Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Spiritual Meaning of the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8)



It is true that Jesus came to save the world, that He is God incarnate in human form, who needed to come to this planet to open the way again between heaven and humanity.  The Lord came at the end of the Jewish dispensation, when the Jewish religion was nothing more than a superficial hypocritical religion, where the Jews regarded themselves as superior to others and only expected a Messiah that would allow them to rule over others. But from the beginning Jesus was misunderstood, and over the centuries Christianity has become so corrupt that there is very little of the original message, and it has been corrupted by falsehoods. And when Christianity became so corrupt that it was at its final state, in the 18th century a heavenly revelation was given to Emanuel Swedenborg to restore its state to its original intended form. And this is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Second Coming

The two essential truths that have become corrupted and falsified in modern Christian churches, which the general public is unaware of, are as follows:
  1. God is One personal Being of Love, revealed in Jesus Christ in human form. Jesus is one and the same as Jehovah of the Jews of the Old Testament.
  2. A spiritual life is obtained by turning away from evil and doing good, acknowledging that the power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit conquers evil and sinful tendencies within us.
In place of this, modern Christian churches have supplanted Christianity with a form of tritheism in a belief of three persons, where they have no idea which person they should pray to when they pray. Although they claim to be monotheistic in the mouth, in their mind there is a tritheism of three personal beings. And instead of focusing on doing good in one's life, the focus is on "faith" which is again misinterpreted as belief alone (it in fact means, living by the truth). Instead of repentance the false theology of vicarious atonement is taken to mean that sins are merely removed by a confession in a belief statement. In its worst form, false Christianity is nothing more than an external appearance used to hide one's hidden evils. This is the false religion of the Antichrist, foretold in the book of Revelation as a false tritheistic idol that makes itself appear to be Christian (see The Prophecy of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet).

The book of Revelation is a revelation of how the Christian churches would become utterly corrupt in its end. Anyone can see historically how the churches suffered not only from early heresies but what exactly was true about Jesus, beginning especially in the fourth century beginning with the Council of Nicea. But that this was foreseen in the Bible can be shown from the interpretation of Revelation 13:8, which has also not been understood:
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)
It is known to many that the "Lamb" represents Jesus, for a lamb represents innocence, the highest form of good. But unknown to many is this: the Lamb represents how Jesus made His very human form Divine. And this Divine Human is the Son, not a separate personal being as is so often told in a lie that no one understands. In Jesus there is a Holy Trinity of soul, body and spirit. A Trinity of three persons is a fiction, an idol that has entered the most Holy of holies of the churches, misleading many and causing those who have any rational thought to leave the church as naturalistic atheists.

The other portion of this text that is misunderstood is that "slain from the foundation of the world" is taken to mean that this refers to the pre-existence of Christ before creation. Jesus did pre-exist as God before creation, as all of creation was created by the Divine truth or the Word, and Jesus is the "Word made flesh" (John 1:14). But this is not the meaning of the text: the "foundation of the world" is not the beginning of creation, it refers to the foundation of the Christian church, for throughout scripture the words "earth" and "world" do not refer the physical globe of the earth or creation but rather to the church itself.

