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New Church Education
With Dualist Concepts
Dr. Leon James
Professor of Psychology
University of Hawaii



A special advantage for children who can attend New Church schools is that science and history will be taught in a dualist context, that is, an intellectual environment grounded in the Writings, as pointed out in a recent article by Gregory L. Baker, in a New Church Life article (Vol. CXXIII, No. 2, Feb. 2003, 39-44). However, the instructional curriculum used there may be such as to separate by class or course when secular science and critical thinking is taught and when religion classes are taught. I inquired about this with an instructor at Bryn Athyn College, and the response was:


All of the faculty like to think that they incorporate Swedenborgian ideas where they deem appropriate. Some do it more than others. Some areas lend themselves to this treatment more than others. However, we are also mindful that many of our students transfer and we do need to prepare them for whatever the next step is. However, I think if you did a survey of our students you would find that most think the faculty does bring ES ideas into their course. (June 2002)


In my opinion, New Church education needs to give more formal support for the development of the New Church mind. The current model described in the quote makes it easy for children to keep scientific and religious ideas separate in their mind, especially since the culture around us maintains such a separation both intellectually and politically. When duality reigns in “religion classes” and in worship, and nonduality reigns in other classes, the separation in the mind of the two opposing intellectual orientations is almost insured. Under these conditions the New Church mind contains many impediments to regeneration that will have to be overcome at the end of formal education. The individual must then wait till adulthood sets in, to overcome intellectual resistance in oneself, to study the Writings, and to rearrange everything in the mind from nonduality to duality (AC 3518). Nonduality in American culture is exhibited in the intellectual system of materialism and secularism, while duality is the New Church intellectual system that instructs us in dual citizenship, natural and spiritual. From a pedagogical point of view, it makes sense to try to facilitate this process of dual identification in the New Church mind from childhood onward. Since this is in agreement with the goal of New Church educators, the question remains as to what methods would be effective to bring about this goal.


The quote above points to the concern that “many of our students transfer and we do need to prepare them for whatever the next step is.” As an educator and a scientist myself, in my role as a long time college professor, I do believe that it is quite feasible to integrate the Writings into every course of the curriculum, and not impair in any way the capacity of the students, many of whom complete their education in a public or secular facility. Further, they will be able to do their job and be successful in their career without the slightest disadvantage or weakness in the eyes of co-workers, clients, and supervisors. Integrating every course into the framework of the Writings gives the New Church mind special benefits and advantages in all life situations (see Chapter 7).


This process of integrating courses should not wait for public education generally to catch up with the Second Coming, for this will take many generations. Rather, the integration should proceed as far as the individual New Church instructor is capable of doing it in his or her class. This requires some training, on one’s own or more formally, by the preparation and certification process. Right now this is not done, I presume, because it is not considered crucial or feasible. What is considered crucial is that (1) the students retain their commitment to the New Church religion and (2), the students be adequately prepared to function in the public education and career zone. I agree that these are crucial and necessary goals for New Church education. I think both goals would be more effectively served by course integration, achieved through official commitment and adequate preparation of instructors. This book presents many details on the New Church mind that support the integrated instructional model to forming the New Church mind.


To apprehend this integrative approach more clearly the instructor needs to think of the content or concepts in every course in relation to their “subordination” to the intellectual order of the Writings in the mind:


In a man who is in the Lord's kingdom, or who is the Lord's kingdom, there are celestial things, spiritual things, rational things, memory-knowledges, and things of sense; and these are in subordination to one another.


Celestial and spiritual things hold the first place, and are the Lord's; to these rational things are subordinate, and are subservient; to these again memory-knowledges are subordinate and subservient; and lastly the things of sense are subordinate and subservient to these, that is to memory-knowledges.


The things which are subservient, or which serve, are relatively servants, and in the Word are called "servants." That there is such a subordination, the man who thinks only from sense and memory-knowledge is ignorant; and he who knows anything of them nevertheless has a most obscure idea, because he is still in corporeal things. (AC 2541)


When a concept is introduced in a course, the instructor needs to place it in front of the students on a line-up of subordination or hierarchical embedding. First, is this concept from sensory or empirical observation? What precisely is the observation and what was the purpose of making this observation? Second, how is this observation or factual knowledge to be subordinated to higher order concepts? What are these higher order concepts? The instructor needs to identify what these higher order concepts are. In secular and materialist education these higher order concepts are often specified as Principles or Explanatory Theories. The New Church instructor needs to identify these principles and explanations from the Writings. To what rational concepts from the Writings is this observational fact or knowledge to be subordinated? This is the instructional process that integrates empirical memory-knowledges from the world into rational concepts from the Writings. These rational concepts are called external rational (AC 4570).


Because these external rational concepts are from the Writings, they are subordinated to spiritual and celestial concepts, which are called the interior rational. The Writings provide the model for how we are to integrate external rational concepts, which are natural, and interior rational concepts, which are spiritual and celestial. Science and history courses in New Church education need to follow this model. Science and history subjects should never be taught as external rational concepts alone, but as integrated concepts, external and interior rational. In other words, natural science and history should never be presented as natural, but as integrated natural and spiritual. Further, it is not enough to do this generally but must be done with every specific concept or idea introduced in science and history.


