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
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
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.)