It would be impossible to review this book without mentioning two things: the Bunny Museum and a bit about Emmanuel Swedenborg, the focus of this book. Candace Frazee who wrote this book is a true L.A. eccentric. She runs the Bunny Museum in Pasadena, CA – listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest collection of bunny paraphernalia. The story goes that Candace Frazee’s husband bought her a stuffed bunny as a present and their collection was built and built from there.
From the site: “The 1928, Spanish stucco, Pasadena home of Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski, is filled with almost everything bunny! Over 23,000 bunny collectibles: most of their furniture, light fixtures, kitchenware, toiletries, books, and games are bunny themed. And lounging around their house, they have five real bunny pets that do not live in cages, and are litter box trained!”
It looks like this (one of the rooms – pictured with Candace Frazee, who only dresses in red):
So There is an Answer is sold to visitors of the Bunny Museum – and therein lies some of the problem. Though Candace Frazee has great enthusiasm for her subject, the book reads more like a souvenir than a complete authority on the subject of Emmanuel Swedenborg. Frazee runs SILA – Swedenborg Information of Los Angeles – and the book is a collection culled from SILA’s newsletter. Mostly, the book is a collection of correspondence from the newsletter’s readers. People write in questions about Emmanuel Swedenborg and Candace Frazee answers these questions in a conversational tone, which is also informative. An example:
Who is Swedenborg and why should I read him?
Emanuel Swedenborg was a wealthy scientist who went looking for the human soul in cadavers and ended up finding it in the Word of God. For a rich man he lived modestly, mostly in rooming houses in various countries. He wrote over fifty science books and pamphlets in fields ranging from chemistry, mining, physics, mathematics, mechanics, anatomy, geology, hydraulics, optics, botany, magnetics, mineralogy, and astronomy to acoustics.
Swedenborg was an exceptional man of science who drafted many inventions such as the earliest model for an airplane…
Interest in Swedenborg often stops at his scientific knowledge… When he was 56, in 1744, the Lord God came to him and said that He had chosen Swedenborg to explain to people the spiritual sense of biblical scripture. From that day on Swedenborg “talked” with angels and spirits till the day he died in 1772—twenty-eight years later.
Swedenborg asked his employer for early retirement when all this happened. He was offered a promotion instead, but turned it down in order to have time to write his spiritual “findings.” He eventually wrote 30 books on Christianity….
As a person with an interest in esoteric theology, I’ve read a fair amount about Swedenborg and he is an intensely interesting and thought-provoking theologian. What makes this book infectious is that Frazee clearly loves her subject. But it is not a kind of creepy, cult-like belief, as could be the case in a book about an esoteric philosophy. Nor is it at all judgmental about people who don’t believe in Swedenborg’s teachings. More, Frazee just displays her affection for his life and work and wants to share the joy she’s derived from his writing.
The problem arises because the book is not totally well-organized. On the one hand, this is part of the book’s charm – it is by no means a professional biography and doesn’t at all try to maintain objectivity. But at the same time, if you’re looking for a chronological history of the man’s life and work and to get a clear sense of what he wrote and how he lived, this is not the best way to go about reading a biography.
But if you’re looking for a more-unique window into the life of Swedenborg, as told by a singularly unique person, then this book is interesting. If you’re a Swedenborg completist (they’re out there), then this is also a unique take on the subject. But if you’re looking for a scholarly, traditional take on Swedenborg, you should look elsewhere. This book could have been organized more effectively and been able to qualify as a biography, but in its current form it’s a sort of free-for-all of Emmanuel Swedenborg information.
Whatever the case, you should visit the Bunny Museum.