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A semi-secret element of the life of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is centered on their temples.  The basic structure of the church is the ward, which is comparable to a protestant congregation or Catholic parish.  Each ward has a meetinghouse where members gather for weekly worship and other educational, social, recreational, and cultural activities.

In contrast to the ward, the temple serves a widespread constituency and is used for a limited number of rites, all involving fully accredited and credentialed members.  Those attending any event at the temple must be baptized and confirmed members, with males ordained into the lower level of the priesthood (termed the Melchizedek priesthood).  They must also have a meeting with the bishop, who determines whether they are living by the precepts of the church, including the law of tithing.  Being assured of a member’s worthiness, the bishop issues a temple recommend, a document that allows the person to enter the temple.  The interview also prepares the person to participate in the temple ordinances.

Several basic ordinances are enacted within the temple.  Some are based upon the Latter-day Saints’ understanding of heaven.  According to them, the afterlife will find people in one of three levels of glory according to the laws they obeyed on earth.  The great majority of people will go the Terrestrial Kingdom.  This is for good people who did not come to the truth of God and Jesus during their earthly lives.  The highest, or Celestial Kingdom, is for those who believe the Gospel and follow its basic ordinances of baptism by immersion and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands (that is, they have become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  Within the Celestial Kingdom, there are also levels.  The highest level is for those who fully participated in the temple ceremonies.

the basic ordinance performed in the temples is termed the receiving of one’s endowments.  In specific rooms in the temple there are decorated with pictures depicting the Latter-day Saints’ understanding of the cosmos and creation, members participate in a ritual that includes an explanation of the requirements for living in God’s presence in the celestial world.  Integral to the ritual is the making and receiving of a set of promises.  The reception of one’s endowment is believed to empower the Christian to overcome all circumstances in life.

Mormons take marriage very seriously and believe that marital relationships will continue in the life to come.  One is initially married for this life, but in the temple couples are sealed together for all eternity.  In the nineteenth century, sealing was intimately tied to teachings about polygamy, but under pressure from the outside world these teachings have been dropped.  The Mormon Church, however, does continue to teach that a couple’s sealing in the temple is a necessary requirement for entrance into the highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom.  Finally, the Church also believes in the baptism for the dead.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formed in 1830 as a recovery of the apostolic church.  Over the centuries the essence of the true church was lost, and people who lived at that time would not be eligible for the higher levels of heavenly glory.  In each temple is a large baptismal fount at which such baptisms may be conducted by proxy.  Periodically, the Church has been cited in the news for the baptism of some famous historical character or had to deal with controversies such as when the Jewish community decried the baptism of the Jewish dead.

The first Latter-day Saint temple was constructed in the mid 1830s in Kirkland, Ohio.  Even before this temple was begun, church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844) laid a cornerstone for a future temple in Independence Missouri.  Both the Kirkland temple and the Temple Lot in Independence passed from the church’s hands, however.  A third temple was constructed in Nauvoo, Illinois, in the mid 1840s, but had to be abandoned following Joseph Smith’s assassination and the relocation of the Church to Utah.  In Salt Lake City a permanent temple was constructed.  Additional temples were also constructed in St. George, Mani, and Logan, Utah.

Early in the twentieth century, as the Mormon movement expanded beyond Utah, the first temples were constructed in neighboring states such as Arizona, California, and Idaho.  the first temple outside of the United States was completed in Bern, Switzerland, in 1955.  The Swiss temple signaled a new emphasis in temple construction responding to the global mission program of the Church and its worldwide growth.  By 2004, there were 117 temples in operation and a dozen more under construction.  they were by then established around the world on every continent.

After construction, temples go through an elaborate consecration ceremony.  It has been the Church’s practice to delay the consecration ceremony and allow people who are not Church members to visit and see the inside of a Latter-day Saint temple.  This practice has done much to reduce the level of secrecy surrounding Mormon temples.  the level of secrecy has been further reduced by the revelations of former Church members who have chosen to explain the meaning (including the ritual texts) behind the temple ceremonies.  the discussion of temple rituals has centered upon their relationship to those of traditional Freemasonry.  the Mormon Church, though, has been adamantly opposed to any revelations concerning temple ritual secrets.

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Feng Shui (literally wind/water) is a form of geomancy (the art of divination utilizing geological and environmental features) developed in China.  It studies both the natural and humanly constructed elements of any environment.  A specialist in feng shui observes any given environment — for example, an office space in a high-rise building, the landscape of a mountain valley, a building as a whole — and the manner in which the people inhabiting that environment interact with it.  Based upon that observation, the specialist makes recommendations on improving the relationship of the people with their surroundings.

Feng shui developed as an art and science in ancient China.  The accumulated knowledge was passed through a set of elite lineage holders into the modern world, but like many ancient secrets, in the twentieth century it became the subject of numerous books and papers.  While the basic principles of eng shui may be learned from a book, proficiency requires practice and the development of a certain level of intuition in applying the principles.  Thus a role remains for master practitioners to ply their trade.

