In the last painting in Christ and Christmas we find the scene of a cross surrounded by ten birds. Six birds are sitting on the cross, three fly above it, and one below. Since the book, Christ and Christmas is a book of metaphors related the foursquare matrix, the question arises as what the ten birds might signify in this context?
A possible answer emerges when one recognizes that the Glossary of the textbook contains two groups of ten names. The first group comprises all the names associated with the historic Jacob, including the name Jacob itself. The names reflect the relationship of Jacob's two wives towards him, and in one case, his response. The second group of names comprises all the other historic names that are listed in the Glossary, from Noah to Jesus , including the name, Jesus, Now the task begins to identify each bird surrounding the cross with a name related to Jacob and with a corresponding name from the group of the general historic names.
Here a still bigger challenge begins, which is to determine what this all means. For an answer to this challenge one is invited to explore the outline, the metaphors, and references that Mary Baker Eddy presented for the foursquare structure in which the painting with the birds is located. It should be noted that Mary Baker Eddy does not say in any of her writings what the birds represent, or for that matter what any of the metaphors in Christ and Christmas represent. She left the field open to individual exploration and discovery. She never says that the nine darkly colored birds are in any way related to the names of the children of Jacob, but she does provide nine definitions for those names. In testing the possibility that there might be a connection by intent, a scientific researcher would probe what such a connection would mean and ponder what the results would tell us. That is what the following research presentation is about and how it should be seen.
The result of the exploration presented here is not to be considered a dogma, but reflects an individual researcher's discoveries in the process of drawing a wide array of elements together to ponder what the birds in Christ and Christmas could potentially represent. That's the general idea behind metaphors. They invite us to ponder, to search for principles, and to interconnections, and then to determine their validity. In this context you are invited to ponder with me what the ten birds might signify.
To help meet the challenge, a brief review may be useful of the city foursquare structure that Mary Baker Eddy has outlined, and has associated ten major structures with, and which by this association, becomes the greatest pedagogical structure for individual scientific and spiritual development that has ever been created in the history of mankind. that is where the birds are located as if to make the structure a living thing with soaring ideas and profound concepts. And here is what came to light to this researcher.
Basically the foursquare structure can be seen as a structure of four horizontally associated rows of elements, or in vertical alignment as a structure of four columns that represent channels for the development of spiritual perceptions. One might also see them as flowing rivers of thought moving towards the divine.
Corresponding with the rows, Mary Baker Eddy defined four levels in terms of four cardinal points. These represent four main levels of thought. The levels are defined as the "Word... Christ... Christianity... and Christian Science." See the textbook chapter, The Apocalypse (577:12) .
Mary Baker Eddy also defined the four levels of thought in her scientific translation of immortal Mind and mortal mind (in the textbook p.115:12). She described the four levels there, correspondingly from top to bottom as, 1- the divine level, 2- the spiritual level of understanding reality, 3- the moral level of transitional qualities, 4- the physical level defined as unreality and depravity in the spiritual sense .
In correspondence with the perception of the structure as four columns, Mary Baker Eddy also speaks of four "sides" labeled, "The Word, Christ, Christianity, and divine Science," which she associated with four geographical orientations given in the sequence of the cycles of the sun, beginning northward (dawn), moving eastward (sunrise), southward (heat of the day), with the last being westward (sunset). (See textbook 575:17,26)
Corresponding with the 16 elements that comprise the entire foursquare structure (in which the four development channels or rivers of thought are located) she provided a number of major associated structures that are likewise made up of 16 parts and are arranged in a developmental sequence. These are the 16 textbook chapters, the 16 parts of the Lord's Prayer (16:26), and the 16 verses in Christ and Christmas and their associated scenes. The birds appear in the last scene, a painting that corresponds with the 15th verse.
In the final painting in Christ and Christmas the given scene evidently represents the complete foursquare structure, but it represents it a scientifically functional manner. The major aspects of the scene logically divides the scene (and thereby the foursquare structure) down the center into a right half and a left half, with the crosses being centered on the dividing line. The arrangement of the major elements of the painting also divides the scene vertically into three zones. We see a divine zone represented by the crown on top (the first row), and we see two lower zones, the zones in which the two crosses are located.
We also see the same pattern of major divisions presented on the tablet that we find placed in the lap of the woman representing science in the painting, Christmas Eve.
We see on the tablet a structure that is divided into two halves, right and left, and 3 zones. We see a small zone on top and two larger zones below (as seen by the woman).
If we apply this pattern to the foursquare structure, we find that the two larger (lower) zones are logically separated along the moral center since the third row (the middle one of the three lowers rows) is defined by Mary Baker Eddy as the "moral" and "transitional" domain. The division thereby yields a spiritual zone that extends upwards from the moral center, and a sub-moral zone, a zone of depravity that extends downward from the moral center.
Also the tablet is located in the same angle in which the division is presented in the painting with the two crosses and the crown.
What we see presented on the tablet therefore corresponds with the logical division of the foursquare structure that is shown below. Please note, the crosses in the painting are shown as being centered on the center line that divides the foursquare structure into a right half and a left half, so that the crosses and the surrounding flock of birds are themselves partitioned thereby and associated with one or the other half.
A puzzle now presents itself, as to what the right and left halves represent.
