Lifestyle Conversations with Members of the Unification Church - Edited by Richard Quebedeaux

Life in the Northern California Church -- Mose Durst

Richard Quebedeaux: I don't know how appropriate this is -- but it must show that I am an evangelical, because I have been reading a lot of Scripture. I want to read a passage before we begin with our discussion of life in the Unification Church in Northern California with Dr. Durst. I would like to read a passage of Scripture that is well known to all of you, and is something we have been talking about, and I think is something that we really need to remind ourselves about as we proceed this evening on a very hot topic. It is from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, and I am reading from the Phillips translation:

If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also had that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if 1 give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing.

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience -- it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.

For if there are prophecies they will be fulfilled and done with, if there are "tongues" the need for them will disappear, if there is knowledge it will be swallowed up in truth. For our knowledge is always incomplete and our prophecy is always incomplete, and when the complete comes, that is the end of the incomplete.

When I was a little child 1 talked and felt and thought like a little child. Now that I am a man my childish speech and feeling and thought have no further significance to me.

At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it fully as God now knows me!

In this life we have three great lasting qualities -- faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

With that, I would like to introduce Dr. Mose Durst who is director of the Unification Church in Northern California. One reason why I really like Dr. Durst and am so much impressed by him is that he is so controversial. If there is something that I don't like in religion it is boredom. And I can tell you that the Unification Church in Northern California is not a boring place at all, nor are the people boring, whatever else you may wish to say about them.

Mose Durst: After hearing the passage from Corinthians, I almost feel that there is nothing more to say...

Essentially, the church in Northern California has sought to embody the Principle in spirit as well as in word. My wife was the pioneer founder of the Oakland Church. She came as a missionary fifteen years ago and was my original inspiration for joining. I suppose they say that when the Jews start converting, it is surely the last days; and when a Jewish Marxist starts converting, it must be not only the last day but the last hour.

Meeting and coming to know the woman who later became my wife had a very powerful effect on me. Het purity, dedication and idealism were very great. She was living things that I had talked about all my life as a professor of literature. It is easy to talk about great ideals, but it is far more moving to actually see a woman struggling to maintain several jobs, working herself to the point of exhaustion, and even contracting tuberculosis as a result, who is still smiling and singing songs of praise to God. That was very moving for me.

Our life in the Northern California church is essentially trying to live as children of God, experiencing a personal relationship with Him in everything we think, feel -- in everything we do. So we try to make the experience of God substantial in our lives. In our relationships with people, we endeavor to see every person as a creation of God and to respond to the image of God in each person.

Prayer is virtually the core of our life. Rev. Moon has taught us the idea of prayer as the beginning and end of our life. Flying here I prayed that every place we flew over could be blessed. I prayed for Florida when we touched ground; I prayed for New York when we hit New York. I prayed several times -- New York needed several prayers. (laughter) When I sit in a bus or a car or a train, I pray for people who look like they need help. If they don't look like they need it, I pray for them anyway. There is a constant thought of prayer that is a core and guiding basis of our lives. We are constantly aware of establishing a relationship with God while we ate focusing on another person. It is like you extend your heart to God and your hands to the world in a very special sense. It is tangible; I taste it when I speak of prayer.

The most inspiring thing for me personally is when I get up and have 5:00 am prayer with my wife, and we both get on our knees and pray to God. Before we go to bed, we ask God, "Please accept this day; for anything we have done which has been wrong, please forgive us. We pray that we have offered something to you that can comfort you." It is a great and nourishing experience to kneel down with the person I love in the morning and at night to offer that day to God. The Principle or any ideal for us is not reality. Reality is process, change and movement, and the ideals ate guides.

Growing up as a Hebrew man, I loved a commentary in the Talmud that teaches that a man of virtue gets up early and prays before the world has a chance to sin. I feel that we claim the world for God by offering to Him the first moment before the day has begun.

We also emphasize study. We study the Bible, we study Divine Principle and, whenever we can, we read scholarly works. We draw many of the best students in the country to our movement. I emphasize to people that if they want to understand certain problems they should read the Penguin edition of Matthew, read the Gnostic Gospels, or read this or that. I counsel our staff members on how to give people information so that their life of faith can be based on knowledge as well as experience. A life Of faith has to come on a foundation of intellectual understanding as well as prayer, emotional experience and acting out the Principle.

Acting out or "actionizing" the Principle is another core of our life. It involves giving in whatever we are doing. We have a motto: "One -- actionize, two -- actionize, three -- actionize, one hundred percent." For me, it is the fulfillment of an existential ideal -- to be engaged each moment. If you listen to somebody, listen to them a hundred percent. If you talk, talk a hundred percent. If you are pouring a cup of coffee for somebody, pour it a hundred percent. Whatever you do, do it authentically, with your full being.

