Friday, March 27, 2009

New Church Connection Available for Free

New Church Connection magazine is now available for free. It's always been available for free online but you can now subscribe to have it mailed to you for free. On the subscription page they say,
At the New Church we are passionate about people living their faith, that is why we provide this magazine to you at no cost.
New Church Connection has recently been revamped as to look and feel and somewhat as to content. I thought that the most recent issue (PDF) was great and my sources tell me that the next issue promises to be even better. Bronwen Henry, who used to be in charge of a lot of things at the General Church Office of Outreach, is now focusing on New Church Connection and I think you can see the result.

If you enjoy the magazine or are glad that subscription is now free, I'm sure the people who produce the magazine would love to have you fill out their Reader Survey.

A simple way to think about Holy Supper

[W]hen a person reads of bread, the angels have no perception of bread, but instantly instead of bread they perceive celestial love and all that belongs thereto, that is, to love to the Lord; and when wine is read of in the Word, they do not perceive wine, but instead of wine spiritual love and all that belongs thereto, that is, to love toward the neighbor. ... If a person thought in like manner when he is in a holy state, as when he attends the Holy Supper, and instead of bread perceived love to the Lord, and instead of wine love toward the neighbor, he would be in thought and perception like that of the angels, who would then approach nearer to him, till at last they could consociate their thoughts, but only so far as the man was at the same time in good. (Arcana Coelestia 3316:3)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Swedenborg Search Engines Review

I've decided to list all of the New Church/Swedenborg related search engines I'm aware of and give my opinion of their pros and cons. Let me know if I've missed any or if you have a different point of view.

NewSearch/ (

I'm pretty sure that this is the oldest and most popular search engine for Swedenborg's theological works. It is currently in version 4.0 which includes an entirely new layout and more documents in its database. It is part of the STAIRS project, funded by the Academy of the New Church Theological School. It is powered by dtSearch.

- This engine has by far the most translations available to read and search (including the New Century Edition).
- It allows you to search New Church Life and other New Church collateral literature.
- It allows you to search the Latin.
- It gives you a lot of control over your search argument and a pretty good explanation of how to use the different features.

- It's controls are not easy to use.
- You can't read sequentially. You have to individually search for each passage you want to read.
- You can't toggle between different translations of a passage.
- You can't choose to search only in certain books.
- You can't see a list of the books that you can search.
- The search results are ordered by relevance (i.e. how many times the words you searched for appear in a given passage) rather than by book (i.e. all the results from Arcana Coelestia first, then all the results from Heaven and Hell etc.). Some people probably prefer this. (

This search engine was originally developed as part of the now defunct project (part of which became It has since been revamped and simplified with the intent of being a newcomer-friendly search engine. (To this end also includes summaries of New Church teachings on God, the life of religion and other topics, consisting of just passages from Swedenborg's works. These summaries also include some suggested reading and suggested searches.) It has a Search Doctrines tool and a Read Doctrines tool. The search engine is powered by ColdFusion.

- It's the nicest looking site in my opinion. (There's not much competition in this department and I'm probably biased because I worked on this site.)
- It allows you to search only the books you select.
- It provides short descriptions of the books.
- It provides an easy interface for jumping to a specific passage and reading sequentially.

- If you want to read a different translation of a passage than the default you have to look up the passage and then select the translation you want.
- It doesn't allow as much control over your searches as some others.
- When you view a search result the words you searched for are not marked in any way.
- The search results are ordered by relevance.

Small Canon Search (

This search engine was developed by Steve Simons in connection with Second Advent Christianity. The tagline of the site is "The Complete Word of God for All People" and it allows you to search the Second Advent Christian canon which includes the books of the Bible said to have an internal sense (Arcana Coelestia 10325) and Swedenborg's published theological works. (Here's Kurt Simons' argument for considering only Swedenborg's published works to be Divine revelation.)

- It has a clean, easy-to-use interface.
- It has some great advanced searching tools, including the ability to indicate words that are more or less important in the search results.
- It has Google Translate built in so that you get a rough translation of a given passage in a bunch of different languages.
- It allows you to cross check your search results using Google, Yahoo, Live Search, and Ask. I'm not sure if I would ever use this tool but it's kind of cool.
- You can add a SmallCanonSearch box to your web site, Google homepage, Google toolbar, or Firefox search bar.

