The Words of the Haines Family
First published and in circulation in February and March 2011
Joshua Cotter - January 8, 2012
Dear friends (and friends of friends), these are a couple of slightly edited notes I wrote recently to people attending a European leaders meeting last week (February 2011). I uncharacteristically attended myself (I generally don't 'do' meetings but this one was in Prague and so I gave in to the temptation of the opportunity of doing some sightseeing).
I hope you are all well. I just wanted to let you know that Joshua Cotter, vice-president of the Unification Church of America, has been invited to address the European leaders meeting in Prague next week. You may not know the content of the speech but as far as I understand it will be broadly what he said recently at an American leaders meeting. The link is here:
I think this whole thing is deeply problematic for several reasons. The presentation includes a theological analysis of the current division within the Unification community. Using the model of the Human Fall, Chung Hwan Kwak was designated as a criminal, fallen archangel and Satan and Hyun Jin Moon as Fallen Adam. There are also a number of inaccuracies in the way that the Biblical stories are used and the way they are applied differs from the account in the Divine Principle.
I think this approach is an abuse of theology. Theology should not be used to demonise and thus dehumanise a person or people. This has been done for 1000s of years by Christian churches to draw boundaries and to foment hostility towards Jews and people designated as heretics. We all know the results of this. Using the typology of the Fall causes and hardens the current division and is not a model for solving the problem. I think a better typology would be that of Isaac, Jacob and Esau.
The presentation in Las Vegas appeared to be divisive as it put pressure on people in America to take sides in the current dispute within the True Family. People were required to take an oath of loyalty to, I think, Kook Jin Moon and his brother Hyung Jin Moon. Requiring this is unprecedented in our spiritual community, reminiscent of Henry VIII trying secure his position by making people such as Thomas More take one. It makes people take sides and in doing so splits the community as people feel they have to abandon and even denounce people who may have been friends of many decades. It is the kind of approach taken on this continent in the very recent past by political parties that wanted to enforce unity for political purposes. One needs only think of the tactics pursued by fascist and communists parties in their denunciations and show trials of former comrades.
It is also shocking that such a lecture should be given in the city of Jan Hus who lost his life for criticising corruption in the Catholic Church and advocating reform. It is also the city of the dissident Nobel prize winner Czeslaw Milsosz who wrote:
"when people are divided into 'loyalists' and 'criminals' a premium is placed on every type of conformist, coward, and hireling; whereas among the 'criminals' one finds a singularly high percentage of people who are direct, sincere, and true to themselves."
I have neither met nor worked for Rev. Kwak and only had a fleeting encounter with Hyun Jin Moon. However I do have a number of friends who find themselves working in or for UCI* and the suggestion that I should change my relationship with them I find deeply offensive. I also think it is unnecessary that someone from outside Europe should be imposing these views on us. We are quite capable of discussing such matters ourselves and coming to our own conclusions.
When God was thinking of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah he discussed his plans with Abraham:
Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."
The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing -- to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."....
What was God thinking or doing here? According to the rabbis God wanted Abraham to defend the people of Sodom. Despite their obvious immorality and criminality he wanted someone to speak up in their defence and argue the case for justice. And this is what Abraham did showing absolute love for people that he could have thought of as his enemies. The idea of his enemies being punished and suffering did not make him happy. He did not rejoice in wrongdoing. And this is the basis of the idea in the Judeo-Christian tradition, of which hopefully we are a part, that everyone has the right to be defended and to have their side of the story heard and that justice cannot be dispensed by a single person or power, not even God. So God calls upon Abraham to participate in the administration of justice, a very important category in the Biblical tradition. The idea that a person can be condemned without being able to present his side of the story and to defend himself or be defended is anathema. Indeed, the rabbis say that if a court reaches a unanimous verdict on a person's guilt, that verdict is null and void because it is clear that the accused person has not had a fair hearing. This is why in the Judeo-Christian liberal democratic Abel-type tradition a person is innocent until proven guilty.
After the Flood, God said he would never do what he had done before – destroy everyone and everything. Maybe he regretted it? Maybe he realised such an approach doesn't work? Maybe he realised he needed to work together with his children. So he made a covenant with Noah and gave his family and thus all humanity seven laws:
1. Prohibition of idolatry
2. Prohibition of murder
3. Prohibition of theft
4. Prohibition of sexual immorality
5. Prohibition of blasphemy
6. Prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive
7. Establishment of law courts
The establishment of institutions of justice is a divine injunction for the whole of humanity. One of the main themes resonating through the Bible from Genesis to Sinai and the Prophets is the call for justice. Yet where are the independent institutions for the arbitration of disputes within the unification movement in which a person can defend himself, be defended and put his case? Too many times decisions are made arbitrarily by a person who has a conflict of interests and where there is no opportunity for appeal or a mechanism for conflict resolution. No opportunity for wrongs to be righted or for broken relationships to be restored and for reconciliation to take place. And yet the necessity of such institutions for the administration of justice and indemnification is also recognised in the Divine Principle.