I started groups like Project Volunteer and the Creative Community Project in an attempt to apply the wisdom of the world and humanistic psychology (I studied a little with Abraham Maslow) to the depth of Divine Principle. I have had experience leading therapy groups at Lewisburg Penitentiary, in pastoral counseling and in the everyday give and take of eating for church members in which I tried to make people feel validated. I purposely chose to teach in an inner-city college because I am concerned about helping students who were beaten by the culture feel valuable. Although I keep to the discipline of literature (somebody asked me what I teach), I try to make people feel valuable. This is also what I teach our members to do. I encourage them to read Maslow and Carl Rogers -- to read people who can teach us how to apply the Principle in a practical way. Divine Principle, from my point of view, is a framework for value. The Principled person from my point of view, is a value-making person. Each person can fulfill his own potential, be valuable, become joyful, and draw out value and joy in others. Morality and ethics then come together in an existential convergence in which we ate both acting out our personal needs and fulfilling the needs of the other.

We take responsibility directly for our spiritual children. One of the ways in which we seek most to embody the meaning of Divine Principle and the meaning of religious life is by trying to take the role of God in relationship to other people. The role of God as we see it is primarily one of heart: caring, serving, giving, loving and healing are the emphases. The purpose of life is to love, and therefore we experience the desire to make good connections with the world. So very much of what Dr. Quebedeaux read is basically what we try to emphasize in "growing" another person. If we meet a person and feel that we have something to offer him and we want to speak to him as God's representative, we have to take on the role of God and serve him or her, care for him, commit our lives to that person. Another motto of ours is "Live or die for our spiritual children." We feel in Northern California that the best way for us to grow individually is to live for someone else.

Rev. Moon spoke at his birthday address yesterday. "Love your enemy," he said. Your enemy may be the person sitting next to you, the person you don't like in the church, the person who treats you badly. If we are truly living a life dedicated to God, then we have to learn to love even our enemies.

I try myself, as the person who is most responsible, to set an example. I witness and visit my home church area several hours a day and have had several spiritual children move into the family. I love being out in the streets, coveting Pier 39 to Fisherman's Wharf and around Market and Powell Streets. I claim everything for God in that area. I go to the tops of buildings and look down and I claim the area for God. We get up early on Sundays and go to the Oakland Holy Ground, then to the San Francisco Holy Ground. We claim everything in the Bay Area for God and we pray for the state, we pray for the nation, and we pray for the world.

Whenever I talk to anybody, I feel I have to represent God's heart and God's love. If somebody attends a lecture or seminar or moves into the family, the person who is the spiritual patent tries to live for that person. We seek to learn God's heart by exhibiting God's heart in word and deed for that person. We believe that words themselves have weight and substance and texture and meaning and color and that when you speak a word, you speak your spirit and you speak your heart. When you speak to your spiritual child, a person to whom you give God's love, you have to give it with that spirit. Sometimes your spiritual child has greater wisdom and greater love than you do, and you can receive even more than you gave.

We do not collect members. We seek to find out long lost brothers and sisters. Man has been lost to God. Never think about collecting members. Think about finding brothers and sisters. We seek genuinely to offer God's heart and God's spirit to the person by embracing him and allowing him to embrace us. We allow ourselves to be as vulnerable as we know that he will be if he comes into a deep relationship with God. Vulnerability works in two ways; it makes someone vulnerable when you give love, and it makes you vulnerable when he gives you love. You have to be able to experience both kinds of vulnerability.

We set prayer and fasting conditions for our spiritual children. If someone has a spiritual child, we may set a condition to pray for that person every day at five o'clock in the morning and at midnight. Family members often fast three days or seven days depending upon what they feel they want to do for someone.

The most difficult thing in the world is to build a trusting and loving human being with God's love and trust. The easiest thing is to corrupt multitudes. So it takes a great deal of effort with spiritual conditions to feel that we can take upon ourselves bringing a person to God. The conditions help us to purify ourselves, purify our motivation and our actions, so that the relationship we have with this other person has the deepest base we can create with God and within ourselves. From a psychological point of view, prayer is the ultimate extension of ourselves toward another person. When we set prayer and fasting conditions, we extend the deepest part of our psyche, our soul and our being toward the other. In body and in spirit, we seek to recreate ourselves as we recreate the other. It is a mutual process of recreation to bring someone to God. And when it doesn't work, we feel the pain as much as the other person does.

Also, as God-centered people, we need to establish relationships with other God-centered people. In our relationships with each other, we speak among other things about the need for unity centered on purpose. If our purpose is to love someone, then God can more easily work through unity of love. For example, if I have a spiritual child, everyone will know that I have someone whom I am seeking to bring to God and will pray for him. Someone else has a spiritual child and everyone knows about it and prays for him. We are all seeking in unity to make a base for God to work in the world.

