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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
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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Friday
Apr102015

An Experience from the Word

Helen didn't always understand the significance of the Bible. She shares this week about the things in her life that led her to a new interest in religion and ultimately to the Writings. She explains some of the biblical passages that are only clearly explained and made accessible through the Writings and describes the difference this makes to her understanding. -Editor.

In 1974 my father passed away, and I felt a lack of religion in my life because he had been a very spiritual man. But at the same time, it felt like he was in my heart with me, nudging me to believe in something more than myself and the world, and so I started going to church again. By the end of six months, I had grown tired of the ordinary Mass the Catholics had, and joined a group of Charismatics who were seeking more feeling, more emotion, more meaning from the Catholic religion. After a few months of going to the meetings, I picked up on one of the things they were stressing, which was the importance of reading the Bible. Catholics hadn’t been taught to do that. I started reading it every day, and when coming to the book of Micah, something popped out from the text for me. It was about people going up the mountain of the Lord and coming down again (Micah 4). In that moment I realized it wasn’t talking about going up a mountain but about our minds going up to the Lord, communing with him, and coming back down again. During those light, magical moments I was aware that a very loving and extraordinary Being was reaching out to me. After, I kept reading the Bible hoping for the mental expansiveness to come back. The rigid way my mind usually worked had given way to something very moving and more loving than I ever experienced before.

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Friday
Apr032015

Virginity and the Virgin Birth Part 2

In part two of this series Lawson discusses why virginity is important and what it looks like on a spiritual level. Lawson adapted these articles for New Church Perspective from one of his sermons. -Editor.

Why was it necessary for the Lord to be born of a virgin? Because the father’s soul and image is in his seed. In a working marriage, the Lord provides that the husband’s seed is received by the wife and adds itself to her life. In this way, a wife leads a life that is more and more of one mind with her husband. The union of souls and joining of minds comes right down into ultimate effects (Conjugial Love 172). If Joseph or any other man had been Jesus’ father, Jesus could only have been an ordinary man like his father. His soul would then have been a finite receptacle of life, like all of ours, instead of the Divine life itself. The Lord put on an ordinary, mortal, human body from Mary, the mother, but His soul was Divine, the Everlasting Father.

For a woman to give up her virginity is the deepest sign of love and commitment. The cleanness, purity and holiness of conjugial love makes one with her virginity. With it she promises to love her man to eternity, so she cannot rationally make this promise except in the security of a holy marriage covenant. And no man should ask her to give him this crown of her honor unless he is her husband, praying to the Lord to draw them together forever (Conjugial Love 460).

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Friday
Mar272015

Virginity and the Virgin Birth Part 1

This week Lawson paints a picture of what it must have been like to be Joseph learning about and then dealing with the reality that Mary was pregnant before they were married. In this two part article adapted from a sermon Lawson looks at the significance of marriage and virginity. -Editor.

Think how Joseph must have felt, when he first realized that Mary was expecting a baby. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and announced to her that she would be blessed to be the mother of the Lord, she did not tell Joseph, but “arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste” (Luke 1:39), to share this wonderful news with Elizabeth, her cousin. Elizabeth was the one person in the world she could share such astonishing news with. Since she was to be the mother of John the Baptist, who would prepare the Lord’s way, she knew that the birth of the Lord Himself was imminent, and must have been wondering who would be so highly favored as to be His mother. Anyone else, probably including Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, could not have believed her. So Mary went straight to Elizabeth, and remained with her about three months, almost to the time when John was born.

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Friday
Mar202015

Meditate | Behold! The Key to Existence Hidden in Plain Sight

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. But why is meditation such a central spiritual practice, anyway? In a word: reflection. This month, Chelsea deviates from the normal structure of this column to share some reflections on the importance of reflection itself. As usual, we welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. —Editor

There are several passages in Swedenborg’s works in which he writes of the importance of reflection: self-reflection, reflection from others, and reflection on our surroundings and our experiences. In fact, he writes that “without reflection, there is no life” (Spiritual Experiences 2228). Without self-reflection we have no way to witness our thoughts, no ability to reflect on what we are sensing in our lives beyond just feeling it. Actually, our spiritual development depends on reflection.

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Friday
Mar132015

Why Read the Word/Bible? 

Reading the Word can be confusing, but this week Helen offers a way of reading it to enjoy the mystery and the pieces to be puzzled over and put together in an effort to understand our loving creator. -Editor.

Many of us love mysteries and knowing something deeper is meant, then trying to ferret out what the meaning is. An example for those who are older is 'Rosebud' in the movie, Citizen Kane, or, for middle aged people, the symbolism and powers of the ‘Ark’ in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A movie fraught with symbolism is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In it a man and woman are inexplicably lured to a volcano-like mountain in Wyoming. In its time this movie was spellbinding to the public, and when the meaning was finally revealed, it turned out that extra-terrestrial beings were trying to talk with people on earth.

It’s easy to place God into that story, because he is an extra-terrestrial being communicating with people here on the Earth, or at least trying to. He did for many thousands of years in pre-history, but failure in the lines of communication kept occurring and eventually they became fully blocked. Way back when, his wisdom showed that he needed to come here on the Earth and talk with people directly. But before he could do that, he symbolically represented that he was going to do it, which helped hold open the lines for the centuries between the Fall of Adam and his birth here on Earth.

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