Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some Intriguing Thoughts About Love and God

A couple of weeks ago a person in the congregation here shared some thoughts about love. I disagree with him a bit but I wanted you to get to think about his ideas yourself. I may be misremembering exactly what he said and I'm certainly not expressing it exactly how he did, but here's the gist of it.

He was reacting to a statement about the need to shun the love of self. He said that people need to love themselves before they can work on shunning evils. He said that the problems in the world don't come from people having too much love but too little. People don't slit their wrists because they love themselves too much.

He said that people need to feel loved before they can work on things. He pointed out that God is love and then quoted True Christian Religion 99:2 which says that
love wants to love and be loved.
He stressed that God, as love, loves other people first before He wants to be loved in return and that's a key detail. Someone else pointed out that there seems to be a similar emphasis in John where the Lord says,
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. ... This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (15:9, 12)
(Jumping in with my own thoughts...) The Writings talk about the importance of a person's idea of God. (Divine Love and Wisdom 13 was the first example I found. Please comment with other good passages on the topic.) And I've always been a bit confused by why someone's idea would matter so much. Shouldn't how a person lives matter more? But this line of thinking made me realize that it would make a huge difference in a person's life if he didn't believe that God loved him. Why would you want to obey the teachings of someone who didn't love you and want the best for you?

This is obvious stuff, I know, but it's still pretty profound to me and has made me think that perhaps the first thing we need to communicate to people about God (and about the New Church in general) is that He loves them—and not just in a sacrificial lamb, taking on the sins of the world kind of way but in an ongoing, leading to most possible happiness kind of way.

Glencairn Museum Has a New Web Site

Glencairn Museum has had a web site for a couple of years (www.glencairnmuseum.org) but it was a better-than-nothing site made by one of the staff members who taught himself HTML.

Glencairn now has a new web site. Glencairn generally has a pretty professional look and feel so I'm really glad that they now have a web site that represents them well.

Apparently it's in the plans to build a media-rich, schmancy site for Glencairn in the next couple of years but I'm glad they built this in the meanwhile.

Take a look around. It's not perfect but it is a heck of a lot better.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm not the only New Church blogger!

I don't claim to be the first New Church blogger. (Does anyone know to whom that honor belongs?) But when I started New Church Thought I was one of the only people with a New Church/Swedenborg related blog that updated it at all regularly. As a result I didn't see any particular reason to have a blogroll. Why give people a list of blogs that aren't going to have anything new for them to look at?

But, I'm happy to say that this is no longer the case and, to celebrate the fact that there are now other New Church/Swedenborg related blogs that are regularly updated, I have now added a blogroll. The fancy widget even tells you how recently the blogs were updated. Some of them were updated a couple of months ago but others were updated within hours. Here's to a lively New Church blogosphere!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reflection: Loving Other People

About a month ago I wrote my first longer blog post, "Everyone is a Teacher". (I recommend reading the comments on this post, by the way. Maybe someday I'll get around to responding to them.) Anyway, I'm calling these longer posts reflections and here's another one.


I've been learning about listening recently, mostly from a marriage group run by John and Lori Odhner of Caring for Marriage. A now well-worn truism of listening in marriage is that women just want to be listened to not have their problem fixed. I find this annoyingly true. Almost every time that my wife tells me about something negative, my first reaction is to start thinking about how to fix it—how to be the knight that rides up to save her with my brilliant solution sword. But, pretty much every time she would rather that I just listen to what she's experiencing and even sometimes just repeat back the words that she's saying. "I'm feeling frustrated that...." "You're feeling frustrated that...." "Yes!" So it's clear that, if I want to be loving, that's what I should do but there's a part of me that would still much rather mentally run off to find my horse and put on my armor than concentrate on really understanding what my princess is dealing with.

Another brilliant way that I often want to respond is by talking about how I'm feeling. "I'm feeling frustrated because...." "I'm also feeling frustrated but I'm frustrated because...." But, again, if I want to really be loving to my wife, I shouldn't get into that.

I know that this is basic stuff but forgive me while I share my realizations about what I think is going on underneath both of these. I think that the fundamental thing that matters to my wife (and to anyone I'm supposedly listening to) is whether I'm focusing on myself or the other person. The shift to focusing on me is pretty obvious when I say "I'm also feeling frustrated...." but it's also what's going on in the fixing scenario. When I start thinking about how to solve my wife's problems I've shifted from focusing on the much less comfortable thing of listening to and trying to relate to someone outside of me to the much more comfortable realm of focusing on how I can save the day.