The Oakland family was built first by my wife walking around Lake Merit all by herself, hardly able to speak English. After a year and a half of faithful effort one sister came. My wife gave everything to her -- emotionally, spiritually and even physically (the one room that she was living in). Then she grew with that person so that both together bound in heart and service and love could be God's representatives. Upon that foundation, they could then seek to draw others, and they drew many people eventually.

We are all seeking in unity to make a base for God to work in the world. As I perceive it, Rev. Moon has given us his experience, feeling, and wisdom, so that we can be better than he is. After his sixtieth birthday celebration, he had a meeting in Belvedere that lasted until 3:30 in the morning. He went on and on, giving, pouting out, teaching, loving, serving. He can set a tradition of great value.

I am always inspired by my brothers and sisters who are my heroes and heroines, because I know how much better they are than I am. I see in them great qualities that I have never read about, and I constantly get on my knees and thank God for the purity and the goodness of the human beings with whom I am associated.

We are, in our belief and in my experience, a family based on merit. The people who have the greatest responsibility ate the ones who take it. We have got more things to do and more positions of responsibility than you can imagine. We want every person to grow and reach his highest fulfillment and highest ability. We don't motivate people through guilt, but by stimulating their God-nature. We assume that each person has infinite love, infinite creativity, infinite value. This is not just an airy ideal but is meant to be lived, so we encourage every person to take on even the most tremendous responsibility.

Onni and I try to teach our members to see the divine within the other person. If the other person is acting badly, don't dwell on the negativity. Find what is God-like in that person and draw it out. Validate it and emphasize it.

We also emphasize being practical. We are disciplined people in terms of our schedule and what we do. Everything in our life has to be done with accountability in mind.

All California nonprofit corporations like the Creative Community Project, Inc., and Project Volunteer, Inc., have to file financial statements with the IRS and the State Board of Equalization. These are all public records and they are very easy to find. Nobody receives any salary.

The older family members get up at 4:45 and pray together at 5:00. At 5:30 we wake the junior staff, and at 5:45 we wake the other family members, and then we all pray briefly together before morning cleanup. We have a Bible reading at 6:45. People then eat breakfast together and plan their day. Many members in Northern California work at regular jobs, as professors, doctors, engineers and lawyers. We can offer in the morning and the evening all the conditions of a spiritual community, and residents can pursue their careers in a normal way. They come to our community and are able to live spiritually nourishing lives.

We sponsor evening programs three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. A buffet dinner is served at 6:00, at 6:45 there is entertainment, and at 7:15 I give a forty-five minute lecture followed by slides of our projects. We sit down and chat until 9:00, when somebody plays "Happy Trails to You." A bus or van is ready at nine, three hundred and sixty-five days of the year, at every one of our centers, to transport guests to the seminar facility. Seminars are conducted every day of the week, and on weekends: two-day, seven-day, and twenty-one-day seminars.

It is a very organized church. I, personally, am an organized person. Of course, there is a dimension of joyful spontaneity and humor, but to get things done, we have to have a cleat purpose and use practical management principles. We take seriously Drucker's idea of management by objectives. We use practical wisdom to solve our problems.

We also take seriously Paul's idea, "Rejoice always, pray constantly..." Naturally, as human beings we experience the whole range of emotions. If hostile critics say stupid things about us, I see red. All I can do is sit down and say, "Glory to heaven, peace on earth. Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my anger."

If you want to be different from the world, you have got to be loving, you have got to be serving, even if you feel miserable. Maybe it is the Jewish mother in me, but I bring people chicken soup myself when they are sick. I try with each person to know their spiritual birthday, to know their needs, to know what clothes they have. If anyone is missing anything, we try to truly serve them in a very real sense.

We emphasize sacrificing for brothers and sisters. The people in the faith do work very hard. Sometimes I worked twenty hours a day in graduate school, and I am sure that many of you as professionals work many hours a day. We can't be arrogant in the Unification Church because we work a lot of hours a day, but we have to serve the people in the faith because they are so actively serving God.

Each day we do some self-evaluation: to what extent have we lived the ideals that we are speaking about? Every night I give a lecture and every weekend attend a seminar. To me, the word is like a prayer when I speak. I could never give the same lecture twice before I came to the Unification Church because I felt, "Well, you have to be unique." Hopefully, I still try to be unique, but the lectures to me have become prayers. When 1 am listening to the words come out of my mouth, it is just like I am praying. I ask, "To what degree am I the embodiment of these words?" I pray before the lecture, I pray during the lecture, I pray after the lecture. I am listening to the prayer to find out if, in fact, I am living the ideals.

