Lifestyle Conversations with Members of the Unification Church - Edited by Richard Quebedeaux
Richard Quebedeaux: This evening we ate going to talk about spirituality and piety in the Unification Church. Patricia Zulkosky will give us a presentation and after that we will enter into discussion and dialogue. I met Pat when I convened the first evangelical conference in Barrytown in June of 1978. I remember this event. There is a place called Jack's Place near Barrytown, a drinking establishment. A number of us evangelicals wanted nothing more than to go there afterwards. Pat just couldn't believe it and got really upset. She just said, "Oh, I didn't know that evangelicals did this." Now of course there were a few Moonies that went with us too. She didn't seem to see those, (laughter)
But at the next conference Pat brought the key to the car and said, "Here's the car ready for you." Pat is now at the School of Theology at Claremont. She's really getting into simple lifestyle and is about ready for the Sojourners community, I feel. She's a pietist in the true sense of the word. Piety has really been misunderstood in our generation, but piety and radical Christianity have a lot in common. So I asked Pat to deal with this topic of spirituality since I think, of all the people I know in the church, she knows more about it than anybody I've talked to and has a very interesting way of presenting it. With that I would like to introduce Pat.
Patricia Zulkosky: I have to admit that Richard's story is true. I was shocked and let people know that 1 was shocked.
The issues suggested to me by Richard tended to cluster around ritual and worship more than piety and spirituality. In thinking about them, though, I was moved to consider two questions: Does the Unification Church have a unique spirituality, and what is the theological foundation for our spiritual practice?
It is difficult to say how our spirituality differs from other traditions because there is a lot of diversity in spirituality in general and in the Unification Church in particular, although there is a clear theological underpinning for our basic spiritual practices. Our common spiritual traditions are taught in seven-day and twenty-one-day workshops, as well as in day-to-day community living, but each spiritual life is also greatly influenced by a person's previous religious tradition. For instance, my Catholic background emerges through my love for the saints and carries over into deep regard for modern personalities like Ruth Carter Stapleton and Mahatma Gandhi. This combination of Unification Church traditions, previous religious experiences, and inspirational models results in the many nuances of personal piety. Yet despite the variety, there are common themes that influence all Unificationists.
The first and most important theme is the desire to understand and experience the heart of God as expressed in the Bible and Divine Principle.
The heart of God in the creation process is thought of as one of great vision and expectation as humankind grew toward fulfilling the three blessings or purposes of creation. Second, we learn the sorrowful and grieving heart of God resulting from the fall of humankind. Finally, we strive to understand the heart of God through restoration history as God works with hope and perseverance in the restoration process. Unificationists try to understand these aspects of God's heart in many ways, but the primary methods are study of the Bible and Divine Principle, and prayer. Study and prayer are often combined into what is called "providential prayer" in which people recount the Divine Principle understanding of God's heart in conversation with God. This kind of guided imagery can bring us to an encounter with different aspects of God's heart. This personal connection with God can inspire us to make the kinds of sacrifice God is making.
In addition to providential prayer we also stress prayers of gratitude and petition such as might be found in any religious community, except that our emphasis is more focused on praying for the whole purpose and the providence than on individual needs. The first thing we might try to do is to connect with God's concerns on the largest scale possible -- God's concern for the world situation, national issues, or foreign missionaries. Then finally His concern for my family and me.
Our manner of prayer can be silent, representative, or unison prayer (in which everyone in the room prays his or her own prayers in an audible tone at the same time). Some individuals are very subdued in prayer while others become highly involved and pray in loud tones with sweeping gestures. A more unusual characteristic of out prayer is what I call "fatheritis." Prayers are frequently punctuated with the word "father" -- sometimes to the point of distraction. This may be due to trying to keep an emotional connection with God, but also the word "father" is one of the first English words learned by foreign members when they come to America and the over-usage has been contagious.
Prayer, then, is an important factor in the building and maintenance of personal and corporate spiritual life, but it is not out only act of spirituality. Prayer in action is just as important as spoken prayer. Prayer in action to accomplish a goal is called a condition. A condition is an offering an individual makes to God for a specific time period and reason. For instance, everyone in the church does a seven-day fast. This, much like baptism, represents dying to the fallen world and being reborn to God. The first step in making a condition is to determine the goal. If the goal is to understand the historical providence then perhaps a fast with meditation on God's work in history will help. Let us say a person's goal is to meet a spiritual child but he or she is afraid to start conversations with strangers. A condition, such as overcoming this fear enough to witness to at least three persons each day for twenty-one days, would be the offering made to God as a foundation to meet that special person. It is a specific contract that we make with God toward fulfilling our portion of responsibility in meeting a goal, still recognizing, though, that we can't accomplish any goal purely on our own merits or work. It's our understanding that completing a condition doesn't guarantee results, but it can show God that we are sincere and can be trusted by him to do at least a certain amount.
