Articles From the June 1994 Unification News
Religious Leaders and Scholars Meet on the Occasion of HSA's 40th Anniversary
by Dr. Frank Kaufmann-NYC
The Inter Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP), the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS), and the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), convened conferences concurrently in order to participate in the on-going activities commemorating the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Unification Movement. These celebrations began in Seoul, Korea March 26-29, 1994 with the Second World Peace Conference, co-sponsored by the Federation for World Peace (FWP), the Summit Council for World Peace, and the Segye Ilbo of Seoul. One might call this latter historic summit the fruition of the True Family's investment in the "Hyung Sang" realm of world leadership and global affairs. Full coverage of these events appeared in the May, 1994 issue of Unification News.
The "Sung Sang" organizations (IRFWP. ICUS, and PWPA) joined in celebrating True Family's historic 40 year victory on May 1, 1994 immediately following their respective conferences which occurred in the days leading up to the May 1 festivities. The IRFWP convened a conference entitled "The Reality of Evil and the Response of the World's Religions." ICUS gathered its leaders for the International Planning Conference for the 20th ICUS: "Absolute Values and the Unity of the Sciences: The Origin and Human Responsibility." PWPA convened the "PWPA Symposium on the Future of the Family."
Over 100 international religion scholars and religious leaders attended the IRFWP conference. 10's of nations were represented, along with all major world religions. All participants wrote papers on some aspect of the conference theme, thus yielding an unprecedented degree of inter-religious reflection on the all important theme of evil.
All religions abound with material devoted to understanding the reality of evil, and proposing programs devoted to its dissolution. Since all true religions affirm a Good God and/or a just Cosmic order, the obvious presence of real evil in the human experience, has always daunted those responsible to defend God and increase human commitment to goodness. For this reason, the most sophisticated theological work in every tradition, tends to be done in the effort to account for the seemingly irreconcilable chasm between the real and the ideal. Despite the fact that extensive work has been done throughout history, in every tradition on these issues, what has NOT been done to date, is the bringing together of leaders and scholars from different traditions to engage in a common effort to resolve this ever-thorny issue, and commit themselves to substantially diminishing the horrors of evil in this world.
Religious dialogue has taken so many forms and foci in this past century (often called the interfaith century), yet never have religions come together to discuss this greatest of all obsessions and responsibilities, namely to correctly identify the origin and nature of evil, and accurately prescribe its antidote. This courageous undertaking on the part of the IRFWP then, was that which attracted top-flight scholars and leaders from around the world. Invitees easily saw the genius behind the conference concept, and the undeniable relevance for such a conversation at the world-wide level.
Prior to the conference, participants were requested to write for one of three areas. At the conference they were placed in the appropriate dialogue groups. The first group dealt with the Theological and Philosophical dimensions of evil. Participants in this group introduced to each other the history of reflection from their respective traditions. In this way each could learn new ways to advance the resolving of these issues in their own traditions. The second group wrote on themes of applied and practical theology. Participants in this group were asked to identify concrete manifestations of evil, tell how their religion explained the arising and existence of such phenomena, and explain how their religion has attempted to deal with this in the past, and/or what their religion proposes at present about such problems. The third group was devoted to activism and mutual support. Here participants reported to one another about actual projects grounded in religious communities and presuppositions that are currently employed to confront and seek to dissolve the influence and spread of extant evil in our present world. Of course there is a great deal to report from such a rich and abundant exchange involving some of the world's great leaders and thinkers, far too much unfortunately for an article of this size.
The diverse range of approaches and orientations yielded superior work from a variety of meaningful considerations. Papers ranged from analyses of the current war in former Yugoslavia, to commentary on elements of spiritual growth and self-purification found in the Mahabharata, from Augustine's Confessions, to neglect of the aged in traditional Africa. Surely no other institute to date has produced serious research from the full family of religions on this all important question so relevant to our times. Through such experiences of intense engagement, and stimulating reflection in the context of thoroughgoing academic integrity, participants continue to be moved by Father's wisdom and devotion to pursuing world peace.
These occasions for scholarly and responsible exchange on matters of undisputed relevance, would certainly be sufficient to deserve the investment of preparation, travel and participation on the part of the guests, and self-sacrifice, and long hours of investment and service by the True Family and the hosting organizations. But this pure conferencing dimension what not all that made up the experience of those in attendance. The conferences were deliberately and explicitly convened in the context of commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Unification Movement. Thus the conferees were also guests of honor at festivities throughout the day on May 1, 1994.
From 10:00 am until 1:00 PM, Sunday May 1, 1994 c. 25,000 Koreans and international guests filled to capacity Seoul's gymnastic auditorium. Details of this wonderful occasion are reported in Dr. Baughman in the May issue of Unification News. What is relevant to note so far as this article is concerned, is the role played by leaders from the three conferences at this event. It has long been an interesting discussion to determine exactly what is meant by the term "Unification Movement". Certainly when one thinks about the many great world leaders who have been associated with Father, some for decades, through the visionary projects and peace initiatives founded and supported by Father, it would be hard to propose a definition of the movement that would exclude the likes of these co-laborers. Surely these faithful friends of the True Family and Unification members deserved to play significant roles in the 40 year celebration, and so they did. Whereas Young Whi Kim read a brief history of the movement, Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios delivered remarks of congratulations. Whereas Reverend Kwak delivered the commemorative address at the Olympic Gymnasium, Professor Thor Gerholm presented congratulatory remarks that evening at the Little Angels School. Professor Sang Hun Lee finished the morning celebration leading 25,000 in three cheers of Mansei. Professor Morton Kaplan led a toast to "my True Parents," to kick off the celebration banquet at the Little Angels School.
It was not so much the splendor and grandeur which made these days memorable and glorious, as much as it was the profound respect and authentic fondness expressed from these preeminent leaders for Father, his family and the fruits of his life's work. Each one, without exception hastened to express personal praise and gratitude to Father and the movement, and to affirm in unequivocal terms that such a life can be properly understood only as one which has been blessed by God.
Anecdotes and inner spiritual testimony of truly heart warming quality abound from these precious days honoring the great peace-maker, his family, disciples, and friends. While one always feels that the truly good can never be honored highly enough, there was indeed some joy to see the sheer beauty and tender offering that arose in response to steadfastness and victory over a dark and tortuous time.
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