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In last week’s episode, we looked at eighteenth-century philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s travels in the afterlife. But for a lot of people, whether there even is an afterlife is up for debate. In this episode, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose go live to discuss how Swedenborg dealt with this issue.
There are three sets of people for Jonathan—first, of course, would be Swedenborg, along with other people from his time and people who have worked on his writings. He’s spent so much time with their work that he’d love to be able to dig further in. Jonathan would also like to meet his ancestors, and one more family member he never met—a brother who died very young.
Curtis’s older sister passed when he was only six years old, so he doesn’t really remember her. He’d love to see what she was like and how she has changed in the afterlife; he’d like to know her better.
There Is an Afterlife!
Swedenborg considered it a core part of his mission to share the fact that there is an afterlife. So where did he get his information?
To prevent people [from losing all belief in an afterlife] . . . the Lord has opened the deeper levels of my spirit. This has made it possible for me to talk after their deaths with all the people I have ever known during their physical lives; with some of these I have talked for days, with some for months, with some for a whole year. I have also talked with so many other people that saying there were a hundred thousand of them would be an understatement. Many of these were in the heavens and many were in the hells. (Last Judgment §15:3)
Swedenborg felt that many people of his time—even those in the church—were ignorant about the afterlife. According to him, we innately know that there is a life after death, but materialist reductionism (that everything can be explained by material causes) or biblical literalism could get in the way of us actually having that knowledge.
What’s interesting is that Swedenborg was both a scientist and a student of the Bible, and so he was uniquely positioned to respond to those arguments. In one of our previous episodes, “Why Does the Bible Say ‘The Dead Know Nothing’?,” we answer some of the biblical literalist challenges.
That is why almost all the people who arrive from the world are absolutely amazed to discover that they are alive and that they are just as human as ever, no different at all. Once they get past their amazement at that, then they are astounded that the church has no idea that this is what happens to people after death, in spite of the fact that all the people who have ever lived in this world are there in the other life, leading human lives. They also wonder why people in this world have not been informed of this by means of visions. They are told by a heavenly source that this could have been done—nothing is easier when the Lord so pleases; but people who have convinced themselves of these misconceptions to the contrary would still not believe, even if they saw the visions for themselves. (Last Judgment §17)
Spiritual World Road Trip
To grow spiritually, we need to understand what’s between us and higher love and wisdom. But here in the physical world, there will always be something in the way. Sometimes, though, the problem is the spirits around us.
I became aware that a certain woman loved her husband, but she was prevented from acting on it by some others who talked to her persuasively and used various methods of curbing her feelings. They did this by holding her back, subtly instilling different [emotions], interfering with communication, and substituting other [feelings] that were stronger in their influence on her outer self. As soon as these [impediments] were removed, she openly and fervently expressed her love for her husband, kissing and hugging him. I said that this was similar to how a bowstring or a spring works—when it is held back, there is an energy that presses to be let go. (Spiritual Experiences §5554:1)
Once these blocks are released, we spring into our natural state with all our potential energy realized.
During this live show, viewers chatted in their questions. Just click a question to see the answer:
- Swedenborg writes that it takes three days to get acclimated to heaven. If that’s true, are near-death experiences just a peek at the coming attractions?
- I know Swedenborg knew when he would die, but are there any reports of his last moments? Things he may have said to others before passing?
- Can you have ego in the spirit, or only in the physical?
- Does Swedenborg teach that Christ in us is how Christ returns or that Christ returns in a physical form outside his own body?
For our guest interview, we visit with Curtis’s grandmother, Donnette Alfelt. She’s an author who works with widows and widowers to help them find peace with the knowledge of the afterlife. After her own husband passed, she started seeking ways to understand how his spirit was still with her.
Those in true marriage love are not separated by the death of one because the spirit of the deceased dwells continually with the spirit of the one not yet deceased until the latter dies and they are reunited and love each other more tenderly than before because in the spiritual world. (Conjugial Love §321)
At the beginning, we asked viewers who they look forward to reuniting with in the afterlife. Here are some of the answers.
- The apostle Paul. He seemed really academic to me.
- The grandfather and grandmother who passed away before I was born.
- I would like to meet Swedenborg.
- My son who died shortly after birth.
- This list is so long, but I’d put Jesus at top of my list. I got some questions!
- My brother Eric and my best friend who happens to be my brother in law Rudy. Both died way too young.
- All my relatives that have moved on and of course Swedenborg.
- My great grandparents.
- My parents in the afterlife, Swedenborg, and my grandparents, especially my maternal grandmother, who passed when I was a month old.
- All of the people of my life and people from other planets.
- My ancestors, but doubt they’d be in Heaven.
- And C.S. Lewis, I never got to meet him.
- The love of my life. My parents. The aunt and uncle who raised me. Some spirits who have helped me, including Jesus.
- My husband Larry and when he died that is when I found off the left eye trying to find comfort, that is who I want to meet.
- I want to meet everyone in heaven, especially Jesus.
- I want to see our Lord Jesus. I’ll love to see him.
- If I could the Lord first then my mom.
- I can’t wait to see my beautiful daughter who passed in 2012. We had a strong bond. I miss her immensely. Her being my only child, I feel that I will be “whole” once again.
- I want to meet my twin brothers who died at three months of age in 1930.
- My son Danny.
- The creator!!!! I never meet my father!!!! My mom! Husband!! So many!
- Someone I loved. Sometime after he died he came to visit me in a dream. My beautiful daughter. My grandmother. My Dad.
- My son, Brent, my mother, Jesus, and 2 other precious babies.
- My father, mother, maternal and paternal grandfathers. For my mother and maternal grandfather, I’d hope their afterlife went on from before they got dementia.
- My daughter Annica – that is such an exciting thought! My brother and sister. My dad. My father-in-law and brother-in-law. It is going to be so great!
- I’m gonna hug my dad for a year when I see him next! Hard to type through these tears of indescribable love and joy at the thought.
- My boyfriend that died of cancer and our baby… that I hope has a soul although he was delivered very early :(… And my boxer dog ..- that would mean all worlds to me.
- My grandmother who passed a year before I was born and my grandfather who raised me.
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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