‘UM Links & News’ Heading
This heading will be used to facilitate any background reading and research you may wish to do on the Unification Movement. At the bottom, called Personal Entries, I have written some random articles – none of them UM related but of possible interest to my son when he is old enough to have a look.
As regards the UM related website links below, with a multitude of organisations attributed to Father Moon’s initiative in reaching out to as wide an audience as possible, there will be a fair amount of reading (and clicking on your mouse, I’m afraid) to do. The ‘News’ part of it is in regard to any important UM or world news event that I may wish to communicate.
I should stress that these are religious-based sites and its contents may not be to everyone’s taste, especially if you are of a more secular mindset. I’m afraid there will always be the intransigent who will refuse to see anything of value in the religious experience. Presumably, they will not have got this far in reading anyway so perhaps I should not be overly sensitive about this point. That is their prerogative and free-will to make and I can only hope that even if they reject the religious experience that they will be touched in other ways by the central message of SMM i.e. the need to build families that are stable and filled with unconditional love. If such are built then they will find they are nearer to God than they think, or wish to think.
Various Website links
There are two main links:
· http://um-uk.org/ - this is the link to the UK branch of the Unification Movement. It contains a number of links to other affiliated organisations, such as the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP). It also includes the Family Fireplace site, a name which I like, as it conjures up all kinds of happy memories I had growing up with my family all sitting around the fireplace watching black & white TV – how times have changed!
· http://www.reverendsunmyungmoon.org/index.html - this is the link to Sun Myung Moon's official website, where you can also access the Divine Principle video lectures (American based so some acquired listening tolerance may be needed!). I would also advise checking out SMM’s life story – it is quite an account of triumph over adversity.
(I just finished reading quite a good book called ‘Sun Myung Moon: the early years 1920-1953’ (publisher: Refuge Books). It is by Michael Breen, a UM member, who was a correspondent/journalist in South Korea for the Washington Times, the Guardian and The Times. It details some first-hand accounts of those who knew SMM in his early years and shows the considerable ordeal he went through, especially in a North Korean prison camp, during the 1950-51 Korean War).
Other UM website links
The following are various sites that the UK Unification Movement has either directly set up or is closely allied with.
· http://www.uk.upf.org/ - this is the UM’s Universal Peace Federation’s site, which also highlights the Ambassadors for Peace programme.
· http://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com/ - this is the weblog for the inter-religious Peace Development Network (which has close links with the UPF) and is particularly important in forging closer links within the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.
· http://www.familyfed.org/ - this is the international site of the FFWPU (or Family Federation for World Peace and Unification to give its full title). The home page also lists the UK address of its UK head office, which is 43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA.
· http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-10748148 - this link takes you to some BBC info on the subject of North/South Korea tensions (dated July 2010) + there are some useful background info links as well
· http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17497603 - this is a BBC link (dated March 2012) relating to an interview with our London Pastor, Simon Cooper.
UM Notices & News
Visit of Little Angels to London (old item)
A Korean dance/ballet troupe founded by SMM, called Little Angels, performed at the famous Sadler Wells Theatre in London on Saturday the 2nd of October, 2010. It is Korean children’s folk ballet at its highest standard, and they are famous, not only in South Korea but throughout the world. Here is a link, which includes two YouTube clips of them performing:
SMM sponsored their world-wide trip to express gratitude to all the countries that took part with the other UN forces in 1950 to help defend South Korea during the Korean War. As such, many of the 3000 or so tickets were given free to the Korean War veterans and their families to attend, which was being handled by the Korean War Veterans Association.
· http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8306100.stm - a week later, this item also appeared regarding the mass wedding of many thousands of UM followers as well as non-UM people who wished to renew their marriage vows in a sacred ceremony. My wife and I also had our wedding vows renewed at this ceremony in London via satellite link.
· http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8266029.stm - this is a mass wedding that coincidentally took place in Singapore around the same time, to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of their botanic gardens. It perhaps shows that this idea of ‘mass weddings’ may well catch on, not least in the significant cost-savings made, as revealed at the end of the clip!
Extra notes on the UPF’s proposal to the UN next month (Sept 2010)
The following is from an email sent to me by the UPF. It includes a link to Father Moon’s speech to the United Nations, in which he proposed the importance of uniting both the political with the religious quests for global peace through the formation of this inter-religious council within the auspices of the UN. I would respectfully ask you to read his short speech in full - it is a remarkably written piece that seeks to address the core problem with the present United Nations set up and remit. How else are we to achieve a 'new world order' unless the United Nations adopts this bicameral institutional harmonisation of the mind (through religion) with the body (through politics)?