What it means is that from the very beginning of the foundation of the Christian church, at the beginning of the world age of the Christian dispensation, Jesus has been misunderstood and rejected. The claim that the Christian church would become corrupt is not a new claim, it was foretold in Biblical prophecy in the first century. Swedenborg explains this in his works Apocalypse Revealed as well as Apocalypse Explained:
"Slain from the foundation of the world, signifies the Lord's Divine Human not acknowledged from the first establishment of the church. ...From the foundation of the world signifies the first establishment of the church, as well the Jewish as the Christian. It is known that the Jews did not acknowledge the Lord's Divine Human. That the Roman Catholics do not, is also known: and that neither do the Reformed, see above (n. 294). The creation of the world is not meant here by the foundation of the world, but the establishment of the church: for by the world, in the widest sense, the whole world is meant, and as well the good as the evil in it, and sometimes the evil only; but in a sense not the widest, the same is meant by the world as by the globe and by the earth, that is, the church. That the church is signified by the globe, may be seen n. 551; and by the earth n. 285. That by founding the globe and the earth is signified to establish the church, and that by the founding and the foundation of them is signified establishment may be evident from Isa. xxiv. 18; xl. 21; xlviii. 12, 13; li. 16, 17; lviii. 12; Jer. xxxi. 37; Mic. vi. 1, 2; Zech. xii. 1; Ps. xviii. 7, 15; xxiv. 1, 2; lxxxii. 5; lxxxix. 11. That the world also signifies the church (Matt. xiii. 37-39; Joel i. 9, 10). And that the Lord is called the Saviour of the world, from faith in Him (John iii. 16-19; iv. 42; vi. 33, 51; viii. 12; ix. 4, 5; xii. 46, 47). That the world also means the people of the church (John xii. 19; xviii. 20). It may be seen from this what is signified by the foundation of the world; also, Matt. xxv. 34; Luke xi. 50; John xvii. 24; Apoc. xvii. 8." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 589).
And again:
"Slain from the foundation of the world, signifies whose Divine in His Human has not been acknowledged from the first establishment of this church. This is evident from the signification of "the Lamb slain or killed," as being not acknowledged (see above, n. 315a, 328a, 328b), here that His Divine in His Human has not been acknowledged (of which presently). Also from the signification of "the foundation of the world," as being the first establishment of the church. For "the world" signifies in the Word several things, namely, the world in general, also both those who are good and those who are evil in it, also the evil only who are in the world, and so also the hells. "The world" has also a similar signification as "the earth," namely, the church; and that is also here meant by "the foundation of the world," as also in Matthew:—

The King shall say to them on the right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (xxv. 34).

The Lord is not acknowledged when His Divine in His Human is not acknowledged, for the reason that the Lord is not then regarded as God, but only as a man, who is not able to save. And although it is believed from the Athanasian Creed that the Lord is the Son of God born from eternity, and that His Divine is equal to the Divine of the Father, yet (since they separate His Human from His Divine) they divide the Lord as it were into two persons, which they call natures, making the Lord one thing as the Son of God from eternity, and another as the son of Mary. And because they so divide the Lord no one is able to approach Him unless he is willing to approach Him as one person when regarded as God and as another when regarded as man. Such has been the idea of the Lord from the first foundation of the church, as can be seen from the writings of the fathers, and afterwards from the writings of their sons. The Lord has been thus divided in the church from its beginning, because they did not understand the Word. For where the Lord mentions the Father it is believed that a Divine distinct from His Human is meant, although it is clearly evident in Matthew and in Luke that the Lord was conceived by the very Divine which is called the Father, consequently that this very Divine is in His Human as a soul is in its body; and the soul and the body are one Person. And what is wonderful, this is taught in express terms in the Athanasian Creed, which is the doctrine concerning God in the whole Christian world, and yet scarcely any one in that confession gives any heed to it." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 807).
I decided to write this because of this coronavirus pandemic: it is causing many of these old churches to shutter and close down, and many will not survive the financial losses they experience.  And that, my friends, can be a very good thing. For the old churches must die in order for the New Church to be reborn anew. This coronavirus pandemic is going to change many things in this world, and it is my prayer that this will be one of them.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Free Cross-Platform Multiplayer Games for Old Computers



As many are forced to stay at home due to this coronavirus pandemic leading to mass social isolation, I thought I would share here some useful resources for network multiplayer gaming as a way to socialize and connect with others. While it is certainly not healthy to become isolated or addicted to gaming, on the other hand multiplayer gaming provides a means to connect with others.

