Articles From the April 1994 Unification News
UViews April 1994
Unificationists have not yet developed a political platform, but when the time comes to do so, there will be two fundamental planks: first: belief in God, and second: harmony of left and right. The first plank comes under the heading "Godism," and the second under "headwing ideology".
The fact that it is not very easy to accomplish social policies which fit those two axioms in the present order of things may explain the trouble Unificationists have when asked to comment on specific social policies. Our tendency to shift the subject matter to the topic of John the Baptist's failure to follow Jesus, or the parental heart of God, reflects this uncertainty about the political implications of our teachings. And when Unificationists do discuss the application of their faith to social questions, we find, interestingly enough, that we often do not come to the same conclusions: further impetus back to the subject of God's parental heart and the problem of people failing to follow the Messiah.
To sound a positive note, this divergency of conclusions and reversion to the basic theological issues is entirely consistent with the fact that we must restore ourselves and our marriages before we can hope to reform society. We are not so vain as to think ourselves so superior in ethics or intelligence that the application of our thinking power to the world's problems will bring their solution. It is rather our objectivity to God's heart and our following True Parents which we have to offer. Therefore, the inevitable looping back of our conversations.
Further to the positive, we can reflect on the fact that the first plank of the Unificationist position, the conviction that political and social reform begins with belief in God, is in synch with a recent shift in America's political culture. I cite the conclusions of four American scholars, based upon current social research, published April's edition of First Things.
"The historic conflict between coalitions of rival religious traditions," write the authors, is being replaced by a new division between more-religious and less-religious people across those traditions. Our analysis suggests that one of the emerging coalitions will be united by belief in God, an understanding that such belief has implications for public life, and a preference for religious language in political discourse. The opposite coalition will be united by nontheistic or at least nonorthodox beliefs, the policy implications of such beliefs, and hostility to religious language in political debate. If this analysis is correct, Evangelicals and committed members of other religious traditions could find themselves united in the Republican Party facing Seculars and less committed members in other traditions among the Democrats." (Italics mine.)
It is interesting, and I believe accurate, that the scholars identify the Republican Party, and not the Democratic, as the one which will prove hospitable to the policies implicated by belief in God. Let us examine briefly the origins of these two parties. Both arose out of the reform cauldron of the 1820s through 1850s. The coalition which formed the Republican Party included factions of religious radicals: abolitionists, anti-masons, and sabbatarians. Compromises were necessary in order for these groups to combine with the dying Whig Party, the legates of the colonial era conservatives. What was the basis of this coalition?
I think that the most important link between the old-time Whigs and reformist radicals was a religious one. The Whigs were heirs of the view that the Puritans carried the seed of God's providence, which after a long medieval dormancy sprouted in Wittenburg, developed shoots in Geneva, blossomed in England and finally was transplanted to the free and fertile soil of the New World.
According to this reading of history, once in America, the tree was invigorated by new infusions of God's spirit by the Awakenings. While the opponents of the Awakening did not immediately abandon the conviction that America was God's chosen nation, they did, by rejecting the revivals, make common cause with the Unitarians, Universalists and advocates of free thought who are without question the ideological forebears of secular humanism.
Thus, the Republican Party included those whose policies were informed by faith in God, from the beginning, in comparison with the Democratic Party. Naturally the Secularists of the 1830s and 40s found friends among the Catholic and Jewish communities in the fast-growing cities of the east, who for other reasons rejected the Protestant revivals. Out of this combination arose the urban-based labor movement, a major bloc, along with southern interests, of the Democratic Party. As the tide of Catholic immigration swelled, so did the Democratic Party.
The revivals imbued a millennialist fire in thousands of churches in the north. The hand of God's avenging angel was about to strike America, they announced; the nation must repent and reform itself. The nation's most heinous sin was the institution of slavery. Gradually all the revival-born factions coalesced around this great cause, forming the Republican Party and electing Abraham Lincoln to the presidency.
