“Holy Mother – Wholly Human” -Rev. Thom Muller

 

In this sermon, Rev. Thom Muller discusses the significance of the character of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Swedenborgian theology and spirituality, and how the inner dimensions of biblical narrative can impact the way we view this archetypal image of motherhood.

 

Click below for a PDF version of Rev. Muller’s talk:

Holy Mother – Wholly Human

 

Rev. Muller is the pastor of Hillside, an Urban Sanctuary, in El Cerrito, California, as well as junior editor of Our Daily Bread.

His passions include the intersection of spirituality and psychology, interfaith theology, and the Western esoteric tradition.

ODB Blog: “Where Are Films, Society, Going?” -Rev. David Fekete

Where Are Films, Society, Going?

Rev. David Fekete, Ph.D.

March 2017

 

I write this blog not as a film critic, nor as a religious authority, but as a spiritually-minded individual who likes watching movies. I am troubled by two of the highly-acclaimed Academy Award winners, “Moonlight,” and “Manchester by the Sea.” What I find troubling is how grim these two films both are, and the vision of life that they present. Tragedy is a well-established theatrical genre. But these films did not seem tragic to me as much as miserable. Tragedy is propelled by a strong plot to a tragic denouement. To me, these films were a succession of miserable scenes with no denouement, no conclusion, no climax—they just ended. I sought something redemptive, something positive in them, but failed. What bothered me, in other words, was the utter lack of imago dei—there was no presence of God, of the good, that I could discern. And that’s what troubles me.

It is true that the Bible contains horrific episodes. Indeed, horrific images of God. But it also contains episodes of redemption and the transcendence of horror, even in horror. The Christian story is essentially tragic, but for the transcendental messages of Jesus, forgiveness, and resurrection from death. I was unable to find any of these in the films in question.

I am troubled by suggestions about the nature of society that these films raise. What does an individual seek in films like these? What makes these films great? What view of reality do they portray? What do they give the viewer? I will not venture to stab at answers to these questions. I don’t know the answers, which is why I raise these questions. I do not condemn these films. I simply find them and the world-view they offer objectionable. It does not meet with the world-view and reality I know. Certainly, there are single-parent families with substance issues. There is bullying. It is true that victims become the very image of their persecutors. Merely depicting these risks cliché. I didn’t find the cry for personal or social action that would have brought some kind of redemption. There was only portrayal of misery and then the film ended.

50 years ago, “The Sound of Music” was released and received five Academy Awards. That film was uplifting, happy, and showed positive character development. Since The Sound of Music, we went through the tumultuous ‘60’s, social challenges to authority– including religious authority, rise in drug use and the creation of horrible drugs, the ascendency of psychology as the legislator of ethics, unbridled greed in the ‘80’s, the fall of the Iron Curtain and the rise of terrorism,– and the death of God as a social belief, perhaps. Are these some of the forces that have moved Hollywood from The Sound of Music to Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight?

I am not making assertions as much as expressing bewilderment. If anyone reading this has some reflections, I sincerely invite replies.

Rev. George F. Dole: “Answers and Questions”

 

In this sermon, delivered at the Church of the New Jerusalem in Bath, Maine, Rev. George Dole speaks about Swedenborgian epistemology, and the need to approach existential questions with humility.

 

Click below for a PDF version of Rev. Dole’s sermon:

Rev. George F. Dole: “Answers and Questions”

 

Rev. George Dole has been a renowned scholar of Swedenborg’s works, as well as an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church of North America for many decades. He lives in Bath, Maine with his wife, and continues to contribute immensely to Swedenborgian scholarship, ministry and discourse.

“Blind Faith – Not!” – Rev. Jane Siebert

 

In this sermon, delivered at the New Church of the Southwest Desert in Silver City, New Mexico, Rev. Jane Siebert reflects on the Swedenborgian idea of “faith”:

 

Click below for a PDF version of Rev. Siebert’s sermon:

“Blind Faith – Not!” -Rev Jane Siebert

 

Rev. Jane Siebert is the current president of the Swedenborgian Church in North America.

Jane lives in Kansas and enjoys the opportunities to visit Swedenborgian churches scattered around the United States and and Canada. This sermon was given on a recent trip to Silver City, NM where we have a growing church.

 

 

He Lived for Others: The Spirituality of Johnny Appleseed -Rev. Kit Billings

 

 

In this message, Rev. Kit Billings, pastor at the LaPorte New Church in LaPorte, Indiana, reflects on the Swedenborgian spirituality of John Chapman, more commonly known as Johnny Appleseed, called “the American St. Francis” by some.

Click below for a PDF version of Rev. Billings’ talk:

“He Lived For Others” – Rev. Kit Billings

 

Rev. Kit Billings, his wife Penny and their daughter Julia moved to LaPorte, Indiana in 2012. He is Pastor of the LaPorte New Church, and also Chair of the Committee On Admission Into the Ministry of the Swedenborgian Church. Kit enjoys ministering with people of all ages, and supporting others in their journey of growth with the Lord.

“The New New Church” – Interview with Curtis Childs of “Off the Left Eye”

In this online conversation, Rev. Thom Muller, Junior Editor of “Our Daily Bread” talks with Curtis Childs, who has been working with the Swedenborg Foundation, running the “Off the Left Eye” YouTube channel, which features videos about subjects related to the works and thought of Emanuel Swedenborg.

 

What are your thoughts about the “New New Church”? What relevance does Swedenborg have to you, and to the broader human community in the 21st century? Please feel free to leave a comment below.