Flatland, Aslan and Our Final Destiny by Michael Peterson
The square sat silently staring out across Flatland, surveying the two-dimensional world that he inhabited. He was not a square of means, being that he only had 4 sides—and the number of sides one had determined their status in Flatland. Circles, with unlimited sides held rule over the land, and were considered the priests and rulers. Square was knowledgeable of Flatland, and knew his two-dimensional world well, but he always had a feeling, a sense, a longing to see and understand more.
He had questions about Flatland and wondered if there was more than just a two-dimensional life. Of course, these questions were considered dangerous, especially to be aired in public. Circles forbid any mention or discussion beyond the orthodoxy—that there were only two dimensions–length and height. To utter such nonsense of dimensions beyond these two was to invite heavy penalties, imprisonment, and diagnosis of mental illness.
One night, while Square was sitting in his two-dimensional home, he heard a strong wind, and saw an object approach him. The object was nothing he had seen before. In fact, he was rather befuddled by it. Not only did it look like a circle, it had a strange presence—almost as if it was not just one circle but multiple circles. Circles upon circles. This object came to him and greeted him in a most pleasant manner, introducing himself as Sphere. Square, was overcome with a sense of wonder and surprise. Sphere explained that he came from another world, a three-dimensional world. Not only did it have length and height, it had depth. His visit to Square, Sphere said, was his privileged duty to share his world with a two-dimensional Flatlander. To show him that he had greater potential, that there were greater dimensions, greater experiences, and greater opportunities that awaited him if he embraced this new knowledge—this new truth.
Square was overcome with a mix of excitement and apprehension. Excited about what he had learned, and the incredible opportunities a three-dimensional world provided. Yet apprehensive about this new knowledge because it went against Flatlander orthodoxy. He risked great persecution from the rulers and institutions that ran Flatland. To introduce and share such truth to others would turn Flatland upside down. It would expose their land as nothing but an illusion to the reality of a third-dimensional world. Their sciences, religions, educational and legal systems and those that ruled them would be found to be nothing but a mirage, a lie.
Square did not know what to do—accept the truth, he now knew to be real. Or reject it for the comfort and security of what he had been taught by the institutions and leaders of Flatland and avoid certain dire consequences. However, he knew deep within his mind and heart that he really belonged in Sphere’s world. That was his destiny. That was the answer to his longings and yearnings he was never able to utter.
The story of Flatland, written by Edwin Abbott in 1884, touches on our inner sense that this world in which we now exist is not our ultimate destiny. We are not born just to live and then die. We are not just meant to stay in a physical body in a physical world, subject to pain, disease, hurt, distress, and anxiety.
Our world, albeit four dimensional (length, height, depth, and time) is limited, temporal, and deteriorating. Yet inherently we long for a world, an existence that transcends time and space.
The orthodoxy of Flatland is much like our own religious, scientific, and institutional systems. To acknowledge a spiritual dimension to our own being, and a spiritual world that transcends our physical one is to invite accusations of superstition, myth, fantasy, and delusion. Clearly, if you can’t measure it and assess it through our 5-senses it cannot exist. That is the orthodoxy of science. As such, many refuse to open their minds to this possibility lest they lose their control, standing, and position in their two-dimensional world.
In C.S. Lewis’ “The Last Battle” Aslan in talking about those that will not accept his help (his Truth) says “You See, they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison, and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.” People can become so enmeshed in their misery filled world of illusions (scientific, hedonistic, religious or otherwise), that it is more preferable than the knowledge of the truth. Rather than risk believing new truth, some prefer to hang on to comfortable lies.
Like the Sphere that visited Square, the gospel of Jesus Christ reveals a new reality, a new truth, and a new dimension. We are not meant to be just temporal, physical, materialistic beings. We are meant and created to be part of the Kingdom of God—the multi-dimensional world that is enveloped in the love and power of Jesus Christ. We are meant to be children of God.
That is the great mystery, the great truth for which Christ came into our world. To build, through his life, death, and resurrection a bridge from our two-dimensional world to God’s multi-dimensional reality.
“Oh Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get to your country from our world?” “I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across the river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”
Like Sphere enlightening Square to the realities of the third dimension, the Gospel is that great new truth that enlightens us. So, ask God to free you from the prisons of your two-dimensional mind. Embrace the truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and walk across that bridge to the world God has always intended as our final destiny.