The following is written from the perspective of an active UC member. It is a rough and biased account of the splits in the Unification Church since the death of Sun Myung Moon.
PART 1: Foundation Day and the Blessing Day in Korea.
As I write this, the ceremonies are taking place up at the World Peace Center at Cheong Pyeong. I am at home writing because that’s what I do. As I write this, the legacy of Sun Myung Moon and the future of the movement are being decided. Much of this decision making is not taking place up at Cheong Pyeong but is playing out on social media. This in itself is an indication of what the future will be. Sermons and declarations made in the rural hinterlands of Pennsylvania appear on YouTube and impassioned discussions on various Facebook sites are effectively changing the substance of the organization. This gives me hope.
My first observation is that the current confusion in the Unification Family was almost unavoidable. Many years ago astute observers of the Unification Church asked the all important question: What will happen to the church once the founder passes away? As young true believers the question was not even relevant to us. Are you kidding? We had the Truth and the True Parents. Today, more than two years after the passing of Sun Myung Moon, the question has become very relevant. The very nature of both religious organizations in general and the nature of the Unification movement in particular make a struggle for the legacy of a beloved founder of great concern. The founders of major, and even minor movements, are almost by definition, men of very strong ego and they create organizations that are absolutely under their control. When they pass away or for another reason they can no longer control events, a vacuum is created.
Sun Myung Moon was a man of immense physical and spiritual power. He was always in control of himself and the movement around him. When on trial in New York City in the 1980s for tax evasion, he sat in court everyday and conducted the movement’s day-to-day business during breaks in the court proceedings. Incarcerated in the Danbury correctional facility, leaders from around the world flocked to visit, report and consult with him. When he was in Alaska or the jungles of South America VIPs, leaders and members flew for many hours to be with him and these remote places became the headquarters of the Unification movement. He had absolute confidence in his God and his role as the representative of his God on earth.
As the movement grew into an international movement with members scattered around the world, the management style began to show cracks. No matter how strong he was, no one man could possibly know and control all things. The model for the Kingdom of Heaven was of course a kingdom with a king at the helm. In the west, we as a culture have moved beyond the romance of kings, queens and kingdoms. In Korea they are much closer to their last royal dynasty. It is telling that historical dramas that feature kings, queens and royal families are very popular and are still part of the popular mythology of the land. They like kings.
The governance of the church family was established as first a family with a strong father running the show and then a kingdom. Kingdoms have a king, a queen, a royal family and a royal court. The dynamics of royal families and courts are somewhat predictable. All the overt power is in one place, the top. Everyone else had to get things done by getting in front of the king at the right time and present their case. I recall being told that we had to wait until Father, Rev. Moon, had caught a big fish. Then he would be happy and open to endorse plans and ideas. The people surrounding the king, by necessity, had to be experts at reading the mood of the monarch. Others who wanted the royal endorsement have to go to the people in the court who were experts and enlist their aid for their projects. This of course becomes a special kind of power in the hands of the courtiers.
I saw this dynamic at work many times in San Francisco, East Garden in Irvington New York and North Garden in Kodiak Alaska. This was the reality that everyone knew and operated by. Access to the messiah, True Parent and King was through the royal court. It is what it is.
Ideology, faith and personality worked together to formulate a system that in many ways reflected the dynasties, royal families and kingdoms of the past. Sun Myung Moon lived a very long and magnificent life. Many times half jokingly he asked members if it wasn’t time for him to retire and take a rest. Everyone would laugh and shout no we need you. More seriously he would say that if there was someone else who loved God and would take responsibility for God’s will then he could retire. Of course no one could do that and he never retired. As the years passed he seemed to be as strong as ever. He was the messiah and True Parents. His spirit was always able to overcome the weakness of the flesh and so we thought it would be so forever.
In advanced old age, most humans suffer some degree of both physical and mental deterioration. Could such a thing occur in the life of our beloved True Father? Not only could it occur it almost surely occurred. The only real question is when the decline began. Those who were closest to him would be the ones to see and have to deal with it both as a daily reality and for the larger effects on his ministry and legacy. Those closest to him were his wife, children and the personnel and administrative assistants that make up the royal court. In his declining years those closest to him must have recognized his decline and taken steps to protect him, his reputation and legacy. Problem is they didn’t see eye to eye as to what his legacy was. This would have lead them into disagreements and even infighting.
Sushi Wars! Light, Dark Side Trying To Reel In True World Members
It says in the Bible that being a “Fisher of Men” is a good thing, but I doubt that the unknown author of that iconic phrase was referring to the current, bitter struggle to return the toys and largesse of the UC to their rightful owner, whoever you conceive that to be.
If you’ll recall, there used to be a distinction made by the Light Side between UC members working for Hyun Jin’s “satanic” spiritual work (Global Peace Festivals) and his businesses, which featured the usual longtime, underpaid members just struggling to put some curried rice on the table. The unspoken hope was that Hyun Jin’s vast business empire would someday/somehow be returned to the Founder, and those members were merely keeping those businesses alive to that glorious day.
However, the game plan has dramatically changed. Rev. Moon invited all of Preston’s True World Foods UC member-employees to a recent Las Vegas Hoon Dok Hae, and a number of them came, but a number didn’t. Naturally, in Vegas their loyalty to the cause was more of less demanded. In reaction to his wayward workers being romanced by the other side, Preston, the Fallen Adam, immediately called a meeting at True World Foods HQ in New Jersey, summoning all of his misdirected Las Vegas attendees to come and sign a loyalty pledge. It must be noted that the highly profitable True World Sushi is the largest supplier in America of the seafood delicacy, and neither side of the family wants to give it up.
So once again, it is the members who are the real losers in this battle for the wealth of the UC. After all, it was the members who originally paid for the foundation of this business, who paid for the cost supporting the combatants, who paid for their education, and who staffed the new and developing business, working for little or no wages, so it could become the success it is today. And now, at the end of the day, these same poor, sacrificial members are caught in a seafood tug-of-war that was not of their making. Most, if not all, of these members are just hoping that they can keep their jobs, no matter who comes out on top in this Battle of the Billionaires. Of course, UC members will never be asked to do a prayer condition for “The Restoration of the Sushi Providence,” along with an offering to boot. Not even Josh “Money Magnet” Cotter would try that. It just sounds too silly to believe.