My six-year-old daughter is all in when it comes to Christianity, except for one little thing that she can’t quite come to terms with: The Trinity. The absence of a logical explanation for the three-in-one has left her grasping at words and ideas not unlike those used and argued over in the fourth century, when the definition of the Trinity we still hold today was born. I’ve given her demonstrations with rubber bands, shamrocks, unskilled drawings, Challah bread, and interlocking rings, but she remains dubious and confused. She cycles quickly from one heresy to another, the six-year-old embodiment of all that is confounding about this particular piece of orthodoxy.
She’s far from the only one, of course. That’s where Franciscan priest and contemplative Richard Rohr comes in.
Rohr has a way of putting into words what most people can only feel, but never articulate. His new book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, is no exception. In it he, along with Mike Morrell, invites readers to take a closer look at the mystery better known as the Holy Trinity.
The invitation is not to understand the Trinity – Rohr makes no true attempt to explain it in logical terms – but rather to experience Trinitarian “flow” firsthand, and thus know, innately, what it means to be “three-in-one.” For too long we’ve been content to carry this confounding dogma in our doxologies, our prayers, our hymns, without stopping to contemplate or fully appreciate the enormity of what is offered to us in this revolutionary and triune relationship of beings that describes the very heart and nature of God. Thus, Rohr writes, the time to further investigate the mystery is now.
You can read the rest of this review and more about Rohr’s exploration of the Trinity here. 🙂
One thought on “The Divine Dance”
I have been praying about your lupus since you mentioned your diagnosis. Lupus is what my doctor in Virginia thought I had that later was diagnosed by our new GP here in Ontario as chronic fatigue syndrome. The parallels in the two sets of symptoms are remarkable so that one might almost think one is the milder version of the other. If your copy of Hemispheric Integration and the Ears didn’t make it to the east coast, let me know because you will find the Appendix contains useful data for comparison. As my CFS was cured with music therapy, you might consider the same approach to supporting the neurological networks that depend on the strength of the ears. The lupus and music therapy pages I have seen are not very informative, so you may be breaking new ground in that field.
Your previous post “‘Embrace’ in a Time of Division” is a call to enact the teachings of Jesus, the human manifestation of the Trinity with whom we can identify and in whose footsteps we can try to follow. I think Rohr’s approach is misleading and short-changes the Holy Spirit to the detriment of the other two Persons. If we acknowledge God as Creator, we are faced not only with the beneficent but the dire difficulties in life (and we can forget about the Sunday School imagery, maybe, although I think Wm. Blake and Michelangelo and other artists are helpful rather than otherwise when it comes to sorting out one’s own mental imagery associated with God the Father. And therein is a book I wish I had time to write!) I agree with you that Rohr begs all the questions that arise from the challenges in life. The Dance of Life includes the Danse Macabre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danse_Macabre).
By not addressing the issue of suffering Rohr betrays the reader by avoiding other rational questions and toying with language. His statement that “This investigation, however, cannot be undertaken like an emotionally aloof science experiment. We cannot watch the test subjects to see what happens; instead, we must be the test subjects ourselves,. . .” is not strictly true. The ridiculous part is the confusion in “emotionally aloof science experiment,” which means objective reasoning in spite of how one is feeling. The seeking Christian is not different from the laboratory scientist. Rohr does not pursue the truth in the logical aspect of his statement. He backs away and seeks a soothing answer that is ultimately irrational and less than what God has to offer. Indeed, we are called to objectivity about our emotional selves through the examination of conscience. We can dare to approach God rationally. Our lives are supposed to be ones in which reason grows with knowledge so that we arrive at wisdom. We must bring our emotional selves under the discipline of “right thinking.” As you are familiar with my writing, you can see that Christian doctrine, which follows the example of Jesus and His teaching, proclaims the necessity for left-brain dominance in our thinking and in our behavior. In fact, strong left-brain dominance not only allows learning but provides for optimum health of the body.
Rohr sidesteps the important fact that people can pray with specific questions and get satisfying answers to those questions. That form of communication with God is what people mean by “in, with, and through” the Holy Spirit. You can live your life based on that kind of communication and it leads you (1) to the Red Sea at the right time; (2) to the cruse of oil that is constantly refilled; (3) to heal diseases; (4) to make new, scientific discoveries; (5) to an awareness that you are participating in a Divine Plan for your own life that encompasses humankind and the cosmos (not a comprehensive list, but you get the idea). One of the most important verses in the psalms, for me, is verse 17 in Psalm 27:
“What if I had not believed that I should see the goodness of the LORD *
in the land of the living!”
If you read that verse as a real question rather than as an exclamation, the answer is: “you will have missed the boat.” Everything about Jesus, from the prophecies long before His birth to His death and resurrection, proclaims that God, the Creator, is manifest not only through the environment but through the lives of his Creatures, most importantly through “the good people” but in ways we also must address through “the bad people.” Let’s not forget that the OT writers equated sickness with “sin.” Jesus did not give up on the sick or on the sinful and tell them to dance. He healed them so they could and so they would want to.
God wants to heal you and I do not consider my prayers wasted on you because I expect you to be healed. I have walked a long, difficult way — as you say, no one promised it would be easy, quite the contrary — but we must believe that we will triumph if we don’t quit, that we will see healing in the land of the living, because that has always been God’s agenda for His Creation and Jesus showed us how to make that quantum leap forward with the Holy Spirit.