God gave me just enough rope in my early life to let me hang myself. As a younger man I enjoyed good looks, a good job and great freedom to act like a self-centered asshole. I lived my asshole-ness to the hilt!
For instance, I averaged about four months per girlfriend and each of these relationships ended as a complete disaster. Eventually my life began to spin so out of control that I couldn’t blame others or help but notice that I was full of horrible personal flaws (not just having “bad days” or expressing bad judgments in life, but being a personal pal to all the devil’s crew).
Thankfully, God allowed this to happen to me for my own good. Because next, and at the lowest point of my life God led me to discover the self-challenging theology of Emanuel Swedenborg. I have been fighting with my personal demons ever since—and the battle only seems to be increasing in intensity as I learn more details about Swedenborg’s purifying doctrines and continue to accept my heavenly duty.
I have tried to honestly share what I have learned from this inner spiritual combat through the writing of many of my blog posts and my published books. Although I share this info from the principle of neighborly love, this endeavor presents me with a big marketing challenge. People want to have their self-images tickled, believing that such positive experiences with others are an extension of God’s love and the divine desire to bestow eternal happiness upon us all.
My articles and books tend to treat such notions as pure bull-crap.
Swedenborg describes the innermost communication of the events in the narratives of Holy Scripture as actually representing the Lord God’s doing battle with all the evil and falsities from hell and glorifying (unifying victory) both His humanness and divinity. Taking up one’s “cross” means that we also must each take part in this uncomfortable purifying process (called regeneration) by exploring and resisting the negative compulsions of our own character. (They are indeed there if we are not afraid to look.)
I find this endeavor seriously lacking in many individuals’ approach to their worshipping and adoring God (because they get pissed off at me). I certainly don’t find self-examination a major strategy for building church community. Since most people seek to do good straight away (for immediate affirmation), and sidestep the personal task of challenging and uprooting their shadowy side (with God’s help—in order to make room for sincere goodness and innocence to flow in from heaven) I find myself involved with a religion that is alien and peculiar to most others.
Swedenborg was very specific in saying that humans were born into evils of every kind and that only God is good. Of all the possible discoveries to be made in the world, this is the one I have had the best success at verifying to myself!