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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 language (4)


In Defense of Man

Fran takes issue with feeble substitutions for the word 'man' when it is used to represent our collective humanity. She argues that this fixation on the literal, gendered meaning of the word is the result of a narrow reading. She asks that we invoke a higher perspective and thereby restore to 'man' its proper significance. -Editor

Man: noun

  1. an adult male person, as distinguished from a boy or a woman.
  2. a member of the species Homo Sapiens or all the members of this species collectively, without regard to sex: prehistoric man
  3. the human individual as representing the species, without reference to sex; the human race; humankind: Man hopes for peace, but prepares for war.
  4. a human being; person: to give a man a chance; When the audience smelled the smoke, it was every man for himself.
  5. a husband

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The Power of Sound

Meryl explores the idea of sound itself as a vehicle for communication that is unencumbered by the trappings of language. She introduces the concept that all created things and human affections embody a tonal resonance and that an evolved insensitivity has caused us to focus heavily on the meanings of words rather than experiencing the inherent power of sound. - Editor

My husband and I have started to attend a weekly discussion group hosted by some friends of ours. The topics range from religion and philosophy to bioethics and local politics, depending on the invited guest speaker's field of study or profession. We really enjoy participating in this open forum, especially as it provides a space to dialogue with people from many worldviews and backgrounds, in a spirit of respect and curiousity. Recently the guest speaker was an ordained West African Chieftan. I was deeply moved by the words of this wise woman, so powerful and yet so gracious in spirit. She began her talk with a burst of singing, delivered to a roomful of strangers without the least bit of hesitation. Several people shifted uneasily in their seats at this surprise, but as her singing continued the group relaxed and began to absorb this unusual experience.

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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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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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