Life Without Father.
October 23, 2012 6:10 AM   Subscribe

My mother finished with, “If Jesus came to you and said that he had found your perfect spouse, what would you say to him?” She paused for effect. “Now, how much more is Father?” Photographer Jen Kiaba writes a first hand account of courtship and a mass wedding under the direction of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church. Not every arranged marriage story is unhappy, but inside and outside observers are curious to see what happens to the organization (and its finances and investments) after Moon's death this past September. Oh, and of course there is a goofy TLC special. Previously. (And previously, on the Moonies and the Washington Times.)
posted by availablelight (30 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
What will happen to our sushi?
posted by TedW at 6:34 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know, but the University of Bridgeport had to issue an awkward condolence.
posted by availablelight at 6:44 AM on October 23, 2012


If Jesus came to you and said that he had found your perfect spouse, what would you say to him?

i would say "i do not recall smoking this DMT"
posted by elizardbits at 7:19 AM on October 23, 2012 [21 favorites]


Oh, and of course there is a goofy TLC special.

here comes moonie boo boo
posted by fleetmouse at 7:42 AM on October 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I keep confusing Moon with Jim Jones for some reason; when I saw this I was like wha, didn't he die in a mass suicide...?
posted by Melismata at 7:43 AM on October 23, 2012


“Now, how much more is Father?”

How much more is he what?
posted by deanc at 8:15 AM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


How much more is he what?

Yeah, I didn't get that either. I don't understand what her mother is trying to say with this?
posted by Sangermaine at 8:35 AM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have a close friend whose sister met her husband when she sat down next to him at a Unification Church mass wedding in Madison Square Garden. I haven't gotten an update in a few years, but last I heard they were going on 20 years and still happily married. So there you have it.
posted by alms at 8:37 AM on October 23, 2012


Yeah, I didn't get that either. I don't understand what her mother is trying to say with this?
I understood that she was asking her daughter, Jen, to compare her own husband (ie Jen's father) with Jen's vision of a perfect husband, and claiming that her father, and, hence, the partner that Moon would pick out for her, is better than this vision.
posted by sid at 8:40 AM on October 23, 2012


My read was she was saying, how much more than Jesus is Father.
posted by biffa at 8:57 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought she was referring to Rev Moon as "Father," not her actual husband (Jen's dad)?
posted by elizardbits at 9:01 AM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


My read was she was saying, how much more than Jesus is Father.

Yes, that's how I read it too, but that doesn't seem right. Do Moon's followers think he is greater than Jesus?
posted by Sangermaine at 9:05 AM on October 23, 2012


Do Moon's followers think he is greater than Jesus?

They even think he's greater than The Beatles.
posted by thelonius at 9:14 AM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Which puts him well above those Caulfields guys.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:20 AM on October 23, 2012


I am astounded that this is the first I've heard he died. Once upon a time, I was homeless in Seattle. I sought a brief refuge with the Moonies. I ate dinner with them. And then when it was time to get to bed, things just got weird. Several of the guys were happy having a new comer, and wished me to share their room. Then the head guy decided I would share his room.

This was too weird, and something bothered me about this head guy. So I left, and never had dealings with the Moonies ever again. I've often wondered WTF about that. One of the big WTF's in my strange life.
posted by Goofyy at 10:11 AM on October 23, 2012


Yeah, I read it as Moon's match will be better than even what Jesus would come up with.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:35 AM on October 23, 2012


Has anyone systematically studied the couples matched by Rev. Moon? It would be interesting to see how many of them are still together and how many are still in the church.
posted by Area Man at 10:40 AM on October 23, 2012


Do Moon's followers think he is greater than Jesus?

Yep.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:43 AM on October 23, 2012


Has anyone systematically studied the couples matched by Rev. Moon? It would be interesting to see how many of them are still together and how many are still in the church.

I think it is well established that in some cultures (such as India, possibly China when that was still a thing) arranged marriages are more stable than non-arranged marriages in the West. I think it had something to do with realistic expectations and not marrying for love but viewing marriage as, well, an arrangement.
Of course then there are also cultural mores, such as not getting divorced because of the stigma that comes with. For example, is it socially acceptable for a Moonie to break the bond that the Reverend himself forged? Or would that mean having to break with the church as well?
So it would probably be difficult to find a good control group.
posted by sour cream at 10:52 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a close friend whose sister met her husband when she sat down next to him at a Unification Church mass wedding in Madison Square Garden. I haven't gotten an update in a few years, but last I heard they were going on 20 years and still happily married. So there you have it.

Something tells me that folks who buy into mass weddings at moonie cult groups have a high tolerance/appetite for bullshit in general.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:55 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something tells me that folks who buy into mass weddings at moonie cult groups have a high tolerance/appetite for bullshit in general.

