“There have been coincidences so dramatic, so symbolic or so wildly improbable that they have aroused feelings of the uncanny in scientists and layman alike for generations,” Robert Anton Wilson once noted.
Carl Jung, the “other giant” of 20th Century psychiatry after Freud, argued that these mind-boggling coincidences aren’t always just random quirks, or mere accidents in the statistics.
At 7:27 p.m., March 1, 1950, just three minutes before choir practice, a massive natural gas explosion blew to bits the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska. But nobody was there. Over the next half hour, though, 17 persons showed up late, all for difference minor reasons – something that had never happened before, nor has ever happened since, in the century-old history of the church.
Are meaningful coincidences the work of angels? God acting behind-the-scenes? Or are we unknowingly, on a subconscious level, setting up these twists of fate? (In other words, were the West Side Baptist Church choristers psychically aware, on a subconscious level, that the explosion was coming?)
Jung said there may be a third explanation: that meaningful coincidences can sometimes be created by a force of nature, which he called “synchronicity.” Like gravity, the force of synchronicity pulls things together because they have a common meaning, even if there is no logical reason for them to be together. Like the crazy elements of a dream that make no sense being together until you start analyzing them for their symbolic meaning.
Whatever the cause, perhaps one of the most astonishing examples of synchronicity has been the strange link between the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, which became noticed after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
Lincoln and Kennedy were in the White House a century apart. Yet these two “twins of fate” have been linked by a chain of weird coincidences in dates, names, circumstances and numbers. Strangely, the death of Lincoln seems to some to have predicted the death of Kennedy.
Consider first these coincidences in dates:
- Kennedy and Lincoln were elected President exactly a century apart in 1860 and 1960.
- Lincoln had previously been elected to Congress in 1847; Kennedy in 1947.
- Lincoln’s vice president was born in 1808; Kennedy’s vice president was bom in 1908.
- Lincoln’s assassin was bom in 1839; Kennedy’s assassin was horn in 1939.
Secondly, here are some coincidences involving circumstances and names:
- Kennedy and Lincoln were well-loved northerners. Each went on to inspire the world. Kennedy and Lincoln were both known for their civil rights advocacy during a time of sectional tension among northern and southem states over how African-Americans should be treated. Both were over six feet tall and had been in the military.
- The draft riots during the Civil War-era 1860s were paralleled by the draft resistors during the Vietnam War-era 1960s.
- Both Kennedy and Lincoln had vice presidents named Johnson, who were southern Democrats and former senators.
- Kennedy and Lincoln each had a son die while residing at the White House.
- Lincoln and Kennedy were both killed on a Friday. Each President was shot in the back of the head as he sat beside his wife.
- Lincoln was shot in a theater, and his assassin fled to a warehouse. Kennedy was shot by an assassin firing from a warehouse, who then fled to a theater.
- Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater. Kennedy was shot in a moving Ford convertible. The particular Ford model was a Lincoln.
- Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, were both known by three-part names and both were southerners. Both assassins were murdered by gunfire while in the custody of their captors, never making it to a trial. Booth’s murderer, Boston Corbett, was eventually declared insane, while Oswald’s murderer, Jack Ruby, claimed insanity as a defense. Booth had been part of a conspiracy; Oswald was under suspicion of having been part of a conspiracy.
- Kennedy’s private secretary, a person named Lincoln, warned him not to go to Dallas; Lincoln’s secretary, whose first name was John, warned him against going to Ford’s Theater.
- In 1858, the Cincinnati Gazette published a letter to the editor, which made the first public proposal that Lincoln should become the Republican nominee for President in 1860. The letter also suggested that a good vice presidential running mate for Lincoln would be a former secretary of the navy, who was named John Kennedy.
Finally, consider these coincidences involving numbers:
- The names Kennedy and Lincoln each contain seven letters as do the matching last names of their vice presidents, Lyndon Johnson and Andrew Johnson.
- The names John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald contain 15 letters apiece.
- Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson were succeeded by Ulysses Simpson Grant and Richard Milhous Nixon, each name containing seven, seven and five letters, respectively.
Kennedy and Lincoln also shared another extraordinary link, a personal sense of their approaching untimely deaths. In both cases, a host of fatal premonitions from many directions confirmed their ominous personal feelings. And in both cases, when the time for their assassinations was ripe, the deadly processes were strangely facilitated by coincidences.