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In our live broadcast “How God Reaches Us,” we talked about how God tailors messages of divine love and wisdom to every person’s individual needs. In this episode, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose are joined by Chara Daum, and we learn that Jonathan and Chara were pretty profoundly impacted by the idea that God will always meet us where we are.
. . . even if where we are is a little bit silly.
Join us as we all meet each other to delve deeper into eighteenth-century philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s take on divine accommodation.
Jonathan has been fascinated by Swedenborg’s accounts of a beautiful, utopian future. He’d love to dig into that even further.
Chara’s noticed references to mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning—she’d love to know how to integrate spiritual thinking into even those small moments.
Curtis is interested in spiritual correspondences to the natural world. How does it represent or reflect our minds and a deeper reality?
Protecting the Roots
The way we’re led and taught by God is not one-size-fits-all. It’s designed to fit into anyone’s mind.
Swedenborg tells us that it doesn’t matter if what we believe is a 100 percent true reflection of reality; as long as it doesn’t actively cause harm, the Lord will work with the belief rather than trying to remove it. Which is good, because no one person or group has the corner on perfect truth, even if their faith is deep and genuine.
The Lord . . . has no wish to destroy abruptly, let alone instantly, the religion we were brought up on. To do so would be to tear it out by the roots and so destroy the reverent devotion and worship sown deeply in us. This reverence the Lord never breaks but bends. An innate feature of the reverent devotion rooted in us from our childhood is the fact that it cannot survive violence, only gentle, merciful bending. . . . In the other life [people’s] holy worship, rooted in them from their childhood, is not taken from them instantly but gradually. In those who have lived lives of love for one another, the seeds of the faith’s good values and true ideas can easily be planted, and later on they receive those seeds with joy, because love for others is the soil to plant them in. (Secrets of Heaven §1992)
If we were to change our minds abruptly, it would be like uprooting a plant, killing it entirely. Because the roots of plants are so intertwined, pulling out a weed could result in yanking out a beneficial plant along with it. Rather than risking that damage, our beliefs are cultivated.
In human beings, there is no pure form of intuitive truth, or in other words, divine truth. The religious truth we have is only apparent truth. . . . The fact that illusions and distortions attach themselves to it shows how impure it is. The Lord still binds himself to us in those impurities, however, animating and enlivening them with innocence and charity to form a conscience in us. The truth that forms our conscience varies from person to person, depending on our religious beliefs. Because we have been steeped in that truth and have considered it holy, the Lord does not want to hurt it, as long as it does not violate what the faith values as good. . . . Still, the closer we come to possessing genuine religious truth, the better our conscience is. (Secrets of Heaven §2053:1–2)
Jonathan is reminded of the parable of the wheat and the tares from Matthew 13:24–30. There was a man who sowed good seed in his field, and then his enemy came behind him and sowed bad seeds (tares) among them. The man’s servants asked him if they should pull the tares out, but he told them no, because they might remove the wheat along with the unwanted plants. Instead, he told them to wait until everything was ready to harvest, when they could gather the wheat and burn the rest. Similarly, sometimes we need to wait until our wrong ideas mature before we’re at a stage where we can move beyond them.
Spiritual World Road Trip
To see this in action, let’s join Swedenborg on a trip into the spiritual world. There, each person has their own personalized “lesson plan” to help them understand heaven. Swedenborg describes each person being paired with angel teachers who have a similar background and can understand how best to convey knowledge.
Swedenborg also speaks of different paths or roads opening up in front of people depending on where they need to go and what they need to know (see Heaven and Hell §§519–520). When people arrive at the community where they truly belong, they are immediately recognized and accepted.
We take a moment to get to know the puppeteer behind last week’s trailer, Angela Rose. She uses puppets to share Swedenborgian ideas with both adults and children. She’s found people get more connected to puppets than with actors because with puppets the audience is lending their own imagination to the performance.
Angela takes us through some of her different puppets and the ways they help to communicate important concepts. For example, rod puppets (where the main body of the puppet is supported by a single rod) allow for more expansive emotional expression, which she finds children especially relate to. Marionettes illustrate how we can all get a little help from above as our stories play out. Sometimes the puppets even pull the puppeteers in unexpected directions or inspire people to treat them as if they were alive. This illustrates an important Swedenborgian concept: even though it seems as if we are acting from our own will, in reality we couldn’t do anything without God.
During this live show, viewers chatted in their questions. Just click a question to see the answer:
- Does God have emotions? Are emotions a good way to navigate through life? When you read the Bible it will say God got angry or God was sad. Is that a correspondence?
- Would that be a correspondence to the sixth commandment? To begrudge another’s religious beliefs?
- Did Swedenborg feel the angels could be people you knew in life directly?
- Did Swedenborg give his take on the burning bush?
At the beginning, we asked viewers which topic they’d like us to cover. Here are some of the answers.
- I’d love a show on perception.
- Current events and the wars that we are seeing.
- Holy communion.
- Please do a show about Swedenborg and Buddhism or Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam. D. T. Suzuki wrote quite a bit about the former; Henry Corbin wrote quite a bit about the latter.
- Maybe a video about the sacraments would be good.
- A Swedenborgian take on meditation?
- Consider a show about how Swedenborg and A Course in Miracles might relate or correspond.
- How to tell others about ES. Conversation starter tips.
- I would like to see Swedenborg’s views on the wars and how to bring the current religions together, because all love comes from the same place.
- I would like to see a show on how to have peace of mind in a world gone mad.
- I am not sure if the former episode covered this in full detail or if this one will, but I would like to hear more about the Other Planets
- I would like to see an interpretation of some issues that are prominent for today: abortion, current legal system and gay lifestyle. How would Swedenborg look at these issues today?
- I would like to see a show on Swedenborg’s inventions and his work in other fields.
- I would like to see a show about the reason of spiritual growth. Why had God started it all? Why does a God need humans and purify these?
- I would like to see a show on his translation of Old Testament where it says God has set aside land for them and they have to go kill even women and children there.
- I would like to see a show about Swedenborg’s definition of man’s OWN and how sin becomes our proprium.
- Perhaps a show on more scientific discussion matched with spiritual. . . .
- The healing power of forgiveness if you haven’t already done a show on this subject.
- I’d like to see a S&L show about the findings of quantum physics and how they corroborate Swedenborg’s teachings about consciousness. I think that would be truly fascinating!
- Would like to see a show about how to build spiritual relationships, and/or communities according to his works and laws of divine providence.
- Would love to see a show dedicated to the influence Swedenborg had on major historical figures (Helen Keller, Carnegie, Emerson, etc.), seemingly buried, ignored, or removed from traditional teachings.
- How Swedenborg compares to earlier figures like Eckhardt or the Blessed Joachim.
- A future show on the parables like in Matt 24:40 to help others understand by sharing the video.
Thanks for joining us—we’ll see you next week!
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About Swedenborg & Life
In a lighthearted and interactive webcast format, host Curtis Childs from the Swedenborg Foundation and featured guests explore topics from Swedenborg’s eighteenth-century writings about his spiritual experiences and afterlife explorations and discuss how they relate to modern-day life and death.
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When we wake up in heaven, Swedenborg tells us, angels roll a covering from off of our left eye so that we can see everything in a spiritual light. The offTheLeftEye YouTube channel uses an array of educational and entertaining video formats to look at life and death through an uplifting spiritual lens.
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