Tag Archives: Moonie

The horror of extremist beliefs

Last week hundreds of couples toting (I believe unarmed) AR-15 rifles attended a “Blessing” – a ceremony sanctifying marriages – in Newfoundland, PA.

This ceremony was conducted by an offshoot of the Unification Church – the Sanctuary Church – that is led by one of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s children, Hyung Jin Moon.

The AR-15s are said by Moon to represent the “rods of iron” referred to in the Book of Revelation.

Needless to say, I watched this unfold in horror. As it was mentioned in an online group I belong to for people who were born and/or raised in the Church. As local friends (I live in PA) sent me local news stories, of how nearby schools were going to be left empty that day. As friends in foreign countries sent me the link, with huge question marks.

Those who have read the prepublication version of my memoir comment that I don’t portray the Church as horrific. I will be the first to say that painful things happened to and around me because of Church teachings, and because of how Church leaders – and members – decided to live based on Church teachings and to interpret and enforce Church teachings. I do remember vaguely knowing that Rev. Moon owned, amongst other things, a factory in Korea that produced guns, or ammunition, or something like that. (It was clearly vague in my mind at the time.) But he was the Messiah, so anything he did was obviously God’s will and therefore beyond good. It was heavenly and divine.

In many ways, joining the Church was – which may be difficult to grasp – a relief and a sanctuary for me based on much of what had already happened to and around me. As completely messed up – and absolutely a cult – as it was. And is.

But I look at it now. I hear these stories. I know that – in my humble opinion and from my experience – Rev. Moon’s children (at least many of them) are understandably way, way, way, way, way screwed up. But I read the news, and my heart breaks, and terror fills me.

I have said many times before. I will say many times again. There is nothing more intoxicating than knowing you have the “Truth.” This “Truth” is what causes people to bring “rods of iron” into a church for a “blessing.” Just weeks after a similar assault weapon killed way too many people (any people would be way too many people) in Parkland, FL. This “Truth” is what could – I repeat could – cause these church members – or any believers in fundamentalist, extremist religions and/or philosophies – to use their weapons for “God’s will” or for “right.”

Any “Truth” that causes us to know that we are more true, or more right, or more divine or deserving…or more anything…is dangerous.

Extremely dangerous.

Which is why I write my blog. Which is why I wrote my memoir. Which is why I speak about this whenever and however I can. Which is why I want to help anyone who has left, and anyone who wants to leave, extremist situations. (And even those who don’t yet want to leave.)

In many ways my childhood in the Church was horrific. And in many ways, I guess it wasn’t. Or at least not only horrific. But any church – or any one – who suggests that shooting someone else may be God’s will? That to me is horrific. And that to me is not God.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Categories: Current Events, Tags:

Chill out already

Chill out already. Take a break. Put your feet up. Sit back and smell the roses (or whatever flowers you have nearby).

I don’t think there could be wiser words.

I believe the world is rampant with too much over-doing. I believe we all could – or at least I could – stand to take a break. A big break. A much deserved break.

I had a busy weekend. Last night we hosted a fundraiser at my home. It was wonderful and delightful and amazing. And a lot of work. Today was a mixture of getting rid of empty bottles and vacuuming up leaves that got tracked inside the house. All good but all tiring.

It’s time to take a break and chill out already.

I’ve recently found a community of children born and raised in the Church. I was astounded (for some strange reason) to hear stories that seemed so much like mine. “I thought that was just my mom,” I responded. “I thought that was just my weird thought.”

I realized (again) how much it was ingrained in me that all that I did was never enough and all that I gave was never enough. I was taught over and over (and over) to sacrifice more, work harder, shed tears and blood for God. No wonder I can have a hard time chilling out.

There is so much beauty that is mine for the taking, if I’ll just take it. There is so much joy and connection and splendor. There is so much peace and calm and ease. There is so much laughter and fun. As a child I learned that it’s wrong to make these simple pleasures a priority. As an adult I’ve learned that it’s wrong not to.

Chill out already. That is my mantra for today.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Make new friends but keep the old

I sang this song when I was a Brownie, a bazillion years ago. I can still see myself sitting in a circle in a classroom in my elementary school. I must have been eight or nine years old.

I lost many – okay all – of my old friends when I left the Church. I had been a best friend with Rev. Moon’s daughter and with a few Korean children who were born into and raised in the Church. When I, as my brother says, simply disappeared from Church life, I disappeared from them as well.

One of the hardest parts of leaving the Church was losing what felt like everyone and everything that had been important to me. Everyone and everything that I had loved. I wondered where my old friends were. I wondered how my old friends were. I wondered if I’d ever see them again. And I wondered if I’d be flush with shame if I ever did see them – shame at leaving and sinning and walking away. Shame at abandoning the Messiah and letting God down. Shame and disgrace and self-loathing. Do you get the sense that leaving the Church filled me with at least a few not-so-good emotions?

Yet despite these fears, I still longed to reconnect. I’ve been on my journey to revisit and remember, and finding my friends felt like it would help all the shattered pieces of my past fall even more into place.

I did. It did. It was amazing.

I’d found Rev. Moon’s daughter a number of years ago – my memoir culminates with us reconnecting and with my attending a service at which she delivered a sermon – but I again hadn’t spoken with her in years. I reached out to her a few weeks ago and ended up having dinner with her and her family. There are no words for how amazing it was. There are no words for how whole-ing it feels to reminisce with someone who was there, who gets it, who gets me. To not have to explain myself, or the Church or the beliefs, and to agree that things were crazy and that it was hard. So hard.

Rev. Moon’s daughter then reconnected me with one of my friends whom I hadn’t seen since I was about sixteen. Whom I used to see every week. And that friend reconnected me with another friend whom I thought I would never see again.

There are no words for how wonderful it was. How wonderful it is. I had lunch with one friend, and we laughed and cried and held each other. We swore we wouldn’t lose each other again. We tried to make sense of all that had happened to and around us, all that we’d been taught, all that we’d believed. My friend whom I thought I’d never see again – well I haven’t actually seen her yet, but I’ve seen a photo and we’ve talked much of it through via text. And we swore we’d never be torn apart again.

We talked about the Church, and each time I said, “I know I got some good from it too. I think my heart is so big and I love to love so much because of the Church.” Each time they said, “No, you were that loving when I met you.”

My heart is filled with such love at finding my old friends. My mind is bending over in on itself, and also watching all the missing pieces snap into place.

Make new friends but keep the old. I’ve finally been allowed to keep my old friends.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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