Today (I say today because I haven't gone to sleep for the night, though it's 1:41 in the morning) was the Feast of the Trinity.
The only feast day dedicated to, as the Rev Jennifer Cleveland said in her sermon, 'An abstract theological doctrine'.
She said several powerful things about the Trinity.
One was that, about 1300 year ago, a council sat down and brought an effective end to passionate inquiry into the nature and qualities of God by putting Him into a triangular box.
"Two guys and a bird hanging out."
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I was explaining this the other day to Shaun (sorry not to tag your LJ ident, but I'm entering this from the slow laptop and it's not straightforward to go look it up).
These are roles, interactions with man and the world, and they weren't so much 'invented' as 'recognized.'
The Father - understood AS Father in such an intimate role only because Jesus (who was also God, enfleshed, made man, God and Man without hindrance to either, not adopted, not elevated, not created from nothing, but God as he stepped into the world) referred to God who stands outside Time and Space, and permeates and pervades and creates every tiniest swirling nuance of reality, as Father.
The Holy Spirit - understood because He is the one who takes the dead, meaningless, inert matter of this world and breathes through it and thus it is alive, real. The Lord, the Giver of life.
These three roles were defined, classified... and God was tamed and made safe, acceptable for dissection, analysis, comprehension.
Except, again as Jennifer said: "The Trinity, the doctrine, is in fact as similar to the full reality of the Lord, as the fur coat is to the living breathing leopard from whom it was taken."
Or, to quote Paul, "Now, we see as through [smokey, bubble-filled, streaky and nearly opaque] glass, darkly. On that great day, we will see His face and know all things fully."
The metaphor is inobvious to us nowadays. We can make pure, clear and transparent, colorless glass cheaply, in large quantities, and it's in all our homes. Then, pure clear glass was a fluke.
Tomorrow will be Memorial Day in the US.
That means most people get the day off work. (Me, I still haven't FOUND work, so, yeah, I do too.)
We're considering, since it will be raining, heading over to the far side of Portland. There, in the Willamette National Cemetery, my wife's father is buried. He was in the military before he married her mother. They divorced when Penny was around 7 or 8, and as was the standard of the time, the mother took the kids.
He died of a heart attack, or so said her mother's side of the family, in his 40s. We don't know for sure, because we've learned that truth was a flexible tool wielded by her mother's side of things, used for control but never because it was the right thing to do.
So, we'll go, and I'll honor her father, remember him in prayer and wish I had met him.
My own father, well... I haven't seen since Thanksgiving of 1987. We visited him and my traditionally wicked stepmother, in Sun River, Montana. On our way back, we hit a spot of black ice in Post Falls, Idaho, going 70, and I spun out, we were both saved by seat belts, but the car died, and a number of our belongings were damaged. I called to tell them what happened, and I don't recall a great deal of interest ... oh, you're all right, good.
My mom, on the other hand, wanted to know if we needed someone to come help, would we be able to get home OK, etc.
Peculiar remembering that trip. To go between Polson MT (where my Mom lived at the time) and Sun River MT, you had to take highway 80, which goes through Lincoln.
We stopped in Lincoln, in a snowstorm, hating every minute of it. Filled the car with gas, picked up some soda and snacks, and headed on. The main thing I recall though, was a very shaggy and unkempt man on an old 3-speed bicycle, very strange guy, who was inflating his bike tires at the gas station. I much later recognized his photo ... Ted Kazinsky, now known for having a fondness for sending exploding parcels to 'technologists'.
So, when we go to the memorial, I'll also remember my own father, who is still alive but who hasn't made an effort to contact me in over 10 years now, and I'll remember my Mom's second husband Lester, the most casually cruel and malicious person I've ever known - he died of pancreatic cancer, a truly horrible and painful death, and thus was given the chance to know in his own death the pain he caused others throughout his life, and may God have mercy on him - And I'll remember her third husband, Bud, who died a few years ago of a neurological disease. He got to endure my sullen teenage years, and despite that still cared enough about me, and communicated that care, that I think he was, in many ways, a better father than my own. Or, perhaps it's mostly that he was there, and my own father wasn't. I know he missed the kids he left behind, and his son was my age.
A college acquaintance (at what point does someone with whom you were in college, and a member of the Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship chapter you attended, become a 'friend' by default?) ... anyway she once reacted in a characteristically judgemental way to hearing that our next door neighbor had chosen to become pregnant, out of wedlock, by artificial insemination. The neighbor was doing so because she expected to be having an hysterectomy within a few years, and none of her 'prospects' seemed promising, and she wanted a child. More power to her. But the college friend insisted that it was invariably wrong to bring up a child in a single parent home, because it denied the child the positive role models they required to mature into fully healthy people.
Note, there were four people in the room with her who had been brought up in single parent homes. Two others present had been brought up in two-parent homes by bad parents. Two parents is no guarantee of positive role models. Nor is the lack of two parents a guarantee that there won't be someone to provide any missing positive role models.
I wasn't particularly kind in pointing out that she was not only insulting me and my mother, but others as well.
Perhaps I should have been kinder. She was right in some ways. I did have a number of really bad role models, I won't ever know what it would have been like to have had a father who was mature enough to be a father - but I didn't learn his habits, either. I've been married 22 years, to Penny, who remains my best friend despite our tendency to pick at one another sometimes. I can forgive her anything, because at the core we have a tremendous respect and admiration and love for one another.
My dad... would curse constantly behind my stepmother's back about what a bitch she was. Duh. She didn't change, Dad.
Bud, when he married my Mom, I think did it from a last desperate attempt to make a life where he was with a woman who loved him. He left a physically abusive woman (I saw the bruises, the broken tooth she gave him) and 'ran off' with my Mom. Their marriage ended, not because of either of them, but because he began to physically resemble, as he grew older, a man who had traumatized my Mom.
They still cared for one another, but couldn't be intimate.
I still regret that I wasn't able to see him more often after I graduated from U of Oregon. Then again, I don't know if I could have handled it, seeing his increasing physical breakdown.
So I'm writing tonight, to perhaps purge some of the frustration and confusion I've been feeling. And, I think I have, a little.
Though to be honest, I may have found a bit more.