Such dual integration of educational concepts serves two purposes. One is to strengthen the commitment to the Writings as the source for both religious and scientific knowledge. Second, to prepare the individual for reformation and regeneration which is to begin at the completion of formal education.


Through this integrated instructional process, young persons develop an orderly rational mind which is in the highest portion of their natural mind. These concepts become suitable cognitive “vessels” for receiving spiritual and celestial things from the Lord through the angels inflowing. It is not necessary nor practical for New Church education to wait till the outside intellectual climate changes from materialistic monism to theistic dualism. Even if the instructor has no formal materials or textbooks written in the integrated approach, the course can be conducted in the integrated manner by supplying the integration with every concept being introduced. To be able to do this requires adequate preparation. This book gives illustrations of what some of this preparation could be—see in particular Chapter 8, Sections 3 and 4, and also Chapter 6.


When man is being instructed, there is a progression from memory-knowledges to rational truths; further, to intellectual truths; and finally, to celestial truths, which are here signified by the "wife." If the progression is made from memory knowledges and rational truths to celestial truths without intellectual truths as media, the celestial suffers violence, because there can be no connection of rational truths-which are obtained by means of memory-knowledges-with celestial truths, except by means of intellectual truths, which are the media. (AC 1495)


By “media” is here meant intermediary concepts or truths. Only some natural-rational concepts can be elevated to the spiritual-intellectual level of thinking. These are the concepts that are subordinated to the dualities in the Writings from the celestial top to the sensory bottom. The instructional approach matters. Appropriate conceptual intermediaries need to be spelled out and provided in the course. This is what I mean by the integrated approach.


Some principles may be considered regarding how the integrated model could be presented by the instructor.


[2] That it may be known how these things stand, something shall be said respecting order. The order is for the celestial to inflow into the spiritual and adapt it to itself; for the spiritual thus to inflow into the rational and adapt it to itself; and for the rational thus to inflow into the memory-knowledge and adapt it to itself.


But when a man is being instructed in his earliest childhood, the order is indeed the same, but it appears otherwise, namely, that he advances from memory-knowledges to rational things, from these to spiritual things, and so at last to celestial things.


The reason it so appears is that a way must thus be opened to celestial things, which are the inmost. All instruction is simply an opening of the way; and as the way is opened, or what is the same, as the vessels are opened, there thus flow in, as before said, in their order, rational things that are from celestial spiritual things; into these flow the celestial spiritual things; and into these, celestial things.


These celestial and spiritual things are continually presenting themselves, and are also preparing and forming for themselves the vessels which are being opened; which may also be seen from the fact that in themselves the memory-knowledge and rational are dead, and that it is from the inflowing interior life that they seem to be alive. This can become manifest to anyone from the thought, and the faculty of judgment.


[3] In these lie hidden all the arcana of analytical art and science, which are so many that they can never be explored even as to the ten-thousandth part; and this not with the adult man only, but also with children, whose every thought and derivative expression of speech is most full of them (although man, even the most learned, is not aware of this), and this could not possibly be the case unless the celestial and spiritual things within were coming forth, flowing in, and producing all these things.

(AC 1495)


Children need to be taught the meta-order of their own learning process. They need to gain an understanding of the outwardly appearing order of learning and the actual order that enlivens it from within. These two orders can be labeled inductive and deductive. Inductive learning is the appearance from bottom up. This order yields concepts that are in themselves dead or, without any spiritual in them. The spiritual inflows within them, in a discrete degree by correspondence, so long as they are suitable cognitive vessels. This refers to the dualities from the Writings. If materialistic concepts of nonduality are taught from secular textbooks without showing how they are false in orientation, the resultant external rational cognitions will not be suitable for reception of spiritual ideas, and will remain dead and useless for life and regeneration—yea, they will be impediments (see Chapter 5).


Constructing Integrated Concepts


Instructors can gauge whether they are teaching integrated concepts (suitable cognitive vessels) or separated concepts (unsuitable cognitions) by keeping track of their verbal stream in the classroom (a recording would greatly help in this assessment). Are the concepts linked from top down, where the top is the Lord in His Laws of Divine Providence and Permissions, and the bottom is the empirical fact or observation being discussed? Intermediaries need to be introduced at the right age level. It is easy to simply discuss the concept from the textbook and to go on to the next concept, and so on. But this won’t take care of the integration. It is not sufficient to mention the integration at the beginning of the course, in the middle, at the end, and once in awhile in between, here and there. The integration must be spoken of in all instances where the concept is discussed. This procedure will model for the students what their New Church mind is to become.


