Published in the April 2007 issue of the Unification News.
Here I decided, after some online tussles with the Unification movement's self-declared opponenents, to reflect upon this, and get everything out into the open.
These UNews columns have been fairly mild of late, so it's time we tackle some hot issues. In order to wrap it up properly, this one is longer than usual.
Certain rumors and misunderstandings still plague our movement, through a handful of professional "negos," a coterie of leftist bloggers, and a mainstream media that often sympathizes with them.
Heavenly Deception, or "doing evil in the cause of good," is perhaps the most common accusation we've faced. Was it ever real? For evidence, 'nego' activists will point to one sentence, in a 1972 speech in the Master Speaks collection. It contains the phrase "tell a lie."
That's one single line, out of at least a million sentences in print! In 1972, Bo Hi Pak had been on the job for about a year, and has since apologized for his poor translations. Also, the English transcription was not rigorous. (Later on, my mother Serenity Carlson standardized that whole system.)
Concerning those early speeches, the very use of the word 'Master' points to a culture clash. Martial arts students used to say Master as well, but now they use Sensei instead. Same traditional meaning, but it's easier on American ears.
In regard to the concept of deception, my wife Fujiko has pointed out some older talks in which True Father said things like, "Satan tricked humanity, and now it's time for God's people to trick him back, and regain everything." This makes plenty of sense within Asian cultures (from Iraq to Korea and Japan), but it's almost impossible for an American listener to *not* misunderstand.
Remember James Clavell's "Shogun," the hit novel and miniseries? In describing the newly-encountered Japanese, Rodrigues tells Blackthorne, "They are six faced and three hearted."
Your author is reminded of a famous cartoon. It depicts two Lenape Indians selling Manhattan to a Dutchman. One Indian asks the other, "Is $24 worth of trinkets a good deal?" His companion replies, "Don't worry. When we get our casinos running, we'll take it all back."
Note: I am sure that westernized Asian activists will take offense at the above. If they are for genuine multiculturalism, then don't parade the 'good' stuff and keep the rest hidden. Every culture has positive and nasty aspects.
Then where did that notorious phrase originate? Author Chris Elkins implies that he coined it. (He certainly popularized it with his 1980 book.) A recent blog entry on a 'negative' web site states:
"I was involved with the Unification Church for three years and later wrote a book, "Heavenly Deception" which also became a movie of the same title. While all of this has now been 25+ years ago I have continued to watch the Unification Church over the years. While heavenly deception was never a taught tenet of their faith, it was at very least implied in how they measured results, particularly fund raising."
---Chris on 6/15/06
Elkins describes some alleged overzealousness, displays a sour-grapes personal attitude, and makes factually incorrect assertions.
A related quandary arose in 1972 with the Belvedere Project, our very first American fundraising drive. At first, True Father floated the idea of purchasing a surplus battleship, to sail around the world, witnessing at every port. One member pointed out the difficulty of explaining such a thing to potential donors. Father reportedly answered, "Tell them whatever you want." It was a display of trust and a call for resolve, not an injunction to deceive.
The American UC had few charitable activities at that early stage. In retrospect, purchasing the Belvedere Estate was a better use of those funds. Charities were soon launched, and these days I could go on for an hour, describing the wonderful projects I've helped with.
Years ago, at a major airport, I met a young woman with an ISKON membership badge. She was fundraising, and told me, "I'm a moonie." Seemed an odd thing for a Hare Krishna to say. If they hoped to deflect persecution, it probably did--but they forgot an important spiritual law. Too bad . . .
I recently saw the movie "The Astronaut Farmer." Great film, and it mentions moonies. I was grateful to note that, after 25 years, Hollywood has finally stopped getting us confused with the Hare Krishnas.
The concept of brainwashing is a strange and flexible one. The 1962 film "The Manchurian Candidate" brought it to public attention, and since then it's been applied to a wide number of situations. The basic idea is much older, as seen in widespread Apostate Horror Stories. Exploitation, nakedness, and horned humans have been "seen" at Catholic nunneries, inside Mormon Temples, and before that, with medieval Jews. None of it was true then, and it's not true now.
The 'modern' brainwashing process is said to involve grueling work and study, badgering by leaders, and an ongoing lack of sleep. Hmm--are we talking about a UC workshop or Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" TV show? Perhaps some MIT students or resident physicians? Not to mention, any military boot camp on this planet.
In the 1970s such accusations spread quickly. Many religions were said to be brainwashers, then various political and other organized groups, and finally, subcultures such as lesbianism. (By that ludicrous and tragic stage, deprogrammers were ending up in prison.)
The tales became lurid. In Austin, Texas (in 1976) I saw a full page newspaper interview with a deprogrammed ex-UC member. Claimed he'd been taught to use his gaze to directly affect the brain waves of people he approached. This caused them to fork over money, if not follow him straight back to the church center. While reading this, I could only imagine the wistful envy of a thousand insurance salesmen . . .
