The Words of the Kaufmann Family
Tradition is in no way unique to Unification life. It abounds in all religions, as well as in non-religious structures and associations. Attendance however, as taught in Unification, I believe, represents an important contribution to religious history.
Tradition abounds. A simple way of understanding the notion is to translate the word in your mind to mean simply "the way we do things around here."
"Jenny, we have guests coming to the house this afternoon, you know what that means don't you?" If the answer is "yes," there we've just peeked in on tradition. Four-year-old Jenny knows that she must put all her toys neatly away and make her bed. Why? "That's just the way we do things around here."
"Geez Bill, you go to the fridge in the commercial, and comeback with only your own drink? What's the matter with you?" -- Apparently in Jake's house, anyone going to the fridge in the commercial for a drink is supposed to come back with drinks for all. Why? "That's just the way we do things around here." Tradition.
Moving beyond the individualistic or family level examples I've given, traditions more importantly come to define entire nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures.
In the world of religion, the word tradition has a technical definition (though it functions religiously just as it does in non-(or not especially) religious situations). As with everything, whenever religion gets involved the issues ratchet up in their greater intensity. Not bringing your friends a drink from the fridge might end up with you being deemed nothing more than rude. Not adhering to a religious tradition, on the other hand, might end you up in hell. No one wants to be rude, but most would choose it over roasting in hell for eternity.
When thinking of tradition in the religious context, there are two distinct ways in which the term is used. It can be used as virtually interchangeable with the very term "religion" itself. For example you can speak of Christianity, or you can speak of the Christian Tradition; Hinduism, or the Hindu Tradition. The terms essentially are synonymous. -- The other use of the term however is more subtle, more refined. In this latter sense, it often is called "Sacred Tradition."
One of the most elegant, and most carefully reflected upon treatments of this more refined concept can be found in the Catholic Church, of the Christian family. This concept is often called Sacred Tradition. It constitutes a very important distinction in the Christian family, and is a matter of serious reflection for us all.
Here is the issue. Protestants hold that everything we need to know about being Christian and about God's truth is found in the Bible. Nothing taught or held to be the case henceforth can ever claim equal status to what is written in the Bible. Catholics on the other hand view God's truth, and that which functions authoritatively, in a different way. By dint of Apostolic Succession, things can come to hold the status of truth and orthodoxy as fully as any truth that appears in the Bible. -- Biblical level truth can be revealed through the Church at any point. -- For this reason, doctrines like the Virgin Birth or Priestly Celibacy are held by Catholics as every bit as true, and every bit as much "from God" as anything you find in the Bible. This is why it is foolish for people to argue against such Catholic beliefs by pointing out that they are not "in the Bible," or how late the dogma was developed.
The Doctrine of Sacred Tradition makes arguments of this sort moot. The Church is the vehicle through which God continues to reveal Herself and Her truth (Christians of course think of God as He). This is the doctrine of Sacred Tradition. It needs to be understood theologically as distinct from the profound force of tradition (in generic definition) so far reaching in the world of religion. We too will have to reflect on such matters. Will the whole and the highest truth remain limited strictly to Father's words? Or will something like sacred tradition evolve in our community, so that future teachings someday will be seen to have comparable authority?
Unificationism already abounds in traditions. Most are familiar with The Tradition Book (HSA-UWC: New York, 1985), in which there is a comprehensive list on "the way things are done around here." How far Unificationism will go in stacking up, formalizing and institutionalizing rules about "how things are done around here," is anyone's guess. And, whether members will welcome the newest layers of tradition or whether they will be criticized is also anybody's guess. In all likelihood, a happy, healthy, moderate "medium" way of tradition will evolve helping members and families seek an ideal way of life.
Attendance is an all together different matter. It is clear. It is grounded without invention in Unification theology and teachings. The writer believes this to be unique to Unificationism and invaluable in the history of religion.
Attendance is best understood as a "piety" Every religion has is own piety. By rights, the piety associated with any given religion or denomination or sect, should grow directly from the theology of that tradition.
Piety is an elusive (but important) term. It is related to what one might call the pursuit or the forging of feeling that most supports the believer's path to a living relationship with God. It is a cross between feelings "that arise," and "feelings deliberately cultivated." Some pieties with which readers might be familiar include Bhakti (the Hindu piety of loving devotion directed toward the Divine -- including Her representative -- say Lord Krishna for example), jihad (the spirit of purposeful striving to realize the will of God -- that one might find in a Jesuit missionary, for example), and others.
