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The New Church In The New World - A Study Of Sw...
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THE NEW CHURCH IN THE NEW WORLD- A STUDY OF SWEDENBORGIANISM IN AMERICA by MARGUERITE BECK. PREFACE: In this study of the New Church in America I have not attempted to write a history of the organization for New Church people. That task I have left for some future New Church historian. I have no doubt omitted the names of many who contributed much to the upbuilding of the church in various parts of the country, and have failed to trace the development of many important local Societies. For this reason the book will seem inadequate to the members of the New Church. My purpose has been rather to write for the genera public a description of an almost unknown religious body, an answer to the puzzled question, What is the New Church For it has seemed to me that, though numerically speaking this body stands close to the bottom of the list of American churches, judged qualitatively it deserves a far higher rating. When I undertook this project I knew prac tically nothing about the New Church, and very little about Swedenborg, but what little I did know had piqued my in terest The promise of adventure which lures all explorers, Something hidden, go and find it, has in this case been amply fulfilled. For not only has a study of the writings of Swedenborg revealed enough of deep interest and value to keep a student of religion happily at work for many a long month, but the New Church itself has proved a rich field for study along the lines of historical and social research. This book is an attempt to sketch the more colorful aspects of its history, and to show its relation to the social and cul tural environment in which it has had its growth, I have endeavored to combine a sympathetic attitude with complete objectivity, so far as that is possible. The objectivity, however, has been more difficult than the sympathy. For everywhere in the New Church I have encountered nothing but unfailing kindness and cooperation, the warmest of hospitality. I have been graciously received at business meetings and social functions, and allowed free access to libraries and to documentary material. Even the skeleton in the closet has not been withheld. Both at Bryn Athyn and at Urbana I have been given every opportunity to get first-hand knowledge of the theory and practice of New Church education. If I have failed to understand what I have seen it is not the fault of the New Church. There are, however, many things which an outsider can never under stand, and for such errors of misinterpretation I can only offer my profound regrets. If I have seemed to dwell too much on negative aspects of controversy it is only because to an historian such aspects are the most interesting, revealing as they do the clash of conflicting ideas and principles which characterizes human thought. Also the New Church is par ticularly interesting in this respect as a perfect example in miniature of what seems to be the normal course of develop ment of any new religion. The psychological conflicts of adolescence are common to human institutions as well as to human individuals, and it is only a very old religion that has ceased to argue...

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Stand: 30.09.2020
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