Young members often go through such a legalistic condition phase that they are always doing at least one or more conditions. This external dependency on conditions eventually transforms itself into a deep attitude of constant offering and gratitude and facilitates the development of a sacrificial heart and a connection between God, my life and my mission. In this way laying a foundation for the messiah to come to us becomes a more internal process as we grow in faith, though we would still do specific external conditions on certain occasions. In every case the goal is always to connect my life and activity with the heart and will of God.
Making an offering of attitude, prayer, and action is a continuous process of restoring our relationship with God. At the time of the Fall of Adam and Eve, patterns were created which were inherited and which continue to separate humankind from God: (1) failure to see God's point of view, (2) leaving one's proper position, (3) reversing dominion, and (4) multiplication of evil. These patterns must be reversed. Conditions act as aids in laying the foundation for the messiah who then shows us how to restore our vertical love for God and horizontal love for each other.
The discussion of conditions up to this point was focused on conditions which help restore our vertical relationship with God, but some conditions are to help us to restore our horizontal relationships with each other. Based on the story of Cain and Abel, one person in the position of Cain may follow conditions set by the central figure. This can serve both spiritual and practical functions. Spiritually the central figure should stand in the position of Abel (or relatively closer to God), so Cain's connecting with Abel by reporting his conditions allows the central figure to support the person making the condition. This is relating to God through the central figure in much the same way that Catholics go to confession before a priest representing God. Practically, a person often lacks the wisdom that the central figure may supply in terms of making appropriate and reasonable conditions. For instance, a person's timing may be inappropriate -- such as wanting to fast when a fundraising campaign is coming which requires a lot of physical effort -- or the condition may not be appropriate to the goal. Conditions are not easy -- they always involve a sacrifice, but neither should they be impossible or interfere with activities of living. It is better to succeed in an easier condition and to use that as a foundation for a later one than to fail. Conditions need to be possible to accomplish since they are agreements between God and ourselves through a central figure.
There are special conditions such as pledge which have become church traditions. Pledge is a prayer recited at 5:00 am every Sunday, the first day of each month and on the holy days (Parents' Day, Children's Day, Day of All Things, and God's Day). The five main points of the pledge affirm our determination to become true children of God. They can be summarized as follows: (1) affirming our determination to become children of God, (2) affirming our willingness to sacrifice and take responsibility to do God's will, which we understand as accomplishing the ideal of creation, (3) reminding us of the difficulties of our mission by saying that we will sow sweat for earth and tears for humankind with the tools of sacrifice, (4) restating our determination to become children of God and responsible lords of creation, and (5) affirming our pride in our tradition. Pledge is a time of rededication to God and to our missions as we remind ourselves why we joined the church and what we hope to accomplish.
Pledge is not only a condition but also one of our main rituals. We all gather shortly before 5:00 am to prepare ourselves in an attitude of prayer. Men and women sit separately on different sides of the room. The service begins with three full bows to the floor as a sign of humility and respect to God. The Pledge leader -- generally an older Blessed member or center leader -- begins the prayer and everyone recites the pledge together. This is followed by a representative prayer usually given by the leader, unison prayer and finally a closing song or greeting to God and brothers and sisters.
There are other rituals in the church such as the wine or engagement ceremony, the wedding, or the dedication of newborn children on their eighth day of life. Though I imagine there are ceremonies surrounding death, I have not yet experienced them.
A less formal tradition is daily worship held once or twice a day. The order of the service varies and leadership often rotates among all of the center members. Nearly every service includes song, prayer, scripture, or inspirational reading, and an interpretive message. The songs are often traditional Christian hymns or holy songs (original compositions written in the early days of our church by Unificationists that reflect the spirit of that early church) or popular songs with new, more spiritualized words. The evening service often consists of song and prayer following a community sharing meeting. Sunday service is more formal and is open to the public. In every case the worship is flexible and tries to meet the needs of the particular community.
In Unification spirituality there is also an awareness of spirit world and of the fact that people and angels in spirit world can help you. They can, however, also hinder you depending on the nature of their inspirations. This is not to say that this awareness of the possible interrelationship leads to a stress on developing spiritual powers or spiritual communication. In fact such activities are often discouraged since they may distract a person from his mission. However, the living person can always be in control regardless of the number or nature of inspirations; we each must take responsibility for every decision. The restoration of the people in the physical world is most important -- as the physical world is restored, the persons in spirit world will also be restored.
In summary, it is clear that the spirituality of the Unification Church is built on our theology and the goal of relieving the suffering of God by fulfilling the ideal of creation -- namely the building of the kingdom on earth. The challenges to this life of faith are many as we try to be in the world but not of the world. Only time can speak to how these traditions will develop and change in the coming generations.