One unique thing that Rev. Moon has offered us and that we use in Northern California is the "trinity" system. A trinity may be anywhere from three people to a hundred people (as it is now in some of our trinities). The trinities provide practical organizational structure. God has blessed us in the last few months, and several hundred people have moved into our Northern California family as core members. We emphasize that the older family members have to be responsible for creating little families within a large family. There are twelve trinity heads, and my wife and 1 are the directors of those trinity heads. They tell me if anyone is having difficulties, if anybody needs anything, I try to respond immediately. I meet with these trinity heads four or five times a week. We may meet from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am three or four times a week, just so that we know that everyone is OK and everything is taken care of.

Every trinity head is an advocate for people in the trinity. You talk about consumer advocates. You should heat these "God advocates." They feel allegiance to the people in their trinity. If Ricky wants thirty new cattle for the farm he communicates this to his trinity head. The trinity head says, "Ricky is in my trinity and wants thirty mote cattle." Somebody else may say, "Well, wait a second. Virgil wants to regreen the golf course at camp and that is costing ten thousand dollars." "Well, cows are more profitable." We discuss it openly. Everything comes out. There is as much conflict as in any democratic arena, but we try to come to a consensus. We reevaluate each project the week after or two weeks after or three weeks after to see whether it is going well or not. We respect every person's opinion. If members feel that their trinity heads ate not representing them well, they can come to other trinity heads or to me directly, and I always have those lines of communication open. I think I am the most approachable person in the Unification Church of California, if not in the world. Everybody can get me. I give out my phone number to anybody, including the hostile people. They can call me any time day or night.

The evening program is important for all of us, whether we have a guest or not. Everybody comes home at 6:00 pm. Our assumption is that the ideal world is already here, at least it is at Bush Street and Hearst Street and Dana Street and Camp K and Boonville. That doesn't mean we are any better than the world, but our assumption is that we should be. I know it is difficult talking to people, talking to strangers; even being nice to somebody can be difficult. People come home, sometimes they are tired, hopefully they are inspired; and when they come home, we embrace them. People are validated, sharing a beautiful meal and the best music available. We make everyone feel that every day. That is the existentialist ideal: we have to recreate our reality every day; we have to greet each other for the first time every time -- that is another motto that we live by. We try each day to take that seriously. So when it comes to evening it is a new day. No matter what your day has been like, it is a new day come 6:00 pm.

The weekend seminar has exactly the same purpose as the lifelong dimension of our family. We emphasize three points in the seminar: 1) that God exists, 2) that each person is a child of God, and 3) that by using the Principle we can build a good world, a God-centered world, a heavenly kingdom. A heavenly kingdom for us is a place where people care the most, respect the most and love the most. You may make mistakes. If you have a hard time studying Aquinas and Maimonides, you are still going to have a hard time, but at least your professor will be loving and maybe you can switch courses. Each thing is done with a great deal of care and respect. In a warm and loving family, there is a great deal of love and therefore a great deal of flexibility. In the weekend seminars spiritual patents stay with their guests to represent God for a day and a half so that hopefully the guest will experience a quality of love that he has never experienced before.

The cynical newspaper accounts say, "Why did he go to the bathroom with me?" But at least it is one way of showing that we are really willing to put up with the smelliness and the dirt and the garbage because we have no concepts about this person's value other than that this person is God's child.

The weekend seminar schedule includes three lectures a day, with a discussion after each lecture. We draw out questions. There is also a time for sports. People sleep from 11:00 pm to 7:30 am -- eight and a half hours. The schedule is even more flexible during the week, with meditation time and study hours and hiking and always at least eight hours sleep. If you get a spiritual child, it is wonderful. You go up to the land. It doesn't look too good if you are fasting when your guest is eating, so everybody eats and sleeps. The whole myth of the seminars as heavy indoctrination centers is completely opposite of the truth. The seminar is like ours here in the Bahamas; you are eating and sleeping lots -- granted there are hills instead of beaches. It is a vacation for most family members.

The Actionizer program is for graduates of the Camp K twenty-one-day seminar, for those who wish to come into our life. They hear lectures on our theory of education and theory of art, Unification thought, current events, comparative religion (we study Dr. Kim's books), and are exposed to publications put out by the seminary. Our new Actionizers come from different backgrounds and are anxious to go into every area of life. They push the Principle, testing it, pulling it, tugging it, to see how it holds up in real life. People learn to witness, very quickly becoming spiritual parents themselves who are learning how to reflect God's heart and take responsibility.

In capsule form, then, that is both the internal and a little bit of the external of what we do. We try to do what we do well. We have pride in a standard of excellence. Everything that we do we pour ourselves into.

