SUN MYUNG MOON AND THE UNIFICATION CHURCH by Fredrick Sontag

SUN MYUNG MOON AND THE UNIFICATION CHURCH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author's aim is ""neither an exposÉ, nor a defense,"" but to examine ""the questions that the success of the movement raise for those involved in theology and religion."" Sontag, a Congregational minister on the philosophy faculty at Claremont, visited the major centers of the Unification Church in the US, Western Europe, Korea, and Japan. He attended some of its major events and interviewed many of its leading figures including the founder, as well as countless rank and file. The book runs more to theoretical conversation than to systematic description, but the facts are there. In Korea, its place of origin and something of a holy land, the church is about 150,000 strong and has the staid Sunday 11 A.M. air of any mission church, but state persecution, from Moon's early prison terms down to the present day, has kept it trim. The Japanese church, around 300,000 strong, has been ""the key to the financial growth and success of the movement as well as the origin of the life-style."" Koreans and Japanese form Moon's inner circle, and teams going into new territory in some 130 countries consist of one Japanese, one American, and one German, the efficient German church being overwhelmingly the most successful after Japan. There are about 4,000 members in the US, but for the significance of the numbers, bear in mind that they refer to full-time duty in what amounts to a co-ed monastic order in the time of its pristine zeal. Sontag reviews the church's text, ""The Principle,"" and other credal statements, and finds belief designedly difficult to define; but the Moonie ""must work to relieve the suffering of God by recreating the Kingdom on earth,"" and this involves political and economic power. (Jesus' venture was badly handled.) The author got as close as he could to the deprogramming kidnappers, and examines fifteen main criticisms of the movement, though to participants in this warm, supportive community these seem irrelevant, For those who need to know, this can be recommended as an understanding, responsible book.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Abingdon