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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 Swedenborg (12)


Meditate | Behold! The Key to Existence Hidden in Plain Sight

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. But why is meditation such a central spiritual practice, anyway? In a word: reflection. This month, Chelsea deviates from the normal structure of this column to share some reflections on the importance of reflection itself. As usual, we welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. —Editor

There are several passages in Swedenborg’s works in which he writes of the importance of reflection: self-reflection, reflection from others, and reflection on our surroundings and our experiences. In fact, he writes that “without reflection, there is no life” (Spiritual Experiences 2228). Without self-reflection we have no way to witness our thoughts, no ability to reflect on what we are sensing in our lives beyond just feeling it. Actually, our spiritual development depends on reflection.

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Dear Mr. Swedenborg

As a Roman Catholic that has been deeply touched by the words of Emanuel Swedenborg, Susan writes to him directly. She has been contemplating the reverence for Mary within her church and she's had some new ideas about this. Swedenborg clearly denounced hailing Mary as without sin, but what if he began looking at it from Susan's perspective? Would he feel the same way? -Editor

January 18, 2013

Dear Mr. Swedenborg,

I am one of your biggest fans! I read your series Arcana Coelestia as if I were memorizing it. No idea has ever hit me so hard or so changed my way of thinking. I recognized your truth as just what I had been longing to know. You explained it very well, btw. I loved the flow of beautiful detail and your kindness in taking so much time to make it clear. You had me from,

“From the mere letter of the Word of the Old Testament no one would ever discern the fact that this part of the Word contains deep secrets of heaven, and that everything within it both in general and particular bears reference to the Lord.”
I am exaggerating, of course, when I say you had me from your opening sentence. It took me months to ‘get it,’ but eventually I did.

I should mention that I am Roman Catholic. Oh, now, please don’t wince when you read that; the church has improved since your day. I never took offense when I read what you said about us because...well, because I know historically we had a lot of problems and the criticism helped clear them up. Also, you were engaging in some literary license to make your points by using things we already know about, such as the Catholic Church. In Apocalypse Revealed 631 you said,

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Swedenborg: A Man For Our Times

Karl posits that Kant's concept of inertia, at the heart of scientific thought, is a mistaken premise, one that is preventing truly new ideas from entering the stage. He argues that the time for Swedenborg's philosophy has come. -Editor.

There is something about Swedenborg’s high IQ, however artificial one might consider this retrogressive calculation to have been, which still remains of great interest to us. Given that he is cited as number two in the top ten list, most people will recognize most of the names in it, but all should be forgiven for exclaiming: “Swedenborg? Who is he, and what is it that puts him virtually at the top of the list, and we have never heard of him?” (See these websites for information about the top geniuses: Myth of Genius; Geniuses; Highest IQ; Estimated IQs.)

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Swedenborg the Evangelist?

Here Nathan argues that the sentiment that Swedenborg did not intend to start a church is erroneous. He illustrates this point with many personal accounts from Swedenborg's life. Originally given as a talk for the Carmel New Church Swedenborg Banquet January 2010, we are publishing it now in honor of the 323rd anniversary of Swedenborg's birthday, January 29th, 1688. -Editor

In the New Church we believe that the “Writings” are revelation from the Lord. So why would we care about Swedenborg? It seems like making a big deal over the cover on a book rather than the content. Would you call Swedenborg an evangelist? The Gospel writers are often referred to as evangelists. They are called evangelists because they wrote the gospels which told the good news about the Lord Jesus being born and how he was the Christ or Messiah com to save people. They were telling the “good news” which is what the “evangel” literally means.

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Genuine Christianity

Genuine Christianity testifies to the value of reading and understanding more about Emanuel Swedenborg's biography. In this highly recommended article, Chelsea Odhner shares some of the insight she received from learning more about the context in which Emanuel Swedenborg wrote. Chelsea uses a light touch and makes the case for reading a Swedenborg biography by supplying a couple of the tantalizing shifts in thinking which she herself experienced. -Editor

Have you ever read any books by a certain Emanuel Swedenborg? Do you go so far as to consider yourself a believer of his teachings? Have you been baptized into the New Church?

If you fall into any of these categories, I highly recommend that you read a biography of Emanuel Swedenborg, if you haven’t already. I’d be curious to know what percentage of people who consider themselves to be in the New Church have read a biography of the good man. Now I have to admit, I’m twenty-six years old; I fit into every category, and only recently finished reading a biography of Swedenborg for the first time.

And there are many to choose from! If you live in the Philadelphia area, or are near it sometime, take a jaunt to the Swedenborg Library in Bryn Athyn, PA. Ask the person at the front desk where to find a biography of Swedenborg and you will be led to an aisle that contains up to eight shelves worth of biographies devoted to this one man!

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The Swedenborgian Asterisk: A Drag-in's Tale

Lauren Dale Anderson uses an author's note to explain the motivation for her project (below). Lauren offers the reader a window into her experience of coming into contact with members of the organized New Church. With humor and insight she illustrates some of the gaps in understanding, language and culture between New Church Christians and non-New Church Christians. Lauren warmly encourages reader feedback in her ongoing effort to gather perspectives on the New Church. -Editor

Author's Note

This is the introduction to a book that is yet to be birthed from the folds of my mind and reading notes. I got the idea for it a few months ago on one of my many plane trips around the country and wrote the introduction and a brief purpose/outline, both of which I share with you below.

I had meant to keep this under wraps, afraid of what the response to it might be, until I had developed more of the text.

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