Defenseless?

Image titled I want my mommy by anyjazz65

Image titled “I want my mommy” by anyjazz65

My wife Carol has an amazing affinity for animals of all kinds.  Our house is a virtual Noah’s ark of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, fish, and other assorted, furry varmints.  Each pet enjoys Carol’s special blend of care and attention.  She has a natural ability to communicate with animals in a way that leaves me awestruck.

For example, earlier this week, my son Derek and I were in the basement with the windows open when we heard a commotion in the backyard.

“What’s that noise?” Derek asked me.

“I don’t know.  It sounds like a bird fight,” I replied, vaguely aware of Carol rushing out the back screen door as I spoke.

Five minutes later, Carol called to us, “Don’t let any of the cats out.  I just caught Choco about to attack a baby bird that fell out of its nest!”

Sure enough, when I went out back, there was a baby robin clutching a branch in our little Japanese maple tree.  The loud noises earlier had been the baby’s frantic mother calling for help, and Carol had answered.  Over the course of that evening, we watched her cautiously feed her baby, and tracked his progress out of the tree and onto the top of our privacy fence.

“He’ll be fine as long as the cats and dogs don’t get him,” Carol advised me.  “Be careful when you let the dogs out in the morning.”

The next morning, I followed her instructions to the letter, and even searched our yard for our little visitor, finding no sign of him.  Carol had errands to run in town, and I headed for the computer.  But within half an hour, I heard those same, frantic bird calls from the previous day in the backyard.  Vowing not to make the same mistake twice, I hurried out into the backyard.

I circled our fence twice, finding nothing.  I was just about to give up the search when I discovered our cat with the baby robin on our back deck.  He had dragged the baby to our back door and was preparing for the kill.  The baby looked up at me and opened its beak in a silent call for help.  Tiny clumps of feathers scattered about him on the floor boards testified to the terror he had suffered in the past five minutes.

I quickly tossed the cat in the house, then turned back to tend to the wounded bird.  My first thought was to move him back to the relative safety of the fence again, but as I started to reach down to pick him up, a quieter voice that sounded a lot like Carol’s spoke in my mind: If you touch him, his mother will stop taking care of him.

I knew that voice was right.  So, reluctantly, I went back in the house.

He looked so defenseless sitting there by himself, but each time we went out to check on him, we would find his mother hard at work bringing him food to eat.  It wasn’t long before he was moving around the deck thanks to her efforts.  We helped her by letting our dogs out the basement door and blocking the stairs to the deck to protect the baby.

Slowly it dawned on me that baby robin wasn’t defenseless at all.  His Defender had a plan for him all along, and we were all playing our parts in it.

Late that afternoon, Carol called to me, “I haven’t seen the momma bird lately.  Do you see the baby anywhere?”  A thorough search of the back yard confirmed he had gained enough strength to leave.

Good luck to you, little guy.  May all the others you encounter along your path heed the Voice that brings healing and peace to this world.

A New Beginning

Image by _gee_s photostream.  Click on the picture to see more images from him.

Image by _gee_'s photostream. Click on the picture to see more images from him.

The rumor mill was buzzing at work when I arrived there on Wednesday:  layoffs were beginning again.  Coworkers were gathered in small groups, speaking in hushed tones.  As the morning dragged on, I overheard anxious and tearful clips of conversations as people passed by in the hallway beyond my cube.  The rumors were true.

I focused on performing my normal Wednesday morning activities.  At lunch, I went to the fitness center to work out.  The effort and sweat of the work out was therapeutic.  The chattering voices in my head cleared as I focused on the physical effort of exercising.

And in that quiet place, I realized that I couldn’t have planned for what was happening at work by judging from my past experiences.  I needed to trust to the Spirit’s guidance in the moment, just as I did at the ice skating rink (click here to see that post).

“But what would I do if I got laid off?” I thought.  “That would be a huge challenge to my ability to follow the Spirit’s guidance.”

But almost as soon as I had that thought, a sense of peace came over me.  I was being answered, “Of course you able.”

When I returned to work at 1:00, my fellow cube-dweller Roy said that my manager had been looking for me.  I spotted her down the hall and walked over to her.  “Can you come with me?” she asked.

And I instantly knew: for the first time in my life, I was being laid-off.

