What does it mean spiritually that the universe is expanding at the speed of light from all points in space?

December 29th, 2014

Physicist discovered something very surprising about the big bang theory and the expansion of the universe. As part of the big bang theory physicist observed that space was expanding, but didn’t know at what rate. In the 80’s a great physicist devised an experiment to determine the rate of expansion of the universe. The test used light from supernovas, and the scientists were very confident in the results. But the evidence produced a result they didn’t expect.

They expected to find that the expansion of the universe was slowing down, but instead found that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. They also made another very interesting discovery. The universe does not expand from one central point as one might expect, but it expands from everywhere. ‘Atlas of the Universe’ reports:


There is no centre of the expansion, the universe is simply expanding at all points. Observers in any galaxy see most of the other galaxies in the universe moving away from them.

The only answer to the question “Where did the Big Bang happen?” is that it occured everywhere in the Universe (http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/bigbang.html).
One of the great challenges of astronomy and astrophysics is distance measurement over the vast distances of the universe. Since the 1990s it has become apparent that type Ia supernovae offer a unique opportunity for the consistent measurement of distance out to perhaps 1000 Mpc. Measurement at these great distances provided the first data to suggest that the expansion rate of the universe is actually accelerating. That acceleration implies an energy density that acts in opposition to gravity which would cause the expansion to accelerate. This is an energy density which we have not directly detected observationally and it has been given the name “dark energy” (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/univacc.html).


In this article I will meditate on how these scientific theories might be interpreted using correspondences.

The universe is simply expanding at all points.  Swedenborg writes that every person or angel in heaven is a heaven in them self. They are a form of heaven, and as such possess a fully unique selfhood and agency from their own perspective that is useful and meaningful in relation to everything else. Every angel is a heaven because every angel is a microcosm of the grand man, the divine human. The creature (finite humans) are imbued with the qualities of the creator (infinite divine human), because it is a universal principle that the form and nature of God is reflected in everything he creates. Since God has infinite creative power and agency, each human is imbued with personal will and understanding, and useful attributes, and freedom.


That the Divine is the same in things greatest and least, may be shown by means of heaven and by means of an angel there. The Divine in the whole heaven and the Divine in an angel is the same; therefore even the whole heaven may appear as one angel. So is it with the church, and with a man of the church. The greatest form receptive of the Divine is the whole heaven together with the whole church; the least is an angel of heaven and a man of the church. Sometimes an entire society of heaven has appeared to me as one angel-man; and it was told that it may appear like a man as large as a giant, or like a man as small as an infant; and this, because the Divine in things greatest and least is the same (79, DWL).


If we consider that there is correspondence between everything in heaven and everything in nature, and that everything in heaven is imbued with intrinsic life from the lord, then it makes sense that every point in space would have a similar ‘soverienty’. In Arcana Celestia makes this point very clearly: “The whole of heaven is such that every one is so to speak the focal point of all, for he is the focal point of influxes coming through the heavenly form from all. Consequently the image of heaven is reproduced in everyone, making him a likeness of heaven and so a human being;”. This sovereignty or focal point in heaven (Which can be expressed anywhere and everywhere) manifests by correspondence in the material world of nature as ‘the universe expanding from every point’. Furthermore, Swedenborg writes that, “unless there has been a certain free will in all created things, both animate and inanimate, there could have been no creation” (TCR 499). Free will in all created things is the soverignty that corresponds to the universe expanding from every point. Every person, spirit, and angel is tethered to the Lord like a spoke on a wheel, and recieves their soverignty as a gift of freedom from the Lord. There is a story in the Bible which expresses this principle: the Lord tells the story of the Shepard that seeks to protect the one stray sheep just as much as He would a hundred sheep, it is expressing the unlimited value that is in the one, and the unlimited value in the whole.
According to the scientific theory stated above the universe is expanding primarily by galaxy clusters. I talked to two physics grade students at Cal Berkeley and they gave me a more organic understanding of how physicist see this. They explained that scientist believe it is not just that galaxies clusters are the only thing expanding, even though that is all they can observe; theoretically everything is expanding, even a basketball, because its space is expanding, but it is so miniscule it is unobservable. They said that the universe is so immense they cannot observe the expansion in our solar system or even our galaxy, but the same principle applies within our solar system and galaxy. They can only calculate the expansion by the red light put out by supernova’s in deep space.
In the above we mostly considered the correspondence in regard to living angels, but it is important to consider that infinite variety and sovereignty is also expressed in material things:


The Divine is also the same in the greatest and in the least of all created things that are not alive; for it is in all the good of their use. These, moreover, are not alive for the reason that they are not forms of life but forms of uses; and the form varies according to the excellence of the use. (80, DLW).


This is important because it helps us see why sovereignty and expansion are in things alive and in material things, though the material world is a much lesser or remote expression of the richness of life in the spiritual world. In the principle of uses we can see the infinite variety, and the soveringty in humans and all material things.  It is easy to see use in people because the human form is the highest form in all creation, and each person has a unique use for others, but everything that exists in nature also has use in the universe. Swedenborg demonstrates how everything that has use has an aura or energy field that proceeds from it because of its use, which corresponds to the aura that surrounds humans, and at the highest the Holy sphere that proceeds from the Lord in the midst of the spiritual sun. Our most direct way of understanding this from our own experience is in the way love, affection, and feelings radiate from our heart and body. It is only possible to express affections from a body. From the essence in the living body or inanimate object proceeds an aura, because everything in nature exists from the effect of its first cause in heaven, and everything exists from use. Science has shown there is an aura around plants, and even around things as inert as rocks. The aura proceeds from unique use, which is an expression of the soveringty in all things. In the light of this one could see how the principle of the universe expanding from all points applies to the things of nature. The nature of the divine human is infinite variety, and there are no two things in all the universe that are exactly alike and never will be.

Episode of Geek Spirituality

December 26th, 2014

A good friend of mine and I visited a comic store resently. He is a genuine geek in the best sense. He is young, good at tech, super knowledgable about comics and super-heroes; he is not very athletic, raps about Christian faith and things like pokeman, and plays a weekly dungeons and dragons game. He does funny things like let his wonderful blind friend cut his hair and then later asks me, “how does it really look?” (not good).

At the comic store there was a young black guy that was very friendly and super geeky. You could easliy tell because he was in deep, serious discussion with a girl there about Superman and Batman. I posed a question to them about somethng I was wondering about; so they both could hear I asked, “What is the force that gives superman the propulsion to fly?” They both with great enthusiasm began conjecturing on the answer to this in a way that took me completely out of the conversation, which was fine with me, because I delighted in watching their excitement and ideas. They came up with something like this: On Kripton the inhabitants have a much greater density in their body and thus greater strength, especially those who are born to be warriors. Kripton is a much harsher planet and has a higher force of gravity making their bodies stronger. On earth superman’s body has the capacity to drink in the suns rays at a very high level because his boy is highly attuned to it from being on Kripton and our sun is younger and stronger; plus our gravity is less. This combination of factors exponentially increases the power in his body to the point he can effect the micro-climate of the gravity in the air moluclues around him. The power in his body, which is attached to his will, taps into the atomic energy in the atoms in the air around him. He effects the wave/partical nature in the atoms to become momentarily more wavelike. This suspends gravity before him and allows him to draw on the unaffected air around him to propel himself.
I thought this was a pretty amazing explanation and very believable. My mind being atuned to Christ allegories this explanation reminded me of a couple of episodes in the gospels. In Gosthemane when Jesus is betrayed and the soldiers are about to take him he turns to them and they all fall back to the ground. It is as if he flexed he power of divine truth within him and the power of it sent hem falling. He could do that at any time, but he only did when it was necessary. Similarly after he announced he is the Messiah in the sinogogue and the people in a rage walked him down to the cliff to throw him over, he turned and they all of a sudden were powerless and he walked through them and was gone.

The Biblical theme of the Captives in movies, such as the ‘Matrix’, ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, and ‘The Lord of the Rings’

December 22nd, 2014

The Theme of the Captives. This major Biblical theme is repeated in movies and goes mostly unnoticed, at least as a Biblical theme, yet it is repeated over and over; which makes it more likely that is unconsciously told. This theme is a manifestation of the profound inner need to find redemption, especially from the trauma of injustice and being made blind to the truth of what is happening. In the matrix, we see that the basis of the story is that humans have been captured by the machines and they are being used as energy pods, and this has gone on for centuries. They are only released when Neo frees them all by defeating the evil agents and the machines. In the Bible this theme takes place at the flood, the incarnation, and at the second coming. At each of these times evil forces have over accumulated on earth and have over run the first level of heaven, and by so doing have trapped many of the good and innocent in their hell, or suedo-heaven. The Lord by his might and judgement, in different ways comes and frees them. Scripture refers to this when it speaks of how Christ descended to the hells and freed all the good people trapped there by the evil forces. This situation is also described by the parable of the wheat and the chaff. The meaning of this parable is that the good people who have been trapped by the evil must stay there until Christ comes to set all things right. We replay this theme in movies, because it is an archetype of trauma and redemption in the human psyche. Christ came when He did for the purpose of overcoming the immense forces of evil which had accumulated on earth because these forces threatened to consume humankind in darkness forever. In his life the Lord was continuously victorious against all temptations and attacks on him from evil forces, and by so doing he subjugated all the hells. These battles and victories of the Lord are spoken of in many places by the prophets and the in the New Testament, especially Isaiah, the Psalms, and in Revelation.

