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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 identity (4)


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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What do clothes say about who you are? Is it reliable? What's up with angel's clothing? What about envying or desiring nice clothes? Malcolm tackles some of the spiritual ideas behind one of our three basic necessities: clothing.


George Carlin observed, “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” The same principle applies with clothing. People make lots of different choices about clothing—how much money to spend on it, what style to go for, how much time to spend putting together an outfit on a given day, etc.—and those that make different decisions than we do are either slobs or snobs.

So, in an effort to get beyond thinking of each other as a bunch of slobs and snobs, here are a few different New Church perspectives on clothing.

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Meaning-making and the Power of Writing

This essay originally appeared as the first chapter of Chelsea Rose Odhner's undergraduate thesis entitled, “Write to Heal: An Analysis of Writing Therapy in the Treatment of Gynecological Cancer,”; completed in 2008. Chapter One, included here, dissects the elements in the process of writing and contrasts these with the process involved in other forms of communication. -editor.

Among all forms of language, the written word has particular power. With respect to the styles of writing in the Word, Emanuel Swedenborg (2007) explains that the people of the earliest church “expressed themselves in words representing higher things [and that] they also spun those words into a kind of narrative thread to lend them greater life” (§ 66). Spinning the words into a kind of narrative thread gave the people “the fullest pleasure possible.” It is unclear whether Swedenborg’s use of the term “earliest church” here refers to a time during the earliest church that had the written word or not. In either case, the key point is that the narratives involved a composing process whether written or otherwise. If it is true in general that some greater life can be imparted to language by being woven into a narrative thread, how could writing serve as an optimal medium for this process? By investigating qualities unique to writing as a form of language we may be able to develop an understanding of how language could acquire greater life by being woven through writing. Does language acquire greater life by being written because the process of writing serves as a medium for making meaning?

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Growing Up in The Park: Reflections on My Sub-Culture

As part of her master's work, Freya was asked to consider her own sub-cultures through several theories of social psychology. In this essay Freya objectively explores her experience growing up in the Glenview society of the General Church as a sub-cultural influence on her thinking and life choices. Her writing draws on her situation but prompts the reader to consider his or her own experience.

When asked to describe my culture, I could tell you that I was raised in a typical middle-class suburb of the Midwestern United States. However, when I probe further it becomes apparent that I belong to a particular and distinct sub-culture. Religious beliefs, community interactions, and family ties combined for over a century to produce the specific niche which I inherited. This culture is largely responsible for who I am today, and although my experience is unique, I can relate many aspects of my life to descriptions provided by prominent developmental theorists. Here, I will describe several significant stages of my life with regard to my specific sub-culture, and offer insights connecting my experiences to selections from the developmental theories of Erik Erikson, Lev Vygotsky, Urie Bronfenbrenner, Viktor Frankl, and Lawrence Kohlberg.

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