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Weird II: What Kind of Weird Are You?

Todd Beiswenger hits us with a second article in his weird series. Weird II explores ideas of astral travel and beings from other planets. Todd puts Swedenborg's unusual ideas in the the context of similar ideas from the New Age movement. You can catch up on his first weird article here and the final piece in the series here. -Editor

For those of us who regard the Writings as an absolute authority on any topic contained therein, there is no more vexing a book than Earths in the Universe (more recently translated as Worlds in Space). This wasn’t a problem over 100 years ago when the General Church deemed the revelation from God, not Swedenborg, but it is now. How do we reconcile the existence of the book with what space exploration is telling us? My solution: think weird. Not governmental conspiracy theory/cover up of aliens kind of weird. That just doesn’t solve the problem of beings on a gaseous planet like Jupiter and no water for the must-be-thirsty people of Mercury. I’m thinking a different kind of weird, a socially acceptable kind of weird.

Way back in 1971 a man named Robert Monroe wrote a book titled, Journeys Out of the Body. It’s a classic if you are into psychic world kind of stuff. In it he tells his own personal tale of a man with an ability that he did not ask for. He worked in the radio business, and was experimenting with, “data learning during sleep” and using himself as the number one test subject. Shortly after this he started noticing that his body would start vibrating. This started happening to him at random times, and one night he lay in bed as the vibrations began. But he noticed this time that during these vibrations he could put his hand through the floor of his bedroom.

From there he learned how to leave his physical body behind, and explore the world in a whole new way. He learned quickly that thought brings presence. If he was thinking about a person, he would immediately be there. Now when he visited people alive in this world, they could not see him. Eventually though he found that there were people who could see him. Some of them had already passed on from a life on Earth. Others were intelligent species from – you guessed it – other worlds.

In fairness, Monroe does not say “I met people from Jupiter” or name any other planet in the solar system - at least not in the two books of his I’ve read anyway. But he does say he’s traveled the galaxy and beyond, and has talked at great length with many beings that he labels as “intelligent species.” He comes to the conclusion that there are “billions” of different species throughout the universe. That’s right: billions. They just live on a higher frequency than we do. Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Most people give you the “you must be crazy” look if you mention other beings that we can’t see. But really, why not? After all, we have associate spirits with us all the time that cannot see us “because nothing that is in our solar world falls into their sight” (Heaven and Hell 292). Why not beings that we can’t see? I also tend to think that the Lord, the creator of the entire universe, probably has the creative juices enough to figure out how to make humans in more than just one way. If love and wisdom are the only true substances, why must we confine our thoughts of beings to those that are carbon based? Surely love and wisdom can terminate in some other, finer substance to create life as well.

Beyond just reconciling the whole Earths in the Universe problem for us, seeing things through Monroe’s view also serves to further unite science with the New Church. New Age science in particular is constantly finding that acknowledging a greater reality beyond our physical senses is key to a greater understanding of our role in the universe. Monroe would like to prove this to each and every person, and as such he set up the Monroe Institute in Virginia where you too can learn to leave your body, and maybe even visit the people in our solar system.

Todd Beiswenger

Todd is a second year Theological School student who is happily married with one child. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Auburn University and an MBA from Temple. Interests include Phillies baseball, fast cars, and stock trading.

Reader Comments (6)

Not that this helps reconcile what to us may be 'weird' about "Earths in the Universe," but of great interest to me is that there were at least two fellows from Swedenborg's era and area who wrote almost the same sort of stuff about life on other planets as what Swedenborg wrote. Both men presented their treatises at the University of Upsala under the presidency of Anders Celsius (of the centrigrade thermometer). In 1741 Petrus Wargentin wrote and presented "De Satellitiebus Jovis" (On the satellites of Jupiter) and in 1743 Isacus Svanstedt wrote and presented "De Pluralitate Mundorum" (On the existence of numerous solar systems).

So, while in our era, this sort of theoretical discussion of life on other planets may seem weird, it wasn't when it was published. It was part of the body of writing of those forward thinking, university educated sort of intellectual fellows.

September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFreya Fitzpatrick

I appreciate the historical context from Freya... though, the temptation is then to say, "Swedenborg's ideas were quite reasonable at the time, and are clearly historically dated." This kind of statement neatly saves Swedenborg from being weird but leaves these specific ideas as harmless and quaint moments of history, rather than abiding truths about reality. (Freya clearly did not force this conclusion).