About eight good articles were published on us in the last two weeks, including one carried on page four of the San Francisco Chronicle, six columns long. I was on a major T. V. station for a half hour last Friday night. Finally, the media are saying good things. Soon people will be saying good things about us in Northern California. But we do shake people up. We are on every street, on every corner in the Bay Area. People meet us and they are going to see a Moonie smile from now until the end of restoration. Maybe we will have to smile in different ways, but they ate going to see us. We are going to be out there. We are going to be singing "You Are My Sunshine" until there is sunshine all over the place. That may cause a certain reaction, and we try to bend over backwards not to offend people or hurt people. People come, they are moved, they confront themselves, they must make a choice for their lives, and that brings about reaction. We hope that it has good effects, but ultimately, each person must choose his own spiritual life. Things fall in many different directions.


William Shive: Probably the biggest criticism that comes again and again about the Northern California church particularly is the concept of heavenly deception. We would like to hear anything you might want to say on that.

Mose Durst: "Heavenly deception," as people accuse us of it, means to say or do anything to get a member into the church or to get his money. It is completely contrary to our teaching and practice. The area of difficulty is that several years ago I started the Creative Community Project and Project Volunteer.

I have also done what I think of as a disciplined study on who are the most successful people at religious conversion and why they are successful. One of the groups that is successful is the Mormons, and they don't come up to somebody and say, "Hi, I'm a Mormon. Would you like to move into my church?" What they do according to the Mormon witnessing manual is: Step one, prayerfully select a family with which to get acquainted. Step two, make your own family one that they would want to know. Step three, invite the family to your home. Focus on their interests. Step four, go out together. Do something that they want to do. Step five, tell them that you are a Mormon. There are many religious denominations which emphasize indirect initial witnessing.

We do some of that and we also set up tables each day with signs which say, "Hi! We are the Moonies. You have heard about us, but how much do you know about us?" There are many ways in which we witness.

In indirect witnessing, the point is to listen to somebody, to make a relationship, invite them for coffee, get to know them. Later, invite them to a center. If they eventually come to a one-day seminar, everything clearly says "Unification Church," thanks to Dr. Sontag, God bless his soul. Three years ago Dr. Sontag came up to Boonville. I asked him, "Please help us to make things better. Is there anything we should correct?" He suggested that on the seminar sign-up forms we make it very clear that a person signs up for something involved with the Unification Church.

Here is my experience. A guy is standing at a bus stop. You look at him and he looks like a good guy who doesn't know God. You have four minutes until the bus is going to get there. He has a poetry book in his hand. How can I get to know this person and sincerely seek to give him God's love? I don't want to lay a trip on him. Most people are negative about God. I want to establish a relationship with this guy, so I talk about poetry. If we are both interested in it, I say, "Look, why don't we get together sometime?" I'll meet him for coffee. A week later I'll meet him again. Maybe we'll have lunch together. Then maybe I'll invite him over to our center to meet other people. It is a process. I don't see it as deceptive. The image is, "Well, you didn't say when you first looked at me on the street that you were with Rev. Moon, and that you have an ammunitions factory and make sabre jets that fly around the world." (People have all these strange concepts.) If we talked about God initially, what purpose would it serve? I think it would kill people spiritually.

Over the years, I have set up several groups that I thought would be valuable. I founded the Center for Ethical Management and Planning about five years ago because a number of people in my community ate engineers and management consultants. It had nothing to do with the church. Rev. Moon has given us Divine Principle and said, "Now go to it." He doesn't call in the morning and say, "How are you doing?" So I created this group and we sponsored a conference on energy, the ethics of energy utilization. The Daily Cal called me the day of the conference and said, "Aren't you the director of the Unification Church?" My wife was at that time, so I said, "No, my wife is the director of the church." "Is this conference evangelical?" I said, "No it is not evangelical; it has nothing to do with evangelism. Of course it has to do with ethics, which to me is an essential part of religion." Front page of the next day of the Daily Cal, "Is conference evangelical?" It knocked out five of the participants from University of California, Berkeley. Out of the best intentions I would create something because I was inspired to create it, and then, boom, get shot down. People have written letters to my college saying that I am using my position to proselytize. Now, I do go into my office before each class and I close the door and I pray for my students, and if anybody hears me, great, but I certainly don't talk about the Unification Church in my class. All these things build up.

Andy Smith: I was going to ask about heavenly deception because that is the first thing that I usually hear also from people when they find out that I have been to conferences or something like that. The second thing I hear about the recruitment process is the fact that once people are invited to the center they are never left alone. They are never left to be able to be by themselves. Now the way you explain that, is that it is because you are showing love to these people, and you want to be with them all the time, but as it is perceived by some of those people and by outsiders it is because you don't want to give them the chance to think for themselves. In many other religious groups, people are allowed very long periods of time to meditate by themselves, to be alone, to think over what they are doing. Now it was not clear in your presentation whether or not a person really is with somebody all the time, even when they go to the bathroom, as you expressed it, or if in fact they do have some time to meditate. I would just like some information on this.

