Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Review: The Symbolism of the Psalms, A Spiritual Commentary

I recently authored a book, The Symbolism of the Psalms, which is a comprehensive spiritual commentary on Psalms 1-41 based on the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. It is also a new translation of the Psalms based on modern Biblical research, which affects the interpretation of certain passages. I have been waiting for the right moment to publish volumes 2 and 3, but I am currently involved in investigating some secret numerical codes hidden in the Psalms which I discovered by analyzing Hebrew poetic structures of the Psalms, and it is becoming a completely separate work in itself (thus the lack of blog posts). A reader of this blog, David Deaton, decided to write a book review, and after several attempts at finding an avenue for publication I suggested I could post it here on this blog.  Here is the full review, unedited, although I am tempted to explain the hidden meaning behind the book cover [hint, read the back cover]:

Book Review-

The Symbolism of the Psalms: A Spiritual Commentary
Volume 1 (Psalms 1-41)
Theodore D. Webber
Apocryphile Press, 2017, 557 pp.

It’s hard to believe that one of the greatest achievements of New Church collateral literature has just been made by a person with no extraordinary academic qualifications or even formal affiliation to the organized New Church, but the proof is in the reading...

Those who are curious as to the author’s background may know that Theodore D. Webber has a degree in Near Eastern Studies from U.C. Berkeley and has made his living these last twenty years as an IT director at a large financial firm in New Jersey. During his off-hours, Webber maintains an eclectic, religiously-themed blog called “Spirituality, Dreams and Prophecy,” which can be visited at:

In brief, Webber has done for the book of Psalms what Emmanuel Swedenborg, has done for the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation, in providing a detailed exegesis of Sacred Scripture, using the very system of correspondences revealed to Swedenborg. When Webber’s work is published in full, it will comprise three stout volumes of textual analysis, most of which is drawn directly from the Writings themselves. References scattered over thirty volumes of the Rotch Edition will be gathered into one easily accessed collection. “This work brings together this information to create a comprehensive spiritual commentary for each Psalm,” writes Webber. “In this manner, scripture is used to systematically explain scripture.”

In his excellent introduction “The Spiritual Meaning of the Psalms,” Webber poses this challenge to any prospective reader who may never before have heard of the Writings. “Most who read the Bible take it on faith, or on the basis of church authority and tradition, that it is Divinely inspired. But what about a systematic proof, using internal evidence from the text itself, to demonstrate that it is indeed Divinely inspired?”

Webber answers his own challenge by deciphering the variously authored Old Testament liturgy known as the book of Psalms to show its internal consistency. For each and every Psalm, he provides his own fresh translation, a terse summary taken straight from the treatise informally known as Prophets and Psalms (contained in Posthumous Theological Works, Vol. 2), and then an exhaustive exposition proceeding line-by-line, sometimes word-by-word, replete with copious biblical cross-references. There’s everything here but the sheet music! (Not available to us, anyway.)

Webber does more than collate scattered references to the Psalms into one harmonious whole. The man can write as surely as he can edit, and, when the text demands greater clarity, he thinks for himself. Below is a brief example of Webber’s editorial grappling, which, whether one agrees with it or not, demonstrates that one can have an independent mind and still be (to use an old-fashioned term) a true New Churchman:

But You have made him a little lower than God,
And have crowned him with glory and grandeur.  (Ps. 8:5)

The word for “God” is mistranslated as “angels” in most translations to make this Psalm refer to mankind in general. However this is a prophecy concerning the coming of the Lord, who lowered Himself to become incarnate in human form and is thus described as “a little lower than God.” The elevation of His human form to Divinity is then described as being crowned, which also signifies a state of wisdom from love. [Scriptural citations follow.] To give glory and grandeur means to ascribe all truth and good to the Lord.

Let it stay moot just which translation of the word Elohim is the more accurate. Webber’s observation is clear and concise, and does not distract from the rest of his commentary, solidly based on the Writings. What else matters? It isn’t often that Webber asserts himself over received opinion and conventional translation, but he never does so without providing just cause and due diligence. In such instances, it’s exhilarating to see familiar material explored by an original mind.

I learned something profoundly new when I read Webber’s analysis of the much loved 23rd Psalm, especially his parsing of “Your rod and staff comfort me.” I was made to realize that rod (often made of iron) corresponds to truth while a staff (usually made of wood) corresponds to good, both of which we receive from the Lord when we allow Him to shepherd us. Maybe these correspondences have been expounded elsewhere, but it was Webber’s explanation that finally unfolded the meaning of this familiar line to me. I’m still pondering the heartening implications of the word, “comfort,” which I learned means “to protect.” Now apply the same meaning of that word to the mysterious Divine function sometimes referred to as “The Comforter.” Consider that with the Lord’s Glorification, in which He assumed Divinely Human power, He can protect us that much more. What a comforting thought! Such insights fulfill Webber’s promise at the outset of his tome: “Once one’s mind becomes abstracted from the literal sense, it is lifted up towards higher concepts of love and truth, and the most obscure passages become relevant to one’s everyday life.”

