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Thinking about Moon-Dwellers

by Normal J Berridge

To the Editor

In response to that delightfully-written item in the April issue, "My Wife Thinks There's Men on the Moon," I would like to offer the following comments and quotations.

Many of those who believe that there are people in the moon believe also that the Writings are the Word of the Lord, and they may like to apply to the Writings themselves what the Writings teach about the Word. This of course has already been the subject of much study (see eg. The Crown of Revelations by Alfred Acton) and it is necessary here to quote only a few examples to point the well-known teaching about the literal sense, for it is in the literal sense of the Writings that we read "I was told by the angels that they were from the Moon" (AC 9233) and other things to similar effect. I have selected the following passages concerning the literal sense of the Word.

"The truths of the sense of the letter of the Word, are, in part, not naked truths, but appearances of truth, and as it were similitudes and comparisons taken from such things as are in nature; thus, they are accommodated and adapted to the capacity of the simple, and also of children. . . . They are also like the scientifics of the natural man . . . " (SS 40)

"The Word was spoken according to appearances with man" (AC 589)

" . . . the sense of the letter of the Word, where it speaks according to the apprehension of man, and therefore according to the fallacies of his senses" (AC 735)

"The language of the Word is adapted to the apprehension of the simple in heart who scarcely go beyond the cognitions that are derived from things of sense" (AC 926).

"I said that in the Word many things, even more than one can believe are said according to appearances and according to the fallacies of the senses . . . for to speak otherwise than as man apprehends would have been to sow seed in the waters, and to say that which would be at once rejected. . . . Thus the sense of the letter perishes as it ascends and becomes spiritual then celestial, and at last Divine." (AC 1874)

Some of the passages from the Old Testament to which these quotations refer (see eg. AC 588) show that the literal sense is sometimes the opposite of the genuine truth of the internal sense (as, for example where it is said that God is angry or that He repents). From this one might imagine that the literal sense of the Writings could perhaps be different from the genuine truth within.

It seems to me that a simple belief about people in the moon, in agreement with the idea that the Lord would not make a satellite unless He wanted to put people on it, has something in common with those passages in the Old Testament where anger, revenge, repentance, and such like are attributed to the Lord in order to enable the simple to believe in Him as a first step towards a more enlightened belief in the future. With more knowledge one may think that the acts of creation and the uses of created matter involve far more than an arbitrary decision to have one earth here with one satellite and another over there with nine and so on.

If we wish to speculate about the possibility of other meanings for the account of the moon-dwellers it is easy to remember that the moon signifies faith, and we can think that those whose life is confined to faith are small in spiritual stature and tend to carry each other about, for, lacking the inspiration of charity some invent doctrine which the rest then rely upon. (This we learn for example from Apocalypse Revealed). This case of men and spirits also lack genuine understanding, (the lungs; DLW 382) and perception (the bronchia; DLW 405) so that there is no reception of air (the Divine wind or spirit). Indeed common intuition speaks of some people living in a mental vacuum. For their pronouncements such men must rely upon a substitute for air ie. for the spirit and this substitute could be a gas formed from the decomposition of food by bacteria, ie. the breakdown of good by the activity of evil and falsity. Moreover they like to pretend that their utterances are from the Divine, Hence they try to produce a noise like thunder. (Voices of thunder signify truths Divine; AC 7573).

It will be clear to readers of AC 9232-9237 that the ideas suggested above do not seem to tally perfectly with every particular in the account in Arcana Coelestia. For example the representation by moon-dwellers of even only a tiny cartilage in the Grand Man suggests that they are in heaven and could not be in faith alone. On the other hand, evil ones are sometimes related to the Grand Man, as in AC 8593 where we read "In the Grand Man these genii belong to the province of the cerebellum.

Returning to the account in AC 9232, we note that the simpler spirits with Swedenborg laughed at the moon-dwellers. This suggests that perhaps we should not take these matters too seriously, and that the light-hearted approach in "My wife thinks there's men on the moon" is the right one. All the same laughter signifies the affection of truth (AC 2072) and of course it is the love of truth which is the basis of our interest in this matter.

NORMAN J. BERRIDGE

Reading, England

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