View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Guess this makes me a trinitarian. Literally.

I’ve been reading George Weigel’s The Truth of Catholicism.

At one point, he brings up the Trinity. He notes the difficulty theologians and homilists have with explaining the concept.

I’m familiar with some of the classic explanations (such as the shamrock, or the three notes in a chord), but I have a simpler way to explain it.


Can’t get any simpler than that.

Now I’m not saying I think I’m God (I have been accused of that, though!).

But I am a being, just as God is a being. So we can begin with that.

Anyone seeing me sitting in a back pew at church would see a 50-year-old, overweight, gray-haired, bearded man.

However, if my mother saw me sitting there, she would not only see a 50-year-old, overweight, gray-haired, bearded man, she would also see her son. We have a relationship, and so she sees me in light of that relationship. I am the same man that everyone else sees, but I am something more in her eyes. Son.

If my wife saw me sitting there, she’d not only see a 50-year-old, overweight, gray-haired bearded man (boy, how did she get so lucky!?), she'd also see her husband. We also have a relationship, but it is not the same relationship that I have with my mother. She sees me in light of that relationship we have. The same, but more. Different. Husband.

If one of my daughters saw me – well you get the drift. Father.

Here I am, simple Lee Strong. I am the same being in all instances when people look at me, but also son, husband, and father. I have three different names, yet I am always the same being, with all those different names arising of out differing relationships.

The Trinity, too, is a reflection of differing relationships with the same being, though in this case, that being is God. God the creator, God the savior, God the ongoing presence in the world.

As I said, this is a simple way of looking at it. The nature of God and the Trinity is far more complex. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons, whereas son, husband and father are just three parts of “Lee.” But at least this explanation gives a sense of what the Trinity is.

Of course, I’d be happier about it if I could get rid of that “overweight” part of my basic being. Then I'd look less like three persons stuck in one body!


Blogger Therese Z said...

Good thought process.

It flexes well, when you examine it, too. Your sonhood is in relationship to your fatherhood and husbandhood, and all vice versa. They are not unaware of each other.

And you have three roles, all by virtue of physical unity (your parents in unity, you and your wife in unity, and the products of you and your wife's unity).

And you have the fact that you yourself are still you, not reduced by any of these roles. Whole and entire no matter how much is dedicated to one of your personhoods.

Good mental exercise. My brain is going to go lie down now.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Julie D. said...

That's what I used to think too and then I read Frank Sheed's book on theology which said that was not the right way to look at it ... and then my head started hurting again ... anyway, I keep on keepin' on with the "understanding" part. Whether I "get" it or not, I accept it. That's the useful thing about mysteries. Sometimes we don't get it but that's ok.

4:18 PM  
Blogger jordan said...

Well, sort of. Except that God is 3 persons, 1 God. Not 1 being, 3 relationships.
3 separate and distinct persons, not just different aspects of one being, like your relationships with different family members. Jesus was a separate person from the Father- distinct with his own identity but still of one substance and being (God) with the Father.

9:44 AM  

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