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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
May222015

Utterly Enchanted

There are parts of the Bible that seem no longer relevant in modern life. This week Helen demonstrates a way of taking the information we have from Swedenborg's Writings and making applicable connections about those passages. -Editor.

Sometimes in his Writings, Swedenborg tells us of a person who lived in the past. It usually makes me stop and think about being alive hundreds, or maybe thousands, of years from now, like in the line from the hymn, Amazing Grace, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years…” As I turn back to the page, Swedenborg is telling me something about the state of the person from the past.

One such example is Cicero (Jan 3, 106 BC – Dec 7, 46 BC). Because he lived in ancient Rome, he would not have known about the Word unless he came in contact with some Jewish traders. He certainly learned about it when he went into the next life, though, because Swedenborg relates the following about him,

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Friday
May152015

Gender and the Priesthood: An Alternative Perspective

This week Chelsea offers a different angle from which to view gender in relation to the priesthood and marriage. Looking at what is unique about men and women in addition to what they have in common and examining how the marriage of love and wisdom is at work on multiple levels, Chelsea provides a thought-provoking discussion. -Editor

I just have to start by saying that here I am expounding on the doctrines of marriage and I can’t talk about it without acknowledging that it is through my experience of marriage that I am totally humbled in every regard. All of us can write about marriage like we know what we’re talking about. We can read Conjugial Love and put to memory its teachings. But when it comes to the day to day of being married to another human being, I can at least speak for myself and say it confronts me and my fallibility at every turn. I find it especially and acutely true with regard to marriage that what I know is minuscule compared to what I don’t know. Before I push off into the teachings of marriage, I have to acknowledge that the waters are deep and full of creatures of extensive variety; “with marriages…there are infinite variations among partners who are in a state of conjugial love” (Conjugial Love 324). 

As long as the idea of women serving as priests is considered not only to be doctrinally unfounded but even a threat or opposed to the very marriage of good and truth, it is easily dismissed. The teachings on marriage are central to the New Church and so it is understandable that they also come up centrally in the discourse of whether it is orderly for a woman to serve as an ordained minister in the General Church.

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Friday
May082015

Calling for the Lord in the Priesthood Part 2 

Tomoya adds to his discussion of gender and humanity this week. He presents a different approach to the ownership of the priesthood, suggesting that it needs to be stepped back from, and full ownership handed over to God rather than any humans of either gender. -Editor.

The Ripple Effects from before the Time of the Last Judgment

What the First Commandment addresses, namely the source from which truths ought to be thought of, has been one of the major pillars of inquiries in human philosophy. As a human philosophy, however, it ended up deciding that this source rested with us. Beginning with Descartes's cogito, which is our own immediate self-reflecting selfhood, we have come to see ourselves as a complete whole human based merely on our physical indivisibility, which is the smallest unit of our cogito. This idea was emphasized in the atheistic existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre in the last century, wherein we were the owner of our own existence and the power of rationality, before being defined by anything else, including the Divine. In its insistence that we must keep the ownership of our own existence, this philosophy did not allow any room for us to ever start from the Divine. So it established itself diametrically against the First Commandment; the truths must not be thought of from any other source than our own cogito.

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Friday
May012015

Calling for the Lord in the Priesthood Part 1

This week we have the first of a two part article by Tomoya. He takes a step back and looks at the question of the ordination of women by first looking at the ordination of human beings in general. -Editor.

Regarding the topic of women in the priesthood, I have read the articles and the reader comments as well as the most of the papers here in New Church Perspective. The more I read, the more I was drawn to the processes, rather than the products, of proponents’ arguments. I thought that I might be able to contribute to this topic from a different perspective, without exploring anything more about masculinity and femininity. We have seemingly exhausted what needs to be said about these, and I am convinced now that the call for women in the priesthood doesn’t even have much to do with masculinity and femininity, if none at all. Since this is a long article, I’d like to start with a synopsis.

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Friday
Apr242015

Journey: Walking with the Lord in Song (Mixed Media)

This week we have a song by Nora about journeying through life with the Lord. She shares here about the inspiration for the song and some of the reasons that music is important in her life, and we have a link to her song. -Editor.

While working as a music therapist in a hospice setting, my patients would often ask me why I wanted them to sing with me. They would self-deprecate with a variety of judgments and perceptions about their singing abilities. In reply, I would tell them the truth; that I've tried singing alone and with others, and that nothing brings me more joy than to share music making. As I wrote the song “Journey,” (linked below) I explored the concept of walking through life with the Lord, not on my own, and not letting Him do all the singing.

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Friday
Apr172015

Meditate | Worth the Effort

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. This month, Chelsea finds reflection of a core aspect of our minds in a couple seemingly unrelated stories in the Old Testament. As usual, we welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. —Editor

“Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’ And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over” (2 Kings 2:14).

“It happened after this that the king of the people of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. Then David said, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.’

So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the people of Ammon. And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun their lord, ‘Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Has David not rather sent his servants to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?’

Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away. When they told David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, ‘Wait at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return’” (2 Samuel 10:1-5).

“In general [the children of Ammon] are people whose worship is external and to some extent appears holy, but is not internal. They are also people who take up the things which belong to external worship as goods and truths but reject and regard as worthless those that belong to internal worship…People with whom such good exists are interested solely in the external features of worship and doctrine, and despise, reject, indeed are utterly averse to the internal; and as a consequence they have falsities instead of truths” (Arcana Coelestia 2468).

I was particularly struck (oh, what a pun) with how Elisha takes up the mantle of Elijah and strikes the water and it parts. He takes action while simultaneously asking the “affirmatively doubtful” question, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” I like that. How often are we asked to take action while also asking that question, and indeed good things happen—but we are not given total confirmation of God’s presence in our work before we take the action. That’s a first thought. You could stop there. But here’s another on this collection of passages if you want to keep reading.

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