Helen Keller was a Swedenborgian

Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell was the first book of the philosopher’s writings that Hitz gave to Helen in raised print. “I opened the big book, and lo, my fingers lighted upon a paragraph in the preface about a blind woman whose darkness was illumined with beautiful truths from Swedenborg’s writings,” Helen later wrote, observing that, as she read Swedenborg’s words, she came to believe that his writings compensated her for the complete loss of her vision. From that moment on, never did she doubt that there was a spiritual body within her own imperfect physical one and that, after a few dark soundless years, the spiritual eyes within her own unseeing eyes would open to a world infinitely more satisfying than this flawed one:

My heart gave a joyous bound. Here was a faith that emphasized what I felt so keenly—the separateness between soul and body, between a realm I could picture as a whole and the chaos of fragmentary things and irrational contingencies which my limited physical senses met at every turn. I let myself go, as healthy, happy youth will, and tried to puzzle out the long words and the weighty thoughts of the Swedish sage.

Every morning before breakfast, Hitz laboriously transcribed Swedenborg’s writing into Braille for Helen to further her religious study. As Helen later commented, she credited Swedenborg with imparting to her “a richer interpretation of the Bible, a deeper understanding of the meaning of Christianity and a precious sense of the Divine Presence in the world. . . .
His central doctrine is simple. It consists of three main ideas: God as Divine Love, God as Divine Wisdom, and God as Power for use.”

Thus, from the age of sixteen, Helen Keller considered herself a Swedenborgian.

from Light in My Darkness by Helen Keller


Previously Cited: 9/13/2018

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