Unification News for June 1999
Where Are The Revolutionaries? [Part II]
Cultural Shifts ...
This generation needs real help, substantial education and spiritual orientation on earth. It begins in the family. Here Reverend Moon has been a pioneer, a radical and even a revolutionary. Through his massive blessing ceremonies, he is bringing to the world's attention the centrality to social well being of the ceremony of marriage. He is proclaiming that this truth goes beyond race, nation or religion. Every culture celebrates marriage. It should be a common point for human convergence, but the problem is that each culture carries out its marriages with its own words, rituals and procedures. Variety is the spice of life, of course, but now is a time that the world needs to celebrate its commonalty more than its differences. If each section of humanity clings to its own particular rituals, well, there is a reinforcement of separateness. We cannot depend upon secularism to bridge the gaps, because in doing so secularism robs the essential ceremonies of their meaning. Hence, in part, the reduced currency of marriage today. Ever since the sixties, modern youth say "the institution of marriage-yecchh!" Marriage has become an institution that should go the way of all institutions (that don't make money or entertainment)-out the door.
So the time has come for the world to celebrate that which we share in common, beginning with marriage. Hence, "mass marriages." And what's more, these celebrations of man-woman eternal love feature something else revolutionary: interracial, international and inter-religious couples. Jew and Muslim, Catholic and Protestant, black and white and yellow, north and south, east and west. All the lines of conflict blur in the melting pot of conjugal love. Marriage becomes a peace movement. The two ideals of youth-peace and love-merge into one.
Okay, you might say, this was revolutionary ten or twenty years ago, before Mao II was published, but the mass blessings get pretty good coverage these days. Didn't one television correspondent at RFK say that she wishes she had been there to be matched to a good husband earlier in the day? A joke, perhaps, but every joke has a kernel of truth in it. Aren't these mass affairs becoming-domesticated? Isn't another mainstreaming leader, Louis Farrakhan, talking about a marriage blessing of a million couples next year at Washington Mall? Well, they just might be entering the mainstream, and Reverend Moon would never be happy with that, would he? What will he do next? How will he push the envelope this time?
Before I answer that, I'd like to mention a couple of recently published books. One I discussed last month, I Kissed Dating Good-bye, by Joshua Harris. The second I just finished, A Return to Modesty, by Wendy Shalit. Both authors are young Americans, in their early twenties. Shalit praises the Jewish practice that a betrothed couple have no physical contact, none whatsoever, until their marriage. Harris is of the same mind. Both authors pose what I see as powerful counter salvos to the sexual and moral decadence of the past forty years. Mr. Harris's book deals, naturally, from the man's point of view, and Ms. Shalit's from the woman's. Both signal a profound cultural shift taking place in America-as Shalit puts it, a rejection of non-interventionist, value-free parenting. We want to be interfered with; we need to be told right and wrong. With Harris, his parents-strong Christians-seem to provide his mooring. For Shalit, her grandparents, strong Jews, seem to provide the mooring. Harris's spiritual resource is the Bible. Shalit's is Jewish family laws and customs and pre-twentieth century western literature.
Shalit's book is very wordy; it's an overstuffed pillow. But for the values and virtues she espouses, it is worth the read. Modesty, for Shalit, boils down to this: "... a reflex, arising naturally to help a woman protect her hopes and guide their fulfillment-specifically, [the] hope for one man." (p. 94) I especially recommend Shalit's book to our WFWP leadership, as I offer another passage: "German legend tells us the 'eternal feminine' gives women the enduring power to spiritualize mankind, while the classic siren leads men to the destruction. These images point to a very real and important truth: what women will and will not permit does have a profound way of influencing the behavior of an entire society. This influence is felt not simply because a woman has traditionally inculcated-or failed to inculcate-the mores in her children and thereby those of the next generation. A woman's sexual modesty puts her, significantly, in a position to be the ultimate worldly arbiter of a man's worth . . . Since respect for her modesty gave her the freedom to withhold affection, so to speak, until a virtuous man came around, men were in turn inspired to become worthy of her. Whether the cause was liquor or something larger, if you strung together enough modest women, they could quite literally change society. This was why, as Stuart Cloete put it in his 1943 Congo Song, 'The woman was the stabilizing factor . . . world regeneration, when it came-if it came-must come through woman, as life came through her. She was the source." (p. 98)
... and Revolutions
The amazing thing is this: here are intelligent American youth themselves calling for a radical revisioning of the sexual mores of our society. Both authors argue for an end to the dating culture, to casual sex, to free sex. They call for rules, for do's and don'ts, for guidelines. Greg Rohloff, of the Amarillo Globe-News, backs up Shalit's book in his review of it. In Texas, at least, Rohloff finds that universities administrators are noting that traditional religious values have surpassed the values of the sexual revolution. "Most of our students are conservative and have strong religious and family values," Rohloff quotes George Mann, head of the division of education at West Texas A & M University. In Pennsylvania State University, the chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom says that some of his members are more conservative than their parents. The percentage of collage freshman who approve of casual sex has decreased from a high of 57% in 1987, to 40% today. In 1990, 65% of college freshman supported legal abortion; today it is 50%.
But both Harris and Shalit, while they point out what is wrong, have no real solution. This is consistent with other current trends cited by Rohloff. In the 1960s, 80% of students wanted to develop "a meaningful philosophy of life," while today, only 40% find that objective compelling. Today, only 26% of college freshmen believe that "keeping up to date with political affairs" is a very important or essential life goal, while in 1966, the figure was 58%. Along with social conservative, which I laud, comes an increase in desire for financial success. Thus it is no surprise that neither Harris nor Shalit felt it necessary to search for a viable new tradition. Here is where Unificationism has its contribution to make.
The central axis around which all Unification thought revolves is the parent-child relationship. This is prior to the man-woman axis. It means that the revolution begins with the parents. This is the Completed Testament Age motif-the central role, the central sacrifice, is that of the parents, not, as in the New Testament Age, that of the children.
We as parents must establish true authority of love, centered on God. And we must win the hearts of our children in so doing. It is not an easy task, we can readily see, especially when we as parents are still in the midst of fulfilling our own responsibilities as servants (OT age) and children (NT age). But the primary indicator of parental authority is the authority to arbitrate our children's marriage. Here, there is also a cultural correlate, the "courtship movement" guided by Jim and Anne Ryan. Children refer any and all dating requests to their parents. The parents are intimately involved in their children's courtship. It is a magical step. And now, Reverend Moon's envelope push: arranged marriage for youth, through the cooperation of parents, church and school. This is the eternal tradition. Get back to the basics.
I often wondered why True Parents never instituted a rite of passage for our youngsters as they entered puberty. Recently, local members have created such a rite, the Il Shim Ceremony. This is fine, but the reason, it seems, that True Parents never started such a tradition is that they had in mind all along what should happen as people enter puberty, and it is an event far more momentous than what we conceived. It involves, finally, one's matching to one's eternal partner.
Okay, so you thought you were revolutionary. Reverend Moon has just upped the ante.
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