It helps for teachers to think of certain criteria when constructing integrated concepts. For example, consider these five criterial dualities that have universal application to all subject areas in school:


(1) external and interior portions

(2) uses

(3) successive and simultaneous discrete degrees

(4) natural-spiritual parallelisms or correspondences

(5) top down integration from firsts to lasts through a network of intermediaries


(1) External and interior portions:


When introducing a concept or phenomenon, the teacher needs to specify what is its external portion and what is its interior portion. For example, when instructing about a mineral sample or stone, the idea of rock formation at a slow pace is mentioned. This is to be labeled its external portion, whose parts include the outward shape and touch at the macro level, and at the micro level, the outward chemical compounds held together by the atomic forces between its constituent particles. Now the internal portion of the mineral sample should be taught. What are those atomic forces? How are they maintained in place so that the object continues to subsist in its hard form and shape? The interior portion of the mineral sample is the cause that maintains the rock in its continued subsistence. Every object has an interior portion that is not visible or measurable by outward measuring instruments.


Instruments that measure the outward portion of the rock sample include sizing, weighing, compressing, photographing, crushing into a powder and analyzing how the powder reacts to heat and chemicals, and other such measures, all of which are instruments for measuring the outward portion and construction of the rock. Instruments that measure the interior portion of the rock sample include uses, discrete degrees, correspondences, and intermediaries.


(2) Uses:


Determining the uses of an object is to measure or identify its interior portions. It is the use of the rock sample that brings it into existence. An object is maintained in existence as long as it continues to make uses of itself available. If an object ceases to make uses available with itself, it ceases to subsist and disintegrates, unable to maintain itself in existence.


Uses create objects because the created universe has its use, and this use enters into every created object. Unless there were a use for something, it could not come into existence. The Law of Creation For Uses is a Divine Law.


All uses are human uses because the creator of uses is the Divine Human. Everything the Divine Human creates must necessarily be an image of Itself, therefore be an image of the Human. The idea of Human is the idea of truth acting from love. In other words, the idea of our understanding (truth) acting from our will (love). The Divine Human creates something for a purpose. No human creates anything without a purpose. The purpose defines the use in advance. Once this purpose or motive exists in the will, the understanding then produces the object in such a way that the object has the uses that serve the purpose. This is why all objects exist or are caused by their uses. And if the uses are removed, there is no purpose that maintains the object in existence.


Every object has multiple uses, and new uses or applications are found by discovery and experimentation. For instance a rock sample can be used for many purposes, e.g., a source of its minerals, a paper weight, a missile or weapon, a carving, a block for building, ballast in a balloon, a gift to a friend, and many other uses. There is no limit to the potential uses of an object or quality.


(3) Discrete degrees:


The rock sample is an object of use with an outward and an inward portion. The outward portion is described by physical measures, and the inward portion is described by rational measures. An example of a rational measure of the rock sample is the specific relation its uses have to the uses of other objects. For example, rock samples of many sizes and shapes are produced by geological and weather conditions and events. There is therefore a relationship between the uses of geological and meteorological events and the uses of rocks of various shapes and sizes. These relationships between uses are rational measures of uses.


Similarly, successive and simultaneous degrees are rational measures of the interior portion of an object. The rock sample exists and is maintained in existence by its properties at two levels of existence called spiritual and natural. The spiritual portion that forms the interior of the rock is made of substances from the spiritual Sun. The rays streaming out of the spiritual Sun go out into the entire spiritual world and make up the interiors of objects. The spiritual portion of the rock sample is located in the spiritual world. Therefore this interior portion of the rock is made of elements that originated in the spiritual Sun. When teaching about a rock, one can point to it and say, Part of this rock is in this world and part of it is in the spiritual world. A rock cannot just exist in this world. It’s external portion is in this world, but its interior portion is in the spiritual world. Such is the case with every object or quality.


We need to apply rational measurement to the rock sample in two ways called successive and simultaneous. When the rock sample came into existence, it first popped into existence in the spiritual world, formed and created to make available specific uses. Once the interior portion of the rock was created and existed in the spiritual world, it caused the geological and meteorological events that created the formation of the physical rock. This is called successive degrees of creation because the physical rock comes into existence after the spiritual portion of the rock is created in the spiritual world. In addition to the spiritual portion of the rock, the spiritual portion of the geological and meteorological events, also had to co-act in order for the physical rock to be created.


Once the physical portion of the rock is created, the outward portion and inward portion exist as one within the other. This is called simultaneous degrees. The interior portion of the rock that existed prior to the external portion is now within the external portion. This synchronous relationship of “within” is by discrete degrees, not by physical location. When we look at this rock we therefore think about its external portion and its interior portion. Without rationally knowing the interior portion, we cannot explain the external portion. But knowing both, we can explain why this rock has been formed, how, and what maintains it in existence.


(4) Correspondences:


Another rational measure of an object is to determine its correspondence. The measure of correspondence gives us information about the relation between the external portion of the rock and its interior portion. Its interior portion is spiritual and determines the uses which create the spiritual rock. The external portion of the rock therefore points to, or is an image of, the spiritual uses which keep it in existence. For instance, if you look up in the Writings the correspondence for rock, stone, pebble, mountain, and minerals, you will find things like this:


As the truth of faith is signified by "stone" and "rock," it is the Lord's spiritual kingdom that is also signified, for this is in the truth of faith, and from this in good. (AC 6426)


The most ancient people compared things in man (and regarded them as having a likeness) to gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and wood-his inmost celestial to gold, his lower celestial to brass, and what was lowest, or the corporeal therefrom, to wood. But his inmost spiritual they compared (and regarded as having a likeness) to silver, his lower spiritual to iron, and his lowest to stone. (AC 643)


"A rock" denotes the Lord as to the truth of faith, is because by "a rock" is also meant a bulwark against falsities; the bulwark itself is the truth of faith, for combat is waged from this truth both against falsities and against evils. (AC 8581)


He who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white pebble. Rev. 2:17. (AC 8464).


