Unification News for August - September 1999

The Only Way is Up

Michael Balcomb
NYC
September, 2000

One of my favorite books of spiritual inspiration is The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. In this fascinating work, Lewis explores the possibility Ė somewhat radical for mainstream Christianity Ė that lost spirits in hell can be resurrected into heaven, but only if they are willing to change themselves, just a little.

The story begins with the spirit candidates lining up at a bus stop in a grimy, gloomy rain-swept town (which we learn much later is Hell) for a bus that swiftly takes them into a land of brightness and sweet breezes. This turns out to be Paradise; the waiting room for the land Lewis calls ĎDeep Heaven.í However, it is far from a comfortable place for the spirits newly arrived from hell, because they find themselves to be just thin, vapor-like ghosts in the world of ultimate substance. Raindrops pierce them like bullets, and even the lush grass hurts their feet.

To become solid spirit beings, they must first be confronted with one personal challenge to overcome if they are to be allowed to continue their journey. Of course, these are different for each individual. For one, it is sexual impurity, for another, arrogance, and for yet another it is faithlessness and cynicism.

Spirit guides soon appear to help the freshly awakened souls, but they are not always successful. The main problem is that the spirits from hell must humble themselves to their spirit guides, who were individuals with whom they had had difficulties while on earth. Lewis, himself a passenger on the bus, watches helplessly as several of the spirits give up and get back on the bus for the return journey to hell, convinced that the task is beyond them.

Yet some do succeed. And we learn that all they really needed to do was to let go of their past, their attachment to hell. Once they have set down the accumulated baggage of sin and guilt, the rest was easy. To borrow a Principle term, God had already done 95% of the task. But without their 5% portion of responsibility, they could not remain even though they had left hell behind and stood at the very gates of heaven.

As Lewis so dramatically illustrates, letting go of spiritual baggage, which seems such a simple task when viewed in the third person, is far from easy when you have to do it yourself. Over the years, we accumulate so many habits, concepts and opinions that little by little obscure the sunshine of hope that illuminated our early spiritual life. If anyone suggests that we should shed our load we become confused and defensive, to our own enormous detriment.

This has been exactly my experience during the past few months. I have had the opportunity to witness our elder brother, World CARP President Hyun Jin Moon, as he travels the world bringing the Inheritance and Development CARP revival tour to nation after nation. He is bringing all of us in the Unification Movement a clear message of hope and revival, but it took me a very long time to really digest it and to see the real possibilities for the future. Time and again I was back on that bus, ready to take the return trip, but gently and patiently God coaxed me out into the sunshine.

How difficult it is to lay down our baggage, when we donít even want to admit that we have any! Surely thatís someone elseís problem, not mine, there must be some mistake? No, no mistake, Hyun Jin Nim says. We need a new mindset that recognizes that we are our own biggest enemy.

The real obstacles to the growth of our movement are not opposition from governments, nations, religions or other vested interests, but rather from our own anemic faith in the progress of True Parentsí work and the immanence of Godís Kingdom. Doubt, weariness and creeping cynicism are the real enemy. How do we root them out?

This was precisely the message that Hyun Jin Nim brought with him on the recently completed second phase of the World CARP tour in Russia, Moldova, Hungary and Frankfurt. Iíd like to share with you these reports from our travels.

Moscow

Hyun Jin Nimís first schedule in Russia was to speak at the third Lasting Love conference, held July 28-30th. He used the opportunity to encourage more than 1,200 students and professors that young people should take the lead in bringing about a moral reformation for the 21st century. "Donít ever tell me that one person canít make a difference," he said, "because it is not true. Yesterday I visited the tomb of Lenin. I was surprised at how small and physically unimpressive he was Ė yet this little man influenced the lives of a hundreds of millions of people for nearly a century. Why couldnít one of us do more?"

Why not indeed? The Lasting Love conferences bring together hundreds of young people from nations that were enemies for much of the last century, and make possible new bridges of understanding. But they are meant to be much more than just another student symposium. They should be the beginning of a new revolution of love.

The very next day Hyun Jin Nim challenged the Russian and CIS CARP members at the Moscow CARP Convention with this issue. "You are young," he said "and you stand in the position of Abel. Abelís job is not to save himself but to save Cain. There are hundreds of millions of young people in the position of Cain. Can you restore them and bring them with you?"

This is the kind of rhetorical question that we in the West are usually quick to answer with a superficial "Yes!" but Russians are a little different. They took the question seriously and hesitated to answer. Hyun Jin Nim tried again to encourage them, "Russian people tend engage in self-criticism, which if not controlled can lead to doubt and confusion " he said, "but in another sense, the ability to reflect honestly on oneís performance is a great asset. I think it means that you are closer to the heavenly tradition than you think!" Smiles broke out on all faces and a new sense of unity emerged.

