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Engaged Swedenborgianism’s Fractal Divine Design

Social Justice Committee

By Dru Johnson

Fractal (mathematics/physics): a pattern made of smaller patterns of exactly the same shape.

Creation began from the highest or inmost things because it began from the Divine, and it proceeded to the last or outermost things and there it came to rest. (The outermost level of creation is the physical world, including our globe of lands and seas and everything on it.) Once all this was finished, then humanity was created, and into humanity was gathered every level of the divine design from first to last. Things on the first level of that design were incorporated into what is inmost in us, and things on the outermost level were incorporated into what is outermost in us. The result is that we have been made embodiments of the divine design (E. Swedenborg, Last Judgement §9).

To me one of the most profound and far-reaching insights that Swedenborg contributed is the metaphor of the “divine design” and the divine design’s metaphorical fractal architecture of reality. What I mean by “fractal architecture” is that every level of the divine design is built with similarly shaped components of God’s essence love and wisdom. Further, all the realms of reality, taken as a whole constitute what Swedenborg labeled the Grand Human. I think the primary value these metaphors bring us is to remind us that we most fully embody the divine design when we find ways to love our neighbors as ourselves as the Lord commanded. As this fractal architecture directs us to wrestle with again and again, this is not only on the individual level, but on the levels of groups, communities, societies, peoples, and humanity as well. From the bottom all the way up to the very top, God is love, and it follows that at all levels we are called to participate in the divine dismantling of hellish domination systems and transforming according to God’s fractal partnership blueprint. 

Read the full issue of the April 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.”