This is my favorite St. Patrick’s Day video:
Get with the program, Patrick!
Wars have been fought over some of those attempts to understand God as Trinity: Creator/Christ/Holy Spirit. The problem is, supposedly, that none of our human explanations can actually explain how God exists. But in reality, the problem has been that whoever gets to define God gets to hoard earthly power.
Religious belief gets co-opted and crafted into bludgeons far too often. It’s happening now – the Vatican just issued a statement declaring that Catholic priests “can’t” bless same-sex unions because it is against Catholic doctrine.
Poet and writer Padraig O Tuama created a beautiful erasure poem out of the evil of that statement:
I’m not Catholic, and I’m not someone whose same-sex marriage will ever be affected by these religious proclamations. It’s important, first, to listen to people who fall into both of those categories to hear their own response, whether it be pain or defiance.
But here’s my take, as someone who deals in the implications of theological questions for a living: any institution that steadfastly refuses to hear, acknowledge, confess and repent of the kind of harm that modern religious institutions have wreaked on the people whom God loves, cherishes and delights in has absolutely no moral standing to make this kind of proclamation. None.
Once, when I was a beginner preacher, I confessed in a sermon that I did not know the answer to one of the questions the text had posed. I got immediate critique: “don’t ever say ‘i don’t know’ in a sermon.” I think, now, that the feedback had more to do with tone and style than the actual choice to admit my own ignorance from the pulpit, but back then it wrankled.
I think saying “I don’t know” is one of the most faithful, honest, orthodox postures available to any of us who deal, daily, in the business of interpreting the Divine. I’m sure I use the phrase at least once a week. It is far better to admit ignorance in the face of the greatest mystery in the universe than to squeeze the one who created all of this into some narrow, tiny box that feels convenient enough to carry around in your pocket.
God is so much bigger than any human brain can imagine. And God declares, over and over and over again that GOD LOVES. In fact, God IS love. There is nobody – no pastor, priest or pope – and no thing – no official statement, polity, law or human-created barrier – that can change the fact that God loves us, delights in us, and is absolutely overjoyed when we enter into covenant relationships that nurture one another’s well-being and create opportunities to practice the relational existence of our trinitarian god.
God is love, and love comes in one million different forms, and they are all holy.