Let us return to the article itself. These scholars have discovered that the new line dividing the political spectrum is not Catholic versus Protestant, as in year past, but rather the religious versus the non-religious. Their analysis surveys mainly Christian and Jewish culture, but it is fairly obvious that soon the dividing line-in America, first, and then worldwide-between the world's religions will fall, as believers find themselves sharing a common cause not with their own secularized fellows as much as with believers from other religions.
This fits with the Unificationist view of historical development, which posits that in the Last Days there will be a global confrontation between God and Satan. This confrontation was delineated, until a few years ago, by democracy versus communism. It is even more basic now: beyond religion, mankind is dividing between belief and unbelief.
Thus, common political cause will tend to draw the believers from different faiths together. In the words of the writers, "."these new coalitions will require significant adjustments among participating religious traditions. For Protestants will have to learn to cooperate among themselves, as well as with traditionalist Catholics and Jews, and with other religious conservatives, such as Mormons. Likewise, less orthodox religionists and Seculars will need to develop a firm moral and ethical basis for their politics." Thus, gradually the political and social implications of belief in God will unite Muslim, Buddhist, Jew and Christian, in political and cultural struggle against the policies implied or permitted under the tenet that there is no God.
Finally, these scholars note that neither side will be able to prevail simply by condemning the other. Real and practical agendas and policies must be fashioned. "Both sides will need to define themselves in positive terms rather than only in opposition to the real or imagined excesses of the other."
This brings up the question of what it is that the Republicans have to offer. As I stated last month, conservatives need an ideology. Consider the mileage Reagan traversed by trading on a very simple ideological conviction: "the less government, the better." That idea implies an entire vision for the nation. Democrats, on the other hand, have the opposite view: "the more government, the better." Republicans should wake up: it is an ideological battle, not a battle of effective policies or charming personalities.
And yet conservatives, with all their many tanks, continually bandy about euphemisms for rigorous ideology: "an agenda," "a vision," or, as in this article I am citing, "positive terms" by which to "define themselves." It is tantamount to Moses descending from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Suggestions. Conservatives must articulate what is right and what is wrong, and work from there.
Noted in Passing:
On "why the momentum of history seems to be shifting from the West to the East":
"Western democracies have become `less and less capable of ordering and organizing masses of people into a cohesive society,' says Benigno. Religion, the family and the school have `almost lost control of the child' in America. But Asia, he asserts-even with its huge and rapidly growing populations-experiences nothing resembling American levels of crime and violence.
"The future belongs to those who can move their ever-larger and more complex societies through it without collapsing into violence and chaos. In Benigno's view-and mine-some Asian societies may be better suited for that challenge than America." Daniel Burstein, citing and commenting on Teodoro Benigno in the Philippine Star (Critical Intelligence, April 1994)
On religious activism within the UN
"Religious groups have more UN input in wake of Cold War. Catholic religious orders are now making their mark at perhaps the most important forum in the world: the United Nations.
"At the same time, the growing strength of the orders and other non- governmental organizations (NGOs) at the UN has drawn a negative response from some governments. NGO representative attempt to influence UN documents, proceedings and decisions, often on controversial issues. Twenty-three Catholic-related NGOs are now affiliated with the UN." Peter Feuerherd, Religious News Service (RNS), March 14, 1994
On the impact of Anglican ordination of women to the priesthood
"Vatican calls women Anglican priests a `deep obstacle'. The Vatican says the March 12 ordinations of 32 women to the priesthood in the Church of England is a `very deep obstacle' to unity between the Roman Catholic Church and Anglicanism.
