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The Hopeful Year - Preface spiritual wisdom logo

Devotional books are for devotional people, but this anthology is not like that at all. The pieces gathered here were drawn together by no divine thread, so far as I am aware - but who knows? Religious thinking, it seems to me, concerns itself for the most part with all those things we mortals do not know, about which our deepest uncertainties revolve. So, although a spirit of optimism links this odd assortment, it springs not from conviction, but from aspiration.

One who did claim insight into the eternal mysteries, and who spoke from utter conviction, was the eighteenth-century seer, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).Few have reported from actual observation, as he apparently did, and surely no-one has ever written about spiritual things so voluminously nor, indeed, so laboriously. I choose, therefore, to examine a little of what he wrote, and I use him to spark-off each weekly selection.

I have condensed and rephrased these extracts in a style such as Swedenborg just might have used, had he been writing today for the ‘ordinary reader’. Scholars will say that I have taken such liberties as to alter him beyond all recognition. Perhaps we had better say, then, that these are adaptations rather than quotations. Even so, I do not put new words into his mouth unless they enlighten what he is evidently trying to tell me.

On day two there follows a commentary in which I attend to some of the problems, and to the many comforts, that may be found in Swedenborg’s uncompromising and often dogmatic pronouncements. These are my own reflections.

The remaining five days of each week are each given to some quotation chosen for its relevance to the theme in hand - not always because I find it true, but simply because it interests me in some strange way.

The week concludes with a short supplication - I hesitate to call it a prayer - in which I seek to encapsulate a personal hope for the future.

What is it all for? An assortment such as this may help us to refine our ideas about God, about heaven, about the world in which we find ourselves, about our own hidden ambitions, and other profound matters. Perhaps this is what people mean these days when they use woolly terms like ‘self-awareness’, but, at all events, I hope these pages will entertain. A daily dose could maybe strengthen the reader in the search for meaning and purpose in this perilous world.

G.Roland Smith  Hadlow Kent 2001


Copyright Notice as it appeared in the original book.

The right of G.Roland Smith to be identified as the author of the adaptations from Swedenborg which appear first in each of the 52 thematic sections of this book, and of the commentaries which immediately follow them, has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The remaining text is from a wide variety of sources including copyright material for which permission to print has been diligently sought. (See Acknowledgements and Index of Authors and Sources in the original publication.)