Moldova and Hungary

We left Moscow the following evening and took a flight in an old Soviet-era Ilyushin jet down to Kishinev, the capital of Moldova. Why Moldova? True Mother had been there a few months before and recommended this small Transylvanian nation to Hyun Jin Nim. The members were anxious to welcome True Family back, and so came about the Moldova CARP Convention, the 18th held in less than four months since his inauguration.

More than 600 members and guests showed up at the Palace of Youth Culture for an exciting speech and concert program that also included Catharsis, one of the top rock bands in the tiny Balkan nation. After the Convention, Hyun Jin Nim called on the small group of members and missionaries to aim for 10,000 CARP members in just two years.

This same goal was given the next day at the 19th CARP Convention, in Budapest, Hungary. Hungarians are proud of their long history at the center of Europe, and the great heroes of Hungarian history are the kings and princes who resisted invasion or fought for freedom from successive waves of Mongols, Turks, Hapsburgs and other foreign powers right up until the Soviet era. Since breaking free from the communist grip ten years ago, the Hungarian people have made astonishing progress and the capital, Budapest, gleams with renewed national pride.

Yet our movement in Eastern Europe has been going through difficult times. In the first rush of enthusiasm after the fall of the iron curtain, our church prospered as missionaries emerged from the underground and new forces went in from the West. Hundreds, thousands of young people joined the Unification Movement and it soon seemed that the East would overtake the West. But as relative prosperity and material success followed political reforms, young people started to be more concerned about their careers and their futures than in transforming their countries. Gradually, the growth of new membership started to decline.

Thereís one question that Hyun Jin Nim always asks at a CARP Convention, and that is "How old is everyone here?" He does this not only to assess the immediate audience but also to get a feel on whether the movement is still growing and attracting young people or not. In Hungary, the average age was twenty-eight, and rising. "Though this is still better than in the more established Western churches," he said. "It is still a clear cause for concern. The first focus of CARP must be to find more new young members who can fully dedicate themselves for kingdom-building."

Germany and Western Europe

Our brothers and sisters in Western Europe would be the first to admit that our movement there needs a revival. Over the years, opponents of our church and of religious freedom in general have succeeded in closing the borders of many nations to our True Parents. Lacking the base of support from ministers and clergy that has been such a prominent feature of True Parentsí foundation in the United States, the way forward seemed to promise only a slow, grinding struggle to secure even the most elementary human rights.

Somehow, Hyun Jin Nim managed to come into this very difficult situation and bring some genuine prospects of change. Spending a good deal of time with Rev. Kwang Kee Sa, FFWPU President in Europe, and his three regional leaders, Hyun Jin Nim encouraged them with accounts of spectacular turnarounds that he had witnessed and studied during his time at Harvard Business School.

"Companies that were totally lost, losing billions of dollars, are being turned around to become enormously profitable," he explained. "It happens all the time, and it all comes down to the willingness of the key management to throw off the past mistakes and do whatever it takes to make a new beginning. Donít you think it can happen in other fields as well? You have to see these issues of religious freedom and human rights not simply as an obstacle but as an opportunity to engage a much broader network of friends and allies. We need to forge alliances based on shared concerns, not retreat further."

Certainly, a new spirit of hope was burning at the 20th CARP Convention in Frankfurt. Almost thirteen hundred people crammed into a hall intended for eight hundred. The jam-packed crowd, which included more than 300 teenagers from Pure Love Alliance European tour, found plenty to cheer about. After a comprehensive convention speech, Hyun Jin Nim, his voice hoarse from over-exertion, launched into his high-octane concert routine with J-CARP band Axe 6, which accompanied him throughout Russia and Europe as well as the earlier tour in Asia.

The only way is up

On the final day, about 150 CARP and second generation members joined Hyun Jin Nim for a refreshing hike in the hills around Frankfurt. After scaling the 2,500 foot Grosse Feldberg in record time, Hyun Jin Nim appealed to everyone who had made the ascent with him to continue climbing the higher mountain of building a new and revived CARP movement. "I know the golden days of CARP are supposed to have been in the past," he said, "but we can quickly surpass those old records."

World CARP is quickly emerging as a real world-level organization. Chapters have already been set up in Korea, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, the United States, Russia, East and West Europe. We are building a real sense of community and shared purpose. Even though the Russian and European tour literally finished on top of a mountain, I can truly say that for World CARP, the only way from here is up.

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