Republic of Heaven
Bruce Casino wrote an excellent article called Thoughts on Unification Theology and Democracy: The Republic of Heaven on Earth? He began by quoting Rev.Moon: "True Democracy is the way to win over dictatorship and personality cults. We find in Abraham's Lincoln's speech the eternal truth 'a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.' The democratization of our nation is, therefore, the topmost priority." ("Citizen's Federation for the Unification of the Fatherland: Founder's Address" May 15, 1987)
Casino writes, "There is a need within the Unification movement to articulate the political ramifications of Unification theology so that the movement's efforts in the political realm are securely rooted in its theology."
"The articulation of this political vision is also required in order to respond effectively to attacks on the movement asserting that it intends to establish a global political dictatorship. An article in U.S. News and World Report, for instance, asserts that 'Moon's bid for political power is disquieting because the church's theology runs counter to America's democratic tradition.' Michael Warder, a former member, is quoted in the same article as stating: 'Within the Moon movement, there is no foundation for the ideas of freedom, the rule of law and the dignity of the individual as they are understood in the West.' The article also contains an allegation that the Unification Church is attempting to create 'a centralized world theocracy.' The movement is regularly accused of using certain of its activities and organizations as stalking horses to involve conservatives and liberals in its allegedly totalitarian plans."
He says that the church does not take a stand on politic issues: "there is at present an unfolding of a general Unification utopian vision with the realities of the political and social world. ... Until recently many member's conception of the ideal world has consisted largely of fuzzy generalizations about a place where no passports are required, everyone is happy, and the sun always shines."
Casino argues "that close examination of fundamental Unification concepts leads inescapably to the conclusion that democracy is mandated by the religious doctrine of the Unification movement. More specifically, those religious tenets support a republican, democratic system modeled after the American constitutional system, with elected representatives and a separation of powers between legislative, executive and judiciary." He argues against the "media criticism" that says Moon's goal is for a "monarchic feudalism."
He says, "the republican and constitutional form of democratic government is the form of the Unification ideal. Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven could also be called the Republic of Heaven on Earth. According to the Divine Principle, 'Democracy came about in order to replace the political dictatorship of monarchism and to win the sovereignty back to the hands of the people' (Divine Principle, p.445)."
In regard to all the quotes that anti-Moon writers use, he says, "The U.S. News and World Report article cited previously attributes certain ostensibly anti-democratic quotes to Rev. Moon as provided to that magazine by former members: 'The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world.' 'We must have an automatic theocracy to rule the world.' 'History will make the position of Rev. Moon clear, and his enemies, the American population and government, will bow down to him.'"
"These and similar quotes are cited repeatedly by those claiming the movement is anti-democratic. These quotes are described by officials of the church as inaccurate translations of Rev. Moon's words in Korean. The thrust of these remarks apparently was that the United States and the world would eventually come to respect the Unification movement and be grateful for its efforts. Any 'conquering' is to be done by love and service in a democratic context. The 'theocracy' remark seems to refer to the Latin root of the word meaning 'God's rule,' that is, the fulfillment of the prayer Jesus taught to Christians, 'Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' To the extent that it refers to a political concept it is a mistranslation out of sync with Unification dogma."
Experts on Korean-English translations
"Linguists who are experts in the Korean language have criticized the misuse of the spontaneous translations offered by Rev. Moon's interpreters. Casino quotes from two experts who have "analyzed the "Master Speaks" series of Rev. Moon's talks and compared them with the tape recordings of those same speeches." These two experts are professors at two prominent universities. W.E. Skillend is a Professor of Korean Studies at the University of London and the other Korean expert is Mark Setton, a lecturer in the Korean language in the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Oxford University. Professor Skillend writes that "The transcripts in the series 'Master Speaks' are essentially little more than paraphrases of Reverend Moon's speeches. They do not in any way pretend to be verbatim translations."
He goes on to say, "The transcripts are not a reliable record of what Reverend Moon said on the occasions of the talks which they purport to record. The tremendously disparate natures of the Korean and English languages and cultures renders translation extremely difficult ... This problem is further accentuated by the fact that the subject matter of 'Master Speaks' involves theological and philosophical ideas which are necessarily complex." He concludes by saying, "I find it extraordinary that anyone, particularly any court of law, should seek to rely on the 'Master Speaks' transcripts as evidence of the teachings of the Unification Church, and irresponsible that any news media should do so" (Affidavit of W.E. Skillend, April w5, 1989.)
Professor Setton of Oxford writes of how difficult it was for Mrs. Choi (pronounced Chay) and the other interpreters for Rev. Moon to translate on their feet from Korean to English: "The interpreter consistently demonstrates a tendency to gloss over detail while elaborating in her own terms on what she deems to be the central themes of the message. The interpreter seems to have been more concerned to be true to the spirit rather than to the actual content of the material, as well as to amplify passages that have particular emotive value. One reason for this could be that she perceived her role as providing religious inspiration rather than giving an accurate account of the content. Consequently, in some cases, it is difficult or impossible to recognize not only corresponding sentences but whole paragraphs in the Korean transcript on the basis of the English transcription."
Rev. Moon rarely speaks from a prepared text that is carefully translated beforehand. He has spoken every day for over 50 years and the church is beginning to translate all this massive material into English since recordings have been taken since 1954. There are over 200 volumes of material each at least a book length. Rev. Moon constantly encourages members to learn Korean so they can understand him completely.
Rev. Moon is an exciting person to be around. There is tremendous energy and passion for God and the noble ideals God constantly reveals to him. He speaks for long hours every day. Professor Setton notices the spontaneous atmosphere around the translator and says that this makes it even harder to translate precisely: "interpretation is aggravated by the absence of carefully structured form and content as would be expected in a more formal presentation. It is rapid, highly colloquial, marked by frequent ellipses and lacks the emphatic pauses characteristic of formal speech."
Spontaneous and emotive
"The spontaneous and emotive nature of his speech also tends to ambiguity and lack of structure. There is usually no attempt to enlarge on the meaning of technicalities and esoteric expressions relating to the teachings of the Unification Church, and consequently this often becomes an additional task assumed by the interpreter on the basis of her own understanding of the Reverend Moon's theology."
"In conclusion, even the most able and well-trained Korean-English interpreter ... would encounter great difficulties in rendering the Korean in such a talk into English in view not only of the genealogical and structural unrelatedness of the two languages and the problem of the extemporaneous nature of the Reverend Moon's presentations and mode of speech but also due to the complexity and specialized nature of the subject." (Affidavit of Mark Setton, March 28, 1989).
Casino writes, "As Setton notes, the spontaneously translated passages 'reflect only to a very limited extent the original meaning intended by the Reverend Moon or distort the same.' It would behoove the Unification Church to have a re-translation done of the passages often cited as anti-democratic by the media if the original Korean tape recordings are available."
"Indeed, a re-translation of all spontaneous translations would no doubt produce fruitful insights. In any case, the 'anti-democratic' quotes have been taken out of context and are highly suspect since they are not verbatim translations of Rev. Moon's words."
Mr. Casino's article is full of many angles like the ones you have just read. There are so many good points that it is tempting to quote his entire speech. When we get the chance we'll type the whole speech and put it as a link here. Check back later.