Richard Quebedeaux: Thank you very much Pat. Any questions or comments?
Mary Carman Rose: I want to thank you, Pat, for calling attention to the fundamental role of love in our stewardship of creation. Also, I am grateful to Unification thought for telling us about the suffering heart of God, the Father. My own Christianity has been enriched by that. And then, as a convert to Roman Catholicism, I, too, believe in and emphasize what Unificationists call spirit world. I pray to and count on the help of the Catholic saints. And every day at mass I join in the prayers for the souls in purgatory who are in need of further spiritual development. Your interest in spirit world is not the least of your gifts to us, and I look forward to the day when we can all benefit from the knowledge that you have of this aspect of creation. You do, you know, have much to offer contemporary psychic research.
Kurt Johnson: I want to make a comment deriving from my Catholic religious life before I came into the Unification Church. Since I come from another tradition, there are many things in the Unification Church that I recognize as unique. One is the large family celebrations where everybody from the church in one area, a hundred or maybe a thousand, come together and put on an entertainment for each other. Rev. Moon enjoys singing; he likes to hear individuals, couples, and groups sing and he likes to sing. But he's not concerned about the quality of the singers. It's the exchange of the offering, brother to brother, sister to sister, singing each other a song. Something else that's absolutely unique and I think very beautiful is the spontaneous dance. Many, many times at the end of a celebration when Rev. Moon and others in the church are very happy, and there's music, there's an expression of that happiness just in dancing around in a very childlike, beautiful way. It has no form, but just that feeling of elation of here we are in the world, isn't it great? That's something I've never seen anywhere else, and I've found that very, very nice.
One other thing in Unification spirituality which is different from my training in the Catholic Church and religious life before, is that the Unification Church has a clearer understanding of Satan. It's one of the few churches that clearly understands the reality of Satan and teaches it. Also it has a number of models in which it casts the reflections of satanic behavior. It does this with behaviors of individuals in the sense of selfishness, greed, etc., down to very intricate things which are very perceptive. It does this also in its analysis of history and of certain ideologies. That is, the Unification teaching identifies the extent to which all these can display a satanic quality. I think it's a very unique aspect of the spirituality of the Unification Church.
Thomas McGowan: Just a question. Could you explain the holy wine ceremony? I've heard of it a couple of times. And also, have these practices like the pledge and the special church holy days originated in America or do they come from Korea?
Patricia Zulkosky: The pledge and the holy days were formed in Korea before Rev. Moon came to America. So they have come to us from there.
What is the holy wine ceremony? At the time of the matching there is a sort of confirmation of that matching in what we call the holy wine ceremony, where the couples exchange holy wine.
George Exoo: In every community of faith there are uses and norms of language. The Christian Scientists are always grateful to Mrs. Eddy, and the pentecostals are praising the Lord. Are there idioms of speech that a figure of authority would use to try to influence the behavior of someone who is a novice by inculcating the macro forces of the divine world or the satanic world in the form of a series of should's and are's? Are there norms of speech like that that are used to chasten and hasten?
Kurt Johnson: Someone will say that an act is "really archangelic," meaning that it shows utter disregard for other people, which is a characteristic that we feel is inherited from the fallen archangel. Or someone may say this person is "Adamic" -- available, giving, generous. There is an equation of behavior with those types and symbols to a degree which many times is very perceptive.
Mary Carman Rose: Also heartistic. I think your word "heartistic" is a tremendous gift to both the philosophical and theological communities.
Richard Quebedeaux: Then there are Cain and Abel. Are you in the Cain position or the Abel position? It's used quite regularly. Are you "principled"? It can refer to certain kinds of behavior. Somehow you are a principled person or you are unprincipled. That has more than just the normal meaning. Also there's -- I hate to say it -- Pidgin English. It is always Unification Church. It's never the Unification Church. The article is omitted, and there is a sort of reverence for the Korean or Japanese style of speaking English to the point where Pidgin English is used in the course of normal conversation.
David Simpson: I don't know how to start saying what I want to say, but I have a need to get some things out on the table that probably don't have anything to do with tonight's discussion. They have a great deal to do with the anxiety that I feel mounting in myself and perhaps in other people about a continuation of what I was frustrated about in the Virgin Islands. You said, Richard, that this was not going to be a continuation of the sort of theological discussion we had in the Virgin Islands, but we were going to get down to practical aspects of what Moonies do, how they behave, how they practice in their real lives their religious convictions.