The theme of releasing those who have become captives of the evil is in many great movies, often in more than one way. We see it in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when Aragorn dares to venture into the land of the dead where all the ghost figures are trapped by a curse. Aragorn seeks to recruit them to join their great dire battle. When Aragorn demonstrated his kingly courage to the cursed throng and its leader, they realize they can redeem their life by fighting with him. They fight well for him and are released from the dark cave regain their full human nature.
We also see in the great story, ‘The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe’ (and each of the other Narnia stories) the theme of the release of the captives. In this movie the witch turns people and talking animals into stone. In her huge ice mansion she has hundreds of talking animals and creatures that she has turned to stone. After the Narnians defeat the queen in a great battle, Aslan comes and breaths on the statues which are then released from their trapped state and rejoice in being reunited with their people. In this movie the same theme is also demonstrated by the fact that the whole land is released from perpetual snow caused by the evil queen for the last 100 years.
This theme comes into play several times in Narnia: In ‘The Silver Chair’ where the prince was captured and put under a spell by the witch as were all the underground people that were her captives. This theme is a major part of the story in the Alien movies where human beings are also held in pods, kept alive for a time and used as energy and food. This same theme take place in ‘I-robot’, and ‘Minority report’.

More Examples of Specific Spiritual/Biblical Themes in Movies

December 16th, 2014

Here are more examples of Biblical themes.  Please ad your thoughts and examples in the comment section.
Theme: The Apocalypse. In many movies – ‘A Boy and His Dog’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Silent Green’, ‘The Day the Earth stood Still’, ‘Terminator’, ‘Waterworld’ and countless super hero, science fiction, and horror movies, the Apocalypse is depicted in various ways. In ‘Man of Steel’ there is an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world. When superman is taken into Zod’s ship Zod gets into his head and tells him of his vision to destroy all the people of earth. Superman is shown sinking into a sea of skulls and screaming out as Zod reveals his hellish vision for earth. Superman is horrified at this genocide. This corresponds to the greatest vulnerability Jesus had while on earth; that is, his infinite love for all humanity, and correspondingly his pain at the possibility of their destruction. During His ministry Evil forces could effect Jesus by destroying, capturing and causing pain and suffering to humanity. This vulnerability can be seen (among other places) When Jesus enters Jerusalem the last time – he weeps, because he so loves humanity, and his great plans for Jerusalem have been lost. The evil forces are like terrorists on earth who kill and capture innocent people to horrify and control their enimies. At the end of the movie when superman has Zod by the neck Zod retaliates by using his lazer eyes to almost kill innocent people standing nearby, and Superman screams out in moral agony for him not to do it, and finally kills Zod.
Theme: Hades and Sheol. In the Matrix there are parrelels between the trainman and the god of the underworld, Hades, who ruthlessly ruled the dark realm named after himself. In mythology Hades was a lesser god who received the short end of the stick when realms were divied up to rule, but he was given total power over his realm. The train man also has total control of his dreary realm, called ‘mobile avenue’, and is said to be between worlds from which no-one can escape. Like Hades the trainmans realm of power is a place of bleak nothingness, in a kind of limbo, separate from life and God; and no one can come in or out, except by Hades will. The trainman says to Neo, “Down here, I make the rules. Down here I make the threats. Down here… I’m God”.
Theme: Humanity Rejects or Kills the ‘One’ or the Savior. In the movie ‘Starman’, in which Jeff Bridges is an alien that is a Christ figure, most of the people are afriad of him and what he can do, and the government tries to kill or capture him; but there are a few who see him and help him. Batman and Spiderman are also treated as the enemy of the police or military; as the mainstream authroites try to kill them. This happens in a lot of movies and is a very sigificant theme; They can be intrepreted as an allegory of humanities, in the Old Testament the Isrealites, rejection of the Lord. Movies often depict the trauma, loss, and tragedy associated with this rejection. Again in Superman this theme is huge; a big part of the story is that superman cannot reveal his identity untill his time comes. His father convinces him that he must painstakingly keep from revealing his identity for otherwise people would reject him, or even kill him. When he is a kid he is assualted by bullies in the presence of his father, but he does not fight back; he turns the other cheek. Indeed, his father sacrifices his own life for this principle; – when a tornado is about to destroy him, he signals to Kent to not come save him, for otherwise he would reveal his true self. This theme also demonstrates another important principle, that is, that Jesus profoundly disciplined himself to not reveal himself untill his time came. He did not use his powers to fight his enemies, but allowed all to act in freedom, both enemies and those who loved him.
These themes are also in the The Green Mile; the central character is kind, gentle, and has miraculous powers of healing – a Christ figure. He performs healing on several people, he suffers greatly from understanding love, and he sees with great pain humanities cruelty to each other. He is thought to be the enemy of society and is imprisoned and killed by the authorites.
Theme: Jesus reveals himself and teaches to good, common people. In the Bible the disciples were salt of the earth fisherman not educated men. He chooses simple good men who can be taught. It is an essential part of the Superman story that his parents are simple, honest, American farmers. Spiderman’s back story is similar in this way also. In the Hobbitt this is a very big theme. It is part of the whole meaning of the Hobbits and their shire that they are kind, innocent farmers, but in their hearts hold great courage. Gandolf gives a speech expressing how it is true to the workings of life that the defeat of evil in the darkest of times would come through simple, common, salt of the earth folks – humble hobbits.
Theme: Ressurection and Healing. This is a clear Christ allegory in several movies, such as ‘Starman’, ‘Matrix’, ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, and several other movies. Similarly in movies and stories there is a figure who is able to heal, such as Gandolf in the ‘Lord of the Rings’. Neo resserects Trinity; Lucy heals with her magic ointment in Narnia; in ‘The Green Mile’ the Christ figure heals the wardens wife of terminal cancer.
Theme: Overcoming primal truama. This is a large subject to include, but worth identifying because of the trauma of dealing with the darkness I dscussed above.  The trauma of dealing with cruelty and unjustice, the emotional struggle of change and growth, the pain of emerging into our true identity, and the yearning to recognize and be in alingment with the goodness of the Lord – are expressed in the intense situations movies portray that ‘show what someone is made of’ in a crisis. There are inumerable movies of this kind; some examples not mentioned are ‘Platoon’, ‘Snitch’, ‘Shawshank Redemption’, and ‘Awakenings’. Also soundtracks in movies have become very effective at evoking these feelings. Many movies have intense gutteral sound-effects, and powerful, redemptive music, (matching incredible heroics on screen) that increase the feeling of truama, greif, healing and love. A great example of this is ‘Schindle’s List’, which contains such beautiful moving music set against the most intense injustice and suffering. In the end Schindler is overcome with such redemptive love he is infeebled like a baby with tears. In Captain Phillips at the end the truama he suffered is depicted very effectively along with caring treatment. In superhero movies The powerful sounds of evil machines and characters are  juxtoposed with the glorious rizing musical strains while the superheros battle to save innocent people – the sounds contribute enormously to an emotional impact that taps into our deepest fears and yearnings. In ‘Man of Steel’ there are several times where Superman lets out an intense primal scream as he performs his feats, such as when he saves his mother, or when he destroys the world machine. He screams at the end – first as Zod threatens to kill innocent people, and then again after Zod is dead and the struggle is over. He is bowed in silence and then he lets out a primal scream that comes from the incredible effort and feelings of birthing into his true identiy and powers, – and mourning the loss of Krypton, – and the love of saving humanity on earth. These actions are reminiscnet of the passion of Christs when in the Garden He cries out to His father in His agony and effort to fulfill his mission.
 Theme: The internal of humans reaches into Heaven, and the external is in the world. In the movie ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Elizabeth is shown in meditative states reflecting on things. In one scene her inner view is depicted by showing the colors one sees as you look at the sun through closed eyes. Then her inner vision is depicted by a scene of her standing at a beautiful precipice while music washes over in increasing waves expanding the feeling of an elavated view; she is feeling and percieving the trancedance of true love. The movie examplifies ‘love truly conjugal’, which I believe, only those whose internal is open to heaven and the Lord can expereince.

The Spirituality of integrating Science and God by the principle of Correspondences

