The minister gets a shocking brain scan

electrodesOnce upon a time a church minister got a call from a neuroscientist friend to come over to his lab—quickly. The two knew each other because the neuroscientist was a member of the minister’s church congregation.

Minister: “What’s up? I was about to go to an ecumenical event where people of different faiths share their different perspectives on love and sharing. This unifying meeting is just one of the signs that God’s influence is taking hold in the world.”

Neuroscientist: “I have called you over because I have developed the most sensitive brain scanning device ever. This device is so sensitive that it can detect activity not only of one’s ordinary—habitual—consciousness, but also the special spiritual plane that God has implanted in the human subconscious.”

(The minister was “Swedenborgian” and was in possession of the most advanced theological doctrines on earth. He recognized that his neuroscientist friend was talking about a person’s remains, a heavenly plane which the Lord God implants deep into the interiors of the human natural mind to be used later during spiritual transformation in adult life.)

Minister: “Are you saying you have invented a device that detects brain activity deep within a person’s God-given remains?!”

Neuroscientist: “Precisely! My new machine can detect the Lord God’s operation on this deep level of the human mind. And, you will not believe what else I discovered. Sit here in this chair and I will attach some probes and your head to show you what I mean.”

(The minister sits in the chair and has the special probes attached to his cranium.)

Neuroscientist: “Now there, as I turn my machine on I want you to start thinking of the most loving and heavenly thoughts that you can.”

Minister: “I am thinking about peace on earth, justice, equality, mutual love and charity towards all people.”

(The neuroscientist examines the read-out from the brain scanner.)

Neuroscientist: “Look at this. My device has mapped out your ordinary consciousness as well as the deeper activity of a your subconscious remains. Each level of consciousness makes its own line on this graph. Notice that the two lines never meet!”

Minister: “What does that mean?”

Neuroscientist: “It means that even when you are engaged in promoting fellowship you are not linking up with, and developing, your spiritual remains. Now, think of a personal character flaw and resolve to get rid of it—with the Lord’s help.”

Minister: “I am.”

(Suddenly a new read-out emerges from the scanner.)

Neuroscientist: “This read-out now shows the lines of your two types of consciousness—inner and outer, merging and interacting. My machine is also detecting a reordering of your soul’s spiritual fabric. So Swedenborg was right that a person’s remains are augmented during the process of remorse, temptation and personal friction.”

(Instead of being happy by this verification of Swedenborgian doctrine, the minister sunk back into his seat and had a look of agony on his face.)       

Neuroscientist: “What is wrong, my friend?”

Minister: “I am afraid that I have been leading my congregation in the wrong direction. I have been emphasizing love, kindness, friendship and community instead of first guiding them towards introspection and self-criticism. True spiritual love comes from the Lord God alone. But the Lord’s heavenly influx into human hearts and minds is according to people’s potency for sincere self-examination and the removal of personal flaws. I fear I have given my congregation a false sense of comfort by their feeling of togetherness and fellowship.”

Neuroscientist: “Can’t you change your strategy?”

Minister: “It’s too late. My church members expect to find their self-worth and affirmation from their church association. If I were to suddenly tell them that they needed to make unflattering self-discoveries before their acts of kindness can be considered genuine and innocent, I would be thrown out on my ass.”

(The two friends looked at each other with apprehensive facial expressions.)

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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6 Responses to The minister gets a shocking brain scan

  1. Wow. And – Wow…. fascinating, and a little scary 🙂

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Matt,

      When the Lord was in the world he challenged people to sincerely look within their hearts and minds. Until this is done our acts of kindness will always be tainted by the ego.

      Spiritually yours,

      • I agree 🙂 I follow Buddhism more than anything (although am not a Buddhist as such) and the principle is exactly the same – self knowledge, self analysis etc. I am currently on the bend of a huge curve of learning…

  2. thegodguy says:


    FYI – The Zen Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki said that Emanuel Swedenborg was “your Buddha of the North.”

  3. transcendiot says:

    The friend needs to tell the preacher that unless he changes course and emphasizes repentance (having an eye towards God while not doing or willing evils) before regeneration, then he would be better off throwing himself out of his ‘church.’

    Great post.

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