Articles From the October 1995 Unification News


The Million Man March

UVIEWS October

By the time this is in your hands, the march will be over. We will know if a million men showed up, what happened, and the fallout, and many comments will have been made. Taking that risk, I cast my vote in favor of the march.

I do so not because of what I read in the New York Times. The Times does not even provide one the basis to form an opinion about the march. It had extensive coverage to the effect that many are planning to participate, and there are a variety of opinions about the march. What the Times fails to report is what the march is for!

However, I read some Nation of Islam literature on the march. The themes which the march is to represent are commitment to family, marital responsibility, the individual virtues of which males are especially called to manifest, and social responsibility, centered on God. These themes enliven my heart. The "reconciliation and atonement" aspect, as I understand it, means that the march's sponsors and participants are stating that they have failed to fulfill these ideals (and who among us has not?), and that they are determining in solidarity to uphold them and accomplish them.

Critics of the march focus mainly upon its exclusivism: only men (say some women); only blacks (say some other blacks; it is not PC for whites to say so); and, of course, the leadership of Minister Farrakhan, well-publicized for making racial-superiority and anti- semitic statements. Is Farrakhan molding black solidarity by inciting hatred of others as its foundation?

He may be using that as one of his tools; that cannot be denied. But are the men gathering because of the hatred, or because of the ideals? I submit that they are gathering not out of hatred, but out of idealism and hope, and that the power by which they are gathering is beyond Minister Farrakhan or any of the other leaders. If those leaders misuse that power, then they will fall; the power of ideals will prevail. It is just waiting for righteous leaders to articulate it.

Distinction from others always plays a role in forming a group identity. This takes benign form in the normal distinction of families, companies, schools, and so forth. It takes a malicious form when distinction is based upon a good-evil criterion: those who do not belong to my church (synagogue, mosque, race, nation) are bound for hell, are non-human, etc. The judgement between the benign and malicious, in this case, is whether the group-identification is based upon that group living sacrificially for the sake of other groups.

Thus, I am proud to identify with Reverend Moon and the Unification Church as a "group," because I can see that this man and his church are authentically and consistently working sacrificially for the sake of others: other churches, the nation, the world, and ultimately for God.

The media is beginning to turn, now, in relation to our Founder and our church. Press coverage of the recent speaking tour was not at all bad; the reporters in fact included significant passages of the speech in their stories. This is in sharp contrast to the past, in which he and the church were described solely by the accusations against it. I see Farrakhan, in general, being treated the same way.

I perceive that the Million Man March is at its basis an effort to mobilize the conscience and energies of black men to live for the sake of others: for their wives and families, for their communities and this nation, and ultimately for God. In fact, the literature connected with this march makes some of the clearest statements of these ideals that I have seen coming out of anywhere outside the Unificationist community. So, I am for the march, and I wish, for today, I were black enough to take part in it.

Then, where do we go from here? A substantial portion of black leadership of America has made a statement. I am not an admirer of most of those up on the podium, such as the Rev.'s Jackson or Sharpton, or Mayor Barry, or Farrakhan himself, and I do tend to admire, paradoxically, those who oppose the march (not Angela Davis, but most of the Christian leaders). But it is not those leaders personally who are the subject here; it is the ideals which they have decided to promote, and their leadership made space for such promotion.

Let us dialogue concerning the ideals of family, of male responsibility, of atonement and reconciliation. If their actions do not meet the standards they proclaim-well, neither do ours. Let the white leaders of America get over talking about racial divides, and begin the dialogue centering not on race, but on family values, on individual and social responsibility. These ideals transcend race: that is the core virtue of this Million Man March; that is why the assertion that it was inspired by God is plausible.

Not of That World

At worst, men and women love each other for physical pleasure. The highest level in this world is when men and women love each other for spiritual pleasure. Who is loving each other for the sake of God?

The New Testament is clear in its teaching that there is enmity between God and the world. It teaches that one is either on the side of God or on the side of the world; there is no middle ground.

Then, on which side stands the institution of marriage? In the view of Jesus, one is rewarded for separating from wife and family for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Paul follows his teacher: one who is married no longer has concern for the things of God. Marriage definitely stands on the side of the world, not of God, in the New Testament.

Even in the context of the availability and accomplishment of Christian salvation, the world is evil, and the more one separates oneself from the world, the better one's chances to live a good life. And marriage it classified as one component of the ways of the world, not one of the paths to God.

Reverend and Mrs. Moon are proclaiming that, on the foundation of the New Testament, the Completed Testament is at hand. The purpose of the Blessing of marriage given by Reverend and Mrs. Moon is to bring marriage back completely into the realm of God. By bringing marriage into the realm of God, we also are bringing the entire world back to God.

The kingdom of heaven is not a church; it is a family.

On Karma, holy fools, and Gump

In Buddhism it is the law of Karma. On the street, it's "what goes around, comes around." According to the blues singers, "you gotta pay your dues." This is inexorible. What you give out, comes back, either to you or to your descendents. What you have is mostly what your ancestors bequeathed you. What you do with it is up to you. Christian evangelists speak of the "conviction of sin." That term had little impact upon me until I realized that it really means: "feeling that one deserves punishment." The "grace of salvation," on the other hand, really means that "the punishment that I am receiving has efficacy to save one thousand, one million people."

Based upon the realization that one deserves punishment, and that one's punishment will save others, one can live through the most miserable of circumstances and find meaning and hope. Reverend Moon said that we should consider others' mistakes as our own, and take responsibility for others' failures. He said that the person who does this will not decline.

This, I believe, is the theme underlying the popular movie, "Forrest Gump." Mr. Gump's gift was the ability to accept everything which came his way as destiny. He had no agenda of his own, in other words. If someone told him to do something; he obeyed. If someone asked him a favor, he committed his life to fulfilling it. In fact he was taking responsibility for others' failures. He promised his army buddy, for example, that he would take up shrimping, using the man's boat. The buddy died, but Mr. Gump kept the promise. His late friend's boat was a wreck, but Mr. Gump took responsibility for it, without a second thought. Thus he became a wealthy man.

Is Gump a fool, as he appears to be at first glance? Or is he a Christ-like figure, a St. Francis? I believe, in the final analysis, he is a fool, because he does not know what he is doing. He is making no moral decisions; he is not capable of them. When the pressure builds, he (literally) runs from it.

But Gump is a beautiful fool, of which the world is not worthy.

Why the Messiah Could Not Come from the West

It was Dr. Richard Rubenstein, if my memory serves me well, whom I heard comment once that religions must emerge from pre-modern cultures. I would like to elaborate on that insight, which I believe to be a true one.

Our society, to put it most simply, does not support the notion that one might die for an invisible and unreasonable power. One might die for his country, as a soldier in a war. One might die for his religion, even, as a martyr under a foreign and oppressive regime. But it is simply not plausible to die for an invisible reality which sends you against what the world believes reasonable. Unfortunately, God is invisible and often unreasonable.

In our culture, it is reasonable to be a Christian missionary, even at great sacrifice. But it is not reasonable to start a new religion. New religions never make sense to the world in which they emerge. This is because the new religion is proposing new principles and new implications of traditional principles. New religions proclaim new starting points. Since any religion make sense only on its own terms, a new religion has a particularly difficult time.

This is why the more successful a society is, the more resistant it is to new religions. Further, it is why a successful society cannot be the seed ground out of which a new religion will emerge.


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