- It doesn't allow you to just search Swedenborg's works. Obviously it was designed this way on purpose but if I want to search the Bible I'll search that separately and if I want to search Swedenborg's works I just want to search them.
- You can't search Swedenborg's unpublished works. Again, obviously it was designed this way but, personally, when I'm researching something in Swedenborg's works I want to see results from his unpublished works as well.
- It only has one English translation of each book.
- It doesn't allow you to look at the Latin.
- This is a minor point but instead of giving the short name of a book it gives the full title of the work (e.g. The Book of the Apocalypse Revealed, Uncovering the Secrets That Were Foretold There and Have Lain Hidden until Now 885 instead of Apocalypse Revealed 885). Kind of cool at first but it slows you down and so becomes frustrating, in my experience. (

All I know about this site is what I can learn from clicking around in it. It links to some material from the old version of and its book descriptions seem to have been copied from I'm guessing that it was built by Ian J. Thompson who built (see my post about that site) because it has a search box for searching another of his web sites,

- Because all of the information on it has been lifted from elsewhere I don't see anything in particular to recommend it over those other sites except that it has the Directory of Teachings in the Heavenly Doctrines that used to be on
- It does have a relatively simple (though plain) interface with the search and read tools all on the same page.

- It seems to use Google Custom Search but it must have some bugs because it only returns 3 results if I search for fish (which, for some reason, is what I chose to search for). (

This isn't a search engine for Swedenborg's works but it is an extremely useful tool for studying them. It was developed primarily as a tool for people to collaborate on the Kempton Revision translation of the Word (read more about the translation philosophy here). The main thing it provides is an online tool (based on Searle's Index) that allows you to see all the places in Swedenborg's works that reference a particular passage in the Word. Select a book and a chapter and click "Study."

Things I'd Love to See in a Search Engine:

What's missing from the Swedenborg search engines that are currently available? Well, obviously I'd like a site that had all of the pros that I listed and none of the cons, but beyond that there are a couple of features that I'd like to see.

Side-by-Side Translation Comparison:
The software version of Kempton Project allows you to view multiple translations and the Latin, all at once, instead of having to toggle between them. I haven't yet seen this online.

Hyperlinked Tables of Contents and Indices:
For some reason, the texts available in all of the search engines don't include the tables of contents. Sometimes when I'm looking for a certain passage I'd be able to find it much more quickly if I could glance through the table of contents instead of having to try to remember a specific phrase from the passage. As I reported recently, you can find a hyperlinked version of the table of contents of New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine on And I just discovered that you can find the tables of contents for one translation of each of the Swedenborg's published theological works at (some books with more links than others). The links take you to All we need now is to have this for all the translations of all the books and for all their indices.

Collaborative Search and Research Community:
A couple of years ago Steve Simons made a Swedenborg related swicki at It currently seems a little broken and neglected but the concept is pretty cool. The idea is that people who are interested in Swedenborg would use it to research Swedenborg and would rate the results as good or bad and provide comments on them so that people who search for the same thing would find what they're looking for sooner. (Here's a swicki for free online games.) The swicki that Steve set up searches the whole internet. I don't know if you could make one that would just search Swedenborg's works but I think it would be pretty cool to have a community of people giving input as to what passages are good to read on a certain topic and provide comments like "If you like this passage I recommend that you also read this one and this one which seem to say the same thing in different terms." If it got rolling it would probably require quite a bit of managing to avoid spamming and inappropriate comments but it could be quite cool and useful. It would also be cool to have a wiki-style community created concordance of topics in Swedenborg's works, which brings me to my final dream...

Hyperlinked Potts' Concordance:
I've posted before about how useful Pott's Concordance is and I mentioned recently that you can read and search parts of Potts' Concordance on Google Book Search. But wouldn't it be great if there were a site where you could read and search the whole concordance and read the full text of the passages that are excerpted in it with one click? It probably won't happen because of copyright or something but I can dream can't I?

Monday, March 23, 2009

I just stumbled across The tagline of the site is "Books, articles and sermons based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg" and it has an astounding amount of New Church collateral literature on it in html form.