December 11th, 2014

 Some folks were wondering about the concept of correspondences from the Interstellar article so I thought I would write about it in regard to modern science. I hope and pray that this is helpful. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts.
         Correspondence means that everything in the natural world is the result of its counterpart in the spiritual world; the object in the spiritual world being the first cause of what is in the natural world. Everything in nature that is connected to its counterpart in the spiritual world, yet separated by a discreet degree, is said to correspond. A discreet degree can most readily be understood by our experience of the separation between the earthly world and the spiritual world. For the most part we cannot see, hear, or touch across this divide, but we can at times sense, feel, or intuit across. A tree in the natural world is subject to the natural laws of time and space, while the spiritual tree exists from the meaning it portrays from the love in the soul of angels or spirits. It is more real than a tree here because it is composed of spiritual substance and derived from love and wisdom from the Lord. The very colors of flowers and homes, the plants and animals that appear in a garden, are manifestations of what is in the soul of the angel or angles present in that place. In heaven the objects are of a beauty and light that surpasses what is on earth many times over. A tree there is more real than a tree on earth because it is the internal of a tree. If one grasps the implications of this one can see that all things that exist, exist in relationship to human beings; the human form being the highest of all forms. The same is true of things in nature on earth, but they are more remotely reflected and less clear to our perception.
        For instance, contemplate for a moment hiking up a wild and rugged mountain. The mountain itself is a challenge, and an experience of beauty and danger. To reach the top a person must persevere. The higher one goes up the mountain the more one can see of the landscape around. There is, in seeing an expansive view, a natural delight and exhilaration that anyone who makes the effort feels. This natural delight corresponds to the spiritual joy of gaining higher perception of life. Mountains correspond to heaven. The delight of gaining an elevated view on a mountain is the reflection (correspondence) of spiritually gaining wisdom in one’s soul. Correspondence is an essential operation in the universe, and the above is an example of how it operates in our immediate life and experience. The ground gained to reach a view on a mountain is not given up easily, but when it is it becomes one’s own achievement. Similarly, internal perception requires attention and effort and it results in real effect or change in the soul, whereas mere knowledge does not.
          As another example, I will share an early personal experience. I remember after graduating from high school and getting ready to go to college, I reflected on all the friends I hung out with and came to know well. I saw that in spite of all of our shortcomings, it was through my interactions with them that I came to know myself. This thought was a beginning of regeneration. It was a beginning of being able to accept others and myself with all of our frailties, and there was a kind of beauty in this perception because it was real, and there was not a stagnant feeling that this growth could happen only with them. I had this epiphany as I looked at a rainbow in the sky, and at the same time inwardly saw the comparison between my thought and the rainbow. In a rainbow the beauty of light is revealed as it refracts through little particles of water in the air, and thus the inner qualities of light are made visible, and real to our perception. Swedenborg writes that rainbows symbolize something very like this: “The reason that the appearance of a rainbow is seen is that the natural things corresponding to their spiritual present such an appearance. It is a modification of spiritual light from the Lord in their natural things” (AC 1042). In a person this means that the spiritual and natural must grow together, to grow at all. The spiritual becomes one’s own when there is accord between the love we see and feel, and our actions in life.
          Correspondences happen in three realms of life, the Word, the human form, and in nature. In each case a perception of them is a sound way of gaining understanding. Perception is the moment when the internal and external come into concordance in a person. It is very significant to realize that perception involves the whole soul, and is a deeper way of knowing. Perception is reception in the soul of truths from the Lord. In this short article I will focus on providing an opportunity of perceiving correspondences between the Sun, the earth, and the Lord.
           The principle of correspondence is a universal principle through which we can confidently gain knowledge about the nature of the spiritual world and the earthly world. It is, if we apply it thoughtfully, a readily accessible resource that can be read forward or backward, that is, from heaven to earth, and visa versa. We can gain insight into the dynamics of the spiritual world by the scientific processes we observe in the natural world. This is the basic principle I am using in this essay. It is at one and the same time, a spiritual and intellectual practice. By making the effort to meditate into correspondence I have often felt light coming into my heart and mind; it is a most comforting feeling anyone can feel.
           The prime example of correspondence is between the sun in the sky and the sun in the spiritual world. The heat and light of the natural sun corresponds to love and wisdom from the spiritual sun. We know the sun provides heat and light without which nothing could live. Suns are the source of all energy and raw material for the entire natural world. All the suns throughout the universe are the source of heat and light for their respective solar systems, and beyond. In the spiritual world there is only one sun and it is the one source of all life. It is the origin of life, and creates the substance of life; the fundamental substance of life being love and wisdom from the Lord in the midst of the spiritual sun. 
          The natural suns are made of matter, are in time and space, and are innumerable, whereas there is only one spiritual sun. This one sun is the one source of everything. The reality that there is one spiritual sun and infinite natural suns in the universe is a function of correspondence, in that the natural sun cannot possibly reflect the infinite presence of the spiritual sun by size, so it corresponds by infinity of numbers. The reason for this is that in the natural world there is time and space, while in the spiritual world everything is based on state of being, or quality of love.
          Science’s ability to penetrate some of the secrets of physics that occur in the sun offers the opportunity to look deep into potential correspondences. Science shows that everything that happens on earth occurs by a process, and correspondingly Swedenborg demonstrates that everything that occurs in the spiritual world occurs by a process. It is very important to grasp this concept, and we can only do so by practicing on particular examples. Humans have an ingrained habit of ‘magical thinking’ when it comes to the spiritual world, meaning we tend to think that things just happen there, that God makes them by the wave of the hand. But we know everything with humans is a matter of gradual growth, and accomplished reciprocally; and that everything in nature requires a process. It is the same in heaven: in heaven people don’t just sit on a cloud and bask in God’s light, but experience fulfillment through being useful in all the same type of occupations we have here. Everything is relational in both worlds. Only in heaven people love each other more than themselves.
            Lets look at the example of the sun again. Einstein discovered that the source of the sun’s power is nuclear fusion. The sun’s mass is so enormous its gravity causes unfathomable pressure and heat in its core. The pressure and heat cause the atoms to accelerate to incredible speeds at close proximity. Hydrogen atoms normally repel each other, but the heat and pressure at the core is so enormous it causes the Hydrogen atoms to smash together and split, forming a new element – helium. In the process they release heat, and light as photons, and the massive power of the explosion seeks to expand to the surface of the sun. This is nuclear fusion, the engine in the suns core. The sun is anything but static; within the sun there is a constant tension, a raging battle between gravities crushing inward force, and nuclear fusion’s immense expansive fire. But the two forces settle into an equilibrium that lasts for billions of years, and together provide all the elements in the universe, and the heat and light that sustain life.
           It is a universal principle that that which is created by the source has in it the inclination to repeat the form of the source. The master example of this is that humans are made in the image of God. The equilibrium between the forces of gravity and nuclear fusion in the sun defines the form of the sun, and because the sun is the source, the form of equilibrium is repeated in everything that exists. For anything to exist it has to have a form, and anything that has form has some kind of equilibrium that is the cause for that form. Based on this principle Swedenborg writes that just as there is an infinite largeness there is also an infinite minuteness. There is nothing so minute that there is not something smaller that is the substance within it. For instance an atom is a form that has within it electrons, neutrons and protons spinning around. As science keeps discovering, even the protons and neutrons have smaller things that compose them, and there are smaller things yet which compose these, and so on. It is beyond our ability to comprehend infinite minuteness, but based on the principle of form, substance and equilibrium we can see it must be true.
           Equilibrium is in everything we see. The human body and every organ in it has a certain equilibrium between the inside forces of blood pressure and muscle tension, and the outside forces of gravity and atmospheric pressure. A leaf on a tree has equilibrium in a similar way. Anything we might look at is in a state of equilibrium, a chair, a light bulb, a cell, a fiber, anything, because they have a form, and substance inside it. The equations of Newton and Einstein work within equilibrium. The state of equilibrium can always change, for instance if a bottle is broken, but its pieces settle into another state of equilibrium. Swedenborg writes:
        For any thing to have existence there must be an equilibrium of all things. Without equilibrium there is no action and reaction; for equilibrium is between two forces, one acting and the other reacting, and the state of rest resulting from like action and reaction is called equilibrium. In the natural world there is an equilibrium in all things and in each thing. It exists in a general way even in the atmosphere, wherein the lower parts react and resist in proportion as the higher parts act and press down. Again, in the natural world there is an equilibrium between heat and cold, between light and shade, and between dryness and moisture, the middle condition being the equilibrium. There is also an equilibrium in all the subjects of the three kingdoms of nature, the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal; for without equilibrium in them nothing can come forth and have permanent existence (Heaven and Hell, 589).
       Another correspondence we can see in the sun has to do with the fact that the divine contains infinite variety, and is the source of life. From the divine human in the spiritual sun manifests the infinite variety and continual abundance of life, similarly, there is nothing that exists in nature that is exactly the same as anything else. For instance, science shows that snowflakes can be very similar, but never exactly the same. It is the same with everything. There are no two human beings that are the same, or ever will be.
         To see how suns are the source of all things in nature, and the cause of variety, lets look more deeply at what happens in the sun. Scientists teach that the nuclear fusion taking place in the sun is the cause of all the elements of the universe. A sun like ours is only big enough to produce helium, but stars bigger produce such massive gravity that they have enough heat and pressure to create heavier elements such as sulfur and iron. These heavier elements are only created in supernovas. The elements are made by the incredible heat and energy released when the supernova explodes. Scientists report that the heaviest of elements, such as Gold, are made by the even more enormous explosions that occur when two neutron stars collide. This is why the heavier Elements are more rare. These incredible explosions send the elements out into the universe. And from these elements and their infinite combinations, all the things in the universe originate – planets, galaxies, new stars, and all living things. Scientists describe supernovas as the mother of all substances and objects in the universe. From this information we get an idea of the essential correspondence between God as the source of all things and their infinite variety, and the sun as the source of the abundance and variety in nature.
         In my experience correspondence never fails; we simply have to dig into understanding them. Below is another interesting correspondence. In this correspondence we can compare the dynamics between; one, the divine in the spiritual sun and the reception of Him where angels live; and, two, the natural sun and the dynamics of how humans on earth receive light and heat from the sun. Swedenborg writes:
         Divine love in the spiritual world appears to the sight of angels like the sun, as far distant from them as the sun of our world is from men. If therefore God, who is in the midst of that sun, were to come close to angels, they would perish just as men would if the sun of the world came close to them, for it is equally burning. For this reason there are constant controls which modify and moderate the burning heat of that love, so that its radiation should not reach heaven undiluted, since this would consume the angels. When therefore the Lord makes His presence more immediately felt in heaven, the irreligious beneath heaven begin to complain, suffering torture and fainting, so that they take refuge in caves and fissures in the mountains (TCR, 691).
         This corresponds to the fact that where there is life on a planet there must be the right distance from the sun, and also, a certain delicate balance of characteristics on the planet that protect the life there. Earth being at the perfect distance from the sun is a clear correspondence, but there are many more subtle comparisons to be made. For instance scientist have discovered how essential the magnetic field of the earth is to protecting life against the power of solar flares and radiation. (When solar flares are too big people on earth complain that they take out our electrical systems.) The motion of molten magma inside the earth causes a rather weak magnetic field around earth, but this magnetic field is strong enough to form a barrier around the earth that deflects harmful solar radiation. Also, just the right tilt of the earth’s axis creates the seasons around the globe, which is important for many things, especially maintaining moderate temperatures, a variety of climates for life, and especially a stable atmosphere. These factors, plus just the right amount of water on earth, produce a healthy atmosphere that provides essential protection from the sun’s radiation. The moon provides essential protection for earth by stabilizing its rotation on its axis; without this life would be thrown into dramatic cycles of destruction, mostly due to sudden huge temperature changes, and loss of a stable atmosphere. All of these factors, and many more, work together to maintain a delicate balance; they correspond to the ‘constant controls which modify and moderate’ the burning heat and light of the spiritual sun from harming angels. I am not a physicist, but we can see these correspondences readily enough on the level of principle. The more detailed one’s knowledge of science the deeper the correspondences that can be seen.
            Now we look to the ultimate source of equilibrium that makes it a universal correspondence, and demonstrates the connectedness of all things. Inside the spiritual sun there is also an infinite, dynamic marriage that is the source of life. This is the Holy marriage between the Lord’s divine essence and his divine human. This is the Holy of Holies. From this marriage radiates Holy fire, which is the cause of the spiritual sun’s light and heat (wisdom and love). The powerful forces we described inside the natural sun give us a glimpse, by correspondences, of the unfathomably powerful union inside the spiritual son. The equilibrium in the natural sun corresponds to the Holy marriage in the spiritual sun; except, of course, the forces inside the natural son are not alive; they are material and energy based, but in the spiritual sun life comes from the source itself, the divine human, Jesus Christ. This is the mother of all correspondences.
         In the Sun there, which is from Himself, is Divine fire, which is the Divine good of the Divine love. From that Sun is Divine light, which is Divine truth from Divine good. (AC 8644).
That the union in the spiritual sun is holy, and in its interiors most holy, is very evident from the fact that in every detail of it there is the heavenly marriage, that is, the marriage of good and truth, thus heaven; and that in every detail of the inmost sense there is the marriage of the Lord’s Divine Human with His kingdom and church; nay, in the supreme sense there is the union of the Divine Itself and the Divine Human in the Lord (AC 6343).
         It is as if His body (Jesus) is the candle and his essence (God) the wick, and the marriage of them produces the Holy fire from which radiates infinite love and wisdom. This bond, or marriage, and resulting Holy fire, causes the form of the spiritual sun. The Holy bond between Jesus and God was forged (in all wonder, pain, joy, and beauty) in the glorification process while Jesus was on earth. In the resurrection the Lords body was made divine, and merged with the divine essence. What radiates from the spiritual sun around the Lord is the universal spiritual substance of life, – love and wisdom – just as heat and light radiate from the natural sun. Love and wisdom are spiritual in nature; indeed they are the indivisible spiritual substance of life, not abstractions. It is an illusion to us that the physical world is more real than the spiritual world. The spiritual world is more real than this, because it is the more internal; it is separate from this world but is also part in that it gives life to this world by constant influx. The spiritual world has no time and space, but is based on ‘state of being’. We retain our human form there, but are unencumbered by the physical body. The Lord is also in the human form, except He is divine and infinite; human beings are in His form but finite. So in the human soul there are the two faculties of will and understanding, which are receptacles of love and wisdom from the Lord. This reception provides our life and freedom. It is an extraordinary paradox that our freedom is entirely a gift from God, so much so that this is not apparent to us – which is by design so that we can be in freedom. Yet the true motion of developing spirituality is to acknowledge inwardly that all good comes from the divine and not from our self. So just as love and wisdom from the divine is reflected in humans by the will and understanding, everything that exists in the universe, no matter how large or minute has in it the image of the marriage of love and wisdom. As we have shown, this is seen in the equilibrium in the physical sun by the dynamic between the power of nuclear fusion, and the power of gravity meeting in equilibrium; and in turn is reflected in the world of nature by the equilibrium that constitutes the form of all objects.
            This idea bears repeating in another way so that it might penetrate our understanding, for this is a profoundly spiritual matter. The source of life and creation is the Holy marriage within the Lord, and this core reality descends by correspondences from the divine to the physical. The equilibrium that constitutes the form of all things in nature originates from the nature of the physical sun, and more essentially from the spiritual sun. The implications of this are limitless, but we can begin by saying that spiritually the divine of the Lord is intrinsic in our life and in nature, and thus, if we are receptive to Him, can be seen or experienced through all things such as a rainbow or climbing a mountain.

