For the first time since 2019 the Swedenborg Foundation held its annual meeting in person (as well as online). Members and friends gathered in Pendleton Hall to hear reports about the Foundation’s progress from Foundation president, Dr. Soni Werner.
“In 2011 Jonathan Rose and Curtis Childs started our first online community of viewers, readers and listeners. They started on Facebook, focusing on reading “Heaven and Hell.” They had ten comments in 2011. Now, ten years later in 2021 we had over 10,000 comments about Swedenborg’s works, posted online from our viewers.” In 2015 we reported that visitors had spent 4.8 million minutes watching the offTheLeftEye YouTube channel. In 2016 that number had increased to 21.5 million minutes. Five years later, in 2021, the number is 34 million minutes. The most popular video, “What Happens Immediately After You Die,” has had over two million views in just the last two years.
Book sales have also increased substantially over the past few years. Three new books are expected to come out in 2022: “Secrets of Heaven” volumes 3 and 4, and “Survey” (Brief Exposition).
A recent ambition of the offTheLeftEye (OTLE) team is to make OTLE a primary gateway for Google searches on passages from the Word. OTLE receives a monthly grant from YouTube to apply to Google ads, but they only receive it when people click the ads and watch the videos. They have found that many people search for the meaning of verses from the Old and New Testaments, and that ads focusing on this are very effective – doubling and tripling their results. This is the work of Chris Dunn, who says that his effort is to use best practices from the Writings themselves to guide their work.
Another thing that the team has done is to organize the YouTube channel according to categories, using what they call the “power of the playlist” to make it easy for people to look for spiritual answers. Categories such as “The Problem of Evil (Theodicy),” “The Brain,” “The Spiritual Side of the Physical Sciences,” “Symbols in Nature” and many others lead people to easily explore topics that interest them. The work of the Foundation has been more and more successful each year, with a great deal of attention being paid to creating and maintaining a continuing engagement with the Writings.