Thursday, September 15, 2005

Doug Jones on the Trinity

"They say that giraffes have never become terribly endangered because people are afraid of them. It's not the fear of attack that we gain from lions or alligators but the fear of otherworldliness, of, say, encountering a tree as a living person- slow, silent, sublime, alien, comic. Giraffes in documentaries and zoos had always seemed to me to be manufactured for those media, simple special effects. But when, as a boy, I saw giraffes in the wild, standing on a southern African plain, rivers of heat reaching to the horizon, with all fences and narrators absent, I lost all sense of balance. It seemed as if I had shifted planets and had nowhere to place my feet. Six foot necks, tapering. Bodies patterned in white nets. Eyes two rooms above ground. Clownish knees. Antennaed heads. And each giraffe still succeeded in giving a noble stare. I was ruined somehow, in a way I didn't realize at the time. The terrain explained that these giants were normal; they really belonged here, and I was the alien. I did not live where I thought I lived. What kind of world could be home to such sublime, elegant monsters?

I was ruined because secularism became so drab and boring from then on. Secular norms have to compress and hide that sort of experience. As a modern culture, huffing, puffing, and trying as we might to find secularism convincing, I'm afraid we're all too spoiled by the Trinity. Even secularists are closet Trinitarians, living as if the mysterious dance of the ancient creed were true, "For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal."

But what is the Trinity? Attempting to talk about the Trinity is like standing too near Niagara Falls-fascinating but terrifying, clear but deep, life and death uncontained. The Christian Church through millennia has recognized the revelation of the Trinity as the Waterfall of Life, Life personalized by Beauty, Wildness, Loyalty, Nobility, Gift, and Love. The Christian God is not some set of rigid ideas or an impersonal force or a sentimental old man wanting to banish all pain. The Trinity is who we would all naturally long to be connected to, an intriguing, brilliant, playful, frightening, intoxicating God. "

-Doug Jones in Spoiled by the Trinity: A Primer for Secularists

I can't get enough of Doug Jones. Here is a collection of his essays:
Most of them arlooselyly on Imagination and Theology.


Post a Comment

<< Home