I did quite a bit of research, using the following criteria:
  1. The game must be free
  2. The game must allow for a multiplayer game play over the network or internet. Local multiplayer games are excluded
  3. The game must work on slow computers
  4. The game must not require the OpenGL 3.x standard (or higher) in order to support older graphics cards
  5. The game must allow for cross platform game play across Windows & Linux
  6. The game must not be excessively violent or contain inappropriate content
Some of these games have built in chat, others do not, but that can easily be rectified by downloading a chat program such as Discord, Zoom or Skype. Old computers will operate faster on Linux. For an old computer with an old graphics card that did not support OpenGL 3.x or higher, I installed Lubuntu 19.10 so that I could dual boot between both Windows and Linux.

Regrettably I had to exclude some good games because of lack of OpenGL 3.x support on the old graphics card. But in the end I found a rather large selection of games that will provide hours of game play.  I have divided the games into the following categories:
  1. Online Board Games
  2. Turn Based Strategy Games
  3. Realtime Strategy Games
  4. MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG)
  5. Arcade Games
  6. First Person Shooter Games
Some games can be installed directly through the Linux distribution, others have their own site, and others can be installed directly using the Steam distribution client.

ONLINE BOARD GAMES

If you are into old school board games, board games have been revived by several online services that allow you to play them over the internet.  And these work in a browser without any special installation. ChessKid is a site that is perfect for introducing children to the game of chess. There are websites that include all sorts of games, and from a cursory search found the following websites:
  1. Board Game Arena 
  2. Yucata 
  3. Boiteajeux 
  4. TableTopia
There are others, for a full review see 6 Best Sites to Play Board Games Online for Free!

Most games can be simply played for free, either among friends and family or complete strangers.  Some games however can only be played behind a pay firewall, but there are plenty of choices here. I prefer strategy games, a simple popular one I would probably try first is Carcassonne. More complicated ones of interest are Puerto RicoEl Grande and Scythe.

If you have that one favorite unique board or card game, you may need to look elsewhere. For example if you are into the Dominion card game, you can play it here: Dominion Online (for a review see The online board game Dominion is the only thing keeping me sane during coronavirus). Another popular game is Settlers of Catan, and you can play that online here: CATAN Universe. For an example of game play using Zoom to connect with friends, see I played a long-distance version of Settlers of Catan, the wildly popular and complex board game, with 3 of my friends. Here's how you can do it from your own home.

TURN BASED STRATEGY GAMES

Similar to the category of online board games are turn based strategy (TBS) games, which either require more investment in time or play out over a period of days. You are going to need to find dedicated gamers for this type of game. Many of these games have extra mods providing even more replayability value. Here are the free games that have clients that run on both Windows and Linux:
UFO: Alien Invasion is a bit different from the rest and is based on a popular game series, and is more a tactical turn based shooter. Demise of Nations and Age of Conquest IV are made by the same company and are mostly free, but according to Some thoughts on Demise of Nations, a 4X strategy game you may need to pay more to access their servers if you play frequently. 0 A.D. may offer more diverse game play since it is still under active development (see Waiting for Age of Empires 4? 0 A.D. is the next best thing).

REALTIME STRATEGY GAMES

If you are the impatient kind and can't stand waiting for someone to take their turn, then consider real time strategy (RTS) type of games. Everything happens in realtime, and you have limited time to make the correct decisions and have to react to rapidly changing events. If that is your style here are the free games that can be played on both Windows and Linux
  • Galcon 2: Galactic Conquest on Steam - the most simple RTS game here, very basic 2D map involving numbers. Just do the math. Really quick.
  • Istrolid on Steam - design your own spaceship and have them fight in real time. All in 2D.
  • King Arthur's Gold - this is a medieval build and kill game, with destrutible environments, that went free to play. It can be installed via the Steam client: see King Arthur's Gold on Steam
  • MegaGlest - an open source project that forked from the earlier game Glest, it is available for download in many Linux distros.
  • Netpanzer - a tank RTS game, available for download in Linux distros.
  • OpenRA  - an open source project based on Westwood Studios' 2D Command and Conquer games. They have implementations of Dune 2000, Red Alert and Tiberian Dawn.
  • Warzone 2100 - a commercial game that has been converted into an open source project, available for download in Linux distros or from Steam
Out of all these, the one that is most interesting here is King Arthur's Gold, which looks insanely fun to play. Its 2D and has different mods, and someone made a mod to make it look like Minecraft. This one was perhaps one of my most interesting finds, it is not a well known game.  Here is a review:


