Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Angels See the Word Like an Image in an Anamorphoscope

The Heavenly Doctrines describe the difference between what we see in the Word and what angels see in the Word in many different ways. I read a fun description yesterday that I'd never heard before.
How the Word of the Lord appears before the angels cannot be described, but some idea can be formed by those who have seen in museums the optical cylinders in which beautiful images are represented from things roughly projected. Although the things which are round about in the projection appear to have no form, series, or order, and to be merely confused projections, still when they are concentrated toward the cylinder, they there present a lovely image. So it is with the Word of the Lord, especially with the prophetic Word of the Old Testament. In the literal sense there is scarcely anything that does not appear destitute of order, but when it is being read by a person, and especially by a little boy or girl, it becomes more beautiful and delightful by degrees as it ascends, and at last it is presented before the Lord as the image of a human being.... (Arcana Coelestia 1871)
I'm told that Swedenborg is describing an anamorphoscope. The best pictures and explanation of what this is that I could find are in the book, The Magic Mirror: An Antique Optical Toy (The link lets you look at a couple of pages from the book on Amazon.com. The explanation is on the Front Flap page.)

As a side note, this passage ends with the intriguing statement that, when the image of the Word ascends and is presented before the Lord, it is as a human being, in which heaven is represented, “not as it is, but as the Lord wills it to be, namely, a likeness of Himself.”

Did Swedenborg Have an Influence on Dickens "A Christmas Carol"?

In this week's Bryn Athyn Post (PDF) there's this fun little paragraph.
The Swedenborg Society sent Charles Dickens a review copy of Heaven and Hell in 1841, for which they received from him a letter of thanks which included the phrase “it will not go unread”. Two years after that, A Christmas Carol was published. In this story, Scrooge meets and converses with spirits. His passage in and out of the spirit world is the bulk of the plot, reminiscent of Swedenborg and his mystical experiences.
I looked for other discussion of this in New Church Life to no avail. I did, however, find a short reference to A Christmas Carol in Rev. Walter Orthwein's 2001 article, “The Spiritual Use of Art.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The New New Church Vineyard Web Site Has Launched

The new New Church Vineyard web site has just launched. It's very pretty and nicely organized by themes such as holidays and marriage. You can also look at an index of all topics. Check it out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Good Summary of the Difference Between the Teachings of the New Church and Mainstream Christianity

A while ago I discussed Troy Brooks explanation of why Emanuel Swedenborg Was Definitely Unsaved. On that site he actually provides a pretty good explanation of the difference between the teachings of the New Church and the teachings of mainstream Christianity—having copied most of it from John Odhner's web site.

I recently read about a similar thing in a Facebook note by Jordan Cooper. Jordan writes,
In 1996, Darryl Dash (the pastor of Richview Baptist Church in Toronto) gave a sermon on the fallacies of the General Church of the New Jerusalem. .... He posted a chart on the internet comparing this religion to mainstream Christianity.

[H]is description of our beliefs is one of the most accurate and concise I have ever seen. In explaining our inaccuracies from his point of view, he describes our doctrine in a way that is clear to an outsider.
Take a look at it here.

Are Children Born with an Inclination to Believe in God?

In a number of places in the Heavenly Doctrines there are teachings about people being born with an inclination to believe in God.
There is a universal influx from God into the souls of men of the truth that there is a God, and that He is one. (True Christian Religion 8)

[S]ensuous truth, ...the first truth that insinuates itself... in childhood.... ...consists in seeing all earthly and worldly things as being created by God, and each and every thing for a purpose, and in all things whatsoever a certain image of God's kingdom. [Note: This may not happen to everyone: the passage goes on to say that “such truth is implanted in none but the celestial man....”] (Arcana Coelestia 1434)
In class today, theolog Stephen Muires talked about a recent article in The Daily Telegraph that confirms these teachings.
Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford's Centre for Anthropology and Mind, claims that young people have a predisposition to believe in a supreme being because they assume that everything in the world was created with a purpose.
I'm sure that many people will disagree with this guy's research and conclusions but it makes sense from a New Church perspective.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Should We Try to Convince Others of What We Believe?

What do you do if someone tells you that they think or believe something that you totally disagree with? It's a complicated question and it depends on the situation and it depends on your relationship with the person etc. etc.

I don't know how I'll respond the next time this happens to me but one thing I'm going to try to do is to keep this passage that I just read in mind. If anyone has run across similar passages or seemingly contradictory passages, please leave a comment.
One should not bind or incite another to confirm one's own truths, but should hear him and take his answers as they are in himself. For he who binds and incites another to confirm his own truths, causes the other not to think and speak from himself, but from him. And when anyone thinks and speaks from another, the truths he has are thrown into disorder, and yet he is not amended, except in the case of one who is as yet ignorant of these truths. (Arcana Coelestia 9213:6)