Articles from the July 1997 Unification News
The Washington Times Celebrates 15 Years
Western Literary Conference held DC
By Michael Marshall-Washington, DC
Almost 1,000 Washington VIPs, including senators, congressmen, ambassadors, city leaders, religious leaders and scholars, joined members of the staff of the Washington Times Corporation, as well as the 340 participants in the Western Literary Conference, at the Grand Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington D.C. on the evening of June 16 to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Washington Times newspaper.
The gathering received videotaped greetings from former presidents Reagan and Bush, while Senator Orrin Hatch delivered the keynote speech. In it he noted that, after the demise of communism, we had to be careful not to think that the free market triumphant could by itself solve all the problems of society. Only with the practice of spiritual ideals could that goal be achieved.
Reverend Moon delivered the Founders' Address, the first time he has given a formal speech at a Washington Times function and therefore an event of historic providential significance. The speech was carried live by C-SPAN and repeated twice later by them. The text of Father's speech was meant to appear on two video screens as he spoke but a technical glitch meant that those at the banquet had to try to follow Father's English which was far from easy. However, it says much for the regard in which Father is now held that a mere handful of people left during the speech, the others attentively trying to follow.
For the participants at the Western Literary Conference, or, to give its full name "The Search for a New World Culture for the 21st Century: Western Literary Perspectives" this was the second time to hear Reverend Moon speak, since he delivered "View of the Principle of the Providential History of Salvation" at the opening plenary session of the conference. By this time several of the participants had developed what can only be described as a fascination with Reverend Moon. In part this was an interest in and support of his message, particularly on marriage and family. But they also sensed his passionate conviction and were moved by it.
Many of the literary conference participants were in an overflow room following the anniversary banquet on closed circuit TV. Once the speeches started, people began to drift out. At a certain point in Father's speech, however, the staff distributed copies of Father's speech to the couple of hundred people still in the room. From then on nobody left. They stayed following the speech in their printed texts.
The literary conference itself was a significant success. It followed on the Asian Literary conference held in April. Frankly, with the strong place that critical secular thinking holds in Western tradition, I thought that this conference would be more difficult than the Asian conference. This turned out not to be the case, although the logistical challenge was greater. The participants came from 110 different countries with the term "Western" being stretched to include Latin America, Africa and Oceania as well as Europe (including Russia) and North America.
The conference followed the same format as the Asian literary conference, with several guest speakers, committee session on topics such as "Tradition and Modernity," "Literature and Human Rights," and "The Interaction of Cultures," and presentations of the Principle through the True Character and Family Life Education sessions developed by the International Education Foundation.
Paul Johnson, the noted popular historian, gave the keynote address at the opening plenary session, taking a broad view of the coming century and making bold and imaginative predictions. He was not afraid of being controversial - some participants thought certain of his remarks were too Eurocentric - but most agreed that his speech provided much food for thought.
The other guest speakers were William Buckley, editor of the "National Review" and former poet laureate Rita Dove. Buckley spoke about the need for an educated citizenry as a basis for democracy to work. Rita Dove was a huge hit with the participants, giving an intimate account of the genesis of the collection of poems "Thomas and Beulah," based loosely on her family history, for which she won the Pulitzer prize.
After the opening plenary, Reverend Moon hosted a small luncheon for a few representative participants, including Dr. Johnson. During the luncheon, Reverend Moon discussed with Dr. Johnson, who is a Roman Catholic, some traditional Christian beliefs particularly whether Jesus should have married. Dr. Johnson was very forthright in explaining his beliefs and after a while Reverend Moon remarked that Dr. Johnson was an international celebrity and that he was probably never challenged on his views in most places he spoke but that Reverend Moon was really challenging him. "Yes he is," responded Dr. Johnson dryly. Then Reverend Moon told him not to take it amiss, that he was doing it because he liked him.
Dr. Johnson was not the only one challenged by Reverend Moon. Several participants, especially those of strong Christian faith, found the account of Jesus family situation radically new. One lady said she went to her room after the speech, took out her rosary and prayed. She then went out and found a Catholic church and attended Mass. What was interesting and different was that such participants did not simply become negative and run away as they might have done in the past but stayed and wrestled with what they had heard.
The lady mentioned above listened to all the True Character and Family Life Education presentations and ended up saying that the material on the True Resolution of Conflict should be heard by everybody in the world. A Russian participant, a famous actor, theater director and film producer, was very shocked at first by Reverend Moon's opening speech, considering him a dangerous man. But he thought through his emotions and at the end was excited at the possibilities of a film based on Reverend Moon's account of Jesus family.
The True Character and Family Life series, while not attended by all participants, were well received. For many participants they were a bridge to help them understand the ideas in Reverend Moon's speech. A dozen participants made very specific requests to the speakers that the material be brought to their country. One of our concerns in organizing the conference was linking this material with the purely literary part of the conference. We wanted to show that writers have a moral responsibility to help shape the future world culture. But would they see it that way or think we were simply preaching religion to them?
One participant from Egypt remarked that this had been a concern of his but he found that we were not preaching he dictates of one religion but rather presenting the moral foundations of culture. Through that he realized that morality and literature were one and understood what had at first puzzled him, the connection between future global culture and the ideal of true families.
About thirty participants from the Asian literary conference also attended this conference and they joined together with the western participants to establish a new organization, the Literary Federation for World Peace, to continue the work of the conferences. A board of directors and an international advisory board was established. The Federation will work to harmonize different cultures through literature and to encourage writing that can move the imagination and hearts of people in all societies towards a global culture based on true values.
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