The weekly webcast Swedenborg and Life on our offTheLeftEye YouTube channel provided inspiration for students taking a brand-new course at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.
The course was titled “Spirituality through the Lens of Historical Narratives.” During the semester, students examined texts from a number of historical spiritual figures, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Helen Keller, and Emanuel Swedenborg. “Students absolutely loved the materials that were free and on the Swedenborg Foundation website, and they were captivated by the offTheLeftEye series, as I have been as well,” said course instructor Dr. Cristina Zaccarini. “They like Curtis Childs because he is such an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and engaging speaker who can really relate to young adults.”
She adds that the course went so well that she plans to offer it again in the future, with even more Swedenborg content. “I knew these videos would be helpful, but I had no idea that they would be life transforming. One of my students was a peer advisor to my students in the Spirituality class and he said that the material was, in his words, ‘extraordinary’ in its impact on them.”
As just one example, the following is an excerpt (used with permission) from one of the students in the class, a Muslim who wrote of her own struggles to reconcile the strict practices she was taught growing up with her personal beliefs:
Throughout this paper, I have compared the ideas I have learned about Swedenborg and what I have been taught about Islam. I would like to emphasize that Islam is a wonderful religion, that advocates for peace and the problems I had were not with the religion, but with the way I was taught. There were plenty of values that I have taken from Islam that I probably would not have taken so seriously if I hadn’t learned about them through the experiences with my family and the religion classes I used to attend. OffTheLeftEye has helped me understand Swedenborg’s perspectives on the afterlife and this life. It has helped me put reason to some aspects that I had questions for, which were not explained through the learning I had in my childhood. It’s also increased my faith in God because the influences I had pushed me to believe that God was not on my side, and I had to do things that I didn’t necessarily believe in to protect myself in the afterlife. As of right now, I can’t say I have a specific answer regarding my beliefs, but I know that Swedenborg has influenced me and will continue to do so as I learn more about his thoughts and beliefs.