In their book Design In Nature Adrian Bejan and John Peder Zane wonder why things as disparate as river basins, our lungs, and tree branches and roots all tend to take the same structure.

They take the same shape. This can’t be just coincidence; there’s got to be a law governing it. So Began came up with what he propounds as the constructal law.

For a finite-size flow system to persist in time (to live), its configuration must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed (global) currents that flow through it.

It’s a classic example of the Law of Three. The medium flowing through it is affirming force. The thing it’s flowing through it is the denying force. The reconciling force that allows them to come together is this constructal law, which is the protocol of maximum efficiency.

He puts this constructal law up there with the law of thermodynamics as the third law of the universe.

There’s a great despair among many mainline churches in America today. There’s a great feeling in the church that we are the dinosaur graveyard. A while ago I played with this situation with a group of clergy. For them affirming force was God’s will which has to be the thing in the driver’s seat. Denying force they quickly identified as secularism. So they couldn’t find any third force.

What happens if we flip it around?

Affirming force is secularism; it’s carrying the wave of the new. The church is denying force, the integrity and dignity of received tradition, so there can actually be a lineage bearing the post of passing on and holding sacred the wisdom that passes on this lineage.

So in this configuration, they could all of a sudden see what reconciling force was. It was to hold the post consciously with the eye toward the future.  They could see that what they had to do is hold a sacred post in the new arising.

Use your intelligence kaleidoscopically so you shift the parameters.  Which way of framing this gives you the best way of seeing where the stuck point is and where the resolutions can come?

Advantages to using the Law of Three:

1. The Law of Three gives us a tool for spacious or impartial reframing.

Without immediately having to go to “I like this… I don’t like that. This is good… This is bad”, we have a bigger tool that lets us look more closely, observing it like a scientist and seeing how the action is actually configuring, assuming that everything that is there has a right to be there. If you are expansive enough and flexible enough, you can find a way to accommodate what look like stonewall opposites and put them in a new relationship.

2. The Law of Three is paradox-tolerant.

It teaches a practice for moving forward in life. We can’t afford to continue doing dualistic, either/or, simplistic, “let’s name the bad guys, and get rid of them” thinking.

Paradox-tolerance is a fundamental intellectual and ethical capacity for living on this planet at this time. It is the ability to endure process, to endure messiness and ambiguity, to trust in a greater trajectory of creativity moving through things. We need to not strangle the action by immediately having to create certainty again, to be willing to not rush to create structure, create rigidity.

The resolution of twoness may not be in the direction of one,  but in the direction of the three.

3.  The Law of Three is creative.

Most writers have learned that you can’t write and edit at the same time. You sit down and write what you have to say and then you go back and edit it because they are different functions.

Theology has become such an anal, mathematical exercise where one truth necessarily means the other can’t be true. If Bach is right, does that mean that Mozart’s wrong?

Why do we have to say that, if universalism is right then Christocentrism is wrong? Why do we have to do theology in that frame? It’s because we are using the editing mind rather than the expansive and playful faculty. The Law of Three encourages playful problem solving, by not judging, demonizing, or identifying but holdinf an open space with a conviction that since creation has been going on since creation, that there’s some precedent for new creation.

4. The Law of Three aligns us through its threeness with beginning to ask what if the Trinity is the DNA implanted in the heart of everything, like a new kind of double helix that unfolds a certain way that things progress, shape and form in the world.

What if the Trinity is not only a mandala of the relatedness of God and the relatedness of everything, but has all along been given to Christianity as a seed to say, “If you want to get on this dance, of divine unfolding which is the divine heart at play, then perhaps we should look to this Law of Three and take it as a precious template of how we, as those aspiring to be Christians, actually jump into this dance”?

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