I came to this conference very excited about that, because I raised some questions in the Virgin Islands about the same kinds of things. My frustration has to do with the fact that what I've experienced so far in this morning's presentation and tonight's presentation is basically a continuation of the same style. I'm not criticizing the content; I'm criticizing the style, and I want to make my point very clear about that. We are hearing "lectures" that have to do with what I would call an exegesis of Divine Principle. In other words, everything that is discussed or refined to always comes out of some kind of philosophical-theological discussion of what Divine Principle means or how one would address oneself to that particular issue as interpreted by Rev. Moon or in some way by Divine Principle.
My frustration has to do with the fact that I came here believing that we were all going to get together in a small-group session and talk about what we do when we get up in the morning, and what I do when I get up in the morning -- the very first thing I do is go to the bathroom. Nobody has gotten down to the level of just talking about life, and I'm getting really anxious about the fact that I think we're going to continue to get diagrams about Divine Principle. I made three pages of notes this morning and my wife and I went over those notes and they referred constantly to the fact that there was a discussion about doctrine, about Principle, about the ideal, about what one ought to do, and there is no real down-to-heart discussion about behavior.
Patricia Zulkosky: We are presenting the principles which govern our behavior.
David Simpson: That is fine. Let me finish making my speech and then you can either throw me out or we can get serious and have a real discussion. I have to say that I'm not an academic. I'm an Alinsky-trained organizer and I have to do with changing people's behavior as it has to do with social justice. That's exactly where I'm coming from, and I need to have some questions answered about those issues; but I'm not getting anywhere near a hint that those questions are going to be answered. I came to the Virgin Islands last summer as a newcomer, invited by Richard. My board was very nervous about my coming. I work for an interfaith organization that is very tied into national organizations. This time my board would not even allow themselves to know that I was coming, (laughter) And I think that's cute, but it's that serious. And the president of my board said, "Please don't tell the other members of the board where you're going. Just take a vacation, take your wife, come back with a suntan and don't tell anybody what you did."
I think that's a very serious commentary on what we're up to this week here, and not getting a suntan and enjoying ourselves. I need to come back with some answers and some answers for myself, personally. I don't want to hear any more doctrine. I don't want to hear any more speeches about what Divine Principle means or how it might interpret George's issues about homosexuality. There are many issues that I'm going to raise when we get into more serious kinds of things having to do with social action, politics, fundraising, and the whole business, and I really feel that we evaded the question this morning about the family. When Janie and I were walking on the beach this afternoon we said to ourselves, "Maybe the one thing that might answer it would be to get together some families who are not Moonies with some families who are Moonies and talk about how we raise our kids." Maybe that way we would come into some real live conversation. I didn't hear that happening this morning.
Richard Quebedeaux: OK. This is a perfect introduction to my next point. First of all, there are some reasons why what happened happened. And as you know Unification more, you'll know why. It is very hard for a new movement to circumvent the ideal in favor of the real. I find that among Moonies. For instance, when people make an exit from the movement, they're not even mentioned anymore. I can't get people to talk about it. Even my closest friends in the movement won't talk about their leaving. One person said, "I don't want to be invaded by Satan as a result of this."
David mentioned the possibility of a conference in which some families get together and talk about family issues in concrete form. I think that it is a good idea. It is possible for you to seriously suggest conferences, even those conferences that you yourself may wish to convene. Danol and I are in the position of having to think up and seek advice on future conferences. I know that there are some people who feel that their interests are also concerns of Unification and that mutual benefit can be derived from the conferences. I would say first of all, that if any of you have suggestions for conferences, be sure to let me, John, or Danol know and we can take it from there.
Another "problem" is that many of you keep getting invited to conferences. We who are on the organizing end of conferences feel somewhat guilty inviting you to gatherings that may be repeat performances, even when we ask you to take leadership roles in those conferences (despite the fact that you may not agree with Unification theology or politics). I've never known another movement where people seem so ready to come back when they have such strong disagreements, but this is a fact of life.
So we are interested in your feelings. As a matter of fact, we have prepared a statement asking for your suggestions which we are going to pass out. I will read it to you now:
You are among a number of scholars who have shown interest in the Unification movement. We would like to continue our relationship but realize that it cannot be a matter of simply coming to more conferences. We therefore would like to suggest that a scholarly organization be started in which common issues and problems can be addressed in a mutually beneficial way. What kind of association would you propose? What would you call it and what do you see as your relationship to it?1
I would also like to add the word nonthreatening in the development of this organization. There are many people at this conference who come, as David has done, at the risk of their jobs and reputations. We do not want to establish an organization where, if it has your name on its P.R. material, you're really going to be in trouble.
Unification is interested in the idea of conferences and is also interested in the restoration of the world. I think that it looks at scholars and church leaders as people who are going to help restore the world. If you have any ideas about how you might help in the work of restoration or about conferences we might have, write them down. We are certainly open to good ideas.
