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Features

Introduction to 'The Travelers' by Joseph Sconce
By Joseph Sconce
Jan 12, 2014 - 12:30:06 AM

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The following manuscript is a novel based on the spiritual writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-- 1772). Swedenborg was a scientist of great renown in the eighteenth century, and by the age of fifty-seven, he had written over twenty books on the sciences known during that period, especially astronomy and cosmology, as well as philosophical works about the essence of the human soul. He was, in other words, one of the last of the Renaissance men--that is, a person who possessed all the knowledge available to know by the standards of the time.

Starting in 1745, and for the remaining twenty-seven years of his life, Swedenborg experienced what skeptics claim were "mystical" experiences, in which he communicated with God through angels. He was fully awake and aware during these "mystical" occurrences, and he wrote what he learned from the experiences. The information he recorded came to be known as the Writings, which total twenty-nine volumes and about eighteen thousand pages of revelations from God. His experiences and writings cannot really be classified as "mystical," since Swedenborg never claimed to be in communion with God or encouraged people to try communication with the spiritual world. Swedenborg also did not start or encourage the foundation of a new religious organization based on these Divine Revelations.

The first organization founded based on the Writings was founded twenty years after Swedenborg's death. His experience can be better classified as receiving vast amounts of information from God through angels so that some of the veiled mysteries surrounding what is said in the Bible were made clear for a humanity that was starting to embrace the scientific disciplines and to question the Bible's large amount of literal irrationality.

Swedenborg's best known work is "Heaven and Hell", and for good reason. In the five-hundred-page book, Swedenborg tells us in great detail how God structured the spiritual world and what people on Earth have to do to reach Heaven and avoid Hell. I believe that it is fair to say that the most important aspect of religion for almost all humans who are even minimally religious is whether there is an afterlife and, if so, what type of life on Earth will lead a person to Heaven. In this great work, God, through Swedenborg, tells us exactly what we need to do to achieve the joy of a heavenly life.

This novel is based largely on this book by Swedenborg, although it is supplemented by other books of the Writings, such as Conjugal Love, Divine Providence, Divine Love and Wisdom, and, most importantly, The Earths in the Universe. The fictional events of this novel, to the best of my ability, follow the parameters set by Heaven and Hell; the novel is a fictionalized description of what happens to people when their natural bodies cease to function and they arrive in the spiritual world.

Swedenborg was a scientist, and therefore, logical reasoning was of great importance to him, so God transmitted His Divine Revelation to Swedenborg in logical terms. The vast majority of the Writings (with a few interesting exceptions that are an important part of the novel) are quite logical in the presentation of God's Wisdom, and the Writings make up the third Judeo-Christian Divine Revelation, or Testament. One of the basic principles that Swedenborg emphasizes is that true faith is a belief that can be rationally understood. In other words, if a person does not understand or see the logic of a certain piece of doctrine, he or she should not believe it--a principle that is almost the complete opposite of what most other belief systems espouse.

I ask the reader to develop the same attitude in relation to what is said in the novel in regard to the afterlife--the reader should be skeptical but open-minded about what is being described. I ask the reader only to accept the possibility that God gave Swedenborg this testament and to analyze the spiritual message of the novel to decide if this possibility is based on a logical foundation and, therefore, if what happened to Swedenborg was a true Divine Revelation. I also ask the reader to give some serious thought to what a truly joyful eternal life in Heaven would consist of.

I believe that most everybody, to use a classic and clich├ęd view of Heaven, after thinking about it for a few minutes, would find the idea that angels are sexless beings playing harps on clouds for eternity an idea of a Hell, not a Heaven. Is the view that life in heaven consists almost entirely of constant praying and singing of hymns forever truly heavenly? What would, for each reader, constitute an eternal life in which a person could be truly content and in peace forever? This is the most important question asked in the novel, and I believe that the answer, while initially surprising, will, logically, be the only answer that could make anybody eternally content and therefore in a heavenly place.

Prophets--that is, people who claim to have received revelations from a Supreme Deity--are regarded with great skepticism in today's hi-tech, science- driven world. A Supreme Deity communicating with a certain person to give information about what the afterlife is like is, by definition, a miracle, and so-called miracles are highly suspect. However, if there is a God, He would try to give His children, the human race, guidance on how to lead moral and decent existences on Earth, which means that at least some of the prophets were genuine, and the Divine Revelations they received are true in one way or another.

