Thursday, December 16, 2004

IIFWP's Methodology for Peace and Its Application
Frank Kaufmann
December 12, 2004

IIFWP identifies two core principles as requisite for the effective pursuit of peace. These are "living for the sake of others", and "life without boundaries." These concepts carry a great danger of misunderstanding, which could slow down or impede our peace efforts. Why? It is because people use terms like these thinking they have a single, universal meaning. In fact the meanings can vary greatly from person to person. We can end up speaking past each other, while thinking we are on a shared road of understanding.

If we are going to build a serious, substantial, and expansive peace movement, involving top world leaders, it is crucial that collaborators and fellow travelers share clear and common use of terms at the very outset. This will avoid problems and disappointments later down the line.

Living for others, and living without boundaries seem like common sense terms, and obvious requisites for effectively pursuing lasting peace. Yet if they are so obvious, and make such common sense, then why don't we have peace already? Further if they obviously have not brought peace, then why would IIFWP be so excited about its prospects, simply by stringing these simple notions together? This really needs to be considered! No one here needs to be wasting their time.

Life for the Sake of Others

Is this phrase just another name for "unselfishness"? Is IIFWP's great contribution to world peace nothing more than an admonition to "not be selfish"? How would this great insight apply? Say you make a million dollars a year and pass someone with nothing. In this moment, what would successfully constitute "living for the sake of others"? What if you gave this person 10 dollars? I think it must be very rare for a destitute person to receive 10 dollars from a passerby. But if you are worth several million dollars and you meet someone with absolutely nothing, no food, no shelter, I think it should hardly count much as living for the sake of others, by giving the person 10 dollars. Well how about 100 dollars? Is that enough? How about deciding to give this person a modest room, meals each day, shoes, and a coat for winter. Then you would end up with 994,000 dollars each year, and the other person has a room, food, shoes and a coat. How's that? Is that enough? Should you do that for the next person you meet who has nothing? Or would that start to eat to much into your remaining 994,000 dollars? Another option might be to yourself have just a room, food, shoes and a coat, then with your million dollars a year 750 people could live without want. You could be one of them. If you want to live more luxuriously, how about splitting your earnings 50 - 50 with the one in need. Surely we can survive on half a million dollars a year?

When we sit down and begin to plan for peace with our fellow IIFWP ambassadors all extolling living for others, are we talking to a guy who once gave a needy person 10 bucks, or with a person who makes a million dollars a year and has a room, food, shoes and a coat, along with 750 formerly hungry friends.

Do you see the problem of trying to build a unified organization on so vague a term? We could be in a room full of leaders all claiming to "live for the sake of others" and in fact have no real idea if we are working together or not? How should IIFWP solve this problem? Should we issue some chart of percentages? Would this clarify matters for establishing the qualifications of a peace ambassador?

And next we need to examine who to live for. Supposing you give half to your wife, and a quarter to your son? Can you then say "hey, I give away almost everything I make away." Does that count? Some people might think that's a little tricky. They might quietly think "hmmm, this fellow isn't really living for others, he just has a demanding wife and a lazy son." How will IIFWP solve that problem? Should we issue a list of people who qualify as people to "live for their sake"?

Obviously we cannot clarify our terms in this way. Such a project would be endless. On your chart of percentages you would have to create additional addenda to apply to whether the person is need is located in France or Paraguay. What if the person already has a coat but no shoes? Or, exactly how old are his shoes? What if his shoes are just plain ugly - don't go with his coat?

And who counts as the other? How about a half son, or a cousin? Once one goes down the road of legalism to create common meaning there is no return. You'll end up with lawyers instead of peace.

Life Without Boundaries

Let us quickly do something similar here to see if we have a common understanding this second, core concept? Just what is meant by living without boundaries? Surely life requires that we recognize boundaries. Is it legitimate for example to have a fence or some sort of demarcation around one?s property? Is it legitimate to differentiate between which sons and daughters are yours and which are mine? How about the boundary between those who believe Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, and those who do not? Is that a legitimate boundary?

It is easy to see here once again that presuming common meaning with this terms is also unreasonable.

Do we really want to start down so serious a road together assuming we share a common agenda and set of principles, without bothering to check of that is really the case? Aren't we inviting disappointment down the line, perhaps coming at a time when we can least afford to degenerate into discord, perhaps at a time just on the verge a a big breakthrough for peace.

We already recognize that legalistic attempts to nail down common understanding is a labor of Sisyphus. So, what to do?

Preliminary Clarification

The solution to this problem lies in creating common use of terms in non-legalistic ways.

The success of the IIFWP, and its power to extend so deeply and effectively into world affairs based on what seem like obvious observations, lies in the fact that its principles are far more profound, and systematic than first meets the eye. Life for the sake of others, is not a mere synonym for the vague catchphrase "unselfishness," and "life without boundaries" similarly is not a vague affirmation of "understanding," or "getting along." The way for IIFWP activists to truly act in accord requires that we grow in our understanding of the system and worldview on which they stand as essential and foundational.

Life Lived for the Sake of Others

We can gain greater clarity in our understanding of the term "living for the sake of others," when we approach all of reality as grounded in purpose. This can guide our sacrificial activity and remove the guesswork from making this into a legitimate principle on which to build a peace movement. The ground of purpose renders moot questions like how much to give, and to whom we should give. Our guideline is to give in the way which effects the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Two corollaries for this principle point to greater clarity for IIFWP's notion of living for the sake of others. These are:

A. Everything you do should help the greatest number of people possible, and

B. It impossible to leap over a smaller social unit, to try to help a larger one.

Note by this small example how these work:

1. If I sacrifice others for my own sake (to become richer, more powerful, or more famous), I actually subtract goodness out of the world.

2. If I convert all my accomplishments to serve only my own benefit, at least I have not subtracted good away from others, but the whole good I do adds up to benefiting a total of one person. A small life indeed!

3. If I sacrifice everything for the sake of my family, the good stemming from my efforts now expands to 5 or 7 people or more. Thus by living for the sake of just my own immediate family, I have multiplied my power of goodness by 7 times or more. An incredible leap in how much good I do in the world!

4. But supposing we want to do good for more than just 7 people? This is the tricky part. I cannot decide simply that I will devote my accomplishments for my neighborhood (say for example 400 families - almost 3000 people) without gaining the consent of my family. My family must agree that our shared benefits are now going to be given to others. I have to unify my family around the idea that it is better for our goodness to benefit 3000 people, than just seven people. This is what I mean we cannot skip over a social unit.

See how quickly we can move from the evil of subtracting good out of the world, to a single person benefiting thousands of people. Just two steps! But the most important matter to note is that we cannot simply skip a step. Do you think a wife will follow a husband who is unfaithful, or children will follow a parent who is selfish? It is not possible. The root, the trunk, the branches, and the leaves of living for the sake of others, must all be connected and working in harmony. If I can get the 3000 people in my neighborhood to sacrifice themselves for our state or our nation in must one more step, then my "living for others" multiplies to millions.

The inner meaning of IIFWP's "living for the sake of others," more accurately follows the dynamic of the smaller living for the sake of the larger. This is only the most rudimentary introduction to the first core IIFWP principle, "life for the sake of others." Hopefully we can see that we are describing a very precise dynamic, and not building an organization based on a vague synonym for unselfishness.

