Unification News for March 1997
An Extraordinary Advertisement
by Peter Ross-Napa, CA
On at least three occasions in recent years, the Unification Church of America has placed advertisements in newspapers throughout the country. These advertisements have presented Father's seminal speeches: True Parents And The Completed Testament Age; True Family And I; and View Of The Principle From The Providential History of Salvation. These advertisements have served to place on public record the contents of Father's providentially significant declarations. In addition, they have given the opportunity to millions of people to read for themselves what Father, Mother, or other adult members of their family have imparted to distinguished audiences throughout the world on their incomparable international tours. Save for a few who were motivated by prejudice and refused to carry one or another, these speeches were widely accepted by newspapers throughout America. To place them in papers throughout the country generally took a matter of several weeks.
At the end of November, 1996, Father asked that his speech, In Search Of The Origin Of The Universe, be similarly made available to the wider American public. By the time this edition of the UNEWS has been published and forwarded to you, this project will have been completed. But one may wonder why it took so long to get this project done? Three months seems like a long time doesn't it? The primary reason for the extended delay had to do with the unique nature of this particular speech. Also relevant are two additional factors: the challenge of correctly translating Father's words and the extemporaneous nature of the speech.
This current speech proved difficult for us to place in papers due to translation problems. Those of us who have heard Father's public sermons have been spiritually transformed by the re-creative power of his profound teachings. This, despite the fact, that most of us remain ignorant of Korean. We have had to rely on a contemporaneous explanation from a very hard working "translator" to convey what he believes or understands Father to have just said. Father's own frustration with this process is apparent in his repeated appeals for us to study Korean and in his occasional congenial admonishments of the "translator" when Father knows he just messed up! We nevertheless owe a great appreciation to the efforts of our Korean elder brothers in this regard. But while Father himself has become very proficient in English, we have not been able to understand his Korean. Moreover, we have never even heard a direct translation of Father's public sermons from a native American translator. Korean and Japanese members have been privileged to hear Father speak in their native languages. In South America, brothers and sisters have heard Father through the extraordinary translation abilities of Brazil's, Alejandro De Souza. Alejandro is not only fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, but also Korean!
For me, the most memorable moment in the history of Father's public appearances in America occurred less than a year ago. The occasion was the Washington Times Foundation Inaugural Banquet on the evening of April 16, 1996. Before a live audience comprised of Congressional leaders, religious leaders, diplomats, scholars and academics, In Jin Nim simultaneously translated for Father as he delivered the Founder's Address. The evening's proceedings were aired live by C-Span to millions of viewers around the country. The sight and sound of In Jin Nim's simultaneous translation of Father's speech was a rare and profound experience for me sitting in that banquet hall. The large close circuit screens in the hall enabled me to also see and hear what the television audience was experiencing of this remarkable Father- daughter team. They, and everyone in attendance in that vast banquet hall, could hear In Jin Nim's impeccable English translation and her clear articulation of Father's words.
Unificationsts are familiar with Father's unique rhetorical style and the order in which Father presents his ideas and thoughts in public sermons. Neither his style nor his order of presentation were covered in my Homiletics class at the Unification Theological Seminary! Perhaps one day soon a seminarian will devote his/her Master's thesis to a more detailed analysis of Father's preferred pattern for delivering his ideas and insights. Until then, I offer a few personal observations. First, Father presents profound truth as pure, raw, and unrefined gold. Second, Father educates and instructs with reference to daily occurrences and real experiences. His analogies and metaphors thus have universal appeal to the diverse international audiences to whom he is accustomed to speak. Third, Father does not follow a simple order moving from introduction, to main content, to conclusion that many of us learned from our English teachers of how we should write an essay or tell a story. Fourth, Father does not suffer from inhibitions deriving from self-consciousness. Moreover, he is entirely free from any type of impurity that might restrict him from discussing in vivid detail topics that might otherwise intimidate, either consciously or unconsciously, other public speakers. And so to the nature of the speech at hand.