This puzzle may be solved by the fact that the textbook's Glossary contains a number of dual definitions that are horizontally separated in their meaning. Most dual definitions in the Glossary are vertically separated into two contrasting pairs of meaning that represent a high and a low level of spiritual perception. Since the duality in these cases unfolds within a single column we find the two dual aspects presented in the same paragraph in the Glossary. However, in the case of the horizontally separated terms the two aspects are presented in two separate paragraphs, suggesting that they pertain to two separate aspects of a concept that are dealt with in separate columns of thinking but on the same level.
Three such dual terms can be found in the Glossary. These are Ark, Adam, and Church. By their horizontal division we can recognize the terms can be represented in two adjacent columns thereby giving the two halves of two columns a special meaning or characteristic. In this context one can recognize one of the two halves as being related to the general concept of Church (the right half) in distinction from the general concept of Temple (represented by the left half) where the duality of Ark would apply horizontally.
Thus we have the first half of the foursquare structure representing the universal-Temple concept, a concept of celebration, as distinct from the individual healing and development processes represented by the universal-Church concept in the second half of the foursquare structure.
The concept of Temple in this context is highly metaphoric. In the first column Mary Baker Eddy puts us face to face with the woman of the Apocalypse, clothed with the sun for the discovery of ourselves in that image, and also the discovery of the universal brotherhood of all mankind based on that image, the family of man. In the second column, in its highest sense, the concept of Temple represents the universal Christ, "the divine manifestation of God..." that we find expressed in economics, safety, justice, health, honesty, and civilization.
Likewise the concept of Church (in the second half) is highly metaphoric. In the third column the concept of Church unfolds as a church-workhouse, a utility for healing and for "...elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science..." In the fourth column we have a different aspect of Church unfolding that brings us face to face with the "structure of Truth and Love." This Church exists for the continuing development in human thought of "whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle." It is a Church without limits for the development of divine Science in individual consciousness, and thereby in universal society.
With all of the above considered as a background for exploration, we can now begin to look at the ten birds that we find in the final painting in Christ and Christmas.
Let's begin with the four dark birds that sit on the horizontal crossbeam. They are sitting at the lowest rung on the cross. Logically this rung would be the location were we find the children of Jacob represented that have 'problem names,' as defined by Mary Baker Eddy, arising from the dual marriage of Jacob with Leah and with her sister Rachel. Jacob's two wives are both vying for his love. The names of the children are derived from the two wives' specific mentality towards Jacob and towards themselves.
Of course Jacob had made matters worse for his wives in that he had loved Rachel, but had to marry Leah first, Laban's older daughter, as it was customary at the time. Only some years down the road did Jacob obtain Rachel also as his second wife. However, Rachel was barren, which added to the conflict. The names of the resulting children reflect the rather dramatic environment in which the two wives' found themselves and had to find a way to live in. The worst of the unfolding drama is reflected in the names that represented by the 4 birds sitting on the crossbeam.
The names from right to left, are Reuben, Dan, Issachar, and on the far left sitting all by itself, the bird representing Levi. (A list of Mary Baker Eddy's definitions can be found in the Glossary of the textbook.)
Reuben is the first to be born in Jacob's family. He is Leah's first son. However, the child is born in the shadow of Leah's hope that having a child with Jacob would capture Jacob's love for her. As one might expect, the result was disappointing. Mary Baker Eddy defined the name, Reuben, as "...delusion..." Leah's reasoning reveals that her thinking was at a rather low state of spiritual development. This low-level background puts the bird representing Reuben onto the lowest rung of the cross, sitting on the crossbeam. The bird is evidently sitting on the right side, the side of the Church-type processes of scientific and spiritual development, indicating a lack of such development.
We are told that Leah tried the same futile approach again with her next child, and with similar results. She felt that she was being hated, and hoped that her bearing Jacob another child would remove the hate. But it didn't work. How could it, if the mentality hadn't changed? The name of her second child (Simeon) is not defined in the Glossary by Mary Baker Eddy. It's definition would have been redundant.
Leah, in her despair, now pulled out all the stops and had a third child for the same reason, She said to herself, and probably to whoever would listen, "now will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons." She called the child, Levi. However the circumstances do represent a change in that it involved a stubborn refusal to grow up bound by a universal religious entrapment that gave her no other option than the one she pursued. Mary Baker Eddy defined the name Levi as "...ecclesiastical despotism." The universality of the mentality puts the bird for Levi on the left side of the cross, an the Temple side. She was 'celebrating' a universal belief, a false universal belief in this case, which had entrapped her.
We see the bird representing Levi sitting all by itself on the left side of the crossbeam. This arrangement appears to indicate that a special type of mental malpractice was happening in the case of Levi. And in a way this is true. Of all the forms of mental malpractice, the practice of ecclesiastical despotism is in a class all by itself. The leftmost bird reflects a kind of special case by it sitting all by itself. In this case, being located on the side of the Temple concepts, Levi violated the Temple. The name Levi is associated with hate, which is the opposite of the celebration of a divine idea. Ecclesiastical despotism is often an intensely hateful and dehumanizing imperial process, as we still have it today in many forms. In a sense, Levi almost became her coffin.
