On February 8, a new series will debut on the offTheLeftEye YouTube channel: Chasing Swedenborg. Morgan Beard, our executive director, sat down with Curtis Childs, the director of offTheLeftEye and host of the new series, to talk about the genesis of this new venture and what else the future holds for the channel.
Morgan Beard: All right, set this up for us. What is Chasing Swedenborg? What is the premise of the series?
Curtis Childs: Chasing Swedenborg grants direct access to see how we’re using Swedenborg’s ideas in our own lives. Even though I’ve gotten immense benefit from Swedenborg’s ideas, I feel like I’m still “chasing” the vision cast in his books—trying to understand it, and trying to figure out how to make it work on the specific challenges I’m facing in my twenty-first-century life.
MB: What can people expect to see? What’s the experience you’re hoping to give viewers?
CC: Chasing Swedenborg is a behind-the-scenes look at our spiritual process. You’ll get a window into our experience as we grapple with concepts and challenges in our own lives, and you’ll see the real-time application of Swedenborgian concepts. It’s short and fast-paced. It’s meant to be consumed quickly to introduce you to a concept and our process of trying to use it effectively, leaving you equipped to begin “chasing” that concept yourself!
MB: What does a real-time application of Swedenborgian concepts look like? How might that work in the moment?
CC: Rather than hear me explaining how a concept works or how to understand it, I’ll be letting you in on exactly how I used it today to try to solve a specific issue I’m struggling with. This is seeing me as a consumer of Swedenborg’s ideas rather than as a distributor. It’s the old “show, don’t tell” maxim. I’m hoping the practicality of it will be even more effective in equipping people to apply that concept to their own unique situation.
MB: For people who haven’t seen the video that inspired the series, could you talk a little bit about it? What was in the video, and what was the reaction to it?
CC: The video, called “What Happened to My Health During the Pandemic,” was a very candid moment. I sat down during a low point for me this summer and talked about some health challenges I had been having, as well as struggles with anxiety and depression. The response was instant and overwhelming. We quickly got more than a thousand comments on that video, with many viewers expressing gratitude that I had articulated struggles that were similar to the ones they were going through. It was the impact of that video and people’s response to the tone and format that inspired Chasing Swedenborg.
MB: One of the reasons that you’re launching this new series is to make room for another project. Tell us about that—what do you have in the works?
CC: The other project’s code name is “The Netflix Series.” No, we don’t actually have a deal with Netflix, but it speaks to our ambitions for the project. I’ve found that almost everyone who works with Swedenborg’s ideas in-depth has a longing to see those ideas in their full glory, rendered through state-of-the-art storytelling, technology, and design. We’ll be giving the pillars of Swedenborg’s worldview that treatment in this series with the intention of breaking through to a much larger audience than we’ve reached before.
MB: I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Swedenborg & Life, which is the series that—against all expectations at the time, I think—was the show that really launched the offTheLeftEye channel into the stratosphere. How does it feel to not be doing it anymore?
CC: While it’s a bit sad to see the end of anything that’s been a longtime companion, I think in a way we are still doing that show. While we won’t be airing a program with that name, the show went through so many major format changes—I think there were five major iterations—that it really was a series of shows. It was just the spirit and the name that kept consistent. For example, back when the show started, it was really very similar to what News from Heaven is now. I think the spirit of Swedenborg & Life lives on in our current programming, and we’re looking to take that spirit to the next level in the new series I mentioned above. It’s the same people, same energy, same mission, now just with some different containers and strategies around it.
Chasing Swedenborg airs on Mondays at 3 p.m. EST on our offTheLeftEye YouTube channel. You can also find companion content at offthelefteye.com and the podcast Inside OffTheLeftEye, which is available through most podcast streaming services.