Logopraxis is a term coined from the Greek words “Logos” and “praxis”, and means to practice the Word. It was developed by Reverend David Millar of the Australian New Church. In its most obvious form it’s a method for approaching the Word. On another level Logopraxis is a framework for building community. The community is based on each individual’s willingness to share with others what they discover from the Word and use in their lives. The following, written by practitioners of this approach, are responses to the question of how Logopraxis has been helpful in their lives.
Margit Irwin, Bryn Athyn, PA: Three years ago if someone asked me if I belonged to a Logopraxis group I probably would have replied that it was the sort of thing I would be uncomfortable with. Being a conservative type who has been uncomfortable whenever in a “care and share” group of any kind, Logo Praxis was not something I was looking for. However, a chance conversation with a classmate convinced me that it was worth at least trying it out. After all (and this was the clincher) it really wasn’t about me per se, but a chance to bring my religion into better focus. I am eternally grateful for that chance conversation!
Logo Praxis groups usually meet once every two weeks. During the two weeks leading up to to a meeting we read a short portion of a book of the Writings or the Bible with an eye towards what jumps out at us. We are then encouraged to use that part as a means for a focus for us during those weeks. We might zero in on our focus with starters like: be aware of, make a conscious effort to, reflect on, observe shifts of state when this truth is remembered, etc.
Suddenly, my life IS my religion, rather than religion being a part of my life. Making the daily effort to be aware of a truth that stood out for me in any given two weeks has been such a blessing. Working daily on better understanding Him and living with His will in mind rather than mine has been a wonderful experience. Noting the many times I fail to live up to His wishes for me has helped me to try harder. The Lord’s presence with me is now felt much more strongly. I have become aware of His truths and how much I need his constant help in order to draw closer to Him and what he wants for all of humanity.
The meetings themselves give space for reflection and for sharing what has transpired for us in the two weeks intervening. The intent is to help each other grow in our knowledge of the Lord and what he is trying to teach us. Our failures are as important if not more so that our “aha” moments. Our task is to make every effort to take personality out of the equation as we make our submissions for each week. The intent is not to direct or guide but continually turn back to and be guided by the Word of God, and to be supportive of that intent in our group members.
My greatest wish would be that more people could experience this practice of daily worship. I have reaped the blessings of being kinder, less judgmental, amazingly more hopeful and willing to work on my many shortcomings. There are miles yet to go, but I now live with the confidence that the Lord is always there to show me, through His Word, what steps I need to take as I stumble along the road towards His kingdom!
Margit can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Siri Y. Hurst, Huntingdon Valley, PA: How Logopraxis is helpful in my life. It might sound a bit dramatic to say that Logopraxis has significantly changed my life for the better, but it has and here’s how. Before starting Logopraxis I used to read the Word (Writings) on an intellectual level and sometimes apply what I learned to life, usually during adversity.
Now that I read the Word using the Logopraxis concept that everything, but EVERYTHING, applies to me and my state, the Word becomes alive. While I was raised to think this way, I did not have the Logopraxis tools to formulate a task from the reading and bring that into my daily life. And what is wonderful, I regularly meet with others who are on the same path and hear how they are applying truths in their life. It is a gift we give each other.
Logopraxis takes work. However, it is like climbing a mountain from which to view the natural life from something higher. This “seeing” of the natural life, especially the proprium, can help free us from it, or help us not identify with it. “The seeing is the freeing.” For me, this often brings a state of interior peace.
Logopraxis is not just an intellectual process but experiential. It is experiencing the Lord as the Word.
Siri can be contacted at email@example.com.
Gretchen Sandstrom, Bloomfield, Connecticut: Harald and I joined Logopraxis in February, 2016. I am just finishing two years in this program. I still feel like a newcomer. But I’m very happy to have found a new-to-me way of coming to my religion.
My upbringing in Pittsburgh, PA was New Church from the beginning. I went to New Church elementary school. I had two years of public high school and then went to Bryn Athyn for the other two years and four years of college. I learned the stories of the Word, about DLW and CL, always storing up cognitions and trying to remember representations. The Theta Alpha Journal’s regular feature “Let’s Apply” was one of my first explorations of using the teachings, beyond the obvious shunning evils as sins and aiming for Conjugial Love.