Leah conceived one more child after Levi. But before she conceived, she experienced some inner growing up, in her own inner church, perhaps in a process of a deep soul-searching, a scientific process of prayer. We are told that at the time of her bearing her next child her motive had changed. Her motive for bearing children was no longer to ensnare Jacob. She had left that baggage behind, stepped out of the coffin and into a church process. She simply pulled herself out of the race of ensnaring Jacob and was now happy with just being a mother. Perhaps this was her first real happiness in her marriage with Jacob, caused by stepping away from Jacob. She called the name of the child that was born out of this background, Judah, which means, object of praise. The attempts for mental manipulation had ended. The focus had no longer been on manipulating Jacob, to make him love her. Instead the mental focus reflected her dawning awareness of the riches of spiritual being unfolding in life.
Of all the names of the Jacob's children that Mary Baker Eddy defined in the Glossary, she defined only two names without the reference, "Jacob's son," attached to the definition. The name Judah is one of these two cases. (The other is Joseph, Rachel's third child.)
Because the name Judah reflects a higher self-perception in Leah's development in scientific being, the resulting name, Judah, is represented by a higher-sitting bird. In this case the bird is the rightmost bird sitting on the very top of the cross. The bird with the name Judah belongs onto the right side, because it represents a Church-concept of soul-searching self-development (in distinction to a Temple-concept of profound celebration).
After the birth of Judah Jacob's second wife, Rachel, enters the child-bearing scene.
We are told that Rachel, as it is so often the case in competing relationships, was deeply jealous of her sister Leah. Being unable to conceive children, Rachel solved her problem by allowing Jacob to have children with her handmaiden, Bilhah. Of course the motive in this case was to manipulate Jacob by this process into loving her. As one might expect, nothing good came out of this coercive manipulation for Rachel. She called the child Dan (God has judged me). Mary Baker Eddy defines the name, Dan, as "...animal magnetism." In this context the bird representing Dan sits next to the bird representing Leah's mental background for conceiving Reuben. Both birds sit on the right side of the crossbeam.
We are told in Scriptures that Bilhah conceived a second time against the same kind of mental background. The name of the child, (Naphtali,) does not appear in the Glossary. It would have been redundant too, since the motive for the conception and the outcome were essentially the same as for Dan.
When Leah had stopped bearing after Judah was born, after having been inspired by her sister, she likewise gave her maiden (Zilpah) to Jacob that he might have children with her if it was his desire. However, in Leah's case, standing on the higher plane that she established for Judah, her move to open the field of Jacob up to Zilpah wasn't intended for the purpose of manipulating Jacob. Leah had moved to a higher level of thinking, and now she was letting it unfold universally. She simply stepped back and allowed Jacob to have his heart's desire. This move wasn't a case of concession, of giving anything up. Instead the move reflected a joyous recognition of a universal principle as the divine platform for human relationships, which might be called the "Principle of Sovereign Unity." A sense of the universal marriage of mankind unfolded with all individuals being recognized as sovereign beings bound by a common universal humanity, with all reflecting the singularity of the one divine Soul of God.
When the first child was born from this background, Leah called the child, Gad. Her comment was that a troop is coming. The comment represents a celebration of a profound, limitless idea. Naturally, as a celebration it belongs on the left side, the side of the Temple-concepts. But on what level in relationship to the cross does it belong?
With the name, God, representing a profound spiritual idea, the bird representing Gad is evidently not 'grounded' on the cross, but is flying above it into the light. Mary Baker Eddy defined the name Gad as "Science; spiritual being understood; haste towards harmony."
We are told that when Zilpah bear her second child with Jacob, Leah's commented, "the daughters shall call me blessed." In reflection of it she called the child, Asher (blessed). Indeed, Leah was blessed to have been able to pull herself out of the controlling mental malpractice environment. Few women today would be able to do this, and develop that kind of wide high-level relationship with her husbands that Leah had developed for herself.
We are also told that Leah realized that her scientific discovery of the Principle of the Sovereign Unity of mankind was a natural state that could be recognized and attained by all the other women her day. She even indicated that this potential that she exemplified would indeed be so recognized by other women who would its potential in their own life. Against this background the bird that represents Asher as a profound idea, no longer sits on the cross, but flies in the air above it, side by side with the bird representing Gad.
The Asher-bird flies on the right side, because it represents a Church-idea of individual scientific self-development, which unfolds on the right side of the city foursquare in contrast to the Gad-bird, flying on the left side, as it reflects the Temple process of celebration.
The birds representing Gad and Asher represent together the most scientifically correct perceptions that have been associated with Jacob's children. The name "son of Jacob" has been attached to the two names by Mary Baker Eddy in the Glossary, reflecting the high-level relationship that Leah had developed towards Jacob. But is was focused on Jacob. It included Jacob.
Unfortunately, as this is so often case in society, Leah lacked the wisdom to hold on to her spiritual achievements. Leah's regression began when her son Reuben had found mandrakes in the field, that were believed to induce conception. He gave them to her. Leah was immediately coerced by Rachel to 'sell' her some of her son's mandrakes in exchange for the privilege of having Jacob in bed with her again. Leah agreed. Thus Leah bear again, her 5th son. She said to herself, "God had given me my hire." She called the child, Issachar, which is derived from the word "man" and "wages." Mary Baker Eddy defined the name Issachar, "...offspring of error...lust."
