The Death of Sun Myung Moon – Part I: When I Heard the News
I found out when I stepped in after work. Despite being a former member of the Unification Church (about which, see my story), I still have contact with members now and then. His health had been ailing for a number of days. He had finally died.
If you haven’t heard the news, or don’t know who he is, read this article from CNN.com.
Rev. Moon, for better or worse, led a very unusual life. Love, like or hate him, this cannot be denied. He dedicated his life to building a politico-economic-religious empire under the banner of world peace, promoting the practice of true love. Whatever else he did, this is so. His means to this end are somewhat more dubious – involving crowning ceremonies, hours of street fundraising and the creation of a body whose express goal is to rule over the United Nations. And there are very few people who can say they have done such things.
He was a definite influence on my life, albeit in a strange and almost distant way. I could not possibly count the number of times I have bowed in front of a picture of him and his wife. I have spent countless hours poring over texts spoken or written by him, or about him, or at his behest. I strove towards the ideals laid out as the Original Ideal of Creation; I dreamed of the day he would bless me with a wife and we would build an Ideal Family together.
It is not unfair to say that being brought up in his Unification Church has strongly influenced my worldview. Would I believe in God without him? Do I owe my current faith to him? I don’t know if these questions have answers. If he had not matched my parents as one of those many couples, all those years ago, I wouldn’t even exist. But I did not grieve at his passing.
In a sense, I still have respect for his vision. I believe he has genuine spiritual insights and a message it would not do harm to give some serious consideration to. I believe he is in touch with God, and a loving person – albeit a person with an unusual amount of power and a colourful personality.
And yet the bitter aftertaste of years of internalised homophobia lingers. I have explained before about the essentially homophobic message of the Unification Church. There is no way that the Church is going to be able to accept that gay people exist. Rev. Moon has said hateful things about gay people, but I believe he is genuinely mistaken – he is of a different generation and a grew up in a very different world from me. I am willing to forgive, but cannot simply forget what he has said.
He has a legacy. He has a church. His words ring out across nations and across time. I was hurt by them, deeply, because I believed them. Others will be too.
When I heard the news, I was unmoved. His death was not important to me. I don’t listen to him any more, I don’t follow him any more. I wasn’t curious, I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t grateful for his life’s work. I wasn’t surprised either: I knew of his pneumonia and hospitalisation. Many, many people around me were moved, shedding tears and professing dedication to his vision. Yet I could not find any profound insight, no statement to make, no declaration to publish.
It simply was, and is.