I have a project in mind, a series of thoughts along a certain line. For the time being I’m calling it Eternity Overlay, though I’m not sure that’s a good title for it. It’s about a theory I’ve had for a while now, a theory which I also call eternity overlay. For now, I think it’s going to be a series of blog posts that talk about what the eternity overlay is, what difference it might make if it’s real, and how we might live into it.
The eternity overlay an idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for a long time, in various iterations. That name itself is fairly new. I think I first called it that about a year or two ago, when organizing some files about it on my computer. But the genesis of the idea goes back way further. The spark of this idea actually came to me like a vision when I was a teenager. It was summer, and I was at summer camp, probably 1991 or so. I can remember sitting on my bunk in the senior unit at Bear Creek Camp, when the vision came to me, a vision about God and about cassette tapes. (Do you remember cassette tapes? That red-headed stepchild of an audio medium that filled the gap between the virtuoso of vinyl and the digital portability of compact discs?) I quickly pulled a notebook out of the trunk I had beneath my bunk, and I jotted down some notes about the vision. It seemed so important in the moment.
I never quite knew what to do with those notes, though. I didn’t mention it to anybody else at camp, I’m sure. I don’t think I ever really talked about it with anyone. It wasn’t really a fully formed idea. It made sense to me, but I knew that it really wouldn’t mean much of anything to anyone else. On top of that, I think deep down I knew that it really didn’t mean much to me, either. It was just an interesting idea.
But now I’m wondering if maybe it might be more.
Oh, all right. I guess I’d better tell you what it was I wrote down in that notebook. It was something like this:
NOT A –> B –> C
BUT A –> A’ – B –> B’ – C –> C’
Yeah. It’s kind of…well…math. And not good, solid, real math. It’s the worst kind of math: metaphorical math. Over the course of these blog posts, I’ll explain to you what I meant by that formula. I think it’s pretty easy to understand, once I clue you into what I meant by those symbols. I’ll also explain to you just what it has to do with God, and what it has to do with cassette tapes.
The seed at the core of my eternity overlay theory is that math formula, that ridiculous little pile of symbols I scratched on looseleaf with a blue Bic pen in 1991. But there’s a lot more to the theory now. In the intervening years, it’s grown and expanded, accruing and accreting. Have you ever had one of those crystal growing kits? You just need to put a tiny catalyst crystal in a liquid, and over the next several days, that catalyst seems to grow, as more and more particles from the liquid attach themselves to it in a very particular pattern, and after a week a remarkably intricate crystal is there.
What’s happened to that formula in my head over the last thirty years is kind of like that. It’s grown and expanded, encompassing more and more of my thought. I’ve been surprised how many things in my life have attached to that little formula. And I think I’m finally ready to start talking about it here. It’s not that I finally have it all figured out. I don’t. And I certainly don’t have all the implications of it figured out yet. On the contrary, it’s more like I’m ready to allow the crystal to grow in a new way, to grow and expand even further through writing about it.
So, I have an idea of where this series of blog posts is going. I’m planning to spend the next four posts laying some groundwork, explaining my understanding of eternity, talking about the various understandings of eternity used by the writers of the gospels, and also talking some about the practice of mindfulness. But even as I write this very paragraph, I’m finding myself less and less certain about where this is going next. It might do what I just described, or it might end up going somewhere else. I just don’t know – it kind of depends on…well, it kind of depends on how the eternity overlay itself plays out in this process, if you’ll forgive my self-indulgence.
I make no promises on the speed with which I’ll pursue this. Hopefully it will move along at a good trot. A post a week? Maybe more? But I just don’t know. It depends on a few factors. Life gets busy sometimes. The Dark Voice gets loud sometimes, and stops me from writing. And I might – I might – have some news soon about a certain book that’s been in editing purgatory for some time now. If so, that may be – may be – taking up a lot of my time. And of course, it all depends on how the eternity overlay itself affects everything. We’ll see. Feel like coming along for the ride?