“Things Seen and Heard”, a popular movie currently running on Netflix, centers its message largely around Emanuel Swedenborg’s insights about the inter-connectedness of the natural and spiritual worlds. As members in the New Church, a denomination growing from a Christian perspective embedded with Swedenborgian thought, there is a lot to consider in terms of the film.
The key starting point is, as the famous quote goes, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience. We are instead spiritual beings having a natural experience.” In other words, our souls, connected to heaven, are the most real and living part of any of our lives.
And we get to choose.
We get to choose to connect to heaven. Or to hell. Literally connecting to the better angels of our nature or not. We can choose, in others words, light or dark. The movie plays heavily on that theme, with each of the main characters making startlingly different choices.
Is the veil between the natural and the spiritual “thin” at times, to use the ancient Celtic concept of “thin places”? The answer there is “yes.” At times heaven feels oh so palpably close. All of us have experienced those “thin places.” For one character, the “thin place” is when she allows herself to get lost in her weaving. For another, it is tied to a physical place. I think we can resonate with this concept in our own lives.
The movie is a horror film, not a tome to Swedenborg. That being said, the film is filled with points like those noted above, and as such is a great conversation starter.
Personally, I loved when the film focused on the “better angels” who surround us. And I winced at the seance scene – a practice distinctly not New Church.