Conversation: Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourageault, William Paul Young

RR: Cynthia has an amazing gift of teaching the mystical path in a way that intellectual people cannot write-off as fuzzy emotional Christianity. They have to take her seriously. She is very much in her heart but puts the head and the heart together in her teaching.

“God Loves Things By Becoming Them” – tentative title for my next book.The first incarnation, the feminine incarnation is creation. We are becoming aware of how much the feminine has been denied. “The Trinity is not two guys and a bird” (Cynthia Bourgeault), but a flow in which the feminine is included.

We want to talk about the fourth person at the table of Rublev’s Trinity and the fourth person is you.

Most of us have a notion of God as a being instead of the one in whom we live and move and have our being. But the early fathers always had in the 3rd and 4th century the idea of perichoresis – saying that God is a circle-dance. Unfortunately, what they said had almost no effect on the future history of Christian theology.

Two is oppositional, three is dynamic. Most of Christianity has bitterly fought against the theory of evolution because we have a static notion of God. But that was all undone by the Hubble telescope which gave us pictures of an ever-expanding universe. We now know there are billions of galaxies. So we have to have a God who is keeping up. Maybe on a subliminal level many people gave up on faith because they were told a highly evolutionary story in the Bible but then the church abandoned this story.

Most theology we were given was transactional. We were just supposed to believe in certain transactions that took place between God and humanity.

The operative image of God for most people is a male who is on a cloud somewhere, usually on a throne, and he is usually upset. This creates an unsafe and unhappy universe. We have been programmed to think of an angry wrathful God who could be placated if we gave enough sacrifices. But this god is not actually on your side.

The substitutionary atonement theory legitimates violence all the way down the line.

The message of the cross is not a statement about divine violence but about human violence. It is  about man’s capacity to crucify creation. But we were programmed to understand God as a critical spectator not infinitely compassionate.

From The Divine Dance. p 35 –

History has so long operated with a static and imperial image of God – as a Supreme Monarch who is mostly living in splendid isolation from what he – and God is always and exclusively envisioned as male in this model – created. This God is seen largely as a Critical Spectator (and his followers do their level best to imitate their Creator in this regard.

We always become what we behold; the presence that we practice matters. That’s why we desperately need a worldwide paradigm shift in Christian consciousness regarding how we related to God. This shift has been subtly yet profoundly underway for some time, hiding in plain sight – the revelation of God as what we have always called “Trinity” but have barely understood (in the beginning was the Relationship). … Instead of God being the Eternal Threatener, we have God as the Ultimate Participant 0 in everything – both the good and the painful.

The Latin name for God is Deus which sounds a lot like Zeus, the Greek God who is sitting on a throne in the heavens throwing down thunderbolts on people. Unfortunately Christians remain hard-wired to revert to Zeus as the image of God.