The New Philosophy Vol 112 No 3-4, July-December 2009
The Annual Meeting of the Swedenborg Scientific Association was held on April 27, 2009
God created this beautiful planet to be of service to humankind—but to be used wisely. The urgent environmental issues and ecological crisis in the world is an indication of a deeper, spiritual crisis. A polluted world is the result of polluted thinking. Soil erosion is the result of an erosion of character, based on artificial, dead and disjointed principles. The situation is not hopeless and every one of you has the power to make real positive changes—with God’s help. In fact, these changes will increase the vitality of an ecosystem that stretches from earth all the way to heaven!
Thousands of years ago, King Solomon loved the Lord and earnestly prayed: “Therefore give to your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (I Kings 3:9). Clearly he wanted a balance of thoughts and emotions that would give him the wisdom needed to be an effective leader of his people. The phrasing of Solomon’s prayer to God suggests an assumption that a good conscience would be located in his heart, that this is where he would receive the Lord’s influx. To this day, people speak of feeling love in their hearts, while they consider the brain to be the location of human thoughts. But where does the Lord actually conjoin Himself with us? Does He meet us in the conscience, where we “discern between good and evil,” and is that the same as the seat of the soul? “Conscience is a new will and a new understanding received from the Lord and so is the Lord’s presence with a person” (AC 4299).
I hope I need no excuse for speaking about the life and achievements of Charles Darwin in his bicentenary year. Darwin was born early in 1809, on the 12th February (exactly the same day as Abraham Lincoln), and the bicentenary similarly got off to an early start with television programs, books, articles and exhibitions. 2009 also happens to be the 150th anniversary of the publication (in November 1859) of his most famous book, On the Origin of Species. That work, which set out in five hundred pages of argument and evidence the theory of evolution by natural selection, accomplished an intellectual revolution which changed the world for ever. Even if we have not read it and have only a shaky notion of the implications of evolution by natural selection, I think we are all of us aware of Darwin’s intellectual stature and importance, a fact given emphasis by the presence of his portrait on the modern British ten pound note.
For most of the history of mankind, Beauty was not in the eye of the beholder. For the craftsmen and artists who built the first Gothic cathedrals, their work in wood and stone was made so the beauty of the permanent could shine through into the world of the transient. They were known as the masters of the compass rather than architects.
The Divine Proceeding (Divinum Procedens) is the Divine, not as it is in Itself (in Se) but as it goes forth to sustain the creation and to redeem and save mankind. It is synonymous with the Divine Operation, the Divine Providence, and generally with the Holy Spirit. The New Church man may easily fall into the notion that the Divine Proceeding is, so to speak, a Thing or Object, instead of an activity, even as the Christian Church has long regarded the Holy Spirit as a Divine Person. It is therefore most important to see that the term, proceeding, is not a noun but part of a verb—a present participle. This emphasizes the fact that our attention is to be focused on the Divine as It is operating rather than on the Divine Being in Itself.
The advantage of periodicals over books is their ability to convey current information in a more timely fashion. Their main disadvantage is the tendency to hide relevant material “somewhere” in piles of unreferenced back issues. This, unfortunately, also applies to The New Philosophy. Within the covers of this journal, which dates back to 1898, can be found a wealth of knowledge about Emanuel Swedenborg, his scientific works and his philosophy. The problem, however, is locating relevant articles for casual reading or research. Besides, no respectable author would want to discover after his or her article has been printed that another person had already written a similar article “just a few years ago.”