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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 humanity (4)


To Buy or not to Buy

If thinking is something you like to do, read on. Garth Brown argues that our modes of consumption and production present “the great moral problem of our time.” As I finish mindlessly stuffing another piece of Halloween candy into my mouth, I greatly appreciate this call to consider. Do we live purposefully? Do we make our choices with real usefulness in mind? -Editor

We should all provide our bodies with food. This has to come first, but the goal is to have a sound mind in a sound body. We also ought to provide our mind with its food, that is, things that build intelligence and judgment; but the goal is to be in a state in which we can serve our fellow citizens, our community, our country, the church, and therefore the Lord. (True Christianity 406)

Consumption is the great moral problem of our time. I say this not because it is the most obviously evil, but because it is the most opaque. History texts claim, or they did when I was in eighth grade, that industrialization standardized both the process of production and the product itself, and that this so increased efficiency that it led to more; more was produced more cheaply, and more people made enough money to buy more. I don't doubt the truth of this narrative, but it does not examine how, by moving labor and production from small shops to factories, from communities to industrial districts, it obscured the material and human conditions requisite to making a given product. And in the years since the continuation and acceleration of this trend have rendered production so complex, distant, and hidden that we are now unlikely to know in any real sense where a single thing we own came from.

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My Word!

Heath Synnestvedt invites us to join his musing about words. With playfulness and irony, Heath suggests that the use and meaning of words have an important effect both on how we experience and respond to reality. (Heath intends the use of lower case “i”) -Editor

Irrelevant Pre-ramble

“Bless you,” Paddington said when a lady at the table next to his coughed. She had sneezed earlier when he was beyond the proper range for public blessing.

On his way out of the cafe he paused to wonder whether he ought to have paid more than the price of the cocoa for the privilege of sitting in such a fine spot for watching the passersby. “Next time I'll go for the Knickerbocker Glory.”

But he didn't. And again he didn't. It wasn't good for him, and besides, he wouldn't eat it all, or so he once was told.

Eventually holes began to form in his brain and likewise in his memory. Decisions got confusing unless someone helped him, and tasks that used to be second nature were now as mysterious as the cloud forests of Darkest Peru seemed to the Brown family.

“Bless you!” he called out across the room. He no longer read the newspaper.

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Malcolm Smith unpacks the meaning of "Namaste" and asks whether "the divine within me, honoring the divine within you" is a doctrinally sound concept through a New Church lens. -Editor

In India and Nepal the traditional greeting is to say, “Namaste” and bow slightly to the other person with your hands pressed together in front of your chest. In Sanskrit, namaste literally means simply “I bow to you,” but this simple phrase has also been invested with many other meanings. For example, “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me” and “That which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you.” The authors of the Wikipedia article on namaste argue that it’s just the equivalent of “how do you do you?” and it’s not accurate to say that it means these things.

In recent times the term “namaste” has come to be especially associated with yoga, spirituality and meditation in the United States, Europe and Australia. In this context, it has been redeployed in terms of a multitude of very complicated and florid new meanings which do not tie in with original meaning or etymologically sound analyses of the word.

However, regardless of whether it is accurate to say that namaste means these things, the idea of that which is of God in me honoring that which is of God in another person is out there and I want to examine this idea from the perspective of some New Church teachings.

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Spiritual Body Image

Taryn and Pearse explore the idea of people created in the image and likeness of God. In a certain way, everything in creation reflects the human form from the Divine but how are people distinct from the rest of creation? Malcolm continues to look at issues of body image, though his focus is on clothing.

We humans place a lot of importance in appearances, especially our own, often glancing at a mirror several times every day. But most of us are aware of a part of a person beyond that assemblage of cells. People have inklings of another reality apart from bodies made of flesh and bone. Someone can be “beautiful on the inside,” while another can be “inhumane” and even “bestial.” On this earth, these are just turns of phrase.

Meandering through a zoo, no one should have trouble telling the human visitors from the animal inhabitants. One only has to look at the forms of the people and compare them to those of tigers or elephants. People look human. But we are not human merely because of our outward appearance.

According to the Word, the Lord modelled the human race after Himself.

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