Five years ago, we launched a new webcast on our offTheLeftEye YouTube channel. The premise was simple: host Curtis Childs reads Swedenborg’s writings from text on a screen, stopping to comment on what each piece means for us personally. From those humble beginnings, Swedenborg & Life was born.
Nobody expected it to be a success—especially not the host. “[The show] actually began as we were just reading through the writings of Swedenborg and offering a bit of a guided tour. And of course, I thought, not many people are going to want to watch that. And I was completely wrong. That is really when our channel took off,” said Curtis as he hosted the five-year anniversary special for Swedenborg & Life, recorded in front of a live audience at the Swedenborg Foundation’s recent annual meeting. “It didn’t happen right away, but after a couple of months of this, that’s when our minutes watched started going up, that’s when our subscribership started going up. That’s when we realized, we’ve really got something here.”
The first episode of the new series, “What the World of Spirits Is,” aired on June 2, 2014. The text for the episode was taken from the World of Spirits section of Swedenborg’s classic Heaven and Hell, and future episodes continued on the same theme. As the show caught on, it shifted to an interview format. Five months after the original air date, an interview with future co-host Dr. Jonathan Rose, in an episode titled “Why Don’t Those Who’ve Died Communicate with Us More?,” became our most-watched episode ever. To date it’s racked up more than 1.5 million views and is still consistently among our top ten episodes.
In the anniversary special, Curtis and the offTheLeftEye team take viewers on a journey through the show’s creation process. Starting with the translation of the text by the expert team at the New Century Edition, they show how the channel’s writing and production team develop different ways to express the idea—from Swedenborg & Life to our question-and-answer panel show called Good Question! to our new addition News from Heaven. News from Heaven is itself a throwback to the origins of Swedenborg & Life—the short, twice-weekly show features Curtis reading from one of Swedenborg’s works and commenting on its contents, illustrating key points in the text.
Thanks so much to all the viewers, donors, and amazing community members who have made the offTheLeftEye channel such a wonderful place to learn and grow. We look forward to seeing what the next five years bring!