Synchronicity and Its Meaning for Experiential Faith (Part 1)

A Bridge Across Time?

You have probably heard of  this  story before.  Every time I come across this citation, it makes me pause and wonder. American presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were both tragically assassinated during their terms in office. Despite the difference in time, both of these men share a number of unusual circumstances–or more precisely, coincidences. Consider the following.

– Lincoln’s name has 7 letters
– Kennedy’s name has 7 letters

– In Lincoln’s & Kennedy’s names the vowels & consonants fall in exactly the same place, in the order of c, v, c, c, v, c, c

– Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846
– Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946

– Lincoln was elected president in 1860
– Kennedy was elected president in 1960

– Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln
– Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy

– War was thrust upon Lincoln almost immediately after inauguration
– War was thrust upon Kennedy almost immediately after inauguration

– Lincoln gave Afro-Americans freedom and legalized equality
– Kennedy enforced equality for Afro-Americans

– Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863
– Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963

– Lincoln was loved by the common people and hated by the establishment
– Kennedy was loved by the common people and hated by the establishment

– Lincoln was succeeded, after assassination, by vice-president Johnson
– Kennedy was succeeded, after assassination, by vice-president Johnson

– John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
– Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

– Both assassins were known by their three names.
– Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

– Lincoln was shot at the theater named ‘Ford.’
– Kennedy was shot in a car called ‘Lincoln’ made by ‘Ford.’

– Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
– Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.

And the lists goes on and on . . . .It definitely sounds like Fringe or X-Files type material.

Are these parallels just an urban legend, which break down upon deeper and more sober analysis? The skeptic in me would probably answer that question in the affirmative. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the psychology that seeks to discover anomalous parallels.

Faces in the Clouds?

While our minds are hardwired to look for patterns and order in the universe,  sometimes our minds sees things of its own fabrication and invention. It’s a little bit like the stories one reads in the National Inquirer about people in Mexico seeing the face of Satan in the clouds, or like pious Christians who see the face of Jesus etched in the snow. The mind can play tricks on itself–as we know all too well. Just ask David Copperfield, the illusionist extraordinaire.

On the other hand, the study of paranormal phenomena must make us question whether the connection between the imagined and the real is more mystically calibrated than we might think. The fact that the human logos can grasp the logos of the cosmos through the language of mathematics is amazing.

But how accurate are our perceptions? Does the mind create “order,” or does “order,” really exist outside of  our consciousness of it? This has been a philosophical question that has bothered great thinkers like Aristotle, the Stoics, Philo of Alexandria–as well as modern thinkers like the skeptic David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Albert Einstein.

The Birth of Synchronicity

In an age of ambivalence that is so endemic of the West, Carl G. Jung came out with a remarkable concept, which he termed, “synchronicity.” The term synchronicity, as coined by Jung , expresses the belief that reality is more interconnected  and layered than most people might realize or understand. Synchronicity suggests that there exists a spiritual order suffusing the world we experience; events do not merely happen–there is a hidden and “acasual” relationship that brings people, events, and circumstances together. Sometimes Jung defines synchronicity as “meaningful coincidence” or an “acausal parallelism” [1]  or “an acausal connecting principle.” [2]



[1] C. G. Jung, ‘Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle,’ in Collected Works, vol. 8, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, 2nd edn, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), par. 827.

[2] C. G. Jung and A. Jaffé (trans.), and  R. and C. Winston (London: Collins and Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963), 343.

3 thoughts on “Synchronicity and Its Meaning for Experiential Faith (Part 1)

  1. Kevin Williams says:


    Shalom. I Love your article connecting Lincoln, Kennedy and synchroniity. I discovered your article through a Google News Alert emailed to me. I have been collecting synchroniocities between Lincoln and Kennedy for many years now and am always on the lookout for more. The connections between Lincoln and Kennedy (and now Obama) go way deeper than most people can comprehend. You can read my unique comprehensive list here:

    The Reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy:

    Peace always,
    Kevin Williams

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