The regression that we see here puts the bird representing Issachar back down unto the low-level position, sitting with the other birds on the crossbeam. We find the mental regression of course represented at the right side of the crossbeam, signifying a deserting of her Church-type scientific and spiritual self-development.
Rachel's high point in her inner-Church development.
Rachel also conceived a son in the shadow the mandrakes affair. It was evidently a joyous occasion for her. We are told that her conception was no longer focused on manipulating Joseph. She saw it as an expression of a boundless unfolding. She was expecting more children to be added, now that the threshold had been crossed. She called the child, Joseph (which means to add). This high attainment was her dawning experience of spiritual freedom. Rachel's high attainment is represented by the second bird sitting on the top of the cross (to the left of the Judah-bird). The Glossary definition of the name Joseph is like that of Judah presented without the notation "Jacob's son" attached. It belongs on the left side because it represents a universal idea, a universal concept with universal implications. (Joseph became involved in historic times with saving a large part of the world from famine.)
The Bird in Flight Below the Cross
Rachel conceived a second time, but died at child birth. She named the child Benoni (son of my sorrow.) But Jacob renamed the child to Benjamin (son of my right hand.) Jacob rejected the sense of sorrow and uplifted Rachel's child above the mortal background into into a world is bright with a divine promise. Mary Baker Eddy defined both aspects of the name Benjamin with a dual definition. One of the definitions reflects Rachel's mentality, the mentality of a dying woman. The other definition reflects Jacob's inspired spiritual perception. This one really soars. Mary Baker Eddy in her spiritual definition of Benjamin, reflecting what Jacob had done in his own developing sense of self-perception, takes the fallen bird and makes it fly. This spiritually developing bird flies on the right side of the cross, as shown, which is the Church side, and it flies directly into the light.
It should be noted here that the Glossary definition of Benjamin is a contrasting dual definition that pertains to the same column. However, it should also be noted that the two parts of the definition appear in two separate paragraphs. The separation of the duality into two paragraphs indicates that the two parts of the definition reflect two different standpoints pertaining to two different people's perception. One pulls the 'bird' down. The other makes it soar.
The renaming of Rachel's last child, from Benoni to Benjamin, reflects Jacob's own renaming from Jacob to Israel.
.We are told that Jacob, the person who later was renamed Israel, was quire a 'rat' in his early days. He had cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright by deceiving his father in a conspiracy cooked up by his mother. The situation became so hot for Jacob that Jacob had to flee for his life as his brother threatened to kill him for the treachery. Consequently Jacob fled to his mother's brother, Laban, where he served for Laban's two daughters that became his wives. He was deceived there in turn, and was cheated in that he didn't get the girl for a wife that he had bargained for, but found that he had married her sister instead. So he had to work for Laban for another bunch of years for the girl of his dreams. And even after all of that was history, many years later when he sought to return home, Jacob cheated Laban in turn, his benefactor of many years. Jacob devised a fraudulent scheme for dividing the flocks. The scheme enabled him to select the best flocks for himself, using trickery. Being afraid, he stole away from Laban in the dark of the night, together with his wives and children and his flocks that he derived by trickery. Thus the roots of treachery evidently went deep in this family and in his thinking. And as one might expect, the train of treachery that Jacob had been riding on continued with his children.
Israel loved his son Joseph more than all of his other sons. Consequently the brothers hated Joseph and in time conspired to kill him. Ah, but one of the brothers conspired against the conspiracy of the other brethren, aiming to prevent the killing. In the unfolding process of multiple deceptions Joseph's life was indeed saved, but instead of being killed he was sold as a slave, whereby he came to Egypt. Now, in order for the brothers to hide their crime from their father they took Joseph's coat that they had stripped from him, dipped it in blood and rent it, and told their father that Joseph had been devoured by an evil beast. The truth evidently wasn't worth much in those days, just as we find it today. But something profound did happen, A highly profound Church-type self-development took place in Jacob's thinking. Jacob had wrought for himself a new identity. It happened in a single night of a deep soul-searching prayer that literally made him a different person, a hard-won profoundly developed person with an appropriate new name, the name Israel (a prince with God.)
Jacob's Church-developed recognition of the Principle of Universal Love was a profound achievement. It wasn't a miracle, but a scientific and spiritual achievement that had its first historic expression in Jacob's transformation signified by the name, Israel. It made him a pioneer and exemplar of a process that is bound to give mankind a new name as his example is being recognized.
The key to the survival and advance of human civilization lies in the development of the Principle of Universal Love that was brought to light profoundly in the history of the development of the man Jacob taking on the name Israel. The principle was brought to light through a profound developmental shift in Jacob's thinking that opened a new horizon for himself and by example for mankind. In the development process that he achieved Jacob (as Israel) exemplifies what is natural and inherent for all mankind in its naturally developing scientific honesty within the context of Church as a scientific structure and its utility.
If it is our aim as society to embrace the Principle of Universal Love we might consider the shift in thinking that has historically caused the profound transformation of the rotten character that Jacob had been for a long period in his life, until this developmental shift occurred in which he was renamed to Israel.