Now I would like to respond to what David said. I'm sure it is not quite as simple as some of us guests would like to think for you Unificationists to come out with personal matters in this context. Many of you ate rooming with Moonies; I suggest that you share experiences with them. And if you are not rooming with a Moonie, I'm sure that one of them will be willing to stay up all night and talk to you.
Mary Carman Rose: I would like to respond to David, too. I appreciate his concern and his honesty. But clarity and pretty thorough understanding of what we mean by justice, of our moral principles, and of our views of reality and our relations to reality are essential for firm commitment and action in the world. One of the most worthwhile aspects of Unification thought is its stress on philosophical understanding.
Paul Sharkey: I want to ask a question about the spirit world and I want to lay my cards on the table first. I'm a philosophical skeptic, which is to say that I don't have any knowledge of spirit worlds one way or the other, so I don't want my comments to be taken negatively. I come out of the Humean tradition. It's not that I deny or affirm it. I just don't know.
I have a number of acquaintances in the movement who are not seminarians. They're people who are working in various other capacities in the church in Washington and in state centers and this sort of thing. And I get letters and phone calls from them and at least once in each of these there is some mention about communication with the spirit world, and about their dreams. They tell me of things that they've learned about me through the spirit world and want to communicate to me. You, Pat, said that this is a very minor part of Unification and only a minority of people are concerned about it. Yet it seems to be a big part of the spiritual life of the average Moonie.
Patricia Zulkosky: I know that some members of the church get inspiration and personal revelation in dreams. I know also that some get an intuitive, gut-level conviction which they attribute to a source in spirit world.
Esteban Galvan: For me there is a very definite connection between the spirit world and practical issues.
Before I met this group I, too, was trained by Saul Alinsky -- in Chicago for two years. This was urban training and I learned things about power structures, etc. I was proud that I was practical in my fight against injustice. Since joining the church I have experienced the practical value of applying spiritual knowledge to social systems. For example, there is the power of the trinity. The trinity is symbolic of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is also connected to the fact that Jesus had three major disciples. Three people who are close to each other and really united in wanting to do the work of restoration can move in a heavenly direction. They can change a community and a city. I have seen that happen. There is also my decision to support and unite with the person chosen, perhaps by Rev. Moon, to be a central figure for me. If he and I -- an Abel and a Cain, so to speak -- really come to understand each other in a heartistic way, then the two of us can generate a magnificent power which can also effect great change internally and externally. I have seen that happen, too.
Wellington Nyangoni: I want to dissociate myself from the criticism of this morning's session. I found it very exciting. I love ideas, disagreement. By training I am a social scientist and we play with models, create them. Some of these models end up being bombs that kill you, some of these models end up being thousands of millions of dollars of taxes given to old people. Practicality doesn't just mean when to shovel, it is much more than that. But I think that depending on how you conceive totality, this morning was very productive.
I'd like to ask a question. I'm intrigued by the idea of evil spirits. The Bible talks about evil spirits and demons. The Catholic Church does also to some degree. What role does this play in the Unification Church? I know you said you de-emphasize it, but de-emphasizing it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Patricia Zulkosky: In the Unification Church there is an awareness of both the good and evil in the spirit world. We attribute a lot of inspirations that we get to influence of the spirit world. Those inspirations might be to do a good thing like picking up all the garbage on the street. Or they might be evil, like to steal the purse of a little old lady. It's up to you to recognize what comes from better realms in spirit world and what comes from the evil realms in spirit world. However, I don't have so much direct experience with spirit world as some other people and am not the best person to answer in detail and give examples.
Hugh Spurgin: I want to return to David's point. I do not consider myself mystical, and I was not very religious when I joined this church. My interests have always been sports and politics. I am a product of the social concerns of the 1960s. For instance, I was deeply involved with Eugene McCarthy's campaign for the presidency and supported LBJ's Great Society. But I was disappointed by all that. The bottom fell out of the social legislation, as well as the peace movement of the sixties. I now realize that legislation and money are not enough. We must change attitudes; we must affect the human heart. And that is more difficult than demonstrating in the streets, making laws, or demolishing slums. For instance, regarding racism, it is necessary to focus upon changing attitudes towards Black and other minorities. Laws have a certain value but they are limited in their ability to affect intangibles. When we're discussing attitudes we're talking on a different level; and at that point, a Higher Power is needed. The Christian notion of God as a patent and of all people as His children is great. If we can just live that Christian ideal, then, we can solve problems of injustice and bigotry.
But what I want to say to David, or to whomever, is: be patient with us as Unificationists, we're still young. Even today many Unification people are naive about economics and politics, and such was even more true in the early days of the movement. When I joined the church, I couldn't believe how uninformed most members were about world affairs.
