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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.


Meditate | Spiritual Transformation as Erosion by Water

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

“And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory” (Ezekiel 43:2).

“His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:15-16).

“And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live…for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes” (Ezekiel 47:9).

“‘Living waters’ are often mentioned in the Word, and by them are meant truths that come to us from the Lord and are received. These are living, because the Lord is life itself…The Lord also…opens the spiritual parts of our mind, and imparts to us the affection of truth; and the spiritual affection of truth is the very life of heaven within us” (Apocalypse Explained 483 as quoted in What Would Love Do? By John Odhner and Sasha Silverman).

“ ...the earth is full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

The Bishop of the General Church of the New Jerusalem released a statement a couple of weeks ago saying the policy of the General Church would not be changing with regard to women’s ordination. My meditation on the ideas in the passages above along with processing my own thoughts and feelings about the state of the General Church, of which I am a member, led me to writing the following poem as I considered the prospect and process of an organizational shift in the General Church that would allow for the ordination of women as priests. I offer it here for your own contemplation.

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Sobriety as a Means to Spiritual Growth VS. Spiritual Growth as a Means to Maintain Sobriety: A Critical Look at Recovery Part 2

Cortland continues his story this week, telling how he went from daily drinking to being able to let go of the temptation completely. AA gave him a leg up, but Cortland believes that there is a much deeper way to address our addictions, and further move on with spiritual growth held within the teachings of the New Church. -Editor.

As for as alcohol addiction, and its causes, when I started to consume alcohol on a regular basis I was too young for my ego to be fully developed in a way that would cause me to purely think of self and lack regard for all others. In fact alcohol was part of what gave me an ego boost. In a word, I drank because I liked to drink, I liked the way it made me feel, which led to it becoming a preference to sober thoughts and feelings. In a short time I began to drink whenever possible, then out of habit, then I became dependent on alcohol to the extent that it became a functional part of life, and at last I got to a state in which I could not function in any productive way without alcohol, which culminated in my inability to function properly because alcohol was always in my system, thoughts and desires. There was no underlying cause for why I drank, I drank because I loved to drink, and it became a part of my very existence. The honest-to-God’s-truth is that the very substance of alcohol is going to lead all individuals who abuse it to become addicted regardless of the reason why one drinks, and in this sense we all are the same. If we abuse alcohol regularly, alcohol will make you addicted, regardless of what caused the excessive drinking. It is important to give individual testimony to how I became sober as well as what enables me to maintain sobriety before moving on.

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Sobriety as a Means to Spiritual Growth VS. Spiritual Growth as a Means to Maintain Sobriety: A Critical Look at Recovery Part 1

Using his life experience and doctrinal study Cortland has come to several thought provoking conclusions about recovery programs and spiritual growth. This week Cortland shares his background and introduces the faults he find with AA and other 12 step programs, and next week will share more about his personal experience with these programs. -Editor.

I would like to start this essay by stating that it took much longer than needed to complete it. I have been stabbed six times, set myself on fire, my mother committed suicide, and I suffered from alcohol addiction for many years, along with a number of other instances of trial and tribulation, and I have no problem writing about any of it with two exceptions. One is that of dealing with the aftermath of being stabbed. The other is that of my experiences with recovery programs and institutions. The reason why I have difficulty writing on this subject is that there is a lot of contempt and animosity for individuals who are considered experts on the subject of recovery along with certain of their beliefs about the recovery process. I do not wish to put forth a scathing account of my experiences because that would be useless, as well as contrary to doctrine. All I can do is look to the Lord and pray that he tempers my hostility (a hostility which has grown over my years of recovery).

When did I first come to the realization that I had a problem with alcohol? When I realized that I like the feeling of being intoxicated better than how it felt to be sober.

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The Vulnerability to be Strong

What role does vulnerability play in our relationship with God? Is it a weakness or a strength? This week Tania compares vulnerability and victimization, and writes about how they connect to our relationship with our Creator. -Editor.

It seems like life pretty consistently asks us to be strong. Stand on your own. Make a something of yourself. Follow your dreams. Do the right thing. Stick to your goals. Live your principles. A lot is expected. And while these more external expectations of strength can seem hard to meet, even more is asked of us. The Lord asks us to be strong: we have to take action in order to allow Him to work in our lives. So with all this strength required, what role does vulnerability play? Lately I have been thinking about vulnerability as both its own kind of strength, and a tool to find strength in a world that defines strength as something else.

Perhaps one of the reasons vulnerability is overlooked is because we sometimes confound being a victim and being vulnerable. Both involve an acknowledgement of weakness, even helplessness. But one says: the world is against me and I can’t do this, while the other says: this is hard for me and I’m going trust you enough to let you see that I’m hurting. I have written before about the incapacitating power of the victim mindset; it’s no good. But vulnerability is something else, something with a power of its own. What is this power, and what is its relationship to strength? How can it help in our relationship with the Lord and with others?

It is first necessary to clearly distinguish victimhood and vulnerability. Perhaps the crucial difference between them is in accepting responsibility for our part in the situation.

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Meditate | Letting Go of the Outcome: Reality is Better

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

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2: 3-4 (NIV)

"This is what Jehovah has said: 'Render judgment in the morning and snatch spoil from the hand of the oppressor, so that my fury does not go forth like fire and burn (and no one to quench it) because of the wickedness of their deeds.' (Jeremiah 21:12)

Rendering judgment is saying what is true. Snatching spoil from the hand of the oppressor is doing good deeds that embody love for others. The fire stands for the hellish punishment experienced by people who do not act that way—that is, who live by the lies that hatred spawns. In the literal meaning, this kind of fiery fury is attributed to Jehovah, but in the inner sense it is exactly the opposite." Secrets of Heaven 1861

The quote from Jeremiah caught my eye in my reading; maybe because it seems thoroughly slathered in appearances. Sure, God is talking about his own fury burning us on account of our misdeeds, that appearance is all over the place, but telling us to steal? It begs further contemplation. The meaning Swedenborg relays is entirely simple: say truth (in the morning) and do good deeds that embody love for others. But why put it in terms of stealing?

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The New Church, Money, and a World Full of Endless Need Part 2

Where have we come from and where are we going? Last week Joel looked back at some of the history of Bryn Athyn and the General Church of the New Jerusalem. Today he looks to the future—to what he sees we can do moving forward. -Editor.

Part 2: Where the World is and What It Needs

So if the money has allowed Bryn Athyn to become what it is today, what is up with the rest of the world? The short answer, from what I can tell, is vastation as far as the eye can see. Vastation is the dying of the old to make way for the new. In the long term, it is actually a beautiful process. In the short term, it is always very painful. In this sense, it is exactly the same whether we talk about the collective states that society and churches go through, or the individual states that we go through in our own lives. When we are going through a temptation, vastation, or spiritual trial it is brutal. And the Writings tell us that these spiritual processes must run their course, even to despair. It is only later, looking back, when we can clearly see that old lower things in us needed to die in order that new higher things in us could be born. So in the big picture of the long term the world is also moving toward heat and light, love and enlightenment. But it cannot get there without going through pain and shadows.

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