With an intensity probably unknown to any other period in humanity's history a lot of energy is being invested into the mere surface of things, of events, of people. The way things look (instead of what they are), how people, events, or things are perceived (rather than truly are), and who has the best show (in times when trust among is crumbling away, this is what is left). There is a relentless appeal to the surface, the outmost layer of a physical object or space, in a speed that is breathtaking.
Depth and surface are central to debates about virtual reality, computers, and television. Depth and surface also relate to tweets and facebook, fake news and showtime, also in regard to cosmetics, body images and plastic surgery, visual impressions and contrived images, simulations and fakes. In his seminal work Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1995), Frederic Jameson investigates the "depthlessness" of postmodern culture, in particular within the art world. But it applies today, in the 21st century, to many more phenoma. There is f.e. a rapidly growing interest in virtual realities — in holographic projections, computerized games, and technologies designed to create heightened sense impressions. The emphasis seems to be on seeming and feeling, rather than on being and doing.
Interestingly the symbol of the media world is the screen - the symbol of the surface culture.
If surface is all there is, if "depth" is just another superficial layer beyond the initial surface, then nothing remains that is profound. And yet humanity's hunger for meaning is the most significant movement of thought underway in human culture.
Logic tells me there is no way that the five physical senses can ever take us beyond the surface. That is all they can touch, see, hear, smell, or taste. Sensebased knowledge is incapable of grasping something that doesn't have material parameters. It requires thinking and faith — a quiet heart — to perceive something different, something beyond the millions of layered surfaces presented by popular culture.
This "something beyond" was what Christ Jesus saw and taught. Here was someone who literally walked over water — surface — in defiance of material limitations. But as Mary Baker Eddy also noted concerning Jesus, "He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause" (Science and Health, p. 313). Jesus penetrated the surface of the material world that we call "real." He showed that there is a God who is transcendental to the human mind. She adds: "We cannot fathom the nature and quality of God's creation by diving into the shallows of mortal belief." (Science and Health, p. 292)
God's messages break through misperceptions of what is real and show us something else, the reality of Spirit and spiritual existence. In the modern age, long before our present surface culture, Mary Baker Eddy writes: "When examined in the light of divine Science, mortals present more than is detected upon the surface, since inverted thoughts and erroneous beliefs must be counterfeits of Truth. Thought is borrowed from a higher source than matter, and by reversal, errors serve as waymarks to the one Mind, in which all error disappears in celestial Truth" (Science and Health, p. 267). So do we need to believe all we see and hear? How do we get the facts - about Life, about our being?
All it takes to help forward the search for depth is a simple yearning for something beneath and beyond the surfaces of everyday life. We are being invited to dive into the dephts. And we are being asked every day by Life itself: "Hast thou walked in the search of the depth?" (38:16).
How spiritual perception healed someone who had attempted suicide you can read about here: Infinite good - the dawning and the meridian (by Allison W. Phinney)
A guest blog post by Anna-Lena Hathaway
As many families around the world prepare for Christmas, by playing music, putting up lights, or decorating a Christmas tree, I am reminded of a family tradition of celebrating the advent season. One definition of the Latin word “adventus” means “coming.” In many Christian churches, advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ and the celebration of the Nativity at Christmas. The advent season provides the opportunity to share the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah. Today, this countdown can be found in advent calendars with chocolate, socks, or other treats, and many families, churches, and cultures light a candle for the four Sundays before Christmas.
Years ago my grandmother Dorette Kreutziger, a Journal-listed practitioner of Christian Science, created her own “Christian Science advent calendar” by reading through the twenty-four questions and answers in the chapter “Recapitulation” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The discoverer and founder of Christian Science laid out these twenty-four questions and answers to explain the principles behind her discovery. Mrs. Eddy begins the chapter with the most fundamental question: “What is God?” to which the author writes: “God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love” (Science & Health, p. 465: 8). In her second question, Mrs. Eddy calls these terms synonymous with the “one absolute God” (Science & Health, p. 465: 12). Through these twenty-four questions and answers, she explains how to address and overcome challenges by affirming the ever-present power of God, our relationship with God, and how to apply these truths to our daily lives. She concludes her chapter with the “important points, or religious tenets, of Christian Science” (Science & Health, p. 497: 1). These twenty-four questions sum up the philosophy of Christian Science, whose purpose, Mrs. Eddy explains, is to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing” (Manual of the Mother Church p. 17: 12-13). My grandmother’s exercise makes for a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the divine Principles governing the universe as set forth by Christian Science, whether the reader is new to Christian Science or has been a student for many years.
Pondering the seven synonyms: Principle, Life, Love, Truth, Mind, Soul, and Spirit offer a daily opportunity to express God in unique and new ways and to find our own completeness as God’s infinite expression or reflection. As I look forward to diving into these questions and answers again this December, I am reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and greeted with an immense sense of gratitude for Christ Jesus. We can all increase our spiritual understanding by expressing and witnessing those synonyms for God in our daily lives.
Some further reading?
Our first real Christmas (by Scott Preller)
The Christmas season or Christmas: Which shall it be? (by James Spencer)
"...and I want to remember..." (by Kate Robertson)
Quiet anticipation in 24 steps (by Annette Kreutziger-Herr)
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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