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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 the Lord's love (5)


Meditate | Free Sunlight

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

Our whole spirit is desire and its consequent thought; and since all desire is a matter of love and all thought a matter of discernment, our whole spirit is its love and its consequent discernment. This is why our thinking flows from the desires of our love when we are thinking solely from our own spirit, as we do when we are in reflective moods at home…We are drawn to what is evil (which amounts to a compulsion) if our love has been a love for what is evil, and we are drawn to what is good if our love has been a love for what is good. We are drawn to what is good to the extent that we have abstained from evils as sins; and we are drawn to what is evil to the extent that we have not abstained from evils.

Since all spirits and angels are desires, then, we can see that the whole angelic heaven is nothing but a love that embraces all desires for what is good and therefore a wisdom that embraces all perceptions of what is true. Further, since everything good and true comes from the Lord and the Lord is love itself and wisdom itself, it follows that the angelic heaven is an image of him. (Divine Providence 61)

No one can become an angel or get to heaven unless he or she arrives bringing along some angelic quality from the world. Inherent in that angelic quality is a knowing of the path from having walked it and a walking in the path from the knowing of it. (Divine Providence 60)

Meditating on these passages, I recognize clearly in my experience how evil is compulsive. In my interactions with my kids, I am powerless over my negative reactions to their behavior. “Knee-jerk,” like a reflex, is a good description for how this negative reaction feels compulsive.

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One Experience of "The Shack"

Abigail offers a personal response to the novel The Shack. While confounding influences tainted her lasting appreciation of the book, she was uniquely fed by it at a time when she was sincerely hungry. -Editor

I first read The Shack early in 2009. I had been married less than a year, and since getting married my Mom had died, I had miscarried a pregnancy at ten weeks, and I was at a loss as to the direction I was supposed to be heading with my life. Oh, and my husband was in his second year of Theological School, and in the daily practice of examining religious texts and wrestling with doctrine.

I was vulnerable and hurting. He was thinking critically as a theology student. We started the book together, but before long decided that I would continue it on my own. Malcolm couldn’t get past the questions he had about the presented doctrine, especially the presentation of the trinity and the human representation of God that is a major part of the plot. He felt mainly critical about the book, while I felt like it was teaching me things about the Lord and religion that I needed to hear.

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A Common Heart

Chelsea writes of how religion, while becoming more central to peoples lives generally, is also the justification for increasing aggression between people of differing faiths. She calls on humanity to recognize our common heart, and shows us how New Church doctrine is uniquely suited to inform the growing desire for interfaith respect and love. -Editor.

Effort to understand people of various religions is needed right now in our national and global society. Religious intolerance and extremism are current issues in American society and around the globe. The combination of increasing religiousness world-wide and a vastly interconnected global society makes it nearly impossible for people of different religious identities not to cross paths. These current circumstances raise the question: is it possible under conditions of such close proximity for the world’s religious variety to coexist harmoniously?

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A Taste for Sweetness

Alanna writes about the development of taste in infancy - sweet first, and only later salty, sour, bitter and savory - and how this progression mirrors spiritual growth. -Editor.

I recently listened to an interview of the chef Grant Achatz conducted by Terry Gross for her program “Fresh Air.” Achatz was diagnosed with tongue cancer. His treatments were ultimately successful, but he lost his sense of taste in the process. Remarkably, his sense of taste has been gradually restored, beginning first with sweetness and then progressively incorporating the others tastes- bitterness, sourness, saltiness, and umami. Achatz reasoned that this process followed the basic development of the sense of taste in infants, which begins with an appreciation of sweetness. This idea instantly reflected a few truths to me about the Lord and his relationship to us. It mirrors how the Lord leads us through pleasure.

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Atomic Tension

Allen explains the atomic tensions that are the root of all the variety we witness in the universe. From this exploration he is able to glean spiritual truths that mimic this fundamental creative dynamic. This was first published in the student newspaper of the Bryn Athyn College, BACON Bits, in April of 2009. -Editor.

Teaching chemistry at Bryn Athyn College, a New Church institution, I have the opportunity to explore science and religion in a Swedenborgian context. Seeing the physical world as God’s creation and therefore reflecting, at least in its matter and forces, God’s intent, opens up additional dimensions of meaning embedded in physical law. If the natural and spiritual worlds are both created by God, and created as a whole rather than as wholly separate cosmoses, then we can expect to find in our study of the natural world insight into the spiritual world as well. In the New Church these connections are often called “correspondences,” a term used many times in English translations of Swedenborg’s theological works. I find pursuit of these connections more satisfying than engaging in debates about the authority of science and religion. Rather than determining which perspective should have more standing, I feel that each has standing in its own context, and that the tension sometimes created between the two can enrich both.

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