I have always had a clear picture in my mind of how I would feel and act when I finally got the tap on my shoulder.  Let me tell you, it would not have been pretty, but that’s not what happened.  Instead, in that moment, I felt something far different:

Acceptance.

Peace.

Liberation.

A smile spread across my face, and I couldn’t wipe off that silly grin through the entire termination process.  I even found myself comforting my manager and the HR representative as they conducted my exit meeting; they were both obviously struggling under their day’s responsibilities.  The healing offered wasn’t of me or for me, but blessed me more than words can describe.

“I don’t have to worry about this place anymore,” was the first thought that crossed my mind.  I didn’t realize until that very second just how much the worry of my old company’s economic health had been weighing on me.

I also clearly saw the opportunity that I was being given.  I couldn’t go back to my old industry – all three pottery companies where I had previously worked had closed their doors in the past few years – and the basket company I was working for is one-of-a-kind.  This chapter in my life was now coming to a complete and final close.

My future career will have to be in a different industry, perhaps a different field all together.  I have no idea what it will be, but a strong, peaceful feeling of hope filled me, assuring me it will be far better.  And I realized that I now have to be completely focused on the present, just as I was at the skating rink, in order to negotiate the countless steps necessary to find that life.  I have to rely completely on the Spirit’s guidance.

That’s the best place that I could possibly be.

A Quick Answer To A Prayer

Image titled Pacific Spirit by lawmurray

Image titled "Pacific Spirit" by lawmurray

Many of the posts to this blog have been inspired by my prayer journal, but I’ve never shared an experience directly out of its pages before now.  The following account is taken from my journal entries for Friday, February 20.

I started as I do most mornings with my prayer time at my desk before the day’s activities.  In my journal I wrote this prayer, which was inspired by the work I’m doing in A Course In Miracles:

Lord, help me to hear the Voice of God.

Yes, I know that deep in my mind I’ve resisted this request.  I want to prove I’m right; I secretly want to play the role of God.  I don’t know all the reasons I harbor this secret desire to be apart from God and His Love.  I imagine I need to acknowledge those reasons before I can hear His Voice.  Help me to see Spirit, so that I may hear.

Then I felt inspired to write:

* Forgiveness is letting go of the past, so that we may live in the present.

-> You have to believe that today can be different from yesterday.

I finished my prayer time and morning chores, and headed off to work.  This is what happened next:

I had a realization concerning my project this morning, so I went to talk with Brian Tigner (a coworker and friend).  I was feeling present, and our conversation turned to faith.

“If God would grant you one wish, what would it be?” he asked.

I’d never considered this question before.  After a few seconds consideration, I said, “To know God.”

He approved, saying, “Most people would say they’d ask for a billion dollars or to be put in charge.  You can tell a lot about the kind of person someone is by the answer they give to that question.”

And I realized in that moment that the Spirit was speaking to me through Brian, answering the question that was in the back of my mind, “Is that what I really want?”

Our conversation went on, discussing potential manufacturing layout scenarios.  He expressed concerns about the employees accepting the changes based on past experience, and I found myself explaining the need to forgive the past in order to live in the present where the Spirit can reach us.

“You have to believe that today can be different from yesterday.  If you’re always reacting to people based on the unforgiven issues of the past, you’ll misperceive the present and make the future turn out just like the past.  Forgiveness is letting go of the past so that we can live in the present.”

As I talked, I heard what I was saying and realized that it was true, and I also realized that the authority of my words was coming from a deeper Source.  The Spirit was speaking through me, connecting with both Brian and me.

By the way, Brian’s parting words to me were, “It’ll be interesting to see how things work out for you and your studies.”  Walking the walk will do far more than talking the talk.

After our conversation, I opened the Text, and the Spirit spoke strongly to me again in the next section that I read, confirming what had just happened.  (that section is titled Finding The Present and you can read it by clicking this link.)

Forgive me Spirit for my misunderstanding.  I do hear Your Voice.  You have been speaking to me, I just wasn’t paying attention.  I was focused on hearing an internal voice, like the voice in my head.  I’m sure You could do that if You so desire, but I shouldn’t try to limit You, just as You’re unwilling to limit me.  Thank You for answering me in such a strong and rapid way.

