Should women be ordained into the Swedenborgian Church?

WomanPreacherThere are two major branches of the Swedenborgian (New) Church. One is simply called “Convention” and the other “General.” The Convention branch is considered more liberal and currently ordains both gays and women into its ministry.

The General Church does not, and is considered more conservative. There is great (and heated) discussion going on concerning the ordination of women in this conservative branch of the Swedenborgian Church.

My position on this issue (and people have asked) is that it is up to the membership and leadership of any church to decide the outcome of who can be ordained or not within their organization. Either decision is OK with me.

Yet, Swedenborg himself believed that church ministry was a function, designed by God, to be a male job. Why would he say this? Was this a belief stemming from those of his antiquated generation or was it a real divine dictate?

Looking deeper than worldly fairness and social equality, it is a question of each gender’s approach to spirituality, and in this, they are indeed different. Women are more pragmatic than most men, and tend to favor action over conceptual ideas (even describing the probing of these ideas as mere “navel-gazing”). But without a proper understanding of doctrinal ideas (God’s Truth), actions—even charitable actions—can remain worldly, external and material (maternal). For instance, social issues like feeding the hungry, putting money into the pockets of the poor, and telling everybody that God loves them equally, does not necessarily promote spiritual growth.

A flawed individual can just as easily be helpful to society as can an angelic being. The former always has an eye on status, affirmation, or some kind of personal favor resulting in even more outwardly zealous activities. The latter has gone through sincere self-scrutiny and their efforts are often invisible to onlookers.

Having participated in a Swedenborgian Seminary myself, where there was a ratio of four women for every male, you would expect tangible outcomes. My observation is that the Convention Church would shrink to nothing if women weren’t being ordained (men are staying away because they see ordination as not providing a feasible money-making career for their future, while women believe that good things will miraculously happen). The General Church, which only ordains males, seems to be growing at least at a snail’s pace.

Neither church is capturing the world’s imagination.

Ironically, women already run both churches through their various groups. So their influence is already quite powerful. But women are incessantly seeking formal (planetary) leadership roles. But what leadership roles are ordained women performing in the Swedenborgian Church?

My understanding of Swedenborg’s doctrines is that a minister’s role is to grow the congregation and lead them out of hell. That to me is what represents real ministerial leadership in the Swedenborgian church.

But my experience, and having attended seminary, is that women ministers are taking people’s lives in the wrong spiritual direction. With their pragmatic approach to love, they are stressing kindness, community, and cooperative support, while leaving out the more distasteful duty of self-examination—preferring to look at the “positive” side of people instead (just ask them). Unfortunately, this “easier” approach hides the true inner quality of one’s outer actions, even when the person is giving visible help to others.

The point is that God designed the male human psyche to be more adept at recognizing the need for unflattering self-examination—to sanitize one’s real motives within acts that would otherwise look visibly charitable and helpful to all observers. That does not mean that the male ministers of the Swedenborgian church have consciously appropriated this “strong” medicine into their teachings.

Women will not naturally embrace this “harsh” approach. Men can.

Women see God’s heaven as a kingdom of mutual love (which is not incorrect). But men can grasp the additional and deeper idea that this heavenly kingdom of love contains innocence at its core. Innocence allows worldly deeds to become spiritual. Innocence does not come from any outer activity of kindness or goodness but through inner cleansing. This cleansing allows the purity of God’s genuine love to enter into our lives and direct our actions. (Without this cleansing, we will mistakenly assume that our good deeds are genuinely spiritual.)

So Swedenborg’s steps for spiritual regeneration, when properly understood by the human intellect, would actually make this new religion highly unpopular to the flawed human psyche. In other words, to make the Swedenborgian Church (both sides) more popular would mean to make regeneration more popular.

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When does the Lord God start protecting one’s “remains”?

boyThere is a spiritual function which is only discussed in the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

Apparently, everyone during the innocence of their childhood has genuine feelings of love stored (and protected) deeply within their psyches. These noble feelings serve God’s purpose of providing a matrix, or plane, for spiritual growth to occur when we reach maturity.

Swedenborg calls this matrix of innocence one’s “REMAINS.”