Mose Durst: In everything other than the initial two days, people have meditation times and study times. That initial two-day experience is an intense and structured experience in which many people have a significant transformation of their minds and their hearts -- which, for me, is the conversion experience. If, during that time, anyone wants to be alone, our policy is leave them alone, because the worst thing in the world for our conversion process is to have a negative person. In our seminars right now, we may have two or three hundred people. If one person gets negative and rambunctious, he is going to affect a lot of people. It's easy to leave a person alone; a lot of times that happens. "Don't sit down with me, I just want to go to the hillside for a while." All we do is defer. If somebody really wants to go smoke dope, we will see that they are smoking dope and will say, "Please, the bus is leaving in fifteen minutes, we hope you will be on it." We encourage people not to do anything illegal, immoral and so forth, but the most difficult thing for us is to have a negative person who is causing a disruption. Although there are only three lectures, it is an intense experience. People sit and they talk. They ask questions. They have spots. It is a full day and a half, even with eight hours sleep each day. If a person wants to be alone, we leave them alone. But the seminar is not designed for that. We feel that to give somebody an experience of God is very difficult. It takes much effort to design a seminar where you can create an experience for a person that is truly different from the experiences he has had all his life. If it were easy to bring people into a relationship with God and to transform them, then the whole world would have been transformed a long time ago; it takes a tremendous effort.

Phyllis Lovett: I take it that once they are in Boonville, they have already gone through a certain number of steps. You have already invited them to some of your evening talks. So you have gone through a certain process before you get them there, because people are not going to say, "Yes, I'll go to Boonville for seven or twenty-one days" just at the first meeting. You then take full opportunity of that time in Boonville, because you consider that that might be your only chance.

Mose Durst: Absolutely. But, also, during the middle of the week, everybody works on the farm. If someone hears a lecture then, it is probably only one lecture; and actually people ate alone working on the farm and come together for lunch and for dinner, for group meetings and evening entertainment.

Most of the people we get are intellectually probing. They experience a great deal of love and a great deal of care and their eyes may get a little glazed. But as brother Eldridge Cleaver said, "You wonder why the Moonies have glazed eyes? Because they ate praying for the fools of the world, and they are crying all the time." We try to give a person a deep experience in a short period of time. Conversion involves being easy, and yet giving a hundred percent. It is like the Zen moment; you pick up a piece of lumber, you know what you are doing. You arrange a flower, you are in there, you are relaxed but you are there. You are playing baseball, but as Ted Williams said, "One of the hardest things in the world is to hit a baseball." So it is both the discipline and the casualness that has to be combined. That is the art of conversion, as far as I understand it.

Thomas McGowan: I have a lot of practical questions. I am not sure if I have time to get to them, but I want to ask one theoretical question which is also theological. You said that you are unity-centered. You don't motivate people out of guilt; rather you draw their attention to their God-centered personality. These are very interesting ideas. But in Unification theology, as I understand it, the Cain/Abel model is important. The fact that we are fallen people is essential to the theology. I guess my question is this: Are you a Moonie heretic? Or, put another way, do you consider theology important in the conversion experience? I ask this because you seem to be outside the center of Unification theology.

Mose Durst: I think Unification theology is something that we embrace as much as anybody. We teach the Principle, and we don't have any unique principles. It is what is taught anywhere else in the world. In practice, though, it is effective to make people aware that their relationships are based on purpose and value.

It is very easy to confuse people, to say I have something to give you and so you should follow me. Actually I say, "Look, every situation is a value-laden situation and has a great potential for value, and our purpose is to draw this out. Whoever has insight into the value, let it come out. Since I am in a position where I have to initiate, I will tell you what I think about the value in this situation. If you see other things here, please let me know."

It is very similar to when I go into a classroom. When I teach a novel, for example, I have certain things I want to communicate to the students. I don't go in there and say, "Well, what do you want to do today?" I know what I want to communicate; but I am open to the questions, the insights, the information that will come from those students. If they have greater insight than I do, if they have greater perception, which they often do, I'm open to that and then I will change my interpretation and respond differently according to their interpretation. I don't know if that answers your question.

Thomas McGowan: Well, not exactly. Could I take the second part of the puzzle, the God-centered personality? If indeed we are God-centered personalities, why do we need the Unification Church? This is fine humanism, and it is excellent Maslow and so on. But where does the Unification Church come into this? If people are God-centered already, why do they need it?

