Sunday, January 6, 2008

Quantum Epiphany

Epiphany Sunday manifested itself today, and privileged I was to be a substitute Sunday School teacher, for I enjoy the biblical story of The Three Kings. They probably were not kings, the Bible identifies them as wise men, and the number three comes from the fact that there are three gifts mentioned. There may have two Wise Men......or six, or ten.

The regular teacher had forgotten to include the lesson papers for the students, so we ad libbed. There were three students in attendance......perfect to be the three wise men. I brought along some shiny gold bows and a bottle of perfume to be the gifts. We read the story from the Bible, then set off to find the Christ Child. We tip-toed through the hallway and down into the empty church basement, looking for stars along the way. In the church sanctuary, we spied many stars on the Christmas trees and on banners hung between the stained-glass windows. I had brought along a snow-globe with the Holy Family inside, so that was the Epiphany for us. The children knelt and presented their gifts. Then they pretended to be asleep and have the dream warning them not to go back and report to King Herod. They returned home to their Sunday School classroom by another route, as per the Bible story. Our alternate path took us by the deacons who were getting things ready for the church service, putting hymn numbers up on the board, etc. They smiled when we told them what we were doing.

Later, during his sermon, the pastor burst our bubble of awe concerning the Three Wise Men. He described them as clueless occultists! Thank goodness they did pay attention to their dreams, though! He then chided anyone who might be tempted to view coincidences as something special, or as a message from God. Maybe this pastor who I hardly know has read my mind, and was preaching to me go my paranoid thoughts. But, nonetheless, I'm intrigued by scientific studies of meaningful coincidence. Could it be a coincidence that he preached about coincidence?!

After his sermon, the pastor rushed so fast through the Lord's Prayer that we could not get all the words in. How ridiculous is that? These pastors are so hung up on following all the proper "rubrics" of the service, chanting just so, etc., etc., but then think nothing of rushing through the Lord's Prayer and ruining it for the congregation. On the way out of church, as I shook his hand, I told him, "Good sermon, but the Lord's Prayer was done way too fast."

Back to coincidence.......this afternoon after a Sunday dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatos and gravy, I retired to the sofa and read from Robert Moss' book The Three "Only" Things. In chapter 5, "Where Mind and Matter Meet", he writes: "The great psychologist Carl Jung lived by coincidence. He achieved a profound understanding that through the study of coincidence we will come to grasp that there is no real separation between mind and matter at any level of reality------a finding confirmed by the best of our physicists.........the incidents of our lives and patterns of our world are connected by meaning , and that meaningful coincidence may guide us to the hidden order of events..........I want to reclaim the word coincidence because I like the notion of things 'falling together' with the implied action of a hidden hand."

And here's an interesting tidbit: "........the idea that coincidences are important is troubling to some in the psychiatric community.........a Swiss psychiatrist named Klaus Conrad made up the word apophenia to describe a psychotic condition he defined as the 'unmotivated seeing of connections' accompanied by a 'specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness'." (Maybe he was a Lutheran........they're not supposed to "experience" the meaningful in their religious life.)

In conclusion, this sentence from page 109 hit home with me: "When we navigate by coincidence, we move effortlessly into creative flow. When we project our delusions onto the world around us, we put ourselves in a place of blockage and pain." I did that once, and, yes, it resulted in pain. Not physical pain, but mental pain from making a complete idiot of myself.

Somehow, the thought comes that the Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence is an attempt at intentionally setting up a meaningful coincidence. The bread and wine are coincidentally the Body and Blood of Christ due to the Words spoken over them by the Pastor. Maybe quantum physics is involved........Moss writes: "Quantum physics shows us the universe as a dynamic web of connection.........Particles that have once been in contact with each other remain connected through all space and time........Subatomic particles exist in all possible states until they are observed------at which point something definite emerges from the soup of possibilities." When the pastor speaks the Words of Institution, is that akin to "observing" or recognizing the Body and Blood of Christ......bringing it into reality in the bread and wine??

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