your relationship with your spouse, both of you should be sincere enough to supplement each other by heart and faithfulness.
A man is a representative of True Father, and a woman a representative of True Mother. If a husband neglects his wife, therefore, this means that he neglects True Mother. If a wife tells a lie to her husband, this means that she tells a lie to God.
Even though you quarrel with your spouse in the morning, when he returns home in the evening, you must give him a smile and treat him as though you did not ever quarrel with him.
I share this, this morning not to place a burden upon you, but to ask us all to reflect once more on Father's perspective of the kind of families that he came to the world to create. Not just families that spend time together, not just families that have children of external success, and even self-worth. These are things very important to me. But we have families like that in the world and the world is still alienated from God and in misery and pain.
Father is like the flea on the back of the elephant, who has invested his entire life to create the foundation to turn that elephant to follow the direction of the flea. Yesterday at Belvedere Father shared deeply, and I want to conclude with some of those points.
Father's morning message was, "The value of True Parents' words." Father said, I have given so many points about my life, about answers, about how to live. In my words you can find the key to peace and how to become a filial son or daughter of heaven. Father mentioned more than 300 books have been published. He said any great sage or philosopher has disciples and students who discuss and debate and reflect on and consider and interpret his words forever. He said, if you want to understand the life of a great man, you must understand his word and thought and you must understand his way of life.
Father challenged all of us. Who is the number one champion of Hoon Dok Hae? It's me. He said, I bow to the words that I said 50 years ago, the things that God was present and speaking and that the truth is so clearly spoken. I am overwhelmed and I bow to those words. He said, what I'm saying today is the same thing I said 50 years ago. But he said, if you haven't been studying the words I said 50 years ago, how can you understand what I'm saying to you today?
He challenged us, absolutely to become students who not just read them but become familiar with the contents. All of Father's life and thought and tradition is there. Father said, when I am gone, the way in which you will know how I live is through these words and you must embrace them and become one with them and make them yours.
If you read them, if you own them, how proud you will be compared to all humankind. Study and practice. These books are like a beacon tower. Don't take an easygoing way. If white people are arrogant and complacent while black people, oriental people study constantly and quietly, the easygoing ones will go to their doom. Father said, I feel like I've done my job. I've taught everything.
Many of you have read Dr. Sang Hun Lee's book on life in spirit world. Father explained once more that actually Dr. Lee during his life on earth was skeptical about Father's teaching about spirit world. Didn't agree with it, didn't accept it, was more interested in the logic and profoundness of Unification Thought. But the reason that book is so meaningful to Father is that Dr. Lee went to spiritual realm and found out everything Father has been saying is in fact the reality. How precious are those words.
How does Father bequeath a tradition to humanity, to turn humanity in the direction of God's tradition? Number one is his word. Secondly, Father emphasized the ideal family workshop in Brazil. He said what do you do there for 40 days? Why do I take a photograph with every couple and register them for the Kingdom? It's not just my presence there but the words. You live it and study it every day. These words are the embodiment of everything that I am. He pushed us, quickly go and bring your family there.
A third point, which you might have heard before, is he strongly challenged us about the importance of learning Korean.
This is my reflection. If the world developed distant from the heart of God, with a culture of life instead of life, with a culture of selfishness, and if the world has been distant and far from the heart of God, and if God's work in history was to establish a fertile field, to water it and prepare it so that the seed of the truth could be planted in that field, and if that field is the chosen nation, and if the culture of the chosen nation, whether Hebrew culture of 4,000 years ago, the Christian culture of the last 2,000 years, or the Korean culture of today, if it is the reflection of God's investment, if the traditions and expressions of a culture reflect God's own providence and heart, then Father said there's no way you can truly understand me except in Father's language, which is the reflection of that culture, the fruit of that historical providence of God.
Father also talked about our goal by the year 2000, to wed 400 million young, pure, prepared couples. Father said that the work he's doing in the spiritual realm is equivalent, but Father is arranging and organizing four times the number of people, 1.6 billion in the spiritual world, young and pure and prepared, many who passed away as youth. And that those ones will be supporting and working from the spiritual side over the next months. He said, you will find young people longing for the blessing, interested in receiving it. Concerned about the permanence of their marriage and commitment, and the values of the blessing.
I found in Father's words from the 1960s or 70s these words. "It is deplorable that spirit men attack families. Only if all of you prepare and establish a foundation can I organize families in the spirit world. Thus, it is you who are responsible for the mobilization of spirit world on earth." Father began his talk by asking, which is the focus of the providence? We're doing so much in the spiritual world, what's the focus, spirit world or earth? Father said, absolutely the earth. This is the focus of the work we're doing. But he is arranging on the spiritual side, as the Principle teaches, mobilization and support from the spiritual realm.
I mentioned to you already Father canceled the leadership meeting he was going to hold, sent everyone to the water, and yet gave incredible love and warmth and encouragement. It was a very precious and valuable day. As we rode home in the dark on the boat on the Hudson, as a full moon was rising, we were singing "Stand By Me," and gospel music, and "I'll Never Leave You Any More" as we glided into the harbor. I was grateful to God for the opportunity to be there and to learn the things that we've learned.
The three pillars I mentioned today I'm going to make themes, and use one Sunday sermon on each one. The relationship between my mind and body. My integrity and how it impacts my marriage and family. The relationship between myself and God as it is manifested in a life of faith and how it affects my family an children. And finally, unity between husband and wife. Unity which doesn't mean always understanding or bliss. It can mean that you're fighting like crazy to restore your ancestors and save your marriage. But with that unity and accountability the children will see the integrity of your marriage. There's no replacement for that, not money, not success, not career, not position, not title, not gifts, not anything.
For those who find crisis in your marriage because you can't control all the decisions and commitments of your partner or others, it doesn't change a thing about the truthfulness of the way we're going, about God's love and support for you and your family. But our community is called not to be isolated and distant from one another, but to be aware and supportive.
All through this book Father talks about trinity life, three families living together, supporting each other, meeting once a month, understand what's going on as parents, as husbands and wives, supporting each other and encouraging each other. We need to evaluate how to implement that in our community, wouldn't you agree? If our worldwide trinity system is not functional for your family then we need to reflect on how to become accountable to practice true love in my family and in my community.
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