Our Logopraxis group leader, Rev. David Millar, reminds us to read the Word/Writings for application, devotion, and worship. The discovery that a whole movement was based on searching for what the Lord is telling me to do was very exciting and a little scary. The Gospel of John says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So seeing the Lord as the Word – including the Writings – means what I read there is the Lord speaking directly to me. Even offering instructions!
For example, Arcana Caelestia 4249 says: “Indeed temptation has its origin in angels’ maintenance of the person in goods and truths, while evil spirits maintain him in evils and falsities.” And 4249,2 says: “Whatever a person thinks and what he wills, that is all his thoughts and all his affections, originate either in hell or in heaven.” This is scary while also providing a feeling of relief. My thoughts and affections don’t really come from me. They come either from angels or from devils. What I can do is choose which ideas to retain or act on. When the devils are present, notice this and try to choose another behaviour, from the angels. Then the Lord can restore things to order.
Having our face-to-face Google Hangout group meeting is a huge benefit. Hearing what other members heard from the Lord broadens the value of the reading. It’s a real support system. We all see how the Lord “spoke” to or is inspiring each one of us individually! And being able to hear David Millar’s summing up and answers to questions is such a privilege.
Gretchen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dianna Synnestvedt, Bryn Athyn, PA: My spiritual practice has grown deeper since I became part of the Logopraxis community. I love the guidance and support I get from my fellow practitioners, and the structure that the method gives. I find I have more peace in my life as I am able to see my proprium for what it is, and try to apply principles in the Word to the life of my mind. One of the important things I have learned through practice is to be aware of levels of meaning when I am pondering a situation.
The structure of the method teaches me to find principles in the Word to live by, and the structure of the life group sessions allows the communities to share the activity of the Word in our lives with each other.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Dianna can be contacted at email@example.com.
Kirsten Schoenberger, Shelton, Connecticut: I was introduced to Logopraxis eight or so years ago. I heard that it was an approach to the building of a spiritual practice supported by a group of others engaged in the same work. We “met” via the exchange of emails. Today I am in an online group where we see and hear each other via the computer screen. Two people live in Australia and four in the USA. We meet every two weeks.
Perhaps because I like tasks with specific instructions, I was drawn to the format of the Logopraxis cycle. At the start of the cycle I read from a book of Sacred Scripture, pay attention to the portion that catches my attention, [and] pinpoint a spiritual principle seen there. Then I focus on how this principle functions in the realm of my mind until the group meets again. We come together to report on what we observed in our thoughts and affections during the previous two weeks. Each member of the group is fed by the experiences of the others. It is not a discussion. What we bring is an offering to the group. It feels holy and reverent. I feel the Lord in our midst.
The structured approach offers me a way to live my life from the Word. I was amazed that even after 13 years of New Church education and many years of actively participating in a church group, I hadn’t consciously taken in the idea that, “The Lord IS the Word”! Not that “The Lord is IN the Word”. Not that “The Lord INSPIRED the Word”. THE LORD IS THE WORD. I’ll never forget how deeply that moment affected me.
From then on when I read the Word I try to be open to the fact that the Lord is seeing me; doing His work within me. Right here. Right now.
Of course when the light of the Truths of the Word shine in, the proprium is exposed. It is not a pleasant thing. It sometimes feels like staring down into the fiery pit. When I see by the light of the Word, the Word Itself begins Its process of salvation in me. I can find comfort in the fact that since I have seen it, I can shun it. As we say in Logopraxis, ‘The freeing is in the seeing.’
One thing that I have learned in Logopraxis is that the Word shows me what I need to work on. I may think I know for myself what to work on to improve myself. But Who knows me the most intimately? The Lord presents me with important stuff to work on.
Logopraxis is not for everyone. I’m sure the Lord leads his people in the process of regeneration in many different ways. He led me to Logopraxis.
