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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.

Entries in charity (4)


The New Church, Money, and a World Full of Endless Need Part 2

Where have we come from and where are we going? Last week Joel looked back at some of the history of Bryn Athyn and the General Church of the New Jerusalem. Today he looks to the future—to what he sees we can do moving forward. -Editor.

Part 2: Where the World is and What It Needs

So if the money has allowed Bryn Athyn to become what it is today, what is up with the rest of the world? The short answer, from what I can tell, is vastation as far as the eye can see. Vastation is the dying of the old to make way for the new. In the long term, it is actually a beautiful process. In the short term, it is always very painful. In this sense, it is exactly the same whether we talk about the collective states that society and churches go through, or the individual states that we go through in our own lives. When we are going through a temptation, vastation, or spiritual trial it is brutal. And the Writings tell us that these spiritual processes must run their course, even to despair. It is only later, looking back, when we can clearly see that old lower things in us needed to die in order that new higher things in us could be born. So in the big picture of the long term the world is also moving toward heat and light, love and enlightenment. But it cannot get there without going through pain and shadows.

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The New Church, Money, and a World Full of Endless Need Part 1

Sometimes we can learn how to move forward by looking back at where we've come from. Joel looks back at the history of the General Church of the New Jerusalem and its founding families in Bryn Athyn, PA. By looking at the origins of the organization Joel looks to the future, proposing some ideas about how to keep things moving forward. -Editor.

Part 1: Where We Are and How We Got Here

Let’s talk about something that people don’t seem to like to talk about, at least not in public – the New Church and money. The tradition I grew up in, the General Church of the New Jerusalem and the town of Bryn Athyn, is, by any objective measure, quite wealthy. The history is quite telling. Bryn Athyn, the General Church, and the Academy were founded as a utopian town, church, and school system at the end of the 19th century thanks to the largesse and generosity of John Pitcairn. For a long time the Pitcairn family continued to exert a large degree of control over the town and church in a sort of benevolent feudal way. These were of course different times, times when class was more distinct in an America still living in Old World shadows -- time when noble minded patricians were expected to bridge the gap between rich and poor, between the aristocrats and the laboring classes, by acts of civic minded giving. So while the so called “robber barons” made enormous fortunes off the backs of immigrant labor, special access to land and resources, and elite clubby connections -- men like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Hearst, and Pitcairn -- they also built parks, endowed schools, and funded all kinds of public projects.

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The Caritas Challenge

Wystan is discontent with the superficial elements of Valentines day. She offers us a new love challenge to take it to a deeper level with bigger repercussions. -Editor.

It’s love month. And while some people think this means chocolate, and the jewelry stores are working to have you think it means diamonds, and the card shops count on you to think of red paper hearts, I have another idea. I think the New Christian Church could turn this month into a celebration of the love of marriage and our fellowman.

It’s also a cold month. February is a cold dreary one in the northern hemisphere, particularly this year. But in any year, February is either snowy and bitter (Maine or Michigan or Sweden), or rainy and cold (Maryland and Virginia and England), or just muddy (Georgia and France) depending. Once upon a time, some western European person had the clever idea of writing love-affirming notes to friends in remembrance St. Valentine. Somehow Valentine's martyrdom—the nature of which almost none of today’s chocolate eaters thinks about—was transformed into something for everyone to celebrate in a life affirming way. That is: maybe it isn’t spring yet darling, but until the seeds sprout under the artificial heat lamps and daffodils pop up outside, let me tell you that I love you, comfort you with something red, and put something tasty in your mouth!

So, why couldn’t such a transformation happen again?

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Meditate | The Essential Ingredient

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 better yet, your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

Outward worship is described as corresponding to inward when it contains the essential ingredient, which is heartfelt reverence for the Lord. Such reverence is not possible in the least except where charity, or love for one’s neighbor, exists. Charity, or love for our neighbor, contains the Lord’s presence. With it, we can adore the Lord from the heart. When we have charity, our reverence comes from the Lord, since the Lord gives us all the ability to revere him and all the vital essence of our veneration. It follows, then, that the kind of charity we have determines the quality of our adoration, that is, the quality of our worship. (Secrets of Heaven 1150)

How do I live worshipfully? This passage seems like the most basic teaching, pointing to the essentialness of love for our neighbor to life, for opening ourselves to the Lord’s presence. It is very useful for me to get reminded, to revisit the idea again and again. It is so simple and yet so easily navigated away from.

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