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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Friday
Dec192014

Meditate | Shepherds and Prophets

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. We welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

“‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
‘Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,’
Says the Lord,
‘That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one–third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one–third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, “This is My people;”
And each one will say, “The Lord is my God”’” (Zechariah 13:7-9).

“Generally speaking, the divine actions and powerful effects meant by the Holy Spirit are the acts of reforming and regenerating us. Depending on the outcome of this reformation and regeneration, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of renewing us, bringing us to life, sanctifying us, and making us just; and depending on the outcome of these in turn, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of purifying us from evils, forgiving our sins, and ultimately saving us. These are the powerful effects, one after the other, that the Lord has on people who believe in him and who adapt and modify themselves in order to welcome him and invite him to stay…

The divine truth in connection with goodness, that is, faith in connection with goodwill, is the force that reforms and regenerates us…It is important to know that the Lord is carrying out these salvation processes in every single one of us all the time. They are the steps to heaven. The Lord wants to save everyone” (True Christianity 142).

“The Lord constantly tries (and cannot help trying) to implant truth and goodness, or faith and goodwill, in everyone” (True Christianity 145).

“The essence of spiritual love is to do good to others for their sake and not for our own” (Divine Love and Wisdom 335).

The passage from Zechariah seems to be interpreted commonly as a prophecy of Jesus, and rightly so. Several translations capitalize Shepherd and Man, etc. because it is very easy to see the parallels—a companion to God who must be struck to allow for the ultimate salvation of God’s people. I get it and it makes sense.

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Friday
Dec122014

8 Ways to Get Through Winter

Winter can be a long tiring experience - both natural and spiritual winters. Whether you are experiencing natural winter right now or not, these suggestions from Bronwen are a great way to work on getting out of a slump or focusing on shifting to a "springtime" state of mind. -Editor

The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them. —Parker J. Palmer


Last winter I almost cracked. In addition to recovering from a surgery, the kids having more than 10 days off school, and the power outages, it felt like too much. So many people around me were trying to be positive and yet also really struggling with the length and intensity of the winter. Although seasons are to be expected in the Northeast, they can also be difficult. Of course it isn't just a physical winter I'm talking about, but also dark times in our lives when we feel there is no life, nothing thriving or growing, no hope. I find myself eager to make a plan for the winter (on whatever level it arrives) so that I could do more than just survive. Maybe with a good plan, I can actually thrive. So after talking to a few friends who'd had a similar brush with despair over the winter, I created the following list of To-Do Winter Ideas.

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Friday
Dec052014

Interview with Donnette Alfelt about her changed view on Women in the Ministry 

As the title suggests, this week we have an interview from Donnette Alfelt about her understanding of the issue of women in ministry. As a life long church participant her views on the matter have changed over the years, but most dramatically in the last year. -Editor

Question - Did you grow up in the church?

Answer – Yes. I was born in Bryn Athyn and have lived there for most of my 85 years of life. I attended New Church schools through two years of college. I moved away from Bryn Athyn in my twenties but returned when I got married.

Question - I understand that until recently you were against women being ordained as New Church ministers. Can you tell me about that?

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Friday
Nov282014

High Stakes

Jasper considers the spiritual risk involved in challenging our beliefs and trying others on for size. How far should one go in search of spiritual integrity? How much should the stakes affect your spiritual decision making? -Editor

A little while ago I saw a problem with the way I was thinking. I didn’t feel like the package of belief that I officially subscribed to was one that I could clearly explain or defend. When challenged to do so—either by a friend or simply by an idea—my responses came up hollow and unconvincing: repetitions of other people’s words or hedging statements that didn’t really address the issue. It’s important that the way I live my life, the way I understand the world, and the things I believe be in alignment and I realized that I needed to reevaluate my beliefs if I wanted to have that integrity.

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Friday
Nov212014

Meditate | Adverse Learning

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. We welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

“Cease to do evil, learn to do good” (Isaiah 1:16-17).

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

The other day I read a very clear statement that speaks to an ongoing issue in my spiritual growth: it’s okay to feel angry, it’s not okay to act on it. This statement came into my mind like a drop of soap in dirty water. After reading it, I went about my day and had the idea to track when I felt angry—to approach this feeling with curiosity, to “consider in the day of adversity.” The only “action” I would take when I felt angry was to make a note of what triggered my anger. It was surprisingly satisfying, rather than to have no action to take when I am feeling anger, to have something specific I would do—write it down, or in most cases, dictate it to a note on my phone! After doing this just for one day, I felt an ease, and less fear when the anger came up, because it no longer meant I acted out in a way I would regret a moment later.

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Friday
Nov142014

Empathy in Marriage: Gender Differences in Communication Part 2

Carrying on with the ideas from last week, Micah breaks down some of the spiritual differences between men and women as described by Swedenborg. What is innate and what can we change? Looking at the changeable nature of mirror neurons, Micah suggests we can develop quite a bit. -Editor

As discussed last week, neuroscientist Schulte-Rüther’s study lent support to the issue of whether or not there are gender differences in the human mirror neuron system while also reframing behavioral research as it relates to empathy. This research concluded that men and women have statistically equal ability to provide empathic support, but that particular types of empathy come more naturally to each gender on a biological level. This has some interesting interactions with New Church thought.

What are the Gender Differences at a Spiritual Level?

In general, men and women appear to be spiritually similar. They both have freedom (the ability to choose between good and evil, and live accordingly) and rationality (the ability to think about truth), which are the qualities that make a human truly human (Divine Providence 98). Further, Emanuel Swedenborg, author of the Writings for the New Church, claims that both men and women have an intellect (the ability to have higher cognitive thoughts so as to think about truth objectively) and will (the loves that inspire people to act), though he qualifies by explaining that for men the intellect leads and for women the will leads; “and people are characterized by what is in control” (Heaven and Hell 369). Men therefore, are spiritually distinguished by their intellect—their ability to think, rationalize, and explain abstract ideas objectively. Women are spiritually distinguished by their will—their ability to act according to their intuitions, loves, and inspire people to act through shared loves.

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