38 Joseph from Arimathea was one of Jesus’ disciples. He had kept it secret though, because he was afraid of the Jewish leaders. But now he asked Pilate to let him have Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission, and Joseph took it down from the cross.
Richard: This is the time to be bold in our faith, and not cower or be silent.
2 All day long I have reached out
to stubborn and sinful people
going their own way.
Shamanism, Polytheism and Animism
World Scripture takes a universal outlook in emphasizing the common features of all religions; nevertheless religions also have their unique characteristics and emphases. The following six topics treat specific religious traditions, pointing out their unique features and Father Moon’s teachings about them. It cannot be overemphasized that any treatment of a religion’s unique features in no way exhausts its spiritual riches or detracts from its universal qualities that join in common witness to the one God and one reality.
Not all the religions are treated here; just those on which Father Moon has commented upon out of his own experience. Korea is a religiously pluralistic country, with roots in shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism; it has a large and vibrant Christian community and also a growing Muslim minority.
Father Moon’s views on shamanism are largely the result of his experience with the homegrown Korean variety. Shamanism remains strong in rural Korea, where its practitioners, called mudangs, are largely women. Their ability to communicate with spirits can be impressive. During his years in America, he befriended Eskimo shamans in Alaska and Native Americans in Brazil and Paraguay. Father Moon is very aware of the reality of the spirit world and the spiritual discipline required to be an effective channel to that world. For this reason, he does not cast dogmatic condemnations on shamanism and animism in the manner of bible-centered Christians. Rather, he regards shamanism as an authentic stage, albeit a low one, on the path of humankind’s spiritual development.
Notable also is Father Moon’s teaching that shamanism and polytheism are “servant of servant” religions, whose original objects of worship were fallen angels. This can be seen rather clearly in Greek and Hindu mythology, where the gods’ amorous activities with earthly women are of a piece with Satan’s seduction of eve at the human Fall. Nevertheless, God still taught through these forms by empowering devoted practitioners to rise above their gods and attain a higher moral plane. In this way, human beings transcended the position of servants’ servants to become their masters, thus opening a higher stage of religious development. Passages from Hinduism and Shinto illustrate how these traditions were thus elevated over time to form higher religions.
1. Worship of Nature Deities
O gods! All your names are to be revered, saluted and adored; all of you who have sprung from heaven and earth, listen here to my invocation.
Rig Veda 10.63.2 (Hinduism)
Our ancestors the emperors of old governed the realm by first paying worship to the kami with reverence and awe. Widely worshipping the kamiof mountain and river, they thereby had natural concourse with heaven and earth. For this rea-son, summer and winter also turned in their sea-son, and the works of creation were in harmony.
Nihon Shoki 22 (Shinto)
There are eight peaks within the inner mountain,
and thirteen famous places in the outer mountain.
Within these famous mountains and the great heavens of all Buddhas,
the great altar of the nation is protected by the great generals.
Was not General Chae Yong one of them?
The famous general of Korea,
who was favored by his people…
Oh, I am the great mountain god.
If I sit down, I cover three thousand li [the entire land of Korea].
If I stand up, I stretch over ninety thousand li [the whole world].
If I look down with my clear mirror, I can observe ten thousand li.
Oh, I am the great mountain god.
What can you offer to satisfy me?
Is the whole pig covered with a red cloth enough?
Is the bundle of three different colored silks enough?
Offer many rich silks to me.
Oh, you, the husband and wife of this home.
Do you remember who gives you the food that sustains you?
Who gave you a home?
Who gave you wealth?
Who gave you long life?
I, the Sansang, gave you blessings and aid in times of need.
Invocation of the Mountain Spirit (Korean Shamanism)
War-bundle owners, I greet you. Ye elders, I am about to pour tobacco for the spirits.
Hearken Earthmaker, our father, I am about to offer you a handful of tobacco. My ancestor so-and-so concentrated his mind upon you. The fireplaces with which you blessed him, the small amount of life you granted to him, all, four times the blessings that you bestowed upon my ancestor, I ask of you directly. May I have no troubles in life.
Chief of the Thunderbirds, who lives in the west, you strengthened my grandfather. I am about to offer you a handful of tobacco. The food, the pair of deer you gave him for his fireplaces, that I ask of you directly. May you accept this tobacco from me and may I not meet with troubles.
Great Black Hawk, you also blessed my grandfather. I am about to offer you tobacco. Whatever food you blessed him with that I ask you directly. May I not meet with troubles…You [night spirits] on the other side, who live in the east, who walk in darkness, I am about to offer you tobacco to smoke. Whatever you blessed my ancestor with, I ask of you. If you smoke this tobacco I will never be a weakling.Disease-giver, you who live in the south; you who look like a man; who art invulnerable; who on one side of your body present death and on the other life, you blessed my ancestor in the daytime, in broad daylight. You blessed him with food and told him that he would never fail in anything. You promised to avoid his home. You placed animals before him that he might easily obtain food. I offer you tobacco that you may smoke it, and that I may not be troubled by anything. To you, Sun, Light-wanderer… To you, Grandmother Moon… Hearken, all ye spirits to whom my ancestor prayed; to all of you I offer tobacco. My ancestor gave a feast to all those who had blessed him. Bestow upon us once again all the blessings you gave our ancestor, that we may not become weaklings. I greet you all.
Winnebago Invocation at the Sweat Lodge (Native American Religion)
Ala, come and drink and eat the kola nut.
Chukwu, come and drink and eat the kola nut.
Ancestors, come and drink and eat the kola nut.
I was told by a man of Ngbwidi, one named Ehirim, that a man of Agunese had stolen his yams; and so I summoned the priests of Ala and Aro holders and elders in order that we might inquire into the matter. I called them, even as my father, who was priest of Njoku before me, used to do.
If any of these men, who have come to try the case, deal falsely in the matter, or if the accuser or accused or any person called to give evidence tells falsehood, then do you, Ala, Chukwu, Njoku, Ancestors, and Ofo, deal with that man.
Igbo Invocation at a Trial (African Traditional Religions)
Parvati, on seeing her son Ganesha resuscitated, embraced him joyously and clothed him with new garments and ornaments. After kissing his face, she said, “O Ganesha, you have had great distress since your very birth. You are blessed and contented now. You will receive worship before all the gods…
“All achievements certainly accrue to him who performs your worship with flowers, sandal paste, scents, auspicious food offerings, waving of lights, betel leaves, charitable gifts, circumambulations, and obeisance. All kinds of obstacles will certainly perish.”
Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu declared in unison, “O great gods, just as we three are worshipped in all the three worlds, so also Ganesha shall be worshipped by all of you. He is the remover of all obstacles and the bestower of the fruits of all rites.”
Shiva Purana, Rudrasamhita 18 (Hinduism)