The reason why a mountain signifies the good of love, is that in heaven those dwell upon mountains who are in the good of love to the Lord, and upon hills those who are in charity towards the neighbour, or what is the same, those who are of the Lord's celestial kingdom dwell upon mountains, and those who are of His spiritual kingdom, upon hills (AE 405).


Teachers of false and heretical beliefs, who persuade the common people that these are true and orthodox, although they read the Word, so that they can know from it what is false and what is true - as well as those who support false religious ideas by fallacies that lead people. astray - these can be compared with impostors and every sort of trickery. Since these actions are in essence thefts in the spiritual sense, they can be compared with impostors who coin false money, gild the coins or apply a gold color to them, and pass them off as genuine. Or with those who know how to cut and polish crystals cunningly, and to harden them, so that they can be sold as diamonds. ... They are also like those who display selenites and mica, which glitter as if made of gold and silver, and put them up for sale as veins of valuable minerals. (TCR 320)


There are even representations of the working of this love in various things in the mineral kingdom; specimens of this are to be seen in the exaltation* of minerals into useful forms and the formation of gems. (TCR 44)

[*Exaltation: a term of early chemistry for the transformation of elements into different forms, e.g. the formation of diamonds from carbon. (Chadwick)] 


But this may be illustrated in the first place by comparisons drawn from the three kingdoms of nature: animal, vegetable, and mineral. From the animal kingdom: When the food becomes chyle, the blood vessels extract and call forth from it their blood, the nervous fibers their fluid, and the substances that are the origins of the fibers their animal spirit. From the vegetable kingdom: The tree, with its trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit, stands upon its root, and by means of its root it extracts and calls forth from the ground a grosser sap for the trunk, branches, and leaves, a purer for the pulp of the fruit, and the purest for the seeds within the fruit. From the mineral kingdom: In some places in the bowels of the earth there are minerals impregnated with gold, silver, and iron, and each of these metals draws its own element from the exhalations stored up in the earth. (SS 66)


But how perfections ascend and descend according to those degrees can he little understood from things visible in the natural world, but clearly from things visible in the spiritual world. From things visible in the natural world, it is only discovered that the more they are looked into, the more do wonders appear, as, for example, in the eyes, ears, tongue, in muscles, heart, lung, liver, pancreas, kidneys and other viscera; also in seeds, fruits and flowers; and again in metals, minerals and stones. It is well known that in all these, wonders appear the more they are looked into. But yet from these things it has been little suspected that these objects are interiorly more perfect according to degrees of height or discrete degrees. Ignorance of those degrees has concealed the fact. But because the same degrees stand out conspicuously in the spiritual world, for the whole of that world, from highest to lowest, is distinctly discreted into these degrees, therefore from that world knowledge of these degrees can be drawn. Then conclusions can be drawn therefrom about perfection of forces and forms which are in similar degrees in the natural world. (DLW 201)


From these passages, and many others that can be cited and examined, you can see that the interior portion of a rock relates closely to the uses of truth and faith in the Lord. Rock corresponds to the power of the truths that we have in our understanding. With truths in our understanding we can do battle against falsities and against evils that are tied to us by heredity. The interior portion of a rock is rationally related to the interior portion of water, because water also corresponds to truths of various kind—natural truths, rational truths, spiritual truths, and so on. A mountain is a giant rock formation, therefore mountains correspond to the Lord since He is the source of all truth. Rock formation is part of a process that begins in the spiritual Sun and the sequence of manufacture descends, or exteriorizes, through the discrete degrees and by the laws of correspondence. At last, the chain of causation ends in the object of a particular mountain, rock, pebble, powder, or geological stratum on some planet.


The same is true about a plant or animal, or about a society or an institution, or about a plan, painting, or experience. The things that come to us from physical sensory information are the ultimates of the chain of causation. Once an ultimate exists it contains within itself in discrete simultaneous order, the entire chain of causation in discrete successive order. Hence it is that when we analytically inspect at a rock or painting, we have the capacity to reflect on its exterior portion and the interior portion that lies within it in discrete degrees of relationship. If we train ourselves to look at everything around us in this analytical way, we get closer to rationality, reality, heaven, and the Lord. Meanwhile there is nothing in this type of understanding of minerals and natural objects that would interfere in any way with one’s degree and job in Geology or Biology, or Engineering, or Military Science. The dualist inspection of a rock or industrial management unit, in no way impairs our ability as New Church persons to function in society.


