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What is the meaning of “screen” in this context? And what does it mean for a screen to be 'elementary'? 'Screen' has two main meanings: monitor and partition. None of them seem to fit in this context.

As weather reveals one of the most open, unpredictable, and uncontrollable dimensions of life, its uncertainty has been interpreted in the Jewish-Christian tradition as an elementary screen for interaction between creation and the Creator. As such, weather, although it certainly does not do anything other than weathering, has also served as a screen for the projection of God’s presence and moral relation to his/ her created beings.(Source)

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    Further down it says weather served as a screen for the projection [of God's presence], which should be enough to show what kind of metaphoric sense is intended here (cinematic projection). I think most people would use backdrop for the sense intended here though. It's "elementary", because that's how we refer to weather (as in to brave the elements = to go out in bad weather). Mar 28, 2021 at 16:31
  • All the world's a stage. Mar 28, 2021 at 18:37
  • Weather is a means by which a supernatural being could interact with natural beings. Religious believers pray for rain in times of drought, or offer up human sacrifices (less common these days). Terminology that deals with religious belief is often hard to pin down, since the intent and action of supernatural beings must be inferred from observations of the natural world, and the intellectual framework is internal to the believer’s mind. The writer of the quoted passage imagined the supernatural being in a specific way. Others could have used the term faucet or blossom to equal effect.
    – user205876
    Mar 29, 2021 at 0:18
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    Look at meaning 3 of "elementary", which refers you to meaning 2 of "elemental", and see meaning 1b of "element".
    – Stuart F
    Dec 19, 2022 at 10:46
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    @Joachim Citation added.
    – Sasan
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:09

2 Answers 2

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The screen here is quite a clever analogy. Yes, it can mean either 'monitor' or 'partition', and I believe both interpretations are intentional in this context: what the author seems to propose is that the weather is an intermediate between God and His (in the Judaeo-Christian masculine) people.
It is the monitor on which people receive suggestions of the existence, power, mood, and unpredictability of God (like a shadowplay), and it acts as a partition between the realm of the divine and the secular, an impenetrable and untraversable veil.

'Elementary', in this context, I believe means 'basic', 'raw', 'primal', in the sense that the word is

pertaining to or dealing with elements, rudiments, or first principles.

In this context, the weather forms "an elementary communication device", but it can also act as a "raw display of power" (pun intended).

The wordplay on the weather being referred to as "the elements" could be intentional.


Tangentially, the word 'weathering' is I think to be interpreted not in the known sense of 'being exposed to the weather', but as the activity of the weather, as 'the thing that weather does'.

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After reading this entire passage, this is my opinion on what it means as a whole. In the simplest form I can conjure:

Weather is the partition between mankind and God.

"Elementary screen" to me means "a simple partition." The meaning of screen here, is refereed to as weather. Weather being the partition that separates/divides us from God (or God's presence as referred to in the passage). One could speculate from there that you could see God's presence through the weather as he created it. This would describe the "interaction between creation and the Creator."

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