Decades ago, Park Chong-hwa's "Six Marias" book was much ballyhooed among Korean and Japanese Christians. This had echoes in the USA, but later the book was repudiated by its author.
Were there actual sex rites? I personally know several elder Korean sisters; people who would've been in the thick of such activities. If there had been a lecherous young leader and some naive groupies, from whence did all these noble, wise, faithful women emerge? In reality, a pure tree has borne Godly fruits.
Apparently, one Korean spiritualist group did take the Bible quote about "being naked and unashamed" a bit too far, in hopes of restoring humanity to Eden. This was not a sexual activity, and anyhow it was not the UC. (These days, that particular mantle is worn--or is that not worn?--by Naturist groups.)
Eight years ago, the ugly divorce of Hyo Jin and Nan Sook made headlines. Painful allegations became public, and most were acknowledged as true, with serious consequences for all concerned. Things have quieted down on that front, and those hurt in the fray continue rebuild their lives.
Why the mess? I've heard first-person accounts of Hyo Jin's childhood. How he was taunted in Tarrytown's schools, and chose a Bart Simpson-ish way to gain favor among his classmates. In cartoons, such hijinks are always cleaned up within 30 minutes, but in real life this might take 30 years, and there are no guarantees . . .
In history, spoiled VIP offspring are a dime a dozen, but Americans hold a religious leader's kids to an unblinking high standard. One hopes that our Unificationist PKs will follow the course of the Rev. Franklin Graham, in regaining their sobriety and personal faith.
Most of the True Children, and recently the older True Grandchildren, have stepped up to the providential plate. They've taken on serious responsibilities, and given talks all over the world, like during our recent speech campaigns.
Why do people make such nasty accusations? Why do Apostate Horror Stories resemble each other across so many nations and centuries? Several reasons.
All humans have the same fallen nature, and basic temptations. Hence, by simple projection, accusers will envision their declared opponents doing the same nasty things they might do. In the event, personal rivalry can blossom into careers built upon loud opposition.
Unfortunately, not all the horror stories were imaginary. There have been harmful religious movements. Some, like Jonestown, mostly destroyed themselves. Others, such as China's 19th century Taiping Rebellion, brought about massive slaughter. The sad truth is, no major world religion is free of such taints.
Why do people feel inclined to 'cover up' actual problems?
Everyone wants to avoid embarrassment, and put the best possible light on themselves and their affiliates. Unificationists have this tendency in spades.
That USA-Asian culture clash may have amplified things. In olden times, the Emperor of China was the axis of the Confucian cultural sphere. In pinyin his title was Huangdi, or roughly, God/Sage King. His residence in Beijing is still known as the Forbidden City. The lower classes weren't allowed to gaze upon its precincts. For that matter, an inconsiderate remark aimed at the Emperor could earn the death penalty.
For Korean and Japanese Unificationists, steeped in Confucian culture, who fills the role of Emperor? Where is the Forbidden City of his overseas residence? As the reader can imagine, their determination to cover up any goings-on at East Garden must've been powerful.
In America that kind of respectful secrecy is unpopular, and doomed to fail. That's not a bad thing. The USA has long been called a 'melting pot,' and Father deemed us the Elder Son nation. From now on, it's up to us to harmonize those clashing cultural sensibilities.
There are a hundred good stories for every painful one. Look at Bayou la Batre, in Alabama. There, a small group of Unificationists took over an old boat building facility, and established an industrial complex. The locals, primed by vicious 'nego' reports, reacted with hostility.
Lucky it was not a century earlier, or policies and lawsuits might've been overrun by pitchforks and torches. (Just ask any Mormon about Kirkland or Nauvoo.)
Now we've gone from feared intruder to City Council and High School valedictorian. From shunned minority to leaders of a private school that welcomes students from all backgrounds. Following Hurricane Katrina, local folks pitched in to get those industries going again, and right away.
Similar experiences have been repeated all over the country. Our Bay Area Family Church has excellent relations with the local community.
Remember, popularity will draw many people, including the insincere. Later on, that much influence will attract the selfishly ambitious. We can have a great effect on society--more than we already have--but our standards of purity must be maintained.
I was very impressed by Rev. Shanker's new lecture about forgiveness, and the several ways in which people regard it. He speaks about how people tend to 'coast' on the expectation of forgiveness. It's true that God will never forsake us, but we can all too easily prolong the hellish suffering of ourselves and humanity.
We mustn't be lax in repenting, and in living principled lives. We can set a loving example for our own children and for new converts. Then those nasty accusations will never again find a toehold in reality.
© 2007 by Paul Carlson
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