Halfway And Just Beginning

Image by Erika Mugglin

Image by Erika Mugglin

It was my birthday last week.  I’m 48 years old.  Not a major milestone birthday like 50, but it got me thinking: this could be the halfway point in my life.  My grandmother celebrated her 95th birthday back in December and she’s still going strong; it’s not unreasonable to think of reaching 96 in my own lifetime.

Halfway done.  50% complete.

And here’s the most amazing, surprising, and sometimes frightening thing: I honestly feel like I’m just getting started living my life.

It’d be nice to say that “just getting started” means I feel like I’m poised at the starting line of a race that I’ve been preparing to run for the past forty-eight years.  That would give a favorable impression.  The world respects strength, vision, and perseverance.  I enjoy writing from a position of authority, of power.

In this case, however, “just getting started” feels more like being a newborn baby.  I’m beginning to see that I’ve misperceived a great deal in my life.  “Truths” that I’ve accepted all my life are being questioned and found lacking.  So many have fallen lately that I no longer have confidence in any of them.  All of my core beliefs, the way that I understand the world and how it works, are being challenged.

The cause of this reexamination is A Course In Miracles, my sole goal for 2009.  I mentioned the Course (published by The Foundation For Inner Peace) and my goal in a previous post.  So far, I’ve progressed to Lesson 46 in the Workbook For Students and I’m halfway through chapter 13 of the Text.  The Text reading has gone slower than planned because I find myself taking so many notes in my prayer journal; the journal has been virtually taken over by these notes.

I also read Gary Renard’s The Disappearance Of The Universe, a book describing his experiences from the Course, back in January.  And I’ve located an ACIM website that provides all of the Course’s lesson and Text on-line; it’s a great resource when I don’t have my book available.

The Course has been very good.  It has also been very challenging to me.  At times I’ve been truly inspired by the beauty and peace that the Course is teaching.  At other times, I’ve found myself resisting its message of love and healing.

The Course teaches that there are two mutually exclusive forces at work in our world: the Holy Spirit and the ego.  The Spirit operates from our true self, offering us a vision of love and wholeness in God.  The ego operates from our false self and gives us fear, guilt, and separation to maintain its own existence at our expense.

When I choose the Spirit as my guide, I give Christ permission to work through me for reconciliation, blessing others and myself.  But when I attack in word or thought, I’m siding with the ego, making its insane beliefs real in our world.

My efforts to side with the Spirit have caused a great deal of resistance within me from my ego these past few weeks.  I’ve felt worn out and sick for a large portion of the last two weeks.  I lost confidence in my ability to express these new ideas and avoided posting to this blog.  Even my efforts to advocate the core Course principal of responding with love and not fear fell short in comments I exchanged with my friends in the post What Message Are You Sending?

The journey is just started, and it’s too early to have an idea of the outcome, although the Text takes pains to assure us that we will all ultimately succeed.  For now, the newness of it all is daunting, especially when I think about how to share it with you, my readers.  But the experiences I’ve had so far as I’ve practiced the principles of A Course In Miracles gives me faith that its teachings are true.

I invite you to check it out for yourself at the links above.  I also invite your comments and questions below.  Salvation is a shared experience, and I’m ready to get started.

What Message Are You Sending?

Image of Barack Obamas Inauguration From The Crowd On The Mall by Johno525

Image of Barack Obama's Inauguration From The Crowd On The Mall by Johno525

Like so many others across our country and around the world, I felt compelled Tuesday to watch the historical events taking place in Washington D.C.  Even here in rural, republican-leaning, central Ohio, many of my friends and coworkers couldn’t help but watch the spectacle as it was occurring live from the nation’s capital.

I was drawn to the inauguration by accident.  I knew the historical significance of the day and I was eager for our new president to get to work, but I felt no need to gawk at the pomp and circumstance that always accompanies a presidential inauguration.  However, by mid-morning there was an energy in the air that was palpable.  The excitement and anticipation of so many people focused on this one, milestone event created an effect that could be felt on our factory floor.  I felt happy, peaceful, and accepted.  I found myself smiling for no apparent reason.

I wondered if others could feel the energy I was feeling.  As an experiment, I walked the aisle past our basket makers.  Each time I noticed one with their head down, intent on weaving a basket, I would focus my attention on them and smile the energy I was feeling in their direction. 