But how do these influences of heavenly innocence get stored more deeply into our psyches, where they can better be protected from life’s vanities and allurements?

It happens quite naturally when we each learn pretense (from the adult world). This fabricated mind causes an extra (and lower) level of mental activity to cover over one’s remains—creating an inner and outer person. An infant or young child does not have this division or split in the mind. (A child is who he or she really is, until they learn how to deceive others and hide personal agendas from the world.)

The problem (and terror) is that through habit and living in the physical world of adults, we have learned to accept this lower, corporeal consciousness as our real consciousness and selves—further forcing our remains to operate within a subconscious part of the mind, where it pretty much stays out of our reach. (Swedenborg calls this subconscious the interior natural mind and makes it clear that genuine spiritual growth only happens from this special matrix.)

The only way for an individual to bring these heavenly forms of innocence back up to the surface is to have the data in the external corporeal memory (worldly mind) make contact with this buried consciousness (called remains). This contact is equivalent to someone comparing what they know from the world with how they choose to act in life.

Simply put, this contact comes from sincere self-examination.

Any conflict from this “conjunction” between one’s deeper spiritual affections in his or her remains with their outer memory-knowledges leads to spiritual combat. This inner battle is experienced as temptation in the individual.

As a person succeeds in putting more “weight” on the inner influences coming from the remains, the more innocence takes part in that person’s outer activities. Without this psychic battle, “good deeds” and friendship can be feigned by the ego, and innocence is suffocated.

The angels of heaven have all won this inner battle and thus, innocence reigns in all their charitable actions. Otherwise, goodness stays only as an outer mechanical action.

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Are there real signs pointing to one’s genuine spiritual growth?

Tree-out-of-headThere indeed are. But making this sign known to most people on earth would only expose their personal fantasies relating to true spiritual transformation and bum them out.

I however, being a rascal at heart, cannot resist talking about it.

According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, when one succeeds in having their spiritual mind opened, they will no longer see the physical world the same way. Instead of grasping spiritual ideas naturally, a person begins seeing natural things spiritually.

How does one get to see things so differently during this psycho-spiritual switcheroo?

Well, a person’s mind escapes the boundaries and limitations of the spacetime arena and begins to see all the physical phenomena around themselves as representing spiritual processes and doctrinal truth. For instance, under this new type of perception a person would see how the stages of growth in a tree (from seed to seed) represents and corresponds to the stages of a person’s spiritual rebirth.

This new perception also makes clear to any reader that God’s Word is written in pure correspondences.

This is called angelic sight—to see everything according to correspondences and their higher meanings. Having such a view of things is a sure sign of spiritual evolution.

But even those who follow Swedenborg’s theological ideas can become lazy and look for easier ways to feel they are making important spiritual strides. This laziness most often comes in the form of people trying to make external changes (external utopias) in the world—like feeding the starving children, helping widows, helping the poor, free energy or accepting everyone’s lifestyle. These social issues, while showing friendly compassion, only represent outer forms of compassion and justice, because no one has ever entered heaven just for having food in their belly, money in their pocket, having a roof over their head, being accepted in society, or having a say in government.

That is why Jesus Christ told Pontius Pilate that His Heavenly Kingdom was “within.” He didn’t tell the Roman governor about the need to treat people more equitably.

Even telling others that “God loves them” can make people place their hopes in the wrong areas (seeing spiritual things only in positive natural outcomes).

I say “lazy” because it takes harsh introspection to rid oneself of the worldly influences and flaws that keep people’s spiritual minds closed (enslaved) from seeing the world (and reality) through higher, spiritual correspondences.

If Pontius Pilate had his spiritual eyes opened it would have blown his mind.

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Throwing your parents under the bus

parentsAs harsh as such an action may seem, it is the actual outcome of genuine spiritual transformation.

According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, when we transform our lives into spiritual/angelic beings, we then become the progeny of the Lord God. This also means detaching ourselves from the negative genetic influences (hereditary evils) given to us by our terrestrial parents.