Examples of specific Biblical and spiritual themes in Movies – Part 1

December 4th, 2014

Theme: The Immensity of Christ’s Battles against the forces of Hell. The most common of all Biblical themes in pop culture is that of a great battle between forces of evil and the good heroes of humanity to save the world. Hundreds of novels, comic books and movies demonstrate this over and over, from all the marvel and DC stories to Disney movies like Epic, The Harry Potter stories and the Lord of the Rings. This theme is known in the Bible, but the true immensity of the battles Christ executed from his own might is very little known. Indeed, the full extent of them could never be known, but if one takes the time to look there are many descriptions of it in the Bible. Isaiah and the prophets describe it often as do th other prophets, but the book of revelation is all about it. Even Christians and pastors seem to rarely see the extent of it. Perhaps because it has been somewhat misrepresented by fire and brimstone type preaching that has so put-off many people. I believe these stories of great and dire battles at root come from an internal need to honor the way Jesus saved the world from overwhelming forces of evil. No-matter how many times this theme is repeated it never ceases to capture the fascination of people. The limited knowledge of Christs battles in the Bible goes hand in hand with the limited idea people have of the darkness that was on the earth before Christ incarnated. In movies the dark, deceptive and insidious nature of evil is depicted and defeated in countless science fiction, horror, and adventure movies. The great battles in movies are often associated with the end of the world, which of course has to do with the well-known Biblical theme of the apacolypse. This is seen in movies like the Terminator, Independence Day, Superman, The Avengers, I-robot, Lord of he Rings, Men in Black, 1984, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, and so on.
Swedenborg gives a powerful description of how intense Christ’s battles were:
Theme: Determinism in society at the time of Christ. In the latest superman movie, “Man of Steel”, this theme is a very large part of the back story of Kripton. It is told that the people of Kripton had adapted in such a way that they tightly controlled child birth. Every child was born under  government control with a predetermined purpose, – some workers, some leaders, some trades people and so on. This is an allegory of the determinism we spoke of that was a result of the decline in religion and the externalization of life before the time of Christ. Zod, the military ruler of Kripton, angrily expresses throughout his scenes that his sole purpose for existence from birth was to preserve Kripton, and he is a warrior who will destroy everything in his way that would keep him from that purpose. Also, in the beginning of the movie when Zod and his officers are sentenced for their crimes by the counsel, their sentence is forever – no possibility of release or attempt to rehabilitate. This is so because the counsel knows Zod’s purpose, and that he cannot be reformed. This is significant because with the Romans and other Mediterranean nations at the time the jadedness toward cruelty was a natural extension of determinism. The belief that they have a predetermined purpose led to a great devaluing of life. This theme is also in ‘The Terminator’, and the ‘Matrix’.
Theme: David in Goliath. This theme is iconic and referred to in common language in sports and other arenas ways in society. In the movie ‘Thor: The Dark World’ there is a scene where the two armies are battling and then a giant rock-man three times the size of Thor walks in and they face-off one on one. The enemy army laughs at Thor’s demand that the giant surrender. Thor whirls his hammer and smashes the giant into a pile of rubble.
Theme: Atmospheres in the spiritual World. This is a theme in many movies such as Mission to Mars, Star trek, not to mention the reality of it on the planets in our solar system. In ‘Man of Steel’ it is told and shown that the people from Kripton cannot breath in the same atmosphere as the people on earth. The whole purpose for the Kripton war is to change the atmosphere of earth into that of Kripton. This is an allegory of a circumstance that is fundamental in heaven and the spiritual world. Swedenborg tells how every society in heaven has its own breathing pattern that is determined by the quality of love there. The difference between atmospheres in heaven and hell in this regard is total – spirits from hell cannot even begin to enter heaven for they begin to choke in a torturous way to the point of total suffication.
Theme: Hereditary Evil. In the matrix there are several scenes of agents pressing their hand into the body of people and causing a black darkness to enter them, inside and out, consuming the person in black. This is symbolic of hereditary evil accumulating and increasing to the point it consumes the person’s life. In the Matrix the agents continue to multiply and would soon consume the whole world of humans and the machines, which is an allegory of the darkness that was increasing on earth at the end of the Jewish church. This is very significant because at the end the agent does thrusts his hand into Neo; Neo receives it all and turns into an agent – and then uses it to access all evil. He battles the evil from the inside and wipes it out. As I described in the section on equilibrium this parallels that the Lord was born on earth and took on a natural body; which meant He now had access to evil, and evil had access to him to him. He gradually defeated the forces of evil, purified himself of all hereditary evil, and and put heaven and hell into divine order. This is an essential part of the glorification process which I will discuss in a moment.
Theme: Faith to be expressed in Freedom. The theological theme of Freedom is upheld in many movies. In the matrix, in the confrontation between the Architect and Neo reveals their essential beliefs: Neo upholds freedom of choice as the truth of being human, while the Architect in all his brilliance basically believes in determinism, which is materialistic and external and leads to spiritual death.
This is also a major theme in many of the Marvel movies, but none more so than in Captain America 2. The backdrop of this movie honors the men and woman of the ‘greatest generation’, especially those who defeated Hitler in WW2. The evil organization called Hydra (an off-shoot of the Nazis) corrupts sheild from within with the philosophy and technology to determine who should die before they are able to commit crimes. This is a representation of the evil of determinism and how it is the inevitable result from completely external and merely natural thinking. Captain America, coming from the greatest generation, senses from the beginning that the ideology of Hydra is destructive, because it is against freedom and the principles of the constitution and democracy, which grow from a belief in God.
At the end of the Matrix the agent believes he has won and asks Neo, ‘why do you keep on fighting’, and Neo says, “Because I choose to”. This upholds that the choice to love and fight for freedom is a Christ-like human quality. Also at the end when ‘the one who protects that which matters most’ asks the Oracle if she always knew they would be saved, she says, “No, I didn’t, but I believed, I believed.” This upholds choice and faith as essential goods. Also, it is a principle of freedom that  no one is given knowledge of the future (not even the Oracle), but salvation must be worked out by choice from moment to moment. When the human soul seeks meaning it cannot but uphold these truths for the essence of being human is freedom.
The deep value of freedom is often combined with American tradition and values, demonstrating the role of America as a light to the world. ‘Independence day’, and ‘Signs’ are good examples of this, as are many of the marvel movies. In his career Kevin Costner has depicted American heartland values incredibly well. He personifies American common sense, goodness, and strength, especially in ‘Field of Dreams’, and ‘Man of steel’.
Theme: Christ is the bridge (the Logos) between the father and humanity. In ‘Man of Steel’ Superman has very good Christ allegories. There is a scene in which Superman’s father tells him who he is, and through their discussion their mind and wills become more and more united. He tells him that on Kripton they lost freedom of choice because they had adopted predetermined birth, but he (Superman) is from the ‘house of El’ where they dreamed of freedom, where people have choice and the chance to reach their full potential. He tells Superman that he could not tell him that the Kodex was in the cells of his body until the moment they were in because he was not ready for it. He then tells him that he can be the bridge between Krypton and Earth, and that he can save humanity. Jesus is the original redeemer of freedom by subjugating evil and restoring equilibrium; and He is also the bridge – the bridge between God and humanity on earth, for which He is also called the Logos. The logos is the embodied love and wisdom that makes all love and wisdom accessible to humanity. Later in the movie Superman’s father, Cal El, tells Zod that his Son is twice the man that he is, which is similar to the Bible’s when the voice of God says, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased”. After receiving the conviction to save earth (his father tells him, “You can save Lois, You can save all of them”) Superman punches a hole in the Kripton ship, and then floats slowly out holding his arms in the position of the cross – a powerful image of the savior. The miraculous feats superman performs appeal to something very deep in the human soul – the desire to be seen and valued, for the trauma we suffer to be justly redeemed; to be given hope that there is a true Father watching over who is capable of all things.Also in the movie ‘Interstellar’ the main characters are on a mission to save the world, and in the process calls himself and his daughter the bridge that will save the world. By way of an enormous and miraculous struggle he travels through a worm hole and accesses a point in time and space to inform his genius daughter of the information necessary to save the planet. There is also a profound story of love and loss between then and the primary theme of this is that love is the means that finds the way and carries the information and wisdom to find redemption. This movie deals with advanced knowledge of space, black holes and theoretical wormholes. It is acknowledged that no one knows what lies through a black hole or a wormhole, but in the story telling of the movie an answer and meaning is given to this problem by spiritual means, that is, in the movie it is said and shown that love provides the means and answer on the other side of a black hole. This can be seen as an allegory for entering heaven, and as an allegory of redemption through love. This movie shows once again that when the human psyche seeks meaning it returns to what is most intrinsically meaningful and appealing in our soul – biblical themes. The movie also demonstrates one the maxims of Swedenborg concerning the Lord; that is that love is a container of wisdom. This means that the intense desire and affection of love  elevates the state and therefore the perception of a person which inherently includes wisdom.     