Shortly after Jacob's last treachery, on his way returning home, he found himself in a position where he was forced into an agonizing struggle to consider the fundamental question, what is a human being? What is man? He was told that his brother Esau, who had earlier threatened to kill him for stealing his birthright, was on his way to intercept him with 200 men. Jacob found himself in a terrible bind. he had no place to run away to. He couldn't go back to Laban whom he had cheated. This bridge had been burnt. Neither could he go forward. The way for his going home was blocked by Esau. Having run out of options Jacob remained where he was and struggled with his impasse all through the night. The occasion might have been possibly the first time in his life where Jacob found himself forced to search for a profound answer, for the principle of Truth. He might have been asking again and again: What is a human being?
We are told that when the morning dawned and his answer was finally won, an angel blessed him and gave him his new name, the name Israel. The new name signified that a whole new era was dawning. Later that day, when the man Israel finally met his brother face to face, they met with kisses and with an embrace in which Israel was now able to say to his brother that he saw his face as though he had seen the face of God.
The transformed Jacob (to Israel), the Christ becoming profoundly reflected in his dawning self-perception, is represented thy the white bird that dominates the scene of the birds. We see the white bird in flight, but flying in the opposite direction. Representing the profound exemplar the white bird is flying WITH the light, not TOWARDS the light.
It seems that we all have a way yet to go to match Jacob's experience of growing up to become a profound human being, out of which came the name Israel, and to expand the process universally with the Principle of Universal Love by which we behold the face of all mankind as the reflected face of God. Shouldn't wars cease when this accomplished and the brotherhood of all mankind becomes established?
To some degree this has already happened. The principle that turned Jacob into Israel far back in history in a place called Peniel, was be reflected again and again throughout history. We find it expressed profoundly in the principle for the Treaty of Westphalia that ended an almost 100-years string of wars. We find it also expressed to some degree in the earlier Golden Renaissance. We most certainly find it expressed in the still earlier turning point in counting history that marks Christ Jesus' Christianity. We also saw it before that in the work of Socrates, Plato, and much farther back in time to some degree in the work of Solon of Athens, and others.
While there might not be a direct link existing to draw together the various expressions of society seeing one another to some degree as the reflected face of God, the universal link might be the Principle of Universal Love itself that was rediscovered to some degree in times of great historic challenges that were taken on and which led to the development of great epochs of renaissance.
However there is one element associated with the Israel Principle which is surprisingly profound. Except this aspect is someone hidden. In common usage Jacob's children are termed "The Children of Israel." Mary Baker Eddy disagrees. She calls them Jacob's children. This makes the term "the Children of Israel" applicable to all those of mankind throughout all ages who go through the same type of developmental struggles and win the same kind of victory. We should strife to be "the Children of Israel" in this universal sense.
Here things get even more interesting. In the 1884 edition of her textbook on Christian Science Mary Baker Eddy defined the term "The Children of Israel," as ending with phrase "....Christ's children." That's a beautiful definition, isn't it, for all those who take up the work and achieve the kind of transition that Jacob achieved at Peniel, with which he could face his brother the next day and say to to him that he saw his face as though he saw the face of God?" Mary Baker Eddy defines the transition that was achieved as the reflection of the Christ within, making us Christ's children by reflection. However, Mary Baker Eddy recognized that there was something deeply wrong with this concept. She recognized a subtle error and corrected it by changing the definition, "Christ's children" to "Christ's offspring."
On the surface the difference between the two definition appears to be insignificant, but in reference to the Christ the difference is enormous. Mary Baker Eddy evidently realized that there is no such phenomenon possible as a "Christ child." The Christ is always fully developed in constant maturity. It is always complete. As Christ's "offspring" mankind's potential is to reflect that maturity completely, not in infancy, not in part, but fully and completely. We can no more speak of a "Christ child" than we can speak of the principle of gravity in such terms. The 'child of gravity' would be an absurd concept. The phenomenon of gravity is always fully reflected. For the absolute and universal, there exists no infancy, only reflection. In this reflection we find our interface to the Christ and to God.
In the above scene of the birds, the bird that is white represents Jacob's fully conscious self-recognition as Israel. The bird isn't gray. It is white.
The sitting birds are 'grounded.' They are not flying. They are in a rut, which relates them symbolically to the moral domain of Mary Baker Eddy foursquare pedagogical structure. The moral domain, the third-lowest, is defined by here as the transitional domain. The domain below the moral is the domain of depravity, the domain of hell. None of the names of the sitting birds apply to this sub-moral domain. They are all a part of the moral domain where the light of the Christ consciousness causes the spiritual and scientific development to begin in individual being. In summary, the names that found there are from left to right, Levi, Issachar, Dan, Reuben, and at the top of the cross Judah and Joseph.
All the flying birds in the above scene are representing the next higher domain, the domain of the Christ, the spiritual idea of God. All the names for the flying birds are located in the second row. Here we approach the threshold to the divine and absolute. That is where we find the names, Gad and Asher, and Jacob as the white bird, and where we also Benjamin flying upwards from under the cross, flying into the light.
It is interesting to note that none of the birds are associated with the lower cross, the lifeless black cross. Mary Baker Eddy defines three zones in her pedagogical structure, reflected in the painting Christmas Eve on the tablet in the lap of the woman of science. As was indicated earlier we see three distinct zones, a smaller zone on top and two larger zones at the bottom, and we see the division of the whole into two side-by-side halves. And we see the same division reflected in the painting, "The Way," the large scene in which the birds are presented.