How much should one give? The answer is everything, but that is an essay or another time. To whom? To God, all people, and all of nature. This too should be further clarified over time.

Life Lived without Boundaries

Finally, let me briefly touch upon a similar, introductory exposition for "life without boundaries," again so as to help account for the vitality, and transforming power of the IIFWP as a peace movement:

As I already said, one cannot in a facile manner proclaim oneself committed to removing all boundaries, when simply navigating life surely requires the recognition of countless boundaries.

Obviously conflict results from hostility toward some one or some group outside our those who we are willing to embrace, care for, and support. We place a boundary between ourselves and others. Versions of this include racism, religious intolerance, nationalism, ideological conflict, and other forms of separatism and intolerance. Hardening these these boundaries plays a big role in the horrors of hatred, war, and oppression. As a result it is all but a tautology to make "living without boundaries" a core principle of a peace organization.

In this second case too, how can we understand IIFWP to be saying anything other than the patently obvious? Furthermore what principles guide decisions in a grey areas? Are people's religious beliefs of no consequence? Are people's cultural and national heritage of no consequence? What if others threaten these treasures and irreplaceable legacies? Is the answer a simplistic "live without boundaries."

The aspect of IIFWP thought which creates of this a workable, and applicable principle is the recognition of categories in the human experience which are so universal and such a compelling force for harmony that they transcend and harmonize all difference, regardless of how essential, or extreme the difference might be. The category must be so basic and so far reaching that even religious difference cannot put us apart. What could possible stand safely and convincingly as so universal and transcendent that it can make all boundaries dissolve in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation?

The IIFWP grounded in Dr. Moon's revelation and worldview is family. The universal experience of family reflecting true and eternal love is greater than every difference. Be ye black, white. or yellow, you are still a mother a father, a brother, sister, son or daughter. Be ye Christian, Muslim or Jew, the same is true. Rich poor, high low, urban or rural, rap music, or Brahms, the human experience at its most basic, God given base is absolutely one. Without this category, a worldview which explains it, and the fullness of life which derives from it, the call for life without boundaries is nothing more than a vague nicety.

As fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives do we want boundaries? Do you want boundaries between yourself and your daughter? Do you want boundaries between you and your husband? In the most basic human identity we want NO boundaries whatsoever, none!


I hope this brief, and introductory meditation on IIFWP core principles has been helpful. The important thing to recognize is that these categories are systematic and necessary. They are not vague niceties unrelated to the clear purpose and the unrivalled energy and effectiveness of this organization.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Reception of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio

Scholars of Religion were treated this week to time in the lovely city of San Antonio. The AAR continues its superior tradition of conference organization, and the town showed itself to be exceptionally well suited to host the 1000’s of guests in attendance. The enchanting Riverwalk, the natural synergy between hotels and housing and the ample facilities of the easily accessible convention center, and finally a great tradition of conference services have all mixed to make a splendid environment for the week of important (if occasionally esoteric) business at hand. Apart from the habit of convention and tourist destinations to find a way to convert every tiny need into another buck out of your pocket, San Antonio is a pleasant venue indeed.

For the past 20 years the IRFWP has hosted a reception at the annual meeting of the AAR, and this year was no different. Three steady trademarks make up the signature of this IRFWP tradition:
1. We meet on the evening prior to the formal start of the conference
2. We have an hour of a scholarly panel
3. We have an hour to catch up and relax together

1. Meet before the official start of the conference

As a professional society, presentations at the academy tend to carry for participants a touch of pressure, competition, and exacting rigor from peers and competitors. Further, often times academic obligations often require scholars to treat relatively rarified, even esoteric subject matter. This is simply the reality of any professional community. This is not to be decried, it is the stuff of genuine, and hard won expertise.

But this battle over minutiae is often a waste of powerful minds, when we consider the legitimate, broad, religious concerns which occupy the minds of intelligent people at this time in history. We of the IRFWP deliberately have our meetings before the frenetic, and rough and tumble, formal schedule begins. During this time, scholars are fresh, relaxed, and often in the best condition to offer thoughts relevant to pressing matters of religion and peace in contemporary world affairs.

2. Have an hour of a scholarly panel and
3. Have an hour of time to relax and socialize

The IRFWP reception is meant to provide two important benefits to participants; 1. An opportunity to engage in intellectually stimulating dialogue, and 2. A chance to catch up with friends and make new contacts in a warm atmosphere with plentiful refreshments. The academic section is also the time in which the IRFWP director reports on the work and progress of the organization.

The Responsibility of the Religious Academy in Foreign Policy and International Relations

As an active peace foundation, the IRFWP and the providentially central organization under which it carries out its activities (The Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, IIFWP) always looks for activist applications of intellectual product. One major commitment of the IIFWP is its devotion to peace initiatives. These include the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI), the Northeast Asian Peace Initiative (NEAPI – with special focus on tensions on the Korean Peninusla), and many others.

Especially in the Middle East the role of religion is so immediately apparent. Furthermore, following 9/11 tragedy US foreign relations always face an interreligious dimension in its foreign policy. This is why we chose this topic as a way to see how we better can benefit from scholarly insight in the pursuit of peace, sought at the international level.

Speakers this year were Professor Clayton McNearney (American Studies, Marshall University), and Professor Cromwell Crawford (Indological Studies, University of Hawaii). McNearney focused on the classroom. He delineated 5 ways in which professors and teachers can approach curricula and the construction of syllabi to equip students to better interpret and engage political discourse, and better analyze and position themselves vis a vis the political actions of their nations. McNearney’s work was creative, constructive, innovative, and practical.

Professor Cromwell spoke briefly of the peace oriented foundations and centers which are part of the University of Hawaii, and then went on to discuss how the expertise of religion scholars is vital to guide discernment relating to the threat of terrorism on the one hand, and the equally dangerous threat to freedom on religion on the other.

Frank Kaufmann
November 21, 2004

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI)
of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) and the Interreligious and International Peace Council

By Frank Kaufmann

The Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) of the IIFWP and the IIPC is rooted in the theological and philosophical worldview and lived commitments of Sun Myung Moon and his associates.

The MEPI of the IIFWP is grounded in substantial efforts beginning as early as 1985 when IIFWP predecessors and affiliated organizations began in earnest to promote dialogue among the religions of the region.

In addition to religious dialogue, extensive long-term investment in several other areas also informed the basis for MEPI as it functions today. These include family education, projects for racial integration, economic and political foundations, media and media organizations, and initiatives for service and social welfare, and many others. The pursuit of lasting peace in the Middle East requires an integrated, coordinated effort engaging these major areas and more. MEPI of the IIFWP is an implemented and lived ideology.


These are IIFWP’s principles for peace:

1. God exists, and has an original ideal for enduring peace in human affairs which can be learned and realized.

2. The spiritual world exists, has an impact on contemporary affairs, and must be acknowledged and engaged in peace efforts.

3. Peace activists can be effective only to the degree they embody the ideals of peace in character and lifestyle.

4. Stable, God-centered families are the wellspring of peace and all good things in human society. Conversely, all social ills originate from family disorder. Family also embodies the metaphor for successfully attaining peace.

5. Religious leaders should lead by example dissolving all boundaries and resolving all conflict, including religious boundaries and religious conflict. Religious leaders are responsible more than any for setting world affairs aright, beginning with creating thoroughgoing peace and cooperation in all interreligious relations.

