Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stephen Cole on Using Pott's Concordance vs. Electronic Tools for Studying the Heavenly Doctrines

The latest Fun Fact on is about The Swedenborg Concordance. The most interesting part of the article is where Rev. Stephen Cole explains why the Concordance continues to be a valuable resource, despite electronic tools such as
The most obvious [reason]... is that Potts provides us with a keen human intellect, sorting and sifting the references from the Heavenly Doctrine, selecting those which may be most interesting or germane.

I was speaking with a student the other day who was bewildered by the more than 2000 references she got when she queried “soul” in NewSearch. “Look instead at the Concordance,” I told her, “and you will find not only that Potts has winnowed down the choices, but he has also indicated what he considers the more significant passages by quoting larger selections from them.”

Another, but perhaps less obvious advantage of turning to Potts is that the Concordance is actually an index of the Heavenly Doctrine in the original Latin, but translated into English. The importance of this can be illustrated by the experience of a colleague of mine, who was trying to understand what distinction was being made in the Heavenly Doctrine between “breathing” and “respiration,” until he discovered that all the passages he was looking at had the same Latin word: “respiratio.” All these passages are found in the same article in Potts. But there are, in fact, other Latin words for breath.... Each of these gets its own separate article in Potts, as opposed to what happens in NewSearch, which will indiscriminately include many of the passages in these different articles in the same search results.

The electronic search tools are quick and powerful for many purposes, but when one is seeking a careful and thoughtful selection of passages, the Potts Concordance remains unsurpassed.

Web Site Dedicated to New Church History

If you haven't yet you should check out The purpose of the site is to provide
an electronic medium for articles and projects related to the life and times of Emanuel Swedenborg, the influence of his theological works worldwide, and the history of the New Church from the 18th century to the present day.
The site has an archive of cool historical photos, articles about various aspects of the history of the New Church (including ones by Bryn Athyn College history majors, like this one). But the main reason to go to the site is for the Fun Facts. You can get these emailed to you as they're added every couple of weeks or subscribe to an rss feed. See my next post for an example of a Fun Fact.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Does the Lord Speak to Us?

Does the Lord speak to us? Does He only speak to certain people? Does He speak to different people in different ways? This passage provides answers to these questions that are satisfying in how they fit in with other New Church teachings.
The Lord speaks with every person, for whatever a person wills and thinks that is good and true, is from the Lord. There are with every person at least two evil spirits and two angels. The evil spirits excite his evils, and the angels inspire things that are good and true. Every good and true thing inspired by the angels is of the Lord; thus the Lord is continually speaking with a person, but quite differently with one person than with another. With those who suffer themselves to be led away by evil spirits, the Lord speaks as if absent, or from afar, so that it can scarcely be said that He is speaking; but with those who are being led by the Lord, He speaks as more nearly present; which may be sufficiently evident from the fact that no one can ever think anything good and true except from the Lord. ....

The presence of the Lord is first possible with a person when he loves the neighbor. The Lord is in love; and so far as a person is in love, so far the Lord is present; and so far as the Lord is present, so far He speaks with the person. (Arcana Coelestia 904:1, 3)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Beautiful, Clear Teaching About Life After Death

When the body is no longer able to perform its functions in the natural world corresponding to the thoughts and affections of his spirit which he has from the spiritual world, then a person is said to die. This takes place when the respiration of the lungs and the beatings of the heart cease. But yet the person does not die; he is merely separated from the corporeal part that was of use to him in the world, for the person himself lives: It is said that the person himself lives, since a person is not a person because of his body but because of his spirit, for it is the spirit in a person that thinks, and thought with affection makes a person. Hence it is clear that the person, when he dies, merely passes from one world into another. And this is why in the Word in its internal sense “death” signifies resurrection and continuation of life. (Heaven and Hell 445)