The top zone, or the divine zone, is the zone of the crown. It comprises the first row of the city foursquare. The cardinal point for the divine zone is "the Word of Life, Truth, and Love."
The lower three rows represent two opposing human concepts.
The second row represents the "Christ," the spiritual idea of God, also called "the Kingdom of Heaven" or "morning." The fourth row at the bottom represents the opposite, the domain of "Hell" or "Night" identified as the domain of "Christian Science" (the only science that deals scientifically with the tragedy of human errors, identified as that which to-day and forever interprets the "Christ-idea's" great example and the great Exemplar).
In between the second and the fourth row, the cardinal point (for the third row) is identified as "Christianity" (which is the outcome of the divine Principle of the Christ-idea in Christian history). Christianity sets up a standard that one should not drop below, but should develop from in an upwards scientific progression towards the Christ awareness.
As noted earlier, Mary Baker Eddy gives us a comprehensive description of the lower three rows in her "scientific translation of mortal mind." She describes them as spiritual (reality), and moral (transitional), and physical (depravity).
The tablet shown on the lap of the woman of science in the painting "Christmas Eve" shows that the lower three rows are divided down the middle horizontally into two zones, an upper zone and a lower lower zone.
The division across the third row, provides the moral center line or minimal standard. The division can bee seen in such a way that the 9 sub-elements that we find provided for each of the 16 elements of the foursquare structure, can be separated into two zones on the third row in such a manner that half of them belong to the upper zone and half of them belonging to the lower zone, with the central sub-element being of a unique nature wherby it can be shared by both zones.
The illustration above shows four horizontal and four vertical sub-elements as a potential structure existing within each of the 16 elements of the foursquare 'city,' The horizontal and vertical sub-elements shown here can be seen as representing in the small the characteristics of the four rows of the foursquare 'city' and of the four columns respectively. The central sub-element then becomes the center that all the vertical and horizontal concepts flow towards from all sides, as well as out from it in its reflection. On the third row where the sub-elements are divided into an upper and lower zone, the central sub-element can be seen as a barrier, the moral zero-line that one should not drift below into negative territory.
In dividing a sub-element structure the outer vertical sub-elements (the unmanifest ones) can be seen as belonging to the upper zone, the spiritual zone, and the inner sub-elements, the sub-standard ones, can be seen as belonging to lower lower zone. The central sub-element is itself divided down the middle by it being shared by both zones as the moral center line that is 'open' to both directions. The central sub-element therefore requires a unique type of Glossary definition that facilitates this 'duality in one' that opens the defined concept in both directions. The textbook's Glossary contains four definitions with the required special characteristic.
The resulting division of the three lower rows into an upper and lower zone enables one to perceive seven sub-elements in each of the four columns that are representing the 7 days of creation, and another seven representing the 7 synonyms for God, for a total of 56 for the entire upper zone, and similarly 56 counter-posing concepts in the lower zone. This mirrored concept of opposites can be seen to apply to some degree to all of the 10 birds. It should be noted that all of the 10 birds are located in the upper zone. The painting in Christ and Christmas, "The Way," shows clearly that none of the birds are associated with the lower zone, the dark zone that is represented by the black cross in the painting.
The upper zone, is the zone of scientific and spiritual development that extends from the moral center upwards, developing and manifesting mankind's inherent Christ awareness.
The lower zone is the zone of material emptiness, the zone of depravity, extending from the moral center downwards to the darkest night and deepest hell. None of Jacob's 'birds' are seen in the dark zone of the black-cross. However, the story of the birds doesn't end here.
Mary Baker Eddy has provided 10 definitions for other names, names that are not associated with Jacob, but which can be seen as a mental resource for uplifting the sitting birds and illustrating the flight of the flying birds. The associated ten names are in their historic sequence, Abel, Noah, Shem, Japheth, Abraham, Moses, Elias, Urim, Thummim, Jesus. The 10 names are evidently associated with the 10 birds, one by one.
The two outer birds on the crossbeam are evidently associated with Japheth and Shem (from left to right), who took it upon themselves to take a "garment" between them to go backwards over the perceived nakedness of Noah's. That's not a process of covering something up. Rather it is a process of drawing the 'moral line' below one cannot cross without collapsing into depravity, and moving upwards from it. Ultimately the "garment" is the 'garment' worn by the woman of the Apocalypse, clothed with the sun. In this sense Japheth and Shem are the high-level guardians in the moral realm, extending from Levi to Reuben, protecting and uplifting mankind from its exposure to mental malpractice. The Urim and the Thummim (names developed by the priests) apply as a similar uplifting impetus to the birds representing Issachar and Dan .
On the higher plane Noah represents a higher concept of what Joseph represents, and Moses of what Judah represents.
On the still higher plane Abel represents the "first fruit" of spiritual experience, just as Gad represents (Science...), and Elias (Christian Science), who reflects the mental development represented by Judah.
On the highest level, "Jesus" reflects the Christ awareness that Jacob approximated in hard struggle of scientific development, manifest as Israel.
But there are two birds missing.
