Finding meaning amid information overload

A Christian Science perspective.

“Words don’t have absolute meanings. Meanings are in people!” the professor remarked on the first day of a university course I took on communications. Wow, that’s a pretty metaphysical concept, I thought, but if meanings are in us, where do we get them from?

That professor, 35 years ago, never addressed the broader question of where meaning comes from – a question that seems all the more important today as we instantly publish, connect, and collaborate with anyone on the planet. I often consider the meaning of “meaning” while sifting through my daily din of e-mails, chats, chatter, tweets, texts, posts, and podcasts.

Today’s computers have gotten pretty good at filtering our information: finding items with certain words that might fit our interests, or filtering out spam or advertisements. But I sometimes long for a filter that would somehow just know what’s most important, most meaningful to me at the moment – a “meaningful filter.”

Such a filter requires more than tweaking the software to look for specific words or phrases. It would have to take place in our thinking. Because, in the highest sense, meanings are beyond words. They come in the form of concepts, ideas. The most meaningful ideas are much more than a product of the information we consume or the knowledge we accumulate. Inspiration, intuition, creativity, all seem to come from someplace outside ourselves. But again, from where?

The best answers I’ve found come from a resource that’s chock-full of meaning: the Bible. The Bible often refers to God as the source of all true thoughts, as in these passionate words attributed to the great Jewish leader David: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand” (Ps. 139:17, 18). And the book of Jeremiah indicates the nature and purpose of the thoughts God gives us, proclaiming, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (29:11).

What a release it can be from the pressures of information overload to know that the most valuable, meaningful ideas we can know or share come directly to us from God. In fact, Christian Science explains God as the source of all true intelligence, the divine Mind discernible to human consciousness. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, described this divine communication as angels: “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 581).

What a perfect way to set our “meaningful filter” in our own consciousness – to include only those inspirations, or intuitions, that are pure, perfect, good, and immortal. And to filter out all that is evil, sensual, and mortal.

Each of us has the ability to recognize God’s thoughts passing to us; we know them by the goodness, purity, and spiritual meaning they bring. Opening our thought to God’s angelic ideas will not only inspire and elevate our communications with others, but will bring clarity, purpose, and fresh meaning to every aspect of our lives.

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