The Words of the Kaufmann Family
Community and Civil Society
I would like to thank the sponsors of this convocation, the founder of this organization, the conference organizers, and the individuals who support this work at the state and local levels, both for my invitation to be with you this morning, and for the timely and visionary initiative represented by conferences such as this. I am convinced that we have been convened by our hosts for humanitarian and patriotic reasons. I imagine their desire is to engender greater commitment to the welfare of America and its citizens, and greater collaboration and integration among the varied projects we represent. I pray that our sponsors will find a genuine and reliable response for these noble desires, among many of us gathered here.
I sense two special challenges unique to this enterprise to which I hope each of us will grant our energy and talent to mediate constructively. One is that very American problem of the degree to which explicitly religious and moral themes legitimately participate in our national and public institutions. And the second is the specific inquiry into the viability of Unificationism in that conversation.
The very fact of the first question is one of the greatest and most exciting aspects of the American, democratic experiment. It is a conversation which I never tire of hearing. I thrill at the debate, and must confess enjoy the reading of the positions I canít stand almost as much as I do reading my heroes and champions. People such as Dr. Woodson, the gentleman with whom I share this panel, Dr. William Bennet and so many others. The query into the ideal place of religion and explicit moral injunction in a secular, and multi-religious democracy, in my opinion, is the point to which all great minds should migrate.
The second question regarding the viability of Unificationism as a legitimate voice in this larger debate has certain special challenges, some of it, in part generated by the wellspring of that system and agenda, namely the Reverend Moon, and some of it by the community which represents his thought and vision for renewal. I feel there are understandable, but unnecessary obstacles embedded in Unification self-expression, which could probably be shed relatively painlessly, which would allow for its genius and valuable elements of contribution to be more readily embraced among the intelligentsia, activists, and theorists of American renewal.
On the other hand some of the edgier aspects of Unificationism might not be easily shed without compromise, and on those fronts I would hope that men and women of conscience will allow for this community at least the same intellectual latitude as is afforded the great pillars undergirding American moral and civic assumptions, such as Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and other religious moral philosophies, which continue to bless America with divine opportunity, yet are not compelled to abandon or compromise particularities which give the respective communities vitality and heritage.
Leaders and shapers of Unificationism will have to take stock of the language and conceptual framework expressed and decide which parts are malleable, and which parts are core advocacies which challenge prevailing views no matter how cleverly or gently packaged.
For example, the title of this section is Building Community and A Civil Society. A Civil Society. What is it? My colleague here admits "the boundaries of the term are flexible, but everyone acknowledges that at a minimum they encompass the entire web of voluntary associations that dot our social landscape." [Policy Review: October, 1998].
Yet under this rubric, our reader has just introduced a text in which we frequently encounter the term "the Kingdom of God." Now "Kingdom" phraseology, on its face is not consonant with a notion like "web of voluntary associations." Kingdoms and voluntary webs are different concepts of social organization. So the question is, does Unificationism include in it recommendations a reconceptualization of prevailing social organization, or do we have here a case of sacred textual impulses, in which Kingdom is less technical, and more evocative simply of heavenly ideals.
Questions like these I believe will have to be continually addressed as conferences and derivative projects and associations expand and grow.
I believe the master of ceremonies has made some effort to point out that the Unification readings are compiled from spiritual homilies delivered primarily under inspiration, and not from prepared texts. Such of course is entirely different from the preparation of manuscripts for monographs or periodical literature, and should be approached for its wisdom with entirely different hermeneutic impulses. Hey, when asked which political philosopher had the greatest impact on his thought, Dubya answered Jesus Christ. I was delighted with his response, and would have enjoyed just as much even if it hadn't spawned such comic hysteria in the liberal media... Well ALMOST as much.
Needless to say, one has to do a lot with the teachings to Jesus to bring them into textual genres in which they can be assessed for their impact as political philosophy, but once that work is done, why, your looking at some pretty good stuff. Praise God.
This is what I mean when I express the hope that readings such as what we are hearing this weekend be given the chance to disclose the social and political wisdom embedded within. But I return to my view that very much of whether or not this occurs will depend on conscious and careful decisions from within the Unification community.
I for one, suspect that Reverend Moon's cosmological, and social reflection, will prove a great friend of national and global pursuits for peace and human welfare. I sincerely hope that long time friends of Unification activities, as well as America's moral intelligentsia will increasingly participate in culling from the record of Reverend Moon's self expression those elements which can contribute to the shared vision of a moral and spiritually vigorous civil society.
Let me offer just one example of such an exercise from the readings for this section. 1 will limit myself wholly to the section beginning on p.49 entitled "What is the unique role of religious leaders in building a civil society?"
In this section Reverend Moon identifies the soul of violent conflict as having its origin in the Edenic exile sections of the Book of Genesis, specifically the brutal fratricide in the first family. Cain's murder of his brother Abel. Reverend Moon extends from that observation a position on theological anthropology in which he describes our internal condition as characterized by replica of that tragedy, namely the torturous conflict between mind and body, or said otherwise, between what good we would do, and what evil or neglect that arises in us against the desires of our mind. Note St. Paul
This paradigm of reversing the Cain Abel murder, through the harmonization of our mind and body (or our intentions and our actions), is systematically extended eventually to end up as a proposal for the creation of a bicameral structure of governance at the United Nations, which includes a body of spiritual leaders in the overall determinations and UN resolutions.
I would argue that in just this one tiny page, we find reflection and inspiration of uncommon vintage, and one which at least deserves honest engagement and dialogue. I further argue that such events in the thought and teaching of Reverend Moon are not the exception, but rather the rule. One need only look at the growth of his ministry, and the social organization of his own expansive international venture to suspect that a viable theoretical foundation has enabled this historically unprecedented phenomenon.
The speed with which this thought comes to be recognized as a worthy participant in the American and now Global debate and exchange of ideas will depend a lot on the creative leadership of Unificationists working with this material and program, and very much so with friends and compatriots who have generously brought their wisdom and good will to reflection and commentary such as we are experiencing here this weekend.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
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