The site is run by Ian J. Thompson. I haven't had a chance to look around the site much but here's what I've found so far. He has a long list of books of New Church collateral literature available in complete form on various web sites. He has "the Brighton Lectures" by the Rev. Jonathan Bayley which I've heard are quite good (look towards the bottom of this page). And he also has a list of web sites about Swedenborg, some of which I've never heard of.

Let me know what you find there.

Hyperlinked New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine

Theolog Coleman Glenn just sent me this in an email:
I just found out that, which has the text of the Word linked to the Writings and New Church commentaries, also has the whole text of NJHD with hyperlinks to all the Arcana references. I'm finding it very useful for research.
NJHD stands for New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine and is a short summary work written by Swedenborg after his 8 volume (in Latin) Arcana Coelestia. At the end of each chapter (which are on topics such as the internal and external man, conscience, and temptation) there are extensive references to places in Arcana Coelestia where that topic is discussed more fully. Having all of those references hyperlinked makes it much easier to look them all up.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Church of Truth Has a Web Site

Last fall I first heard about the Church of Truth, an independent New Church group based in Louisville, Kentucky, led by brother Edward Miller. Chara Odhner gave a brief description of brother Miller in the April 2008 issue (PDF) of BACON Bits (4-5). Here's an excerpt:
Up until four years ago he was a Baptist minister, but he recently came strongly to see things from a New Church point of view. He has a radio show on Saturday evenings at 6:30pm in Louisville Kentucky (on what could be called the northern edge of the Bible Belt), and reaches thousands with Swedenborg’s message. He is being given a Johnny Appleseed award by the Swedenborg Foundation because he has made many aware of Swedenborg and has built up a core reading group of some thirty interested people....
This group now has a basic web site ( which includes their mission statement and vision statement:
Our mission statement is to Love the Lord thy God Savior Redeemer Jesus Christ with all thy heart, thy mind, thy soul, thy strength and thy neighbor as thyself and to be of use and of service.

We hold these truths to be self evident with the end in view that every man be born again according to the scripture for it is written... "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3,5).
They also have a MySpace page ( where I think you can listen to and buy messages from Brother Miller.

BA Historic District Web Site

If you haven't heard, back in October Bryn Athyn was designated as a National Historic Landmark district. In preparation for an event in celebration of this designation somebody built a nice simple web site for the new historic district ( that has information about Bryn Athyn Cathedral, Cairnwood Mansion, and Glencairn Museum and a couple of nice pictures of each of them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Read the Swedenborg Epic Online

Another thing you can find at the Swedenborg Digital Library is Cyriel Sigstedt's The Swedenborg Epic: The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg. This is, I've been told, a good sympathetic biography of Swedenborg—that is, it doesn't dispute his claims about allowed to experience the spiritual world etc.

Anyone read this book and want to leave a short review of it?

Read Parts of Swedenborg Concordance Online

Glancing around the Swedenborg Digital Library I found a page with links to parts of Potts' Swedenborg Concordance that are available to read online through Google Book Search. It's not the same as being able to digitally search and copy and paste the text and click on the references and view them (which I'm hoping will happen in my lifetime) but it's a start.

I've now discovered that you can "Download PDFs of Pott's Concordance". You might also be interested to read Stephen Cole on Using Pott's Concordance vs. Electronic Tools for Studying the Heavenly Doctrines

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interesting New Bible Translation Approach Reviewed by Stephen Muires

The Ancient Roots Translinear Bible uses a fascinating, different approach to translating the Old Testament. For each Hebrew word it uses just one English word, rather than using different English words in different contexts to try to cover the range of meaning of the Hebrew word.

The author explains how this is different from an interlinear and why he wanted this sort of translation for himself.
[W]hat would happen if all the all the ancient words matched the English language 100% of the time? You wouldn’t need a cross reference column. You wouldn’t need to compare them in an Interlinear bible. You wouldn’t need to double check the original word in a concordance.

