Can you Fall in Love in Heaven if you Haven’t Found Someone on Earth?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Amy:

Lee, do you think we will be able to fall in love in heaven? Let’s say I have never been in love or with anyone on earth, will I still have a chance to be in love with a soul in heaven? Even if it’s with someone I’ve never met here on earth? Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully respond to my question. God bless.

Thanks for the great question, Amy! There must be millions of other people out there who are wondering the same thing.

So for all you members of the Lonely Hearts Club Band, let’s get to the good news right away:

The answer is Yes!

Wedding Rings

Wedding Rings

If you long for a partner, soulmate, and lover, but just haven’t found anyone here on earth, after you die you will find someone, and will fall in love. And you’ll spend the rest of eternity sharing your life with him or her, growing closer and closer together, and yes, even making love. There is marriage in heaven, and it has everything that marriages on earth have, and more!

So fear not. Even if you may be lonely and longing, if you don’t find someone to share your life with here on earth, you will find that special someone in heaven after you die.

How does this happen?

For that, we’ll turn to what Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) tells us in his book Marriage Love.

For more on falling in love in heaven, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships

What is the Wrath of God? Why was the Old Testament God so Angry, yet Jesus was so Peaceful?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Garret:

One question that I don’t think you addressed sufficiently in the articles I have seen so far is this: How do you explain the anger recorded in the Old Testament that God seems to feel a lot of the time? Because the God of the near death experience is never angry, ever. Except when somebody wants to come to heaven before their time, then he does get angry.

How do you explain the difference between the God revealed in the Old Testament and the approach Jesus took, which was very peaceful, and never promoting the killing or aggression we see in the Old Testament? How do you explain the angry feelings the Old Testament records God doing? Jesus seems to support the God of the Old Testament, but yet he seems so different than the angry God in the Old Testament.

When the Bible talks about the Wrath of God – what is it referring to?

I’m sure you understand my question. I’d be curious what your thoughts are. Does Swedenborg ever address this disparity? I go to group Bible studies and this question comes up a lot.

Blessings,

Garret

Thanks for the great question, Garret!

For those just tuning in, Garret has a great series of videos on near-death experiences that are well worth watching. Here is my review of them: A Short(ish) Video Course on Near-Death Experiences.

Back to the question, here’s the quick version:

First, God is presented as angry in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. And God is also presented as loving in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Still, it’s true that the Old Testament generally presents a more angry, wrathful, and warlike picture of God than the New Testament does.

Why?

It all has to do with the sort of people God was dealing with—and is still dealing with today. People who are at a low, materialistic spiritual ebb need to believe that God is angry at them so that they’ll listen to God. And the Bible is all about getting us to listen to God so that we will become more thoughtful and loving people.

"The Great Day of His Wrath," 1851-1853 oil painting by John Martin

“The Great Day of His Wrath,” 1851-1853 oil painting by John Martin

The reality behind the appearance of God’s anger and wrath is that God is never angry at us. God is love. And God never looks at us, or acts toward us, with anything but love. Even when it appears to us that God is angry, that’s just what God lets us believe when it’s necessary to dislodge us from our low and evil states of mind and heart, and move us toward accepting God’s love and wisdom into our lives.

Let’s take a closer look.

For more on the wrath of God, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed

What does it Mean to be Baptized with Water, the Holy Spirit, and Fire?

(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)

In Luke 3:16-17, John the Baptist says:

I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

What did he mean?

There are four key elements that need to be explained and understood:

  1. Baptism
  2. Baptism with water
  3. Baptism with the Holy Spirit
  4. Baptism with fire

For more on baptism, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Bible Re-Viewed

Evil Lives in a Fantasy Land

“I believe I helped Inmate Matt and Inmate Sweat escape because I was caught up in the fantasy.”

Joyce Mitchell in prison garb

Joyce Mitchell in prison garb

That’s what Joyce Mitchell said to New York State police investigators in her sworn testimony following the Shawshank Redemption style escape of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY, near the Canadian border, on June 6, 2015.

A maximum security prison seems an unlikely setting for a fantasy. But according to a Washington Post article on Joyce Mitchell’s case, “rose-tinted” prison romances are more common than you might think.

Let’s face it. Many of us encounter periods of dreariness in our lives that stretch on from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, from year to year. And a prison is an especially dreary place to work, let alone to live. Is it any wonder that those who live there (as prisoners) or work there (as employees) get caught up in fantasies and illusions of romance and of an exciting life free of the drab and dreary prison atmosphere?

But it’s more than just the dreariness of prison. Prison is a place where people who have engaged in evil and criminal actions are separated from the rest of society. Yes, of course, there are far too many wrongfully convicted people languishing in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. But the prisons also hold a large concentration of real criminals: murderers, thieves, rapists, swindlers, and so on.

