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June 19, 2013 Is it God’s will?

Posted on 19 June 2013, 13:54

Perhaps you already know this story: “All fifteen members of a church choir in Beatrice, Nebraska, due at practice at 7:20, were late on the evening of March 1, 1950. The minister and his wife and daughter had one reason (his wife delayed to iron the daughter’s dress) one girl waited to finish a geometry problem; one couldn’t start her car; two lingered to hear the end of an especially exciting radio program; one mother and daughter were late because the mother had to call the daughter twice to wake her from a nap; and so on. The reasons seemed rather ordinary. But there were ten separate and quite unconnected reasons for the lateness of the fifteen persons. It was rather fortunate that none of the fifteen arrived on time at 7:20, for at 7:25 the church building was destroyed in an explosion. The members of the choir, Life reported, wondered if their delay was ‘an act of God.’ ”[See Endnote No.] 

Westside Baptist, Beatrice

The thinking perhaps was that as they were a group of God-fearing people, God protected them from disaster. But perhaps groups of God-fearing people come to mind, who were not so protected. So then, we need to have a look at what we mean when we use the word, “God.”

Can we speak of God who is in all, through all, and above all? If we can, the event with that choir may be seen in another light. Put it this way: If we can accept the proposition that memory is not confined to the brains of living organisms, but it is retained in some kind of corporate nonphysical, non-temporal memory field, or morphogenetic field, as proposed by Rupert Sheldrake , plausible theories will come to mind. Let’s think about this in terms of migratory species. Living species can travel very long distances seemingly requiring incredible powers of navigation:

How does the bar-tailed godwit for instance manage to successfully navigate its world record flight path from Alaska to the coasts of Canterbury New Zealand?  If you look up that Endnote you will find an amazing map of their migratory paths.


And we also have the puzzle about Monarch butterflies: “[They] are not able to survive the cold winters of most of the United States so they migrate south and west each autumn to escape the cold weather. The monarch butterflies will spend their winter hibernation in Mexico and some parts of Southern California where it is warm all year long. If the monarch lives in the Eastern states, usually east of the Rocky Mountains, it will migrate to Mexico and hibernate in oyamel fir trees. If the monarch butterfly lives west of the Rocky Mountains, then it will hibernate in and around Pacific Grove, California in eucalyptus trees. Monarch butterflies use the very same trees each and every year when they migrate, which seems odd because they aren’t the same butterflies that were there last year. These are the new fourth generation of monarch butterflies, so how do they know which trees are the right ones to hibernate in? Monarch butterflies are the only insect that migrates to a warmer climate that is 2,500 miles away each year”.

Sheldrake would answer in this way, “the butterflies know by reference to the non-temporal morphogenetic fields containing the memories of countless previous generations.”  These fields sound a lot like the Hindu Akashic records which are described “as containing all knowledge of human experience and all experiences as well as the history of the cosmos encoded or written in the very aether or fabric of all existence.”

As the essence of reality is to be whole and undivided, the concept of   Akashic records may be better than Sheldrake’s morphogenetic fields. The records, which belong to a reality beyond time and space, will so to speak have memory of the future. If there are truly predictive dreams, then something like this must be the case. And if this is the case, then we have a possible explanation for the choir’s fortunate escape from death: at least some of the choir’s members may have unconsciously sensed the future and rationalised their unconscious knowledge by finding other reasons for delaying. With regard to the passengers in the planes flying into the Twin Towers on 9/11, I read somewhere that there were extraordinarily few on board, with a number of cancellations. It was suggested that there was unconscious knowledge of a looming deathly threat. [A website disagrees listing other reasons.] But if we were to decide for “unconscious knowledge”, would it have been God’s will that the non-passengers were saved? Not the will of a separate God deciding who to save and who not to save, but rather the knowledge residing in that everywhere God, becoming available to some of the participants in that God.. .it was that that would have saved them.

But we perhaps need to come back to Sheldrake and his idea of morphogenetic fields. These memory fields are suggested to have the ability to shape what happens in the physical, to work alongside the genes in determining the way a physical body comes together, and to work to influence the “instinctive” behaviour of all forms of life.  The “fields” have a lot in common with the psychologist Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious.  “Jung distinguished the collective unconscious from the personal unconscious, in that the personal unconscious is a personal reservoir of experience unique to each individual, while the collective unconscious collects and organizes those personal experiences in a similar way with each member of a particular species.” 

In thinking about “God’s will” we have considered Sheldrake’s morphogenetic fields, the Akashic records, and Carl Jung’s Collective unconscious. The terminology may be different, but each in turn is suggesting that there is a mysterious something in another dimension producing potent effects in the world that we know through our bodily senses.

Then we have the phenomenon of synchronicity where complex patterns of events occur in the physical world that are so meaningful, so impossible to describe to chance, that we are forced to see them as being produced from another dimension. Interestingly, it is often leading quantum physicists who write about the phenomenon. They are often Platonists themselves,[  and ] affirming that the physical world is the product of a timeless dimension. Examples are Albert Einstein, who was supportive of Paul Kammerer and his writing on synchronicity, Wolfgang Pauli who worked with Carl Jung in studying the phenomenon, David Bohm, F. David Peat, and Victor Mansfield.

In thinking about the question, “Is it God’s will?” we can see that we need to talk about a God in whom we participate, in whom we live and move and have our being. When we pray we experience God as personal, and we often get clear answers to prayer. We experience God as personal, because we are personal and participate in what is personal. We direct our prayers to God seen as the God of love, creativity, illumination and mutual service. If we do this we will probably experience in our lives synchronicities and answers to prayer that are helpful and upbuilding. If we direct our thoughts to the negative, to the hateful and destructive, then the synchronicities may likewise be negative.

I have just been viewing an inspiring French film,  Of Men and of Gods or Des hommes et des dieux,  “best film not in the English language 2011”.  It centers on the monastery of Tibhirine, where nine Trappist monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria, until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War. It is inspiring because it shows the monks prepared to face death, rather than betray the God of love and service of others.

Michael Cocks edits the journal, Ground of Faith.

Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.

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Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr - Michael Cocks

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“A Case to Consider” by Paul Beard – What is it possible to discover about the experiences we shall meet with after we die - if indeed existence does continue - and about how we can best prepare for them? Read here
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