Kirsten can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gray Glenn, Kempton, PA: What difference do I perceive from doing Logopraxis? It has re-organized my thinking. I think differently than I used to, therefore, I respond differently to what life throws my way. Because of doing Logopraxis over a length of time, it has become easy to distinguish thoughts and affections from the Lord because the experience of them is now so separate from other thoughts and feelings. Because of this, I can’t take what is not from the Lord (just about everything) as seriously (for as long) as I used to. In turn, this opens the way to see more from what is the Lord.
The Lord leaves us free to live in our blindness, but doing Logopraxis can help us experience (in specific ways) how in our blindness we are not free.
Logopraxis involves setting up conditions to open the possibility of experiencing inner awareness from the Word. In Logopraxis the individual creates for his or her self new conditions every two weeks. Creating those conditions involves a meditative phase, an intellectual phase and a practical phase. The practical phase involves observing what happens under those pre-determined conditions. It is something an individual does regularly, on-going, to invite conscious participation in how the Lord reveals the proprium for what it is.
Logopraxis focuses on salvation as process, as the only activity of the Divine.
For me, Logopraxis has been a means of becoming more aware of how the Word works. It has provided many experiences which confirm the Divinity of the Living Word.
Gray can be contacted at email@example.com.
Hal Rosner, Philadelphia, PA: I’ve been in the Logopraxis community for about five years. I heard Reverend David Millar of the Australian New Church College give a presentation at the Swedenborgian Colloquium in 2012, and his talk deeply resonated with me. In the months that followed I was able to join a group organized by Gray Glenn. “LP” as it is often referenced by its followers, is my church. It is where I worship, commune with like minded souls, and experience the Lord’s presence through a commitment to spiritual practice.
At the Colloquium David spoke of declining church memberships and congregants becoming passive or perhaps even co-dependent in their relationship with traditional organizational models. In my life I experienced such complacency or even ambivalence in my own study of the Word. It seemed I was subsisting on a couple of favourite numbers from the Writings, to be applied to myriad woes in the context of my repentance journey. To complicate matters, my social circle of friends and relatives tended to be rabid nay-sayers, sceptics, and evangelical atheists.
The YouTube video of David’s talk is an excellent introduction to LP. The website SpiritandLife.net engages users at all levels so that participants are to be found world wide. My group, which meets face-to-face every two weeks, had been through Heaven and Hell, also Divine Love and Wisdom. We are now halfway through Divine Providence.
LP is a “disruptive innovation” much like Uber and Lyft upending the taxi industry, Amazon for retail shopping, and Spotify for purchasing music. The term typically refers to innovations that disrupt and displace existing markets. In this case, it is governing church institutions that may feel the impact.
I’m “all in” with the LP process, engaged with systematic weekly readings, also formulation and application of a task or spiritual focus. Daily. Weekly. I no longer read the Writings to analyse content, but instead lean in closely so that the Lord, the Word, reads me. This reversal of the traditional dynamic has resurrected and rejuvenated my spiritual life.
In LP there is a strong sense that participants are taking responsibility for their spiritual
growth and development. The ongoing commitment is to self-examination and repentance. The personal reflection that comes through practicing the truth builds a sense of community. LP as a process is often not pretty and often can by quite messy as the proprium is stripped of frivolous posturing and taken to task for holding on to bad behaviour. It is the application of spiritual truths that leads to a certain amount of liberation and freedom, and the powerful experience of the Lord in one’s life. All those ancient stories and all those volumes of the Writings provide the foundation and gateway, but knowledge has to be lived and put to use.
Hal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Walker, Perth: I grew up in the New Church in Australia and was raised into the belief that the spiritual world was just as present and real as this world. There never was any question in my mind that it wasn’t. In my 20’s and early 30’s I lived in the UK and the USA. I experienced exactly what I’d felt at home. I was part of a New Church community in each of these places but I didn’t feel spiritually connected to them. I slowly become disillusioned and disheartened at the diminishing size of the church culture and population, and to what seemed to me to be the corresponding lack of connection with the Lord in my own life. I longed for that connection but had no idea how to start and eventually fell into a dormant state of waiting.
