Friday, March 7, 2014


I had this dream last night after giving a lecture on Native American history. In my lecture, I pointed out how, when Christian missionaries were confronted with the choice of siding with Natives in the grievous wrongs that were committed against them or siding with their colonial masters in the process of destroying Native culture and forcing Natives into the colonial concentration camp system known as the "reservation system," the missionaries by and large sided with their colonial masters.
I had been on a long itinerancy, travelling from one city to another along the east coast of the United States. During my travels, I had been meeting with anybody who would speak to me, to deliver an important message on the impending doom of the nation. I had been working my way south on foot through the towns of New England and had just crossed a bridge, entering a mid-sized town on the outskirts of a large city (New York?).
When I had arrived in the town, local religious leaders sent for me and asked me to meet them in their offices at a high-rise building at the center of town. I arrived just before sunrise. I was escorted by security guards through the entryway to elevators that brought me to a polished conference room with lavish mahogany furniture and glass tables. There I was met by leaders of all the major Christian denominations in town and had been asked to share with them my lectures on American religious history.
I had my teaching materials with me in three black backpacks, two backpacks that I actually use in real life (one with my laptop computer, and one with my lecture notes and books), and a third black backpack that I don't have in real life but that had my scriptures and other supplies that I needed for my itinerancy. I delivered my lecture to these individuals, explaining to them that a revolution was coming and that the current order of things would soon be overthrown, and that they had best be prepared for it. They were very kind and respectful toward me and listened to my lecture with interest, and at the end they said, "You certainly have given us some things to think about."
At that point, I looked around me and saw a beautiful view through the windows of the highrise we were in, from which it was possible to see the entire landscape all around us, all the rest of the city, and in the distance hills and rivers, and the coast. The sun was rising and the sky was turning gorgeous hues of pink, orange and red.
Suddenly, an escort of security guards arrived in the conference room. Without saying a single word, the security guards placed a machine gun next to each of us, and then moved on. They appeared to be giving machine guns to everyone in the building. I looked at the gun they had placed on the table next to me with horror. It looked sleek and smooth, very expertly designed and balanced. Everyone else at the table looked at me, stricken with fear. They grabbed their machine guns and silently left the room. One of them motioned to me to pick up my machine gun and follow them. I realized that revolutionaries had arrived at the highrise and had entered the building. They were probably working their way upstairs, and we had been given the machine guns in order to defend ourselves. I had no idea how to use a machine gun. I was surprised that the security guards seemed to assume that I would know how to use one; or maybe the machine guns were designed in such a way that the method of using them was self-evident.
At first I did as I thought I needed to. I picked up my machine gun and started to follow the others. But then I realized, I had left my three backpacks behind. The others were keeping deathly silent, because they were afraid that the revolutionaries might be near and didn't want to give away their position. They signaled to me with hand gestures that I needed to forget about my teaching materials and come with them to some central location where we would make a last stand. They seemed to be gesturing to me that I could come get the rest of my stuff later.
I thought, if I leave my black backpacks, I can't complete my mission. I went back and grabbed the backpack that had my lecture notes and books and put it on. I was trying to figure out how I could pick up my other backpacks and still keep my machine gun, which was big and heavy, and seemed to require that I carry it with both hands. I realized that I had to choose between my other backpacks and the machine gun. I put the machine gun down.
In the meantime, in the few seconds I had been making up my mind, janitors had arrived and were starting to move the tables in the conference room around and stack the chairs on the tables. I realized they were getting ready for a siege. I was upset that they had moved my stuff from right under my nose. I began searching, and found the backpack that had my scriptures and other itinerancy supplies. The backpack was no longer black but red. I began searching for the other backpack that had my laptop in it, but now the machine gun was gone.
In my mind, that settled the matter. I found the third pack, grabbed it, and moved in the direction of the building entrance, opposite where the others were going. I realized it was time for me to leave the building.

To me, the meaning of this dream is all too obvious.

In my dreams, if the theme is the end of the world, my dream is almost always set in the North -- in north Minneapolis, in northern Minnesota, in Canada, in the Arctic. In my dream scape, the North is associated with the future, prophecy.

On the other hand, dreams I have that take place in big cities (including downtown Minneapolis), in the East (the eastern United States, usually in big cities like New York or Boston; or Europe) usually revolve around themes of corrupt political power and idolatry. In this dream, I was traveling from the North with a mission of doom, working my way south announcing the end of the world to the cities of the East Coast.

The three packs I was carrying with me on my travels also have a fairly transparent meaning. The pack with my scriptures represented my spirituality and my faith, including the prophecy we find in many world religions that the order of things as presently constituted will eventually come to an end, and we must repent before that happens. The pack containing my laptop was a symbol of my mental capacity. A computer I carry with me everywhere in a pack is basically my brain. It represents my higher reasoning faculties. The third pack contained my teaching supplies (my lecture notes and books), and obviously symbolized my sense of mission in life which is closely connected to my role as a teacher.

The highrise office building in my dream is not that different from "the great and spacious" edifice in the dream of Lehi in the Book of Mormon. It obviously symbolized the pride and power of the world, the powers that be.

In the dream, I was presented with a choice: to stay true to my mission, or to take up arms in defense of "the powers that be." It became evident to me in the dream that -- try as I might -- I could not do both. I could not carry both the machine gun that had been given to me by the building "security forces" and the backpacks that represented my spirit, my mind and my heart. So ultimately I abandoned the weapon and chose my soul.

In the dream, the red sunrise, the arrival of a revolution, and the interesting change in color of my spirit backpack from black to red all symbolized that crucial moment of choice that most of our lives must be some kind of preparation for.

Namely, they symbolized that moment we all face in choices large and small between what is morally right, and what is politically expedient.


  1. I am pretty amazed with the amount of details you remember from your dreams. And, then amazed with the time it must take you each day to record your dreams and analyze them. How do you find the time for this? Surely this is a great tool for you, in your life, or you would not take the time to think about, write about, and then analyze your dreams.

    I, too, think there is a LOT to be said for the dreams we have. In our family, immediate and extended, the women seem to have the "gift of telling dreams" meaning we all have had several dreams that show the future. They are very special and spiritual dreams, for which I am very grateful. I am going to think long and hard, though, about what you do, John, the every day writing and analyzing of your dreams. I believe that each person's dreams have the symbols for THAT person's life. There are probably some symbols that are the same for all people, but maybe not- I do not know.

    Thank you for this fabulous new blog and for the ideas it is giving me, ways of accessing the subconscious parts of my thinking. Love, always! Duck

    (By the way, did you get the dream I submitted a few days ago?)

  2. Duck: There's a well-documented dream that one of my great grandfathers had that was prophetic. Perhaps some day I will share it.

    I did get the dream you submitted! It's a beautiful one. If you are OK with it, I would like to share it.