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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.


Snippets from the Life of a Hospice Chaplain 

Her interfaith training and background with the Writings of Swedenborg combine to provide Julie with an ability to reach out to and serve people of many denominations in her role as a hospice chaplain. Julie shares this week about some of the wonderful people she has met and the some of the reasons she feels blessed to be doing this work. -Editor.

I feel truly blessed to have spent more than 4 ½ years as a hospice chaplain. I am with people in some of the most difficult moments of their life, both for those on our service and those who love them. It’s a profession some people might find morbid. I am with people who are either very ill, very frail, or no longer able to communicate, either because of dementia or other illnesses, and who are not expected to live longer than six months. Yet it’s a profession to which I believe I’ve been led. Most of our people are in facilities, but a few are in their own homes, living with a friend or family member, or occasionally in hospital.

So why do I feel so blessed? Firstly I get to be with the best team of people I have ever worked with: physicians, nurses, aides, volunteers, social workers, my chaplain colleague and the admin team who keeps the business running. We have a simple goal: to support people, and their families, on hospice and give them comfort, dignity and quality of life for their last moments in this world, whether that’s literally a few moments or 2 ½ years.

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The Love to Change

People can and do change, but it't not so glamorous, romantic and spontaneous as movies and books often make it seem. It isn't easy and it isn't always pretty but, as Clark discusses in this week's article, Jesus provided us with many examples and many tools that we need in order to change and grow into our "authentic" selves. Even if that change is so slow it isn't completed in this world. -Editor.

The movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” was recently released. While it may seem to be an excellent study of human nature, I will not go see it because any message about positive human change will be quite obscured by the salacious content. The message will be completely missed by most viewers who only want to be titillated (yes that is a word. Go look it up!).

The Word is full of examples of how humans change. Sadly, we are not shown very many examples of it in the various forms of media these days. There are many movies that purport to show how a person learns a lesson about their humanity through experiencing their depravity. While such a book or movie may be an excellent study of human nature, any message about human change is hidden from most readers and viewers who only want to be voyeurs. There are a number of movies that more accurately and appropriately reveal the mechanism of change in human beings. They are not as viscerally exciting because they portray how change really happens: human change is a process that begins within the individual human spirit, when God’s love and wisdom are voluntarily brought to support an individual’s motivation, thought, speech and act.

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Meditate | Grumpy God?

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 I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways…My eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity…Now upon you I will soon pour out My fury, and spend My anger upon you…My eye will not spare, Nor will I have pity; I will repay you according to your ways…The rod has blossomed, pride has budded. Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness…They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be like refuse; their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord; they will not satisfy their souls, nor fill their stomachs, because it became their stumbling block of iniquity…For the land is filled with crimes of blood, and the city is full of violence…I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease, and their holy places shall be defiled.

They have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger…Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity”

Ezekiel 7: 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 23, 24; 8: 17, 18.

I’ve been reading the Prophets while holding the question, “How is this a communication from a loving God?” in my mind. Let me tell you—that loving communication seems very well buried at first read in Ezekiel 7 and 8.

What irks me about these chapters most is how it seems like God has an anger problem. I’m put off by this because I have anger issues myself that I’ve been working on for years. Holding these passages in contemplation I realize I’m bitter because I am getting better at practicing self-control and here God looks like he’s got none whatsoever! What’s going on?

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Plane Kindness

There are a lot of things, both selfish and unselfish, that go into the decision to be kind to someone. Today Coleman breaks down some of the ways that God nudges us towards being kind to others out of true heavenly love. -Editor.

Since becoming a pastor, I’ve spent a good deal of time in airplanes and airports. You might expect that spending all that time with tired, overcrowded, hurried individuals, I’d have seen a lot of the worst in people. But I’ve found the opposite to be true. Sure, I’ve run into some grumpy folks in my travels; but I’ve also seen travel bring out some of the best in people. On one flight I was on, there was a passenger who didn’t have the right credit card to pay for her meal, and the airline didn’t take cash. Seeing her trouble, the man next to her (a complete stranger as far as I could tell) handed the flight attendant his credit card instead, and when the woman took out cash to offer the man, he turned it down. Another time, when I was flying with my then-fiancée Anne, we both had middle seats in different parts of the plane; but when the man next to me found out we were engaged and not able to sit together, he gave up his aisle seat for Anne’s middle seat.

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Faithful Evolution 

Religious as a kid, Jose turned to atheism when life fell apart near the end of highschool. But after a chance visit led him to Bryn Athyn College, his life changed again as friends and teachers discussed, argued and listened to him, helping him to find the power of religion in his life again. -Editor

God doesn’t exist; if there isn’t concrete physical proof, then that’s all simply a fairy tale, a way for individuals to feel they can control what cannot be controlled.
This is a sentiment I loudly exclaimed to my three friends as we all sat around the old couches in Childs Hall one late evening during our first week at Bryn Athyn College. We were discussing the existence of God, Jesus, heaven and hell, and the creation of the universe, though not soon enough it became all about faith and God. The argument was divided in two groups. On one side, my friends: three devoted Christians from different denominations with the belief in the positive impact of Christianity in their lives and the lives of others. On the other side, me: a Catholic-raised individual turned atheist who saw religion and holy figures as a waste of precious time and energy. I believed energy could be better allocated to living a life for yourself and your family and not wasted on religious “fairy tales,” as I would put it several times during the night’s conversation.

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What are the Priorities in Parenting? 

The most important things in life can easily get lost in the shuffle. The same applies to parenting—in the crazy that is having kids, school events, homework, sports, friends, etc., a parent can easily lose focus on the bigger picture. Derrick offers a re-focusing based on the teachings about parenting found in the Writings. -Editor

Today I am going to offer a few reflections from New Church teachings about parenthood. Since I am a father, my reflections are probably going to lean that direction. But most of my thoughts are going to apply to all parents.

Parenting Is the Highest Priority

From the Lord's perspective, parenting is the most important work you could be doing.

[Marriage's] use excels all other uses in creation, for by marriage is the orderly propagation of the human race and also of the angelic heaven, which is from the human race. (CL 156)
Propogation is a fancy way of saying reproduction. Marriage is the Lord's mechanism for creating more people. And parenting is the Lord's mechanism for getting more angels.

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