6. Religious leaders who demonstrate equal concern for all people absent parochial preferences, who cooperate across religious and denominational lines, should be consulted by secular powers.

7. Peace building and peace keeping requires collaborative participation from all sectors of civil society, including education, business, the arts, sports, as well as social service and community welfare initiatives.

8. Peace in the Middle East requires investment and cooperation from the whole world, NOT just from players immediately or obviously affected by developments in the region.

1. God Exists and Has a Learnable and Realizable, Original Ideal for Peace

This first principle defines IIFWP’s MEPI in a number of significant ways.

A. The conceptual and intellectual breakthrough containing the key strategy and accurate and effective processes for peace will become known first by enlightened, spiritual and religious leaders, NOT first through political leaders or any other secular community no matter how powerful or knowledgeable.

B. The end of the peace process is permanent. It reflects an original ideal. It does not presume permanence of conflict or enmity. Once peace is achieved, it will not have to be mediated by outside powers. It is a natural condition, and an original human desire and state.

C. The strategies and activity which lead to peace are those of reconciliation, not those of compromise, truce, “accord,” “agreements,” and so forth.

D. Reconciliation employs religious and spiritual dynamics that include such applications as repentance and forgiveness.

E. Justice is the natural condition of a truly peaceful society and region; it is not a pre-requisite condition for participation in dialogue, self-reflection, repentance and forgiveness.

2. The Spiritual World Exists, has an Impact on Contemporary Affairs

This reality while not excessively to be seen in the externals of IIFWP’s MEPI, nevertheless informs the development of programs extensively and in a serious way.

Most people hold a number of independent realities to be true, but often fail to connect them on a practical level. Very few people on earth deny the existence of a spiritual world. Virtually all world religions outline a specific relationship between earthly life and eternal spiritual reality. While such matters are respected on the individual level, consideration of these dynamics tend not to be extended to reflection, planning, and implementation on in larger arenas of human life such as national, regional, international, religious, and racial relations. To ignore fundamental and far-reaching beliefs and realities when trying to chart strategies of ultimate consequence (such as the pursuit of lasting peace) is unreasonable.

This tendency to insulate personal religious belief, as well as the tendency to regard current earthly affairs as separate from the spiritual reality which in fact is infused throughout life, results in skewed ideas as to what engaging the spiritual world means. While people feel at home with guidance on the personal level (such as “Grow stronger and deeper on your own path,” “Live in spiritual awareness,” “Help heal and create a better world”), they are unaccustomed to bringing these same dynamics and impulses to social, interreligious, and international challenges.

The vast majority of human beings, especially adherents of the major religions of the region acknowledge the presence and active influence of both beneficent and malevolent spiritual forces. Further, most believers acknowledge the perdurance of human souls, which should naturally create spiritual populations with a stake in the outcome of earthly affairs.

No sound analysis of any social situation deliberately discounts major influences when seeking to chart solutions or paths for improvement. Would the “Roadmap” of the “Quartet” deliberately ignore the geo-political characteristics of the Golan Heights, in its plan and recommendations? No. These realities carry too great an influence to ignore. Why then should the massive influence and impact of an ever-present spiritual reality be overlooked by responsible leaders seeking to forge a sound and sophisticated path past the horrible conflicts and bloody history of the region?

This second IIFWP principle again recommends a leading role for enlightened religious and spiritual leaders in the peace process. Religious and spiritual leaders must engage in dialogue with life and death seriousness to develop as broad a common ground as possible. This is the only way they can qualify to guide experts in all other areas of leadership on the all-important matter of how spiritual forces push contemporary players in the direction of war or peace.

3. Peace Activists Must Embody the Ideals of Peace in Character and Lifestyle

This principle links directly to IIFWP’s creed that peace originates in God and follows processes which extend goodness. Love and goodness (not power or “intelligence”) transform conditions from conflict to harmony. History has not failed to produce “intelligent enough” leaders; it has failed to date to align human behavior naturally and fully with God’s universal love and compassion for all. Smart people can commit atrocities. Smart people can perpetrate narrow, parochial, and selfish agendas. IIFWP acknowledges the requisites of knowledge and power in finally resolving deep conflict such as we have in the Middle East, but only in the context of goodness. Power and intelligence can support the peace process only when applied by leaders who live recognizably for the sake of all people equally. This is accomplished in deed, not word. It is seen in the record of personal daily life, not grand declarations and pronouncements.

4. Stable, God-centered Families Are the Cornerstone of a Peaceful Society, and Model the Path to Peace

There are a number of essential elements to be noted in this section.

A. All relationships in life reflect or approximate family relations. The fullest “vertical” relationship is that between parents and children. The fullest “horizontal” relationship is that between husband and wife. We then have “shades” or “degrees” of relationships which approach or approximate these perfect axes embodied in parent-child, and husband-wife. These include brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and so forth.

The beauty of family (in the ideal) is that it contains and miraculously harmonizes elements of the most extreme difference (generation, gender, character, interests, habits, and infinitely on), among family members all of whom are forced (involuntarily!) into the closest of quarters and all manner of uninvited intimacy. When functioning properly, this cacophony of agendas, characters, habits, interests, preferences, and so forth thrust into a cauldron of inescapable relationship becomes the sweetest treasure and surest anchor in life. This occurs only by the power of love; true love which originates in God’s original design for our lives, and is so powerful as to be able to create life and lineage.

There is simply NO other explanation for the coherence of family (in the ideal).

If we have so perfect a case study in harmonizing extreme difference, it is only reasonable to ground all peace initiatives in a careful and thorough study of this institution; in fact to base it on the institution itself.

B. Not only is the (ideal) family the model for building and maintaining peaceful and harmonious relationships, but the establishment of stable, healthy, loving families, rooted in God’s ideal is the first and most indispensable requisite for successfully attaining and establishing enduring peace.

To date, peace initiatives proceed on the assumption that certain differences are irreconcilable. As a result strategies of these initiatives are grounded in principles of compromise, third party mediation, and even permanent, external policing structures among conflicting groups.

The model of family (ideally) is the substantial argument that no amount of difference is irreconcilable. For this reason, individuals from stable, healthy families are in their way the Ph.D.’s of reconciliation and harmony. These are peace-makers incarnate. The one’s who have lived, realized, and embody the principles and skills for reconciliation and harmonization.

When peace-making is understood as the removal of hatred rather than the removal of conflict, then the cardinal and paramount requisite is the establishment of ideal families. It models harmony, reveals the principles of reconciling difference in productive integration, and creates peace-makers with living knowledge habituated in these divine principles.

5. Religious Leaders Responsibility for the Realization of Peace.

IIFWP holds that peaceful and harmonious life on earth is the originally intended human condition. God created this world and human beings to live naturally and with ease under these conditions. By extension conflict in the world represents a breach from this natural ideal. Conflict is the result of dissociation or alienation from God resulting in our forfeiting the ability to live in ways which result effortlessly in peaceful, harmonious existence.

Religion is the institution in human history and human affairs which exists to heal that breach, and guide human beings on paths which reconnect us to God, and by extension to restore our natural, original good nature and good behavior. For this reason, of all treasure, religious treasure is the most precious; not money, knowledge, or power. It represents the way for a bright and prosperous future.