Is that the secret to a long and happy marriage?
posted by Area Man at 11:02 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


For example, is it socially acceptable for a Moonie to break the bond that the Reverend himself forged? Or would that mean having to break with the church as well?

The article deals with this. It sounds unpleasant, even compared to a regular divorce.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:08 AM on October 23, 2012


I think it is well established that in some cultures (such as India, possibly China when that was still a thing) arranged marriages are more stable than non-arranged marriages in the West. I think it had something to do with realistic expectations and not marrying for love but viewing marriage as, well, an arrangement.
I know you touched on this in the rest of your post, but I just wanted to reiterate that the relative longevity of arranged marriages in India should in no way be used as a proxy for how happy the individuals in that marriage are. People expect less, yes, but people also have far fewer choices, particularly women. The stigma of divorce is HUGE. Forget stigma, most divorced women would have absolutely no financial recourse and no way of supporting their children. There are a number of reasons why marriages are long-lasting in India, and I would argue that lowered expectations upon entering into a marriage come pretty far down that list.
posted by peacheater at 11:47 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


“Now, how much more is Father?”

Twenty bucks, same as in town?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:03 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


My limited understanding of Unification Church theology is that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon was considered to be more important than Jesus, but that's a bad simplification. In their theology, the Biblical Adam was the only-begotten child of God. His temptation and fall doomed the world to death and suffering, and his reappearance (sort of) as Jesus was supposed to fix this. Jesus's crucifixion allowed people to escape the consequences of their sinful nature, but Jesus' failure to marry and unite with the female side of things means that people couldn't actually get rid of their sinful nature (i.e., something like Original Sin). Sun Myung Moon, as the new "Adam", united with his bride, Whatserface, succeeded in his mission and became the new Father of humanity with his bride the new Mother, allowing his followers to escape their sinful original natural altogether.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:23 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


She reached into her bag and pulled out a stack of glossy women's magazines, offering me several. [...]It was the first time I had ever picked up any material that encouraged an expression of sexuality, and I felt a delicious bit of rebellion wash over me.

As I pored over the pages, I could feel certain gears shifting as pieces of me unlocked and unwound inside. The women in these pages catapulted me into an exhilarating daydream in which my choices were my own. That daydream left an intense hunger within me.
[...]
Sometimes I wonder where my life would be if I had sat next to someone else on the plane, who offered to let me borrow a copy of The Economist instead. The girl next to me on the plane offered a small form of salvation; in a kind gesture she offered me a glimpse into a world that I had had no idea existed. It was a world in which I did not need to be ashamed of my body and my sexuality. My desires for love were not evil. It was a world that encouraged me to discover who I was, not a world in which I had to break my inner-self down to fit a preconceived notion of goodness and of womanhood. Most important, it was a world that let me take ownership of my future, my free will, my reproduction, and my heart. It was a world that I finally knew I needed to escape to.
This is cool and all, but it's so weird and unsettling. Women's mags are supposed to be anti-feminist tools of oppression and conformity, not shining beacons of personal liberation!
posted by anazgnos at 1:49 PM on October 23, 2012


My wife (who is Korean) teaches Japanese part time to employees here at the Korean Megacorp where I have worked for the last decade.

There are a few other part-time Japanese teachers, all Korean women, all of whom have spent a significant time in Japan in the past. I found out a while back that they are all Moonies (although they don't call it that it Korean (or Japanese), of course). The ones I have met seem... pleasant if slightly odd to me, but perhaps that's just prejudice on my part.

I don't know the details of how or why, but it struck me as odd, and probably the tip of an interesting story that my Korean language skills are not good enough to dig up. I guess I was mostly just surprised that there are people who are willing to actually believe such dire nonsense.

But people will believe any damn thing, it seems.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:44 PM on October 23, 2012


I think it had something to do with realistic expectations and not marrying for love but viewing marriage as, well, an arrangement.

Yeah it comes down what kind of ideas you've been indoctrinated with. And it's not just strange religious cults who have this indoctrination thing going - anyone who's lived in the age of mass media has been absorbing cultural ideas from a very young age with no ability (at that age) to question it.

There's one kind of culture that repeatedly tells you (through stories and movies) that the only way you will achieve success in life is if you find the love of your life and fall deliriously in love with each other and live happily ever after.

This sets up an expectation: if that expectation isn't met, then people are unhappy.

There's other kinds of cultures that sees marriage more as a political or economic instrument. Even a spiritual instrument. Ultimately, you judge a thing depending on whether it fulfilled its purpose. You don't buy an apple and then be upset it didn't taste like an orange.
posted by xdvesper at 6:58 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's hilarious, stavros--my wife (who is Korean) has a Japanese tutor (she's fluent but likes to practice). Her Japanese tutor? A moonie.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:28 AM on October 24, 2012


I know, right? What is the story there? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:04 PM on October 24, 2012


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