This term I’m taking the course Doctrine of the Word for my Master of Religious Studies program. It’s a deep dive at the concept of the Word (including spoken, written, Incarnate, revealed) and the purpose of the Word (the means by which the Divine seeks conjunction with humanity). The last couple of weeks we have been looking at the written Word and focusing on the importance and significance of the literal sense. We did an exercise to help us better understand the grand arc of the story of Israel, and another assignment on Scriptural exposition, using some basic guiding principles to help us understand what the Lord might be saying to us through the literal sense.
One of the themes that has continued to emerge for me is the layers of the Word. The stories of the Word are mostly about real people who lived and made choices (good and bad), who had relationships with the the Lord or who rejected Him, and while there is great value in learning from them and their experiences, it is ultimately in seeing ourselves in these stories that we find meaning. The stories are about us as a People and our journey with one another towards the Lord, about us as individuals and our own regeneration, our personal relationship with the Lord, and about the Lord Himself, His glorification, the story of His Humanity and Divinity and the lengths He goes to accommodate Himself to us, to meet us where we are.
These multiple layers of the Word and their meaning are awesome to explore and while they are found in the natural, spiritual and celestial senses of the Word, they are all contained in the literal, in the external. Just by reading the stories with an open heart and mind, we can be led by the Lord to see how the story of Israel from Abram and Sarai to the Exile and Return or the interactions between Jesus and the disciples reveal something about us as a Church, as individuals, and about the Lord Himself.
Continue reading The Letter of the Word
The Children of Israel left Egypt and were pursued by the Egyptians. When they reached the Red Sea, they were trapped, but the Lord worked a miracle: the sea parted, the people crossed on dry land and the Egyptians couldn’t follow.
“Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31, NRSV)
“’And they believed’ means faith and trust. This is clear from the meaning of ‘believing’ as possessing faith, and also trust since one who possesses faith also possesses trust. Trust is an attribute of love expressed through faith; consequently trust in Jehovah, that is, in the Lord, does not exist except with those in whom love is present, that is to say, love to the Lord and towards the neighbour; for faith does not reside with any others.” (Arcana Coelestia 8240, Elliot)
Trust, an attribute of love. I have been meditating on this idea this last week, on the relationship between trust and love. Trusting the Lord means loving Him, and both are active choices on my part. Continue reading Trust
For one of my college classes this year, we were asked to complete a Life Values Inventory at http://www.lifevaluesinventory.org/. This website invites people to reflect on what they value and how they prioritize those values. They define our values as our lens, what we use in order to view ourselves and the world. For my assignment, we needed to complete the inventory and then reflect on how our particular values (our lens, our perspective) influences the way we see the field we are studying.
This was a fascinating process for me, and I found it to be very useful not only for my class but also for better understanding myself (and maybe others). Continue reading Reflecting On Your Values
Anne Glenn is a wife, parent, and graduate student working on an MA in Religious Studies with a focus on children’s spirituality at Bryn Athyn College in the US. This article was a paper she wrote for one of her psychology courses highlighting the importance of children’s spiritual development from a psychological perspective, with particular focus on Swedenborg’s high regard for children’s spiritual development in his writings.
The field of Children’s Spirituality is a relatively young one, both from psychological and theological approaches, with the vast majority of research being done in the last 20 years. Children have historically been neglected or minimized by both psychologists and theologians, but slowly over the last century both religious and secular scholars have turned their attention to children and childhood. In recent years the research has begun to shift from studying children and their spiritual capacity only in terms of their potential future as adults to seeing children as complete spiritual beings as they are, and focusing on nurturing their spiritual development for their own sake.
This paper is an investigation into the significance of the field of children’s spirituality, including summary of the history of the field, the interactions between theology and psychology in this field and the implications of research into children’s spirituality on religious communities, particularly in the New Church.
Continue reading An Overview of the Field of Children’s Spirituality