Five times out of five, each person looked up from their work, immediately caught my gaze, and returned my smile.  No matter how far away I was, no matter what direction they were facing, each time I focused that positive energy on them, within two seconds their head turned in my direction and their eyes found mine.  Absolutely amazing.

 So I watched as much of the swearing-in ceremony as my schedule would allow, I listened to President Obama’s inauguration speech over NPR, I watched much of the parade and a few of the balls on CNN.  The themes of responsibility and accountability came through in the President’s speech, but there were many other messages that were sent during the day’s events.  The diversity and acceptance of the crowd on the mall, the anticipation of change, the inclusion of so many that have been traditionally marginalized, the hope for a brighter future and a better world. 

So many positive messages combined with an overwhelming majority of happy people (in spite of security and scheduling issues in Washington) created an emotional energy that can only be described as love.  It grew and multiplied through out the day and affected us all, as my experiment showed, whether we realized it or not.  Lord, may we as a human race experience more and more days like Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

A Different Message

Wednesday morning at work gave me a completely different experience.  I opened my e-mail and received the following message:

This message contains graphics. If you do not see the graphics, click here to view.

 
For 30 years Focus on the Family has been nurturing and defending families worldwide. Visit focusonthefamily.com for articles and resources to help you and your family thrive.
  Relationships & Marriage | Parenting | Media Center | Family Store | Support Family Ministry  
     
  Key Message From the Editor of Focus on the Family Citizen® magazine.

Dear Friend,

Inauguration Day 2009 marks the beginning of a new administration under President Barack Obama and those he’s chosen to serve in it.

Regardless of who you voted for two months ago, you undoubtedly are wondering …

  • Will abortion become more deeply embedded in our nation’s legal code and more widely accepted … or not?
  • Will our military men and women be forced to live with those openly practicing homosexual lifestyles?
  • Will same-sex marriage be legalized in more and more states?
  • Will President Obama give in to pressure to choose liberal activist judges who act as legislators rather than interpreters of the law?
  • Will time-honored Judeo-Christian values be preserved or destroyed in each of our 50 states and in Washington, D.C.?

You undoubtedly are asking: What can I do to protect America’s godly heritage and secure a safe future for my children and grandchildren?

That’s why Citizen Magazine exists. Month after month, it brings concerned citizens like you the “no-spin” truth, practical suggestions and encouragement needed to influence the issues and events that are important to you and your family.

So give yourself the truth behind the news … the action tips … and the motivation you need. Subscribe to Citizen today!

Sincerely,

Tom Hess
Editor

With the stakes for our country’s direction so high, there’s no better time to request your subscription to Focus on the Family Citizen® magazine. Staying informed is crucial–Citizen is a must-read to give you the truth behind the news!

Request Citizenonline today or by calling 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459), and mention CT09AEICZA. With your subscription request, we will also send you a complimentary 7-CD set, Amazing Stories, which will inspire you to rely upon God in every circumstance.

 
     
 
Subscribe today and you'll also receive a complimentary copy of Amazing Stories, a 7-CD broadcast set Receive the complimentary 7-CD broadcast set Amazing Stories when you subscribe to Focus on the Family Citizen today!This collection of radio broadcasts includes some of the most inspirational testimonies heard on the “Focus on the Family®” broadcast. These stories will remind you that God is always there–even in the most difficult situations. To get your complimentary gift, subscribe today!
 
Visit focusonthefamily.com today!

I do my best to grow in my Christian faith each day.  Does the fact that I hadn’t “undoubtedly wondered” about any of the issues raised in this e-mail advertisement make me a “bad” Christian?  What about the next questions that crossed my mind: it was right to legislate the civil rights laws that made yesterday’s inauguration possible because that was an issue of justice, but is it right to legislate laws that address moral issues?  Didn’t we try that during prohibition?

This is a message of fear, plain and simple.  This advertisement is judgemental and discriminatory.  The good intentions of well-meaning people have been turned to other purposes by this message.

My question to Focus on the Family is this: if we could interview Jesus Christ today, which message would He be more likely to associate with, President Obama’s inauguration Tuesday or the advertisement above? 

What message are you sending?

