Sunday, 22 May 2016

Trinitarian imaginings

Today is the day we celebrate the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Today is liturgically Trinity Sunday.  Our first reading from Proverbs is for me the most engaging of the readings (Proverbs 8.1-4, 22-31) as it talks about Sophia or Wisdom.  Readings like this remind us of the fact that it is from God that wisdom arises not from ourselves and this is perhaps our most important realisation on a day like today.

On Friday, I attended a seminar with David Tacey who was talking about or rather asked the question 'Does Australian Spirituality exist?'.  One of the perhaps important things that David said was that our ideas and talk about God are only metaphoric not reality.  As people of faith we need to realise this and not destroy peoples faith by seeking to place spiritual journeys in the tenuous position of trying to defend something that in today's age is obviously not literally the case.  An example could be seeing God as an elderly gentleman with a white beard residing somewhere above us.  Quite rightly, Tacey suggested, that such God talk will and is driving our younger generations away from the organised faith based journey.

If this is the case, and I think I would agree with Tacey, my question would be how do we talk about God in today's world?  A place where there is an increase in the 'atheistic religion', where people are looking for a spiritual life outside dogma and religion,  Many people believe in a 'higher power' and it was stated yesterday that some 49% of people want to talk about these things but do not know where to go.  Perhaps because our God talk is not current but 2nd century philosophical meanderings with metaphoric understandings of something that is not understandable. If that makes sense!  An attempt to bring God down to the level of humanity rather than seeking to bring humanity up to God.  The trinitarian concept of God, which we have, is a good one, if we remind ourselves of its context.  It forms the basis of our God story over the last 2000 odd years but even over that time each generation has added its own twists and tweaks in order to make sense of the concept, is it time to re-imagine the trintarian concept in today's world?

The interconnectedness of all life the basis of trinitarianism 

Perhaps an outrageous thought but not one that we should put aside lightly.  It does not mean that we should go over the same ground that has been argued over the centuries and caused division within the Church.  It just means that we have to do some really deep thinking on a subject that we do not want to embrace although it embraces us each day.  The difficulty about talking about God is that we actually do not know anything about God in today's world.  We have thrown God out with the bathwater and expect churches to show us God in a tangible manner.  We rush around hopping on planes and computers, etc to go from one thing to another to see if we can catch God as if God were as tangible as a virus.  In embracing the 'Enlightenment' it has become its own contranym for any faith community.  We have perhaps introduced our own spiritual  dis-ease by allowing those things which are below the rational surface to fade in to the hinterland of discourse.

The wisdom of the world, which is found within the indigenous peoples of the world, is the knowledge of our own interconnectedness.  This knowledge was demonstrated by the early Christians and was part of their faith journey as they tried to express this appreciation of God.  An interconnectedness that is encapsulated by the discussions and debates that led to the promulgation of the doctrine of the Trinity.  We in the modern secular world have lost, or rather suppressed, the ability to understand this wisdom.  Perhaps, as Leunig suggests, it is because we are moving to fast and have lost our ability to slow down.  Indigenous peoples know this and try to gift it to us within the slow movement of nature to which they are attuned. This has perhaps led to an extensive enantiodomia that has seen a rising mental health crisis within our secular nations.

The trinitarian formulation has I believe resulted in an ever increasing divide within the faith community as we each affiliate ourselves closely with one part of the whole (either the Father, or the Son or the Spirit) without claiming the wholeness of God that is the underlying foundation of the trinitarian formulation.  A foundation that is interconnected and not divided, that is a whole and not the sum of its parts; that has been lost as a result of our own paucity of explanation and understanding. In glorifying one of the Trinity we tend to idolise that one conception and forget that there is more to God.  Until we can get around the idea that God is in all; a much greater God than we can conceive of, then we will continue to reduce our faith to an ember.  Rather we should allow God's wisdom to so infuse our being with wholeness so that we shine as a Christ light in the world.

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