Material Witness

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
6 min readSep 21, 2022


Food for thought

“Immaterial” is an interesting word, as is the opposite word, “material”. “Immaterial” basically has only two meanings in Merriam Webster and that is either to be A) unimportant or B) not material, or incorporeal

But “material”, can be A) physical or consisting of matter or B) related to the subject matter of reasoning or C) Having importance of great consequence or D) relating to or concerned with physical rather than spiritual or intellectual things, or E) the elements, constituents, or substances of which something is composed or can be made.

Apparently as human beings, we appear, in our language, to be much more interested in what is “material” than “immaterial”.

For the sake of argument, I am going to initially agree with these findings or descriptions in our language, that it is the “material” symbolic representation of “words”, and start by talking about “language” itself.

I believe language to be composed of the symbols that are used to translate an experience so that others can understand something that they cannot see with their own eyes or touch.

Merriam Webster describes “language” as A) the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community or B) a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings.

Symbols can be put together randomly to create a “language” that can be translated. Even computers have a “language” don’t they?

But Language is “immaterial” is it not?

In other “words” (no pun intended) the individual words that compromise language are not something we can “touch” the same way we can touch something “material” or that has “fabric”. We cannot “touch” the words coming out of someones mouth, we can only touch or manipulate the symbols that represent those words. Therefore, because we cannot touch them, the “words” themselves are indisputably “immaterial”. Kind of funny huh?

So if words are immaterial, then so is language, which is based on words.

It is so interesting, that in our language, that which is said to be immaterial, (words) is, in the above definition, are also said to be unimportant, when the very means of communicating words (language) is, in contrast, Since when are words UN-important but the MEANS of communicating them important? Isn’t it ironic AND illogical?

In the case involving “words”, that which is immaterial, or “incorporeal” seems instead, like it is what is MOST important. Is therefore, spirituality (which is incorporeal) actually “substantial” instead of “insubstantial”?

With regards to spirituality, the bible is a record of very important “words”
spoken, that represent events we cannot “touch” or see with our eyes. Are those words “immaterial” as a result? I say no, the are in fact very relevant and substantial.

What if words are not the only things that are mistakenly called “immaterial” or insubstantial. What if other “matter based” things, similar to letters, which seem to be material can also represent concepts or something “immaterial” and used the same way letters are used as “symbols” of words spoken? What if these material things can also be used also as a form of “language”, and can be “rearranged” to translate differently or have different “meanings”? What if their “meaning” is already determined, and we just have our “letters” in the wrong place?

It would mean our understanding of our reality got “lost in translation”.

What comes to mind as an example, is the material object called a “snake” in the bible, which was something dangerous. What if that which is material, such as a snake, can be “translated” with ease, to have more than one meaning, the same way letters are “translated” so in this case, it could be rearranged to be a “staff”. What if that which is “material” in this world, is actually no different than letters or symbols and is just a representation that when translated CORRECTLY, means something good, not evil?

The snake, was thrown on the ground, and was “translated” from a representation of a “snake” immediately into a “staff”, proving that something material, can be “redefined” instantaneously and be substantially DIFFERENT, the same way letters grouped differently are interpreted differently based on such grouping. But where letters can be arranged arbitrarily, what if the nature of the universe is already determined to be “of good report”. For us to “redefine” that which is material, we would have to recognize the reality of the good nature of the universe.

Moses did that when he recognized that the “staff” had a completely different meaning and function than the “snake” so, because of Moses, we now know matter can be “transformed”. But as human beings, we RESIST thinking that something composed of matter, can in fact be seen as insubstantial and has the ability to be transformed. It is an incorrect view or understanding of the SUBSTANCE of things, that causes us to see the wrong interpretation in matter.

Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things HOPED FOR, and the EVIDENCE of things unseen.

So, we know, in spite of our doubt, that matter can be “changed”. The same way the material form of letters were reorganized to mean something different, the material “form” of the snake was also reorganized to mean something completely different, for Moses, who was listening to God and was able to use the language of “spirit” or that which is “immaterial”. Moses did not CHANGE the snake into a staff, it was always something good, or a staff. Moses just had to understand the nature of the universe as only good.

I think that this is very interesting, because it takes the importance of that which is material, and reduces it or basically reverses it and makes it inconsequential. Instead, that which is spiritual, or immaterial, actually becomes the most relevant or important. In the final analysis, that which is “immaterial” or spiritual, (unable to be touched or seen) is THE most important AND enduring, and that which is material, that SEEMS substantial, is actually transient, insubstantial, and unimportant.

If it is possible to “reorganize” something we “see” in matter, such as a “snake”, from something that appears to be materially harmful, into something that instead, supports and blesses, like a staff; then such “redefining” would seem to be much more “perfect” form of communication than just using letters, would it not?

It appears to me that such a “translation” or communication of material substances into something “good” happens when the “communication” of that which is unseen, acknowledges the existence of “good”, in the form of Spiritual qualities, or spiritual realities, that are currently designated as inconsequential or insubstantial. The “communicator” has to recognize and acknowledge that “good” expressed, exists, and find a coincidence with that good that already exists.

It is ironic to see, that it appears that we are in the infancy stages of understanding this language of spirit, using what we see with our eyes, when we really think about it, because though it is demonstrable, many of us have not made any demonstrations of the reality of spiritual substance.

But we have seen, and we can and have been able to see, Spiritual “translation” of matter in the past, and based on our level of understanding of the language of spirit, (which was able to make a whale carry a man, or make a flood fill the earth, or make a human being walk on water, or multiply food to feed thousands), we can apply this understanding to our current experiences. These “translations” which used “matter” as “letters” of language, did so, coming from an understanding or “coincidence” with God as good, which is natural or innate.

I find these examples of “translations” very “substantial” and “of great consequence”, instead of finding them to be “immaterial”… and as a material witness to some “healings” where something sick was translated into something well, I wish to learn more. The language of “redefining” matter into something that already exists and is pure, is the language of healing.

The definition of material witness is, in Merriam Webster, A) a witness whose testimony is necessary for trial and whose presence may sometimes be secured by the state by subpoena, custody, or recognizance.

As a “material witness”, I can say that the GOOD of spirituality is reality, not just hypothesis and is expressing God, the only real power in the universe, providing healing and improvement of unlimited scale, for which I am grateful. The scale of a snake, or evil is a straight line on the ground, in contrast.

We can all rejoice that with this understanding, good is the only power and that all of us are capable of “redefining” that which is weak, diseased or insufficient, into something real, that is useful, helpful, good or pure.

It is food for thought…is it not?



Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.