This change in one’s life starts a whole new (and heavenly) genealogy and family tree. Instead of hair, eye or skin color, instead of height and body type, when God becomes your father, your personal characteristics will represent qualities of spiritual love and wisdom (these things rise above the attributes provided by human sperm and ovum).

Of course, our earthly parents can get out from under the bus if they, too, choose a spiritual path as well, and rise above the allurements and vanities of the physical world.

Who is your real parent?

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Strange blog site visits

Map2000My egoism sometimes directs me to seek out the site stats of my spiritual/scientific blog page, so that I can “see how I am doing.”

I am doing quite well.

But every now and then I get a visit from someone in the Russian Federation. Then later, for some strange reason, this visit is removed from my page—as though it never happened.

I wonder if some Russian ban on a particular type of information might have anything to do with these disappearances?

No matter, information and knowledge is the hardest thing to keep a cap on and suppress. And, new ideas can change things in a jiffy.

So I will keep on plugging away and let nature (and God’s Providence) take its course.

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Why didn’t Jesus come off the cross and kick ass?

NailsThat is a question that needs some thought because Jesus was not only capable of great miracles, He also had a whole host of angels backing him up. Yet, when nailed to the cross, He allowed Himself to be treated like a lowly criminal.

It seems that staying on the cross, and not flexing His heavenly muscles, was his sacred challenge and mission. Why?

If any terrestrial human had the Lord’s heavenly power he would not have submitted himself to such humiliation and would have settled the score in a jiffy.

But that is precisely what separates God from humans—the infinite ability to resist egoism and the allurement of self-importance. So Jesus was fighting a deeper, hidden battle against all His corporeal/sensual (from the body’s) preferences.

We know from the New Testament story that the Lord of heaven was born on earth and given a human body of flesh. The human body (and flesh) comes with all kinds of hereditary flaws including flaws of character and various animal pleasures. Therefore, if Jesus were to battle against these worldly imperfections and inclinations and become victorious, He would succeed in making even His genetic human form equally divine with His heavenly soul. (This would give the Lord supremacy over all worldly evils and harmful intentions.) That meant the Lord had to stay on the cross to suffer the physical consequences and jeers. (Remember, Jesus was executed with two other criminals, who did not have the power to change their circumstances.)

What is a greater human temptation than to use one’s superior power over others to get one’s way? To not use such vast power would be a great sacrifice, but in this case it would also preserve human free will (as opposed to ruling others by compulsion and force, which always breeds inner rebellion).

Preserving human free will is to preserve a person’s heart and lifestyle, good or bad. This can only be a gift from a true God of love. Without free will, the human race cannot be offered the choice and desire for a more noble and rational love.

When Jesus died on the cross, what really died were the last vestiges of human self-love, giving birth of a higher, spiritual ideal.

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Seeing “Orbs”

EnneagramI am not talking about witnessing supernatural lights or ball lightning, but something much, much deeper—like angelic perception.

According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, angels see all complete processes as the power of God’s Truth advancing (Divine Providence) in a coordinated and harmonious series of causes where all things return to their first principles.

A simple example of this sacred (holistic) process is a seed leading to the development of future seeds. Swedenborg claimed that angels look at all phenomena from this divine cyclic order, or as “comprehensive wholes.” These comprehensive wholes, in the form of orbits, also represent the intelligent and conjunctive design of God’s “Circle of Life.

(We can also experience this same and ubiquitous process of things returning to their first principles in our psyche, in that what we intend—or will—we make our goal.)

This means that all processes in the visible (and invisible) universe arrange themselves into an organic and circular (repeatable) pattern, without which there would be no connectivity, mutual cooperation or unity in the world. (And the universe is indeed profoundly unified!)

Unfortunately, modern scientists do not view reality in the organic way angels do, and as a result, do not perceive such profound “oneness” within the living dynamics and diversity of action on all scales in the universe—physical, psychical and Divine.

I have discussed these “living” ideas in greater depth in my award-winning book Proving God. Also, many of those who have embraced Swedenborg’s new theology have yet to embrace his scientific discoveries, which rationally and lawfully explain how God operates and creates from spiritual principles.

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What would Swedenborg say about Quantum Foam?

