15 June 2008

Living with our Filter

No, despite the title, this post has nothing to do with inappropriate website content or food (or water) storage. But it does draw on a basic concept that I recall being introduced in chemistry classes when dealing with tangible, physical filters. From those classes, we may recall the concept in its rudimentary form: that a filter functions by allowing particles of certain shapes or sizes to pass through it while preventing others from passing through the barrier.

This basic idea from the physical sciences has provoked some thought in my understanding of how we obtain spiritual knowledge "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" (Isaiah 28:10, 13) and "receive[] . . . and continue[] in God [to] grow[] brighter and brighter untill the perfect day" (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24). My thinking leads me to believe that we ourselves act as filters for what light and truth we permit to pass through our self-imposed barriers and mark us indelibly for eternity. Under such an analogy, the growth we experience is most closely tied to our openness to learn new truths. Absent such an openness, we prevent continued progress by stagnating what we permit to pass through our filters (ourselves).
The analogy to which I refer, is premised on our being our own filters. Our experiences and background, both in mortality and in our pre-mortal life, shape those filters and allow for certain spiritual relationships to shape us and affect us. At the same time, when we have experiences with the Spirit, those experiences in turn transform us into a new filter, which allows different experiences and avenues for Spiritual relations to pass through the filter and affect us in new ways. Thus, we become filters, but also ever-transforming filters. This phenomenon helps to explain how we can turn to the scriptures or ordinances of the Gospel repeatedly and see "new" truths in them each time. Our experiences have changed us, and a change in us changes the filter through which we see and receive new insights and truths.
If this analogy holds, we have a great responsibility for our progress, both in constantly engaging in the transformative process of gospel learning and in preserving our openness to so learning. When either of these is lacking, we stand at risk of losing even that which we have. Moreover, we act as filters by our selectivity in choosing in which experiences and activities we will participate or engage. By using our agency (selectivity) and remaining open to learning, we allow for opportunities to transform ourselves and renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2) and learn to live with our filter as a means to the eternal end of living with our Father.

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