I think letting Swedenborg's claims about the physical world be dismissed as "historically limited" is the safest and easiest way to subscribe to some Swedenborgian ideas without seeming too weird oneself. Though I personally like safe and easy solutions, I appreciate efforts like Todd's to offer us the opportunity to speculate about these ideas under the caveat of admitting that these are weird ideas on the face of it.

Todd's article above does broaden the context for Swedenborg's ideas of extraterrestrial beings, but I'm not sure associations with the New Age world of thinking take us very far out of the weird category.

In the end, part of me (deep inside) is very comfortable with weird. I would be happy to allow for the possibility of non-carbon based human life on other planets. I understand that this type of idea sidesteps scientific inquiry in a fashion bound to irritate the careful skeptic. But it allows for astral travel around the universe, telepathy and all other sorts of fun things. Sorry. Todd made me do it. That's just what kind of weird I am.


September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Thanks, Brian, for your comments. I'm so glad you clarified that the historical context is in no way meant to detract from the validity of the message as Divine revelation. I have always absolutely loved "Earths in the Universe" and I am perfectly happy to allow weird and/or out of the box thoughts in order to imagine how it can be true or to not even worry about how it can be true in a literal way.

I had had no idea there was an historical context until I attended a Neo-Latin conference last year and one of the sessions was about these guys and their ideas about extraterrestrial life. I was so amazed. In some ways it is so freeing to be able to imagine what may be true without having to get bogged down in the what is claimed as scientific fact.

And, the funny thing about scientific 'facts' is that many of them are modified or proven wrong as scientists postulate and test new theories - which is not meant to be a cut against science. I think we need to realize that science is man's attempt to understand God's design, so it's not to surprising that there's always more to learn.

September 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFreya Fitzpatrick

I have been conducting two surveys about Swedenborgian beliefs, which some of the readers of this newsletter may want to participate in:
1. Defining Faith: for main stream Swedenborgian thinkers

2. That's me in the corner - for Cultural Swedenborgians, Friends of Swedenborgians, or Former Swedenborgians:

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwendy soneson

I consider Swedenborg's writings as having Divine authority in my life- actually the LORD, whom I encounter there. Usually, when something troubles me, I just wait long enough and find out he was right on the things i set on the shelf, didn't like, or didn't believe at first. I use the Lord's qualities as my hermeneutics. Any reading i give Scripture, a person, the book of nature (science) or the Writings themselves, must align with the following principles or it isn't valid and needs another viewpoint/ perspective added: Love Itself, Wisdom, Mercy, Freedom, Innocence (willingness to remain teachable/ willing to be led by what is good and true), Peace, Healing Wholeness, and Life Itself.

Anyway, Todd, Awesome and bold of you to be writing about these things. But then, I have a PhD in Weird. Just ask my kids. ;)

In the case of the chance of life on other planets, I think the Lord had a knowledge of what we would needed and answered us before we asked or even had a knowledge we had need of it. I take Swedeborg seriously and feel his work is extremely Providential and that the goodness there has been provided to inform us in a post-disclosure world.

Through the Lord's Mercy and Providence Swedenborg provided us with a definition of what it means to be "human" that is inclusive of the foreigner/ stranger/ alien/ other among us. “Earth in the Universe” gives us a reference point for knowing all beings, no matter what planet of origin, are children of God and born for Heaven and filled with His indwelling Life and Spirit. His writings give us a departure point to enter that dialogue.

The writings seem to maintain that we are not born human by the sake of location (Terra, Extra- or Multi- dimensional) or by the shape of our skin (location of mouth), nor by the color (blue with gold and silver dots, grey), or texture ("lizard?")... But rather by the degree to which we express and demonstrate the Lord's love/compassion and wisdom/ justice. We ought not to imagine we are superimposing our humanness on God but rather ... We are deriving our humanity or humaneness from His DivineHuman Nature (image and likeness). The ancients humbly called each other by gender neutral garden-terms. We still do when speaking in terms of endearment (my "little flower" my “rock” “men like trees”) They presumed to call no one HU-man except the "Very Man." We are humans and angels becoming (on this world or off-world) only when we act according to the LORD's saving graces and essential qualities; those of Love, wisdom, mercy, freedom, innocence, freedom, healing wholeness, peace, and Life.

