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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 spiritual growth (13)

Friday
Oct032014

Sobriety as a Means to Spiritual Growth VS. Spiritual Growth as a Means to Maintain Sobriety: A Critical Look at Recovery Part 1

Using his life experience and doctrinal study Cortland has come to several thought provoking conclusions about recovery programs and spiritual growth. This week Cortland shares his background and introduces the faults he find with AA and other 12 step programs, and next week will share more about his personal experience with these programs. -Editor.

I would like to start this essay by stating that it took much longer than needed to complete it. I have been stabbed six times, set myself on fire, my mother committed suicide, and I suffered from alcohol addiction for many years, along with a number of other instances of trial and tribulation, and I have no problem writing about any of it with two exceptions. One is that of dealing with the aftermath of being stabbed. The other is that of my experiences with recovery programs and institutions. The reason why I have difficulty writing on this subject is that there is a lot of contempt and animosity for individuals who are considered experts on the subject of recovery along with certain of their beliefs about the recovery process. I do not wish to put forth a scathing account of my experiences because that would be useless, as well as contrary to doctrine. All I can do is look to the Lord and pray that he tempers my hostility (a hostility which has grown over my years of recovery).

When did I first come to the realization that I had a problem with alcohol? When I realized that I like the feeling of being intoxicated better than how it felt to be sober.

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Friday
May022014

Act As If...

What does acting have to do with your spiritual life? What are the ways the Lord asks us to interact with other people? Drawing on her personal and work experience Justine links three acting fundamentals and New Church teachings to help us understand how we live life from the Lord as if of ourselves -Editor.

The particular details of faith on man’s part are:

1. God is one, in whom is the Divine Trinity, and He is the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ.

2. Faith leading to salvation is believing in him.

3. Evil actions must not be done because they are the work of the devil and come from him.

4. Good actions must be done because they are the work of God and come from Him.

5. A person must perform these actions as if they were his own, but he must believe they come from the Lord working in him and through him. (True Christian Religion 3, emphasis added)

Human reason may, if it will, perceive and conclude from many things in the world that there is a God, and that He is one. This truth may be confirmed by innumerable testimonies from the visible world; for the universe is like a stage on which are continually being exhibited evidences that there is a God, and that He is one. (True Christian Religion 12)

When teaching a theatre workshop, I often prompt my students to walk around the room and explore how different character types, emotions, and environments affect their movement. There are countless directives to try; act as if you are happy, sad, angry, old, young, cold, or hot. The possibilities of this simple “act as if…” prompt are limitless. We can “act as if…” almost anything using only our bodies, voices, and imaginations—three fundamental acting tools that we all carry with us in everything we do.

The “act as if…” concept extends beyond the realm of traditional theatre.

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Friday
Apr042014

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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Friday
Mar212014

Repentance: Incomparable Process of Life Change and Spiritual Transformation

This week Mark introduces the Begin A New Life program - a process using the steps of repentance as a means of self examination. He offers personal testimony as to the amazing, deep, and life changing process that is repentance. -Editor

On January 25th, a one-day seminar/workshop was held at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania (USA). Twenty-four people—college age and up—were there. The subject was the New Church’s “steps of repentance” as a disciplined spiritual practice1. The title of the seminar was Begin a New Life: Four Universal Steps of Life Change and Spiritual Transformation.

Begin a New Life is a universal, faith based process of life change and spiritual transformation. It involves a formatting of the steps of repentance into a set of worksheets which allows people to go through the process in journalizing fashion. It also borrows on Swedenborg’s full explanations of the Ten Commandments at two different points in the process—recognition and living a new life.

The purpose of this article is to give a testimony to the value of this process in my own life.

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Friday
Mar142014

Feeling the Lord's Love in Repentance 

This week Abby takes a fresh look at the concept of repentance in her life—a concept that once made her feel heavy and stuck now genuinely lightens her load. She finds that this welcomed, new perspective on repentance aligns more convincingly with her understanding of God's true nature—one of love and forgiveness. -Editor

By nature I am a person who tends towards negative, victimized ways of looking at my life. It has taken me years to nurture a more empowered and positive outlook. I feel like for the first time in my life I “get it” in a way that I never have before. Up until recently I think that any time I read the Writings or the Bible or really most any religious or spiritual work, I had the victim lens in front of my eyes. I understood the ideas, but they felt hard, depressing, and not particularly helpful in developing the happy, secure life I longed for. They didn’t feel like the evidence of an all loving and supportive God I hoped to have a meaningful relationship with. Everything felt sort of on the edges of application and realization in my life. But in the last 6 months things have changed for me, and I recently had a very uplifting and hopeful experience reading a passage I’ve probably heard many times before.

Being raised in a minister’s family, I have known the major ideas and teachings of the New Church for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember thinking about or hearing the word repentance for the first time, so obviously it’s been an idea that I’ve had in mind for years. I was recently reading the Seven Practices of Peace spiritual growth program produced by General Church Outreach and came across this sequence of quotes over a few pages (40-41). As I was reading them the idea of repentance struck me in a new way.

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Friday
Jul192013

Meditate | Blessed

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. We welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments, or better yet, your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

When I read Psalms, I often find myself identifying with the psalmist in ways that I wouldn't expect with a sacred text. Psalms that express lamentation of his situation or a wish for revenge on his enemies sound petty and whiny. One way that I come to terms with this is in thinking of it not as a literal prayer, but as an expression of spiritual state. The destruction of my enemies makes more sense if it refers to the evils I struggle with, as opposed to my neighbor.

But in this Psalm, I think there is value in a surface reading. It outlines a process that is humbling, but helps with a lot of frustrating self-talk.

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