It was a tremendous privilege for me to be among the contributing participants of the international conference “Swedenborg and the Russian Tradition” Nov. 13-18, 1994 in Moscow.
Comparative embryology is the study of the development of different species of animals: their differences, their similarities, the ways they converge and diverge. Varying paths of development shed light on each other and on the underlying commonality of biological forces. Reflecting from New Church doctrine on these diverse progressions may deepen our understanding of our own spiritual states.
In the early part of this century at the height of the controversy concerning the bodies of spirits and men Mr. John Pitcairn is reported to have been seen leaving my grandfather’s, Alfred Acton’s, office shaking his fist and shouting “You’ll rot in hell for those views!” This incident serves to reflect the general mood of people at the turn of the century. How had they arrived at such a position of confrontation?
The Early Swedish Followers
As one concludes a reading of Anders Hallengren’s lengthy and absorbing study of Ralph Waldo Emerson,1 the book’s subtitle would appear to be somewhat misleading. For the evidence that the author amasses throughout the work suggests that what Emerson searched for was not so much universal laws. Beneath many of his more radical or unorthodox pronouncements, Emerson was too much the traditionalist to be seduced by a solipsistic or an antinomian approach to the conduct of life. What Emerson seemed to be searching for was some understanding of the ways that mortals apprehended that universal laws existed. What sanctions did those laws impose upon us?