Patrick McNamara – Dreams and revelations

One evening in the year 1745, a distinguished scientist was dining in a private room at a tavern in London, when suddenly he noticed a man sitting in a corner and apparently speaking to him. Fearing for his sanity, the scientist hurried home and fell asleep. Later that night, the man from the tavern appeared in the scientist’s dreams claiming to reveal the meaning of the Bible as God himself. That scientist, Emanuel Swedenborg, then aged 57, went on to write several books about the revelation, inspiring followers and a new religious movement. During its heyday in the United States in the 19th century, Swedenborgism claimed most of the New England Transcendentalists, including Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Swedenborgian religion persists today with some 30,000 adherents around the world.

Many religions began as a dream or vision in the mind of the founder. Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus to persecute the fledgling Christian community when ‘suddenly a light from heaven’ flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him:

Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? … I am Jesus… Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.

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