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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 love to the neighbor (4)


The Caritas Challenge

Wystan is discontent with the superficial elements of Valentines day. She offers us a new love challenge to take it to a deeper level with bigger repercussions. -Editor.

It’s love month. And while some people think this means chocolate, and the jewelry stores are working to have you think it means diamonds, and the card shops count on you to think of red paper hearts, I have another idea. I think the New Christian Church could turn this month into a celebration of the love of marriage and our fellowman.

It’s also a cold month. February is a cold dreary one in the northern hemisphere, particularly this year. But in any year, February is either snowy and bitter (Maine or Michigan or Sweden), or rainy and cold (Maryland and Virginia and England), or just muddy (Georgia and France) depending. Once upon a time, some western European person had the clever idea of writing love-affirming notes to friends in remembrance St. Valentine. Somehow Valentine's martyrdom—the nature of which almost none of today’s chocolate eaters thinks about—was transformed into something for everyone to celebrate in a life affirming way. That is: maybe it isn’t spring yet darling, but until the seeds sprout under the artificial heat lamps and daffodils pop up outside, let me tell you that I love you, comfort you with something red, and put something tasty in your mouth!

So, why couldn’t such a transformation happen again?

Click to read more ...


Meditate | Expanding Love

“Everything good in the next life expands without limit… Life bounded by the body is such that we can’t progress any farther than loving our neighbor as ourselves, because we’re wrapped up in bodily concerns. But when these concerns have been laid aside, love grows purer and purer until at last it is angelic. Angelic love is to love one’s neighbor more than oneself” (Secrets of Heaven 548).

“The whole of heaven and its inhabitants without exception trace their origin to the Lord alone, in general and in the smallest particulars. This is the source of order, unity, of mutual love, and of happiness, because this is what causes individuals to look to the health and happiness of all, and all to that of every individual” (Secrets of Heaven 551).

It feels good to recognize that this is the order the Lord has written into life—the more bodily concerns are set aside, love is “programmed” to grow, expand, and become purer and purer until it is angelic. It reminds me of the passages in the Word about not needing to worry about what we’ll eat, wear, etc.—a.k.a bodily concerns. The Lord makes it possible; he teaches us a way to move toward angelic love while we live in the world. One way I can participate is by not worrying about my bodily concerns so much—practice putting them secondary to serving and loving others. At the same time, I get a lot of joy out of taking care of my body so I can better serve others and live in my life, do my work. So maybe that is a balance—managing my time so that I meet the needs of my bodily concerns sufficiently so that they don’t need to be central in other times of my life. And a boon to this practice is to trust in the Lord that he is providing everything that I need in order to do his will, in general and in particular, in my life at all times. 


Meditate | Root to Rise

“Deeds inspired by charity are alive. They are said to send roots below and yield fruit above, as in Isaiah: ‘The remaining refugees of Judah’s house will put new root downward and produce fruit upward’ (37:31). To produce fruit upward is to act with charity as motivation” (Secrets of Heaven 348).

Everything living is from the inner self. The inner self is the only thing that lives. Charity, or loving others, is so central. The only source of charity or our love for others is the inner self, our tap root to the Lord. Earlier in this passage it says that “deeds of faith that lack charity are deeds devoid of faith,” and are wholly of the outer self. So we can have “faith,” or some imitation of it in our outer self, but it is not true faith until it is living by way of loving others, which requires a rootedness in our inner self, in the Lord. There is no other way to love others than from our connection with the Lord who supplies our inner self with the flow of that love. 


Meditate | It's Not About "Getting There?"

Spiritual and heavenly things—as a group and individually—go through cycles, for which the daily and yearly cycles are metaphors. The daily cycle begins in the morning, extends to midday, then to evening, and through night to morning. The corresponding annual cycle begins with spring, extends to summer, then to fall, and through winter to spring.

These changes create changes in temperature and light and in the earth’s fertility, which are used as metaphors for changes in spiritual and heavenly conditions. Without change and variation, life would be monotonous and consequently lifeless. There would be no recognition or differentiation of goodness and truth, let alone any awareness of them. Secrets of Heaven 37

In an earlier passage than the one cited above, Swedenborg explains how for those whose love and faith are united, as is the case in heavenly angels, their love reveals all religious knowledge to them (34).This strikes me as a very powerful idea. A life focused on loving the Lord and the neighbor is capable of providing all religious knowledge, and yet all things, even spiritual and heavenly things go through cycles like the days and years. Cycles are inevitable or else we would have no way of being aware of goodness and truth (I write this from a feeling of amazement more than conviction). The day and night and the seasons are on account of variations of heat and light; there are different levels at different times, but it always leads to morning and it always leads to spring.

So it all comes back to morning and spring, but there is wisdom to be found—a deeper awareness of goodness and truth—by going through every part of the cycle, including the night and the cold of winter. In a lot of ways the complexity of how the Lord leads us in our levels of love and truth and takes care of our evil and falsity is beyond me; but it is enough for me to remember and hold at the front of my mind that change and variation—even in heavenly and spiritual things, which I take to mean things in myself, in my will and intellect, that have to do with loving the Lord and the neighbor—are essential and inevitable. Continual change and variation in spiritual and heavenly things in my life is an essential part of the process.