We in the New Church know that beyond everyday life, the Psalms refer to the greatest—indeed the only—life ever lived. Were it not for the Writings, we might never guess at the genuinely merciful spirit behind the so-called “vengeful Psalms,” of which even their composers were apparently unaware. It is no mere background information to be apprised that “David” represents the Lord as to His Divine Human—God become man in the Person of Jesus Christ. Some readers have been put off by David’s all-too human failings, which can make his apparent self-righteousness expressed in the Psalms that much more insufferable. It helps us to know that what may appear as self-pitying complaining or vindictive score-settling reflects a deeper reality of the Lord’s direful spiritual combats against the hells. While David was fighting for his life and reputation, the Lord on earth was fighting to rescue the human race from total damnation. So severe were the Lord’s spiritual struggles (known to us by the mild term “temptations”), only the highly charged language of the Psalms can give us some idea of what He suffered on our behalf. Keeping this thought in mind raises even the most bloody-minded Psalm into a higher dimension. The personal becomes metaphysical.

Elaborating on this point, Webber produces a list of prophecies recorded therein that Jesus literally fulfilled while on earth—but then draws up a list of prophecies seemingly not fulfilled by Him. How are we to understand the latter? “Many now” he relates, “assume these will be fulfilled in the future when He returns in the Second Coming. But is this the proper way to interpret these prophecies, that God will come in anger to judge the world, destroy the wicked by fire, and rule over the kingdoms of the earth?”

This is no idle question when one ponders the vast popularity of the Left Behind fiction series or such “apocalyptic” works as The Late Great Planet Earth, whose author, Hal Lindsey, was invited to lecture on the imminence of Armageddon to high-level personnel at the Pentagon. Only a deeper, more spiritual understanding of Scripture may save us from the designs of a Military-Eschatological Complex. It can only be hoped that Jewish apocalypticians, who have great influence on the government of Israel, may yet become acquainted with a more enlightened interpretation of the Psalms. They are still focused on religious and geo-political conflict, rather than spiritual warfare. Some zealots have taken Psalm 83 in particular as a literal, Divinely-mandated prescription for all-out war on each of Israel’s neighbors. When the world understands that our real enemies are not those of other nations, but the evils and falsities of own selfish nature, it will become a safer place—and not a moment too soon!

While there is so much to say in praise of Webber’s magnificent work, no author’s book is perfect, especially one that seems to be one notch above being self-published. At the risk of appearing petty, it must be noted that his manuscript could have benefited from the oversight of a keen copy-editor: typographical errors abound. Not to call it an error, but it takes some getting used to Webber’s reference to Heavenly Arcana, which seems like a compromise between the Latin title Arcana Coelestia and the New Century Edition title Secrets of Heaven. I prefer the old familiar titles, and so does Webber, apparently, with this exception. If only for the sake of consistency, it’s too bad he didn’t stay with the titles listed in the Rotch Edition, which would have enabled him to use abbreviated titles for the Writings, a real space-saver.

It must be said that in its ambition to be as compendious as Pott’s Concordance, there occurs some unnecessary repetition of material from the Writings. Textual redundancy can give this opus the feel of a generalized cut-and-paste job, which is all but inevitable with a one-man publishing project. O for a professional editor, who knows just when and where to prune!

Here’s an example of what I mean:

From your rebuke, Jehovah,
From the breath of the spirit of Your nostrils. (Ps. 18:15)
A pithy commentary follows (scriptural references removed): “The rebuke of Jehovah is the punishment of evil; wind or breath of the Lord signifies Divine influx of the truth into the lower regions which punishes the falsehood of evil; spirit signifies Divine truth.”

Well said. But since some words have not yet been expounded (i.e. “breath”), there follow four more pages of biblical citation, quotation, and explication for just this one verse. Untried readers of the Writings may feel they’re being subjected to expository overkill. Sometimes less is more. When Webber has completed his multi-volume exegesis of all 150 Psalms, he might consider publishing a single condensed commentary of their internal sense, which may have wider appeal for first-time and even well-versed readers.

Finally, there is the question of the book’s cover. It’s a lovely picture, to be sure, but what is it doing on a staid reference text?