The Repetition of Biblical Themes in Movies fills an Intrinsic Need In our Psyche

December 1st, 2014

In seminary my class was given the assignment to write a paper on our personal theology. In response to my paper the professor said that I had a ‘Star Wars’ theology. I suggested to him that “I think it is the other way around; Star Wars got its ideas from the Bible”. I believe Biblical themes have an intrinsic place in the human soul and psyche, and it is fascinating to observe how this comes out in stories and film. What follows below is not by any means a scientific survey of the subject, but simply the observations from an average man’s engagement in pop culture.
 The most moving theme of the Bible, and also of life, is redemption; redemption is the central theme of the Christ story, and all the other themes circle around it. Whenever we hear a story of true sacrifice for love, honor, or the life of another we can not help but be moved deeply; it is a basic response of the goodness in the human soul to honor true sacrifice – and deep down I believe this universal response comes from the Lord within us. A good example of this is in superman: as the military captain flies the ‘package’ into the world engine (to destroy it) he says, “a good death is its own reward”. This affirms the spiritual value of honor, and giving one’s life for another. On this point Swedenborg writes:
Every citizen or subject is united to his king by obeying his commands and precepts; and more so if he endures hardships for him; and still more if he suffers death for him, as men do in war. In the same way friend is united to friend, son to father, and servant to master, by acting according to their wishes; still more by defending them against enemies; and more yet by fighting for their honor. Is not one united to the maiden whom he is wooing when he fights with those who defame her, and contends even to wounds with his rival? It is according to an inherent law of nature that they are united by such means.
(The word King, which was appropriate for Sweden in the time of Swedenborg, could be replaced with ‘nation’ or ‘community’). The principle Swedenborg expresses above relates to the Lord saying in the Bible: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. Therefore doth My Father love Me” (John 10:11- 17). The depiction in stories and movies of heroes that are willing to sacrifice themselves and save the world evoke the intense love and bond that comes with the acknowledgement of the heroes deeds, know-how, and skill. We are moved to tears by their skill and deeds even if we have seen the same story a hundred times, and even if it is not great art. There is perhaps nothing more internally compelling to a child then a father or mother who cares for them so much that they will die for them. And everyone of us still has this child inside that yearns for this care, and hopefully is willing to do it for another. Here are some examples in movies: In the movie ‘Armagedon’ there is the self sacrifice of the Father Figure (Bruce Willis) who forcible takes the place of his future son in law so his son in law can live and marry his daughter; he is left behind on a meteor by himself to ignite the bomb that will save the world; in the Matrix there is the wondrous skill and spiritual mastery of ‘The One’ (Keanu Reeves) that saves the world. In ‘Signs’ the young girl helps save the world because she has been intuitively led to leave water cups around the house (and it turns out that water destroys the aliens); also the young man in ‘Signs’ saves his family with his prodigal skill for swinging the bat; in ‘Independence Day’ the drunk, worthless father sacrifices himself by flying into the power source of the alien ship; There are similar themes in the Terminator, The Fifth Element, Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America, Men In Black, and many others. There are also great stories of personal sacrifice in more life-like stories. In these stories we are deeply moved because of the battle we all go through to find ourselves, overcome hardships, and see meaning in our lives. We see this in movies like ‘Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Lone Survivor’, ‘The green Mile’, and thousands of others. These stories so often center around Military and police men and woman, because they are the ones most often in harms way, and most of them have dedicated themselves to the honor and safety of their country or community, and are willing to sacrifice their lives for others. When we hear the story of the soldier that jumped on a grenade to save his companions we cannot help but feel love and honor for the man and his deed. How much more are we moved to honor Jesus Christ – for He from his own might saved all humanity from eternal darkness.
It may seem odd that I am bringing comic book stories, fantasy, and pop movies into a study of the Bible. But it is really not so odd. G.K. Chesterson wrote a long time ago an essay called, “In defense of Penny dredfuls”. (Penny dreadfuls are stories for adolescents that can be compared to pulp fiction in America.) In it he writes: “The simple need for some kind of ideal world in which fictitious persons play an unhampered part is infinitely deeper and older than the rules of good art, and much more inportant. Every one of us has constructed such an invisible dramatis personae. Literature is a luxery; fiction is a necessity”. He argues that common novels that engage these themes are invaluable to the imagination and inner development of youth and adults wether they are well written or not: “That is to say, they do precisely the same thing as Scott’s Ivanhoe and Lady of the Lake, Byron’s Corsair, Wordworth’s, Rob Roy’s Grave, Stevenson’s Macaire, Mr. Max Pemberton’s Iron Pirate, and thousands of more books…It is the modern literature of the educated, not of the uneducated, which is avowedly and aggressively criminal…The vast mass of humanity have never doubted and never will doubt that courage is splendid, that fedelity is noble, that distressed ladies should be rescued, and vanquished enemies spared. There are a large number of cultivated persons who doubt these maxims of daily life.”
Although circumstances have changed when Chesterson wrote this, the spirit of what he is saying very much applies today. In a later essay called Orthodoxy he extends his argument to Christianity and attempts to explain the immediacy that continually fuels the inner need to engage Biblical themes:
All Christianity concentrates on the man at the cross-roads. The vast and shallow philosophies talk about ages and evolutions and ultimate developments. The true philosophy is concerned with the instant. Will a man take this road or that?…The instant is really aweful: and it is because our religion has intensely felt the instant, that it has in literature dealt much with battle and in theology dealt much with hell. It is full of danger, like a boy’s book: it is at an immortal crises. There is a great deal of similarity between popular fiction and the religion of the western people (Jacobs, 124).
It is inevitable that Biblical themes are told by our most creative people. Pop culture is market driven. Whether the writers and producers of these movies are Christian or not, or whether they are conscience of the source of these themes, they know what moves people inside – they know what sells to the masses.  Sex sells, but so does the deep inner desire for redemption by superheroes. Carl Jung made a big point of revealing story tellers that wrote genuinely from the creative imagination; he made the distinction of stories that were archetypal from the collective unconscious, and thereby had universal appeal to people, and those that were conscious creations (more manipulative). This is certainly an important point, but I don’t think we have to concern our self laboring to identify this quality with each book or movie. Rather, for our purposes we can go by the receiving end, that is, what is continually compelling to people in the market place.
In regard to the subject of the Bible and myth I think Carl Jung missed something essential; he seemed to believe in Christ as a real man, but not as divine. To my knowledge he treated the Bible as Myth, and psychologized it. He believed in God within the individual but not in God as both within and without, and that He is the creator of all things. C. S. Lewis was also a master of myth, Medeival literature, fantasy and loved these kinds of books. In the early part of his life he considered himself an atheist. But unlike Jung, he gradually come to the conclusion that the Bible was true history, not myth, he had to come to intellectual terms with the Bible as history. This made all the difference for him. C.S. Lewis became a passionate Christian while retaining his love of myth and fantasy. He strove to live the Christian values.
Most people assume that C. S. Lewis wrote his stories, especially the Narnia Chronicles, with a conscious intention to create Christian allegories (as I did). But he writes over and over again that it was not this way; in regard to the Narnia stories he writes:
Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I would write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out “allegories” to embody them. This is pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way at all (The Narnian, Jacobs, 244).
Lewis strove to do something far more risky, courageous, and self revealing in these stories. He wrote: “It is better not to ask the questions (what allegories are god for children) at all. Let the pictures show you their own moral. For the moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life”. This is very profound to contemplate. Lewis biographer, Alan Jacobs, writes about this:
The moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life”. This is terrifying, or liberating: liberating in that one need not expose oneself to the sanctimonious drudgery of drawing up lists of Christian truths…But terrifying because as those images rise from your mind you discover what you are really made of…Trusting the images, you find out who you are” (Jacobs, 244).