Few of them read newspapers. Many early members were psychic people who had had spiritual experiences (such as clairaudience or clairvoyance) which I didn't know much about. They had, for instance, direct spiritual communications with Buddha, Jesus, and various Christian saints. And apparently such was even more the case in Korea and Japan in the early days. I only know about this world; hence, what attracted me to the Unification movement was the social thrust of the Divine Principle teachings, not the mystical aspects of the church. However, that social aspect is not worked out even yet and you can help us -- you can help to sensitize us to the realities of the world.
Let me conclude by commenting that when I joined the church in the 1960s the first thing I did when I got up in the morning was read the newspaper, but Rev. Moon has taught me to pray first; that was a change for me that I'm still adjusting to. And it takes a lot of determination not to run for that newspaper first, (laughter)
David Simpson: I want everybody to know that I was not being critical of the presentations. I was very sensitive to Arthur's presentation. I really felt, though, as I was sitting next to him that sometimes he was trying to find himself in his notebook. I don't say that in a critical way, because I know the pain you must feel trying to share yourselves with this whole group of strangers. I don't want to be critical about people's presentations and about where you're coming from. That obviously is a very sensitive and important thing for you in terms of how you see yourself as a human being.
Let me also give you an immediate reaction to what Hugh said. I think we can help each other grow. We both came out of the movement of the sixties and we both understood all that process and all that craziness. We were both disillusioned about the Great Society and the myth and failure of all that -- I think we've been through that.
What I think we are still oblivious to are the kinds of behaviors that we continue to go through that I've just experienced in the last three days here. When I came down here, I asked myself, why is the Black staff so arrogant and so hostile towards me? One of the things that came across to me like a two by four at the side of my head was the fact that the management and the ownership of the hotel is white and all the staff is Black. Need I wonder where this hostility and arrogance comes from towards all of us rich white people who are down here enjoying this luxury? Both as Unification people and as a whole religious community we need to look at these issues; I just raised that as an example. I don't want to say we ought to leave here tomorrow, because I really enjoy all the sun (laughter), the food, and everything else. I'm just as sinful as everybody else, but I think that we're not naive about certain basic issues in our society that have to do with the way in which we hurt other people. Perhaps we'll hurt each other here in the next three days with our frankness, but I hope that that comes out of a compassion for each other and a desire to do God's will, because I think we all believe in the same God.
I think we know a lot and I think we can have a tremendous insight into what God's will is, and we ought to use that in the best way we can.
Myrtle Langley: Just a quick question for Pat. I take it that your central figure is what in other spiritual traditions we call a counselor or spiritual director. Do you ever choose your own central figure? Do you have any choice about whom you go to for guidance?
Patricia Zulkosky: The central figure is the person in charge of the particular mission that you are in. If you are on a fundraising team, the central figure is the captain of that team. In that case you have not chosen your central figure. On the other hand, there are instances where a person couldn't relate to a central figure and asked to be moved to another place.
Kurt Johnson: I have had experience as a central figure for about eighty people. This means I've had to take care of a lot of people, love them, and try to help them be happy, productive, successful. I honestly don't think the major or unusual problems that have been suggested in the press have ever come up. This has been my experience of the entire Unification Church. I know that there are people who have left my Washington center or, more recently, my International Relief center, who might try to convince you of terrible things I or someone else did. Yet I know as an honest human being that these things did not occur. I know there are problems, but I have never seen anything that is any worse than you would find in any religious community.
And I want to answer David here, too, by saying that I can't separate my belief in the Principle from my actions. The longer I am in the movement the more I don't want to separate them.
Also, I am grateful that I never met my fiancée before we were matched. I begin that relationship with an understanding of what I want to achieve, and that is the cleanest personal feeling that I have ever had. I have an ideal that I believe in, which I see articulated not only in Rev. Moon's life but in what he has written. And because I didn't know Matianne before, I am more clear about my understanding of the ideal.
Thomas McGowan: First of all, I'd like to comment on David's methodology question and second I'd like to share something about spiritualism. I find what's happened today is extraordinarily practical. I have none of the anxiety that Dave has about the practicality of what I heard this morning and this evening. If I know how people pray, I think I can learn a lot about the way those people live. I was very happy with this. The thing I'd like to share is that during the past summer I gave out a questionnaire with the cooperation of Kathy Lowery of the Public Relations office of the church to seventy-four Moonies, most of whom were going to the seminary. I asked this question about spirituality: "Since your association with the Unification Church have you ever had mystical experiences such as visions, dreams, etc., which you interpret as being revelatory? If so, please describe your experiences." My comment is really a follow-up to Paul Sharkey's earlier observation. The survey showed that seventy-three percent of the seventy-four did have such experiences. So it was quite high. I have some excerpts which I'm not going to bother with now, but they refer to dreams about Rev. Moon, Mrs. Moon, Jesus Christ, dead relatives and so on. Anyhow, the point is that spiritual or mystical experiences are common in the church.