More likely, it is a great advantage because this new ability and understanding of reality which we get from the Writings, form cognitive vessels for receiving enlightenment from the Lord as we perform our daily tasks. This enlightenment is a better understanding of the causes of events. With such a new view one can avoid certain errors that others commit who look at things from effects only. We are also more likely to pick the right choices when they come up in our tasks because a dualist perspective presents a deeper view of the forces that are at play in an event.


(5) Top down integration through intermediaries:


A rock’s external portion and interior portion are held in place by means of the intermediary spheres that constitute each discrete level, one above the other, or, one within the other. What is within is also called above when thinking in terms of discrete degrees. The idea of “within” echoes the reality of simultaneous discrete degrees, while the idea of “above” echoes the reality of successive discrete degrees. Since successive degrees are in simultaneous order in the object or quality, therefore “above” and “within” can be both be used when discussing the interior of natural things.


Nothing can exist by itself. Everything created is created into an order in relation to other created things. There is a chain of creation that starts from the rays of the spiritual Sun streaming out into the universe, first the spiritual world, then the natural world. The chain of creation from the spiritual Sun to the rock is called in the Writings “From Firsts to Lasts:”


From the fact that greatest and least things are forms of both kinds of degrees, there is connection between them from firsts to lasts, for likeness conjoins them. But yet there can be no least thing which is the same as any other. Consequently, there is a distinction of all the singulars and of the veriest singulars. There can be no least thing in any form or among any forms the same as another for the reason that there are like degrees in greatest things, and greatest things consist of least things. When there are such degrees in greatest things, and in accordance with those degrees, perpetual distinctions from top to bottom, and from centre to circumference, it follows that there cannot be any lesser or least of these, in which are like degrees, which are the same as any other. (DLW 226)


God is omnipresent from the firsts to the lasts of His order. God is omnipresent from the firsts to the lasts of His order by means of the heat and light of the spiritual sun, in the midst of which He is. It was by means of that sun that order was produced; and from it He sends forth a heat and a light which pervade the universe from firsts to lasts, and produce the life that is in man and in every animal, and also the vegetative soul that is in every germ upon the earth (TCR 63)


These passages, and many others like it, teach that there is a chain of being from the Lord to the rock sample, and this chain cannot have any broken links, or else the rock sample cannot come into existence. And if there were a broken chain, that rock could not be maintained in existence, but would vanish as if it never existed. The rock sample is an object that came into existence as a result of this chain of formation, starting from the rays streaming out of the spiritual Sun, and descending successively by discrete degrees, until at last, ending as the geological and meteorological events that shaped and formed the rock sample. The inmost portion of the rock sample is therefore the spiritual Sun, or its rays made of the substance of love exteriorized as truth. This spiritual substance, descends successively through the highest or celestial heaven, then through the second or spiritual heaven, then through the first or natural heaven, then through the world of spirits, then through the physical sun, then through the spaces and atmospheres and planets, then through the geological and meteorological events, to large rock formations, then to the rock sample, and finally to the classroom where the rock sample is being used for instruction, handled and inspected by the students. This is the chain of being that holds the sample rock that you can see on this table, hold in your hand, and use in various ways.


This example of teaching the integrated idea of a rock sample in the classroom, can be applied equally to every concept in all subjects. For example, if you teach about the branches of the government, you can consider the president or the head of state in terms of its external social portions and in terms of its interior spiritual portion. A head of state or governor is discussed in the Writings under the idea of “king” and “governors.”


"Kings," "kingdoms," and "peoples," in the historical and the prophetical parts of the Word, signify truths and the things which are of truths (AC 1672)


When I informed them that on our earth He is named Christ Jesus, and that Christ signifies Anointed or King, and Jesus, Savior, they said that they do not worship Him as a King, because royalty savors of what is worldly, but that they worship Him as the Savior. (EU 65)


"The king" signifies the truth of the church (TCR 219)


The reason why "governors" signify generals, is that it is generals in which and under which are particulars ...; by "princes" however are signified primary things (AC 5290)


"Governors and rulers" signify principal truths, and "those riding upon horses" signify the intelligent. (AE 576)


These and similar passages reveal that the interior portion of “the President of the United States” consists of uses that relate to governing a country by means of principles of truth. Every act of government represents and flows from the head of the government, as indicated by a well known saying by a U.S. president: “The buck stops here.” Every act of government is held in place by the laws and the constitution, which are orderly statements of how truth applies to the social acts of the citizens. These acts are arranged in a hierarchy from general to particular in the same way as there are general truths and under those, particular truths. Hence we have such expressions as “I arrest you in the name of the Queen” or “... the Law.”


And many such things can be developed by the teacher in presenting lessons about rocks, government, art objects, or football rules and training for playing under them. No doubt such curriculum efforts already exist in the New Church Academy educational system, as indicated by a report of a Committee of New Church Academy educators, from which I quote from several of the contributors:


This attempt to apply the doctrine of correspondences to an aspect of nature follows other recent efforts along these lines published in this journal. What purpose does this kind of thinking serve? We suggest two. First, thinking from correspondences may provide a new frame of thought from which to think about the world and its workings, thereby providing new hypotheses to serve as the starting points for the scientific study of nature. Second, because our essential character is spiritual we should not let our thought be constantly immersed in the material -- for rampant materialism is destructive of our truly human qualities. If, therefore, in thinking about nature we can go beyond the mere contemplation of its wonderful material reality that science reveals, and think as well of these same images as some aspect of our essential spiritual character, our thought can be elevated to the contemplation of eternal values and thereby enriched."