Mose Durst: Well, Rev. Moon has said that the purpose of the Unification Church is to wither away ultimately, and that this is a process that we are going through to reach a state of maturity. In the process, there are various ways that you can seek to draw out divine nature. We can agree about theology. But the question then is how do you make it real? How do you make people aware that they are loved by God?

Jane Flinn: Early in your talk you mentioned "growing" a spiritual child. I am a little uncomfortable with that phrase. I can hear love. I can hear concern for passing on something that you find valuable. But what happens to the other person's autonomy if you are somehow, as a spiritual parent, perhaps growing something that, like a plant, doesn't have its own volition?

Mose Durst: Remember that I also said that it is a mutual process in which we make ourselves vulnerable? In any relationship you seek to meet in the great dance of life. In the dance, presumably, you have a form that can be pleasing, that can make you more joyful, more creative, more aware and so forth. The growth process is the growth of intellect, of emotion, of will, the growth of heart, all from our point of view centered on love and purpose. It is not just touchy-feely. You know when you close your eyes how you feel when I rub your shoulders and you rub mine. It may feel good, but it may not bring us to a good value place. So growth is a sensitizing of intellect and emotion and will for valuable purposes. But in the process of helping someone else, we have to be as open in our own sensitivity, in our own cognition and in our own volition as the other person. It has got to be a mutual process.

George Exoo: Shortly before I came here, a person who very much loves me and my church in Charleston, when discussing my coming to this conference, said, "You know, George, you are a disarming charmer." Dr. Durst, I find you a disarming charmer. I think I have learned some things about effective pastoring from you, because it seems to me that you are a good pastor to a number of people, but in that there may be some problems. I must tell you that I went up to Hearst Street last summer after going to the Virgin Islands, and I was not pleased with what happened up there. One of the things that I observed that bothers me ethically, despite the fact that I think it is very important to minister to people, is that everybody that I questioned on Hearst Street had come into the Unification Church at a point of great vulnerability. Namely, they all seemed to have come in at the point when they arrived in San Francisco without friends, without a job, short of money, etc. They really needed the community which you were offering them. I sense somewhere under your disarming charm there must be a great deal of exploitativeness, pushiness and coerciveness. I sensed pressure up on Hearst Street where I had the hardest time getting out of the door even after I had made my position clear.

Also, in my experience, I almost felt your church was guilty of the classic fallacy, "Everybody is free to choose his faith, but either you choose to go the true way or..." I am not quoting you, but I got the feeling in Oakland that the test of us who might be Episcopalian or Catholic or whatever have chosen the wrong way even though we are free to choose our faith. That kind of attitude puts a tremendous amount of pressure upon people. If you are at all vulnerable, it is very easy to feel guilt under that kind of circumstance. I don't even know if I have a question. Maybe you can react to my statement, (laughter)

Mose Durst: Well, sorry we didn't get to you at Hearst Street. (laughter)

George Exoo: You have just answered my question. The man understands group dynamics very well and he is a superb manipulator He is incredible. Part of that can be good and part of it can be dangerous.

Mose Durst: We can look at any situation or look at the quality that a person has and say, "Well, this can be used this way and this can be used that way."

I hope I didn't communicate the idea that we are living truth and other people are not. In fact, I think I emphasized in my talk that often the people that we speak to are better in some ways than we are, and I teach all our members when they go out and speak to people, to listen to them and not to lay a trip on them, because they will probably be better than you are in some ways, know more than you, have more experience than you do.

One of the things we do feel is that responsible people do not abandon their responsibility of offering people a choice. They say "Look, here is something valuable in life. I believe in it, I am living it." Aristotle said that courage is the ability to choose the greater good father than the lesser. But, you have to exhibit that moral virtue and that courage so that people can make a choice and see what is available to them, can see that there is an alternative to what they have been living. Yes, many people come to San Francisco who have had all kinds of terrible experiences in their lives. We, in one sense, try to set up a situation in which people can choose.

Also, if I could read off the academic honors of our people, the Phi Beta Kappa's and so forth, you would see they are not just dummies that come out there. They see that here is a group of people who are trying to live their ideals, and for many people it is the first time in their lives that they have seen anybody who is trying consistently to live an ideal, and I think it is a good thing. Rev. Moon didn't want to create a new church. He didn't want to start a new sect. He wanted to draw together people based on an ideal. That is our point, trying to draw people together. So all I can say is, yes, we try hard to be successful. If there is something wrong in our purpose, then I stand to be connected there, and if there is something wrong in the way we act -- maybe people put too much pressure on you -- then that is something to be corrected. But we want to represent a moral and ethical ideal in a world in which those things are often not taken seriously.

George Exoo: But they may not be in the position to make that free choice if they are extremely vulnerable emotionally.

