Thursday, February 18, 2010

NewSearch 4 Will Be Available Next Week

I just got an email announcing that NewSearch 4 will be available next week!

NewSearch 4 is the latest version of a software program designed for studying Emanuel Swedenborg's theological writings and collateral literature. I asked Chuck Ebert (one of the key people involved with developing NewSearch) about the history of it.
The first release of NewSearch was in 1989 for the PC DOS system. It came on 45 floppy disks. If you did not have a big enough hard drive, you could read in as many disks as your computer could hold and then change them out when you wanted to search other volumes of the Writings.

The second version was in 1994 for the Mac and Windows 3.1. The software came on a CD.

NewSearch 98 was released for the PC (Windows 95/98) in 1998. There was no Mac version because by then there were good Windows emulators for the Mac.

Shortly after NewSearch 98 (around 2001) the first Web version became available. It has been upgraded regularly.
The original version of this program allowed users to electronically search a number of translations of Swedenborg's works using basic Boolean search terms. This software was developed by the STAIRS (Swedenborgian Theological Automated Information Retrieval System) project which also did the work of digitizing Swedenborg's works. All of the Swedenborg search engine web sites use texts from STAIRS. (See my Swedenborg Search Engines Review.)

The new version of NewSearch has been completely rewritten and has way more content available to search. Chuck Ebert also sent me the description of NewSearch 4 that he wrote for the online bookstore which explains some of what's new with the new version.
NewSearch 4 (Windows) allows full searching of the theological Writings for the New Church. Compared to NewSearch 98 that it replaces, NewSearch 4 has much more extensive document collections and greater searching capability. Most of the English translations of the Writings are included and much of the original Latin. The user may choose to search other document collections including New Church Life (1881-2007), over 100 Books and Monographs by New Church authors, several New Church journals and some of Swedenborg’s Pre Revelatory works. Also included are New Church translations of the 5 books of Moses (Pentateuch) and the New Testament. The New Church Life collection allows field searching (author, title, etc.).

For 20 years NewSearch has been a prime tool for the study of the Heavenly Doctrines. For a sampling of NewSearch 4, check out the online version at
NewSearch 4 has been a long time coming so it's exciting that it's finally done. I've been able to play with some pre-release versions which makes me excited and a little nervous—excited because I think it will be a very powerful and useful tool and nervous because it's had lots of bugs to work out.

Once I get a copy of it I'll play with it and post a full review. I'll be sure to include details about how it's better than the online version. (Although I've heard that, now that NewSearch 4 is done, the folks who were working on that will be able to devote more time to working on improving I'll also explain what I had to do to get it to work on my Mac. There are no plans to write for the Mac or Linux because good Virtual Machines are available.

You will be able to buy NewSearch 4 from the Bryn Athyn Cathedral Book Room and also from the New Church Bookstore Online. The price will be $39.95. It requires Windows XP (Service Pack 2) or a new Windows OS.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Great Sermon on the Prodigal Son (and the other son)

Since the fall, Rev. Grant Schnarr has been leading contemporary style services at The Lord's New Church. You can find out more about these services at I finally got around to going to one of these services yesterday but Grant wasn't preaching.

Rev. Michael Cowley was preaching about the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and it was one of the best sermons I've heard in a while. It was heartfelt, totally relevant and applicable, and also doctrinally satisfying. Contemporary style services are sometimes accused of being fluffy, emotional, and without much substance but that wasn't the case with this service. Michael didn't quote piles of passages but he did reference a lot of relevant ideas from the Heavenly Doctrines that, for me, provided a strong frame for the rest of the message.

One thing that I particularly appreciated about this sermon was how he explained the other son in the parable—the "good" son who hasn't done anything wrong. So far in my life I've related more to this son than the prodigal son (we'll see if that changes over the course of my life) and so I didn't want to just hear about the meaning of the prodigal son but also the other son and Michael didn't disappoint. In fact, he argued that the punchline of the parable really is about that son, not the prodigal one. You'll have to listen to the sermon to find out what else Michael said about that son.

To listen to the sermon go to the Current Sermon Series page on (it will probably eventually move to the sermon archive under the Mission of the Church series) and scroll down till you see "With Welcome Arms – The Prodigal Son – by Michael Cowley – February 14, 2010." If you have time, listen to the children's talk first and then the sermon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sermon Series for Valentines Day

At the last 2 Bryn Athyn contemporary services Rev. Mac Frazier did a 2 part series on men and women in preparation for Valentines Day. First he gave a talk "For Men" (start at 17:30 to skip the singing) and then he gave a talk "For Women" (start at 9:30 to skip the singing).

Both talks have a good combination of teachings from the Word and practical advice. They're not particularly focused on just one point but it means that there are a bunch of different useful ideas about men and women and marriage to consider.

I was especially impressed that, in preparation for his talk for women, Mac made sure to talk to as many women as he could about what to say. As a result I think both talks were balanced and useful.


If you live within driving distance of Bryn Athyn, you might want to consider attending the Caring For Marriage marriage conference that's happening tomorrow and the next day. It's not just for married people and it has some great speakers, workshops, activities, and entertainment lined up.