Posted by: rogermitchell | February 5, 2010

Hopeless at maths and science but pushing on into resurrection time

If you tried to make sense of the nonsense I made of my esteemed geologist friend’s simple comments the other day, then you know that I’m hung up on mathematics and science generally. I honestly don’t expect to understand it even when I’m trying! However, having googled ‘dimension’ I now realise that what Dave was saying was much less complicated than I thought. It’s not that time has four dimensions mathematically [!] but that there are four dimensions, the plane, the square, the cube and the fourth being time, represented by the cube in motion, or what is called the tesseract [look it up for yourself  if so inclined]. And of course all of these are at right angles to each other. I expect this is still less than a mathematical or scientific statement, but it is a bit better than before. The importance of this for me is twofold. Firstly I am working at liberating time from master to gift and so I’m looking for ways to describe it that may indicate ways to get free from imperial time, such as charging off at right angles [more of that later!]. But secondly I’m pretty sure that my hang up on maths and science is rooted in an intuitive sense I’ve had since I was a kid that the ability to sum up knowledge in equations was frequently used to oppress rather than to liberate. Coming from the working class underbelly of the western world that was largely how I saw education anyway, as a means to exclude and disempower the multitude like me and the rest while those with the equations and the scientific knowledge ruled the roost.  The amazing thing to me is that as I’m understanding and getting free from imperial time I think I might even begin to open up to the redemptive purpose of mathematics and physics! But seriously if we could really help people see the fundamental difference between nuclear energy for peace and nuclear bombs for war we would really be onto something! By the way on the subject of new sight I’m having a lens replaced in my eye tomorrow and I’m embracing it as a seriously eschatological moment – the op itself only takes about fifteen minutes, so serious thanks to God for maths, science and the NHS for the blessing of the British multitude! Still, pray for me if you have a moment!



  1. I’ve been finding your thoughts on time very interesting. I’m really interested in how this has been working out in my own life over this last year. Time is a big deal when your making things for a living and it seems like you can’t make things fast enough. Last year I was always pushing for more productivity. But then when business dried up the whole profit thing when out the window. But along side this was numerous God timings or alignment that at the start didn’t make sense, but kept happening so much that I had to kept going to see what would happen. It like God economy and timing are really up side down BUT work? He takes us on journeys that make no sense in the natural but over time give you a glimse of just how amazing he really is. They squeeze you into a new shape that hopefully will be more aligned and expectant of his timing.

    • Thanks for this Cecil. You are a pioneer out there – one of a growing number who are trying to live by a new rhythm. The financial squeeze is surely part of the shaking of empire in Hebrews 12:26-29 terms. God’s timing and alignment, as you put it, doesn’t make practical sense in our imperial, capitalist terms but most certainly will do in kingdom of God, kenotic terms. I guess that this is ours to discover, receive and give into the world of our time.
      With love,

  2. I woke suddenly out of a deep sleep this morning and the digital clock is 4:44.(numbers lining up like this have been raining down on me since Target Europe )The 4 dimensions of time remind me of the 4 faces of the biblical Cherubim.The 4 rivers that flow out of Eden.The 4 Gospels.THE 4 “some to be…” gifts of Ephesians 4. The 4 walls of The New Jerusalem.The 4 Winds.The 4 directions etc
    Each a part that complete the whole.
    Finally 4 words “The Lord is There” Ezekial 48(4×12)

  3. Roger: When you can read comfortably again check out “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. She was someone who came (back) to God through reading Math and Physics. A Wrinkle in Time was written as a children’s book but it incorporates the 4 dimensions (essentially what I was trying to describe in my response to your blog on time recently) in the story. And it is a story about the mind numbing conformity of empire time. A bit of ‘light’ but perhaps enlightening reading for you as you recover from the operation.

    I’ve enjoyed other L’Engle books over the years. I think while she was a member of a church she was not confined to it in her understanding of God’s work and God’s world. c.

    • Thanks Cheryl – will look forward to A Wrinkle in Time!

  4. Well Roger, I just had a timely connection about your discussion of time. I was returning from a shopping trip to the local grocery which itself exhibited all of the frenzy and stress of empire time (it was crowded and people were rushed) when I ran into a friend as she was cycling home.

    She asked how I am. I explained that I had worked extra hard this week, put in longer hours than usual into the archives, in an effort to get through a busta (a stack of documents about 15 inches high). In the end I had not only failed to finish the busta but had left my body in a lot of pain. I have frozen shoulder at the moment and that along with surgery in 2003 to remove a lumbar disk that had herniated, means that sitting is the very worst thing I can do. And what historians do most is sit on their rear ends. After explaining how I realized I would have been better off relaxing instead of trying to work in a stressed frenzy I commented on your work. I explained it a bit, about time and the church connection with empire. That got her going. She was on her way at that moment to spend a week with a theologian friend and the topic is the authentic life. My (your) theology interested her. So we will meet up for coffee when she returns.

    Italy is a Catholic country and I think we Protestants tend to think of it as closed to any kind of thinking that would challenge the church. But what I have found instead is that people are very thoughtful. They have either thoughtfully diminished their interaction with it because they do not believe or they have engaged thoughtfully with the parts they can support. It seems to me that quite a few are pretty open to thinking about the release from empire and moving into something new.

    So enjoy the release from empire time while you recover Roger. Usually illness and/or surgery frees us for a time as no one can really rush the body when it comes to healing and recovery.

  5. Hello Roger, thank you for the edification of your blog. My understanding of time (or confirmation of the lack of it) was helped by Rob Bell’s explanation on his DVD ‘Everything is Spiritual’ (2007). In case you haven’t seen it, he describes an imaginary scenario where the inhabitants of ‘two-dimensional land’ describe a wedding ring that comes into their world. As the ring passes in front of them, it first appears as a thick line that suddenly morphs into two small separate circles moving slowly away from each other and then slowly towards each other again before becoming a thick line again. In other words, they could only see the section of the ring as it passed in front of them: seeing a very different picture in two dimensions than we know with our three-dimensional understanding. Likewise, our understanding of the fourth dimension, namely time, looks possibly and probably very different until that time when we ‘shall know fully’ (1 Cor. 13:12). However, no doubt God can, at any time (sic), choose to reveal it supernaturally to whom he chooses…!

    • Thanks Jonathan, I hadn’t encountered Bob Bell’s work on this. I like it, together with your comment. I think that I am wanting to explore more how we can access the coming fulnes of times in the now, without over or under doing it! If the first fruits of resurrection is here in Jesus then I reckon he wants to collaborate as much as possible with us in it, and not simply to let us wait for him. He’s already come as in “Behold I stand at the door and knock” etc
      It’s great to know that you are clicking on and finding this stuff helpful. Looking forward to more of your insight
      With love

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