MARCH 2017

Graphic of sun with melting icicles

THE ARROW AND THE SONG by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I know not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

(I have been singing songs in Sunshine Magazine for the past six years. Thanks Alfie for presenting them to our readership. And thanks for your special music in articles and especially in the most cheerful notes of your artistic pictures which introduce each issue. These tones seem to touch the human heart with a healthy sense of playfulness. Thanks! RL)

EDITORIAL OPINION – ONE GOD

Some people, who are not familiar with Emanuel Swedenborg, read Sunshine magazine. And in this editorial I thought that I would talk informally with them about the Lord and the Trinity. So here are my layman’s thoughts: When I read the Bible I learn that there are at least two persons presented as separate gods (or perhaps as representing two aspects of one god) – a father and a son. Here is the often quoted statement of John 3:16; “And God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” So apparently God is in two persons. Also He might be divided into three persons – the third person being the Comforter. Here is a Biblical reference: “And when the Comforter is come, which I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, it will testify of Me. ”(John 15:26) A comforter sounds like it could be a person. So I suppose that I could view the Comforter as another Divine person, except that it is also referred to as a Spirit of Truth and maybe that is not person. God will come again as the Spirit of Truth. So I learn from the Bible that God can be seen as being divided into two persons, a father, a son and maybe a third person, a comforter. And surely the Comforter (the Spirit of Truth) will comfort us. Yet there are other passages from the Bible which indicate that the Father Himself came to earth. Consider this from John14:8-9 “Philip says to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us. Jesus says to him ‘Have I been so much time with you and hast thou not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father….’”

And in John 10:30 Jesus says “I and the Father are one.” Surely there are many passages in the Bible which refer to a father and a son. And when Jesus said that He and His Father are one that sounds like it was the Father within Jesus who came to earth. So Jehovah, the Father, came Himself to earth in the form of Jesus. This is logical when I read what the Bible states.

Yet how can I understand that the Divine Father came to earth Himself and yet He sent His son? That does not seem to make much sense.

Well, let me look at it this way in my search for understanding: I am made in the image of God and not a very good image before He has regenerated my soul. Anyway, here I am a mirror image of God and yet I am not three separate persons. Let me think this way – God the Father is Divine Love and an image of this Love in faulty me is that I have some feelings. I can love a little. And God is Divine Wisdom, that which comes from Divine Love, like a son from a father. So I can think of Jesus Christ as being Divine Wisdom and I am a faulty image of that Divine Wisdom by having some intelligence and occasionally having some wisdom.

And finally how can I be an image of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth? Well, the Divine Love (the Father) and the Divine Wisdom (the Son) go forth to create and love what is created, including loving you and me. So I guess that my faulty image of the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, are in my human affections and my understanding which likewise go forth to understand and love people.

So here I am an image of the Lord and yet I am not three persons, but I have three qualities as He has, I believe.

So what do you readers think of my reasoning? Am I on the right track to understanding the trinity of qualities within God when I think of the three human qualities I have?

Still I do not understand why there are statements about a father, a son and a comforter in the Bible. Maybe the Lord presented Himself to humanity that way 2000 years ago because that was the best and easiest way for people to understand Him at that time.

All I know is that there is one God, the Lord Jesus Christ, our heavenly Father, in Whose image I was created. He came to earth 2000 years ago in a bodily form and Who the Bible predicts will, or perhaps has, come again in the Spirit of Truth which will lead men and women to all truth. Maybe the Spirit of Truth is not in a bodily form but is found in ideas in His last written revelation of Himself to mankind.

GOD’S COUNTRY

Who shares his life’s pure pleasures,
And walks the honest road,
Who trades with heaping measures,
And lifts his brother’s load,
Who turns the wrong down bluntly,
And lends the right a hand,
He dwells in God’s own country.
He tills the Holy Land.              Louis F. Benson

EDITORIAL OPINION

In last month’s Sunshine I wrote about applying for a job that I had previously had. I think that Matt would have been a wonderful Cathedral Director, but, by far the best person, in my view, would have been Kent. (Oops, someone made a big mistake in judgment here, for sure, by hiring another person for the position of Cathedral Director.)

