On 2/22/22, A Look at The Spirituality of Numbers | Sojourners

On 2/22/22, A Look at The Spirituality of Numbers

Photo by Markus Krisetya on Unsplash

Love books, culture, faith, and justice? Subscribe to Inscribed, a monthly newsletter by Jenna Barnett and guests, here.

Today is a day for magical thinking. The date — 2/22/22 — is a palindrome: Whether you read it forward or backward, the date is identical. Because the day also falls on a Tuesday, particularly enthusiastic followers of palindrome dates have been calling today “Twosday.”

Many of those enthusiasts will celebrate today by getting married. Harry Reid International Airport set up a temporary marriage office to manage the number of couples traveling to Las Vegas to get married today. On a practical level, dates like 11/11/11, 4/3/21, or 1/23/45 are easy to remember, but many couples have chosen these as wedding dates, hoping that any extra luck surrounding the date might give their marriage a little extra oomph.

Maybe we turn to unique number patterns to add a little cosmic assurance into the mundane. When our purchases total $6.66, we’re all tempted to purchase another item to change the amount. Or perhaps when we face uncertainty — in our personal lives or on a global scale — we seek out signs and patterns, trying to steer our future and our world toward success.

Numerology is the mystical study of numbers centered around the belief that each number carries symbolism that affects the direction of a person’s life. Though it is believed that the term wasn’t coined until 1907, humans have been attracted to the hidden meaning of numbers since biblical times. In 325 C.E., the First Council of Nicea officially deemed it an unapproved belief to attach sacredness to numbers, but Christians have always attached meaning to the numbers in the Bible. The symbolism of numbers is woven throughout scripture: We believe that seven represents perfection and that six represents imperfection. In biblical numerology, 12 represents authority and appointment. We see 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, and the 12 sons of Jacob.

In the March issue of the magazine, Lydia Wylie-Kellermann uses Revelation 12 to explore how to raise children in the face of climate catastrophe. As she describes, Revelation 12 presents “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, with 12 stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant and in labor, crying out in pain as she was about to give birth.” The number 12 is the product of three, which represents the divine, and four, which represents what is worldly. We are positioned here at the crossroads of what is mysterious and full of light.

It is likely that the woman in this text is Mary, the baby is Jesus, and the dragon his looming crucifixion. For Wylie-Kellermann, that dragon is climate change. She wonders how to raise her kids for joy as climate catastrophe closes in. For Danny Duncan Collum, author of “Corporate Slacktivism and Performative Marketing,” the dragons are businesses that present themselves as companies concerned with equality, while systematically underpaying and exploiting their Black employees. It’s 2022, and the dragons aren’t just at our feet. They’re on Wall Street, on school boards, in unaffirming churches, in the holes in our ozone layers.

At 2:22 today, many palindrome enthusiasts plan on making a big wish — for healthy marriages, healthy bodies, or financial success. I'll be reflecting on the ways I can conquer the dragons that threaten the futures of the next generation. As Wylie-Kellermann explains, “Children have a way of recalibrating our clocks to kairos time.”

Instead of performative activism, we can dig in and do what we can. We should follow the advice of Mykal Kilgore, who says that “whatever God brings, we’re going to be in it.” Perhaps we do have a say in how the world turns. There’s a power in numbers.

1. Raising Children for Joy in the Face of Climate Catastrophe by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
Parenting in perilous times requires keeping our children safe — and empowering them for action.

2. Why I Can’t Stop Watching ‘Righteous Gemstones’ Absurd Pastors by Caroline McTeer
Danny McBride’s dark comedy asks why megachurch pastors hold such power over the masses — and over us.

3. Idolatry Is the Most Seductive Sin in Town by Kate Bowler
An excerpt from the book Good Enough: 40 Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie.

4. Kanye West Is Not Done Changing the World, for Better or Worse by Da'Shawn Mosley
Kanye’s story in jeen-yuhs can tell us a lot about art, faith, Blackness, maleness, materialism, mental illness, class, and love.

5. ‘Whatever God Brings, We’re Going To Be In It’ by Rebecca Riley
R&B artist Mykal Kilgore celebrates the holiness in being our whole selves.

6. Rev. Katey Zeh Is Done With Circular Abortion Debates by Betsy Shirley
She hopes her new book, A Complicated Choice, helps Christians care more fully for people who’ve had abortions.

7. Where Are the Christians in the Holy Land? by Elizabeth Becker
The Vanishing details threats to Christian communities in the Middle East.

8. Obery Hendricks Thinks Marxist Analysis Can Help Christians by Josiah R. Daniels
The author of Christians Against Christianity on capitalism, unions, and why he stays in the church.

9. ‘When Things Get Difficult, Will You Stay at the Table?’ by Liz Bierly
John Noltner’s Portraits of Peace propels us to do the next hard thing.

10. Corporate Slacktivism and Performative Marketing by Danny Duncan Collum
How Coca-Cola kicked off 40 years of “corporate wokeness.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the location of Harry Reid International Airport. We have updated the article from "Los Angeles" to "Las Vegas."