Unification News for October 2000

The Scarlet Letter – a book come of age!

Lloyd Howell
October, 2000

Recently I stumbled across what turned out to be a most precious discovery—a nugget of gold buried in American soil—a seed planted generations ago which foretold the very nature of these latter days and yes even the arrival True Parents.

It all began quite innocently when I became curious about the book, The Scarlet Letter; one of the classics of American literature. The book was lying around the house because my son, a high school student, had to read it for English class. Little did I realize how providential it is that this year school children all over America are being required to read this volume. Let me explain:

Perhaps due to some unseen spiritual prompting I soon found myself pushed to pick up the book and find out it was really about. Was it a steamy tale of adultery and fornication? Did it have some redeeming spiritual value? What could I learn about our Puritan forefathers? Just what was the big deal?

Well I must say that the book, being written in a now outdated style of English, at first presents quite a challenge to the reader who must literally plow his way through the first dozen or so pages. However, after breaking through the obstacle of antiquated English, one soon finds it very difficult to put the book down.

I did not realize that there among America’s writers was one with such a deep spirituality, a keen sense of the existence of the spiritual world and how it impacts upon daily life. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author, surprised me with his awareness of the burdens and blessings our ancestors have left us.

In The Scarlet Letter there is no description of the adultery, which plunges the heroine, Hester, into her tragic role. Hawthorne deals strictly with the result of the sin; the guilt, the indemnity course and the redemption. The book begins with Hester who has been imprisoned for adultery. Her crime becoming obvious due to the child which she bore without her husband’s presence. After the child’s birth Hester is released but is relegated by the authorities to wear a large embroidered letter ‘A’ [for Adultery] upon her breast for the rest of her days!

The plot develops as the reader learns that it is a minister with whom she fell. One whose identity she refuses to reveal. Furthermore her lost husband finally arrives from abroad but learning of the circumstances desires to remain anonymous. He is determined to discover the identity of the one with whom she fell.

After returning to society, in the beginning Hester is an object of ridicule and snickering. She starts at the bottom of hell and staggers on with her painfully obvious sin. He bears her ordeal with great dignity and in doing so acquires deep inner fortitude.

We learn much about the character of people from the way they treat Hester. But little by little she earns the respect of the townspeople and completes her indemnity successfully whereas the minister who has decided to hide his sin from anyone’s knowing becomes more and more ensnared in Satan’s web; going from great height to the very bottom of hell. His conscience forever torturing him ‘til his very health is ruined.

The husband himself, unable to forgive, becomes disfigured and twisted; the very instrument of Satan subtly tormenting the minister who he believes committed the adultery.

Even knowing the outcome cannot ruin the thrill of reading this book as it is so masterfully written. With great drama Hawthorne leads up to his dramatic conclusion. Behind the scenes of his story, from time to time, Hawthorne stops and examines the role of woman in history from a spiritual perspective as the fallen Eve. He ponders just what type of woman can rise above it all and open a new way.

And on the very last page he reveals to the reader the revelation of the True Woman – one who is to come with the mission to make whole the relation between man and woman—a divine woman. In part Hawthorne writes:

"Hester assured them {suffering women}, too, of her firm belief, that, at some brighter period, when the world shall have grown ripe for it, in Heaven’s own time, a new truth would be revealed in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness . . . The angel, the apostle of the coming revelation must be a woman, indeed, but lofty, pure, and beautiful: and wise, moreover, not through dusky grief, but the ethereal medium of joy: and showing how sacred love should make us happy, by the truest test of a life successful to such an end!"

Can I say anymore? Is there a Unificationist who needs more encouragement to read this book?

Lastly, I want to mention that Hawthorne writes with compelling force for he is purging his own soul of the sins of his Puritan ancestors who burnt witches and persecuted Quakers. The book is itself Hawthorne’s indemnity condition and he fulfills it so perfectly that in the end he is given the precious revelation of the coming of the True Mother. Indeed as I write these very words the goose bumps arise on my skin! I wish the same for you.

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