The historical evolution of societies, cultures, races, and geographically based populations gave rise to many world religions, each with a profound history of guiding and elevating their respective adherents. It is inevitable that the rightful and important history of protecting and cherishing this precious treasure though excellent for cultures in isolation, has led to clash and conflict as travel and technology brought cultures increasingly into contact.

Now as a result religions function with this debilitating dysfunction, pathology, and self contradiction. Each contains excellent guidelines for supporting their own believers’ path to reunite with God and thus with secrets for the realization of peace, yet simultaneously they carry with them the inherited history of conflict and division.

We have always known that when wars involve religion in one way or another they are the most destructive and most intractable. This was true, even when weapons technology and rules of military engagement both served to lessen the potential extent of horror and human carnage. In our present age however we simply can no longer afford the luxury of conflict. Weapons technology has reached proportions capable of total, global destruction, and the 20th century saw the perfecting of asymmetrical warfare which removed those checks on conscience which once served to protect women, children, the elderly, and non-combatants. Hatred and the power of destruction have reached ultimate proportions way beyond anyone’s ability to control.

The ONLY legitimate religious activity under these circumstances is to make reconciliation, harmony, and cooperation an inviolable condition for religious legitimacy. NO religion no matter how “civil” no matter how “established,” has ANY right whatsoever to condone or tolerate words or actions which encourage division, even the tiniest bit. Religious leaders MUST succeed in removing the contradiction and pathology which continues to be part of religious commitment in the world today. This is why religious leaders bear the first responsibility more than any other vocation regardless of how noble or powerful. The ones who first must succeed to pioneer the principles of transcending difference through love, harmony, cooperation, and integration are religious leaders: A. because they claim to be in touch with the divine and B. because they claim to be the stewards over revelations and traditions which provide principles for right living.

We cannot afford to live without religious guidance. We cannot afford to have religions disqualify themselves because they bring conflict and division to the table, the very thing we so desperately need to overcome. Religious leaders must realize the religious call of the age and proudly pioneer among themselves first the sterling and shining example of harmonization of extreme and important difference. If this can be done in the arena of religion, it can be done in every subsequent field in which the treasure at stake is infinitely less precious.

6. The Relationship Between Secular and Political Leaders and Spiritual and Religious Leaders

To the extent that religious leaders successfully fulfill their responsibility of the age, secular and political leaders should be guided by joint, multi-religious councils of this new breed of religious leader.

Of course there have been a great many permutations in the relationship between spiritual and political leadership. Some states involve religious leaders more formally in national leadership; others allow an informal or unspoken influence from religious institutions. In many states the separation has become quite great, and political and economic forces dominate. The United Nations has tended to approach its mission from a political ground. Neither model has proven helpful in the ability of states to successfully achieve enduring peace and international cooperation. States which integrate religious leaders into government have proven every bit as capable and prone to war as secular states which seem to formally separate religion from government. For this reason the position that religious leaders should have greater influence on government is usually rejected by most moderns, especially in the West, and in those global institutions which are dominated by Western theories of social organization.

On what basis then does IIFWP advocate that peace requires religious leaders to collaborate in a fully integrated way with political and secular leaders? The key lies in the point that the religious leader councils must be multi-religious. Until now, the only examples of government including formal religious involvement are when just one religion is involved, for example Muslim countries, or Christian Kingdoms of the past. This cannot work because the religion in this case is tempted to use government power to advance its own parochial and denominational ends. The single religion can use the power of the state to oppress its own citizens, denying religious freedom (to varying degrees even death and torture), and it can use the state to wage war against its neighbors or distant proxies in order to pursue narrow, parochial or denominational agendas. This is the reason why Western philosophies and powers have adopted the principles of non-establishment and “separation.” The terrible thing about this decision of course is that political government loses access to its most important treasure and guide namely spirituality and religion. The central clash in the world today is between two sides which are both wrong in opposite ways. The solution to this clash is multi-religious councils. This accomplishes the best of both worlds, and what is absolutely necessary for peace in our time. Political leaders as well as all stakeholders can benefit from being guided by spiritual and moral ideals, and religions cannot use the state to advance parochialism, denominationalism, and other conflict and war producing habits in which religious leaders and followers have indulged in the past.

Members of multi-religious councils exhibit by the very nature of the council itself that they are true leaders for peace, reconciliation, harmony and cooperation. In this way religious leaders bring two all-important things to the table: 1. they are a living example of having successfully dissolved historical difference, hatred, and conflict, AND 2. They bring the wealth of God’s history, revelation, wisdom, love, care, compassion and humanizing traditions which every religion has at its core.

7. Peace Requires Collaboration Among Governments, Religions, and All Sectors of Civil Society, Including Education, Business, the Arts, Sports, Media, Social Service and Community Welfare Initiatives, and More.

It is always the case that in important areas of conflict (such as the Middle East) there exist a plethora of peace initiatives, and all manner of projects and activities for the uplifting of those who suffer the steady horror of war, deprivation, and insecurity arising from conflict. Every one of these does an important good and serves a vital purpose to respond to the great misfortune that prevails. Unfortunately these projects tend to be unrelated and uncoordinated.

This atomization is not “across-the-board.” Surely there is some degree of cooperation among these many efforts, and almost all projects collaborate or cooperate with some other group or initiative. Conversely, however there is an interesting set of biases and division also at work. Devotion to the different needs which arise from war and conflict create helper-communities which function like “denominations.” Laborers, even for good and noble causes, often become myopic and narrow in their social behavior and style. They (of necessity) create a language world unique to their world of service, their network of relations tends to be constrained to their own field or enterprise, and often leaders come to believe that their work is THE real leader which will bring about peace. For example those involved in religious dialogue might feel that they alone are the ones who can bring peace, others who do relief work on the ground and in the villages might think similarly. Perhaps journalists think that the media hold the key to peace, or artists might think that way. Each might hold some prejudices or biases against the other forms of enterprise. The person working in the slums might deride the “suits just talking in their posh hotels,” or “the egg-heads in their ivory towers,” and so on and so forth.

This sort of “denominationalism of vocation,” is also an obstacle for the realization of peace. IIFWP holds that the integration of all major helping-fields including religious, political, economic, education, media, the arts, sports, social service and many others is necessary to realize peace. This requisite integration is not easily achieved, and surely not achieved just by declaring it should be so. To bring people out from the confines of their respective vocations as well as to engender in everyone respect and appreciation for the different types of work needed and led by “types” completely different, is a delicate, hard-won, and requires as much creativity and investment as your classic forms of interreligious, or interdenominational dialogue. This too is an IIFWP principle of peace.

8. Peace in the Middle East Requires Investment and Cooperation from the Whole World, NOT Just from Players Immediately or Obviously Affected by Developments in the Region.

Until now, most major peace negotiations involving Israel and Palestine have been limited to a subset of those countries immediately connected to the region (namely the Israel, the Palestinian Authority, neighboring countries, and the United States). Often some country will host talks but not act as a stakeholder in the negotiations.

IIFWP rejects this starting point on principle. If those who suffer in the region are considered people first, before any other subset or “division,” (such as Jews, Muslims, Israelis, or Palestinians), then we are facing a “human” problem, rather than a political one. If people are suffering, or if two communities cannot find a way past extreme difficulties and conflict, then everyone in the world should be concerned, and everyone in the world has a stake in the resolution of the disordered situation. We define the situation as a problem in the family. We grieve as a global family and all desire the hasty return to peaceful life.