Lost In The Woods

Image of Sandy by E. Mugglin

Image of Sandy by E. Mugglin

It was Easter Sunday, 2005, and I was excited about going to church.  This was going to be my first Easter church service since reclaiming my faith.  I had been raised a Christian, but had stopped practicing my faith just as soon as I went off to college.  I lived for many years thinking that I was smarter than all those “religious” people.  But during the previous year, I had finally awakened to my deep need for faith.  I looked forward to that Easter church service as my personal homecoming.

I was happily anticipating that service as I went about my morning chores.  Unfortunately, my daydreaming caused me to lose my focus when I let the dogs outside to do their business, and I forgot to clip our dog Sandy on her chain. 

Sandy is the escape artist in our family.  She’s a  sweet dog, but she was neglected and allowed to run wild as a puppy.  By the time we took her into our family, she couldn’t be trusted to be outside unless she was on a chain.  A couple of times a year, she’d manage to slip her collar, break her chain, or bolt out the door on us, and then she’d be gone.  She’d get muddy running in the woods, chase after cars on our street, and generally be a nuisance to our neighbor and friends.  Many hours, or even days, later she would return home, dirty, smelly, and completely worn out from her antics.

I realized my error seconds too late.  I rushed out the basement door just in time to catch a glimpse of her orange tail slipping under our fence.  I threw on some  shoes and gave chase.  It was my fault she had gotten loose; I knew I needed to get her back before I could do anything else, even go to church.

After a fairly lengthy chase through our development, setting-off fit of barking by every neighborhood dog in the process, Sandy headed up the hill and into the woods.  By now, I was bound and determined to catch her, so I followed her through the underbrush and into the forest.  At first, my persistence surprised her and I closed within yards of catching her.  But just as I dared to think I might actually succeed, pushing for all I was worth, she seemed to shift into a higher gear and accelerated away from me.  Within a minute, she was completely lost from sight.

I stumbled to a halt, panting for breath and holding a stitch in my side.  We were now deep in the woods, more than a mile from our home.  “Does Sandy even know where we are?” I worried.  “Would she be able to find her way home?”  I desperately tried to follow her by sound, listening for her crashing passage through the forest’s undergrowth, but eventually I lost contact with her completely.  Defeated, I turned to walk home, fearful that I may have caused our dog to be permanently lost.

But within a couple of minutes, I heard some crashing noises off to my left and caught a glimpse of Sandy’s orange-gold coat moving through the trees.  She was thirty yards away and moving in a parallel path to mine.  I sprang forward again with renewed energy, but the going was slower moving uphill, and I lost her again within two minutes’ time.

Again I turned to walk home.  Again Sandy reappeared and ran off when I gave chase.  As I lost sight of her for the third time, I came to a complete halt, bent forward, hands clutching my knees as I panted for breath.  Just as my heart was returning to a reasonable rate, that silly dog came crashing back out of the brush in the direction she had just disappeared.  She stopped twenty-five yards ahead of me, head up, eyes bright, tongue and tail wagging, staring expectantly at me.

Finally it dawned on me: Sandy was lost and didn’t know her way home, but she was more than happy to let me chase her through the woods.  She didn’t know where she was going, but it didn’t matter as long as I was following.

“Forget it dog,” I said, “I’m not chasing you anymore.”

I knew if I walked home, she’d simply follow me and resume her car chasing antics once she was on familiar turf.  So I opted instead to walk to a nearby meadow clearing on the opposite side of the woods, with Sandy tailing behind.  I found an old stump along the fence row and sat down.  Sandy circled me in the tall grass, never coming closer than ten yards, but never losing sight of me either.  There we sat, waiting each other out.

By now, it was too late to go to church.  I had missed yet another Easter service.  We stayed in the meadow like that for quite some time.  Despite my disappointment at missing church, it was quiet and peaceful in that field.  Eventually, I closed my eyes and began to pray.  After a while, my words ran out, and I meditated in silence.

“You treat Me the same way that Sandy is treating you.”

The words were simple and clear in my head, but they weren’t from me.  The Voice that spoke them sounded like mine, but it spoke with an authority and wisdom that I don’t possess.  It was a simple statement of Truth, made without anger or condemnation, a loving insight for my benefit.