On the left side of the crossbeam (see figure above) there is a large space left open for two more birds. Are those 'missing' birds "theology and medicine?" The specific element in the city foursquare structure where the missing birds would be found, we find the textbook chapter, Science, Theology, Medicine associated with that element. Of course, the concepts, theology and medicine, didn't exist in Jacob's time. Nevertheless they are prominent now and are elements of destructive mental malpractice that darkens the world of mankind and hinders its spiritual celebration.
Two early historic names come to mind here to represent theology and medicine. These are the names of Ham (representing perverted theology) and Canaan the son of Ham (representing medicine). Ham and Canaan are the two missing birds in the Temple related mental malpractice. We find them prominently represented in the painting Christmas Eve.
In biblical history Ham is the son of Noah. It was Ham who discovered his father sleeping naked in his tent (Genesis 9:22). Ham rushed forth to tell his brothers about it. When Noah awoke and discovered what had transpired, his comment was that Canaan, the son of Ham, his child, was cursed thereby to be a servant. Evidently Noah realized that the child was put in a terrible bind by his close link to the mental despotism that unfolds in any environment focused on 'nakedness.' That's the tragic interplay between theology and medicine when theology is far from divine science. In real terms Ham is still speaking to mankind about his fascination with 'nakedness,' saying to all, "come and see!"
In this Temple scene of mental malpractice divine Science has no voice. To the right of her we see the Lamb of God and to the left the Prophet, the spiritual seer addressing Ham, saying to him in scientific language, "can't you see the Christ? Can't you see the divine face of mankind? Evidently a great deal of self-discovery of mankind is required before theology takes on the role of the Prophet of God and thereby medicine reflects the Lamb of God to the highest degree possible.
It appears that we find the most immediately elevating Temple-resource right above the Christmas Eve scene. It is a resource that can get us out of the subtle and devastating 'mental malpractice' represented by Ham and Canaan.
This Temple resource is illustrated in the 'eyes and ears' concepts that represent the profound openness to spiritual and scientific Christ-discernment on the horizon of time that one would find in the functioning 'temple.'
In summary, Mary Baker Eddy calls the entire last scene that combines the crown, the cross with the birds, and the dark cross without birds, into a comprehensive interrelationship called, THE WAY. The way is the scientific path to what ultimately IS is the reality of divine being. At the divine level above The Way some of the presently most cherished concepts fall away. Even John the Revelator, speaking of the heavenly city, recognized that is no temple therein, because as he pointed out, the Lamb is the temple thereof. Mary Baker Eddy described the "Lamb of God" as "the spiritual idea of Love..." (She didn't define Love itself in the Glossary).
Likewise, in the same sense as temple becomes a superceded concept, the sense of church becomes superceded. Beyond the threshold to the infinite all development ends and everything becomes reflection. The very hierarchical development structure in which Truth and Love permeate consciousness, becomes superceded with conscious reflection of the divine. Here the "Bridegroom" (Spiritual understanding...) stands in sovereign union with the "Lamb of God." The new Church becomes the Bridegroom and the new Temple the Lamb of God. In the new Temple, the sense of celebration is superceded by respect for all that is divine and reflects God. This respect is a conscious awareness of a lateral reality where profound ideas stand side by side as the universal manifest of the divine that has no hierarchy.
That is what we see represented in the Crown, richly adorned, bearing the 'stars' of rejoicing. But we are not there yet. We are moving towards it. That is why we need the Church functioning and the Temple functioning.
It is interesting to note that Mary Baker Eddy stipulated in the Church Manual (p.42) in the section of "Discipline" that prayers in Christian Science churches shall be offered for the congregation collectively and exclusively." Since this applies to the side of the Church and not the side of the Temple, the focus for this prayer must include the healing of the specific form of mental malpractice that the names Issachar and Dan represent (left), and Reuben represents (right).
The healing of mankind as a whole does not take place in Church, but takes place in the Temple. The healing in Church is individual healing. As the congregation becomes uplifted and is 'healed' it begins to function effectively in the Temple where it must deal with the wide universal concepts of ecclesiastical despotisms, the tragedies of theology, and the resulting perversion in medicine. That wider task is the task of society in the Temple, but the task won't be fulfilled unless the Church is functioning and preparing in individual thinking the foundation for the temple.
The Church is the real powerhouse and the workhouse in the process. The old man in the rocking chair represents both Issachar on one hand, and Dan on the other hand. He is challenged to look at the Lamb of God. The clock behind him is a church clock. It indicates 5 after 5. Revelation 5:5 says unto him, "weep not." And the story goes on telling us about the Lamb of God that unseals the book. Each one of us needs to respond to this challenge of facing the Lamb of God and achieve a healing. That's church coming alive in healing. We all need this process happening in our experience.
The disappointment of Reuben is the disappointing emptiness of mankind living a barely moral life. Leah's hope to make Jacob love her by having children with him was standing on moral ground (barely), but it falls far short of the Bridegroom's standard, the sovereign unity of mankind as spiritual ideas, "...the pure consciousness that God, the divine Principle, creates man as His own spiritual idea, and that God is the only creative power." Judah represents a healing along this line, to some degree. Judah was a child born in the Church that brings to light the structure of Truth and Love.