Mose Durst: Well, my assumption is pretty much that every human being is free to make a choice. Negative parents come to me and they sit down with their child fight in front of us and they tell me their child is not free. This is the most disgusting thing that I have ever experienced. Here is their twenty-seven-year-old "child" with a Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan and they are saying, "My boy is not making a free choice by being in this environment." The parents don't believe in God. The parents are not committed to anything. The patents are not trying to bring him to a better place. All they can do is tell this kid that he is somehow moon washed or something like that. That seems to me the ultimate denigrating remark that one can make to one's own child. I guess I just don't see a problem with freedom.

I do see the problem of choice. People have to make hard choices. We are like a universal Rorschach test: people look at us and they experience where they are. We draw it out, their love, their goodness, their fear, their hate, their bad feeling about peanut butter and jelly, all that stuff comes out -- sometimes people open up amazingly quickly. That happens because we stand up deafly for what we believe. This is the irony of people thinking we don't stand up. It is just the opposite.

Don Jones: But surely, even you know the meaning of vulnerability. You have been vulnerable. And you have been less free than you are now.

Mose Durst: Freedom for me is rooted in the concept of value. We are free when we are free to be valuable. For example, when we talk about freedom of the body, presumably that involves a certain health, wholeness and harmony of the body. So you have to know how to nourish yourself properly, to get rest and so forth. If you say, "I'm free to take this poison," well, you can take poison, but then there is no longer any meaning to the concept of a free body.

Don Jones: Yes, but if you are physically sick, you are vulnerable and you are less free to make choices. I mean, you know the meaning of vulnerability. I don't think you ate talking seriously.

Steve Post: I would like to say one thing. When I was seventeen, I went to San Francisco for the summer. This was 1969 when many of my friends had gone out to California. You know, the word was out that California was the place to go if you lived in Babylon, Long Island. (laughter) When I got out there I suppose that I was vulnerable because I didn't have more than five dollars in my wallet. I had hitchhiked all the way across the country, and then I lived in the Mission District of San Francisco with my cousin who was a former Green Beret in Vietnam and was living a Bohemian life in that district. When I think about that summer in my life, 1 realize that if I had met a group like the Unification Church at that time it would have been a positive experience. A lot of my friends' lives were destroyed by contemporary culture. Now I have never been to the Oakland center and I am not going to say too much, but there may be some value you are overlooking in that Unification community.

George Exoo: I grant that there is some value. You know, I recognize the need to minister to the needs of people.

Steve Post: It is a ministry -- let us at least begin with that, and then we can discern things, perhaps be critical. But we should understand that it is a ministry. I don't think it is a gimmick.

George Exoo: Let me put it this way: A woman phoned me as a Unitarian to tell me that she didn't want me to come to this conference. When she was giving her arguments, she compared the Unification Church to rapists and to people who beat little old ladies in the street, and I was thinking "Oh, Betty! Here are these nice people, and you have just got it all wrong." She is reacting to a public relations image that has been generated out of Northern California. I hate to see that happen to this woman. Despite the fact that you ate heterosexual chauvinists (laughter), I love you and I want to see you succeed. See? And I don't want to see a beautiful open person like this woman in my congregation walking around with the misconception in her head that members of the Unification Church ate tantamount to rapists. You have a very serious public-relations problem here, and I hope you take it seriously. Just as I plead for you to deal with the gay community in a sensitive way, I plead with you to deal with this public-relations problem in a sensitive way.

Mose Durst: I hear what you are saying, and it is a problem that we have to work on.

David Simpson: That was exactly the response that we heard in the Virgin Islands. That was after some of us had been involved in a small group discussion where we talked quite frankly about exactly the same issue: the credibility problem that came out of the community in Boonville. Among the articles that I have read and that many other people have read, the most recent thing in the New York Times Book Review was written by some people with teal credibility. All refer to experiences that people have had in that two-day experience and similar kinds of experiences, and I really do think you are glossing over something very serious.

Frederick Sontag: I wasn't going to say anything; I am a refugee from the theology session, (laughter) As a philosopher who teaches existentialism, I want to offer one little story which adds a note of paradox because I think you are right in what you are saying -- there is something different about San Francisco and Oakland and everyone knows it. Instead of making them out as heretics, though, I only want to add one interesting note. I have puzzled through this whole thing myself, as Dr. Durst and Mr. Kim know. All the state and center leaders were sent out to Northern California to go through a training weekend there because Rev. Moon wanted them to see what Northern California was doing. One of the center leaders I know talked to me about this. He looked incredulous and said, "And you know, they are fundamentalist Moonies out there." His comment is very insightful, because, although there is something very different about the Oakland church, at the same time, the zeal for the mission of the restoration and conversion, the whole mission, is there in Oakland. This presents a paradox which is interesting to me. 

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