Anatomical theology (for Easter meditation)

Once upon a time there lived a fellow by the name of Ollie. He was just back from attending a Swedenborgian Church for Easter service and was in a contemplative mood. Something miraculous had occurred to the Lord Jesus’ physical body during resurrection. Also, from studying the theological ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg, he knew that the spiritual communities in heaven were arranged just like the organs of a human body, especially as to their functioning and mutual utility. Ollie then had a sudden epiphany. He now realized that the subject of anatomy and organic structure was profoundly connected with the topic of faith. If this were true, then God’s tenets and doctrines could be appreciated and understood in a more visceral manner—and not just intellectually.

He began to wonder if humankind’s decision to turn away from God’s wisdom could be anatomically expressed.

Suddenly a beautiful angel appeared in Ollie’s living room.

“Do not be afraid,” she said. “The Lord has sent me to you on this special day of Easter to explain the information you seek.”

“You are too beautiful for me to be afraid,” answered Ollie with big, wide eyes.

The angel then pointed towards Ollie’s bookshelf. “Take out Swedenborg’s True Christian Religion, Volume 2, and read number 593.”

Ollie followed her instructions and read about two paragraphs from this potent theological work.

The particular passages expressed the idea that humans develop an outer corporeal will and thought (pulmonary) over their deeper mental functions during life, which divide people into external and internal beings.

The angel then pointed to an anatomical book by Swedenborg, called The Cerebrum, and told Ollie to read the section called The Corpora Striata.

Ollie read the section but was left confused after doing so. “Why did you ask me to read this section?” he asked.

“You wanted to know how turning away from God’s wisdom could be anatomically expressed,” replied the angel with a loving and warm smile. “The Corpora Striata belongs to the lower area of the brain called the Medulla Oblongata. This organic structure is also referred to as the ‘reptilian brain.’ It is not psychical but mechanical in its operation. From repeated use, it learns to operate by habit—thanks to its connection with the Cerebellum or involuntary part of the brain. God originally planned this design so that the brain cells or grey matter of the Cerebrum could be freed up from terrestrial influences and engage in higher matters such as spiritual and rational contemplation.”

The beautiful angel then displayed a more serious facial expression as she continued. “Something goes wrong with this design during childhood. As children grow up in an abnormal environment and learn to lie to others and ultimately to themselves, the mechanical or reptilian brain begins to fabricate a new personality to present to the world. This represents the formation of the corporeal will and pulmonary thought that Swedenborg describes in those theological passages. The real, inner inclinations and intentions of the child then recede inwards, protected by the fabricated corporeal or external personality. The real person inside us is now relegated to the subconscious mind.”

“I do not see the problem yet,” said Ollie.

“Let me interpret this for you. Over time, this more external or corporeal will and thought is mistaken for the functioning of real consciousness, while the higher functions of the cerebrum, along with the real person, is put to sleep and lives merely in dreams and fantasies from a self-centered principle. Since the reptilian brain can operate alone from external, sensory inputs (and disconnected from more noble operations) this process is what is meant by the human race becoming inverted from God’s true heavenly order.”

“But I live a life of faith and go to church. Doesn’t that spare me from such consequences?” questioned Ollie in a concerned voice.

“Depends,” responded the angel. “The reptilian brain acts as a central station for incoming stimuli, and as such, intercepts all information coming from the circumfluent world. It will even intercept a minister’s sermon and limit spiritual growth into merely changing the masks one wears for the world. That is why, in those theological passages that you just read, Swedenborg insisted that it is the inner person that must first be spiritually transformed. But during centuries of abnormal existence, humans have placed a powerful mechanical barrier to proper spiritual growth.”

“So, I just can’t decide one day to be a good person?” asked Ollie.

“Nope!” returned the angel while shaking her head. “You have to cut through the reptilian and corporeal brain in order to connect with and activate your God-given remains—the interior plane where God’s spiritual influences are preserved deep within the human psyche. Since humans have become identified with their outer, fabricated personality, this serious undertaking does not occur without intense personal conflict. Otherwise, we will simply dream and merely imagine that we are being reborn. Most humans will deny that they live in such an anatomically unfavorable condition—in spite of all the crap that takes place in the world!”

“Please tell me how to make real contact with my remains,” pleaded Ollie.

(From the author: my next book, which will be coming out shortly, addresses this important and rarely discussed spiritual issue. Stay tuned!)


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
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4 Responses to Anatomical theology (for Easter meditation)

  1. swword says:

    Fascinating. And, thank you kindly for the references for further reading. Blessings to you.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear swword,

      I hope you will order my next book when it comes out. It will explain the “strange” ideas presented in this blog post much better then following my references. Knowledge is one thing but UNDERSTANDING is quite another. Happy Easter!!!


  2. Forrest Dristy says:

    Good luck with your new book. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

    I have a preliminary question: Is the state of sleep you say we are ordinarily in the same as the
    sleeping state Gurdjieff refers to?

    And another one: Do you find the teachings of Swedenborg and Gurdjieff to be entirely consistent
    with each other, or are there some points of conflict between them?

    Thanks for the good work you are doing,


    • thegodguy says:

      Answer to question one: YES! This “waking” sleep represents an organic disconnection from higher (and spiritual) mental functions.

      Answer to number two: Th teachings of both men are amazingly consistent when it comes to regeneration (but their different writing styles make it difficult to find the similarities. (in fact, my new book will address the teachings f these two great men in fresh and unexpected ways.)

      Spiritually yours,

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