“This is part of an ongoing consultation organized by the Universal Peace Federation International. Similar consultations are being organized in other UPF Regions during the months of July and August 2010, to develop a proposal or resolution that may be submitted for consideration by the UN member states when they convene in New York in September of this year.
It was in August 2005 that UPF’s Founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, speaking at the United Nations, proposed the establishment of an inter-religious council within the UN system.
For a copy of the speech please click
For developments of the Inter-Religious Council Initiative, please click
Although we have yet to see the fulfilment of that vision, we have witnessed, over the past decade, a growing awareness of the importance and, indeed, the pressing need for interfaith dialogue and cooperation if we are to achieve lasting peace in our world. Religions and faith-based organizations can, and should be partners with governments, the United Nations, and with other NGOs in an effort to achieve peace and prosperity for all people.
The Consultation will seek to address the following concerns:
1. Mission: What is the mission and primary goals of the interfaith council?
2. Feasibility: Is it possible to build an interfaith council within the UN system?
3. Structure: How would the interfaith council function within the UN system?
4. Action Steps: What steps are needed if we are to achieve the goal?”
Weekend Workshops (London)
These are often held at Livingstone House, Chistlehurst (South East London). Fees: £80 guests, £50 concessions (includes FFWPU members)
Q. Who can attend? New Guests and FFWPU members can attend
Q. Can I only attend if I bring a guest? No, anyone is welcome - the mixture of the above makes for a great workshop. There is a new atmosphere and approach on these workshops - if you sample it and like it, you will have more confidence to invite people to future workshops.
Q. Why does it cost so much? First of all, compared to many developmental seminars and retreats it is not at all expensive (for two days full board and a packed programme!). Secondly, we barely cover costs, and that's without paying staff, at these rates.
If you wish to go, then please phone Livingstone House (tel. 020-84670187) to arrange a time to visit first, and meet with one or two of the staff there as well as see the surroundings, before deciding whether to sign up for a workshop.
There are also Seven-Day Divine Principle Workshop in Livingstone House where guest rates are £210, concessions are £175, and a special student rate of £150. Back in 1978, when I first came over from Ireland, I attended these workshops in Livingstone House. It is a beautiful building that once belonged to the famous Victorian missionary and explorer, David Livingstone. It was then used as a Catholic nun’s convent and sometime later was sold to us around 1975. In many ways, I regard it as my ‘spiritual home’ because of the depth of experience I had there and was an ideal retreat experience away from day to day distractions. Accommodation is comfortable and the food is good as well.
This heading will contain more personal entries for my son to read, which hopefully he might enjoy reading when he is older. Perhaps there is no logical order, rhyme or reason to these personal entries, except to give me a little light relief to the more challenging material elsewhere on the website.
In praise of the BBC!
In recent months, to help with my ‘black dog days’, I have come across more of what the BBC has to offer, especially its radio output. To my wife’s occasional consternation, I am quite an avid Radio 5 Live and World Service listener – she prefers her radio for music, as opposed to my preference for round-the-clock news, commentary and sports.
(Perhaps, this is another example of the irreconcilable differences that sometimes exist between the tastes of men and women when it comes to how we spend our leisure time!)
In addition, Radio 5 feature a lot of fairly lively phone-in topics on current affairs and I find these quite informative while I potter around in the garden or while doing DIY. But she is right in telling me that too much listening to, largely, bad news stories and occasional angry voices on the radio, talking over each other on some heated topic, can be hazardous to my mental health and wellbeing, and so I have started to explore other BBC radio stations on offer. Its live sports coverage, though, is still second to none.
BBC’s World Service, as well as Radio 4, feature more weighty news depth as well as feature items from correspondents around the world and interviews with sometimes interesting people. Radio 3 offers great classical and jazz music; Radio 1 has up to date music for the younger audience (though not always to my taste); Radio 2 is more pitched at the older audience with its range of current and past sounds (though, again, not always to my taste); while Radio 6 is a more newer offering (sadly about to have its plug pulled in a year or so) with eclectic sounds that cover a wide range of musical tastes. (Where else can you hear Grand Funk Railroad coming after Buddy Holly and then leading into Frank Sinatra?!)
