All posts by Kim de Chazal

About Kim de Chazal

Kim spends her days being a wife, mom and homemaker, helping run the Oak Arbor Sunday school, substitute teaching in the Oak Arbor School, reading, writing, editing, collecting/reading/sharing New Church theological and collateral works, cooking, gardening, and despite the ups and downs of daily life, feeling lucky in the life that Providence is providing. Kim was raised in the New Church and consciously chose it as an adult. She looks forward to the chance to share ideas with other women who are working to use New Church concepts in daily life.


Imagine the strongest man who ever lived, a warrior who has met and conquered, who can and has dealt with a vast array of terrifying enemies.  Yet this man can also be kind and tender, understanding and gentle, and he has a huge soft spot for children.  The stories about him are legendary, fascinating and inspiring.  While he will fight whenever needed to protect the innocent, and he is a definite force to be reckoned with, he still treats his enemies with understanding wherever possible without doing harm.  He has been attacked by every sort of enemy you can imagine (and some you can’t), and he has plumbed the depths of doubt and despair, not to mention physical torture, yet he never gives up and the quality of his character remains steadfast.  In fact, even his friends have been known to hinder him in his battles, so that he truly stood alone, and he has dealt with that situation firmly but kindly.  The epic of his life story is so amazing that all the stories of myth, legend and modern superheroes look like child’s play by comparison.  He has faced every evil in the universe, undergone every temptation possible, suffered every agony,  fought with what was bad inside of himself as well as outside, and felt abandoned by all his friends and even by God.  And he has persevered and conquered out of a blazing love and an intense clear-sightedness and a knowledge that the fate of everyone in existence (in this world and in the spiritual world, both those who love him and those who hate him) rested on his shoulders.  

Well, I imagine you know Who I am talking about. It’s taken me decades to realize it, but I am finally beginning to see that all that talk in the Writings about the Lord coming to earth to subdue the hells and glorify His human is actually pretty amazing.  To be honest, hearing about glorifying His human and subduing the hells always sounded dry as dust and above my pay grade.  I wish I had realized earlier what an amazing story it is, and the quality of what the Lord did when He came on earth.  I wish I could have better inspired my children with this story as they were growing up.    

A few things have come together over the last few years to help me start realizing what I was missing.  

  1. The explanations of the Easter story in Bible Study Notes by Anita Dole (“the Dole Notes”), especially Volume 4, pp. 246-251, 390-397 and Volume 5, pp. 154-160, 338-348 and Vol. 6, 160-166 
  2. The end of Geoffrey Childs’ book The Path: The Inner Life of Jesus Christ
  3. David Lindrooth’s article “The Greatest Gift” in New Church Life (November/December 2023, page 443) 
  4. Numbers in the Writings that I have run across; many of them are Arcana numbers that are cited in later part of the section on “The Lord” found near the end of The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine.  

We’ve just celebrated Christmas, when the Lord was born on earth and His amazing earthly story began, and in a while we will celebrate Easter, when the Lord finished that story.  Despite the emphasis always placed on Christmas (and I do love Christmas!), one could argue that Easter is even more special and should be celebrated even more joyfully.  The Writings for the New Church lay out the story behind Easter, and it’s the most inspiring story you could ever hope to read.  The Lord was working in two worlds simultaneously, suffering and persevering and reorganizing, and the culmination of His journey came at Easter.  The intense love and farseeing wisdom and willingness to suffer for the sake of others that are apparent in every step of His story are enough to blow you away.  He is the ultimate Hero, the archetype of a Hero.  (And perhaps the birth of the New Church is even more celebration-worthy, because we are finally able to realize what the Lord did and is doing and to what lengths He will go in His ardent love for us.)

I used to think, “Well, yes, what He faced was daunting, but after all, He was the all-powerful God, so it wasn’t hard for Him.”  What I didn’t realize was that it actually was hard for Him, and that He experienced a level of pain and despair that surpasses anything we can imagine.  In fact, even the angels ended up getting in His way.  He faced the ultimate challenges and suffering, and He slowly and painfully brought His fully-flawed humanity into line with His Divine Soul. It had to be that way, and He signed up for it to be that way, because He loves us and was unwilling to force us to see the light and turn toward heaven.  Instead of forcing us (and thereby removing our free will and humanity), He came to earth and showed us the path by walking it Himself.  At the time when He came, people could no longer find the path, even provided that they realized enough to look for it.  He showed us how to find the path and how to walk it, so that we can freely choose to do so if we wish.  He is our Champion, and He will walk every step of the way with us – we just have to ask.

I am still in the early days of understanding the magnitude of the Lord’s life story and the difference it makes in His daily presence with us, but here is one quotation that particularly struck me.  After describing the way temptations work, Arcana Coelestia 1820 goes on to say: “These few, indeed very few, observations show the nature of temptations – in general that the nature of a person’s temptations is as the nature of his loves. They also show the nature of the Lord’s temptations, that these were the most dreadful of all, for as is the intensity of the love so is the dreadfulness of the temptations. The Lord’s love – a most ardent love – was the salvation of the whole human race; it was therefore a total affection for good and affection for truth in the highest degree. Against these all the hells contended, employing the most malicious forms of guile and venom, but the Lord nevertheless conquered them all by His own power. Victories have this effect, that after they have been won, wicked genii and spirits do not dare to attempt anything; for their life consists in their being able to destroy, but when they perceive that a person is able to withstand them, they flee even when they are making their first assault, as they usually do when they draw near to merely the threshold of heaven.”

