Even the Bad Stuff Can Belong

Earlier in 2009 I made a presentation to a progressive Christian group about the nature of "God as Trinity." The full presentation is at this link.

I have included the introduction below...

The Concept of Trinity as a Journey Towards Wholeness: Pre-script

Before journeying with the audience through this presentation I offered some background comments which are helpful to include here.

I suggested that this was neither an academic treatise nor a fully worked through history of the concept of Holy Trinity. It used, I said, one interpretation of history about the role the Cappadocian philosophers played in the development of the doctrine. This interpretation suggested a very different form of understanding of Trinity - not a rigid, doctrinal certainty about the hierarchical nature of God but a much more fluid - indeed "progressive" - concept.

I went on to say that because this was not an academic presentation it "had been freed to be rich with my experience." There is much in here about what "feels right" to me at this point in time. This offered the wonderful opportunity for the audience to take it or leave it - in whole or in part. Does it accord with your experience? - wonderful. Does it "rub against'" your experience in ways which create helpful questions? - marvellous. Does it grate unnervingly? - you are free to let it grate or let it go as you wish. I might say, having made the presentation, that there are already phrases I would adjust or expressions I would tweak - but I would not change my fundamental sense of meaning at this point.

During the presentation there were many very fine questions and observations. But there are two that I want to briefly mention here as they do usefully shape the reading of the presentation materials.

The first related to the notion of wholeness and the second related to where "evil" or "bad stuff" fits into the ideas I presented. These are big topics on which I have reflected deeply in the past but let me offer a comment that (only just) begins to respond to the questions.

For some, the mere mention of the word "wholeness" creates tension because it suggests some future point where all flaws are eliminated and a perfect world created. It was not my intention to suggest this in my use of the term. As I said to another group recently, wholeness is not the elimination of flaws; it is the loving integration of flaws. As individual humans or groups we cannot really ever see the complete picture (or, in other words, the whole system).

So our human actions within the system create flaws because we take short-sighted action. I don't see this reality ending or being fully resolved to create "a perfect world." So for me wholeness has the sense of current reality and future potential. The current reality is the ability - as individuals and most particularly as community - to recognise a flaw and to change our interaction with the system so as to correct it. The potential is the possibility to "shorten our feedback times." All that means is that we create forms of communication and community where life denying action is recognised, conversed about and acted on in shorter and shorter response times. Therefore all manner of "bad stuff" (of the type that comes from human frailty) actually belongs within the notion of wholeness. It creates the feedback with which to change the system. The purpose of "the dance of creation" which is discussed in this presentation is to make us more and more aware of how we are imbedded in creation. And through that awareness comes the potential to transform and be transformed.

Adrian Pyle, April 2009

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