The only other option is atheism, which many science-dominated people embrace. I believe that almost all belief systems (some more than others) have merit to them and, in their non politicized form, are helpful in making us better people. The one exception is atheism. Atheism, which is, ironically, embraced by people who claim to only believe in the logic that science espouses, is the most irrational of all beliefs.

The concept that this universe, with its incredibly complex yet harmonious organization, happened by chance and out of nothing is so absurd that anybody who really believes that is insane on some level. How could this vast universe emerge out of nothing? At some level, someone had to be the originator and organizer of the universe, and that someone had to be some form of a Supreme Deity to accomplish such a monumental task. The belief that nothing created something is beyond insane.

I am a believer in science when science tries to describe how the universe and the human race came to exist. But when science tries to explain why the universe and we are the way we are, science is ill suited to give any answers. No scientific discipline can ultimately answer a question that begins with why. For example, has science ever answered the following simple questions: Why is the speed of light 186,232 miles per second, and why is this the highest speed attainable by anything in the universe? Science will never be able to answer these simple questions, because the answers lie not in science but in religion. The speed of light is what it is because God made it so when He created the universe, for reasons that He has not told us yet. However, in my opinion, it is interesting that this ultimate speed limit on space travel could eventually make travel within our solar system quite convenient, with even Pluto just five hours away, but travel to other solar systems would take so long as to be completely impractical.

Maybe God does not want communication between the many humanlike races that undoubtedly exist in this vast universe, and considering that we have enough trouble living in peace with humans from other races or nations on Earth, God is probably right in making it next to impossible for Earth humans to achieve meaningful contact with sentient beings from other planets. Therefore, in this novel, the belief of atheism is the one for which the criticism is absolute and uncompromising. Atheism is an insane concept, and anybody who truly believes in it is largely insane in a spiritual sense.

I wrote the novel based on not only what Swedenborg says in Heaven and Hell but also my own life experiences and beliefs.

Therefore, the character of Joseph is me. The parts relating to Earth are autobiographical, and the parts that take place in the afterlife are a projectional spiritual pre autobiography. One of the principles of Swedenborgianism is that the only person that we can spiritually judge is ourselves. We can never judge whether anyone else is headed to Hell. Therefore, with one partial exception, all the other characters who are in the spiritual world in this novel have to be, and are, fictional.

This is not the first Swedenborgian novel that has been written. To my knowledge, at least five other novels based on the Swedenborgian belief system have been written. These five novels were part of my inspiration to write this novel, and I have a great debt of gratitude to Louis Pendleton (author of The Invisible Police and The Wedding Garment in the 1930s) and Naomi Gladish Smith (author of The Arrivals, The Wanderers, and The Searchers within the last ten years) for inspiring me in attempting to do what they did so well.

In a Swedenborgian novel, all the characters die, or transition, in the first chapter, with the rest of the story happening in the spiritual world. The reader should not look at the deaths in the first chapter as scary and depressing events but as simply the beginning of a wondrous afterlife. I sincerely hope that the reader enjoys this novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Joseph Sconce

'The Travellers' by Joseph Sconce
Format: Perfect Bound Softcover
Pages: 662
Size: 6x9
ISBN: 978-1-45257-736-4
Print Type: B/W
Price $33.99


Excerpt from: "The Travelers: The Wonders of Journeying in the Afterlife" by J.L. Sconce
At Magic City Morning Star
Dec 10, 2013

Today author Joseph Lima Sconce has provided us with an excerpt from his book "The Travelers: The Wonders of Journeying in the Afterlife". We at Magic City Morning Star are happy to help authors promote their books if they provide us with something other than advertising. The main theme of the book is that the afterlife is real and substantial and that all of us, when we arrive there at some point, will soon realize this. Our spiritual bodies are very much like our natural bodies, except that the spiritual bodies are in perfect shape. Life in the afterlife is, at least superficially, very much like life on Earth. People in the spiritual world live in real places: beautiful cities or country locations in heaven, and noisome slums in hell. People there work as they do on Earth--willingly and joyously in heaven, not so in hell.

  • R.P. Bendedek will shortly be providing a review of this book at Magic City

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