Erland J. Brock, “Correspondences of Photosynthesis,” New Philosophy, January-March, 1986




My suggestion is that this overall decline will now be reversed. From natural good, the Lord will lead the Church into spiritual good. Then we can think again from a knowledge of correspondences, and with this we will again be conjoined with heaven. And eventually, as people of the New Church regenerate, we will gradually learn to think again from correspondences, as did the Most Ancients. But there will be a difference. In His First Coming, the Lord Jesus Christ glorified His Divine Natural, and in His Second Coming He revealed the qualities of this Divine Natural. From this Divine Natural "not only is the internal spiritual person enlightened, but also the external natural; and unless these two are simultaneously enlightened, a person is as it were in shadow; but when both are enlightened, he is, as it were, in the light of day" (TCR 109).


As New Church people regenerate, and as they develop both the natural sciences and arts, and also their ability to think from a knowledge of correspondences and then from correspondences themselves, a quiet miracle will occur. More and more we will see the Lord in His Divine Human, standing before our eyes. We will see Him standing forth in correspondences in every realm of His creation, and from this perceive more and more of His direct presence with us. We will see Him more deeply in His Word. And also His creation will open up to us more and more, so that "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge .... From the end of the heavens is His going forth, and His circuit unto the ends of them; and nothing is hidden from His heat" (Psalm 19:1-3,6).

Geoffrey S. Childs, “CORRESPONDENCES: A Key to Distinctiveness,” Journal of the Correspondences Committee, 1990-1992




New Church education is dedicated not just to transmitting knowledges or facts, but to opening the minds of the students to see the Truth. The doctrine of correspondences is therefore essential to this use. It applies, first of all, to the Sacred Scriptures, which must be understood correspondentially. But in all fields, the doctrine of correspondence is vital to gaining a perception of the spiritual reality which constitutes the substance and soul of all natural things, including material objects and the affairs of men.

Walter E. Orthwein, “Correspondence and Language,” Journal of the Correspondences Committee, 1990-1992




When Joseph hid his silver cup in Benjamin's grain sack, it represented the process whereby truth is inserted into scientifics, or how doctrine organizes knowledges. There is a method of conjunction, which is actually explained in this story. We read: "the method by which conjunction is effected is by means of the insertion of truths into scientifics." (AC 6052) "From the knowledges of the memory which are in agreement and harmonious, there is effected a kind of extraction and sublimination, whence arises an interior sense of things." (AC 5872) I contend that this provides us with a METHODOLOGY, long sought after, of applying doctrine to scientific fields, or to classroom curricula.

Erik E. Sandstrom, “Miracles As Models For An Educational System,” Journal of the Correspondences Committee, 1990-1992




2) Teaching about correspondence: In this category I would place the direct teaching of the correspondential meaning of the objects of nature and the images of the Word. A scope and sequence chart of which correspondences fit with major themes for each grade level and a developmental approach which moves from kindergarten through high school seems to be called for. Such a sequence might begin with a non-memory-oriented, creative integration of basic correspondential images in kindergarten through second grade. It would seem appropriate for the sequence to continue with a memory-based approach in the third through eighth grade in which certain basic correspondences were learned each year. The sequence might continue through high school with a process approach. Here the correspondences of the Word should be studied in context to show how meanings change according to context and may even take on opposite meanings. The correspondential meaning of human actions, particularly in regard to courtship and sexuality should be considered.


3) Using correspondences: Since all human activity involves correspondence, obviously we use correspondence in education all of the time. But what I am suggesting here is a more conscious and deliberate attempt to use the power of correspondence in reaching young minds with the beauty of the Lord's truth. For example, story telling which consciously employs correspondential symbolism to teach life lessons, or point out moral issues, or even simply to entertain seems an appropriate avenue for teachers to pursue. This was the delight of delights in the Ancient Church, and we are informed that the Ancient Church and the New Church are similar in internals. Perhaps we could do much more with story telling and story writing in teaching correspondence.


I have found the students love to talk about their dreams. As we know, dreams are often subtle correspondential messages from our good associate spirits, pointing out areas of our life that need attention, and even suggesting solutions to everyday problems. More of a focus on dream interpretation and even dream work with students would appear to me to be a valid avenue for future New Church educators to pursue.


Guided meditations often use correspondences to help us see our life from a new perspective. I believe we could develop unique New Church meditations to augment certain aspects of the teaching of religion that could be very powerful for students. The process evokes an internal response that I believe is similar to what happens in dreams, inviting subtle clues from our good associate spirits from which we may gain important information about ourselves.


