Unification News for March 1999
The Alpha, the Omega, and an Alternative to Dating
Once in a while, a book comes along that really helps one on the road of life, and you just have to tell others. The book, I Kissed Dating Good-bye, by Joshua Harris, has done that for me and I want to entice you to read it.
What Mr. Harris does, in essence, is to unpack what the Divine Principle calls the course and motivation of the fall. I don't think he realizes that he is doing this. He is simply giving an account of his personal realization that the "culture of dating" is wrong-headed and destructive. He talks about how one can extricate oneself from it, psychologically and practically. To accomplish this, we need God, and Harris pulls a tremendous amount of guidance from the Bible, as well as from, of all places, his own parents. And Mr. Harris was 18 when he wrote the book. He is now 20 or 21, as I understand it, and is married.
Harris is very sharp. He doesn't argue against the simple practice of dating. He refrains from condemnatory judgment. Instead, he talks about "smart love" and "principled romance." He doesn't say, "you have to attend God." He puts it, "to serve God with abandon," "wild abandonment to obedience." He exalts "singleness." He doesn't see being single as a trial to be endured, but as a gift of God, a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to co-create oneself with God. Singleness should be treasured, and not compromised by all-consuming but temporary passions for one other person. The only "one person" to whom one should commit oneself fully is one's spouse.
He critiques not so much dating as the culture that makes people want to date. Dating is an emblem of our culture in which everything is disposable. It is fast-food love. It is a habit of highly defective people. It is to embark upon a mountain climbing expedition without your partner's commitment to hold the rope. It is to start a drive down a road from which we are not meant to turn back, but to plan to take a u-turn. In other words, it's brain-dead. He entices us to avoid the pain, loss of time and energy, confusion, not to mention meanness and cruelty that make up the world of modern romance.
Now, I'm 50 years old and have been married for 18 years. But I learned a lot from this book. Because I'm sure I'm not the only one who has not really come to terms with my own wrecked relationships of the past. I have not faced how those relationships affect my present relationship with my wife. This book opened my eyes to these things.
Let's do our best to help our children avoid the pitfalls into which their parents fell. Buy it. Leave it on a table somewhere for a teenager to pick-up and read. It's got an enticing cover. Mr. Harris does not look like a geek.
I was listening to a Patti Page CD the other day. Don't ask me how, but there I was, somewhat confined at 80 mph and listening to the greatest songs of Patti Page for a couple of hours. Patti Page, for those of you who don't know, was one of the top American female pop singers of the 50s. She was cute as apple pie and wholesome as a 4H club watermelon competition. But with my consciousness recently raised by Mr. Harris's book, I was struck by the lyrics of the songs. Every last one was all about betrayal, loss, infidelity, flirtation and stealing each other's lovers. There was not a word about marriage. The characters are boyfriends, lovers, beaus. The music was so cutesy, so pretty, but the words were describing a life different in quantity, but not quality, from that of gangsta rap. Patti Page embarked on the road on which Ice T, Madonna, David Bowie and Snoopy Dog Dog traveled down a thousand miles. It's the same road, the road of the dating culture, the road of dispensable relationships, the road of selfish love.
Pick up Joshua Harris's book at a Christian bookstore. Get it for someone you love.
The Original Homeland
"The Lord said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your fathers household and go to the land I will show you.'" Genesis 12:1
Personally, do you ever ask yourselfam I going anywhere? Is my life just going around in circles? To work, back home, to work again? The 60s generation questioned the "rat race." Remember the musical, "Stop the world, I want to get off"?
Historians note that the east thinks in circles and the west thinks in straight lines. The east says that nothing really changes; everything just goes back to where it started. The sun rises, sets, and rises again. The river rises and falls, the seasons come, go, and return. Creatures are born, reproduce and die. This is reflected in the Disney movie song, "It's the circle of life." And even the Bible pipes in: "There is nothing new under the sun," laments the Preacher in Ecclesiastes.
The west on the whole, however, thinks differently. Progress is our most important product. Our popular expressions are "tomorrow is a new day," or "today is the first day of the rest of your life." Every day in every way, it's getting better and better. Buy the new, improved model. Keep up with the Joneses.
Historian Thomas Cahill, in The Gifts of the Jews, says that the circular way of thinking is the more ancient. We find it in ancient Greece, Egypt and Sumaria. We find it today in the philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism and neo- paganism. Cahill locates the departure into linear thinking at the moment God called Abraham to depart from his homeland and move into the unknown to find the promised land. Abraham took his life into his hands. He left behind the old ways, the idols of his father.
So in this linear modality, the father is associated with idols, with that which is false. The son seeks the true. Just as with Adam's family, God works with the children, not the parents. The children are returning to God, but not through their parents; rather, they leave their parents to find God.
That moment and that man defined the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. He gave them birth physically as well as spiritually. I have promised and I will deliver, says the Lord. You will come to a land flowing with milk and honey. The kingdom will come. A savior will come. Life is a journey to the land of milk and honey, the promised land. Abraham and Moses, the tribes of the Diaspora, the Christian church, all are trekking toward the new Jerusalem, the kingdom on earth. We Unificationists call this land of milk and honey, this El Dorado, "the original homeland."
The old world of sin will be no more. A new world will arise. Separate from what came before, and believe-in faith, without seeing-that in the future I will give you something better than you have now.
The original homeland is a world of true brothers and sisters, into whose lives God intervenes to make of us true married couples. In true marriage, the circular and the linear are harmonized. It is the model; it is the alpha and omega. I haven't achieved it, but I taste it now and then, and just thinking about it gives me energy to keep going.
The husband longs to return to the place of his origin. He longs to complete the circle, to go back to the starting point. That place is his mother's womb. His wife is in the position of his mother. He wants to go into his mothers womb. He wants to be a baby again, so he is as physically intimate with his wife as if he were her baby and she were his mother. He wants to be back in the womb, so he puts himself in there. He places that one part of himself that is different from her there, and through that he puts himself, represented by his seed, back into her womb.
And here, at the very point at which he reaches the origin, the future is created. The new generation-the lineal development, indeed "the lineage"-comes about. Thus the circular return and the eternal forward movement are one and the same act. In fact, my wife is not my mother; she is one generation later than my mother is. In my wife, my mother re-appears in the present and gives birth to the future.
And all humankind longs to return to that original status with God, in our original homeland. This is the land of security, the return to safety, to where we were born and cared for. At the same time it is the land of change, progress and adventure, requiring absolute faith in the guiding hand of God. And here I can return to the Harris book, for his affirmation also is that the alternative to dating is to put one's life into the hands of God, and allow God to present to you your spouse.
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