"It is not a question of equality or justice, but touches the very reality of the church and the way in which the church understands its Sacraments. . . . The Catholic Chuch, because of well-founded theological reasons, in fidelity to the teaching of Jesus Christ and to unbroken practice throughout the centuries, does not maintain it has the right to authorize such an ordination," the [Vatican] statement said." RNS, March 21, 1994
On a rising belief in angels A George Gallup survey (1992) found that 76% of all teenagers believe in angels; among Christian teens, 81% of Protestants and 78% of Catholics believe in angels. Yankelovich Partners, in 1993, found that 69% of adults believe in angels. 45% of adults believe that they have a guardian angel, and 32% report feeling the presence of an angel. 49% of adults believe in fallen angels. 52% of adults believe in the devil, and 37% believe one can be possessed by the devil. In a 1991 study, 11% of adults stated that they have talked with the devil. RNS, March 21, 1994
On the self-destruction of liberal Christian faith
"The center no longer holds. There is no single orthodoxy (or even multiple orthodoxies) capable of expressing the convictions of everyone. So we fashion our own ideologies, weaving a bit of Presbyterianism with pentecostalism, perhaps, adding some Anglican liturgy and maybe throwing in a bit of New Age spiritualism-crystals, massage, meditation-for good measure.
"When the center collapses, and with it the authoritarian trappings that held it together, all sorts of reconfigurations are possible." Russell Balmer, RNS, March 28, 1994
On some currents in American Judaism
Conservative Judaism, which attempts to retain the standards of orthodoxy while being responsive to the larger culture, is in a battle over the question of homosexuality. Recently the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards debated- and voted down-a proposal that would have repealed the ancient Jewish ban on homosexuality. Some within the Conservative ranks are complaining.
Reform Judaism, the more liberal branch of the faith in America, accepts gays and lesbians into its rabbinical school.
Meanwhile, sides are dividing among the Lubavitch Hasidic sect over who will inherit the mantle of their aged leader. Menachem mendel Schneerson, the 91-year old Lubavitcher Rebbe, is extremely ill, having suffered two strokes in the past two years. Schneerson became Rebbe in 1951, and is considered by his followers to be the "moshiach", the messiah. Why God has not revealed this to the world at the time of his demise, is hard for the Lubavitchers to understand. (RNS, March 21, 1994)
Not to worry; even if God can't figure it out, somebody will.
On the blessings of graduate school in religion
As scholars wander about the perimeters of the Principle, well, their thinking gets weirder and weirder. Consider the work-in-progress reported by Vanderbilt Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, Renita J. Weems. It began as her dissertation, which started with the sentence: "Israel's prophets used some of the most explicit, provocative, lurid descriptions of human passion imaginable to convey the depth of Israel and God's relationship." After three years of keeping pace with her fellows in the avant-garden of critical thinking, her first sentence now reads, "What is it about the image of a mangled, nude female body that grips the religious imagination."
Professor Weems reports this development as something to "gladden our hearts, "to know that professors, too, are still growing and learning." Keep on growing, professor. You either will realize that that Fall was an archangel seducing Eve, or will be the first theologian to break the pornography barrier.
On The Way Home: Beyond Feminism; Back to Reality by Mary Pride
In this time women's issues are of paramount importance. I've just been given the author's introduction to The Way Home: Beyond Feminism; Back to Reality by Mary Pride, and one passage strikes me as a very important truth:
"Homeworking is the biblical lifestyle for Christian wives. Homworking is not just staying home either (that was the mistake of the fifties). We are not called by God to stay home, or to sit at home, but to work at home! Homeworking is the exact opposite of the modern careerist/institutional/Socialist movement. It is a way to take back control of education, health care, agriculture, social welfare, business, housing, morality, and evangelism from the faceless institutions to which we have surrendered them. More importantly, homeworking is the path of obedience to God.
"Homeworking, like feminism, is a total lifestyle. The difference is that homeworking produces stable homes, growing churches, and children who are Christian leaders."
I was sent this by Jon Quinn, who came up with it in the context of his prayer and study concerning the mission of the Women's Federation for World Peace. I think he's on to something, even if it's just that thesis from Mary Pride.
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