Most of them live in their own fantasy world. There’s an old saying: “There are no guilty people in jail.” Just ask them. They’ll tell you.

Yes, some prisoners do admit their guilt. But many believe that they have done nothing wrong. Or they steadfastly refuse to admit that they have done anything wrong.

In short, evil lives in a fantasy land.

That is the fantasy land that Joyce Mitchell got caught up in. And her fantasy has now landed her on the wrong side of those prison bars.

For more on the fantasy of evil, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Pain and Suffering

A Short(ish) Video Course on Near-Death Experiences

Are you interested in near-death experiences, but don’t have hundreds of hours to wade through thousands of books and videos to get a solid idea of what they’re all about?

Garret Weeks - Journey of Desire

Garret Weeks

Garret Weeks has done the work for you in his ongoing YouTube video series, Journey of Desire.

Garret has watched over 4,000 videos of people recounting their near-death experiences, not to mention reading many books on the subject. He’s also read what Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) reports about the afterlife. This puts him in an ideal position to provide a short(ish) course summarizing what near-death experiences tell us about the afterlife and the spiritual realms, about the incredibly loving and wise nature of God, and about our relationship with God.

So far, Garret has posted eleven videos ranging from ten to thirty-five minutes in length. They start with a basic introduction to near-death experiences and the spiritual world. And they get better and better from there!

These are basic talking-head videos. Though they’re not packed with fancy graphics, Garret has a lively and enjoyable speaking style. And since the information is contained almost entirely in the audio, it’s possible to listen while doing other things, and get all of the beautiful information he has to offer.

The most recent video (at the time I am posting this), titled “8A-What is MISSING in ALL Near Death Experiences?” is my favorite so far. It provides a wonderful assurance, based on the reports of thousands of near-death experiencers, that God is love. God is not angry at us, and will not send us to hell or force us into anything against our will. Where we live to eternity is 100% our choice, based on what we truly love and desire.

For the full series, see the JourneyOfDesire channel on YouTube.

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Posted in The Afterlife

On Pluto, Atoms, and Other Things (such as Heaven) that Just Keep Getting More Complex

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto last week. And wow! What a bonanza!

Before this flyby, all we had were very fuzzy images of Pluto only a few pixels wide. Because Pluto is so far away, so small, and so faint, that’s the best we could do. We had very little idea what it looked like. We didn’t even know exactly how big it was. Most scientists figured that Pluto would be a gray, heavily cratered planet, battered by several billion years of impacts by asteroids and comets.

When the first close-up pictures came back, what we found instead was a young, reddish, geologically active surface with mountain ranges and plains, and hardly any craters at all.

Pluto in true color - NASA New Horizons global mosaic

Pluto in true color

This has sent scientists back to the drawing board. They had assumed that such a cold, small, and distant planetary body would be nothing but an inert, geologically inactive rock. But what we discovered when we finally got close enough to take a good look was far different, and far more complex, than anything anyone had expected.

This seems to be a pattern in science. We think we’ve got a handle on things. We think we have a pretty good idea how things work and how they will turn out.

And then we look closer and dig deeper, and find that the reality is far beyond our wildest speculations. We discover that this universe is far more complex and interesting than we had ever imagined.

For more on Pluto, atoms, and other highly complex things, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Science, Philosophy, and History, The Afterlife

Spirit: The Final Frontier

Space: The Final Frontier? - Star Trek: The Next Generation

Space: The Final Frontier?

It’s about time I ’fessed up: I am a big fan of science fiction in general, and of Star Trek in particular. Whenever I watch an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” I thrill to the grand voice of Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, intoning those inspiring words in the show’s opener:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Yet as much as I enjoy venturing with Picard and his crew on an exciting voyage into the frontiers of space (as the human mind imagines it), there is always a little voice in the back of my head saying “Yes . . . but space isn’t the final frontier.” So I offer you this modified version of that famous call to exploration:

Spirit: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Humankind. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds of spirit, to seek out new ways of living and new levels of civilization, to boldly go where we have never gone before.

For more on the final frontier, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Popular Culture, Spiritual Growth

Is there Really a Devil? Why??

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Kayla Lynn:

Dear Lee,

I’ve been having a hard time discerning the rationality of the Devil.

  1. I do not fancy the idea of a fallen angel, particularly since there is no direct story of this rebellious angel found anywhere, to my understanding, in the Bible.
  2. I do not see any need for the Devil in reality (in other words, the big picture), as humans can be quite awful on their own.
  3. However, I think, based on my understanding of human governments, if angels have a leader, then demons must also have a leader. However, that leader could possibly be God in both cases, right?
  4. Furthermore, why, even if God can create such evil (in us or in another being) in the first place, would evil be needed in the world at all? Is it to teach us a lesson or guide us?