MMORPG GAMES

MMORPG are Massively Multiplayer online RPG games, which can be fun if you dive in with a group of friends. The caveat here is that the online player community will make the experience good or bad - they can be friendly or they can be toxic. Also after the first few introductory levels you may tend to go through repetitive grinds to level up, unless you pay for it to speed up the progress. But initially it can provide hours of fun. MMORPG games that have Linux support without requiring OpenGL 3.x include Warspear Online and Wild Terra Online. There are many others for Linux, see 8 Free MMORPGs That Run Natively on Linux and Linux Compatible MMOs & MMORPGs.  See the "honorable mentions" section below for two MMORPG that I would recommend since they include tactical turn based combat which is good for team play.

ARCADE GAMES

For faster and more simple play, the following games have clients for both Windows and Linux, and either operate off of servers on the internet or servers that can be setup locally on your own computer:
  • Altitude on Steam - a multiplayer 2D plane fighter game, a well polished game. Requires the Steam client.
  • Armagetron Advanced :: a Tron clone in 3D - remember the movie Tron and its reboot? You can now experience it in 3D.
  • Awesomenauts - the 2D moba on Steam - another well polished game, a massive multiplayer platform game.
  • BitFighter - a 2D space shooter, where you can design your own levels. It is similar to another game called Subspace Continuum, but unfortunately the latter only operates on Windows.
  • Blobby Volley 2 - you get to play volleyball as blobs of jello. Simple and fun. It can also be installed via the Linux distribution.
  • BZFlag - a tank battle in 3D, this can be installed via the Linux distribution.
  • Frozen Bubble - a simple arcade game.
  • HYPERFIGHT on Steam - a free version of Street Fighter. OK graphics but apparently fun to play.
  • ManiaDrive - a free clone of TrackMania, a 3D car race game
  • Rustbucket Rumble on Steam - a 2D fighter game between robots, where you try to capture the other robot and put him in the recycling machine to make yourself a stronger robot
  • StarBreak on Steam - this one has been described as a "Free Sidescrolling Permadeath MMO." You cannot setup your own server for this one.
  • Teeworlds - a free multiplayer platform game for up to 16 players, it can also be installed via Steam. A variant of this game has been created called Ninslash which is still under development but can be freely played right now.
FIRST PERSON SHOOTERS

And now we come to first person shooters, and from this I excluded some choices due to their violent content. Team Fortress 2 is perhaps the most popular but it unfortunately did not make the cut, it is a CPU and graphics hog and my laptop could not handle it. There are many other options to choose from, but I found most of these could run on my Linux setup:
  • Doom, a port of the old DOS classic that started it all (technically Wolfenstein 3D did).  You can install this through the Linux distribution using Chocolate Doom. There are other engines available that provide higher resolutions but may depend on OpenGL. There are also engines for old DOS games such as Hexen and Heretic.
  • Double Action Boogaloo - in this the main objective is to die like a stuntman, with style, and in slow motion. 
  • Dystopia on Steam - a cyberpunk version between hackers and agents. A mod of the Half life engine, this one has received a lot of positive reviews.
  • Hexen World - another modern port of the Hexen and Heretic classics
  • Nexuiz, Rexuiz, and Xonotic - these three share the same code base and are basic FPS games.
  • Tremulous - an asymmetric FPS between aliens and humans. This one I could not fully test due to lack of online servers.
  • True Combat Elite  - team based FPS emphasizing tactical coordination, currently has an active community
HONORABLE MENTIONS AND OTHER IDEAS?

