Monday, July 20, 2009

Interview with Jonathan Rose about Swedenborg

I found an interesting interview with Rev. Dr. Jonathan Rose about Swedenborg on YouTube. The interview was recorded in 2000 by Andy Nesky, the president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Theosophical Society, as part of his "Science and the Outer Streams" series.
[T]he show and its content were exceptional. Andrew Nesky's unique knowledge of subject matter coupled with an amazing guest list created a format that could objectively and intelligently address esoteric and non-traditional areas of human thought. Guests came from all over the world and represented diverse and important perspectives on philosophy, religion, spirituality and the paranormal.
(See Nesky's web site,, or his YouTube channel for more information.)

The interview is about 50 minute long. Like any unedited interview it rambles around a bit but it provides an interesting overview of Swedenborg's life and key teachings, with the interviewer providing some interesting context from other thinkers. I've embedded the first video below. If you don't have the time to watch the full thing, use the links and notes below to jump in where it looks interesting.

Part 1
- Introduction
- Summary of Swedenborg's life

Part 2
- Summary of Swedenborg's life
- Swedenborg's claim about talking with angels
- Should people try to duplicate Swedenborg's experience?

Part 3
- Different stages of spiritual awareness

Part 4
- The deaths and struggles necessary for growth
- Swedenborg didn't try to start a church organization
- Ornaments and poetry in Swedenborg's works

Part 5
- Disagreements with other Christian groups about the trinity and the books of Paul
- Gnostic gospels

Part 6
- Rules that Swedenborg used in approaching scripture
- The need to see things for yourself
- How to interpret scripture truly

Part 7
- The need to interpret all laws
- The establishment of New Church organizations

Part 8
- Conjugial Love and other works
- Wrap up

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mac Frazier's Reflections on the Ocean and the Word

I've posted about a couple of things by Rev. Mac Frazier recently (his prayer challenge and his new blog) so maybe I shouldn't again for a while but I recently read a new post on his blog and I wanted to tell you about it. It's called "The Ocean" and is some short reflections about the ocean and the Word. Here's an excerpt from it. If you want to read more of my thoughts about it read the comments after the post.
I was standing on the edge of the surf, looking out at the waves, and beyond them at the seemingly infinite horizon. My four-year-old son’s little hand was gripping my right hand, and he stood there with me. Occasionally he would get a little more adventuresome and take another step deeper into the water, and I’d step with him. Sometimes he’d back out a few quick steps, and I’d calmly retreat with him. However deep he wanted to go, I would go, and no deeper. And holding my hand, he felt totally free to explore safely. And I got to thinking. ...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Church LIVE So Far

Here's my understanding of where things are at this point and what you can find online.

Last Sunday they finished their first 4 week series, "Creation Works." You can watch the first 3 weeks of it online. They have a YouTube channel and a Vimeo channel. You might think that you might as well stick with YouTube because that's what you're familiar with, but Vimeo is actually better. Vimeo allows them to upload longer videos so you can watch a whole week's message in one video instead of in a series of 3 or 4 videos on YouTube. They have organized their YouTube videos into playlists now, which makes it easier, but Vimeo is still better because you don't have to watch through (or skip through) a minute of graphics at the beginning of each of the "Creation Works" videos. Also, because they don't have to chop things up they seem to put things up on Vimeo first.

Here's what you can currently watch online:
Their new series, "A Tale of 3 Cities," started today.

That's about all I know. If you want regular updates follow them on Twitter ( or check out their Facebook page (

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's the point of preaching?

I was just browsing around the Washington New Church's new web site ( and found a great little article by their new pastor (Rev. Mike Gladish) about the point of preaching and coming to church. It's on the first couple of pages of their summer newsletter (PDF). Here's an excerpt:
I like preaching, and I hope you can enjoy listening to someone preach, especially when the message being delivered is from the Word. But really, what’s the point? Why would you come and listen to me or anyone else “preach” when you can go to the Word for yourselves and learn all that you need to know in order to live well and prepare for heaven?

One answer is painfully simple: I get paid to study the Word and you don’t. Therefore I have an advantage (one that YOU provide for me) in that I am specially trained and can take more time than you can, as needed, to consider the context of the teachings, their meaning, the implications, and so on. In that respect I’m no different than a plumber or an architect: I’m a specialist. And like most specialists I have no authority to tell you what to do, but I can tell you what the code requires. Besides, if you didn’t come to church would you really spend that time reading the Word instead?

Which brings me to the main point. ...
I also liked Rev. Mike Ferrell's article about the use of vacation (pp4-5 under "From the Assistant").

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Road to Emmaus and Church Growth

A couple of Sundays ago I heard Rev. Stephen Cole preach at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral. His sermon, "Burning Hearts," was about the story of the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)—particularly the part where the disciples say to each other, "Did not our heart burn within us, while He spoke to us in the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:32). (To skip the music click on "Lessons & Sermon Only" and then click the play button.)

He talked about how the disciples were so excited that they walked all the way back to Jerusalem and said,
This kind of infectious enthusiasm fired up the early converts to Christianity and spread the gospel of the Lord’s Advent. This kind of infectious enthusiasm can inspire us as well in spreading the gospel of the Lord’s Second Coming.
He tied this story in with the teachings about why the New Church will only be with a few people at first in Apocalypse Explained 732.

Why I liked this sermon:
  • I feel like there's a perception out there that conservative ministers aren't interested in the church growing but here's Stephen Cole, a conservative minister, talking about how the church will grow.
  • He makes an interesting point about how to understand Apocalypse Explained 732. You'll have to listen to the sermon, though, if you want to know what it is. :P
  • I also liked his explanation of what it is to have our hearts burn within us and what we can do to make progress in having that experience.
You can read a summary of the sermon on page 9 of the July 2nd Bryn Athyn Post (PDF).

See May Our Hearts Burn Within Us for another great recent sermon on the road to Emmaus.

A Facebook Group for Swedenborgian Project News and Support

I just ran across a new Swedenborgian Facebook group, Swedenborgian Christian Project News and Support. It was started by Mike Weber. The purpose of the group looks pretty cool.
To get out news about books and other writing, translation efforts, videos, events, marketing, outreach efforts, web activities, and other projects within and about Swedenborgian Christianity. To encourage, motivate, and inspire each other and lend expertise. To enable us to meet and communicate about our projects during and after development. To enable new collaborations to develop among us.
My experience with Swedenborg-related Facebook groups (and Facebook groups in general) is that I join them and then forget to ever go back. Here's hoping that this one will be different.

If you're interested, here are a couple of other Swedenborg-related Facebook groups: New Church, Swedenborgians are the bomb diggity, Take it Easy, and A Holy Conversation (read a post about this group).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How Many People Can Earth Sustain?

This spring I ran into the idea that Earth can only support a certain number of people and that, going at the rate the population is increasing, we might reach that number in the next hundred years. An intriguing thought. I haven't researched it at all. Here's one post that talks about different projections for the maximum population the earth could sustain. Let me know if you've found better discussions of this issue.

Anyhow, I thought of this issue when I ran across this passage today about spirits from Jupiter. It supports the idea that a planet can only sustain a certain number of people and talks about how the attitude of the people on the planet significantly affects how many people it can sustain.
[The spirits from Jupiter] declared that the region of the planet where they had lived was inhabited by a large multitude of people, as large as the planet could feed, and that it was fertile, producing an abundance of everything. They also declared that the inhabitants there desired nothing in excess of the necessities of life, and that this was why the multitude of people was so large. (Arcana Coelestia 8116)