What’s Wrong with a Tree of Knowledge?

Swedenborgians tend to be big fans of reason. When I was growing up, my denomination branded itself as “a religion that makes sense," and there still tends to be a big focus among Swedenborgians on the intersection of faith and science.It’s easy to see why. Swedenborg himself was a scientist before he was a revelator, and even in describing his incredible visions of heaven and hell, his works express a measured, logical approach to reality. The theology in the Doctrine of the New Church (i. … [Read More...]

Learning from Children

When I learned over a month ago that Patheos would be featuring children’s spirituality on the public square, I was excited - it’s something my wife Anne and I have been thinking about a lot lately, as we’ve been instituting the Godly Play program here at New Church Westville. The fundamental principle of Godly Play is that children are inherently spiritual; what they lack is a language to articulate and refine that spirituality. In connection with this, I’ve been thinking about how to approach a … [Read More...]

Shock and Blessings

My wife is amazing. In the face of her cancer diagnosis a week and a half ago (could it possibly just have been a week and a half ago?), she has embraced life, and walked with courage and faith. And she's also cried and felt exhausted and been real and open and honest. Look at that picture: arms open, loving life, just days after hearing the bad news. I love this woman. Here's an excerpt from a recent blog post of hers on our family blog; go read the whole thing: I do much better with a plan, … [Read More...]

Hard News

I don't know if there are many people who follow this blog who wouldn't have heard through other channels, but in case there are: my wife Anne and I got the awful news last week that Anne has cancer. In particular, she has neuroendocrine tumours (NET), also known as carcinoids; we're still in the process of finding out how advanced it is, but we know a large tumour was found in her appendix, and a metastasis in her peritoneum. We'll be blogging about the journey on our family blog, and maybe to … [Read More...]

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? His Own Answer

I put up a post last year that touched on the question, "Why did Jesus have to die?" This morning Anne asked me a question I'd already been thinking about recently: why did Jesus have to die in the way He did - violently, tortured and wrongfully accused?Jesus Himself actually gave a clear answer to the question, but it's one that raises questions of its own. His answer? "All this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled" (Matthew 26:56).Again, this answer raises que … [Read More...]

Two Snarky Comics and a Sermonette on Science

About two weeks ago, I went on a one-day low-carb diet. It was not out of any affinity for Dr. Atkins or Tim Noakes or my palaeolithic ancestors. Instead, I was intentionally starving my body of carbohydrates so that the next day I could be injected with a radioactive sugar and then lie in a machine that would take three-dimensional internal scans of my body and monitor the gamma-ray emissions from the sugar to detect whether any parts of my body were absorbing it at an inordinate rate, which … [Read More...]

Cut from the Sermon: What Jesus Said About His Coming

This past Sunday, I preached on the Second Coming of the Lord - asking "what is the Second Coming, and what does it mean to me?" Give it a listen. This sermon was a tough one - the first draft was double the length it needed to be, so there was a fair amount of painful cutting. I always find it particularly hard to cut Scripture passages; maybe posting these sections here will help assuage the pain a little. The first section I cut way back was on the Lord's words about His purpose in His first … [Read More...]

Cut from the Sermon: Feeling Guilty about Being Serene

On Sunday I preached about life going on after death - both for the person who has died, and for the people left behind (click here for sermon audio). In the first draft of my sermon I considered building on comments about a passage from 2 Samuel that our head pastor Malcolm had made in his sermon last week; I ended up cutting it because it took too long to frame and the sermon was long already. The passage recounts what King David said when his infant son died: "I shall go to him, but he shall n … [Read More...]

Idolatry: Staring at Your Own Finger

A month or so ago I was trying to put Samuel (one and a half) to bed and he was being a complete goofball: swaying from side to side, dancing in circles, and cycling through all his animal sounds in rapid succession. As I lay there on his bed, my primary thought was, "Ugh - do I have time to go get my phone to film this? It's too dark anyway. Shoot! This would be PERFECT to share on Facebook." After several minutes agonising over how I might be able to record this - all the while only half … [Read More...]

The World As It Is, or As It Ought to Be?

Anne and I have identified a fundamental difference in the way we look at the world - a difference that ends up being behind a significant percentage of our disagreements and arguments. In simplest terms, the difference is this: I tend to look at the world as it is, and Anne tends to look at the world as it ought to be. This isn’t to claim I have any special insight into the way the world works. It’s also not to say that Anne is naive, or that I lack visions and ideals. It’s rather a matter of pe … [Read More...]


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