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During his time as a professor at Unification Theological Seminary Dietrich Seidel not only taught courses in theology and marriage and family but also gave a number of deep and inspiring sermons to the seminary students and staff as well as speaking at a variety of public venues. Raised Catholic and a convert to Unificationism, Dr. Seidel’s insights are not limited to a particular religion but rather focus on bringing God into our daily lives, into our marriages and our families.
This collection contains valuable spiritual guidance based on his understanding that love for God is the foundation upon which a successful life, harmonious family and peaceful world is built.
As current Headmaster of Bridgeport International Academy (formerly New Eden Academy) where Dr. Seidel taught in the early days of our school, I applaud his new book, “Spiritual Guidance for Daily Life.”
In a series of talks, sermons and interviews over the course of 20 years, Dr. Seidel as theologian shares numerous insights about marriage and family both from practical and theological perspectives. Particularly compelling are his sermons during his time at the Unification Theological Seminary. He delves deeply into the intersection of the “Divine Principle” and traditional Christian theology all the while relating back to the “Blessing,” central rite of the Unification Church.
Dr. Seidel is at his theological best when he engages principled biblical exegesis with sermons on discipleship, sin, the original mind, true love, lessons from Moses and Jesus and so much more. In these sermons and throughout, Dr. Seidel presents many of Father Moon’s words together with principled insights shedding light on ancient Biblical stories in a modern, relevant context leading to many grounded conclusions. I found my own “theological DNA” reactivated by the read.
Here at BIA we were fortunate to have an educator of Dr. Seidel’s stature during our formative years. His tradition of excellence in teaching set the foundation for instruction at BIA and lives on.
“Spiritual Guidance for Daily Life” is an excellent read both for the Unificationist and non-Unificationist who are genuinely seeking to find a path to God in the here and now.
~Frank LaGrotteria, Headmaster of Bridgeport International Academy
“Theology has to do with life,” noted the German Protestant theologian Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986) in an address to aspiring theologians in the late 1950s. In his view, good and purpose-driven theology always has relevance beyond the confines of scholarly ivory towers. Theology thus understood contributes to make the believer’s life of faith deeper, richer and more fruitful. This guidance Thielicke gave to first semester students may also apply just as well to the theological enterprise of the Unification Church (UC), which has been mainly conducted by the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS). Unification Theology has to with life – the life of the human family as a whole and the daily life of the Unificationist adherent in particular.
Dietrich F. Seidel was one of 56 students that attended the first class of UTS in 1975, and later joined its faculty. “Spiritual Guidance for Daily Life” contains a collection of Dietrich Seidel’s sermons to both his fellow Unificationists and his multi-religious audiences given over the course of 20 years. With his constant concern for the translation of faith into practice as well as the broader social consequences of one’s individual spiritual life, Dietrich makes a case for applied theology. An enclosed autobiographical sketch, where Dietrich recalls his conversion to the Unification Church back in Europe, as well as an interview on his memories of the early days of UTS provide the book with an additional personal note.
The addresses presented in the first part of the book were given to non-Unificationist listeners. Their various themes range from advice on developing meaningful friendships to preparation for marriage, from coping with the 9/11 terrorist attacks to unlocking the mysteries of Christian doctrines.
The second part features sermons primarily delivered to staff and students at the UTS main campus located in Barrytown, New York. They cover a broad spectrum of themes such as the meaning of discipleship, the power of true love in action, how to build a foundation of faith so you can walk again with God, and the way to heal the soul and the world. Together with his audience, the author ponders about the challenging intricacies of a dedicated religious life. How can we avoid being hypocrites when speaking about true love? What does it mean to be God’s instrument for forgiveness and healing? Why is it so difficult to bring about harmony among faith, reason and action? Are we ready to leave metaphorical Egypt, to transcend our comfort-zones, and allow God to work in our lives? How do you reconcile family obligations and filial piety on the one hand, and devoted attendance of the messiah on the other hand? In which way can the spirituality of marriage become more fruitful for the Kingdom of Heaven than a celibate life in Christ? In how far is substantial unity among the various religions feasible given the long history of religious conflicts in the world? To illustrate his points, the author draws from the Bible, the Unificationist doctrine as encapsulated in the Divine Principle, Father Moon’s sermons, as well as his own experiences. Being a professional marriage consultant, Dietrich’s talks are marked by a special emphasis on the sacred and blessed bond between husband and wife. He thus offers profound insights on how to make the conjugal relationship a spiritually richer and mutually fulfilling experience, where God freely manifests His essential being.
“Theology can,” to quote Thielicke again, “be the conscience of a congregation.” Both, Unificationists and their friends, will definitely profit from this collection of Dietrich Seidel’s sermons, as they offer an example of how the balance between theological inheritance and a vibrant spiritual life might be achieved.
~Jonathan Heinrich, MA, Austria