I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts and realizations about the Lord’s story. 

Sin and Judgment (Cue the Scary Organ Music!)

Sin!  Judgment! All right, buckle up, here comes gloom and doom.  Get ready to feel like a worm.  Get ready for judgment and catastrophe and indignation.  Right?  Isn’t that how we instinctively react to the whole concept of sin?

I learned a very helpful perspective about sin from reading a little book called The Forgiveness of Sin by Rev. Chauncey Giles, a New Church minister in the late 1800s to early 1900s and a favorite author of mine.  I know, it sounds dry as dust, but it turned out to be pretty awesome.

People often feel like the Lord made up a bunch of arbitrary rules about what would be good and what would be bad.  So it seems like the Lord says something is bad or good because He feels like it and He gets to make the rules.

In reality, it’s not arbitrary at all.  Sin means spiritual disease.  There are lots of types of sins, and they are described in the Word with the names of natural diseases because those diseases are the physical symbol of those spiritual ailments.  So to say that something is a sin is simply to state that it does harm of one sort or another to our spirits.  The Lord’s statements about right and wrong are the equivalent to statements of scientific or medical law.  In fact, scientific and medical law function the way they do because their functioning is modeled on the functioning of spiritual law.  Physical and spiritual illnesses are two levels of the same things that function in the same way on different planes.  

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Mini Book Club

Two of my longtime friends and I have decided to read The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine (NJHD) together.  My friends and I live far apart, but we are able to discuss via email as we go along.  And we have chosen one of the number of short books that are included in the Writings.  I’m discovering that there’s a lot to be said for this sort of mini book club, so I thought I’d share the concept in case anyone else might find it interesting.

Selling Points of a Mini Book Club:

  1. Good Friends: You can pick congenial friends, which allows your conversations to deep-dive because you already know each other and don’t have to explain a lot of things. And it’s not a bad way to deepen your friendships, too!
  2. Easily Organized: Having only a few people makes it much easier to organize.  All you have to do to get started is pick a book and figure out how much you want to read each week.
  3. Keeping It Short: Picking a short work from the Writings feels less daunting if you happen to be pushed for time or undergoing one of the more overwhelming phases of life.  And you can choose how much to read each week, so it can be a very short amount if you like.  In our case, the way we divided up the numbers has worked out to an average of about 20 pages a week, but you really could do much less than that.  We’ll finish the whole project in 9 weeks. (Note: Unless everyone in your group is using the exact same translation, your reading schedule will have to indicate which passage numbers to read each week, not which pages; we discovered that pagination varies by translation.)
  4. Conversation/Comments:  To me, the conversation is probably the best thing about a mini book club.  When I read by myself, I only get my own perspective, my own questions, my own applications; it’s so much better to hear thoughts and responses from my friends as well.  We are learning from each other, and besides, it’s fun.  We chose to communicate via email, but different venues will work best for different people, obviously.  With only a few people, the conversation doesn’t get too huge and unwieldy to follow.
  5. Read Online If You Like: In case you weren’t aware, you can read the Writings online or on your phone using the New Christian Bible Study website or the app.  There are multiple translations and languages to pick from.  Every reference to a passage from the Old TestamentNew Testament and other books of the Writings is hyperlinked so you can take a look if you are curious. 

By the way, so far NJHD seems to be a good pick for this purpose. (FYI, sometimes NJHD is published together with other short books under the title Miscellaneous Theological Works.)  About 25 big topics are briefly covered with some main points that make me stop and think.  At the end of each chapter, there’s a sort of list of more details about the topic being covered, and each detail tells the reader where to find a further explanation in the Arcana Coelestia.  Some of the details are pretty intriguing, so I find myself getting sidetracked to take a look.  I like the combination of pulling back to look at big issues together with the ability to drill down if I have particular questions.

I hope one or two other women somewhere out there in all our various homes around the world might find that a mini book club could be another way to connect with each other and the Lord’s Word.  

William Worcester’s Books

In the mid-1800s, a young man named William Loring Worcester and his father, Rev. John Worcester, took an unhurried camping trip in the valley of the Nile River and all over the Holy Land, consulting the Bible as they went.  Imagine these two, taking their time, finding and discovering the places they had only read about; and in that time period, much of what they saw would not yet have been greatly changed by the advance of modern civilization. Both men were significant figures in the early New Church movement in America.  They were particularly fascinated by and well-versed in the knowledge of correspondences, so that what they were looking at probably held unusual depths of meaning.  William must have taken copious notes and made drawings, along with taking black and white photos, as evidenced in the books he went on to write.  

The camping trip happened right after William graduated from Harvard, where he had studied science because his father advised him that a knowledge of science “was one of the best preparations for a New Church ministry,”* and William intended to enter the ministry. After the camping trip, William attended the New Church Theological School which existed at that time in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  William was then ordained and began his ministry as an assistant to Rev. Chauncey Giles in Philadelphia. (Rev. Giles is the author of the piece about the ministry of flowers which was the subject of my November 2022 post.)  

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