At the consummation of God's providence, it is interesting to note that only two groups of people demonstrate a boldness to speak about sexual matters: comedians and opportunists! One recent definition of comedy I came across defined comedy as being "a distortion of reality." People laugh at jokes about sex because the debasement and ridiculing of sex relieves them of foibles, fears, anxieties, and disappointments engendered in a post-modern permissive society. The opportunists exploit sex for commercial gain-comedians, songsters, film makers, advertisers, pornographers, the fashion industry, etc.- because sex sells. Previously Calvin Klein presented Brooke Shields saying "nothing comes between me and my Calvins." The premier fashion house has since proceeded to use images bordering on child pornography to sell its fashions. And Joe Camel still looks like he belongs inside a jock strap.
Religion, the moral guide and conscience for society remains ambivalent about sex. The recent papal instruction that divorced Catholics who remarry should not engage in sex with their new spouse is an example. Controversies continue within many of the other established Christian denominations on questions such as whether gay and lesbian couples should be married in church or whether gay and lesbians should be ordained. But Father is the only religious leader who is not shy to confront society with the cause of its current spiritual and social debility nor to prescribe the solution.
The responsibility of placing Father's speech in newspapers around the country fell to Reverend Joong Hyun Pak. The project team Reverend Pak assembled was comprised of the State Leaders (or their representative when most of them went to Korea), the Public Affairs, Financial, and Publications Offices at HQ, together with Baker and Smith in Washington, DC. Under difficult circumstances, Baker and Smith provided professional representation in negotiations with the papers and other related matters in the most commendable way. While the task seemed at first to be routine, soon it became clear that this time around things would be different.
When presented with the content of this speech, the reaction of 50 papers around the country was a clear and unequivocal decision to publish. These included: The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, The Courier Journal (KY), The Providence Journal (RI), The Oregonian, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Washington Times, The New York
Observer, Times Picayune (LA), Minneapolis Star & Tribune, Topeka Capital Journal, The Denver Post, Omaha World Herald, Cincinnati Inquirer, Des Moines Register, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Anchorage Daily News, Detroit Free Press, Burlington Free Press, Boston Herald, New Haven Register, Salt Lake Tribune, Indianapolis Star, among others.
However, there were at least another 50 who refused to carry it. Some felt metaphors were too strong and politically incorrect. Some considered certain language too strong for the delicate ears of their readers. In such cases, some copy editors were prepared to cut and snip and do a few "replace all" edits. And then some! The most egregious of all were those papers who refused point blank to carry it at all. When reviewing some of the "other stuff" they had apparently no trouble printing and even promoting in their papers, the contradiction was glaring enough to expose any presumed high- mindedness on their part.
Many people today might well share Ira Gershwin's observation about the print media. He wrote: "the more I read the papers, the less I comprehend." Following in the wake of their erstwhile colleagues on television, many editors and reporters have yielded their eminent profession to the crass concerns of the entertainment industry. But there is worse. With lame claims to a journalism of old, advocacy journalism in its myriad forms, exalts the reporter's/editor's/publisher's own value-system and beliefs and then contrives to superimpose it upon the reader. In the intolerance and folly that ensues, censorship, the arch-enemy of a free press, runs buck naked around the editorial department.
Despite the initial challenge of dealing with as many papers who refused to carry it as those who did, this project has been completed and successfully so.
There were 3 important messages imparted to those who took the time to read this speech:
1. Reverend Moon teaches that America must rebuild a marriage culture and that our nation can be renewed only through vibrant and faithful marriages.
2. Absolute sex refers to purity before marriage and fidelity in marriage centered upon the love of God. Moving beyond the historical and contemporary ambivalence about sex, within the context of blessed marriage sex should be a sacred union of the couple with God.
3. The Reverend and Mrs. Moon have been called by God to promote world peace through the establishment of blessed marriages. The Blessing ceremony on November 29, 1997, is a public affirmation by millions of couples throughout the world that the blessed family is the building block for a moral, peaceful, and virtuous society.