The correspondences of the body are very much a part of human communication. In fact some studies indicate that 80% of human communication is non-verbal, that is, through such subtle cues as tone of voice, body position, muscle tone, skin color, eye movement and the like. As the Writings make very clear, all of these are correspondences. Greater focus on the correspondence of body language and human communication could well improve the effectiveness of New Church teachers, while some direct attention to these matters in course work might go a long way to improving marriages and family life in the church.


4) Diagnosing the situation: As we know from the Writings, the inner quality of an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization, tends to make itself manifest through correspondence if we have eyes to see it. The Writings mention that when the Catholic church removed the Word from the laity, at some time later they also removed the wine from the Holy Supper for the laity. Such correspondential images of our inner qualities have a way of making themselves manifest, and I believe we are invited to use this correspondential information, however tentatively, as a source for legitimate inquiry and discussion. For example, one could engage a class in a discussion of what the behavior of the class might mean to an outsider knowledgeable in correspondence who was simply observing at a distance.

Mark Carlson, “Some Thoughts On Correspondences,” Journal of the Correspondences Committee, 1990-1992




How do we bring correspondences livingly and functionally into the curriculum? If only we can do this, we will retain the content quality of the course involved, but at the same time will give it a spiritual component. I have seen this in human body courses, both at secondary and elementary level. For example, correspondences are brought into the study of digestion, illustrating the acceptance of newly arrived spirits into the Grand Man of heaven. Seeing this dual aspect of course material and its correspondence to truths of the spirit has a powerful effect on the students involved; it marries functional faith to a science, and moves them strongly.


One thing is clear: such integration of correspondences into course material is an art form -- an artistic challenge. For correspondences cannot be inserted as a cold scientific process, in a way that is unalive or non-functional. Spiritual and natural operations correspond functionally and beautifully. And both of these aspects need to be conveyed: beauty, and function.



What is needed to see correspondence functioning in course subject matter? First, the genuine doctrine revealed in the Writings -- the doctrine that governs the subject matter. Next there must be an accurate and clear description and understanding of the subject matter itself. The question then follows: what is the correspondence of each element in the subject matter involved? In the growth of a tree, such correspondences are revealed in the Writings. The correspondences of leaves, blossoms, and fruit are known. Knowing these correspondences, the relationship of regeneration and cycles of a fruit tree can be clearly, beautifully seen. But only if we know the general doctrine of rebirth, and the general knowledge of a fruit tree's cycle. There is one more vital element: enlightenment from the Lord, for which we pray.


Sometimes we may think that if only we know the correspondences involved, then any natural subject matter can be turned by us into clear doctrinal lessons and illustrations. And this is true if the other three essential elements are also present: the doctrine within that applies, the facts of the subject under study, and enlightenment. With this four part harmony, the whole world of nature can gradually become correspondentially alive! Many correspondences are already revealed in the Writings, and this is the key in such cases. In myriads of other cases, such correspondences are not revealed. But we do know that there is nothing in nature that is not representative (AC 1807). Where correspondences are not revealed, what must be known is how the natural elements function together in the subject understudy. What role does each element play? Then, how do these work together in a scientific and artistic way? These things can be discovered by research and inductive study: how the elements work together, and what role each plays in this functioning. Then we can deduce the correspondences of each element. We need two other components: the frame-work of doctrines that applies to the subject under study, and we need enlightenment from the Lord.


I hope this doesn't sound too complicated, because it is worth the effort. Correspondences can transform a subject, bathing it in interior light. This can move students deeply. With Divine guidance already present in the Writings, this can be done with anatomy, with the interrelationship of the heart and lungs, with the life cycle of trees, with minerals, etc. And I believe


the Lord then bids us to go farther: to employ the science of sciences to gradually discover Him throughout creation, in ways that are artistically and scientifically fulfilling.


In early elementary school, this pathway of living correspondences is fairly evident and imagination-stirring. The sun, stars and moon; horses, lambs, lions and birds; minerals, jewels and metals; flowers, trees, and fruit -- so many things a child can see or grasp, and that can touch his imagination. Artistic and simple correspondential explanations of these symbols can have powerful meaning. Rocks, water, bread -- each of these can be living symbols to a child. Likewise the stories of the Word have so many correspondences filled with wonder and vivid representations. Children can live in a garden of Divine symbols.


In the secondary schools this can be reinforced and built upon. The generals of the doctrines all have their ultimates in corresponding symbols in the Word and nature. The study of the spiritual world in the sophomore year is replete with the correspondences and representations that rule in heaven, the world of spirits, and hell. Divine Providence has its symbols in the Word and nature, as does the book Conjugial Love. And also in high school, correspondences can be introduced into the science and arts as well, as they have already been into the human body courses. The arts are ground awaiting the use of symbols that stir and uplift the imagination. Some of Andrew Wyeth's paintings convey this.


In college, correspondences can begin to be introduced as a science. Its functional insertion into such sciences as physics and chemistry and biology is a good challenge. And in later college, surely the time is coming for a complete course in correspondences, representations, and significatives. The course formerly taught by Dr. Hugo Odhner called The Human Organic was the precursor to such a course. And a vast bibliography, a host of topics, await the teacher of this subject.


