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The Swedenborg Bookroom

Narrative - October 18, 1983

"The Swedenborg Bookroom - How it All Started" Recording done in her 86th year at the Candelight Lodge Retirement Home, Columbia, Missouri. Her own story. Review by Leon S. Rhodes: All those interested in the work of spreading the doctrines, and especially those who sometimes feel discouragement, will have a most delightful visit with an eighty-six-year-old woman whose single-handed efforts over half a century have set an inspiring pattern. Mrs. Nadine Coleman has taken about half an hour from her retirement to put on tape a most fascinating personal story, relating it in such a charming and friendly way that each listener will feel that he has found a New Church friend. Nadine sounds so relaxed and informal that one feels she is casually conversing about herself, but the content of this 46-minute tape suggests that she has given it much thought and planning over a long period of time. It tells of her first unplanned contact with a book by Emanuel Swedenborg, price 5 cents at the 1933 Chicago Exposition, and traces the providential steps which resulted in her opening a Swedenborg book room in Columbia, Misouri, and incidents through the sixteen years as she worked single-handedly to make available the works of the Writings which are so dear to her. With a background as a Methodist and Baptist, she had no real interest in religion in 1933, but she did have tired feet, and an exhibit in the Hall of Religion seemed to offer a restful haven. A little paperback with "the outlandish title" of Heaven and Hell cost just a nickel-which seemed a reasonable price-and she flipped through a few pages in a rather indifferent way when-while she and her husband had lunch-a thief stole their belongings. She was sufficiently piqued to order another copy of HH which she then began to read in a manner she says resulted in "mental indigestion," poring through it while operating her washing machine in the first of what she estimates was at least forty-five readings. In each reading, she says, finding "something new." Although she fully expected others to share her interest and excitement, she found herself alone in this exploration for half a dozen years before she wrote an article published by the Kansas City Star. Through this publicity and her programs for women's clubs, she made contacts which encouraged her to try more, but it was an unexplainable urge to restore an old Victorian house close to the University of Missouri that led to her setting aside one room and furnishing it to become the Swedenborg Book Room. Her tape includes accounts of visitors-men from the university and women from nearby Stevens College-many who dropped in out of curiosity or perhaps to ridicule or challenge her work, and it is easy to imagine how her calm and affectionate manner so often resulted in a visitor remaining for two hours or more. With the help of the Swedenborg Foundation, she was able to "sow seeds"-to distribute works of the Writings and to explain the doctrines to a long parade of visitors. Many will be able to recognize some of the people who play a part in her story and to share her feelings as a seeking mind was opened to these new truths. Her account-as has so often been the case-tells that though she was reading the Writings with devotion, she was unaware of any organized church, but finally was led to the Convention group in St. Louis, and later to the General Church, into which she was baptized in 1962 by Rev. Kurt Nemitz. This very personal account can be played for the mere enjoyment of an interesting story, but there is much more here that has direct application in the lives of each of us hoping for the spread of the Teachings. Nadine closes with her expression of thanks for the privilege of having been able to share in this "most important work on earth," and as a miraculously tiny tape cassette available through the General Church Recording Committee, her message will continue to bear fruit and bring delight to future New Church men and women to whom the Lord's Providence will direct her message. | By Multiple Speakers | Unknown
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