This is the third of three sections of an essay by Curtis Childs on the significance of Emanuel Swedenborg's work. Start with Section 1: Why We Are Here. Then read Section 2: Egypt, Assyria, and Quantum Mechanics. Then finish up here with: Swedenborg's Influence. - Editor.
Let me explain why Swedenborg merits scrutiny. It is a fact that the greatest poets and prose writers have borrowed liberally from him. The list is long: first Blake, as his direct spiritual descendant; then Goethe, a fervent reader of Swedenborg (as was Kant followed by Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire, Balzac, Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Emerson, Dostoevsky.... ( Czeslaw Milosz, 1980 Nobel Prize, Literature, Swedenborg.ca)
The task of compiling a list of the people and institutions affected by Swedenborg becomes a decision about who and which to include. His influence has been massive. While discussion of his scientific achievements would merit its own article, for brevity this section will focus only on the impact of his theological works, necessarily robbing him of credit for the achievements of the first fifty-six years of his life.
Hellen Keller, perhaps best known for her activism on behalf of the handicapped and for other causes, was greatly affected by Swedenborg’s writings. Struck in early childhood by an illness that left her deaf, blind, and dumb, somehow she was able, through the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan, to overcome and become a prolific writer, speaker, and activist. Swedenborg’s works entered her life during her teenage years, when she was first given a copy of Heaven and Hell. This had a huge impact on her, and it showed up in her writing, throughout her life: “Swedenborg’s books have lifted my wistful longing for a fuller sense-life into a vivid consciousness of the complete being within me… yes, the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg have been my light and a staff in my hand, and by his vision splendid I am attended on my way” (34).