After this, we further recognize the political, economic, cultural, and religious interconnectedness which ties us all to the Middle East.

The second aspect of this 8th IIFWP principle has do with the fact that every religious and cultural sphere has unique wisdom, views, approaches, insights and so forth, any one of which could hold an important clue or secret to move beyond some part of the impasse. Perhaps a Thai Buddhist leader can see something that eludes everyone else, or a Hindu saint from places utterly remote and seemingly unconnected and unrelated to the Middle might recognize a destructive dynamic to which people more immediately ensconced are blind. Again this reflects the urgent call for interreligious councils to function not only in countries and regions, but internationally on a global scale. Leaders from every nation should go regularly to the Middle East with a heart of love and care, and a deep desire for the welfare of our brothers and sisters currently trapped in destructive cycles of horror and warfare.

Principles and Political Peace Processes

Because Moderns think from political assumptions, even lay people, when told of a “peace movement,” immediately demand public pronouncements, positions, and even action relating to passing political actions and proposals. For example one often meets demands like, “What is IIFWP’s position on the security wall currently under construction by the Israelis?” Or “What is your position on the recent non-governmental ‘Geneva Accord’ for Israel and Palestine?” for example.

In the face of such demands, there is a great temptation to formulate and issue such positions, or to feel that we are somehow failing when not able to offer formal stances on the passing and ever changing politics of conflict and security. To succumb to either temptation is wrong. As clearly evident from its above delineated principles, the IIFWP is not limited in its worldview or thinking just to the narrow realm of political thinking and action, no matter how important political leaders imagine themselves to be. In fact, clear-thinking people should place far less stock and hope in politically driven actions, proposals and agendas, and furthermore should start to point out more openly that the political dominance in modern affairs has been all but hopeless in addressing problems of conflict, injustice, and inhumanity.

The poverty of politics in isolation notwithstanding is NOT to say however that politics and political processes are unimportant. The above delineated principles state repeatedly that political activity, like all other peace-seeking vocations is indispensable in its unique contribution to unified and integrated programs for good. For this reason, those called to political vocations must formulate political opinions, just as scientists must offer their contribution, artists theirs, and religionists theirs. It is not the mission of the IIFWP to issue pronouncements and positions on political agendas for peace, but rather its responsibility is to provide clear principles to guide sound political thinking, to provide religious and spiritual power and guidance in support of political efforts, and to provide a supportive, multi-vocational community with all requisite expertise.

For those in politics, or are responsible to evaluate and position themselves on political proposals and positions, their responsibility is to be able to defend their positions grounded in IIFWP principles. There is no necessary political position based on IIFWP principles, there are only positions that can with greater or lesser success establish their conclusions rigorously grounded in IIFWP principles.

For example, “What is the IIFWP position on Israel’s security wall?” The first answer is “all walls and all division between people is wrong. It is against the original desire of God that all people to live easily in harmony.” But this is not a political position. It is a philosophical position. If the question were slightly changed: “Should Israel build a security wall at this time?” THIS is a political question. An IIFWP Ambassador who attempts an answer to this question must perform the analysis and develop conclusions rigorously grounded IIFWP principles. The question for the IIFWP Ambassador translates as this: “Would building a security wall in this point in time (IN JUST THE WAY IT IS BEING PERPETRATED) lead us in the most rapid, and most humane way to the desired end in which all people in the region live peacefully and in loving support for one another?” Conceivably, two IIFWP members could arrive at opposite answers to this question. It merely falls to the political expert and advocate to demonstrate that the conclusion is unerringly consistent with IIFWP principles and world view.

There might be cases in which a political action or proposal, after being analyzed from the IIFWP world view, is recognized clearly, unequivocally, and unanimously as good, or bad. In such cases the IIFWP might vigorously support or oppose a given political plan, just as it might do for a social or educational plan, a plan for the arts and so forth. The key is not to mistake the MEPI of the IIFWP as limited to the narrow field of politics, nor to presume that the initiative necessarily positions itself on all contemporary political activity. If for example it could be established clearly, unequivocally, and unanimously that a security wall at present absolutely impedes progress toward the time at which no sane person would ever dream of building a wall between God’s children, then MEPI would speak and act. Absent such clarity, IIFWP continues to pour its massive resources into working directly in all spheres to realize the conditions of true and lasting peace; a reality in which walls could not conceivably exist.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Our Mission in the Political Season
Frank Kaufmann
October 21, 2004

Just days remain before we choose who will lead us and who will represent our great nation at home and to the world for the next four years. This decision is monumental, not just for America, but for the world. Today’s America has an historically unprecedented degree of power that ultimately will affect the life of every nation and every person in the world. For this reason, our vote should not be made in confusion, or based on a struggling effort to form a political opinion. People of conscience and Godly people should possess unwavering confidence that they are voting in accordance with the will of the one, true God, the God who loves all people endlessly. Because America is a nation that exerts such formidable power and influence, the living God surely must desire that our country go in a direction that will lead its citizens and the world to goodness and divine love.

In one way or another, for good or for ill, America will pull the whole world in some enduring direction. We live in a time in which military, communications, environmental, and health implications in each passing day are so ponderous and so fragile, that we cannot afford an error this time at the polls. People of God cannot be left to confusion or guesswork. It is the mission of religious leaders to take the lead and guide the nation in the right direction in this crucial time in history.

But what is the correct way for religion and religious leaders to manage this fearsome responsibility? All agree that we feel defiled when we see spiritual leaders out stumping for some candidate or another, and sinking to crass levels of partisan bickering and one upsmanship. There is something disingenuous about it all. The hard edge and the dubious ethical and moral exercise of political combat are unbecoming to spiritual leaders. We cringe whenever we see this abrogation of position, and we lose the sense of a leader as genuinely spiritual when these lines are churlishly crossed. Yet worse is the religious person who fails to recognize that even God above has a clear stake in political outcomes. A great and powerful nation like America can do great good, but it also can bring the world to harm, devastation, and irreversible moral or environmental degradation.

By what means can we fulfill our responsibility as moral and spiritual guides during the all-important political considerations brought before the electorate during these coming days, without violating the essential dignity required of religious leaders? This is the question we must answer quickly, and then jump into action with urgency, and great seriousness and energy.

Religious leaders and the religions of America must do two things to direct the upcoming election in a heavenly direction, and we must do them quickly, passionately, confidently, and courageously. These are: 1. clearly identify the preeminent issue for the country, and the world at this time, and 2. lay aside all religious division so as to act in accord to help all voters clearly grasp the paramount values that must be upheld and applied in the selection of our president. Fortunately both tasks integrate naturally yielding a single, harmonious course of action. But time is of the essence.

Presidential contests rightfully revolve around several distinct constellations of issues that impact the lives of voters, these include domestic issues such as education, taxation, health, civil and human rights and others, and foreign policy issues that will chart how our nation will conduct itself in the family of nations, and with regard to the environment we share with all others.

It is natural that different concerns attract the attention of different individuals or voting blocks. What a unified community of religious believers can provide in such a context is a way for voters to prioritize their concerns from this multitude of issues, when considering the candidates. Thus instead of pointing out historical data, voting records and other important elements for deciding, a multi-religious leadership force can guide and identify a commonly agreed upon order of importance from among these emphases on which to evaluate the candidates. This very act of many religions coming together to embrace a shared hierarchy of values will itself be a balm over the rancorous partisanship which poisons the air during election season. It can be a force to bring our nation together in one heart and quicken our purpose to realize the one most precious ideal in our country, namely that we are “one nation under God."

