ODBlog: Confucius and Doing my Laundry -Rev. David Fekete

March 11, 2020
While my clothes were in the dryer at the laundromat, I continued reading the Analects of Confucius. I have been reading Confucius over the past few weeks. Much of his sayings I can’t understand. But I do understand a portion of them. However, pondering each saying–or should I say wrestling with each saying–puts my mind in a sacred space. Confucius is emphatically about virtue. His sayings make a person think about virtue.
Reading Confucius and wrestling with the meaning of his sayings disposes a person’s heart toward virtue. I didn’t expect my psyche, my mood, to enter a sacred space when I read Confucius. I was surprised when I put the book down. I looked at the dryers, and I felt good about doing my laundry. “This is a pleasant way to spend my time. It is a useful and good activity for me to do,”
While my clothes were in the dryer at the laundromat, I continued reading the Analects of Confucius. I have been reading Confucius over the past few weeks. Much of his sayings I can’t understand. But I do understand a portion of them.
However, pondering each saying–or should I say wrestling with each saying–puts my mind in a sacred space. Confucius is emphatically about virtue. His sayings make a person think about virtue. Reading Confucius and wrestling with the meaning of his sayings disposes a person’s heart toward virtue. I didn’t expect my psyche, my mood, to enter a sacred space when I read Confucius. I was surprised when I put the book down.
I looked at the dryers, and I felt good about doing my laundry. “This is a pleasant way to spend my time. It is a useful and good activity for me to do,” I thought. This feeling was remarkable. Previously, laundry had been a drudgery. So, I was surprised to find myself feeling good about doing my laundry today. Reading Confucius elevated my spirit.
Generally, I find that sacred scriptures of world religions have that effect on me. My Swedenborgian background taught me to pay attention to my psyche when I read the Bible. Swedenborg writes that reading the Bible, “Enlightens the mind and warms the heart.” He’s right. The Bible also makes me feel spiritual and spiritual peace. Other sacred scriptures have an analogous effect on me. When I read the Koran, which I have to ponder deeply at times, I am uplifted. Also, the Tao Te Ching transports me, difficult as it is. Even the Rig Veda, with the catalog of Gods and Goddesses it lists, and its vocative verses seems to lift me.
Sacred scriptures are records of humanity’s interactions with the Divine. My interactions with sacred scriptures give me a personal experience of spirituality. I feel different when I read sacred scriptures. This is a kind of evidence for me. I am not a Muslim, a Taoist, a Hindu, or a Confucian. So why would I respond to their sacred texts? But I do. These texts point toward the Divine. And I think that there is something there. Why else would they affect me as they do?
I don’t live in the spiritual world now. Or at least I’m not conscious of it. So I also read literature from this world. We are given birth without an instruction manual. We make our way through this world as best we can figure out. I think that great literati are sages with suggestions about how to negotiate our way through this world. We certainly get enough of this world. Everywhere we turn, we get this world–making a buck, hustling, doing our job, raising a family, watching reality TV. But part of life in this world is interaction with the Divine. And though I love to read Hemingway and Thoreau, they don’t do for me what the Analects of Confucius does for me.
I will continue my reading and wrestling with sacred texts and my hustling for virtue. My contact with the Divine. That feeling of serenity, peace, and love that spiritual texts give me suggest that they’re onto something. Someone once told me that he didn’t see enough evidence to make him believe. I wonder if he’s looking. I’ll fully admit that there’s no proof I can put before him. But my personal experience has encountered evidence that makes me believe.

Do Not Fear – Remember the Basics – Rev. Kit Billings

 

Rev. Kit Billings of LaPorte New Church in LaPorte, IN, shares a message of hope and faith amid the global COVID-19 crisis. How can a Swedenborgian image of an endlessly and indiscriminately loving God help us in times of challenge?

 

Click below for Rev. Kit’s printable PDF sermon:

Do Not Fear – Remember the Basics

 

Rev. Kit Billings, his wife Penny, and their daughter Julia moved to LaPorte, Indiana in 2012, where he is Pastor of the LaPorte New Church, a historic Swedenborgian sacred space.

Kit enjoys ministering with people of all ages, and supporting others in their journey of growth with the Lord.

Update from the Helen Keller Center in Cambridge, MA

Rev. Sage Cole and her team at Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge, MA, right by Harvard Square, continue their exciting and proactive work establishing the Helen Keller Center Spiritual Life Center, to be housed at the Chapel.

The Center will celebrate and continue on the legacy of one of the most notable and well-known Swedenborgians: The activist, writer and thinker Helen Keller (1880-1968), who stands out in American history as an embodiment of the Swedenborgian ideals of useful service and active faith through her passionate advocacy for women’s rights, disabled rights, racial and social equality, and non-violence, among other causes.

The Helen Keller Spiritual Life Center will provide a space for spiritual growth programs, education, non-profit and social justice work, and hopes to become a hub for many kinds of active service in the spirit of Helen Keller.

 

 

Here’s a video with a recent update, and an invitation to join the effort:

Check out Our Daily Bread’s interview with Sage below:

 

 

If you are interested in hearing more about the Center and Rev. Sage’s work around Helen Keller, you can catch her at one of her presentations! Here are some upcoming dates:

Friday, March 27th 2020 7:00 pm at the Lord’s New Church 1725 Huntingdon Rd. Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
 
Sunday, March 22nd 2020 2:00 pm Church of the Holy City, 1118 N. Broom Street Wilmington, DE 09806
 
Wednesday, April 14th 7:00 pm Swedenborg Memorial Library at Urbana University 579 College Way, Urbana OH 43078
 
Time TBD May 18-21 2020 Institute on Theology and Disability at Western Theological Seminary 101 E. 13th St. Holland, MI 49423

 

Of course, you can find more information at the Center’s website at 

www.hkslc.org