Education is a lifelong process. In fact, it continues to eternity. Adults have the guidelines and doctrines revealed in the Writings for further exploration and use of correspondences and representations. The great background is the overall setting, the cosmology of creation. Bishop W. F. Pendleton spoke of certain universal principles revealed in the Writings that are "the origin of all the sciences and all the arts which we now possess ... (and which) must take their place in the higher education of the New Church as the head, the beginning, and origin of all the sciences." He lists these six philosophic doctrines (universal as principles) "correspondences, representation, influx, degrees, the spiritual world, and God as Man" (address entitled "The Future of the Academy," New Church Life, 1901, pp. 67-74).


With these universal principles in mind, the adult explorer would then need a framework of doctrinal teachings that applies to and governs the subject under study. Prof. Bruce Glenn defines this as the "developing of related doctrines so as to form a framework of principles within which to order and interpret the knowledges of a subject" ("Distinctiveness in Action," address to the Academy Faculty, Nov. 4,1979 -- Academy Journal, Literary Number 1972-73, pp. 5-12). The book entitled The Academy: A Portrait illustrates such frameworks in particular subject areas: history, for example.


In the famous number from The Spiritual Diary on the two foundations of truth, the strong correlation of spiritual laws and natural laws is shown. And this too is a vital principle in seeking correspondential relationships. "The foundations of truth ... are two, one from the Word, the


other from nature or from the truths of nature. ... These two foundations of truth agree the one with the other, which is proved by a contemplation of certain things in the Word. Since sciences have shut up the understanding, therefore sciences may also open it; and it is opened so far as people are in good. ... All things of heaven have their foundation in the laws of order of nature in the world, and in man, so that the foundation is permanently fixed" (SD 5709). Laws then that govern specific sciences, arts, social sciences, psychology, philosophy, languages, etc., have their origin in spiritual laws that correspond and are directive.


The challenge to the adult researcher or the college student is to have those six philosophic principles suggested by Bishop W.F.Pendleton clearly in mind, and then research and discover the framework of applied doctrinal principles that govern the specific subject field. With these as basic tools, the next search is to find the spiritual laws that are causative to the natural laws in the subject field. As an example of this, there are spiritual or Divine laws that govern history, and these are outlined in general in The Academy: A Portrait.


Still missing in this effort to bring correspondences livingly into play are three remaining elements: a clear knowledge of the natural relationships and functioning of the elements in the subject under study, enlightenment, and the direct correspondences of each element. If the correspondences are revealed in the Writings, then the pathway is open. If correspondences are not revealed, there will be the need to deduce these from the functioning roles of each element in the subject being studied. This means there will be some enlightened guessing, and a lack of sureness. But such investigation is legitimate and very useful, if there is humility, and allegiance to the revealed framework of doctrines.


The key element in any search to apply correspondences to the curriculum is enlightenment. And this is a gift from the Lord alone, to that person who is, first of all, shunning evils as sins, and looking to the Lord as one's Father. A second essential is to let the doctrines lead, not personal mental agendas. The cautioning is given by the Lord in reference to finding the spiritual sense of the Word; but this applies as well to the search for the inner symbolism of curricular course material. "Falsely thinks he who says to himself: 'I know many correspondences; I am able to know all the Doctrine of Divine truth; the spiritual sense will teach it.' This cannot be done in this way; but, as was said, it can be done if a person says to himself: 'I know the Doctrine of Divine truth; now I am able to see the spiritual sense if only I know correspondences.' But even then he must ... be in illustration from the Lord" (De Verbo 58). In a subject matter search for correspondential meanings, it isn't directly a spiritual sense that is sought, it is rather the corresponding spiritual laws. But the De Verbo 58 rules still govern this search.

Geoffrey S. Childs, “Bringing Correspondences Into The Curriculum,” Journal of the Correspondences Committee, 1990-1992




In thinking about the application of the doctrine, the central idea to keep in mind is that it is the function of some physical entity that corresponds to something on a higher plane. Seeking correspondence in the form only leads nowhere -- an idea that the Lord makes clear in the Writings.


This, I believe, is central to efforts to extend our appreciation of the natural world, as in science education, for example. Science instruction that is devoted solely to a consideration of how the world works from a material standpoint falls short of the mark. There is more to everything than meets the eye, and it is up to New Churchmen to increase our appreciation of this with increasingly deep penetration, not for the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity, but for the betterment of human existence both in the here-and-now, and to eternity.


Extending this thought of application into all aspects of education, the principle that correspondences can be seen through function has universal application. The leading question beyond appreciation of the phenomena on the natural plane is "to what does this answer in the human mind?" The "what" here is the spiritual correspondent being sought. It is my belief that this applies to all elements in the curriculum.

Erland J. Brock, “Correspondences: A Personal View,” Journal of the Correspondences Committee, 1990-1992




This article is a selection from Volume 1 of A Man of the Field (2002) by Leon James, pages 364 to 380. The three volumes of this book may be accessed on the Web at:



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I invite your comments. Please email me:  leon@hawaii.edu