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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
Aug292014

People Swedenborg Knew While on Earth Part 2

Sometimes helpful and uplifting teachings are found in unlikely places. Helen continues to look at some of the famous people that Swedenborg described meeting in the spiritual world. Helen finds it hopeful and uplifting to read the story of a couple that meets and marries in heaven - both as proof that all find true married love in heaven and that those relationships are similar to those on earth. -Editor

Empress Elizabeth (1709 - 1761) of Russia was the daughter of Peter the Great. It is said that she "grew up to be a beautiful, charming, intelligent and vivacious young woman." (Encyclopedia Britannica) Elizabeth was very popular among the guards, often visiting them on special occasions and acting as godmother to their children. At 32, when she was threatened with banishment to a convent upon the death of the Russian ruler, she staged a coup d'etat with the help of the guards, and was proclaimed Empress of Russia.

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Friday
Aug222014

People Swedenborg Knew While on Earth Part 1

At various points in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg he discusses people he knew on earth who he interacts with again in the spiritual world. This week Helen shares one story about love and marriage in the spiritual world that Swedenborg documented about one of the former queens of Sweden. -Editor

Swedenborg had a lot of friends and acquaintances when he lived on earth, and he met a large number of them during his explorations of the spiritual world. These people had recently died, or died years before, and for all of them he had some form of recognition, not only of whom they had been on earth, but also some deep-seated insights into their character. Needless to say, many of these people were in the throes of unfinished regeneration, and the evils they had been succumbing to during their life on earth were still plaguing them. There are many lessons to be garnered from their stories, but right now I'd like to tell you about two people, one of them a queen of Sweden who Swedenborg knew while on earth, and the other a Russian Empress who lived during his time here. Both had the kind of experience that fairy tales are made of, including riding in a horse and carriage with a spiritually handsome man whom they really loved. In other words, the stories are insights in how marriages come to be in heaven.

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Friday
Aug152014

Meditate | What To Do When We're Down

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

I read some of the book of Joel recently and had the opportunity to meditate on what I read. What stuck with me is a short list of things to do when I find myself in a spiritual rut, a time when it feels like “joy has withered away” (1:12). It may not only feel like I have no joy, I may feel utterly devastated, with no will for what my life requires of me and a severe lack of supportive thoughts running through my mind—“the new wine is dried up, the oil fails” (1:10).

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Friday
Aug082014

A Case for Anti-war Pacifism in the Threefold Word Part 2

Last week Ty presented a study of the teachings of the New Church to make a case for anti-war pacifism. This week Ty offers further arguments for a world that doesn't have to go to war based on the history of violent and non-violent conflict. -Editor

In the previous post, I tried to make a case for a form of pacifism based upon a close reading of the Heavenly Doctrines. In this piece, I want to add a real-world dimension to the more theologically-centered piece I wrote before. In that piece, I argued that the Doctrines don’t give a clear-cut view on just war. At best, war is an evil that is allowed, as a means of defense. And while there are mixed messages in the Word, most Christians support, at least in theory, some form of the Just War doctrine. If war is permitted, Just War doctrine requires a weighing of costs and benefits. The operative question in this section is, what if war never has to be the last resort? If there is always a less violent form of conflict at one’s disposal, then according to Just War doctrine, war is never just because it, in truth, is never the last resort.

Just War doctrine was created to deal with the tension between the ugliness of war and the necessity of defending one’s nation against threats, foreign or domestic. Because many (starting with Augustine) in the early Christian tradition found war at times necessary, they developed a set of conditions that needed to be met before war could be waged. Firstly, the just war tradition is predicated on defensive war. That is first and foremost. But it doesn’t stop there. Such considerations also need to be applied: 1) is the conflict winnable? 2) Does fighting a war produce evils greater than those that are trying to be eliminated? 3) Have all other means been exhausted? These are supposed to be held with utmost strictness because of the grave evils that take place in war. These conditions are generally accepted by non-secularists and secularists alike.

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Friday
Aug012014

A Case for Anti-war Pacifism in the Threefold Word Part 1

Does the Bible preach war or pacifism? What about the Writings? What does God want for us when it comes to war and violence? Like many things you can pull examples for both sides, leaving the message sometimes unclear. Ty explores what the threefold Word has to say about war vs. pacifism, and works to untangle what it is that God teaches us is right. -Editor.

The morality surrounding war, both in what justifies it, and what is allowable within the confines of it, has been a controversial issue for thousands of years. In the Christian era, in particular, it has presented a rather difficult problem. On the one hand, it involves the systematic killing of other humans, something which is clearly frowned upon in the Word. On the other hand, isn’t it sometimes necessary to preserve good? Wrestling with these two opposing ideas led to the development of the Just War doctrine, pioneered in the Christian world by Augustine of Hippo. The basic tenet of Just War doctrine, that war is only justifiable as a last resort in self-defense, is one that is given ostensible support in the Writings. However, I want to challenge the Just War Doctrine on two fronts: first, I will emphasize the moral imperative within the threefold Word to engage in pacifism (specifically anti-war pacifism) to achieve desired ends, and for the second part, I will build on that case by piecing together some important, but largely unknown practical considerations regarding the conditions that fulfill the “last resort” principle.

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Friday
Jul252014

Meditate | Scripture Surprise

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

The following may be obvious to many of you, but I just heard an old favorite in a new way. It's the 23rd Psalm. It all began with that first verse, “The Lord is my shepherd—I shall not want.” I always took this as just the first of several stand-alone sayings throughout the psalm, but as such I’ve never got much meaning from it. More recently I’ve lingered over the word “want,” understanding it as a somewhat old-fashioned way of saying “lack”; as in, “The Lord is my shepherd, [and therefore I won’t lack anything].” Taken by itself, this has really helped me. But it gets better.

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