These are my doubts at the moment, but I have had personal experiences which tell me otherwise… I could really use some direction on this subject.

Confused and seeking truth,

Thank you,

Kayla Lynn

Thanks for the great conundrum, Kayla Lynn!

I would say that you have already sensed much of the truth about the Devil.

As you say, there is little or nothing in the Bible about the Devil being a fallen angel. That idea comes mostly from books that aren’t in the Bible, and from the myths of various cultures.

In the Bible itself, the word traditionally translated “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12 is actually a reference to the King of Babylon. He is compared to the “light-bearer” (Latin: lucifer), or “morning star”—meaning the planet Venus, which appears from earth as the brightest “star” in the morning (or evening) sky. You can read the full prophecy in Isaiah 14:3–23. It predicts the downfall of the evil and oppressive king of Babylon by comparing him to the morning star falling out of heaven. The Biblical prophecy is about the fall of an earthly power, not about some supposed powerful angel who fell away from God and became Satan.

Satan, or the Devil

Satan

In the Bible, the idea of the Devil, or Satan, developed only gradually over time. In fact, the word “satan” was originally used for human enemies. Later Satan, or the Devil, became a metaphor for evil and falsity, and a personification of the spiritual forces of evil and falsity that fight against God.

Does this mean that the Devil isn’t real?

No, the Devil is very real.

It’s just that the Devil and Satan are synonyms for the whole complex of human evil and falsity. You see, we humans, and not God, were the ones who originated evil. And human evil and falsity seen as a whole is the Devil and Satan.

Wherever we see evil and falsity in the world around us, and in our own minds and hearts, that is the presence of the Devil and Satan. And anyone who has ever been the victim of human selfishness, greed, and grasping for power knows that evil and falsity are very real, and very destructive.

Let’s take a closer look.

In Part One below, we’ll look at the real, original meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words referring to the Devil, Satan, and demons. This will lead to a different view of the Devil than the one prevailing in traditional Christianity.

In Part Two, we’ll take up the question of why there is a Devil at all.

For more on the Devil and Satan, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Afterlife, The Bible Re-Viewed

What is the Biblical basis for disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity?

(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)

The theological basis for this response

This answer is based on the Bible interpretations and Christian theology put forth by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).

  • This theology is not unitarian as that is usually defined, because Swedenborg stated that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all fully divine, and are God.
  • This theology is not trinitarian as that is usually defined, because although Swedenborg stated that there is a Trinity in God, he denied that the Trinity consists of three persons, but stated that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in a single person of God.
  • It is also not modalist, as explained in this article.

Though Swedenborg’s theology has been identified with many earlier theologians and heresies rejected by Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christianity, a closer examination shows that his theology fundamentally disagrees with every such theology or heresy that has been attributed to him. To the best of my knowledge as a lifelong scholar and teacher of Swedenborg’s theology, his solution to the problem of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit presented in the Bible as being one God is unique in the history of Christian thought. It skips over all the creeds, and relies on the Bible’s own statements.

Though it is beyond the scope of the question and this answer to present a full explanation of Swedenborg’s doctrine of a Trinity in one person of God, it will be necessary to provide a brief sketch of it at the end in order to properly answer the question.

For more on the Bible and the Trinity, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

Pixar’s Movie “Inside Out”: Spiritual Takeouts

No, I don’t mean “outtakes.” Those are scenes that never made into the movie.

I’m going to serve up some tasty spiritual takeouts from the movie: scenes and themes to take with you into your day.

But first, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, do it!

It’s a computer animated kids’ movie. But don’t let that stop you. Inside Out serves up plenty of thought-provoking and heart-tugging material for adults, too. And it looks set to go down as one of the best and most original movies from one of the best and most original animation studios in the movie business. If you haven’t yet seen a Pixar movie, this would be good place to start.

What’s Inside Out all about?

The plot involves 11 year old Riley, who is going through a major life transition. She must leave behind her happy childhood home in Minnesota when her father takes a new job in San Francisco.

But the real action takes place inside Riley’s head. And the main cast of characters are her five basic emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. These five are personified and brought to life inside the spacious world of Riley’s mind, where they vie with one another to run the control panel inside her mental “headquarters.” As Riley’s outer life unfolds, we watch the story of her emotions driving all the action behind the scenes.

To get the full effect, you’ll just have to watch the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, this trailer gives you a taste:

Now here are five spiritual takeouts based on key themes in the movie.

Warning: plot spoilers below!

For spiritual takeouts from Inside Out, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Popular Culture, Spiritual Growth
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly

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