We prefer precision. We want to know what time our plane flight takes off, the location of our next meeting, who our next schoolteacher will be. We demand that engineers and architects design vehicles and buildings that adhere to strict safety standards, and we expect our financial professionals to be accurate, to the penny, in transactions.
So being vague is the opposite of all this exactness. The American Heritage College Dictionary describes vague as “lacking definite shape, form, or character” or “indistinctly felt, perceived, understood, or recalled”; Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language has “wandering; vagrant; vagabond” or “unsettled; unfixed; undetermined; indefinite.” When we say someone or something is vague, we often mean there is a lack of knowledge conveyed, or even an attempt at deception.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy uses the word vague in a very compelling, even surprising, way. She writes: “Sickness, sin, and death are the vague realities of human conclusions. Life, Truth, and Love are the realities of divine Science. They dawn in faith and glow full-orbed in spiritual understanding. As a cloud hides the sun it cannot extinguish, so false belief silences for a while the voice of immutable harmony, but false belief cannot destroy Science armed with faith, hope, and fruition” (pp. 297–298). In that passage she draws the distinction between all the trappings of mortality—a material existence that is commonly accepted as undeniable fact—and the reality of existence as actually spiritual and immortal.