What is involved in the healing of Issachar and Dan (the old man in the rocking chair above) is the healing of the larger concept of what a human being is. That's church work too. The following is the scene that stands above the old man in the rocking chair.
What is healed here in this scene is the personalized perception of what a human being is. A scientifically motivated spiritual transformation is taking place here. In this process of scientific 'healing' the Adam-type of self-perception is replaced with the Jesus-exemplified self-perception.
This type of process of transformation takes place in church too, powered by the Urim and the Thummim until we come to the unity of God and man reflected humanly in the unity of the Christ coming alive in human consciousness, hand in hand with divine Science, manifest as Christian Science.
So, do we need the prayer in a Christian Science Church, for the congregation? Absolutely! Without this prayer in the church, in all its forms, the Temple on the left side of the 'city' stands empty and remains empty as nothing is being built that's worth celebrating. If there is no Church process happening, divine Science will remain an 'old lady', and as a consequence society falls into great danger. Thus, in a very real sense, the Christian Science Church is the powerhouse of civilization.
Of course, since the process is so simple, and so well-defined by Mary Baker Eddy, why should the process not unfold fully and usher in a new spiritual renaissance that brings light to all ages to come? The science of the Church Universal and Triumphant is the science that is illustrated by the 10 birds in Christ and Christmas. It illustrates the healing structure of Truth and Love.
When the Church is operating properly there is healing in the Temple. The most profound healing that happens here is the healing of Levi, the healing of ecclesiastical despotism, the healing of ecclesiastics itself, the raising of mankind from its coffin of small-minded thinking in the celebration of Christ Healing. In this column we are dealing with the woman of the Apocalypse, clothed with the sun as the Temple-clock in the top painting illustrates.
We are told of in a Bible story of Jesus halting a funeral procession and restoring a dead boy to life. But the scene above is different. It is a female child that is raised out of the coffin at the hand of Jesus. We are told by Bible scholars in the New Bible Dictionary that the term Ecclesiastics has a "female ending." The undying spiritual sense of mankind that culminates in John's perception of the woman clothed with the sun is celebrated here in the above scene that Mary Baker Eddy termed, Christ Healing. But this scene shows only the beginning. We see the two faces from that scene again, reflected in the next higher scene.
Look at the faces, we see the same beard, and the same girl. We see humanity celebrating its self-acknowledgment, its reflected spiritual power, and its inherent immortality. Are we seeing Gad and Abel reflected here, celebrating the first fruits of spiritual experience?
And even beyond that, we have a still higher scene of celebration in the Temple. We have an endless scene.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in reference to the illustrations in Christ and Christmas, "My ideal angel is a woman without feathers on her wings."
She writes about above painting specifically, that she insisted on having a serpent placed behind the woman's back. The biblical serpent is said to have cast forth a flood to flush away the woman, but we see that this has not happened. The angel remains in her place in the light of the great star.
The clock behind the woman in the Temple is the Temple-clock. It is set at 5 after 12. Revelation 12 speaks of the "woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars." And verse 5 tells us that she brought forth a man child that was to rule all nations. We learn in verse 15 that this is the woman against which the serpent spews forth its great flood, but the earth helped the woman and swallowed up the flood.
We have a profound healing celebrated in the above painting. We see a healing unfolding in this Temple of spiritual celebration that takes us from Levi, where we are dead in ecclesiastical despotism, to being raised to life and discerning our immortality, all the way to seeing the 'angel of God,' the '"Bride" of God' at the threshold of transforming the world. What a celebration! The first development stream of the Temple is described as, "the love of the good and beautiful, and their immortality."
We see the same profound healing celebration reflected in the second development stream of the Temple. Here we celebrate the transformation of theology and medicine.
When theology becomes Christian Science, then, and only then, the Lamb of God steps into the foreground as the healer of mankind. The end result is Christian Science Healing. This profound healing process is celebrated in the temple in the second development stream described as, "The rights of woman acknowledged morally, civilly, and socially."
Since the entire foursquare pedagogical structure is divided vertically into two halves with two development streams in each, so that the first two streams pertain to Temple and the second two pertain to Church, we have two types of Church and respectively two types of Temple represented. The two halves are clearly illustrated below, with the crosses standing on the center line. The two development streams in each half are also clearly visible in the form of two different types of landscapes on each side.
In the 4th development stream, the outer development steam, the operating Church is the "structure of Truth and Love," In the third development stream, the inner stream, the operating Church is "the church that affords proof of its utility..."
In the same manner we can see in the first half of the 'city' (the left half) with two types of Temple operating in it, described by two types of Ark.
In the first development stream we build a capitol type of Temple that reflects the structure of Ark as, "Safety; the idea, or reflection of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle..."
In the second development stream (the inner stream) we find a temple that celebrates the Ark as a 'utility' described as, "God and man coexistent and eternal; Science showing that the spiritual realities of all things are created by Him and exist forever."
Isn't it amazing what far-reaching interplay is connected with the 10 birds surrounding the cross in the last painting in Christ and Christmas? The interplay ties the entire foursquare pedagogical structure together into one single comprehensive operational whole.
Bird reference summary
Applied to the Glossary
This article and its
illustrations are a part of the book
Universal Divine Science: Spiritual Pedagogical