All of the above are quibbles, however, compared to the magnitude of Webber’s achievement. There is nothing said here in the way of criticism that can’t be fixed in a second edition, which surely deserves to happen.

New Church scholars may have stronger objections other than those raised here. If so, they should make their suggestions to the author while it is still a work-in-progress—or publish something of comparable scope and depth. For now at least, especially given its inspired content, this rendition of the Psalms stands above all others. This is a noble work, a labor of love, and a worthy addition to any New Church library.

Whether or not it is noticed by mainstream theological schools, The Symbolism of the Psalms deserves to be recognized as a major contribution to biblical hermeneutics. Here is an opportunity for those unacquainted with the Writings to learn the language of correspondences, whereby even more challenging portions of the Bible can become understandable to them. Imagine the thrill of realizing that the Symbolism of the Psalms, far from being an arbitrary interpretation, reveals a code of such surpassing ingenuity, it can only be Divine—and it applies to all of the rest of the Lord’s own Word, making it at last an open book for humanity!

We in the New Church cannot be so thrilled. The Symbolism of the Psalms is old news to us.
But this book is new—brand new—and should give cause for gratitude and wonder to anyone who reads it.

David Brooks Deaton

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, November 10, 2017

Spiritual Gifts, the Spiritual Body and the Afterlife

Recently a friend introduced me to a person who has had similar spiritual experiences to that of Emanuel Swedenborg, but had the unfortunate experience of being honest and public about it as a child to his religious mother.  His mother than would call it "of the devil" and would proceed to take him to church so they could exorcise the demon out of him. Like Swedenborg, he had experienced out of the body astral projection and communication with the spiritual realm.  He would at times, when constantly prodded, deliver a "message" to a person and it would completely blow them away. He had a bit of clairvoyance: he could basically describe the contents of gifts under the Christmas tree, completely ruining the surprise out of it all.

Along with my friend we met for dinner, like me he is a working professional and for the most part is completely private about it.  My friend was seeking a scientific answer for spiritual phenomenon.  And this is the root of the problem: the scientific method has limitations.  The scientific method is based on what is observed, and the observation must be repeated. The weakness of the scientific method is that it is dependent on observation from the external senses. Spiritual phenomenon however is not based on the external senses, but internal perception which cannot be observed. And its not always repeatable. Witness testimony "does not count." Witness testimony, I explained, is good in a court of law, but in the scientific method it is completely rejected as "anecdotal." Religious revelations are founded on witness testimony, not on scientific evidence, hence the disagreement between science and religion. Religions also tend to degenerate based on traditions of men, and it is an inherent problem with institutions such as the Catholic Church, which use traditions and authority as major pillars of truth, often falsifying the original revelation of Christianity.

His comment was, with spiritual gifts one must not question, or try to explain it, he almost regarded it as a sin to try to put science on the whole matter. The other part I explained here, is that spiritual gifts are based on internal perception, and one must suspend analytical or rational thought, as that stops the internal flow of information. I explained some methods the CIA supposedly used in using psychic phenomenon to spy on others.

The other wanted an explanation, and the root of the problem is that the spiritual world interacts with our material world, but it is outside of time and space. I then explained that we all have a spiritual body that does not interact with light. Similar to dark matter - dark matter does not interact with light, but we know its there because it interacts with gravity. But if there is a material substance that does not interact with light or gravity, we would never directly observe it. That the soul is a spiritual substance that lives after death, is explained in several passages by Swedenborg:
"[A person] leaves absolutely nothing after death, excepting his bones and flesh, which, while he lived in the world, were not animated from themselves, but from the life of his spirit, which was his purer substance annexed to the things of the body." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2475)
" is to be known that the spirit of man is in his body, in the whole and in every part of it; and that it is its purer substance, both in its organs of motion and in those of sense, and everywhere else; and that the body is the material part that is everywhere annexed to it, adapted to the world in which it then is." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4659)
It was this passage in particular where one can derive that the spiritual world does not interact directly with light:
"Spirits themselves are forms, that is, consist of continuous forms, equally with men, but of a purer nature, and not visible to the bodily sight. And because these forms or substances are not visible to the corporeal eye, man at this day apprehends no otherwise than that knowledges and thoughts are abstract things; hence also comes the folly of our age, that men do not believe that they have a spirit within them which is to live after the death of the body, when yet this spirit is a substance much more real than the material substance of its body; yea, if you will believe it, the spirit, after being freed from corporeal things, is that very purified body..." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3726.4)
I did not explain the source of my knowledge, but after I said that we all have a spiritual body that does not interact with light, this person who has has certain remarkable spiritual gifts then looked at me and explained one event, in which he was in the hospital room visiting his brother-in-law. He was on his deathbed, and they were keeping him company. His spiritual vision opened, and he saw an energy of light then leave the body. He then told everyone in the room. "He is gone."  They at first did not know what he meant, but a few moments later he flat-lined. The material body, no longer enclosing the spiritual body, was no longer sustained, for it is one's spiritual body that gives life to the material one.