HUMOR

BUMPER STICKERS

I used to be schizophrenic, but we are OK now

Sssh. The driver is sleeping

CONFUCIUS JOKES

Man who put head in fruit drink get punch in nose

Mummies who take vacation, relax and unwind

EDITORIAL OPINION – STEPHEN MINISTERS

When meeting a Stephen Minister, I intend to call her or him “Reverend.” For example I will say, “Hello Rev. Smith” or “Good Morning, Rev. Smith.” Now if the person protests, “Mr. Linquist, please do not call me ‘Reverend’ I would reply, ‘But you are a minister, aren’t you?’” “Well, yes I am, but I am not to be referred to with the word, ‘Reverend.’” I would then respond, “I am sorry but I do not see the logic of your thinking. You’re a minister but cannot be called ‘Reverend.’ Really? Now, my friend, one of us is not being rational.”

DEMYSTIFIED by RICHARD LINQUIST

“Emanuel Swedenborg was a mystic and Swedenborgianism is a cult.” This stated idea may not be slanderous but it often is, having shown its haughty face in the past and is likely to do so in the future. My experience has been that those who use this phrase appear to be inflated with the infernal hot air of self-satisfaction that they have understood Swedenborg correctly and are justified in condemning him.

An “in your face” response, which I have used occasionally is, “I regard Swedenborg as the most rational man who ever lived. And as perhaps you may know, the word cult has been defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a system of religious beliefs.” Therefore every religion (a system of religious beliefs) is a cult, including yours.”

Even the word “mystic” can be used with respect for Swedenborg because of his special relationship with the spiritual world. While living in the natural world he was conscious in the spiritual world, a realm hidden in mystery to most of humanity. Although we may refer loosely to Swedenborg as being a mystic, one wonders what he had to do with mysticism, which is defined as “…reliance on spiritual intuition or exalted feeling as the means of acquiring knowledge of mysteries inaccessible to intellectual apprehension.” (The Oxford English Dictionary) The truth is that Swedenborg entered with intellectual understanding into the mysteries of faith. (“In dry Latin he went on listing the unconditional Last Things.” So ends Jorge Luis Borges’s poem, Emanuel Swedenborg, as I put the last two lines of his poem into one prose sentence.) Not intuitively, that is, having the power of discovering spiritual truth, without reasoning, but with reason, entering into the mysteries of faith was Swedenborg’s style, and is the New Church approach to understanding truth.

Consider the thoughts of my long-ago neighbor and teacher, Rev. Cairns Henderson: “Swedenborg’s other-world experiences have no real resemblance to the visions and ecstasies of other, self-styled seers; nor does he expound, in any accepted sense of the term, a mystical way of life. Nowhere does he claim to have attained communion with God by contemplation; or that he arrived at direct knowledge of God, or spiritual truth, and of ultimate reality by direct insight or intuition. Least of all, perhaps, does he claim to have established a system whereby his followers may arrive at such knowledge by contemplation or any other practice. The testimony always is that he was an instrument of Divine revelation, and that men may be taught by the Lord in that revelation – not that they may attain knowledge or power though any insight they may develop in themselves through mystical exercises.” (Selected Editorials, p. 15) I hope that those who refer to Swedenborg as a mystic and Swedenborgianism or the New Church as a cult do so with intelligence and good hearts. My own experience is that this attitude is rare. Often the words are uttered with hatred, I believe. Therefore, I see labeling Swedenborgianism a cult, a fault, and Swedenborg a mystic, a mistake.

EDITORIAL OPINION

One day last January I knocked on my neighbor’s door to impart some information to him. I was invited inside and there I saw Julia, age 16, being fitted with a formal gown. When she saw me she swirled around to show off her beautiful gown. Her mom told me that Julia was going to a “coming out,” debutante dance and social gathering to be held at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia on Saturday, February 4th.

Julia’s dad informed me that this gathering of Ukrainians in Philadelphia was a continuation of a Ukrainian custom held in the old country. This event is a big deal. Everyone gets dressed up, with Julia’s dad wearing a tuxedo and mom wearing a gown. About 800 people, including sixteen debutantes, were expected to attend, coming from many states. There were to be social activities in the afternoon, a dinner in the evening, followed by a formal dance starting at 9 p.m.

Julia walked down a stairway in a spot light as her accomplishments were read to the assembled guests.

I am all for preserving ideals and special occasions for the young. I trust that our school system still has a healthy social system including formal dances.

And let us not swamp our youth with sarcastic criticisms of mankind including hateful statements about political leaders. Let’s watch what we say and do in the presence of young minds. Let us try to keep the ideals of the good life strong in the young folks around us. And as we know, the best sermon is being a good example of spiritual values.