Losing My Religion

Last week was an eventful one for the Unification Church.  Their founder, Sun Myung Moon died on Monday.  One of his sons, Hyun Jin Moon, was excluded from the official list of bereaved. News surfaced of Senior Pastor, In Jin Moon’s relationship and baby with rock singer, Ben Lorentzen.  In Jin Moon was publicly still married to Jin Sung Pak, with whom she has five children. Apparently, in private In Jin Moon's relationship with her new partner had been sanctioned and the other dissolved.

One of the central tenets of the church has been the creation of perfect, true families upholding virtue and fidelity.  On Sunday, I attended Manhattan’s Unification Church Sunday service to hear the leadership’s response to these events.

“When a religious leader dies, it is a time of great confusion,” said the MC.  “People vie for power.  Outsiders try to tear it down.”

The usual sermon was replaced by a video of Reverend Moon’s speech from Las Vegas earlier this year. Reverend Moon gave this same speech many times around the country over the past years.

The spiritual and earthly worlds will be brought into oneness within three years,” he said.

Three years until Heaven on Earth is what my “spiritual father” told me when I joined the church in 1990.

The issue of the Senior Pastor’s absence was not addressed during the service. Next week’s sermon was cancelled in Manhattan, although other locations will continue as usual.  Later, I learned that In Jin Moon had resigned due to “health reasons.”

“Our Heavenly Parents are not two but one,” said the MC. “We must follow True Mother.” 

The Unification Church claims to have a living True Family whose values and virtue we should emulate. Perhaps allowing people to be true to themselves is more of an expression of true love than holding them to the invented standards of outdated theologies. The Unification Church continues to judge others according to its invented standards, which the leaders themselves cannot uphold. I might like true love and true families to last forever, but everything changes.  And finding something to love within that change might be the only way to turn it into something better.


The Moon Also Rises

Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han were married in 1960 when he was 40 and she was 17. They were known by their followers as True Parents.

The news of Reverend Moon’s passing on Monday shocked me even though he was 92 and had been suffering from pneumonia.  For fifteen years I considered this man to be the Messiah, and I was moved to hear that his time on earth was over.

I learned of Reverend Moon’s passing from one of my Unification Church friends on Facebook, the first of whom posted the news several minutes after his death at 1:54 a.m. on September 3 Korean time, or 12:54 p.m. September 2, EST.  

Most Unification Church members posted the obituary in the Washington Times, which Moon owned.  The New York Times and other papers like the Daily Mail provided a very different viewpoint. 

Moon’s followers on Facebook posted comments like, “MY HEART IS CRYING,”  “Sad, but it's not the end” and “Long live True Parents!!! Death cannot stop Our True Father.”

One woman said, “Thank you beloved Father; because of you my life changed direction 100% almost 32 years ago. You taught me the way to become a true and ideal person and I will continue to strive to become just that.”

Reverend Moon’s son, Hyun Jin Moon, posted this comment, "I mourn the passing of my father but I know that his spirit and legacy will live on.  His vision has inspired so many forward-thinking people to see beyond the barriers that divide humanity - be they national, racial, or, most of all, religious.  I will continue to work to give meaning and substance to his legacy."

Moon is survived by ten of the fourteen children he had with his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon.  In May of 2011, their youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon was named as the likeliest to inherit leadership of the Unification Church.

Although I no longer believe in the Unification Church, for years I trusted Reverend Moon enough to happily have him (or perhaps another Church leader) choose my husband for the Church's 30,000 Couples Blessing and advise me on what to do, think and feel.

The only photograph I have of me with Reverend Moon. His back is to the camera and my face is touching the bottom of his jacket.

When he addressed me directly at speeches, I felt blessed. One time he told me I had dancing hair. Another time he drew a line down the middle of my face with his finger and said half of me belonged to satan, half to God, and that I should make a cut.

Reverend Moon was a man of determination and charisma.  Ultimately, I came to see him not as the Messiah, but as a man who realized the power to create his dream and to have millions (or at least thousands) of others respond positively to that dream.  In 2004, he had himself crowned the Savior of Mankind in the Capitol Building during a ceremony in which he heralded the "Era of the Eternal Peace Kingdom."  Perhaps without meaning to, Reverend Moon taught me that—with focus and determination— any one of us can live our grandest dreams.


 BBC documentary from 2008: Moon: Emperor of the Universe


2012 - 120531 - Married to the Moonies from European Office on Vimeo.