In several papers, reporters called to do brief follow-up stories about this extraordinary nationwide undertaking. One of their primary questions was why was this speech published now? Our answer was that throughout his life-long ministry, Reverend Moon has consistently taught that the family is the most sacred institution created by God. In prayer, Reverend Moon was inspired to undertake this advertising campaign trusting that the American people were ready to receive his message, particularly as the crisis of family breakdown is so overwhelming. The division between those advocating a marriage culture and those advocating a free-sex culture will become more pronounced. The consequences of both to society will become more and more apparent. Reverend Moon is affirming a clear and unequivocal standard of true love in marriage that can serve as a reference point for all people of conscience.
Reporters naturally wondered why Father wanted to publicize this speech throughout America. We reminded them of how Father has devoted a significant part of his life teaching and speaking in America. Despite his most bitter experiences here, Father continues to love America because it was founded by people seeking freedom of religion and because it has come to represent the great democratic ideal embracing a mosaic of the world's cultures and faith traditions. He understands America's influence in the world and its capacity to do great good. Father was therefore moved to make these fresh insights widely available to the American people through the Unification Church.
Questions were asked about how much money went into this campaign. Reporters were informed that the ads were paid for by the Unification Churches throughout America. To put the nationwide cost of some $750,000 into perspective we reminded them and other inquirers that every day millions of dollars are spent on retail ads that all too often use illusory sexual images to sell products for profit, like Calvin Klein ads. Here, on the other hand, was a Church investing in the dissemination of a profound religious message on the true nature of human sexuality and for a fraction of the costs due to the fact that the local churches could often benefit from the newspaper's church/non-profit rate.
We were asked what is unique about Father's message and why this was referred to as "A Special Message for the Age." Our response was that alone, any one contemporary religion of the post-modern era does not have sufficient resources to contend with and to respond to the assault of the past thirty years on the integrity and vibrancy of the marriage union. No nation is unscathed or otherwise immune from these problems. Father's unique, common sense, profound, and universal teachings are important contributions to society in order to contend with the challenge of family breakdown. We re-iterated that Father believes that God is calling people of all creeds, races, and nationalities to work together and to renew the healthy loving institution of faithful marriage. God, the source of true love, is alive today and loves each and every one of us. His love is most clearly realized in the family. Loving families provide the context for the first experiences of life and are the school of love for our children. On the eve of the new millennium, God is reaching out and reminding us of His covenant of love. It is His love that is the mortar to build the bridge to the next century and our families are the girders and beams. We pointed out that a careful and repeated reading of this speech will be illuminating to all Americans. We also took care to remind inquirers that, as stated in the prefatory remarks, this profound address was first given as an extemporaneous message and so it retains an informality of expression.
Points of Interest:
* In Minneapolis, a local talk radio hostess devoted her air-time to a review of the speech. Our church minister and other senior members of our community participated in the conversation. Additional and free promotion was also received on a local Christian radio program!
* In Alaska, a middle-aged woman who had encountered the Church years ago, read the speech and has since resumed her study of the DP. * In Georgia, a couple who read the speech came and attended the True Family Values Ministry Conference and have since received the Blessing (see report).
* In Colorado, a rival newspaper to the one that published the speech assigned its religion editor to interview the acting Church minister. After attending Sunday service, she wrote a fair and gracious published account of both.
* In South Dakota, the speech was published in the preeminent Native-American newspaper. This paper is circulated nationwide and is read by all tribal chieftains. It also has overseas subscribers in various countries, including Japan and China.
* In Vermont, two professors called: one to re-affirm the annual visit by our local Church minister to his class; the second to institute the same practice.
* In Ohio, the newspaper elected to re-publish Father's speech in its sister paper free of charge.
* In Idaho, the major paper refused to carry the ad. Our brother, Tim Comey, has embarked upon a well-supported public campaign to protest the censorship of Father's message (see report).
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