Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Prism Breakout!

  •  By Tony Harriman

If you weren't listening closely, you could easily confuse the sounds of the words "prism" and "prison."  Though very close in sound, these two words couldn't be farther apart in meaning.  If you wanted to have a little tongue-in-cheek wordplay, you might say that these two words are antonyms of each other.

A prison is designed with the intention of keeping something in.  The effect of a prism is to set something free.

Let's explore ….


There comes a time in a person's life when they are introduced to the idea that there are bad people in the world, people who intend to do us harm, and prisons have been built to house them and keep them away from the rest of society.  The worldwide prison system idea has been around a long time … because bad people have been around a long time.  Once a person goes behind the gates, unless they break out, there they will stay until their sentence is completed.  The prison is specifically designed to keep them in.

There comes another time in a person's life when they are introduced to the concept of the prism.  A person doesn't have to go very far, or spend a lot of money on college courses, before they can see a prism at work.  Prisms are doing their thing almost every time we turn around.  When light hits a prism, wonderful things happen.

There are so many observations that can be made about the wonders of light that would take far more time than I want to invest right here; so this will be brief.  I know for a fact that some of you reading this short piece will have all kinds of lights going on regarding this topic, and I invite you to share those observations in a short paper — because they're worth sharing.  I'd like to park on a few of my own observations for just a couple of minutes.

Probably the first place any of us notice a prism at work is in a sunny sky after a rain shower; that huge multi-colored bow is caused by the reflection and refraction of light passing through and among tiny water droplets in the sky.  Countless droplets are producing the behavior of prisms and, acting together, they cause that dazzling phenomenon we know as … a rainbow.

With the sun at your back, rainbows are only ever seen in the sky in front of you; a rainbow caused by the sun never appears between you and the sun.  The colors are always in the same order in a rainbow: red on the outside, blue on the inside.  Occasionally a second rainbow appears outside of what is known as the "Primary Rainbow," and the colors are then reversed: red on the inside, blue on the outside — reversed, but always in their order.

Since the rainbow is also a product of our eyes — our perception — it may never be approached.  One can never dig up the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because one can never stand at the end of a rainbow he or she can see with the eyes.

A black-and-white photo of a rainbow produces no perceivable banding such as can be seen in a color photo, just a gradual intensity and less intensity of image.

Rainbows can be caused by any form of airborne water, including the jet of mist coming from that little hole in the garden hose.

The application of some serious math causes what we know as rainbows.  Should a person be dropped off on a desolate, unorganized world somewhere out yonder and be told to make it pretty, that person would be hard pressed to invent some of the serious calculations needed to make even a start on a rainbow.  Imagine if that person wanted to invent a soap bubble; not only would he or she have to invent the math necessary to enclose a lump of gas in a non-solid object, but now a way has to be found to have the inside and outside surfaces of the bubble produce … a rainbow.  It's just a simple bubble — but not so simple to invent.  Bubbles and rainbows have been around a long time, and were probably on the mind of King Solomon when he observed that there was nothing new under the sun.  Human beings invent cell phones, computers and televisions (out of existing material, we might add); we don't wake up one morning and introduce the world to a whole new natural phenomenon we just invented — like floating axes or jugs of oil that never run dry.

My wife is a person who enjoys the beauty of light reflecting off the many shiny things of our world, so this past Christmas I bought her one of those wind chimes that comprises a sparkly butterfly and a small multi-sided crystal.  The sound of the chimes is delightful in the breeze, but the instrument really comes to life when the sun hits the crystal; the whole side of the house gets covered in a living tapestry of moving rainbows — totally delightful!  And the colors? Always in their order.  The little crystal is acting as a prism, casting forth small packets of colors as it turns.

One may ask, "Where do all the colors come from?"  The truth is … all the colors of the rainbow are contained in a single beam of light; all the colors mixed together produce what we see as white (at least as close to white light as seems natural).  On the other side of the prism, the side toward the light, the light in appearance is actually colorless to our eyes.  All the colors are there, but, unaided, we are unable to see them.

My mind is brought back to the passages in the Bible stating that "God is Light;" that Jesus is "The Light of the World;" that the disciples of Jesus were to continue the quest of being "The Light of the World;" that they are to "Walk in the Light" as He is "In the Light."  Though definitely not fully comprehended in its day (or even in this), the concept, to my mind, was definitely an inspired idea.

So with that thought in mind, let's explore how we might find spiritual parallels in the world of light.


God, of course, is the ultimate source of light — spiritual light — light that matters to the heavenly welfare of thinking beings.  Human beings might be regarded as the instruments — the prisms —  being used on earth to set loose among the people the many aspects of that light … at least, the light we can see (remember, in the physical world, the human eye can distinguish only a fraction of the light available).  So, in a sense, it's our job to keep our surfaces clean and polished so that all the available light can get through to us — and also get out of us.  Knowing some of you as I do, I don't doubt that many of you who are reading this just dusted off many pages of mental information regarding what must be done to keep the windows un-misted.  That's not where I want to go, so let me pull your attention back to the light.

