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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 family (7)


Having Fun with Snow and Mud

Managing the mud. Wystan uses very tangible images and experiences of early spring to raise larger reflections on the way life unfolds - often in messy ways. Each phase of season comes with a mixed blessing and a lingering resistance to moving into the challenges of the next. Wystan helps us see this in a broader context through a playful exploration of mud. -Editor.

I am thinking about snow and mud. On the one hand, three plus months of grey skies and wet to icy precipitation falling out of it leave us longing for the sunshine, gardens, outdoor games, and morning walks without a parka that are coming. And warmer temperatures means mud.

During every warming trend this long winter I was reminded of this fact. Every weather shift brought two simultaneous and conflicting emotion: “YES!” and “ohhh noooooo.” Muddy footprints cover the floors, muddy eggs fill the nesting boxes, mud-caked shoes pile up on the porch and are strewn through the hall, muddy drying doggie legs shed dusty sandy stuff in piles all night long.

This morning, as I plowed through my reading for Arcana class, the natural phenomenon of mud banged into a spiritual thought as I read

“A life of faith without love is like sunlight without warmth – the kind of light that occurs in winter, when nothing grows and everything droops and dies.” Arcana Coelestia 34(2)
In winter we have light, sometimes glorious sparkling light, and even some heat from the sun - snow melts even in very cold air temperatures when the sun’s angle is right. But all plant life dies or at least is at stasis. Things don’t grow.

And yet, it strikes me powerfully (as I stare at the floors of my house) how handy it is to have everything frozen up solid, compared to the mud of kinder weather!

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Failure is Not a Detour

Lori peers over her shoulder at all that failed to thrive in her life, despite her clear intentions and decisive actions. Though many of her dreams have not been realized, she is reaping where she did not sow. -Editor

This is a theme I have been sashaying with for a long time now. I am only in my fifties but the view over my shoulder has a trail of broken dreams that I believed in with my whole being. Many of them died.

John and I articulated a plan of planting a church congregation in New Mexico in the 80's. I do not remember any space parceled out for doubt that we would succeed. We had prayed about this. John had studied the demographics until he could recite them by heart. We had no gap between our clasped hands for The Goal to slip through. But after three years of living and breathing it, we let it go like a trapped bird and watched it fly out the window. Yet in the silence that stayed behind to keep us company I learned that there is life after failure. I have more respect for John for reaching and losing, not less. There are gray and white memories of our family of six hovering below the poverty line, reminding me that I have lived with less than I have now. Failure made me stronger, insulating me from entitlement.

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A Home for Love

Ronnie Schnarr takes the fourth slot in the series on Women as Ordained Priests (or Not). However, acknowledging his current lack of firm conclusion on the subject, Ronnie sidesteps debate and takes a different approach to the subject. He paints a picture which conveys the beautiful blessings we might pursue by rethinking our priorities as a society. -Editor.

First of all, I would like to say that my opinion has not been fully solidified on this topic so I would I hope I wouldn’t be tied down to my opinion, but for the sake of balance I thought it would be useful to make this post. I think the most important thing about this question is the context in which you look at it and here is a context that I would offer for your consideration.

Here is a question for you and a quote to ponder:

How does love come into the world?

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The Swedenborgian Asterisk: A Drag-in's Tale

Lauren Dale Anderson uses an author's note to explain the motivation for her project (below). Lauren offers the reader a window into her experience of coming into contact with members of the organized New Church. With humor and insight she illustrates some of the gaps in understanding, language and culture between New Church Christians and non-New Church Christians. Lauren warmly encourages reader feedback in her ongoing effort to gather perspectives on the New Church. -Editor

Author's Note

This is the introduction to a book that is yet to be birthed from the folds of my mind and reading notes. I got the idea for it a few months ago on one of my many plane trips around the country and wrote the introduction and a brief purpose/outline, both of which I share with you below.

I had meant to keep this under wraps, afraid of what the response to it might be, until I had developed more of the text.

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Dating “Outside” the Church

In this article Garrett Smith explores his changing attitude toward dating "outside" of the New Church. Like Meryl Cowley a couple weeks ago in Spirituality in Relationships, Garrett concludes that spanning differences of religious background with romantic interest offers some unique benefits as well as challenges. - Editor

So… who am I, and what does dating “outside” the church mean? First, a little background:

I grew up in about as New Church a family as they come. As a preacher’s kid, I had the privilege of living the gypsy-esque lifestyle that is normal for any preacher’s family—in our case moving from Mitchellville, MD to Westville, South Africa before finally ending up in Kempton, PA. Through these moves, the New Church was always strong focus in our day-to-day life and I remember that our family had worship most weeknights at home and went to church pretty much every Sunday. (Religiously you might even say.)

For schooling, all three of my older brothers ended up going to “normal”, public schools—although they might disagree with calling the uniformed, British, all-boys, public high school that they went to, “normal”. I on the other hand managed to skip public school all together. Through careful planning started as a 5-year-old, I managed to go from Washington New Church School to Kainon New Church School to Kempton New Church School to The Academy of the New Church finally ending up at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church for freshman and sophomore year of college. (You may notice a common suffix to all of these school titles.)

With religion classes standard in the curriculums of all of the above, I mention my schooling only as a preface to illustrate the pervasiveness of New Church teachings that I was exposed to by the end of sophomore year in college. The specific doctrine relevant to this particular story is that by this stage I was very familiar with was: you should not marry outside of the church. The very reasonable reason for this being that having the same religion is the most important criteria to be sure of when getting married. This being the case, it’s probably best to not even date outside of the church.

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Protecting Ideals and the Reality of the World in which We Live 

From a mother's perspective, Stephanie asks the hard questions about balancing ideals with the challenges of reality. Stephanie is insightful and penetrating in her questions but remains gentle in her conclusions as she acknowledges how difficult and personal the struggle is for each person trying to make the best choices she can. -Editor

The New Church offers beautiful teachings with unadulterated ideals about marriage. Something I struggle with is how to hold and protect these precious, perfect ideals I've been privy to have an awareness of, and how to love and accept myself and others in our imperfect states and world. Specifically, I struggle with the ideals of conjugial love and the myriad ways in which it is adulterated. Some questions that arise in my mind include relationships outside of marriage (including homosexuality, cohabitation, pre-marital sexual relationships, open relationships, etc.), the spectrum of the presence of mothers, and the roles and specific duties of men and women within marriages.

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