Everyone will have their own preference here, and in a group there will always be a compromise on choice but there is something for everybody here. In my brief research I found three honorable mentions that allow for co-op play:
  • Never Split the Party, which requires OpenGL 3.x
  • Streets of Rogue which is not free but seems to be worthwhile. 
  • Wakfu, is an MMORPG which has nice cartoonish characters with a friendly community, it is most fun when with a group of friends while coordinating together in the turn based tactical combat. It seems to require OpenGL 3.x
  • Stash, an MMORPG that has tactical turn based combat, which seems to be based on Minecraft as it allows you to create your own buildings, but it requires OpenGL 3.x
If we drop the requirement for Linux or old graphics cards, the field of options opens up even wider. Other options would then include Airmech Strike, Brawhalla, Expendabros and Unturned. This is by no means complete, if you have a favorite game to share please drop a note in the comments.

In terms of guidance, video games can become an addiction, so some balance is required here. However if the proper choice is made games can offer a way to get together with friends and bring people together. Strategic games such as Chess and Go improve cognitive abilities. But if you are introducing someone new, start first with something simple.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Where are the online New Church (Swedenborgian) Communities?



So where exactly are people of the New Church hiding throughout the world?  There are few of us here and there, and it is hard to find a local church that teaches the new revelation of the Second Coming as there is opposition to it from tradition churches, as declared in the prophecy of Revelation 12. Church offers a community where we can share with each other, and now it has become harder to gather together due to the coronavirus pandemic as many are forced to stay at home or in quarantine. But the problem was there before that, as more and more people have become isolated from each other in their individual homes.

So I looked around, I did find this if you want to view live stream services of the New Church within your home: Find live-streamed New Church Services.

To interact with others there are some Facebook groups as well (just look up "New Church" or "Swedenborg").  But for more direct personal interaction, I recently found a couple of online Discord chat groups. As luck would have it - but there is no luck, perhaps it is Divine Providence, I was cleaning out my email and found an invite to one of them.  Here they are:

New Church Discussion

Swedenborgian Community Online

My Discord name on those chat channels is "Nebulous."

An excellent Youtube channel which discusses many New Church teachings and ideas can be found here, which I highly recommend: offTheLeftEye

I have been considering hosting an online Google hangout meeting, where I can leave the agenda open. If interested, please contact me and introduce yourself and I will see if this is even feasible, as we all have busy schedules. All should take some time out and connect if possible.  This blog is sort of a one way channel, and I live too far away from any local New Church group. But perhaps there will be some good coming out of this pandemic - it will encourage non-localized people who share a common interest to come together online, wherever they are.

And this is the way of heaven.  In heaven there are myriads of heavenly societies, and we will automatically dwell in a community in heaven with those whom we regard the closest of friends. This is some of what Swedenborg wrote concerning the heavenly societies he encountered in his waking visions:
"All who are in similar good also know one another, just as men in the world do their kinsmen, their near relations, and their friends, though they have never before seen them; for the reason that in the other life there are no other kinships, relationships, and friendships than such as are spiritual, thus such as are of love and faith. This has sometimes been given me to see, when I was in the spirit, thus withdrawn from the body, and so in company with angels. Then some of them seemed as if known from childhood, but others as if not known at all. They whom I seemed to have known from childhood, were those who were in a state similar to that of my spirit; but they who seemed unknown to me, were in dissimilar state." (Heaven and Hell, n. 46)
"By brethren in the internal sense are signified those who are in similar good and truth, that is, in similar affection for good and truth. For in the other life all are consociated according to affections, and those who are consociated constitute a brotherhood. Not that they call themselves brethren, but that they are brethren by conjunction. Good and truth themselves in the other life make that which on earth is called consanguinity and relationship, and corresponds thereto. For goods and truths viewed in themselves, do not acknowledge any other father than the Lord, for they are from Him alone. Hence all who are in goods and truths are in brotherhood; but still there are degrees of relationship according to the quality of the goods and truths." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4121).
Face to face is always best when meeting others, but for a while this will have to do.  Eventually this pandemic will end, and our isolation will end and we will emerge from darkness just as Jesus emerged from the tomb.