This year the Iraq war has dominated the campaign discourse. On the domestic side, the classic and enduring debates continue to revolve around health and economy. The all-important issue of education has not attracted the same passion as health costs, and the solvency of social security.

But careful students of the great bloodless battle in this campaign have noticed a sleeping giant rousing beneath the surface. This is the issue of family and the moral direction of the country. At no point in the final debate could the difference between the candidates be more strongly and clearly felt than when each candidate was asked to speak on such issues as family, homosexual unions, and other matters of intimate moral intuition.

On issues which supposedly dominate, (such as Iraq, the economy etc.) one is hard pressed to identify a bright line of difference between the candidates. On the matter of family and moral and sexual definitions for America's future however, differences are stark and evident. The choice of candidate in THIS arena is a vote clearly for distinct and different directions for our country's future.

While pundits rightly note that this election truly matters, they tend to ground their analyses in secondary issues. The rise and fall of nations, especially history's mighty and unconquerable powers have always hinged on the stability and health of the family and the protection of sexual propriety, dignity and vaulted moral values.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Peace and the Future of Politics

Frank Kaufmann
October 2, 2004

This panel is designed to have writers and speakers do something new for the sake of peace. We are called to analyze peace efforts so as to bridge visions, proposals and activities coming from religion and civil society with the world of political power.

Peace activists and spiritual leaders often blame politicians for war and conflict, explicitly or implicitly painting political figures in broad generalizations as enemies of enlightenment, peace, and reconciliation. Conversely political leaders and elected officials often see religious and civil peace activists as hopelessly naïve, and clueless about even minimal realities with which responsible political leaders must deal every day.

This lack of understanding and lack of sympathy for the positions and realities of these two groups prevents progress for a better world which both camps long to see, and both camps imagine themselves to be pursuing fervently and responsibly.

It is the purpose of this panel and this paper to ponder the unique constraints facing political leaders and for leaders in various sectors including the political to begin to envision how each respective sector can be more helpful and supportive for conscientious political leaders to take the politically risky steps required to advance the cause of peace. In short, “it is time to stop pointing fingers and blaming others. It is time to begin the work in my own profession and vocation to help empower every fellow traveler.”

What Makes Peace?

Religious acts make peace. Note I did not say religion contains the key to peace. I might. So what. I did not say religion teaches us clearly what is necessary for peace. It might. So what.

Religion has two jobs: 1. accurately identify the source of human problems and clearly prescribe the antidote, and 2. Accurately define the original ideal way for human life in the absence of problems (in other words, what sort of behavior allows the repaired state to persist).

The religious PERSON on the other hand has two slightly different jobs: 1. DO what solves the problem, and DO what maintains an ideal harmonious state.

Every conflict situation results from 2 bases: 1. the history of my wrongdoing, and 2. the history of the wrongdoing of the other. Which of the two do you think you have a greater chance of fixing? To which of the two problems do you have greater access to get your hands on and fix? It is obvious. I have greater access to my own problems. The history of my own wrongdoing and my own present wrongdoing is the only reasonable point of focus for anyone claiming to be serious about the pursuit of peace. I refer to my own personal wrong doing, the wrong doing of my own family, or my own people, of my own race, of my own co religionists. These comprise half of every conflict situation.

Firstly, if I really want peace, what must I do vis a vis my present wrong doing? Answer. Stop it. Stop doing wrong. This is a religious act. To stop doing wrong is a religious act.

Next, what do I do about the history of my wrongdoing, the wrong that members of my family or my clan, or the wrong my people have committed. Answer. Say sorry. Not I’m sorry BUT. Just sorry. To say sorry is a religious act. It is called repentance.

Thirdly, if someone has done wrong to you, wrong to the members of your family, wrong to your people and they come to you and say they are sorry. What should you do? You should forgive that person, or those people. This is a religious act. To forgive is divine.

Conflict canNOT exist in the presence of someone who has genuinely repented of their crimes to the aggrieved party, and the aggrieved genuinely forgave the offending party. If anyone has gone through this you know that the bond of love and tears from these paired acts are among the most powerful in all of the human experience.

Fourthly the repentant wrongdoer and the aggrieved (usually both parties are both), MUST collaborate to establish a just and equitable reality in which no further wrongdoing in system, structure and circumstance obtain, and both sides must invest unconditionally and without reservation in maintaining that universe. This is a religious act, it is called giving.

It should be clear that the problem of peace is NOT complicated. Nothing could be simpler that achieving and maintaining peace. I didn’t say it was easy. I said the problem is simple. Further it should be clear that the path to peace is accomplished by religious acts. Not be religions. Not by religious belief. Not by religious teachings. It is accomplished by 3 religious acts: repentance, forgiveness, and a life of giving unconditionally.

Political Reality

The political coin of the realm is power. It is comprised of 3 things, power over people (or the power OF people), power over wealth (material resources – which includes the power to make gigantic tools of aggression), and power over information; people, money, and knowledge.

There are two approaches to power; control by force and manipulation (power begets power), or influence stemming from attraction for the good that results from the power you accrue.

BUT, whether your relationship with power is of the good or bad sort, does not in any way alter the fundamental reality of politics, and that is that is about power. Power seeks ever greater authority. This is not a negative. In and of itself it is neutral. It is simply the nature of power.

Once you are involved in politics you are in the power game. You are involved in a dynamic in which you participate in the pursuit of ever greater authority (namely ever more complete and ever more expansive authority). There are others involved in the same sweep and dynamics, and you have to deal with this in some manner or another. Even if your relationship with power is of the positive sort, you may well have someone who seeks to challenge your authority using power in a bad or evil way. This is simply your reality. That is the reality of the politician.

[It should be noted that those politicians who engage power in the way of good face no limits to the range and extent of their authority, because they participate in God’s authority and ways. Those who seek the expand power by control and manipulation face a sure half life, and perfect and permanent frustration as resistance will spring forth abundantly and in every place.]

Details of Political Reality

1. You have enemies
2. You represent more than yourself, including representing the wealth and welfare of a community
3. You have electoral vulnerability for your actions
4. You have legal, and material and resource responsibility and culpability for your public actions
5. You have (often powerful) interest groups and contributors associated with your power and authority
6. You have “handlers” and advisors, cabinets, and abundant interests and constraints on your actions which are at all times representative
7. You have the extremely precarious balancing act between “domestic” and “foreign” policy

The Task to Relate Peace and Power

The task before us is quite simple then, how to relate peace dynamics of peace to the realities of those with enough power to do something about matters. I argued earlier that the path to peace involves religious action: 1. Concentrate first on what I myself do and have done wrong. 2. Apologize (repent) to those whom I’ve harmed from my wrongdoing, 3. Forgive those who apologize for their wrongdoing and history of wrongdoing, and 4. Collaborate in a program of giving without reservation to preserve the harmony achieved through the above mentioned acts of reconciliation.

It should be immediately evident that even the best meaning political leader in the world is instantly hamstrung if asked to say I am equally wrong, or to apologize for wrongdoing and so forth. There are massive electoral, legal, fiscal, domestic implications and more for each act an elected representative takes. There are enemies waiting to pounce on any sign of weakness, there are advocacy groups and trial lawyers circling like sharks to demand victim compensation, and the list goes on.