So if Mr Cotter is to travel around the world giving his presentation it is only fair that someone is given the opportunity to put the other side of the story so that people can make up their own minds up. It should be possible to do this in a civilised and respectful way. It shouldn't need to be said that we are intelligent and responsible enough to weigh up the evidence and reasons from both sides and come to our own conclusions. In England, where the Abel-type tradition developed, we have had trial by jury for more than a 1000 years where ordinary people listen to the evidence and decide whether a person is innocent or guilty. The idea that a judge or bureaucrat acting on behalf of the king or the state should make these decisions is a violation of due process and likely to lead to injustice. Justice has to be seen to be done. The idea that we should be told what to think, that there is some kind of truthful, unbiased "official" version to which we have to subscribe is deeply disrespectful of our intelligence and position. So if Mr Cotter is to give his presentation I suggest in Europe someone like Massimo Trombin be invited to present the other side of the story. How can there be justice if only one side is given a platform? Are we not risking bearing false witness? Are we not committing a sin by allowing a person to be accused and libeled without allowing him the chance to defend himself or be defended? Are we not allowing ourselves to become pawns in a power struggle? It is has been common knowledge for decades that the upper echelons of the movement are deeply political with different factions jockeying for power and influence.
The rabbis said, 'evil speech' is worse than the three cardinal sins – idolatry, murder and incest – combined, because evil speech (gossip, slander and character assassination) destroys relationships of trust on which society depends. God created the natural world with words and we make or unmake the social world with our words. If this is the standard of the 'Old Testament Age' should we not at least live up to that?
As I said before, I am not a "follower" of Rev. Kwak or Hyun Jin Moon any more than I am of anyone else. God said to Abraham, "Walk before me and be blameless." He didn't tell Abraham to follow him. He wanted Abraham to take the initiative, to be responsible, to be guided by his original mind and conscience. Indeed nowhere in the entire Old Testament does God tell people to obey him. Why? Because there is no verb "to obey" in the Hebrew language. It was only after 1948 that a separate word was created for use in the Israeli army. The Hebrew word "shama" means to hear, listen intelligently, hearken, pay attention and act based upon understanding. In other words people should listen to and study the word of God and it should be God's words or truth that should form a person's conscience. A person should then act by listening to their conscience. In other words God wants people to be responsible and not "yes men" doing as they are told without thinking for themselves. Thus the importance of education, as opposed to indoctrination. To just obey, or follow orders, is irresponsible. This principle was established at Nuremburg where the excuse 'I was just following orders' was not accepted as a justification for sin. So why does the word 'obey' appear in translations? Because kings, churches and governments have wanted people to be obedient subjects or citizens. So the Hebrew word 'hearken' was often translated as 'obey'. This is so religion could be used for political purposes, to control and manipulate people, to support authority and the status quo. But surely we know all this from our study of the history parallels.
Indeed the whole thrust of the Bible is NOT that we should obey God but, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength." And "you shall love your neighbour as yourself". Love and heart are at the center of the Biblical tradition. Not denouncing and betraying old friends. It is not an either/or tradition. But a both. This vision is best exemplified by Jonathan, the son of King Saul, who, when his father tried to kill his friend David, refused to betray his friend but at the same time remained a faithful and loyal son, eventually dying at his father's side. As I said, I am not a "supporter" of Rev. Kwak but I have a huge amount of respect for someone who has accomplished and done so much for God's providence. Now our spiritual community is being instructed to regard him as Satan. Where is the respect, heart and love in that? How strange to expect people to be able to turn around on a sixpence and denounce someone one they may have previously admired. Where is the loyalty in that? Is the acme of loyalty the ability to be disloyal if one is told to by one's leader?
The Christian church tried to unite itself on the basis of a common creed. Anyone who didn't accept the Nicene Creed was treated as a heretic to be excommunicated, expelled and often as not put to death. I think we all agree that was a mistake. There is more to unity than holding the same opinions.