In the spirit of these ideas below in my next bog I will attempt to identify themes from movies that are likely Biblical in origin.

Interpretation of the movie ‘Interstellar’

November 22nd, 2014
I think interstellar is spiritual, metaphysical, scientific, and has some Biblical themes. It never really mentions God, but has, I believe, a few distinct Biblical themes. The main one is that the lead character and his daughter are called the ‘bridge’ that brings the knowledge across worlds by means of love that saves the world – that is a pretty strong Christ allegory. In the Bible this is called the Logos, that which makes God accessible to humanity; the logos is one with the divine human – Jesus. The logos brings the love and understanding of God, it brings knowledge of heavenly things to earth, which was otherwise completely lost. Bringing intelligence, and the right information into the unknown is extremely important in Interstellar. At great peril Cooper and Tars, the intelligent robot, bring love and intelligence into the black hole. In a spiritual and metaphysical way it is emphasized that love is the force that will guide them to the answer. When cooper and tars travel into the wormhole Cooper ends up in the presence of his young daughter from the past whom he has been yearning to return to the whole time. By way of science the story says that the quality of one’s love leads them to the place they belong in the spiritual world.
It is also Biblical that Cooper, his daughter Murph, and the Hathaway character, Brand, are the ‘brokenhearted’. They are racked with grief from personal loss, but submit to the higher need of humanity. Without clear cognitive communication or assurance they are led by a higher power (superior aliens simply called ‘they’) that guides them to saving the world through a wormhole. This is much the way it is with faith and God in life. We must trust that God has a purpose in spite of the pain and grief we suffer. What also makes this Biblical is the truth from scripture that the ‘Shepard will seek and save the one as much as the many’. In the movie the significance of the human drive to do what is right for the whole of humanity is demonstrated, but also the significance of the love of one person is held high as having universal repercussions. In addition, in the end their ‘tears are wiped away’ when they are saved at the end (it is implied the Brand is saved by love with Cooper).
Swedenborg’s principle that love is a container gives a lot of insight to the movie too. He says that contained in love is all the particulars of wisdom that serve that love toward its end use. This is what happens in the movie, the intense love of the main character and his daughter leads them to the information to be the bridge. Tars supplies the data from inside the black hole, transmits it to Cooper, and cooper taps it to Murph who must have the intelligence to receive and interpret the morse code. She struggles with her deep personal pain and bitterness, yet she has the inner drive and love to overcome all the obstacles to understanding, receive, and complete the task. She and her father communicate between, what is called in the movie, the 3rd and 5th dimension. Cooper accomplishes this by taping on the gravity stream that moves the second hand on the watch he gave to her before he left. Allegorically this can be taken as representing the communication that takes place between the natural and spiritual world by what is known as correspondences (See the article in this blog on correspondences). The intense love and admiration between father and daughter carried within it the knowledge and wisdom to accomplish the deed that brought both personal redemption, and the redeeming of humanity on earth. In the end we see the new society built in an enormous space structure that was made possible from the information received from inside the black hole. It is shown that Murph puts together the equation of the great scientist, brands father, and the information from the black hole. She is revered as a sort of savior in the new society.
The movie is remarkable in that it realistically shows the tremendous tole put on human emotion by space travel. This is shown in many ways but most effectively when the Mat Damon character awakens from long term sleep, sees he is with people, and instantly cries convulsively on Cooper’s shoulder. He says later how hard it is to go without human touch and presence. This underscores the importance of love and affection, and also represents the universal truth that love and wisdom can be expressed only through a body. The Damon character also demonstrates how the human soul can be broken from lack of love, and seeking only self interest, not the interestn of the whole. He turns out to have some kind of space psychosis. He sets up a bomb in a robot and kills one scientist, and almost kills cooper also.
The biggest weakness of the movie is the way it depicts a pessimistic view of earth’s future; this is not consistent with our current scientific trajectory, or with a spiritual view of earth. For a scientific movie, the explanation of how earth is losing oxygen has little realistic foundation. It also makes no sense how poorly prepared people are for the recurring dust storms and loss of atmosphere. Perhaps they are trying to make an environmental point with this; but mostly it seems, it is essential to the plot line that the world is ending, and dust is the vehicle that reveals the gravity anomaly.
Brand makes an important speech in the movie when they have lost all other options and are deciding on one of two planets to go to. In spite of her scientific mind she speaks of love as the transcendent force in nature that will bring the answer. In light of this speech and the events of the movie it will bring great meaning to the movie to reveal a cosmic correspondence that Swedenborg affirms as a truth from the spiritual world: The force of gravity in the physical world corresponds to the force of love in the spiritual world. In the physical world we are subject to time and space, but in the spiritual world there is no time and space, but all is based on ones state of being, or the ruling love on ones soul. In the physical world any body with mass attracts to it other bodies by the force of gravity. In the spiritual world every person gravitates to the society they belong by the like quality of love in that society. Love attracts and holds a person (spirit or angel) in the sphere of that society where they are in great happiness and use to each other.
         There are two other remarkable scenes that emphasize the power of love and how it is expressed through the human body and most importantly that it is the nature of the universe ultimately to serve embodied love . When cooper is in the black hole he realizes and expresses that the ‘they’ is himself, and that his desire and presence created the structure in the black hole to accommodate his human form to communicate to his daughter. Since love is the internal correspondent of gravity, gravity folded space so that he can be in the presence of his daughter from the past. The subtext in this scenario is that God or the supreme power is providentially creating and guiding them to this point. Formerly this supreme power was expressed as ‘they’, and now it is scene that ‘they’ is within him. The second scene that emphasizes this has two parts; Earlier in the movie a presence reaches out to brand and she identifies it as ‘they’ spiritually reaching out to her; and she, with great wonder and passion, shakes its hand. Later as Cooper is moving through wondrous lights out of the black hole he sees Brand in a spiritual way and holds her hand with love and care. These two moments are one in space folded. Another principle this is showing is that love is pre-conscience, yet it is the true formative power of our life and seat of our being. In spiritual psychology this means that our internal self determines our true state, but we are most often unaware of it; also that God knows our true state of love better than we do. For instance, Cooper’s love for brand is awakened in the black hole experience when he touches Brand’s hand, but he only fully becomes aware of this consuming love at the end when his daughter tells him to go to her.
         When cooper is behind the bookcase in the black whole he can not directly communicate with his daughter. This is a depiction, or allegory, of how it is between the spiritual and natural world. The spiritual world exists in us in a very internal way, but not in the external except by correspondences. Put in a linear way, there is a discreet degree between these worlds that cannot be crossed bodily or physically, but affection from our soul in the body can be felt. This truth is depicted in the movie by Cooper being called Murph’s ‘ghost’. Affection or love is the bridge between the physical and spiritual world. The internal state of affection is pre-conscience until our desire and circumstance (God’s providence) bring us to the point of integration where our real state of love becomes an awareness, – and this is a very spiritual thing that inherently includes an acknowledgement of God. It is a universal principle of spiritual psychology that all thought is preceded by affection, and that the influx of love and wisdom that created and sustains the universe comes from God.