So here you have a group of people in whose hands the whole possibility for peace rests, and they are in the stock and trade which makes it most difficult to effect the basic and most necessary actions which lead to peace.

Preliminary Recommendations to Address This Urgent Challenge

For private sector, civil society, and religious peace activists:
1. Think politically before meeting politicians. Don’t go to meetings only with ideas for peace, but rather with ideas as to how the politician him or herself can safely support your ideas, plans, and recommendations.
a. Do not go just to “inform” or “inspire.” And DEFINITELY do not go to preach. There is no reason to think that you are a better person than the politician whom you go to meet, and there is not reason to presume that your desire for peace or what you are willing to sacrifice for peace is greater than the politician whom you go to meet.
b. Include in your thoughts and proposals what you have to offer politicians (in terms of what THEY THEMSELVES NEED as politicians).
i. Perhaps from the position of your greater freedom, you can provide valuable information. Perhaps you can extend influence to areas or groups that are not accessible to politicians. There are many politically valuable things politicians can use and benefit from, from sincere and genuine peace activitists.
c. a. Surely there is little more politically valuable than the significant human resources represented by major religious groups that are in concert and ready to act in accord.
i. This potential degree of political power can also be used to “express the will of the electorate.” One does not go to elected officials with a begging bowl, but bearing enormous value, “well if you are not interested in supporting tried and effective peace actions, perhaps there is another candidate who could make better use of what we have to offer.
2. Learn political realities and constraints
a. Not every meeting can be public
b. Do not be impatient and judgmental when politicians need to move slowly or discretely
c. Start to think of your own resources in terms of their political value so that you can exert greater influence on the political process, and create a better political environment for enlightened political leaders to act for peace
d. Be willing to get out and work. Find out how to act on the ground politically to build a pro peace political environment in which enlightened political leaders, and elected officials can act more freely and more courageously without being politically and legally vulnerable.

For Political Leaders, Heads of State and Elected Officials
1. See in peace groups valuable political resources, namely people, resources, and knowledge.
2. Support peace activities from the position of your influence and power. Calculate political future and opportunity in terms of alliances and collaboration with true non-agenda driven peace ambassadors.
3. Use the instruments of political power to give advantages to peace ambassadors
4. Place peace ambassadors in positions of influence, in knowledge spheres, and implementation spheres. In short think politically for peace above all, moving constantly in the direction in which the acts which bring peace will be possible for you even as an elected representative, not as an isolated idealist.
Why We Work with Religious Leaders

Dr. Frank Kaufmann
Director of interreligious relations for IIFWP,
Director of IRFWP

Thank you all for coming to the Holy Land. Your commitment to such a high and noble cause is unusual. Do not mistake yourself for being a common person. Your commitment to God is out of the ordinary. I humble myself to you. You left everything behind and trusted your affairs and your family to God. We have to keep each other in our prayers and keep each other healthy and strong. Pray for one another so that as many as possible from us can keep up our work for God here in the Holy Land.I have been asked to speak about why we focus on religious leaders.

Yesterday we went to Al Aqsa Mosque where we were addressed by religious leaders. Before the Imam could start however there was great fuss over how you would stand best for a picture. I am sure the imam was less concerned about your picture than he was about how well you would grasp the beauty of his tradition.

It is not good to miss the sacred or a learning opportunity because we get distracted by getting ourselves into pictures.

We do not work with religious leaders because they are the most entertainingly dressed of all professions. Religious garb is beautiful. Religious leaders wear beautiful robes, golden crosses and pointed hats. This is how it should be. It helps remind people about God. It is also meant to help religious leaders maintain their obligation to be morally exemplary. If you are dressed so conspicuously, it should be harder for you to behave badly. Still some religious leaders manage to misbehave somehow.

We should not concern ourselves primarily with photo opportunities.

There are four main reasons why religious leaders are central in our efforts for peace:

1. The absence of peace comes from our separation from God. If we were not separated from God, we would livein peace with one another. God designed human affairsfor us easily and effortlessly to live harmoniouslywith one another. Tragically, we separated ourselvesfrom God. Every religion has an explanation about howthis happened. Religion came into being to help people reunite with God. When we follow the dictates of our religion we can go back to God, and we can live in peace with one another. The first reason for working with religious leaders in our efforts for peace is that we must reconnect with God, and we need religious leaders to help us with that work.

2. The second reason we work especially with religious and spiritual leaders is that spiritual reality influences contemporary affairs.We are all under spiritual influence.Our parents or grandparents who are now in the spiritual realmlook to us to fulfill some deep longing they desired in their lives. They actively involve themselves in our day to day efforts. Furthermore, great spiritualfounders who gave their lives for the sakeof God also seek people on earth who can carry their sacred missions forward. These people who are presently in the spiritual world are an integral part of the process that will bring peace.

But working with spiritual reality is dangerous and difficult. It is not a simple matter to engage unseen powers and principalities. Without proper guidance and training we can be misled. Some spirits are powerful enough to enrage people to the point of war, and murder. We should not mistake or underestimate the extent of their power. War and peace themselves originate in the realm of the spirit. Some people are clearly under the influence of malevolent powers. There are torrents of spiritual forces all around us at any given time. These form the realm of causality. It is imperative that we know how to remain safely in relationship with beneficent spiritual forces. Here again, the job of teaching us how the spiritual world operates and how we should relate to the spiritual world is one that belongs to religious leaders. This is the second reason we work with religious leaders.

3. The third reason is that religion evokes the most intense forms of attachment, more than money, power, or knowledge! There are people who easily would give up everythingthey own, and even their lives in defense of their religion and faith. History shows us that warsinvolving religion are the most horrendous. Religiouspeople will kill to the very last person if they believe they are protecting the sacred, sacred texts, or holy places where theirfounder sacrificed his life for God. Because religion represents the loadstone of attachment and difference, religious leaders must pioneer the path to peace.

Do Christians and Muslims believe exactly the same thing? [No they do not]. Do Christians and Jews believe just the same thing? [No] From one way of seeing things, the deepest and most irreconcilable differences are in the world of religion. How on earth can we solve this problem? How can we reconcile such profound differences?

We believe reconciliation and harmony is possible because there is something higher than beliefs and doctrine. That is love. There is nothing in any religious teaching which prevents me from loving another person like my own son, my brother, my father and so forth. In fact this is religious teaching. Every religion teaches us tolove one another infinitely and eternally. No religion teaches us to love only Catholics, or only Muslims.

This is why when a priest, a rabbi and an imam hug, cry, and completely blend into one together, the whole world must acknowledge, “nodifference on earth is greater than the power of love.” We witness with our own eyes that love has bridged the greatest of all difference. When religious leaders transcend the greatest of all differences, no one can insist thattheir own differences are too great to resolve, or their walls too high to take down.

Once religious leaders conquer the hardest and most intractable differences, they render moot all arguments for war. When religions truly stand together objections are removed and a wide path to reconciliation and peace are opened.

4. The 4th and final reason we work with religious leaders is that we must solve the problem of church state relations. We must find the true relationship between spiritual andmaterial dimensions of life.

Until now there is a great clash of cultures and civilizations over the question about how much religion should be integrated formally into affairs of the state. In order to achieve peace we must find a way past this age-old impasse and effectively establish conditions leading to peace and cooperation among different cultures in the world today.

