News & Announcements

Engaged Swedenborgianism and Beloved Community

Social Justice Committee

By Dru Johnson

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34–3).

As I shared previously (January/February 2023 issue of the Messenger), taking a faith formation class in seminary, I learned about “Engaged Spirituality” that originated from the late great Buddhist monk and peace maker Thich Nhat Hahn. Applying this to Swedenborgianism, Engaged Swedenborgianism challenges us to develop our faith by engaging in both personal and social transformation, since as the Lord (and Swedenborg) teaches us, we really cannot do one without doing the other.

To attempt social regeneration without personal regeneration would be a nonstarter—without doing the work of regeneration personally, we lack the awareness of our own shortcomings and the need for the inflow of divine goodness and truth to bring to the table of social change. Similarly, personal piety is meaningless if we do not apply it to our social connections and society. We see this in the “new commandment” the Lord Jesus (a.k.a. Rabbi Yeshua) and it is here in the difficult work of our social and societal regeneration that the rubber meets the road.

The Lord, Rabbi Yeshua, was especially clear that bigotry doesn’t exist in what he called “The Divine Realm” (a.k.a. The Kingdom of God or The New Jerusalem) and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and others have called “The Beloved Community.” Rabbi Yeshua made a special point to identify himself with the dispossessed—those the entrenched powerful reject.  Today we are called to dismantle both the personal and societal implicit biases and bigotry we have picked up from family and society that harms people of color, women, LGBTQ, the disabled, and the poor. Engaged Swedenborgianism is all about building beloved community.

Read the full issue of the March 2023 Messenger

Meet Dru Johnson

Dru Johnson (they/them) is a graduate of Pacific School of Religion and The Center for Swedenborgian Studies in Berkeley, California. Dru was especially excited to hear his mentor, Rev. Dr. Jim Lawrence, use the phrase “Engaged Swedenborgianism.”