Spiritual/Psychological Analysis of Tebow and Lin

March 16th, 2012

Earl Biddle’s description of childhood anxiety, imagination, and omnipotence offers deep insight into the inner life of a child, and into adult psychological development. His theories offer an interesting way to understand the recent phenomenon in popular culture called, ‘Tebomania’, and ‘Linsanity’. Before applying some of Biddle’s and Swedenborg’s insights to this phenomenon lets first look into Biddle’s theories. I believe Biddle’s ideas meld well with Swedenborg’s. I hope that in studying these matters we will learn something about the integration of psychology and religion, and most of all about our own souls.

          Biddle describes the inner life of the child and the importance of the child’s phantasies. (‘Phantasy’ emphasizes creative imagination, whereas, ‘fantasy’, implies more an element of illusory day dreaming):
Childhood is usually regarded as a period of life which is normally happy and carefree…But it is difficult to appreciate the extremes of anxiety and joy which the small child experiences throughout his everyday life. The small child dies a thousand deaths. Equally often he reaches the pinnacle of bliss…(These experiences) are very real to the child, but the adult says they are imaginary (Biddle, p. 32).
The small child under the age of three views his parents and other adults as gigantic, all-powerful people. They can do infinite good or infinite harm to him. But according to the logic of the child, a good person cannot do any bad, and a bad person can do no good… The child does not regard the gratifying father and the frustrating father as the same person. The same is true with the mother. Besides being real people the parents represent phantastic, illusory, or imaginary persons. The small child, then, has, in addition to his real parents, a phantastic father and mother who are preposterously good, and a phastastic father and mother who are preposterously bad.
Emotionally the child under age three experiences only extremes. When someone pleases him he does not simply like that person, but loves him with every fiber of his being. When someone displeases him he does not dislike him, but hates with murderous intensity.
These feelings remain latent within us throughout life, but are worked out, and refined and gradually become unconscious as we mature. When we react to people and circumstances we tend to regress to these feelings. Biddle describes how the child learns to process and work out these feelings in his or her imagination:
The child cannot physically handle the parents. He cannot defend himself against them when they appear to threaten him. The problem is worked out by a natural process whereby the child makes inanimate objects, which he can handle, represent symbols of the parent. A match stick may become an imaginary bad father who can be chewed, broken into bits, and thrown away…By this process of imagination the child “really’ gets rid of the bad parents because he destroys a real object which symbolizes a parent to him. The child can also change his inanimate objects from bad to good, and thereby improve the phantastic parents, which the objects represent. The imaginary threats are thereby relieved. The child never attacks the phantastic parent with the intention of doing harm. He may do so simply to assure himself that he is not really causing harm. He may in imagination harm the parent he has clothed in destructive phantasies only to find the real parent does something good. When this happens the child must in imagination repair the phantastic damage he has done.
Paiget (30-33) has done a great deal of work concerning the child’s conception of real objects. He confirms the psychoanalytic observation that the child animates and personifies all material objects. When a leaf is blown the child does not think of the wind moving it. To the child the leaf is a little person who walks, runs and flies…All objects when reduced to their primary symbolic meaning represent father and mother figures. Freud’s “phallic symbols” then can be interpreted more correctly as father symbols, and receptive objects as mother symbols.
The imagination of the child is so vivid that he cannot distinguish clearly between what is real and what is imaginary (43, Biddle).
The child uses the functions inherent in his own body as the means by which he exercises his imaginary omnipotence. In imagination he can annihilate the world by simply closing his eyes. Then he can recreate the world by opening them…His words have magic power. By calling Mama he can make his mother appear from ‘nowhere’. His tears, saliva, and bodily excrement are given phantastic destructive and creative power.
The child’s omnipotent phantasies are of tremendous importance in his psychic development. One need not fear that the child will continue to believe himself omnipotent if his phantasies are not disputed. A brutal assault upon the phantasies of the child renders him helpless and insecure in a gigantic real world with which he cannot cope…The entire life of every individual is shaped by the impact which the real world makes upon the imaginary world of the child. The adult helps the child to distinguish between reality and phantasy, but the phantasies cannot be eliminated. Strangely enough, the desire for omnipotence, which caused man to lose paradise, is essential to him in early childhood if he is to regain heaven. Only the genius of the creator could change what appears to be intrinsically evil desire into an essential good.
The phantasies of omnipotence do not continuously sustain the child. The child constantly fluctuates between feeling omnipotent and annihilated. There are many times too, when he is afraid of his omnipotent destructiveness. For instance if he ‘blows up the world’ he will have no place to stand.
The child’s omnipotence is relinquished not because of the threat of reality, as the psychoanalysts claim, but because of the safety of reality.
When reality is not safe, when parents are consumed with their own survival and cannot fairly perceive the child, the child is in danger of growing up to be self-centered, and have delusions about their personal power. If the child is made to feel overly fearful of his omnipotent power, then she grows up passive, shying away from life. This kind passiveness is not peaceful, but full of tension, and fear of conflict and anger, because the unresolved phantasies are stymied, and such a person feels diminished and destructive. As a chaplain one of my primary objectives when working with a person who suffered trauma and loss is to cultivate the kind of care and presence that helps people to feel safe. Appropriately, only when a person feels safe and can trust will they share their deepest issues, otherwise the conversation remains on the surface.
In the child ‘omnipotence’ is appropriate, because she is innocent and helpless. Objectively the child is born in ignorance, knowing nothing, can do nothing for her self, and must learn gradually. Swedenborg writes that all humans at birth have hereditary evil, but that it is latent. The creator clothes the child in innocence so that it is adored and taken care of; and the child’s actual experiences of love and loving are stored as remains in her soul. These remains of love connect her to God, and temper the hereditary evil in her as she grows. These remains are an essential means of reception of good from the Lord. Evil is latent because a baby has not developed an identity yet that is self-willing. The ‘omnipotence’ of the child is a reflection of the creator who is omnipotent and seeds us with this feeling for the sake of our protection and freedom. Remains are gifts of innocence and love married into the soul of the child from real feeling and experience. They are stored from experiences of pure love for parents, caretakers and playmates, and from utter enthusiasm for phantasy play with objects. Omnipotence is an appearance, but it is real to the child, just as every person that has lived appears to have life and freedom from themselves, but internally these are gifts from God. In the development of the child omnipotence is the seed that yields creativity and strength, if healthy; if held on to into older ages out of survival, it becomes the cause of delusion, self-centeredness, and mental disorders.
Recently I went to eat out with my seven-year-old daughter. I had some books and other objects with me and she had some toys. She spent time organizing everything on the table the way she wanted it. This was her way of working out and taking charge of her feelings – a healthy phantasy impulse. On the other hand when she is upset she has an extreme emotional reaction like the world is ending.
‘Omnipotence’ is the image of the creator in the child, because the creator is omnipotent. This is a psychological way of perceiving the spiritual truth that the Lord is intrinsic in the human soul. This psychological condition parallels the fact that freedom is the Lord’s nature, and the freedom we enjoy is entirely a gift from the creator. Omnipotence is the only form freedom can be expressed in an infant.
In this light the mission of life can be seen as working through the paradox of, on the one side, learning personal skill and competence; and on the other, returning fallacious omnipotent power to where it belongs – God.
The value of this principle is not so much theoretical and abstract, but it helps interpret what is always closest to us  – our inner life. What could be more important? Our internal life eventually determines our eternal life.
In adults we see all the time that the less one has inner self-knowledge the more they claim omnipotence (self-centeredness). In the adult the extreme of feeling that he or she is omnipotent is a form of insanity. Swedenborg writes of witnessing that the deepest hell is for those who believe they are God himslef. This is the ultimate example of an unresolved omnipotent fantasy. He says the spirits there completely believe that they are God and all others are subjects.
As adults when we regress, it is because we inwardly feel powerless and distressed, so we reflexively return back to the feelings of omnipotence for protection. These feelings are unresourced. Childhood omnipotence in the adult is by nature blind to others, and driven by survival. It is an ‘automatic’ default setting inside for the sake of self-survival. We may or may not have sophisticated ways of justifying it, but the quality and import of it is self-serving.
There is in regression, also, if we remain self aware, an opportunity. Regression points to the wounds within us that need development. If we react the same as in the past then there is no movement, but if we act with some measure of composure, we can change the phantasy within our self to a good one, or a better one. Regression is also an opportunity because beneath the feelings of childhood omnipotence are remains, the stored feelings of innocence and love. These feelings are often felt as a sense of personal ‘specialness’, because deep down we want and feel a core of good about our selves that is seeking expression; these are in potential and need development. If felt and opened, remains can be transmuted into a footing for submitting to God as the true source of ‘specialness’. And in yielding to Him we feel joy, more our self. This provides the inner security to care for others as much or more than our selves (which is the cornerstone of society and religion). Remains are in potential and need to be spiritually mined and thus incorporated into our will. This is spiritual remembering. God provides that remains are inside everyone, as a means of connecting with His will for life. Every time we regress there is an opportunity to renew the unresolved issue in our self that cries out for attention and healing.
Advertisers use the motivating energy of our need to sort out our omnipotent phantasies, and to believe in the good father and mother, all the time. A good advertising campaign attempts to tap the primal spot where we live inside; this way they influence us to identify satisfying our deepest drives with their product. Where advertisers put their money is a good litmus test of something’s veracity: by study and process of elimination they do what produces. They are acting from very practical motivation – the bottom line, maximum results, making money. One of the psychological means Advertisers use is to portray animals and objects talking and acting like humans. There is certain magic and delight kindled within us in seeing these absurd and exaggerated images. There are hundreds of examples of this on TV commercials and kids shows. We see talking animals, sponges, fruit, vegetables, and trees, constantly, and it never ceases to be funny! Recently, there has been a commercial of a humorous, straight-talking cow that tells the mom of a family what everyone is thinking when the mother shows up asking about her goofy clothes. The family is too afraid to say anything about it, but the sassy cow tells her like it is. It is hilarious for many reasons. It images for us a way that we can feel safe to hear what is underneath and real. The cow represents the phantastic mother being real, good, and refreshingly truthful to us; teaching us it is ok to express our perceptions. The modeling of truthful speaking helps us move through a barrier of anxiety. This is joyful to us because it develops inner skill, and real satisfaction. We move from being subject-to our anxieties, to a creative agent.
In addition, psychologists (and Swedenborg) write that all children up to a certain age believe that their play animals and dolls are alive. Experiencing this as children is part of our original experience of the mystery of spirit. Robert Kegan refers to it as embodied childhood spirituality. Biddle calls it a developmental precursor to belief in the spiritual world and God. Swedenborg calls it remains, or the experience of love and innocence married into our soul. In a humorous way the commercial reminds us that as children we believed that magic is real. The act of remembering this kind of thing as adults is part of the process of integrating the forgotten remains of childhood. We are all engaged in the continuous activity of building a good image of the phantastic father and mother. We need the good father and mother because it helps us feel safe in the world, that we have a positive agency toward life and others.
The innocence of childhood is external innocence and only becomes internal when combined with intelligence. Then it becomes wisdom. By the same token wisdom is only genuine wisdom when at its core there is innocence.
Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin have stimulated passion in the soul of millions, without intending to do so other than persevering in their own passion. They are men who have a quality of innocence, yet they are successful in a real, tough world. They are unusually successful as beginners in their sports. Their success is tenuous, and the lasting power of the skills is much debated. They are natural leaders on their team and inspire team spirit. They do not have a sense of entitlement, as some others around them tend to. Jeremy Lin is an ordinary guy who used to tag along with his big brother and just wanted to be involved. Now both are living out an omnipotent phantasy, except they have the skill to live it in real life. The great thing about sports is that we get to see how it all plays out for ourselves on TV. We can see it and feel it, and judge the story for our self. They are acceptable heroes because they show at one and the same time phantastic success, and before our eyes they demonstrate transferring omnipotence to God. They give credit to their teammates and to God, and they usually accurately take responsibility when they miss the mark. They do these things to an unusual degree, and in an unexpected medium. It is powerful symbology to watch, and it stimulates deep passions and yearnings.
Tebow is a football player that has become a lightening rod of controversy and inspiration, partly because he openly and sincerely expresses his faith in God. On the field he is accused of having too poor passing skills for a professional football player, yet he wins. To make up for his passing skills, his coach designed a mostly running, option offense that is normally only used in college. On a team that previously was losing, Tebow pulled-off 6 straight wins. Then, he lost three in a row. Everyone says again he can’t make it in the pros; they point to his terrible passing statistics. He has terrible statistics in the first 3 quarters, but great statistics in the forth quarter. Then he wins a playoff game by making great passes. On the field Tebow is working out his tenuous competency before our eyes. Everything about him is confusing, extreme, maddening, and inspiring.
The symbol of Tebowmania is the pose he strikes at important moments. After a great play, or after winning, or after losing, Tebow kneels on the ground with his head down, his knuckles to his forehead, closes his eyes, and prays. This is a potent image of transferring omnipotence to the good father. In this pose, after the mighty struggle to achieve, he submits to God, and thanks God. The act of kneeling itself is a bold, demonstrative act of humility and honor. It is like the knights of old who kneeled before the King.
In Swedenborgian psychology Tebow represents the son with ‘good proprium’: Hiesman trophy winner, physique of a Greek god, good Christian. Some people dislike him for these qualities. Proprium refers to the part of the soul that is inherited, and comes from self-will, not God’s will. Swedenborg warns that good proprium is at least as much a danger as bad proprium, because there is not much in the soul to overcome, and as a result the fighting spirit for good is not developed. Jesus often teaches that the person who is forgiven much and overcomes much is closer to heaven. Victor Frankl similarly says that it is the fighting spirit in the soul, no-matter how bad the circumstances, that makes the man or woman. In Frankl this comes from good authority, because he survived Auschwitz, where he led people to fight to live, and to keep their identity and faith. Conversely, the person with good proprium is often complacent, which corresponds to being lukewarm. But Tebow, with his image of good proprium and upbringing, demonstrates tremendous fighting spirit, and care for others.
Part of the fascination with the Lin story is that he is a somewhat marginalized person, in a cultural sense because he is the only Asian in NBA basketball, and in a basketball sense because he is the only player from Harvard. Before exploding he was very discouraged because he had been rejected from two teams, and nearly cut from NY. He was sleeping on his brother’s coach. When his brother needed privacy he ended up on a teammates coach. Then he suddenly got his opportunity.
Role models can be young or old. Not that Lin and Tebow have it all together; they simply popular figures that remind us of these of forgotten feelings and issues in us. We need good role models to help us perceive ways of incorporating the phantastic good parents in the world and our life; that magic and reality can come together, that we can achieve and transfer power to God. The central value of Christianity is to walk the narrow path; to not retaliate in the face of unfairness and conflict; to feel anger and not become it, but use it; to be steadfast in winning or losing. Anytime we see someone do this no matter how small, we recognize it as heroic.
A lot of people are struggling and these guys show people something good. They are mirrors of our yearnings, and remind us of our struggle with the narrow path.