Or think about the number of footnotes in a typical study bible. Have you ever noticed that many footnotes tell you the "real" meaning of the word? In ARTB, the "real" word is in the text! So the number of footnotes is dramatically reduced. ...all those reference books could be put on a shelf, and you'd be free to soak in the word of God.
Theolog Stephen Muires was the one who told me about this translation and he wrote a really interesting review of it on
I didn't believe at first that the Hebrew actually had these possible meanings, but with a concordance and a dictionary and an interlinear Bible I have to admit that these translations are probably good. Not "better", since they lack the poetic flow and the evocative imagery of the KVJ/NIV. But good, instructive, tantalizing, and prodding deeper research into the meaning of the words. It creates an effect of a deeper meaning shining out, not poetic, but more like metal ore shines out of hard stone.
You can read and search the whole text for free online.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Belated Celebration of the Birth of New Church Thought

New Church Thought was born January 8th, 2008 and so is now over a year old and has passed 100 posts. I want to take this random day in March when I have some extra time to celebrate that and get some feedback on my blog.

When it was born I wrote,
The goal of New Church Thought is to collect good passages, good sermons, good articles, good posts, and good news, and to present them in short posts.
I explained it more in the welcome post. I think it all still applies. What I'm trying to figure out is whether I could accomplish this better by changing some things.

First, here are 2 changes I've made recently:

1. Recently I embedded some videos in my blog rather than just linking to them. I'm considering doing this with images as well.

2. I added two gadgets to the right side-bar so that you can now Follow and/or Subscribe to my blog. Please do! :)

Here are some changes I'm considering:

1. More posts and less detail. - My approach in a typical post has been to provide a short sentence about why I like something (it's interesting, fun, good, great, etc.) and then quote as much of it as I can to try to get you to read it yourself before I go past my 300 word limit (which I am breaking just this once). There are two ways I could change this:

a) If I spend less time looking through what I read or heard for the best parts to quote it would take me less time to post about it and so I would probably update my blog more frequently but the posts would be much shorter and less detailed. (e.g. “An interesting sermon by Rev. Louis King about how the infinite God can be present with us.”)

b) Instead of spending as much time as I do quoting things I could spend more time describing my response to them. (e.g. “I heard an interesting sermon by Rev. Louis King about how the infinite God can be present with us yesterday. I admit that my mind wandered off during it a couple of times—perhaps due to my state or perhaps because it lacked an obvious direction and progression. On the whole, though, I found it a good reminder of 2 basic truths: that I don't have to identify all the thoughts and feelings that I experience as myself and that the Lord is always present in my life, even when it's hard.”)

2. Remove my face from the header. - I can't decide whether to remove my face from the header or not. It looks a little goofy to me but I'm used to it by now and I can't think of a different image to put there.

3. Add a blog roll/other links. - Most blogs have a long list of other blogs and web sites on their sidebar. I'm thinking I'll add one of those but I'm worried that it might make things too cluttered.


Please leave a comment if you have feedback on any of these or any other thoughts about what would improve New Church Thought or make it something that you would enjoy visiting regularly.




Along with every other blogger in the world I would love to have more people comment and contribute to the blog so... please feel free to comment and let me know if you're interested in contributing. Want to share a cool passage that you just read? Want to comment on a good sermon you just heard? Want to ask a question that you haven't heard a good answer to yet? Email me and I'll post it for you. Or, if you're interested in contributing regularly, I'll probably offer to give you the ability to post for yourself.

What to do when the New Church is accused of being a cult

Rev. Derrick Lumsden sent me this short article from Church Marketing Sucks about what an Islamic mosque did when it was accused of being a recruitment center for terrorists. He said “I thought it might be a good way to respond when the NC is accused of being a cult.” It reminds me of Philip's response when Nathanael asked him if anything good could come out of Nazareth.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why do I love the Lord?

I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2)
We read this in church today and it really rang true for me. It also struck me that it would be hard for people to feel love for the Lord who feel as though the Lord hasn't heard their supplications.

Wondering what next year's journey campaign will be about?

The theme for the 2009 spiritual growth campaign has been announced. You can read more about it here. You can read about previous campaigns here.

New Online New Church Bookstore

The bookstore on has needed to be replaced/improved for a long time and now it has been. I haven't really looked around much but it seems to be easier to get around and the search engine seems much faster. Check it out at

Monday, March 2, 2009

What's the point of belonging to a church organization?

You can be both happy and spiritual without being a part of a religious organization, but why would you want to? You can become a martial artist or a musician by studying books and movies, but it will take you much longer to master these arts without guidance and community support to facilitate learning and creativity. Similarly, why not find companionship in your route to a happier life? (Rev. Derrick Lumsden, New Church Connection - Issue 1, 2009 (PDF)