482923084_929946a5acFirst of all, Swedenborg would say that it is currently a flawed concept issuing from those working in a purely materialistic/scientific arena and that their ideas about the universe are now backing them into a wall.

Quantum foam is a name given to describe a state of indeterminacy and sphere of weirdness found operating deep in nature’s smallest processes. Swedenborg—two hundred years before the formation of quantum physics—also believed in processes that were indeterminate. But he was not stymied by the classical concepts of waves and particles or whether these processes were real or potential (probability distributions for possible outcomes of measurement). He believed that matter would have to change its (classical) structure in order to take such “cloudy” trajectories, and created a rational model of how such changes are to be geometrically understood.

Swedenborg’s idea of ontological reality embraced different and distinct levels of structure—the deeper you go into nature, the less physical a unit of reality became and the more intelligent it became. This represents a discontinuous change to a more abstract outcome. He described this direction of abstraction in nature as action (with its associative unit) lawfully stripping itself, more and more, of its physical constraints (and laws).

Finally, you ended up with activity and structure so complex and abstracted from the physical arena of spacetime, that they became non-local, non-material and spiritual processes (living forms of intelligence in action).

So, if Swedenborg was right, the future of science will not only involve corrections but also lead us to theological concepts and God!

I have offered some further explanations of this “new and improved” science in my award-winning book, Proving God.

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Should I keep writing books even after discovering I am a fraud?

StaircasePressBooksMy problem is that I write books about spiritual transformation and how we all engage in pretense when acting around others.

This unflattering assessment is verified by my own observed behavior.

Ironically, the more self-discoveries I make about my own personal flaws of character and inner demons, the more of an expert I become in addressing the topic of changing my own spiritual predicament (and being able to advise others). That is where my writing is headed and why I shouldn’t stop.

I am especially amused at all my self-defense mechanisms that I have created over the years to promote a false belief in my goodness and value to society. Every year I become more and more aware of my self-delusions—to prop up my self-image and make me feel better about myself—but which keep me living in a dream.

These uncomfortable self-revelations do not shatter me, because they offer me the possibility of a new kind of freedom—an inner freedom. This is why, each year, I am building up a fearless capacity and endurance for digging up more of the dirt deep inside myself, acknowledging that it is there, and asking God to help me resist it.

I have done this for so long that I can no longer take comfort in my outer and observable acts of friendship, but instead, have trained myself to look more carefully at my deepest motives, because something of egoism (proprium) always seems to get mixed into the equation.

It is my God-given duty to uproot this egoism that has so cleverly disguised itself in external (worldly) acts of compassion and thoughtfulness. (It even sneaks into church with me!) My egoism has learned how to make my mouth and body parts act properly when in the company of others, while keeping hidden agendas hidden and safe from view. This deceit can be a very, very subtle process.

Now I know why scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg made the point that heaven is a place of innocence (from inner purging), otherwise all our good acts and charitable deeds will be tarnished and non-spiritual.

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Puppets-peopleI grew up at a time when puppets were much, much more popular than they are today. I was fascinated by TV shows like Howdy Doody, Kukla, Fran & Ollie, Shari Lewis (with Lambchop) and Paul Winchell (with Jerry Mahoney).

The most recent (and successful) attempt to use puppets probably comes from the late Jim Henson and his “Muppets.” Although he took puppetry to new levels (like Farscape) I also think he took this craft out of the hands of most children.

I made both hand puppets (from socks) and marionettes as a child. I believe watching, making and playing with puppets during my early life helped to develop my mind to think more creatively.

Perhaps, too much so.

Years later, when I embraced the amazing theological ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg, and found myself in a church without a minister, I volunteered to write and deliver a few sermons. One of those sermons involved the use of a “surprise” (unannounced) puppet show.

I was trying to put “new wine in new wineskins.” Unfortunately, the puppet show came as such a shock to the habitual listening of sermons by the congregation that the message was obscured by the unexpected visual show unfolding before them.

No one in the church pews remembered what was actually said!

I would never be the same after that puppet sermon, or view religion and people the same, ever, ever again.

I now also follow the habit-destroying ideas of George Gurdjieff and battle against becoming a puppet myself during my short life of this earthly existence!

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