Patricia Zulkosky: Yes, that's true. When I said that we de-emphasized these things, I meant that our behavior is more important than spiritual experiences. I would have included dreams and visions and other forms of Unification mysticism in my presentation if I had thought of it.
Thomas McGowan: I didn't mean to be critical; I just want to share the information with the group. I think that it's good to have some kind of statistical information about spirituality in the church.
Myrtle Langley: In any case, it's a common experience anyway in a lot of religious movements all over the world.
Richard Quebedeaux: Such as pentecostalism...
Rod Sawatsky: I want to respond to David and Richard on their criticism of action and theory in the Unification Church. Their perspective seems to be more of a Lutheran dualism in which there are distinctions between the individual's secular work and spiritual work. In the Roman Catholic tradition, however, there is a unitive perspective in which the two are never separated. Unification thought is more like the latter.
Patricia Zulkosky: You would never fundraise or witness without praying constantly.
Rod Sawatsky: I want to pursue something which I see as a problem. These central figures are very important in the Unification movement. Do you find that there is a problem of imposing this hierarchical structure in the North American church? Are some Americans uncomfortable with it? For example, if you are unhappy with your position in the church and start complaining about it, isn't this interpreted as revealing some lack in spirituality? When things get bad, are there mechanisms to handle that? I am wondering whether there is not a structural problem so that there is not really a way to release one's frustrations.
Patricia Zulkosky: This is a problem, and there's no getting around it. We do have some way of dealing with these problems. For instance, when Nora acted as an itinerary worker, she was in a sense one of those safety valves. A person who is in real distress can bring his concern to the itinerary worker, who then is in the best position to mediate the situation or to facilitate a change of mission. So, the itinerary workers have a lot of missions. They provide leadership in the field, they are safety valves, and they facilitate the kinds of changes necessary for people to come into a situation they can handle. I do know a few people who deal with that problem simply by moving themselves. That is looked upon by some in the church as unprincipled. But when they get to where they function well, then eventually they are congratulated for having had the vision to move to where they could succeed.
Steve Post: I think it might be worthwhile to introduce a few distinctions and a view of Cain-Abel relations. When I first joined the church I went out on a fundraising team, and I think of that as my period of noviceship. I mean this in the sense that the Catholics might have a period, depending on the order, of some years, where there's really a kind of radical obedience. After all, Martin Luther spent three years cleaning toilets before he studied any theology. When I look back over my first couple of years in the church I see that I worked hard and maybe I didn't develop a lot of breadth in my thinking, not a lot of creativity. But I was going through that period in order to separate myself spiritually from my old life, which was a life without God, without understanding God's heart. So in that context, the structure made a lot of sense. But after a while, I think if we're faithful and if we do well in the things that we get involved in in the church, whatever they might be, then life broadens out. We still have central figures, of course. I write David Kim a letter a month from Chicago. Here you have a Cain-Abel relationship, but it's a different sort of Cain-Abel relationship than if you were running a twenty-one-day or a one-hundred-twenty-day training program.
Kurt Johnson: Right. Our situation is different, too, because we're experimenting with a new model which is successful, and which I think is going to become more widespread in the movement. I would call it a simpler and more Western understanding of the Cain and Abel relationship. Here the leader is the facilitator. The leader exists to give to the people in his care at that time whatever they need to fulfill their potential, to surpass their own leader, to become happy, to become productive, to become stable, to become successful. His job is to help them find a cluster of relationships that they can both have now and continue through their whole lives, a place where they know their lives are whole and that what they are putting into their lives is genuine. The leader is that responsive role model. Now the reason that I feel that this kind of leadership is close to the Principle is that I think this is Rev. Moon's relationship to God. God has not been authoritarian to Rev. Moon. Rev. Moon is in a responsive relationship to God, in my understanding of how I have seen him operate. And yet I have a central figure too, David Kim. I've never had a problem in that relationship, because I work in a responsive way in that sense, too. So what's happening there is very organic and very dynamic. The membership in our department has quintupled since the beginning of the year. It's something that's attractive, and I think it's something that can work very well.
It's inappropriate to other things in the church. You could not run an MFT2 the way we run the departments I'm in charge of. Probably you could not run a group of younger members that way. All my people are over thirty and married. Most are educated, they are interested in something of real quality and vision, and I learn from them, believe me. That's how I function. I find out from the people what's going on, what to do. It's always that type of relationship.
