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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 faith (14)


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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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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We Are Only As Sick As Our Secrets 

Drugs, alcohol, and the following mental illness went hand in hand with religion and spiritual experiences for Dave. As he worked on moving away from one he moved closer to the other. But the conflict between the two and lack of resolution on either front led to further conflict. Ultimately he has found change in the 12 steps program of AA and the ideas of regeneration, as we read in his article for this week. -Editor.

I found myself deceiving others about the double life I led. Drugs and alcohol were a large part and they led to all kinds of horrible behavior. This resulted in spiritual and mental insanity.

I believe a large part of the insanity was because I was violating deeply held moral beliefs that I held for myself. But I was trapped in a cycle of addiction that I couldn’t break free of.

From time to time, I would resolve to stop putting the chemicals into my system and detox on my own. At some point shortly following that, I would ‘confess’ my secrets to an inappropriate person and I would be thrown into spiritual upheaval.

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Witnessing with Chris Barber

In this episode, we interview Chris Barber about the topic of "witnessing". Chris will be giving a presentation on witnessing at the General Church Assembly in Bryn Athyn this June. What does it mean to be a witness to the truth? Are we agents of the Lord in just what we say, or in how we live?

Witnessing with Chris Barber



Joel describes the process he uses when flooded with doubt. He draws a distinction between the experience of doubt, and the choice to see beyond it, by taking loving actions in spite of his emotions and thoughts. This essay was first published in Beacon, the Bryn Athyn College newspaper. Joel's contribution wraps up our themed series on doubt. You can find the lead essay in the series [here]. -Editor.

Doubt is a topic that has always been important to me. I think this is because I have a very skeptical personality. I like to disbelieve things until they have been absolutely proven to me. This is a problem, as I also strive to have a strong faith in the Lord. This conflict has led me to try to understand what faith really is, and what place doubt has in the context of faith. Often, I am confronted by the question, “How can I have faith when I am experiencing such strong doubt?”

First of all, it is important to have an idea of what faith is. On one level, it is all those things that I think are correct.

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Tools for Dealing with Doubt with Dan Synnestvedt

In this episode, Dr. Synnestvedt, a professor of philosophy at Bryn Athyn College, outlines some categories of doubt: local or global, subjective or objective, from the intellect or from the will. With these categories in mind, he suggests ways of dealing with some of our doubts and the fear that accompanies them. He also recomends the book Alvin Steadfast on Vernacular Island How can we learn from and live with uncertainty?

Tools for Doubt with Dan Synnestvedt