Lets Hang Out

August 5th, 2011

I have found working with groups as a chaplain very valuable. It helps patients to grow and transform in a way that doesn’t happen sometimes in one on one session.

When we had 6 young people in the rehab center I was talking with one of the nurses and he suggested the idea of putting on a Friday night party for the young folks. I worked with Betty (aka), the rec therapist, and we called it, ‘Lets Hang Out’. We consulted the nurses and provided root beer floats. One young man could not eat or drink, and another had to have the root beer float with thickened water.
In the first meeting we talked about sports and hobbies. This went on for a while, and then one man said, “So what happened to you guys?” I knew the guy very well that said this. He reluctantly came to the party and said he would only come if I were there. I knew him from the ICU. For a long time he gave the nurses a hard time. He tended to want to ask a lot of questions, and didn’t cooperate very well. The nurses said he was very bored. I think he did this as a way of fending things off and having a measure of control. Seeing this tendency, in my interaction with him I volunteered things about myself and commented on our surroundings, instead of asking him questions, and he became interested in my visits. The nurses began to encourage me to see him a lot because they found it helped. I played guitar with him and we talked about music. He finally told me his life story and all his feelings and concerns about what happened to him. He had been shot through the chest from the side. It had been his goal to get off intubation and to the third rehab center for a long time. Anyway, when this young man asked his question it suddenly led to a very in depth discussion. Each person told their story.
The first to tell his story was a 20 yr old black youth, lets call him Henry. He had been giving the doctor some trouble. He was a pretty nice guy but very reticent and guarded about doing some of his therapies. For instance the doctors were trying to talk him into using a motorized chair, but he didn’t want to be ‘that guy’.
He told us that it was hard for him to talk about what happened, and he felt scared to do so. But he began talking and told the whole story in amazing detail. Very briefly he was on a youth outing day and was on a little boat in a lake. He dived off, but the water was only 2 feet deep. Be broke his neck, and couldn’t move. He was in a life jacket, but face down. He said he panicked and struggled desperately for a time but could not move his arms or legs. He knew people were around and not far from him, but could do nothing. He needed them to notice. The man in the boat later said he thought he was playing. He was very angry with that.
He began to tell the story with a lot of passion and emotion. He said that he gave finally gave up. He knew he couldn’t move and there was nothing he could do. He was breathing in and out water.
The boatman’s wife who was working with little kids in the water grabbed him by the foot and pulled him, but she didn’t know he couldn’t move and didn’t turn him over for a time. Then she pushed him over and he breathed.
He started to repeat himself, but we all listened in complete silence. He acknowledged he had been traumatized. He talked about how he was cocky and felt he was invincible, but deep down he said he knew he was out of control and needed to change, but didn’t know how to begin.
The next day the doctor asked me what happened with Henry. She heard I had had a party with the kids, and she said that Henry was much more interested and cooperative. She said that he suddenly wanted to use a motorized chair. He said he had seen the other guys in these chairs and he wanted one. The doctor was kind of amazed at the change in him.
Each young person talked about their experience. One young man had severe aphasia and could not speak well. I assisted him a little in getting attention and interpreting what he said for the others, because I had visited with him and his dad several times and knew his story. It became kind of a fun game to understand what he was saying, and all the youths wanted to help him get his story out. (This young man suffered an off-road motorcycle accident).
There was a general theme the youths shared that went like this: They said that they knew inside that my life was getting out of control, but they didn’t pay attention. They felt they were wasting their time and nothing could happen to them. A couple said that now they know they need others, and they know who really cares about them. They said that they feel that they are still here for a reason, and that they want to give back and be a team player, not a lone wolf.
I felt that hearing each other speak in this way had a profound effect for them beyond what I could bring. I stayed with them until everyone was ready to go, about 7:00. It was a bonding experience for all of us. It is important to young folks that a mentor stay the course with them, according to what one promised.