The Need for Filters

I’ve been thinking about filters. We had the oil filter (and other filters) changed on our minivan before going on a road trip for Spring Break. Then, when we got back, the vacuum I was trying to use to clean out the layer of food on the floor of the car after the trip wouldn’t work until I unclogged the filter. Probably every single thing I drank on the trip was only safe to drink because of filters. And then, once those liquids were in my body, the only reason I was able to use the nutrients and not die from retaining the rest was because of the various filtration systems in my body like my kidneys. And our digital lives also rely on filters—spam filters trying to keep unsafe emails out of our inboxes, filtered search results, filtered social media feeds, etc.

Thinking about filters, see what is said in Secrets of Heaven about the meaning of the grate and network of bronze on the altar of burnt offering for the tabernacle:

[S]ensory perception was represented by the grating because it first sifts so to speak and sorts out those things which enter the human mind and present themselves to the understanding and will, namely truths and forms of good. If the sensory perception is composed of good it does not let anything through other than forms of good, and truths derived from good, and rejects evils and the falsities arising from evil. …. Everywhere in the outermost parts within the body there are forms that resemble nets and there are so to speak gratings which sort out the things that flow towards them from the world. Those that are suitable are let through because they are desirable, and those that are unsuitable are rejected because they are loathsome. (9726)

We’re meant to have this level within our minds that is composed of truths and goods that filter things coming into our minds and only let in what is good and true. But these filters have become clogged up. The passage continues: “But this level with a person has become totally wrecked, the reason why being that it stands right next to and is exposed to the world….” That sounds rather hopeless, like we can’t avoid having our filters get so clogged up that they don’t work anymore. But, a passage a little further on in Secrets of Heaven sounds a bit more hopeful:

A person who considers further, and examines what the sensuous [part of their mind] desires, and what they themselves think from the sensuous part of their mind, they are said to be raised above the sensuous, or to be withdrawn from it, and to think interiorly. This is the case with those at the present day who are in the good of charity and of faith. (9730)

I often forget about filters until they get really clogged up. What do you think is the spiritual equivalent of getting our filters clogged up and how do we clean them out? Email me at