And I saw clearly how I had been chasing down rabbit trails all my life.  I was trying to overcome the shame and guilt I felt by being faster and smarter than everyone else.  As a younger man, I had chased down every bluff and dead-end that I crossed.  Now that I had found my faith, I was trying to earn God’s grace through my own efforts, trying to anticipate and lead Him.  It was suddenly clear that all my efforts had been no more effective than Sandy’s were this morning.  I was just as lost as she was.

For the first time, I understood that I could never earn God’s grace and love; my debt was too great.  But I also clearly saw that wasn’t what God wanted from me.  His greatest desire was and is for me to simply accept the grace and love that He freely offers.  He waits patiently for me to stop my circling, draw close to Him, and be still.  Then He can lead where we’re meant to go.

Even now, almost three years later, I continue to gain insight and growth from the lesson I learned in the woods with Sandy that Easter morning.  On numerous occasions, as I’ve prayed, journaled, or simply gone about my daily business, I’ve seen a flash of Sandy and me in the woods.  I take it as a short-hand message from the Holy Spirit: be careful, you’re trying to lead the way again.

More recently, when I was considering reading a book that caught my interest, I prayed for guidance before launching into it.  When I accepted the answer, “No,” and set the book aside, I was treated to a vision of Sandy  sitting quietly by my side under the spreading branches of the trees in our forest.

I share this story not because I feel it makes me special, but because I believe each of us has similar sorts of stories to share, times when we’ve experienced the Spirit in a powerful and personal way.  Spiritual disciplines, such as reading scripture, praying, journaling, etc. are important to practice on a regular basis to put us in a position to experience God’s Spirit in our lives.  However, it’s those individual experiences of God where He does his greatest work in our lives.  He is a personal Creator, He knows our individual needs, and He has a unique plan intimately tailored for each of His sons and daughters.

This is a topic not regularly discussed in polite religious circles, let alone the “real world.”  How about you?  Do you have a story of a close encounter of the spiritual kind that you can share?  What happened, and how has it changed your life since it happened?  I’ve a feeling we’ll be surprised just how many stories there are out there.

Multiple Universes (Part II)

Image by Joka2000

Image by Joka2000

In the beginning, man believed that the earth was the center of the universe.  The sun, the moon, and all the stars moved across the sky each day in a dance orchestrated by God, who looked down upon us from heaven beyond the stars.  We were his chosen people, the ones He created in His image, and we were placed at the center of His creation.

 Then in the 1500’s, a man of science named Copernicus published a theory that the earth was not stationary, but actually moving.  The apparent motion of the sun rising and setting was due to the earth rotating once a day on its axis and the inconsistent movements of the planets in the night sky was caused by the earth revolving around the sun once a year.  His theory fit the data of the observed facts better than the previous, long-held belief.

Since then, science has taught us a great deal about our world and the universe we live in.  We live on a small planet orbiting an ordinary yellow star located at the edge of an average galaxy among many, many other galaxies.  Copernicus’ theory knocked us from our most-favored position at the center of the universe, but it also spawned a host of other scientific advances.   

And at every step of the journey since Copernicus’ time, organized religion has fought the advances of science like a jealous older brother putting down a talented sibling.  Running disagreements over competing beliefs like Big Bang versus Creationism or Evolution versus Intelligent Design receive regular media attention.  Opinions on both sides are sharply drawn since they touch on the core beliefs each of us hold so dearly.

In my last post, I discussed the theory of multiple universes that has recently gained favor among some leading physicists and the controversy surrounding that theory.  The possibility of multiple universes comes out of quantum mechanics, the study of the smallest particles of matter.  The M-theory is the best model physicists currently have to explain the behavior of particles, like electrons or quarks, and how they relate to the General Theory of Relativity.  But the theory works best in eleven dimensions and, among other things, gives rise to the possibility of multiple universes.

Foul!

Predictably, the possibility that our universe isn’t unique and that multiple universes containing nearly identical copies of ourselves may currently exist in dimensions we can’t perceive has generated some strong opinions on both sides of the theory.  Some scientists have invoked this theory as another example that an intelligent Creator is less likely; the issue of the anthropic nature of the universe is explained by simple, random chance.  The natural reaction of some religious believers is to discount the theory out of hand as another elaborate attempt by science to deny the existence of God.  Both sides are crying, “Foul!” and claiming the simpler, more reasonable position in this disagreement.