Its TV output is also first class, especially its nature programmes, dramas and documentaries (with thankfully no advert breaks in between). Its website is well laid out with good archive material, and as you can see, I like to cite its articles for various references. In many ways, it is the ‘gold standard’ by which other media organisations measure themselves.
More importantly, it is trusted and respected around the world for providing knowledgeable content that is most times seen as fair, objective, impartial and informative. You can sense that its presenters would be prepared to give their whole working life to it, even if they could command higher salaries in other more commercially-minded media outlets. Funded by licence-fee taxpayers, it is British broadcasting at its best, and one of the great benefits of living in the UK.
(On reflection, not sure why I have written all this – I guess it is just to thank the BBC for helping me get through the day sometimes)
Addendum - I came across a good article by Alisdair Palmer, writing on the Daily Telegraph’s website, in reference to imminent financial cuts to the BBC’s World Service. This radio service to the world community, in whose countries free speech and expression are effectively banned, is immensely important and should be preserved and given more funding, not less. Palmer’s article makes some good points:
The wonders of ‘oil-pulling’?
A friend told me about this about nine months ago, and I have been doing it ever since. I have no idea if it works or not though but just thought to add this piece in case anyone is interested in having a go. According to Indian Ayurvedic medicine,“The oil pulls all mucous, bacteria and toxins from your body through your saliva". I take a mouthful first thing in the morning and swish it around in my mouth for about 15 minutes before spitting it out when having a shower. However, be prepared for phlegm-like substances to be coughed up for about 30 minutes afterwards – I guess these are the toxins. A good article about it that I came across is:
(Anyway, perhaps I should put up a disclaimer that you should seek medical advice first and, in the event of you suffering any side-effects that the article speaks about, then please don’t sue me for professional medical negligence – I am not a doctor)
Why I love ‘Father Ted’
In the 1990s, Channel 4 (one of my favourite viewing channels for its diversity of programming, especially its documentaries) commissioned a series called ‘Father Ted’. It was set in a rural backwater of western Ireland called ‘Craggy Island’. In its run-down parochial house lived the four main protagonists - three priests and a housekeeper. Just to look at the iconography of ‘kitsch’ religious pictures and statues and dated furniture, which were so reminiscent of 1950s and 1960s Irish Catholic homes, was a nostalgic joy in itself to see. However, it is when you start to follow the quirky, surreal story-lines that, within a short space of time, you start to get hooked.
When the comedy programme first came out, as an Irish Catholic I didn’t know what to make of it. Certainly, there was a generational difference between how my mother and one of my aunts viewed it, and how a younger audience viewed it. On the one hand, I could see that it may come across as a blasphemous, ‘Mickey-take’ or send-up of Irish priesthood. If one didn’t get the humour, then some of the content was so ‘close to the bone’ that one could imagine a ‘fatwa’ type edict being issued by some other faiths for the heads of those involved (writers, directors, actors etc.) to be delivered on a plate!
On the other hand, it has helped in my appreciation of my Catholic upbringing i.e. don’t take your religion too seriously but glory in the co-creativity we have been blessed with by God. With religious observance and ritual often seen as so off-puttingly serious, then this was a great antidote that I like to think God would be rolling around in laughter at. The comic timing, script and acting is superb – perhaps it ran its course after three episodes, we shall never know. I say this because the series ended with the very sad and untimely death in 1998 of its main actor, Dermot Morgan, who played Father Ted.
Now, it has taken on near national treasure status among Irish people, both in Ireland and the UK. I did wonder if non-Irish would get the humour because, with its cultural references unique to the experience of living in Ireland during the 1960s, I thought a lot of it would be ‘lost in translation’. Well, it seems not, because my wife and friends, who are non-Irish, as well as my son love to watch repeat episodes at our home. Now, 12 years after its third series finished, it is still one of the most popular comedies in Channel 4’s On Demand website, and the link for this is below. Stay with it even if initial reactions are a bit nonplus – it does start to click as the characters reveal their idiosyncrasies and get under your skin.
A close friend sent me a link to a well-written Guardian article about the 20th Anniversary of Father Ted. It also includes some clips from the show.
(In the ‘Reflections’ heading, I intend writing up a piece soon about my Irish Catholic upbringing and its historically uneasy relations with British Protestantism, which I also started to explore when I first opened the Bible – something Catholics unfortunately tend not to do)