Then about two years ago I was at a national New Church camp and had attended a session run by Rev. David Millar. I don’t remember Logopraxis being mentioned but the premise behind it was certainly present. The idea of reading with conscious attention to what the Lord is saying to us. The idea that the Lord IS the Word. And if I truly believed that – then why wasn’t I reading it anymore? The idea is that the Word reads us (not that we read it), and that it brings our states to our attention if we are willing to hear and see.
So . . . I was inspired to pick up the Sacred Scriptures that night with these ideas in mind. And something in me shifted and jolted me awake. Over the next month or so it brought me to a point where I was compelled—almost even given no choice—but to move forward and act. I had to begin. And Logopraxis was where I started.
Once I began to learn the skill of reading with conscious attention—I did start to hear and see the Lord more. But it didn’t stay limited to the text of Arcana Caelestia, which is what we were reading at the time. It transferred. The Sacred Scriptures suddenly seemed like a living entity. My Logopraxis life group became an opportunity for me to hear and see and love the Lord. My interactions with others in my life were opportunities. My dreams started to shed light on my states and even guide me to truths I needed to learn. I couldn’t see a tree anymore without thinking of perceptions or hear a bird without feeling ideas or look at the sunrise without a deep love rising in me for Him. I found connections opening up everywhere.
And I felt spiritually connected to a community: the idea that the Word, the Lord, is what unites us; the idea that if we share our experience of it with others, and not just our intellectual understanding—but our lived experience of the Word working in our life—then this gives us a glimpse of what heaven is; the idea of what a spiritual community is; the idea that if we practice self-examination and repentance not just for ourselves, but for others and for the community, then what we learn feeds them too.
This is a small summary of my experience of Logopraxis and it still continues to change every day, or rather my relationship with the Lord changes and deepens every day. We all have our unique role to play in the Grand Human and so we all experience the Lord differently. Therefore the practice of the process will be slightly different in each of us. (And it is just a process, until you apply it to your inner life and live it.) It is the sharing of goods and truths that link us together—it is the Lord in our midst.
Sarah can be contacted at email@example.com.
Alanna Rose, Plainfield, NY: I heard about Logopraxis after writing an article for the Theta Alpha Journal questioning why there were no esoteric chapters of the New Church, or Swedenborgian theology. What I received in response was a letter from Gray Glenn stating roughly, ‘It does exist! It’s called Logopraxis.’ I began listening to David Millar’s sermons online and was really inspired by his ability to connect obscure pieces of the Old Testament with internal states I was experiencing—basically his ability to bring the Word to life inside of me. I joined a Logopraxis group online after being cautioned that it was unusual for someone under 50 to join and that it was often unpleasant. How could I resist?!?
Working personally with sacred texts (the Bible, the Writings) in the context of David Millar’s understanding of Logopraxis has vivified concepts I have of myself, the Word (the Lord) and the human condition. It has drawn on basic truths I learned within a New Church context and electrified them. It has elevated my respect for the Word (the Lord) and brightened my sense of His presence as the Word ‘in me.’ Working with David Millar has righteously crushed my natural concept of ‘morality’ as a goal in itself. (Moral superiority is my lower self tying to merit salvation—an impossibility as salvation is in essence the Lord, and not something the proprium is even interested in.) Logopraxis exposes the proprium and its action within me and the degree of resistance the proprium has to the Lord’s influence. It’s given me more compassion for my fellow travellers (all of humanity) by showing me how miserable the states of the proprium really are to endure and how vigorously it strives to dominate my experience. The esoteric aspect I spoke of earlier is the mysterious way the Lord works inside of me. My understanding will certainly expand in the future as I practice, but what I gather now is that we cannot even see the proprium without revelation. When I see my lower self and its inclinations ‘I’ am seeing from the Lord. My efforts to see are important, but seeing is actually only the Lord’s. So where am ‘I’ anyway? I might add that this work is exceedingly slow going. Any false hope that I will ‘graduate’ or ‘arrive’ is exposed as the illusion it is. The Logopraxis process is a personal endeavour offering an eternal deepening that I can engage in (or resist) for as long as the Lord lives (forever). Thank goodness we have all day, so to speak.
Alanna can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about Logopraxis:
This article originally appeared in “Theta Alpha Journal” May 2018