The Words of the Anderson Family
Pultusk Castle, north of Warsaw, was the site of the ISUM conference.
Under Gorbachev's policy of glasnost and with the revolutionary political and economic changes in Eastern Europe, it is now possible to openly discuss religious and philosophical issues and to legally practice religion.
When I accompanied Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak to Eastern Europe in October 1989, we were amazed by the extent of freedom there now. We knew that the Professors World Peace Academy had been legalized in June, but discovered it would be quite easy to engage in all types of activities and projects of the Unification Movement. Reverend Kwak asked the church members in Poland and myself to organize an Introductory Seminar on the Unification Movement (ISUM) in just five weeks' time.
We quickly sent out invitations to Eastern European contacts and were very happy with the turnout of 58 scholars and religious leaders. At the seminar, which was held December 8-11, 1989, we had 23 participants from Poland, seven from the Soviet Union, four from Czechoslovakia, four from Yugoslavia, two from Bulgaria, four from Greece, four from Hungary, one from East Germany, one from Finland, two from Austria, and five speakers from the United States.
The conference site was chosen by the national church leader in Poland. It was a beautiful castle on a bend in the river a short distance north of Warsaw. The Pultusk Castle gave us a sense of history, yet it had just been restored last July with 60 rooms equipped with all modern facilities. We were one of the first groups to use the facility.
A political scientist from Yugoslavia pores over the Outline of the Principle during a comment session.
Dr. Frederick Sontag, Dr. Richard Rubenstein, Franz Feige, Andrew Wilson and myself went to lecture and organize the ISUM, which was sponsored by ACUMI (Advisory Council to the Unification Movement International). At the end Reverend Kwak came.
I think I will start my reflections by telling a little bit about the Greeks. Although the Greeks are not from the former Soviet Bloc and therefore initially were not invited, something very interesting happened a week before this conference. One of our church leaders from Greece was praying and he had a vision. This vision was that there was a race, and a Korean runner was about to cross the finish line, but he looked back, and there was someone from the Orthodox Church running who had stopped. The Korean runner, who had not quite crossed the finish line, ran back to bring the Orthodox runner across the finish line. This leader feels that the Eastern Orthodox Church is now in a very special position. Western Christianity has not readily responded to Father's work and now conditions are such that the Orthodox Church has a unique chance to take the lead in the Christian world. So our leader in Greece asked if he could send a couple of theologians to the ISUM with the hope that they could learn and help influence the Orthodox Church.
So two Greek Orthodox participants came to the ISUM; one is a professor who also attended the International Religious Foundation conference in Moscow, and the other a theologian. They are both New Testament scholars. After my lecture on resurrection and the mission of Jesus, in which I discussed eschatology as well as our interpretation of the mission of Jesus, the first Greek professor raised his hand and said, "I have been a New Testament scholar all of my life; I have been writing on eschatology for 20 years, and what you have said is truly Biblically sound. I believe that the Orthodox Church ought to revise its present position on eschatology. In fact, I think the Catholic and Protestant churches should do so as well." I truly hope that he will be listened to by others in the Orthodox Church. As you know, the Orthodox Church is also the main church in Russia.
The final banquet hosted by Rev. Kwak.
There is a very unique struggle going on in the Orthodox Church in Russia. Most people are now pushing for religious liberty in Russia, but the Orthodox Church is not. There is a temptation not to advocate religious liberty because when the Russian Orthodox Church made an agreement with the communists several years ago, they inherited all the church property of the Catholics and other churches. So, for material reasons, they are being tempted to deny their responsibility to advocate religious liberty. I think we need to encourage the Orthodox Church to take an Abel-type view in this kind of struggle. Also the Orthodox Church in Russia as well as the Catholic Church in Poland, both of which have established great influence in their countries, will probably be tempted to want to take absolute spiritual power, as in the feudal days.
We had seven participants from the Soviet Union. As you know the Soviet Union has been under communist rule for 70 years. Most Soviet citizens have never been able to discuss religious issues in their whole lives. Although there are evangelists now on television in Russia because of the changes, and there is greater religious freedom, the academics in the fields of philosophy and theology have not had any forum for the kind of religious discussion that took place at the ISUM. They were truly excited to see a global dimension of life and have intellectual and faith possibilities opened up before them. All participants attended very eagerly and were genuinely excited by the lectures.
One person who is a teacher of linguistics in the Soviet Union said: "This was the first year in my course that my freshman students have wanted me to throw out Lenin and Engels; young Russian students do not want to read them anymore." It is official policy to teach Marx, Lenin and Engels, but he said, "We should teach Marx, but counterpose it to the Divine Principle and the Bible as expressions of other genuine human aspirations in literature." I do not know when such changes might come, for he said it is too early to do something like that in Russia. Yet, he would be happy to come to another meeting like this.
At this East European gathering, the recent events in Eastern Europe were in the atmosphere the whole time. One teacher of comparative education from Prague, upon hearing the Divine Principle presentation, said, "You know, Marxism has failed, and Christianity has not provided us with suitable answers, so perhaps the Unification Movement is what Czechoslovakia needs." He speculated there would be some resistance to Unificationism in his country but felt that this type of worldview and vision is what his country needs. He will help us to organize an ISUM in Czechoslovakia this coming spring.
Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein gave a wonderful presentation. He and Dr. Sontag are both very excellent speakers. Dr. Rubenstein gave a speech bringing the professors to the present human situation out of the 19th century philosophical thought, using Max Weber, Nietzsche, Hegel, and some of the existential philosophers that professors in Eastern Europe must know. He gave them a very solid explanation of why he believes Reverend Moon and the Unification Movement are important. He went on to distinguish between three types of leadership: the feudal leader, the bureaucratic leader, and the charismatic leader. Of course, the bureaucratic leader would be the type of communist leader now sapping the economies of Eastern Europe, and no one wants to go back to feudal leaders. But what about charismatic leaders? There are Stalin and Hitler, on the one hand, but then there is Reverend Moon on the other hand. How is Reverend Moon not like Stalin and Hitler?
He went into a detailed explanation of how Father is fulfilling the requirements of a charismatic leader to advance the well-being of the world. Dr. Rubenstein also talked about how scholars look back and reflect on religion. He said that if he went to an American Academy of Religion meeting and said that God told him to do something, other scholars would think he was crazy. Nevertheless, God should speak to us, and He does so through the Reverend Moon.
Dr. Andrew Wilson spoke on Unification Thought, and this was his second time to deliver such a presentation at an ISUM. Unlike the first meeting in Westchester County, New York, many of the East Europeans know Hegel and Marx thoroughly, having studied them inside and out. I reminisced about the days when we first started lecturing Unification Theology (10 years ago) to theologians who knew the Bible, and could quote all the theology books. They heavily critiqued our Divine Principle lectures. These East European professors did not question our basic principles but they strongly attacked our use of Hegel, Marx, and so on. We have our work cut out for us. They made basically constructive critiques, and some of them really liked our diagrams and counterproposal to Marxism which they found very helpful.
A discussion group meets over coffee after a lecture.
In a way, we had three conclusion lectures: Franz Feige did the Divine Principle conclusion; Dr. Rubenstein gave the professors' conclusion, and at the end Reverend Kwak spoke about Father's lifestyle, the Blessing, and our movement's use of money. I thought Reverend Kwak's comments on money very interesting for Eastern Europe today. Although Reverend Kwak was speaking about a very strict and self-disciplined lifestyle, I think that many of the professors there felt that if people in their country could live the way Father lived, all of their problems could be solved.
Reverend Kwak explained how Father, starting as a refugee in a cardboard hut, has now developed this international movement with various kinds of prosperous entities and activities. In many ways, Eastern Europeans are like refugees in cardboard huts today. Father's life was, I thought, an example of how anyone who practices this kind of life can prosper. Rev. Kwak spoke about the spiritual foundation of fasting, prayer, monogamous marriage, and the use of money as a basis for the blessed life of a human being. I might mention something Reverend Kwak said about the use of money, because some of what he said was new information to me. Reverend Kwak explained that money to support our international movement comes from three sources: donations from members and national churches, income and donations from businesses, and from fundraising. This money is divided in the following proportion: the Unification Church itself gets one part, the professors programs and inter-religious dialogue get three parts; social outreach and service for the world at large gets ten parts. If everybody, especially churches, used their money in that kind of proportion, for example giving 10 of 14 parts of their income for social service, we would quickly eliminate the problems of social injustice, poverty, welfare and government bureaucratic parasitism in the world today. Rev. Kwak presented this talk in such a way that the audience could see that if we could live this way, it really would make a difference.
I should mention that ISUM participants were not only new professor contacts. We also had representatives of the Unification Church from all over Eastern Europe. As it turns out, many of the people who were witnessed to underground years ago, before things opened up, had pursued their education, earning at least a masters' degree, and are now teachers themselves.
Some of them are university professors. But Unification Church members there had been operating underground for many years and did not know much about what our movement has been doing internationally.
In Czechoslovakia, some of our members have recently been released from prison. Some of them may have been in prison because of their association with Father. Once out of prison, they became active in the Civic Forum in Czechoslovakia. After the ISUM in Poland, church members arranged for the Civic Forum to host Dr. Rubenstein for a speech at the University of Prague. All of a sudden there are many opportunities available in Czechoslovakia, as was the case in Poland last year. We brought our members to the ISUM so they can plug into what ICF and IRF have been doing internationally. They can learn how to become the people in those countries to take responsibility as our ICF and IRF representatives. When we finished the ISUM, we left these members to carry on local and national activities with our professors. The ISUM is a way of showing them a standard of how we have worked with professors. We hope they can inherit and improve upon it.
After the event, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Feige, and Dr. Rubenstein stayed some extra days and toured a few other cities. They spoke to CARP and to university audiences. Nine new CARP members have joined in Krakow since I was there six weeks ago.
In conclusion, the meeting was very successful. Reverend Kwak would like us to expand our activities in Eastern Europe this year. I think we feel the challenge. During the fall of the Roman Empire, the Christians then inherited government posts because of their character, morality and trustworthiness, in positions of accounting and administration. I clearly feel that if our members can develop professionally in addition to having the moral integrity they have gained from following Father, the opportunities are really unlimited in Eastern Europe. Someone must inherit the posts of the falling communist empire, but leaders are scarce. We have that to look forward to in the 1990s.