The New Philosophy Vol 113 No 3-4, July-December 2010
Jerome Vinet Sellner entered the spiritual world on November 26, 2010. A life–long devotee of the New Church, Jerome gave dedicated service in the military and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. From 1974 to 1987 he served on the board of the Swedenborg Scientific Association, and became its secretary in 1983, retiring from this use in 1995.
Why Does God Let It Happen? by Bruce Henderson. Chrysalis Books, an imprint of the Swedenborg Foundation, West Chester, Pennsylvania. ISBN: 978-0-87785-332-9. 95p. $11.95. Available at www.swedenborg.com/ book_store.asp, www.newchurch.org/materials/books-and-media.html, and www.amazon.com
The Annual Meeting of the Swedenborg Scientific Association took place on Saturday April 24, 2010, in the dining room at Cairnwood Village, Bryn Athyn. After dinner, the meeting was called to order at 7:30PM. President Rev. Dr. Reuben Bell welcomed members and friends, and called for reports from the publisher/editor and treasurer, published in this issue.
“A colossal soul” who “is not to be measured by whole colleges of ordinary scholars,” Emerson said of Swedenborg. That is still a challenge to face up to, and today we once again take up the gauntlet at this academy, where Swedenborg was himself an active member, certainly the most extraordinary fellow they ever had, a universally learned man with an enormous scope of study and amazing aims and pretensions.
The Swedish scientist and inventor Christopher Polhem (1661–1751) had a great and decisive impact on Swedenborg. Traces of Polhem’s ideas can be found in Swedenborgs’s natural philosophy, in his mathemathics, technology, matter theory, and cosmology. Swedenborg was an assistant to Polhem during the years 1716–1719, a period of intense collaboration. Here, I will show how fundamentally Polhem reshaped Swedenborgs thinking. In order to fully understand Swedenborg’s development as a natural philosopher it is necessary to closely investigate his most important mentor.
For the first 100 years following his death, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) was considered one of the leading scientists, philosophers and theologians by most scientists and philosophers throughout Europe. But his claim of Divine inspiration for his theological Writings, the shift of many scientists toward agnosticism or atheism, and the rapid pace of scientific discovery that followed have caused all but a few scientists toignore his works.
The concern about the change of the words “will” and “understanding” to “volition” and “discernment” in more recent translations of Swedenborg”s work is understandable. My own feeling is that some change was necessary, but this alteration may well indicate a transition to yet a further change.