Christian Cult Leader And Business Tycoon Sun Myung Moon Dies

His ideas were insane and his vast influence dangerous, but viewed as performance art, his mass weddings of thousands of international strangers at basketball arenas must be appreciated. Via the Los Angeles Times:

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed Messiah from South Korea who led the Unification Church, one of the most controversial religious movements to sweep America in the 1970s, has died. He was 92. At the height of his popularity, he claimed 5 million members worldwide…followers [who] were mocked as “Moonies.”

Moon offered an unorthodox message that blended calls for world peace with an unusual interpretation of Christianity, strains of Confucianism and a strident anti-communism. He was famous for presiding over mass marriage ceremonies.

What also made Moon unusual was a multinational corporate vision that made him a millionaire many times over. He owned vast tracts of land in the U.S. and South America, as well as dozens of enterprises, including a ballet company, a university, a gun manufacturer, a seafood operation and several media organizations, most notably the conservative Washington Times newspaper.

The short, balding immigrant evangelist was not charismatic in the usual sense. He spoke poor English and gave few interviews. His sermons, delivered through interpreters, rambled on for hours and often exhorted followers against using “love organs” in promiscuous behavior or homosexual relationships. His ideas often seemed bizarre: He believed in numerology, proposed building a highway around the world and for a while embraced a Zimbabwean man as the reincarnation of a son who had died in an accident.

Followers were expected to live communally under austere conditions, although the church later moved away from group living as members matured and started their own families. Each member also was expected to raise money for the church, often by peddling flowers or other innocuous items at airports and shopping malls.

He courted the powerful with surprising success, at one time counting among his friends and allies Christian right leader Jerry Falwell, who defended Moon when he was tried and later convicted in the U.S. on charges of tax evasion; the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, who shared pulpits with him; and former President George H.W. Bush, who appeared at Unification Church-affiliated events in the U.S. and abroad.

, , , ,

  • saint_al

    “His ideas were insane and his vast influence dangerous, but viewed as
    performance art, his mass weddings of thousands of international
    strangers at basketball arenas must be appreciated.”

    Random-selection, high dumbassery doesn’t equate performance art. These were people who weren’t even thinking about art, though the overeducated may want to pontificate upon and clarify this point.

    • Matt Staggs

      I believe “viewed as performance art” is different than claiming that it was an act of performance art. Speaking of performance art and “over-education”, are you familiar with “Interior Semiotics”? (NSFW): 
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9lmvX00TLY

      • Monkey See Monkey Do

        It seems like she’s making the violent and predatory reaction to it into some form of art.

        • Matt Staggs

          Yeah, I read an interview with the artist a little while back. She has indeed incorporated the reaction into the piece, but I got the impression that this was not initially part of the plan. Still, a great discussion on what is, or isn’t, art – if a little overheated.

      • Calypso_1

        Did people pay to come see this?  I’ve always got folks on the Unit that have no source of income and they could top this little performance any day.
         

        • Monkey See Monkey Do

          So your getting better performances than that for free everyday? You should all chip in for an exhibition.

          • Calypso_1

            …I might have to run it by the ethics board.  : P

  • Purplecollective

    Now how will I find my bride?

  • Jin The Ninja

    there was a terrific expose about the cult on al jaz. i wonder what the crazy gangnam style brothers will do now.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    > At the height of his popularity, he claimed 5 million members worldwide

    anybody ever wonder how a guy who could barely speak English
    got into the religion business & became so well know with so small a following
    and people to give him so much money he had to go to Club Fed for awhile

    Poppy Bush appeared at Unification Church-affiliated events in the U.S. and abroad
    what in god’s name would the CIA want with a kooky kult?

    • Calypso_1

      I always figured his emergence during the mid-70’s with huge public anti-North Korea speeches coincided nicely with Papa Bushes envoy status to China & emergence as CIA chief. 
      Their mutual connections in South American land holdings were rather interesting as well. 
      Perhaps Danbury was just a finishing school ora little course correction for Rev. Moonie.

  • http://skadhitheraverner.wordpress.com/ Skadhi_the_Raverner

    Moonies actually make more sense if you view them in their cultural context, of Korean civilisation with its influences from China. Its just Christianity becoming swept up in East Asian religious syncretism.

21
More in Cults, Moonies, Religion, Spirituality
Did Jesus Flee To Japan And Become A Rice Farmer?

This monumental twist seems as plausible and satisfactory of a possible end to Jesus's life as any. The BBC investigates: A Japanese legend claims that Jesus escaped Jerusalem and made...

Close