Besides, There are others (the Vatican!) whose theories and research support our Swedish Shaman-Seer's outlook on the possibility and nature of extra-terrestrials/ non-carbon based?/ or multi-dimensionals. See:

E.g. The Drake equation (sometimes called the Green Bank equation or the Green Bank Formula) devised by Frank Drake in 1962, was used to estimate the potential number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. It is used in the fields of exobiology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

Swedenborg could be considered the first or advance Exopolitical Ambassador.
“Exopolitics” is the study of key individuals, institutions, and processes associated with an extraterrestrial presence among us, and concerns itself with the disclosure of such knowledge and the political, economic, social, and spiritual implications of such a presence. The term was coined by Michael Emin Salla, an international politics scholar. Salla's most recent academic position was in Washington at American University, Center for Global Peace.

Purple Cow- The Second coming of Christ, angelic presence, and the alien factor are our “Purple Cows.” Either one- The second nativity or the alien factor are extra-ordinary things which could stand out about our organization. Who thought the weird stuff wasn’t worth engaging?

I recently decided to create ExopoliticsSanDiego as a forum for this "weird" but much needed political, social, and human rights discourse. I did it to raise consciousness awareness (a real paradigm shifter just like that “big blue ball,”) to bring Swedenborg's Writings and perspective to the table and make them available to a very large and diverse portion of the scientific population and spiritual communities.

Besides, the human-rights issues, I am interested for the purpose of bringing forth sustainable technologies:

I especially want to bring an understanding of the Lord's essential qualities and operating principles (named above) into the conversation; to inform the developing protocols and laws, to provide moral compass for the new physics and the new technologies which are being developed (have already been developed) as a result of back-engineering. It is also a pre-emptive move to stand ground against fundamentalist influence.

I would love to bring the Writings to bear on what ought to be a modern Renaissance (overdue for the knowledge and current technology we already possess) If we can end the current truth embargo and allow suppressed knowledge to inspire creative applications/ inventions/ innovations ("nunc licet") it will help render a more just free and abundant world. Perhaps one in which our economy leans toward an economy of grace VS an economy of dollars. These will seem like the dark ages in retro-spect.

I established the ExopoliticsSanDiego platform in order to bring awareness and assistance to the research and development of clean/ pure/ zero-point/ free energy sources (whatever name you want to give it.) I did it to exercise an option on behalf of the poor (orphans and widows, etc.) Part of our spirituality can be viewed by how we extract and consume energy: Do we violently force, invade and deeply extract, coerce, and coax the energy we need or do we freely invite, induce, inspire, and thankfully collaborate with, to attract the energies out of the ambient environment. "Heaven is created in a state of freedom of will." … "Behold I stand at the door knocking"

I did it to initiate a forerunning conversation before the fact (of disclosure) so that the church will be in a position of leadership, diplomacy, healing, hope, and help.
Perhaps it is no longer a matter of when or if we discover life on other planets. Perhaps they are already here and living among us. There seems to be an effort toward disclosure:
Sept 27th 2010: The most recent Press Conference:

Article Submitted by high level leadership:

A remarkable press conference in Washington, DC.

Former Canadian Minister of Defense releases information

Swedenborg's Writings were given to infill the increasing knowledge and information and coming paradigm shifts with the Lord's good. If we are truly to arrive at a heaven of earth and anew awakened and conscious humanity hopefully we were gifted with wisdom and equal goodness before hand. In the Writings we are given the science of sciences, a unified field theory, and an understanding of SpaceTime for a reason- to help give impetus to invention and renewal and to provide moral compass- maybe even other kinds of support, scientific, creativity, technical, human resources, and I would think even financial help. Here is an example of what I'm talking about: http://w And another where in my opinion where the concept of charity - exponential giving/ sharing - has found expression: scientific term "over unity" is being demonstrated:

Who knows, but soon, I think weird is going to be the new norm. Thanks again for a provocative article. Inmyhumbleop, it is a new frontier.

September 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarla Friedrich

Thanks for your thoughts Carla, a very cool string of ideas and possibilities. I particularly appreciate your articulated hermeneutic approach. I also enjoyed seeing that the Swedenborgian "weird" keeps company with research coming out of the Vatican.

September 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
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