How La La Land Failed to Earn Its Ending

WARNING: Spoilers abound! If you haven't seen La La Land yet, run to the theater and do so; then come back here so we can argue about it.I love old movies, and in particular, I love old musicals. Back when I had cable, my DVR was regularly full of classic (and not-so-classic) musicals recorded off AMC. I don’t mind the lame plots (invariably: engaged people get un-engaged from the wrong people and then engaged to the right people) or the inexplicable bursting into song and dance. So when I fi … [Read More...]

Imperfect Courage: A Sermon

Readings: Judges 4:4-16; Matthew 14:22-33; Arcana Coelestia 4249 A Fearful Hero And Barak said to [Deborah], "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!" So she said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. (Judges 4:8-9) In our lesson from the Old Testament today, we read the story of Barak and Deborah, from the book of Judges. … [Read More...]

Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

Last week I posted about the things you shouldn’t say to a grieving person, or rather, what to do when a grieving person says those things to you. I linked to this list from Tom Fuerst at Ministry Matters. One of the things Tom suggests not saying: “God never gives us more than we can handle.” He explains: From everything I know about God, two things are absolutely clear:God does not “give” tragedy to people. God does not cause evil. …. I understand that there is a more nuanced philosophic … [Read More...]

Eternal Love in Heavenly Bodies

On Valentine's Day five years ago, Anne and I went out to a movie together. Well, sort of. We had met just a month and a half earlier, at a wedding in Toronto. By the new year we were on opposite sides of the world: I was back with my congregation in northwestern Canada, and she had moved to live with her parents in Singapore. Despite the distance, we kept in touch, and by February we were Skyping for hours every day. We decided that for Valentine’s Day we would go to the same movie at theatres i … [Read More...]

A Heavy Cross or an Easy Yoke?

Matt Walsh has a typically provocative post up on The Blaze entitled “If you find it easy to be a Christian, you probably aren’t one.” Is he right? There are certainly passages from the New Testament that would seem to suggest so. Jesus did say, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). But there are other New Testame … [Read More...]

A New (To Me) Swedenborgian Blog

Swedenborgian minister Lee Woofenden and his wife Annette Woofenden have been blogging on "Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life" since 2012. Somehow, I didn't come across the site until last week, despite the fact that is very well trafficked, with lively discussions on most of the posts. It's a goldmine. Lee and Annette bring unique spiritual perspective to questions posed by readers from all different religious backgrounds and walks of life. In every post, their pastoral concern and extensive k … [Read More...]

When Grievers Say the Things You’re Not Supposed To Say to Them

Over the years I've come across a number of lists of "things not to say to grieving people," sometimes along with better things to say instead. I've found these lists to be immensely helpful (and sadly I've managed to say a number of the things on them anyway). Here's one I particularly like, from Tom Fuerst at Ministry Matters. I don’t agree with Fuerst on some of his points, but on the whole I think he's spot on.Some of these things we might be inclined to say are simply too open-ended to b … [Read More...]

A Potential Collaboration?

I posted an article here listing hopes I had about an upcoming opportunity for Swedenborgian content to be featured on The Dr. Oz Show. As it turns out, the information I posted was not as public or as settled as I’d thought, so I’ve taken that post down. I plan to repost something when the “Faithful Fridays” series on the Dr. Oz Show has finished airing, and I'll put a link to that post here. I'm still excited to watch the series, the first episode of which airs today and which may contain some … [Read More...]

Breaking a Few Eggs: Donald Trump and the Toxic Principle of Guilt by Association

With all the chaos and confusion surrounding Trump’s executive order on immigration, it is hard to get a clear sense of what the order actually does. That’s why I appreciate clarifying articles like this one from Krishnadev Calamur of the Atlantic, this one from Lyman Stone of the right-leaning Federalist, and especially this one from Damon Linker of the Week.In his piece, Linker puts his finger on a strain of what worries me most in Trump’s presidency: … [Read More...]

The Extraterrestrial Problem

If you want to make a Swedenborgian squirm, bring up aliens. In several works, Swedenborg reports speaking to spirits from other planets – and not just any planets, but the planets in our solar system, including gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, as well as our own moon. Understandably, most Swedenborgians try to avoid this as a general topic of conversation; and just as understandably, critics try to bring it up early and often.How does a faithful Swedenborgian reconcile these reports with mod … [Read More...]