We have selected this series of articles from the archives of The New Philosophy because we think it is particularly relevant to the current task of establishing political order in Afghanistan and Iraq. The concepts here presented also apply more widely to the on-going effort to improve the political and social conditions in all nations. Since the success of this work depends on the principles that guide it, we offer this spiritual philosophy of order as a contribution to the thought needed to create a just and humane civil order in societies throughout the world.
The doctrine of order is a beautiful doctrine. It encompasses all other doctrines and weaves them into one glorious tapestry in which Reality itself is pictured. While this ultimate reality is always beyond our finite grasp, it is a most satisfying and even exhilarating thing to catch glimpses of it. Essential order itself is ineffable; descriptions of it are no substitute for perception of it. Yet the doctrine of order in the Writings (the Theological Works** of Emanuel Swedenborg) opens the way to this perception.
In this sense the Writings are quite poetic. Poetry transcends the limitations of language to reveal truth deeper than words can contain. As one of the writers quoted in this paper (Richard Weaver) has observed, the world has received more truth through poetry than through science. The Writings have been criticized as lacking poetry, and certainly the style of the Writings is for the most part what might be called dry and academic; yet I think that in a real sense the Writings are very poetic, for they, too, point to truth too deep for words, and this is the essence of poetry. The poet Keats says, "Beauty is truth, and truth beauty." The truth is beautiful because genuine truth is the form of good, or the face of love, and love is the real source of all beauty. Even the clear, cold beauty of scientific truth, which seems so remote from the human wisdom of the Lord's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, for example, is really an expression of the Divine love that creates and orders all things in the universe.
† Originally published in The New Philosophy (Oct.–Dec. 1985).
* Rev. Orthwein is Assistant Professor of Religion at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church, P.O. Box 717, Bryn Athyn, PA 19009.
** Abbreviations of titles of Swedenborg works are as follows: AC, Arcana Coelestia; AE, Apocalypse Explained; HH, Heaven and Hell; TCR, True Christian Relgion. Editions of Swedenborg’s theological works are available from the Swedenborg Society, London, and the Swedenborg Foundation, West Chester, Pennsylvania. They can be ordered on the Internet.