The ideal Unification piety is "attendance." It is understood as the state of religious intention, purpose, and "feeling," that will carry Unification believers toward mystical oneness with God our "vertical True Parents."
"By living a life of attendance, we can "become one" with Heavenly Father and True Parents."
What is a life of attendance, and why does it work in this way? Why does "living a life of ..." result in "becoming one" with Unificationist?
Our original ancestors, created to mature in love through three stages of growth, and upon successfully passing through the completion stage to the point of "direct dominion," were at this juncture to receive God's Blessing (God's permission to marry and His blessings on that marriage), have the temporary "do not eat" injunction lifted, and begin conjugal life that would eventually result in lineage, and the arising of "True Parents". Instead of this happy scenario, our first ancestors instead "Fell at the top of the growth stage."
This tragedy required the history of religion, and the peculiar (out of sync) restorative need to give the Blessing "at the top of the growth stage," i.e., the point at which the Fall occurred. "The Blessing", as Unificationists call it, successfully elevates recipients out from under Satan's dominion, but does not result in qualifying recipients to relate directly to Heavenly God. The very best a "first generation" Blessing recipient can hope for, in terms of the degree to which they have fulfilled the ideal of creation, is that they have been put at the place they could not, and could never get themselves without the intervention from the Messiah and Savior, namely to begin life of growing from the bottom of the completion stage. Of course second generation and on are not in need of this salvific function of the Blessing. For "Blessed" children, the life of attendance starts from the beginning, and evolves and matures naturally throughout the course of their lives.
It is this necessity and obligation to complete oneself through traversing the completion stage, that the piety of attendance comes into play. Before the Blessing you have religion (restoration), after the Blessing you have attendance. Blessed children do not need religious life personally, but involvement with the providence of restoration may ask of them support for religion and religious life.
Why do we have religious life at all? And what does it mean that attendance life starts for first generation after the Blessing? Because of the Fall, and because of the faithlessness of Jesus' disciples and those prepared by God to receive Jesus as the Messiah, the world has never had True Parents. This means that no one has ever been in a position to show us the way through the final stage of growth, "the completion stage." True Parents ARE capable of showing us how to do that, because they themselves had to do that in order to receive the mantle and title True Parents.
A life of attendance is what is needed to get through that final part of our growth. It is NOT religion. Religion exists just to get us to the point of Blessing. But it is still a life of "following," a life of "obedience," and so forth. In some ways, one could say "it looks and feels just like religion," in other words, somebody claiming to know God better than me is telling me what to do, and I "in order to be 'saved' (restored)," "follow him," do what he says.
But here is where the piety of attendance comes in. It is not a "religious" piety. It is a natural piety. It is loving, appreciating, infinitely adoring my parents (in this case True Parents). I "attend" them. I do not "follow" them. I do not "obey" them (though in fact I do of course). But in fact I "attend" them. It is closer than "following." It is richer than "obeying." It is "realer" than "believing." It is loving, following, obeying, appreciating, serving, missing, singing about, thinking about, supporting, clinging to, helping, adoring" my parents. They love me. They know the way. I adore them. I attend them.
By this we one day find ourselves at the finish line. -- God's life blossoms in us. And when someone tries to tell us how grand, wonderful, and divine we are and then ask us how we became like that? What did we do? How did we get to be such incredible people, in whom the living God lives? Our answer is. I don't really know how I got here. I simply attended True Parents, and Lo I find myself here. If they say, "Wow, if I attend True Parents can I become divine, just like you?" Your answer? "Yep. Divine." "Can I attend True Parents?" Why I believe you can. In fact I highly recommend it."
This is how attendance functions in Unification life. -- This is the final step for all humankind to return to life with God. This is the life of attendance. Once we complete our growth and become the embodiment of the living God, we receive the true Blessing to begin original family life according to the ideal of creation. Attendance remains. Our Blessed family attends True Parent's family, our clan their clan. Attendance allows the ideal to expand through the eight natural levels of God's limitless horizons. Through attendance Cheon Il Guk, the Kingdom of the ideal peaceful world will emerge.
The beauty and the magic of attendance is that it is both the final transitional piety that carries humanity out from the need for religious life, while simultaneously growing within us as the eternal natural way of original life with True Parents and with God.