One of the ways investigators in the policing world determine whether or not a suspect is telling the truth is that the suspect is asked to give an alibi … what was he or she doing at the time of the crime being investigated.  After the suspect gives an account, he or she is then asked again to gives details of the time in question — but in reverse order.  A made up story will be very difficult to keep track of, even under the best of circumstances.  A suspect who leaves out a detail — however minor — will quickly get attention from those who are paying attention.  By contrast, if light from God enters the mind of a human being, then that light will always tell the same story, whether it starts at the beginning, or the end.  Light from God never lies; it always tells the same story.  Heavenly light shared by a human being may be a little dim; the colors may not be so vivid … but all the colors will be there nevertheless — in their order.  Once you become acquainted with the orderliness of the colors of the rainbow, you recognize the pattern every time you see it.  If you should ever be introduced to a rainbow whose colors where not lined up correctly, you would spot the error immediately.  The colors may be in a different order than you are used to, but once you understand why, then the fix in your mind is easy to make.

As far as we can tell, human beings get heavenly light from one or more of three sources: The Book of Nature; the Book of the Bible, and from mental inspiration and stimulation.  These three God-given methods, if they are from the same source, will always tell the same story, never deviate from each other.  If one of these methods appears to contain a unique snippet of information, then that snippet should be added to the information offered by the other two methods.  If the Book of Nature appears to tell a story which differs from the other two stories, then I believe close examination should be made of my interpretation of the story given by the Book of Nature.  If my mind wakes one morning with the flash of an idea, an idea I believe has been given by inspiration from God, but the idea conflicts with the lessons offered in Nature or the Bible, then I really ought to give some serious consideration regarding where that inspiration might have come from … because there is evidence of another spirit, a darker spirit, seeking to enlighten my mind to who knows what end — certainly not Heavenward.

To my mind, the Word of God — in the Bible, the Book of Nature, or inspiration — should always paint the same picture.  Take the colors of the Ten Commandments as an example; they always read the same.  Actually, all the colors of the Commandments read the same … even if you jumble the colors up.  What lesson from the rainbow might we apply to the Commandments if we are introduced to the idea that one of the colors doesn't belong in the rainbow?  What might we conclude about an artist who paints a rainbow for us, but leaves out one or more of the plainly-visible colors?  Well, of course, that math is easy to do, isn't it?  The artist has unwittingly, or otherwise, filtered out part of the light.  Perhaps the artist is color blind — a color-blind person would probably not be a reliable artist.

Occasionally accounts arise in the Bible that seem most unreasonable:


• An ax head that floats when sought by someone tossing a stick (2 Kings 6:4-6).

• A cruse of oil that never runs dry when blessed by the prophet (1 Kings 17:16).

• Manna that falls from heaven for six-day sessions, but not on the seventh day (Exodus 16).

• A child born from a virgin (Matthew 1 & 2).

• The feeding of 5,000 men from the lunch of a young boy (Matthew 14).

• The raising of Lazarus four days after his death (John 11).

These Biblical accounts, and many others like them, may baffle us.  Though unlikely, not one of them is a direct contradiction to any other part of inspiration — be it in the Book of nature or due to direct inspiration from heaven.  In other words, just because our understanding of reason and physics dictates that the world should behave in a certain way, doesn't mean that there is no more to learn.  Our understanding of physics dictates that water shall boil at a certain temperature; but one day a man realizes that the water he is heating begins to boil at less than the prescribed temperature.  Eventually it is realized that the man was half-way up a mountain, where the differing atmospheric pressures change things — the physics don't change … but the physics have additional math applied which, up to that point, no one knew existed.  There is no command in the Bible forbidding the floating of ax-heads; no command forbidding the "actual" raising of the dead; no command saying how many may be fed from a plate of food.

There is evidently no color in the light which is of more importance than any other.  The fact that the light travels packaged together should be an indication that it's all necessary — even the light we are unaware of.  Just because we can't see it, doesn't mean we don't need it.  If the colors of the rainbow had each a mind and a mouth, they would think and state that they are each a part of the body of the beam of light; no color would feel more important than any other.  Each color is different — but no lesser, nor greater than the neighbors.

In a manner of speaking, the prism is setting the colors free.  The colors are being defined for us by an object outside of us.  In reality, the prism doesn't separate the colors; it just spreads the colors out so that they may be more easily defined — but the colors are inseparable.

Someone should share with us their thoughts on the marvelous math and machinery of the lighthouse … the one keeping the sailors aware of the rocks beneath the waves.

Someone should share their observations regarding the beauty and power of what we know as a laser beam, able to cut a hole through steel, and yet be gentle enough to allow the skillful performance of eye surgery.

And someone should seriously investigate what might cause a green rainbow around a throne in Heaven (Revelation 4:3).

Because the lessons of light being continually unlocked by modern science appear to me to have no ending.

And that's just my take on it ….


Tony's CD Store