Our Power of Conception
Sunday lesson given at Unity Center of Christianity in Baltimore, December 15, 2019.
Hi Friends —
What is conception, metaphysically understood?
Here are clips from twelve annotations for Luke 1 found in the Fillmore Study Bible. Can you perceive the consistent thread that runs though these annotations?
- Zacharias. Zacharias represents in individual consciousness the spiritual phase of consciousness.
- Elizabeth. The soul, in its adoration of God.
- enter into the temple of the Lord. The priest’s entering into the temple represents spiritual meditation.
- call him John. John symbolizes the fruit of the union of the soul with spiritual consciousness.
- Elizabeth his wife conceived. Elisabeth represents the soul.
- Elizabeth his wife conceived. In order to receive the blessing of a son something positive was required of Zacharias; namely the establishment of his faith in the invisible good as being present and active.
- the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. This coming into activity of the Christ body is the result of an exalted idea sown in the mind and brought forth in the soul
- the babe leaped in her womb. Elisabeth represents the intellectual soul and Mary the spiritual soul.
- My soul doth magnify the Lord. The soul has power to magnify whatever enters it.
- she brought forth a son. The fruit of spiritual consciousness in the innocent soul is a new idea, or outward expression, of grace and mercy.
- and prophesied. Zacharias, symbolizing a prophetic state of consciousness.
- Redemption. The “redemption” that the exaltation of reality brings is a quickening of the Christ concept in the heart. The expression of this concept leads to the establishing of peace among men of good will.
The consistent thread that I found running through these annotations is that, metaphysically, conception is a union of the soul (feminine) and a particular state of consciousness (masculine). Mary and Elizabeth are associated with soul in six of the twelve annotations. Zacharias, the priests and the “Power of the Most High” are associated with states of consciousness in five of the twelve annotations. Joseph is not mentioned at all, except as being betrothed to Mary.
What is conceived is an idea. John and Jesus are the fruit of these unions. The character of the fruit depends on the receptiveness of the soul and the state of consciousness at conception. If the state of consciousness is divine then the idea is divine. Many years ago I knew a woman who travelled with her husband to Egypt so that their child might be conceived in a “holy state.” That may be a stretch biologically, but, metaphysically, it’s quite consistent.
Why the two birth narratives should be studied separately
The Bible has two narratives for the birth of Jesus—Matthew, chapters 1 and 2 and Luke, chapters 1 and 2. They are very different stories. To learn more, I very much recommend The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus’s Birth by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. For several years, I have returned to their book for inspirational Christmas reading.
Borg and Crossan say we should not try to “harmonize” the stories. Harmonizing the two stories may make the story simpler, but we loose much in the “meta narrative” (metaphysical interpretation) in doing so. Last week I wrote a piece called “Protecting Your Christ Child” which is based on Matthew chapter two. This week I’m writing about “Our Power of Conception” which is based on Luke chapter one. Neither piece would be possible if the stories were melded together, regardless of how well the harmonizing might be. The fact is that Matthew and Luke were providing us a story with a subtle message and we must read them intently in order to perceive the message.
Having said that, know that that harmonizing in Your Hope of Glory by Elizabeth Sand Turner is well done (pp 15-27). But, as said, much metaphysical interpretation is lost in the harmonizing process. That is one reason we need a Fillmore Study Bible. When we look at Unity’s annotations on a chapter by chapter basis, there is no harmonizing.
The four types of miracle birth narratives
There are at least four kinds of “miracle birth narratives” in Luke chapter one. Borg and Crossan (chapter 5, An Angel Comes to Mary) describe three of them. The fourth one is from Charles Fillmore’s annotations. Here is a summary of the four:
- Zacharias and Elizabeth Divine Conception. The miracle in this passage, and the miracle in similar Old Testament stories, is that Zacharias and Elizabeth are able to conceive their child John even though they are too old to conceive children.
- Roman Tradition Divine Conception. The miracle that was floating around in New Testament times was that Emperors like Caesar were conceived by physical intercourse between a human woman and a divine god.
- Christian Tradition Divine Conception. The miracle story in Luke 1 is that Jesus was conceived by a spiritual union of Mary and "The Power Most High." In this story, Mary is a virgin and in subsequent traditions she remained a virgin, hence the conception was immaculate.
- Fillmore Tradition Divine Conception. The miracle story in Luke 1, as taught by Charles Fillmore, is that "Mary, the soul, becomes devout and expectant and believes in the so-called miraculous as a possibility. Mary expected the birth of the Messiah as the Holy Spirit had promised. She was overshadowed by that high idea and it formed in her mind the seed that quickened into the cell and in due season there were aggregations of cells strong enough in their activity to attract the attention of the consciousness, and what is called the birth of Jesus took place" (The Birth of Jesus Foretold, annotation 1).
These four interpretations are ranked, from most literal and physical to most figurative and metaphysical. I appreciate them for the range of understanding they provide.
A rich trove for Roman Catholics
If we look up “Hail Mary” in Wikipedia, we find that as late as the 13th century the prayer was “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” This prayer is based on Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42.
Note that the original Hail Mary is not a petition, but rather it is an affirmation. A few centuries later the following was appended: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” At that point the affirmation became a petition.
My sense is that it is metaphysically valid for anyone—male or female—to affirm that the fruit of one’s soul is Jesus. If so, then we have evidence of rich metaphysical spirituality embedded in the second most used prayer in Christianity (next to the Lord’s prayer).
Yes, it just may be that the most “embedded” of theological artifacts—the Hail Mary—is penetrating millions of subconscious minds everyday with an affirmation that the fruit of our souls is a divine idea known as Jesus Christ. If so, then we should be grateful for embedded theologies that retain and pass on metaphysical truths to the common folk with a pure heart and open mind.
An spiritual understanding of Creativity for today's culture
How is it that we are creative? We are creative because ideas come to us at all times through intuition—our capacity to acquire truth by revelation, outside of reason and sense experience. Luke tells us in chapter one that really creative ideas come to us when our souls are receptive and our consciousness is high.
This is corroborated by Barbara Frederickson’s work on Positivity, which has shown that human flourishing is based on positive thinking which broadens and builds one’s ability to come up with creative ways to overcome challenges. This is also corroborated by findings of Rev. Russ Heiland's study of dreamwork as taught by Charles Fillmore and Carl Jung. God’s revelations come in dreams in Matthew and from angels in Luke. But they are both revelations, free from sense experience or intellectual reasoning.
Have you ever wondered why we often conceive of great things, but then fail to follow through in implementing them? It just may be that the story of Mary’s conception of Jesus in the first chapter of Luke and the birth of Jesus in the second chapter of Luke explains why. That will be next week’s topic.
Third Sunday of Advent, December 15, 2019