William Shive: Let me get back to David's point. It seems to me that we're missing a little bit of what he's saying. The format, not the substance, is the problem. It seems to me the problem is that we have presentations by people from the Unification movement and then we react to that. There is no way for us to initiate the concerns that we have, all the problems, the questions, the things that David is really upset about in the Unification Church and the problems of his coming here. There's no way for us to get those things cleared unless it happens to come out of somebody's presentation. I have a need to react to one thing that Rod said. I think he expressed a mistaken assumption about Protestants with respect to spirituality and the so-called secular world. I know where you're coming from, but my own old New England Congregationalism says to me that there is nothing that we do in the secular world that makes any sense in terms of a religious community's involvement in social change, or whatever you want to call it, that is not deeply rooted in spirituality. One of the teal gurus in Protestant communities right now among the so-called activists, happens to be a Roman Catholic priest. He has said a lot to many of us about the relationship between spirituality and the ministry. I think that there is an assumption that liberal Protestants have discarded spirituality -- this is not true. It means everything to us. I'm taking a sabbatical later this spring just for the purpose of trying to get back in touch with my own deeper need for a spiritual relationship between myself and my vocation. That's a very serious thing to Protestants and I think that it may be something that may have been overlooked in the past. But it's a very serious matter.
Renee Bakke: I can agree with the Unificationists about spirituality in regard to worship. I'm Pentecostal, so I'm involved in worshipping, raising hands, bowing whichever way. People ask me how I keep slim and I tell them I dance in church. So, Kurt, it's not new. But to me that is not spirituality. I love it because I love God. But spirituality to me is life and I'm concerned first of all with my home and my children. This young man here was saying that he has someone he can lean on; that's fine. But how often do we have anybody to lean on in a given situation? And that's the whole point. I can't run to somebody when my children come home because they're Christians and say, "Mummy, we've had some terrible things done against us because we have defended Christianity." My children had to have something in their heart that was so spiritual that it was beyond human resentment, something they could gasp quickly when a situation came up and put into practice. Now if anybody asks me whether I am spiritual, I will say, "Go and ask my children." I want you to know from them how I behave. That to me is being spiritual. When others can say, she knows the heart of God, she knows what God requires of her, not only towards Him, the Creator, but towards people, non-Christians and Christians alike, that to me is spirituality. God knows that there is an ultimate lifestyle that we can attain and that to me is spirituality. We must attain it, first of all in our homes so that our children won't call us hypocrites, and then in the world. If people can see Christ's light in us, then they'll know there is a living God.
Hugh Spurgin: I'd like to address Bill's concern with format. I have no doubt that the organizers of this conference are open to changes in format. Unificationists are amazingly flexible. I also want to comment on Rod's point about leadership and church polity. I remember a speech of Herb Richardson's in which he said that ecclesiologically Unificationists are seeking to reconcile Protestantism and Catholicism. There exists an incredible variety of leadership styles within the Unification Church. There is a stress upon obeying one's leader and an emphasis on egalitarianism. The egalitarianism exists because each individual has a direct personal relationship with God and with the Messiah that transcends his relationship with any earthly leader.
I'd like to give you one example of how things operate within the Unification Church. One of the most incredible things I ever saw Rev. Moon do occurred in 1975. At that time he'd been in America approximately three years and had developed a very successful evangelical organization. Prior to 1972 there had been members only in a few American cities, but by 1975 there were members in every major city. In the period between January 1972 and May 1975, membership in our church dramatically increased. But in May 1975, Rev. Moon sent the best leaders overseas to one hundred and twenty nations to be missionaries or assigned them to such national missions as fundraising, the seminary, News World, etc., thereby taking the backbone out of the church in America. The only people available to replace these middle-management leaders were young, inexperienced people. Newly converted members, often nineteen-or twenty-year-old kids, were suddenly asked to become local church leaders.
I'm trying to point out not only that the polity of the Unification Church is evolving, which it is, but also that Rev. Moon avoids institutional stagnation by encouraging people to find new horizons, thereby opening positions for enthusiastic young people. He took a big risk when he asked so many church leaders to go overseas, but by his doing so, many enthusiastic young people were given opportunities to lead. Moreover, although in the short run the Unification Church in America made a great sacrifice by sending its most experienced members overseas, in the long run it will most likely gain because people from other nations no doubt will have greater respect for America once they realize that it was because of the sacrifice of these missionaries that people in the Third World nations had the chance to heat God's message for the twentieth century. Sometimes our church seems to have bishops, at other times it seems to be congregational in its polity, but more likely than not it possesses both simultaneously.
Richard Quebedeaux: OK, we ate now coming to the close of the evening. As the central figure (laughter) of this conference I would like to say we will see you tomorrow at 9:00 am, when we'll get into the nitty-gritty of social action and communism and all those things with Kurt Johnson. Good evening.
1 Following this conference, New ERA (New Ecumenical Research Association) was formed in New York City in March, 1980.
2 MFT is the name used to designate the mobile fundraising teams that raise money for the Unification Church.