As a person of faith who also embraces the spirit of inquiry and improvement that best epitomizes science, I’m always uncomfortable with these partisan arguments.  Science and religion are, at their best, two of mankind’s greatest accomplishments.  At their worst, both have been used to inflict massive suffering on the world.  They are not diametrically opposed, as is often portrayed in today’s media soundbites, but share common goals and objectives.  Science without religion is cold and soulless, religion without science is blind and dumb.  I believe that they need each other.  Together religion and science can inform, correct, and support each other.

For instance, on the theory of multiple universes, is it possible for there to be an infinite number of parallel universes while still having an intimate, personal Intelligence in control of it all?  Copernicus showed that the earth isn’t at the center of creation, proving the religious leaders’ widely held beliefs to be wrong.  However, he didn’t disprove the existence of God, he merely showed the limits of mankind’s imagination at the time.  It can be argued that Copernicus, who was a devout Catholic, helped to demonstrate how much larger God must be if He exists and He created all that is apparent in the universe today.

So the possible existence of other parallel universes can be seen as another extension of the same Copernican revolution.  Multiple universes don’t diminish, but rather enhance the province of a benevolent Creator, and they force another expansion of the mind of man.  Religion has been guilty of repeatedly overstating the importance of man in the universe, but science is equally guilty of the same human-centered bias by repeatedly underestimating the potential abilities an infinite God could wield.

But assuming parallel universes do exist, and are currently popping into existence due to small quantum differences such as the roll of the dice or your turning left instead of right at the cross road, the question most reasonable people would ask is, “Why?”  Why would God make it so complicated?  What possible purpose could He have for creating a multiverse of infinite life choices and diverging histories?  That doesn’t seem reasonable at all.

Here’s my theory: parallel universes allow us to live with free will and simultaneously abide by God’s intimate will for each of us. 

It works like this: in any dynamic system, the distribution of potential future outcomes is described by the Schrodinger Equation.  It “predicts analytically and precisely the probability of events or outcomes.”  That means in any situation, there is the most probable, or preferred, outcome plus a range of other, lower probability possibilities.  I take this to mean that the Universe has a preference in every situation.

But there’s also another law of physics known as the “Uncertainty Principle” which gives rise the “observer effect.”  It’s impossible to know precisely both the location and the momentum of a particle.  The act of observing something changes the thing itself.  In other words, we affect the universe simply by being in it.

This means that we’re in a continual dance with the universe.  The Universe’s preferred paths can be described through the math of probabilities, but we have our own preferences too; we have our free will.

From the Universe’s (God’s) perspective, we make things a lot more interesting because we’re unknown entities.  We’re the X-factor that gives rise to many more potential universes and their possibilities. 

But how does this benefit us?

I believe God enlivens every particle of our universe, existing within us and throughout the infinite stretches of the cosmos.  He has carefully planned each second of His preferred life for each of us.  Since He has given us free will, He will not impose that life on us.  Consequently, if we choose differently than He prefers, we could diverge into a parallel universe, exact in every detail to His preferred universe except for our choice.  Within that universe, the same laws apply (both physically and spiritually), therefore there are new preferred paths and new choices for us to make.

It’s a win – win for both parties.  We get to choose however we would like, and our loving God will still see each of us safely to the end of his preferred path for us.

This is a theory in development, with many more questions than answers.  If we make too many poor choices and stray too far from the original, preferred path, can this explain the loss of inner peace, purpose, and enthusiasm that many people feel in the world today?  Is it possible to consciously decide to move back towards God’s preferred path?  Is it possible that universes can converge through our conscious choices? 

And how would someone know if they were on their preferred path?  Our great religions may have already answered that question.  There are two possible ways to be on the right path, to be in harmony with the probabilities / preferences of the Universe:

  1. Chance: not choosing means the probability is highest that you’ll be on the preferred path at each divergence.  Examples: children, sages, and savants (think Forest Gump).
  2. Consciously choosing: living in the present moment, avoiding the experience and old peridynes of the ego and being open to the “still, quiet voice” within that speaks only when you invite it to and believe it will answer.  Remaining still, alert, open to what is.  Right action then naturally happen through you.

There are many implications to this theory, but this post is already over-long, so we’ll hold them for now.  Please share your thoughts, questions, concerns, and objections below.