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Happy new year! With a new year, we’re bringing in a new format—but don’t worry, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose will guide us all the way through.
As always, we’re here to explore the spiritual writings of eighteenth-century philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, so the show starts with a Swedenborg-related icebreaker: What is an idea in Swedenborg’s works that has had a positive impact in your life?
It’s hard for Jonathan to narrow it down, but he does get a lot out of the idea of an inner and outer self. This has helped him understand himself and the way he interacts with his own thoughts.
For Curtis, divine providence—the operation of the Divine to guide events to the best possible end—has helped him in his interactions with those he feels in conflict with.
Weekly Swedenborg Keywords
In this section, Curtis and Jonathan look at important words that Swedenborg defines in unique ways: for this episode, it’s goodness and truth.
All things in the universe that are in accord with the divine design go back to goodness and truth. (New Jerusalem §11)
Clearly, these are important concepts to nail down when reading Swedenborg. What do they mean?
What is good is a matter of love and what is true is a matter of discernment. There is the same kind of union in everything the Lord has created in the universe. Their function looks to what is good, and the form of their function looks to what is true. (Divine Love and Wisdom §409)
That’s a bit abstract. How can we think about it in concrete terms? Our hosts draw from an example that Swedenborg himself gave in Spiritual Experiences §3427: fruit.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- Whatever use the fruit serves is good.
- How it is put to use is the truth of good.
- The quality of the fruit’s taste, smell, and beauty is truth.
For example, the use of a fruit is that it’s nourishing for those who eat it—in other words, the purpose of a fruit, in the grand scheme of things, is to feed others. How do you put it to use? By eating it. That’s the truth that arises from the inherent goodness of the fruit: the knowledge of all the ways in which you can cause the fruit to be useful. The quality of it—the form and all of the inner characteristics that make each fruit unique—is the truth of the fruit.
Jonathan uses an example from his life to show how this can apply to an action: He got a call from a friend whose car battery had died, and so he went over to give the person a jump. The goodness of the situation was his empathy and his desire to help another person. The truth of the goodness is the technical knowledge of how to connect the cables and make the jump work. It’s not knowledge in general, but knowledge that is appropriate to a specific situation. And then the truth of the situation is the mechanics of the car itself, which exist separately from a person’s desire to help.
Spiritual World Road Trip
In this section, we join Swedenborg in his travels through the spiritual world. Here, he learned that goodness and truth are so important that they actually change how you look in the afterlife.
In this account, Swedenborg is traveling in the spiritual world, and he encounters someone he had worked with while that person was still alive. The person was riding in a chariot, and Swedenborg could see that his inner goodness had made him incredibly handsome.
In the afterlife, people appear as they truly are. People who have rejected humanity, love, and wisdom will actually appear like monsters. On the other hand, living a life of love and charity will make you appear genuinely lovely in the other world.
During this live show, viewers chatted in their questions. Here’s what they wondered—just click a question to see the answer:
- Do Swedenborgians have any preference for which version of the English Bible they read?
- I hear my mom’s voice talking to me in my head. Is it HER? Or my imagination?
- I wonder what winter corresponds to, because it is still cold out.
Curtis and Jonathan take a moment to have a talk with one of the viewers, Linda May from Oslo, Norway. She came across Swedenborg’s writings purely out of curiosity about a Swedish theologian, and then she fell in love with the concept of God as love rather than judge.
In Swedenborg and Life, Linda May has found an online spiritual community and even got connected to a local church. The show has helped her get to the center of Swedenborg’s very dense writings.
At the beginning, they asked viewers what positive impact Swedenborg had on their lives. Some themes came up:
- The idea of heaven as another, better life where we will see our loved ones again and share eternity with like-minded people
- A universal church that exists within us and within all people
- Finding new meaning in the Bible
- Finding a new understanding of the influence of heaven and hell on our lives
We hope you enjoyed the new format, and we’ll see you next week!
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About Swedenborg and Life
In a lighthearted and interactive live 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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