The Words of the Phillips Family

World Scripture

Bethany Phillips
August 2010

Bethany is a volunteer for the HSA-UWC Education Department. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Classics and her License and Certificate to Teach from the University of Mary Washington. She lives with her husband, parents, and siblings in Northern Virginia and is currently teaching Middle and High School Latin in Fairfax County. She was recently appointed to the Northern Virginia Family Church Elders Board and is strongly involved in the Northern Virginia Family Church Youth Ministry.

I have always believed that part of wellness of mind is studying and learning about as many different kinds of things as possible. Don't get me wrong. I'm no research monkey, but I do place a high value on understanding other peoples' opinions and beliefs. That is why I bought myself a copy of World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon.

Discovering World Scripture

This book is no joke. It is 1,161 thin pages of excerpts from various religious scriptures, and quotations from many different religious leaders. It's heavy, spiritually and physically. I planned on using some of the content to help with the Sunday School curriculum development work I was doing at the time.

Several months after buying this large tome, I discovered a book on one of my dad's shelves called World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. This book is only 882 pages long, but it's printed on thicker -- paper, which makes it wider than the other World Scripture book and about the same physical weight.

At first, I was mildly annoyed that I had spent money on a book my family already owned, but when I looked more carefully at these two volumes I discovered that there are significant differences between them. Naturally, I had to ask myself if their spiritual weight was as close as their physical weight.

A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts

World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts has the older copyright date. It was a project of the International Religious Foundation and its purpose was to compare the main teachings of the world's religions in an effort to showcase their similarities.

It is broken into five parts: "Ultimate Reality and the Purpose of Human Existence," "Evil, Sin, and the Human Fall," "Salvation and the Savior," "The Religious Life," and "Providence, Society, and the Kingdom of Heaven." Each part is broken down into chapters with sub-topics. Each chapter is divided into sections with further sub-topics. The sections contain the quotes and passages I mentioned found in World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon.

This book immediately strikes me as a terrific resource for the Sunday School teacher, parent, or youth minister who likes to teach through quotes and scripture readings. If you know the topic of your lesson, you can look it up in the subject index in the back of the book, and choose any quote from any religion. If you need to come up with a topic for a lesson, you could scan the table of contents, which lists the topics of every section. When you find a topic that inspires you, just flip to that page number and choose a quote.

Using quotes from various religions is fantastic for raising awareness and supporting understanding of all religions. Exposing our youth to the teachings of other religions, and how similar they are to each other and to Unificationist teachings, helps our youth accept other religions and embrace their friends who are of other religions. Teaching understanding helps to end prejudices before they begin.

This book would also make excellent Hoon Dok Hae reading material for older teens and college students as well as parents and adults. Anyone who enjoys philosophy, comparative religion, or spiritual studies will thoroughly enjoy reading this book on a daily basis. Since the exact comparison between each of the religious texts is not written out, this would be a great source of mental exercise for older teens and college students. The passages that are under the same section are similar, but they are also slightly different. As a teen educator, I would sit down with my group, read a section together, and ask them these kinds of questions:

1. "Which passage makes the most sense to you and why?"

2. "What do all of these passages have in common?"

3. "Is there anything that sets these passages apart or makes them different?"

I think i is important for each teen to find a religious text that speaks to them, that is written in a way that touches their heart and their mind. Reading World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts would give teen readers a chance to experience various kinds of religious texts. If a teen shows a tendency to relate best to a particular religious text, I would recommend getting them a copy of that religious text, and having regular discussions with that teen about the text, comparing it to Divine Principle and the teachings of Unificationism.

And the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon

World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon was published twelve years after A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. It has "World Scripture II" printed at the top of the cover and "Universal Peace Federation" printed at the bottom. The purpose of this book is to compare the different world religious teachings to the teachings of Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

Now I have some good news, and I have some bad news. The good news is there are notes in the back of the book on some of the quotations and passages. These notes explain the reasons why the editors chose some of the quotes, give the definitions of uncommon words, and provide other helpful information to the reader. The bad news is there is no subject index, so if you wanted to look up a specific topic or subject, your only option would be scanning the table of contents. This gives you a list of section titles, but not a list of names, places, or anything you would find in a subject index.

World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon seems to me like better family Hoon Dok Hae material than A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. The quotations are generally longer, it includes lengthier passages of Reverend Moon's words, and the organization of the material is focused more on life application rather than comparing theological and philosophical ideas.

I would recommend this book primarily as a family Hoon Dok Hae, or small group discussion resource. The quotations are generally too long for what I think a teacher or youth minister should use to augment or inspire a lesson or activity.

Side by Side

As far as their spiritual weight is concerned, my conclusion is that they are equal. These two volumes are a set and are meant to work toward the same purpose, but from two different angles. As such, I would not want to own one without the other, but if you find yourself having to choose between one or the other, this is how I would decide: If you are looking for something purely philosophical or theological, or if you want a book of quotations to help with planning lessons and other activities, I would go with World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. On the other hand, if you want something that is going to be more easily applicable to the struggles of daily life and the practical understanding of Unificationist beliefs, I would get World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon. This one also works better if you're not looking for specific names, places, or ideas, but just want something on a more general topic to read for Hoon Dok Hae or small groups. 

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