On what basis are we supposed to be united? Obedience? That is the basis for the unity of an army and political structures but not for a family. It is the basis for unity in Satan's world of authoritarianism, communism, fascism, absolute monarchy, dictatorship etc. But the word does not exist in God's vocabulary, the language of the central providence (Hebrew). God doesn't want obedient children but loving children who will listen to his voice, a still small voice, and act accordingly. This is why conscience is before God, parents and teachers. How did we manage to become so corrupted? God wants freedom not oppression. The English word freedom by the way means "free within the law" as the word 'dom' means law in English. Is obedience to be the basis of CIG or heaven? I don't think so. The whole Abel-type way of life was a movement from obedience to freedom and responsibility.
I have always thought that unity comes about through love and that unity doesn't mean sameness or uniformity. If that was the case Mao's China or North Korea would indeed be the ideal to be striven for. Just because one disagrees about something doesn't mean one is disunited. We need to argue and discuss for the sake of truth and heaven, and to realise that two opposing opinions can each represent the words of the living God. When we are no longer willing to talk or argue with each other we are no longer a living spiritual community. Without give and receive there is no life. Cohesion doesn't need agreement. It needs respect for differences within an overarching shared culture of heart.The Hebrew account of the encounter of Cain and Abel literally goes as follows:
And Cain said to Abel
And it came to pass when they were in the field...
This is often translated as:
And Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let us go out to the field.'
In the Hebrew though the syntax is broken. It doesn't say what Cain said. The fractured syntax represents the fractured relationship. Cain no longer had any words to say to Abel. When words fail, violence begins.
So just because one is working for Hyun Jin Moon or Kook Jin Moon is not a criteria for not talking to each other and not worshipping together. It is not a justifiable basis for expulsion and excommunication. Our spiritual community is small enough as it is without dividing ourselves further. Within love there can be disagreement and all sorts of differences.
Making people take an oath of loyalty is very oppressive and as I said before divisive. What will happen to the people who refuse because they support the 'wrong son' depending on which camp one is in? Will they loose their jobs? What will happen to those who refuse to take an oath on principle? Will they loose their position and be marginalised? Are we going to repeat the tragic mistakes of human history or are we going to try to be different and not turn into a narrow minded group making boundaries against others, misusing theology and demonising our opponents or those we disagree with?
By the way, blasphemy in the 10 'Commandments' is stated as 'Do not take God's name in vain'. Few people know what this means. Jews won't even pronounce the name of God for fear of breaking this law. Taking God's name in vain means using God's name to support and bolster one's authority or opinion. For example telling a person that God will punish them if they don't do as they are told. Or saying 'God told me... ' therefore you have to accept it. Or, in a modern variant, 'Father said....' We need to grow out of this and put aside such childish ways. Let us instead remember the vision of the Principle, the impetuses behind the Renaissance and Reformation:
"We are created to attain perfection by fulfilling our given responsibility of our own free will, without God's direct assistance. We are then to attain oneness with God and acquire true autonomy. Therefore, it is the calling of our original nature to pursue freedom and autonomy. A person of perfect character understands the Will of God and puts it into practice through his own insight and reason, without the need to rely on revelations from God. Hence, it is only natural that we pursue reason and understanding." Exposition of the Divine Principle (EDP), 351
"As the people advocated humanism, they also rebelled against the ritualism and rules of the Church which were constraining their free devotion. They fought against the stratified feudal system and papal authority which deprived them of autonomy. They protested the medieval view that faith required unquestioning obedience to the dictates of the Church in all areas of life, which denied them the right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience based on their own reading of the Bible. They also questioned the other-worldly and ascetic monastic ideal which devalued the natural world, science and the practical affairs of life. Out of these grievances, many medieval Christians revolted against the rule of the papacy." EDP, 352
So it seems to me that we have lost our way. The problems are in many ways due to poor governance. We haven't put into practice the basic principles outlined in the Divine Principle where it says for example:
"From the very beginning the separation of powers was to be characteristic of the ideal society which God has been working to realize to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a single individual." EDP, 361
"With the establishment of constitutional democracy, the framework for the ideal political system was set up." EDP, 362
If the institutions of the Unification movement were properly constituted it would not have been possible for Hyun Jin Moon to take control of UCI. So I suggest that the institutional church apologizes for being negligent and not minding the store. Next we need to make sure that our governance is improved along the lines recommended by the Divine Principle with a separation of powers (functions), checks and balances and more democratic accountability and involvement. This would improve the spiritual health of our community as I believe more people would become involved if they felt they had a voice and could make a difference.
So, I hope we can all have a good meeting with lots of discussion and disagreement in a spirit of love, friendship and fellowship. Let us remember that beyond race, tribe, nationality, religion, class, color, age and whichever son of True Parents we happen to be 'aligned' to if any, we are all brothers and sisters, children of the living God.
* UCI (Unification Church International) founded in 1970.