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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 world (8)


People Swedenborg Knew While on Earth Part 2

Sometimes helpful and uplifting teachings are found in unlikely places. Helen continues to look at some of the famous people that Swedenborg described meeting in the spiritual world. Helen finds it hopeful and uplifting to read the story of a couple that meets and marries in heaven - both as proof that all find true married love in heaven and that those relationships are similar to those on earth. -Editor

Empress Elizabeth (1709 - 1761) of Russia was the daughter of Peter the Great. It is said that she "grew up to be a beautiful, charming, intelligent and vivacious young woman." (Encyclopedia Britannica) Elizabeth was very popular among the guards, often visiting them on special occasions and acting as godmother to their children. At 32, when she was threatened with banishment to a convent upon the death of the Russian ruler, she staged a coup d'etat with the help of the guards, and was proclaimed Empress of Russia.

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My Spiritual World 

Sometimes the stories in the Bible can feel inapplicable, and even when we have access to the inner meanings behind them they take work to relate to. Here Susan uses the teachings of the New Church to find the humour, interest, and applicability in the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. -Editor.

Emanuel Swedenborg explained that laughter is a spiritual (as opposed to celestial) indicator. Reading Arcana Coelestia made parts of the New Testament funny to me, so ‘celestial’ is not me. I will not find myself sitting at the popular kids’ table in the afterlife. I will be snickering along with the other yahoos in the second heaven (I hope).

Martha (Luke 10:38-42) represents the spiritual realm while her sister Mary represents the celestial. Technically, they are the spiritual and celestial of the natural, but I will leave out the details and concentrate on how endearingly hilarious Martha is.

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Appearances of Reincarnation

Ian takes arguments for reincarnation and views them through a Swedenborgian lens. He changes the question from 'does reincarnation exist?' to 'how could one's experience appear like reincarnation?' -Editor

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, we only live once on earth. After death we live in a spiritual world and move eventually to a permanent place that depends on the spiritual nature we created by our actions on earth. We are not reborn or reincarnated again on earth, to have another attempt to do better next time.

Historically, however, there have been many stories about reincarnation, notably the "transmigration of souls" (metempsychosis) that Plato describes in the Republic. Reincarnation has been an essential part of Hinduism and Buddhism. It is interesting to see when it became popular in the west. We might assume it came with the great interest in spiritualism in Europe and America that started in the 1840s, which lead to a great many scientists becoming interested in it, with the formation of the learned societies of psychical research in the period 1850-1900. But it did not: there was no hint of reincarnation among those beliefs. Instead, it came through the books of theosophists like Annie Besant and was imported into western thought from the early 1900s. It has subsequently become rather widespread among spirit communicators, and it is especially dominant in the "channelled works" written under dictation from spirit sources that claim higher knowledge.

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The Death of the Fear of Death

Erica vividly describes the path of her life. She shares a delicate awareness gained firsthand - the resolution to an abiding question - what is death, and must I fear it? -Editor.

As a child, while most little girls were learning how to tie their shoes and walk to school by themselves, I was busy working on a more distressing task: figuring out what happens when we die. I developed the awareness very early that I would not exist forever in my current form. I was young, healthy and growing, without ever knowing anyone who died, so this existential question was slightly unexpected. I cannot identify the exact moment I was hit by this painful and terrorizing realization (and it truly felt like a blow), but I can remember staying up countless nights, trying to determine the answer. What would happen after my body ceased to exist? When the sun blew out, how could I ever come back to life if there was no habitable planet for me? What did infinity and forever look like, and how was it possible that my whole life was just a small blip on the radar screen of eternity?

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What Art has to do with Faith 

Ayisha reflects on how the tenets of the New Church have yet to be fully embodied in forms of art. She ponders how these images may augment our experience of God. What are we waiting for? -Editor.

There's an idea out there that heaven is dull. In fact, I can quote someone on it: “I dunno. Heaven just always seems kinda boring to me. Like, who'd wanna go there?”

It's an understandable view, given traditional interpretations of heaven. Take a person with a Christian-ish background, who has a good work ethic and a general zest for life. If their view of heaven is an expectation that they will be sexless, living to eternity playing a harp on a cloud, with a pair of wings that excludes them from small human luxuries like tree-climbing and sleeping on their backs, then it would be no wonder if their desire for heaven were only an obedient one. They feel they ought to want to go to heaven, but they may dread it in reality.

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Weird III: Not So Miraculous

How much more weird can we take? Weird III is part three of Todd Beiswenger's series attempting to put weird sounding religious ideas in context. This time he goes after miracles. Almost by definition miracles are shocking and strange, if not weird. Or are they? Beiswenger suggests that they might have more natural world explanations than we usually think. You can catch up on the rest of the weird series here: Weird I; Weird II. -Editor

I was flying from Phoenix to San Jose when I entered into a delightful conversation with the person sitting next to me. It didn’t take long before I knew that he was a software engineer for HP, and a devout Christian. I explained that I was a Christian too, just a denomination he’d never heard of before. I said that though I believed the Abraham and later stories to be historically true, I also believed in a deeper meaning to the Bible. He gave me a puzzled look, but asked, “Do you believe that God parted the Red sea?”

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