The Spiked Unification News
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
The Book Review You Ain't Never Gonna Read A month ago I wrote a book review of Nan Sook's book for the Unification News. Richard Lewis said he liked it, and I believe him. I think he fought for my little article as best he could, but I am informed that the official response from the leadership at 43rd St is to look the other way for the time being as far as THE BOOK goes, maybe hoping it'll go away by itself. It's all pretty vague. Since my review has been strangled at birth I'm posting it here for those who still have an interest in it:
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
A book review of "In The Shadow of The Moons" By Nan Sook Hong
"Happy families are all alike.
Unhappy families are unhappy
each in their own way."
Many of us old timers have been waiting hopefully for years for one of the True Children to write a serious autobiography that would give the rest of us a look into the real world and inner life of the True Family. We never expected anything quite like this.
Nan Sook was married to Father's eldest son Hyo Jin in 1982, following closely on the marriage of her elder brother Jin Whi Hong to Ye Jin Moon. She endured an abusive marriage for 14 years before finally leaving East Garden, with her children in August of 1995. She moved quietly into a neighborhood in Massachusetts close to Ye Jin Nim and Jin Whi Nim, who had also withdrawn from East Garden. In her 200 page autobiography Nan Sook explains the details of her life as it lead up to these events. The first chapter is a fairly standard history of the church, and Father's life, with a few but not many surprises, providing a background for the events to come. From chapter 2 the real story begins, drawing the reader into a truly absorbing description of an impoverished childhood in the slums of Seoul in a neighborhood called "Moontown." Her mother, Gil Ja Yoo Hong, and father, Sung Pyo Hong, were one of the early elite 36 Blessed Couples. Her father made a struggling existence founding a pharmaceutical company, on $500, which would soon become Il Hwa Pharmaceuticals. Her description of life in urban Korea in the mid '60s is warm, fascinating and well written. She's no Amy Tan, but she does write with a bittersweet sincerity of her early life, rising early in a one room house, to wash up at a faucet in an alleyway and going to Chung Pa Dong church with her brother Jin Whi to hear Father speak. She is making an important investment in this description of her life as a naive and virginal girl, the ideal Blessed Child, worthy of a prince. It is setting the stage for the disaster which is to come.
Hyo Jin Nim, for providential reasons, was raised apart from his parents, with terrible consequences anyone might have foreseen. Here we have a boy with a powerful personality, a large restless spirit, living day to day in an environment he must have found suffocating, but without the strong hand of a Father he needed so desperately. He learned to rebel, to "act out". He also learned that the timid members and leaders around him, for their own reasons, would do little to restrain him. He grew into a lonely brat prince, experienced with women, and burdened with growing substance abuse problems. After all this, he found himself suddenly married to a terrified 15 year old virgin who had never had anything to do with boys in her life, whose only knowledge of sex came from a simple book her mother had given to her. As Nan Sook describes it, the great expectations of her were that she would entice the brat prince away from his affairs with mature women, and charm him into a healthy, tranquil domestic life, filled with children. This didn't happen. Her description of her first sexual encounter with Hyo Jin is graphic, and pathetic. For the duration of their marriage, she grimly endured sex, but she never learned to love Hyo Jin as a man. When the beatings began, she decided it was time to leave.
Nan Sook comes across as a sincere and passionate woman, a woman very few of us really knew. The sword of her mouth cuts both ways. For those who she felt were cruel to her, her words are cruel enough. But for those who were kind to her, she is still affectionate. In several passages she describes Heung Jin Nim as a "sweet boy", her friend, whose posthumous deification deeply disturbed her. Un Jin Nim is remembered as a genuinely loving sister, who first took her under her wing when she came to East Garden. Remembering Sunday service with the members at Belvedere she seems wistful: "Mostly he (Reverend Moon) urged us to dedicate our lives to serving God and humanity by becoming moral and just individuals. It was a noble calling. Most of us in that room at Belvedere on Sunday mornings really believed, however naively, that by our goodness alone we could change the world. There was an innocence and gentleness about our beliefs that is seldom reflected in the denunciations of Unification Church members as cultists. We may have been seduced into a cult, but most of us were not cultists. We were idealists. . . .
"Un Jin and I would stay up late into the night baking in the mansion's kitchen, chatting in Korean. Un Jin was a wonderful cook and a generous spirit, sharing up her chocolate chip cheesecakes and homemade cookies with the security guards who had an office in the basement of the mansion."
It may well be that Nan Sook and her bitter book are a necessary thing. In the spiritual life, every once in a while it is necessary to do a little soul searching. A person must examine him or herself honestly and fiercely to root out what is false. As an institution evolves it makes mistakes and acquires baggage that really should be critically examined, and in some cases -- let go. It would be a mistake to despise or dismiss this book as trash or cheap publicity. If even half of what is written here is true, we have a great deal to reflect on, and this book is not going to go away any time soon. As Father has said "Conscience comes before everything." Sometimes your best and truest friends are those you've wounded who look you in the eye and tell you what no one else will. Hyo Jin's painful life is testimony to the value of having such friends, and the harm that comes from the absence of them. It may be that we are entering a peculiar time of purification and self examination before we are ready to enter the world stage as a true spiritual movement, and even this book has its special place.
A friend of mine described the book as "mean spirited." Another said "she's probably just out for the money."
Her passages on Mother and In Jin Nim can only be described as . . . well, . . . sort of bitchy. And certainly this book will go a long ways to heal her financial situation. But still I think the real meaning of it all runs much deeper. It may be that the true irony, the genuine tragedy of Nan Sook's wretched life is that it changed her into someone else. In her early photos, there is a bright, pure, painfully wishful young girl, thrown into a situation that would have perplexed the most sophisticated courtesan. In her lonely sojourn, far from experiencing True Love, she may have corrupted herself along the way, learning to hide away her feelings, learning to play the game as it was given to her, until finally the naive girl disappeared, replaced by the courtesan. There is something to think about here, when such a gentle soul can be so deeply damaged by the life that the rest of us would all aspire to as Heaven.
Comments on this book review may be emailed to me at: email@example.com
Notice to Richard Lewis [editor of Unification News]: I would like my email address included here as written, as part of the article, because I would be interested in discussing this book with people who read my review.
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