Basic to understanding feng shui is the foundational principle of yin and yang.  This desire to balance opposites and thus bring harmony is a foundation of Chinese thought.  Yin/yang calls to mind a variety of polarities:  male/female, light/dark, cold/hot, etc.  Each opposite implies the other, and each half of a polarity always contains the seed of the other half.

Feng shui also draws on an understanding of the five elemental energies — earth, metal, fire, water, and wood — each of which would be an interaction in any given environment.  Feng shui assumes that a variety of energies not visible to the average pe5rson are operating in the environment, and the harmonious flow of these subtle energies affect the happiness, well-being, creativity, and even the health of the inhabitants of the environment.

Long the exclusive practice of the Chinese, in the twentieth century feng shui has become popular around the world.  In Chinese society, buildings would be erected and internal space shaped with reference to providing the most harmonious situation.  Architects and others responsible for putting up structures in the increasingly secularized societies dominated by Chinese in Asia will have their buildings and other structures criticized if deemed to ignoring the analysis of feng shui.  Furthermore, any veil that descends upon those who inhabit structures with "bad" feng shui will be blamed on the builders ignoring traditional wisdom.

The Unification Church is best understood in the context of the larger work of reverend Moon and Mrs. Moon. In addition to heading the Unification Church, Reverend Moon and Mrs. Moon have founded and support dozens of initiatives for world peace in all spheres of human endeavor. Of special note are the Inter-religious Federation for World Peace and the Women’s Federation for World Peace. These are surrounded by a constellation of cultural, educational, relief, and humanitarian projects. Two important elements must be considered in order to develop an accurate grasp of the Unification Church: 1) the teachings which guide the Unification community, namely the Divine Principle; and 2) the status of reverend and Mrs. Moon.

Reverend Moon was born in what is now North Korea, January 6, 1920, during the period of brutal Japanese occupation. The fifth of eight children, Sun Myung Moon came from a family well respected for its great hospitality and who were referred to as “those who could live without law,” a Korean phrase indicating people who were capable of guiding themselves by conscience alone. Reverend Moon’s religious foundations combined the ancient traditions of Korea with the message of Christian missionaries. According to reverend Moon, Jesus appeared to him while deep in prayer on a Korean mountainside, on Easter Sunday, 1936. Jesus asked him to complete the responsibility left unfinished since the origin of humankind. From that point the life of Sun Myung Moon changed dramatically. For nine years he researched the Bible, the natural world, and the spiritual world to produce what is known today as the Divine Principle.

The Divine Principle is divided into three sections – Creation, Fall, and Restoration. It teaches that God’s original ideal is expressed in “the three great blessings” found in the Genesis account of human origins. To “be fruitful” is understood as the commission for each person to perfect his or her unique individuality by uniting mid and body and being in full union with God. These perfected individuals, man and woman, were to “multiply,” forming families born of the unconditional love of a husband for his wife, of a wife for her husband. It is taught that the original human couple were thus to become “True Parents.” This ever-expanding family should “have dominion,” namely establish a perfect ecological relationship with the natural universe. This ideal was not achieved by the first human ancestors, who instead violated God’s commandment “not to eat the forbidden fruit,” by engaging in physical love without receiving god’s blessing to do so. This act of disobedience, in which the Archangel Lucifer participated, created the personage of Satan and bound the first human ancestors with him. Satan participates in human affairs through the perpetuation of impure love and lineage.

Salvation providence reveals God’s work to recreate the conditions for 1) the fulfillment of the original three great blessings, and 2) to liberate the descendants of Adam and Eve from their bondage to Satan. This task constitutes the mission of the Messiah, who by the fulfillment of his own responsibility obeys the commandment and fulfills the purpose of creation. Thus Jesus came both as “Adam” and as the Savior to fulfill the three blessings and to liberate all of humankind. The faithlessness of those around Jesus led to his crucifixion, thus preventing him from his opportunity to fulfill the three great blessings. The divine love of Jesus, however, preserved the mission of Savior, allowing Jesus to provide spiritual salvation to those who believe in him and follow his teachings. Jesus promised the “second coming of Christ,” knowing that the original will of God, the three blessings, remained unfulfilled despite his own ministry. It is this original mission that Jesus asked Sun Myung Moon to fulfill in 1936.

In the 20th century Sun Myung Moon came as the return of Christ (at the end of World War II, in 1945), but, like Jesus, was rejected. When the failure occurred, Reverend Moon was forced to establish a religious community that could carry out the mission of Christianity and serve as the Bride of Christ. This community became known as the Unification Church, founded in 1954. In 1960 Reverend Moon married Hak Ja Han Moon, thus fulfilling for the first time in human history the original mission of True Parents. Unification Church members and members of other religions have their marriages “blessed” by Reverend and Mrs. Moon, whereby they inherit the potential to themselves become True Parents.

The mission of the True Parents and Savior is to all people in all religions. The Unification “Church” does not desire to be an enduring religious body. Long before the Unification Church appeared, each world religion was already instructed to await and receive the one who will end evil history and restore an unbroken relationship between God and all humanity. The Unification Church exists to teach the Divine Principle and support the effort of the True Parents freely to give the blessing.

 

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