The relationship between temporal andspiritual leadership is important. Public leaders need spiritualguidance, but they tend to keep religion at a distancebecause religions often misuse the power of the state toadvance parochial interests and to oppress believers from other faiths. This is a great black mark in religious history. Religions sin when they act for self. Secular leaders shun religious triumphalism. They are correct when they say, “Stay away from me, and stay away from the state if you seek power and tax money for narrow parochial and denominational interests.” This is right, but pushing religion away from the state comes at a great loss. Political and secular leaders need religious and spiritual help. Insight into good political direction requires support from religious leaders, for these are the people whose job it is to know about God and the spiritual world. Ifreligious leaders stand together across religious lines, political leaderscan no longer voice objections of religious opportunism, and then everyone prospers and benefits.

These are the four reasons why the IIFWP places so much emphasis on religious leaders in its pursuit of peace.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Truth and Authority

Ideologically driven leadership, be it religious or political, has the habit or sense of the need to “control” matters and “maintain order.” They especially dislike the fact that ideas resist this impulse to control. Timid or authoritarian leaders tend approach “the problem of truth” by two ways: A. they attempt to boil “truth” down to essential formulas, imagining that in this way truth too becomes “manageable” and b. they attempt to control truth imagining they can contain it by using mundane instruments of power.

Truth however because it is always greater than anyone trying to control it defies these misguided habits, and remains “controllable” only in ways consistent with the grandeur of God.

On the one hand creating formulas proves insufficient because truth reflects reality which is two-fold in nature. It is comprised of both principles and providence. Principles are static and immutable (and can be rendered into formulas), but providence, namely the historical flow of history met with the transformative force of principles interpreted and applied cannot be reduced to formulas.

The progressive forward flow of reality is that element of divine and human existence which gives authoritarian (control-based) leaders the most discomfort. Providence is progressive, and proceeds into the horizon of choice and abundance. Because of this it requires interpretation which by nature is multiform. Truth pertaining to this end of the spectrum cannot be achieved by generating lists of essential (static) principles. A broad and unified home for truth sufficient to embrace providence can be gained only in an atmosphere of openness, trust, dialogue, and consensus (things which tend to be felt as threatening to timid or authoritarian leaders).

Establishing parameters of interpretation sufficient to sustain the homogeneity of a community requires putting forth accessible principles, processes, and publicly identifying and acknowledging persons in the community for the purpose of relating to the multiform by nature of interpretation. These three (principles, processes, and publicly identified and acknowledged persons) should be given the brief by the leadership, with the assent of the community to meet the challenge of harmonizing the multiplicity of interpretation into a common voice. The public and accessible aspect is requisite so as to retain accountability. Truth is allergic to back room politics.

Authoritarian leaders, however, leaders pursue uniformity (also in the area of controlling truth) by seeking to utilize:
a. Control over access to centers of authority
b. Control over human and material resources
c. Control over imprimatur (i.e., what writing and speaking is acknowledged as "offical")

While it is possible to control the physical wherewithal of others by such means for a limited period of time, it is not possible to likewise control ideas. No regime in history, regardless of its might has ever successfully controlled ideas though many have tried. This will always be the case, even for communities where a heavenly truth and a profoundly shared ideal obtain.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Religion, Humans, and Angels: Breathing In and Breathing Out

Religion, or more specifically the providence of God progresses contingent upon people responsible for the race as a whole fulfilling their responsibilities. God implicates his omnipotence into the service of retaining integrity in a genuine relationship of love with human beings. In fact God’s power is best seen in His decision to sustain instead of destroy our race.

The human being is a bifurcated spiritual entity, fully human as grounded in divine origins, but angelic in nature as a result of the genetics and dynamics of the original human fall. This fact or reality creates an essentially 4 quadrant dynamic through which God weaves the grand scheme of restoration. These four quadrants are: Good human/bad human, and good angel/bad angel. The activities, habits, and nature of all 4 of these are used by God to move restoration forward, but the main effort is to diminish the bad angel, in favor of the good angel, diminish the bad human being also as it is the enemy of the good angel, but finally, and here is where the providence is always difficult, to diminish the good angel, as it is the “enemy” of the good human being.

In order to carry out this complex strategy, God divides the human race into two types of people, angelic type people, and human type people. Thus each human being (during restoration) is primarily of one type or another, but as a type, carrying both a good and bad rendition of their “type.” The front end of advancing the providence occurs with good angel-types and good human-types.

In this set up you find two people both of whom have a strong knowledge of their own goodness (having passed through extreme demands to subjugate their own “bad” side.) These “good” types must meet and be used by God in the final task of elevating the “good human,” over the “good angel.”

The problem with trying to advance this scenario is that it is far easier to come by good angle-types than it is to come by good human being-types. The reason for this is that there have always existed good angels since the beginning of creation, but there has only been one or two good human beings. There are precedents for good angels, but virtually none for good human beings. This is good, other than for the fact that angels are a dime a dozen, God has always had them and a few more or less humans with “good” angelic nature are not especially what God finally seeks.

For this reason, even when things are going pretty great for God, most of the time the providence is really just creeping along. Usually some angelic type is running things imagining themselves to be just what the doctor ordered, not realizing that this is actually a disappointing delay for God’s original desire, for as I said, angels are no problem for God… He can create them all the time, any ol’ time. They are not what God finally wants, but they are infinitely better than “bad” human beings.

Since it is so hard (virtually impossible) to come by a good human being (especially one who endures as such for any length of time), good angelic-types end up occupying central positions of responsibility almost all the time. They get habituated into the position and privilege, and despite the great good they do for extended periods of time, they often if not usually end up obstructing the final steps toward providential advance, by failing to realize that at the end of the day, they were not the goal, but a necessary step.

Angels are unimaginative, and uncreative. They do not produce anything, they only reflect the divine. They do not offer anything - other than faithful obedience, which is surely indispensable for dispensational progress, but not anything of genuine fascination or joy to God. By comparison, you are grateful and happy every time your car starts, but on the other hand, that’s what it’s supposed to do. Same with an angelic “leader”

This is how the providence of God has to progress. Each time there is a fleeting occasion of a human-type becoming “good,” God places that person in a position of central responsibility. God allows this set up to last as long as possible, but invariably the situation must revert back to angelic control because, human goodness, an essentially untried, un-pioneered reality, always slips into its satanic roots to become “fallen.” “Good angelic types are then re-summoned and brought in to coral the emerging fallen nature re-arising in the human-type leader. Though though narrow, unimaginative, and uncreative leading always through control, incapable of leading by love, the angel-type must “lead” once again. An arid, narrow, suspicious era, forever incapable of emulating God’s loving heart, at least it is better than “bad” human beings.

By this process the providence creeps forward at a snail’s pace, with angelic types running things most of the time. The use of good angelic-types to reign in the creeping emergence of the “bad” during the time of human-type leadership, is what I call “breathing in.” It is constrictive, narrowing, reigning in, shutting down. It is order, orthodoxy, propriety. It is vapid, dry, insubstantial, a negative energy, a policing. All this is perfectly fine, since it helps God immensely. Its only problem is its tendency to mis-perceive itself to be the “end” of God’s desire, and its tendency to resist God as obstructionist, whenever God tries to move toward His preferred step.