He later showed me various books he had been reading to understand his own experiences, I recommended to him Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg. He had never heard of him, I explained he had the same abilities as he, but much more extensive. Due to his adverse experience he was against traditional forms of religion, so I did not explain the Christian theology revealed to Emanuel Swedenborg but only stated that traditional religious leaders did not like what Swedenborg had to say due to their false teachings.

It is a bit sad traditional churches are where they are, not recognizing or discerning spiritual gifts. But people who have these gifts are out there, and since spiritual gifts are suppressed or looked down upon - or distorted for one's own self ego - they tend to be alienated by traditional churches. And in this manner, the churches have departed from Paul's instruction on this matter:
Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thes. 5:19-21)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Prophecy of Future Devastating Hurricanes for America

This year America has withdrawn from the Paris Climate accord, and due to global warming the hurricanes are destined to become more intense. And it just so happens that in this one year, there will be at least two devastating hurricanes: hurricane Harvey has hit Houston Texas with devastating effect, and hurricane Irma will probably devastate a large portion of southern Florida. Texas and Florida have traditionally voted Republican, and the Republican party has been largely responsible in lying to the public over the reality of global warming and sea level rise.

It is scientifically undeniable that human activity has been a major cause of global warming. From the NASA web site:
In its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded there's a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet.
The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there's a better than 95 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth's temperatures over the past 50 years.
A major cause of global warming has been the burning of fossil fuels. And the oil industry has been tightly coupled with the American government in denying the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels, and there has been a secret suppression of alternative methods of energy in order to support the fossil fuel industry. It is also tightly coupled with the global economy: all countries must purchase oil in U.S. dollars. Thus the U.S. has economic leverage over the world, by maintaining a fiat currency that it can leverage over others. This is the reason why the U.S. went to war with Iraq, as the Iraqi regime began to shift the sale of oil from the U.S. dollar to the Euro. It is also the reason why we went to war against Libya, as the regime there sought to move Africa to an alternative currency (see Libyan Oil, Gold, and Qaddafi: The Strange Email Sidney Blumenthal Sent Hillary Clinton In 2011). The beauty of the internet, secrets are hard to keep secret.


So, it is timely now to recall the prophecies of Anton Johansson, who was given heavenly visions of the future, and foresaw the sinking of the Titanic as well as the outbreak of World War I. His prophecies are both remarkable and dire. I covered his prophecies back in 2007 in the blog post Prophecies of a Future War with Russia. Here is the relevant portion:
Johansson foresaw three great hurricanes before the coming of the Franco-Spanish War. The hurricanes he describes are intense and nothing like we have ever seen before. Some interpreters have doubted what he said concerning these hurricanes, and thought he might be describing atomic weaponry. One hurricane will begin around Panama, affect the Gulf states and Florida, and will move in a wide belt along the Missisippi and gather strength around the Great Lakes. Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington and New York will suffer. Skyscrapers will rock and collapse, and wide areas will be set on fire. From Canada the hurricane will travel across the Atlantic and hit west and south-west Europe. No hurricane has ever behaved in this manner. We now know that the earth's weather is gradually warming, and due to global warming hurricanes and tornadoes are going to become more frequent and intense. America is primarily responsible for much of the global warming, though the government does not want to admit it. Global deforestation is also a contributing factor. What goes around, comes around. The hurricanes will be so great that America will not recover from the devastation.
What is even more sobering, is the other prophecies are even worse. Great plagues will break out and kill large portions of the human population. These will come out at the time of great wars, and they are so devastating that one suspects now it will be caused by biological weaponry. Anton Johansson's most famous future prophecy concerns a future invasion of Sweden by Russia, which at that time will become allied with France. And we now see a split between America and Russia over western intervention in Ukraine (see CIA Blowback in Ukraine, and Love your Neighbor and Pray for Peace in Ukraine) and the expansion of NATO. NATO has recognized the danger, and thus there are increased patrols over the Baltic states. The negative western media against Russia is non-stop, when in reality America and Russia should engage in cooperation and friendship with each other against future common threats.

So hopefully this is a wake-up call, both to those who deny the causes of global warming, and those who are pushing against Russia to make it yet again an "enemy" for the west to support its goals over dominating the world's resources.