THE DIVINE DANCE:
The Trinity and Your Transformation
by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell.
Whitaker House (2016) Hardcover.
220 pages. $29.46 CAD
ISBN #10: 1629117293
Trinity is supposed to be the central, foundational doctrine of our entire Christian belief system, yet we’re often told that we shouldn’t attempt to understand it because it is a “mystery”.
Should we presume to try to breach this mystery?
If we could, how would it transform our relationship with God and renew our lives? The word Trinity is not found in the New Testament – it wasn’t until the third century that early Christian father Tertullian coined it – but the idea of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was present in Jesus’ life and teachings and from the very beginning of the Christian experience. In the pages of this book, internationally recognized teacher Richard Rohr circles around this most paradoxical idea as he explores the nature of God – circling around being an apt metaphor for this mystery we’re trying to apprehend. Early Christians who came to be known as the “Desert Mothers and Fathers” applied the Greek verb perichoresis to the mystery of the Trinity.
The best translation of this odd-sounding word is dancing.
Our word choreography comes from the same root. Although these early Christians gave us some highly conceptualized thinking on the life of the Trinity, the best they could say, again and again, was, Whatever is going on in God is a flow – it’s like a dance. But God is not a dancer – He is the dance itself.
That idea might sound novel, but it is about as traditional as you can get. God is the dance itself, and He invites you to be a part of that dance. Are you ready to join in?
About the Author
Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized teacher and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC.org) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodox practices of contemplation and self–emptying, expressing themselves in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized. He is also the academic dean of the Living School for Action and Contemplation.
Drawing upon Christianity’s place within the Perennial Tradition, the mission of the Living School is to produce compassionate and powerful learned individuals who will work for positive change in the world based on awareness of our common union with God and all created beings.
Fr. Richard is the author of numerous books, including Everything Belongs, Adam’s Return, The Naked Now, Breathing Under Water, Falling Upward, Immortal Diamond, and Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi.
Review by Dr. Wayne Holst
As secularization continues to strongly influence our political, social and religious ethos in Canada, people of faith need to work hard at finding new language, imagery and experiences to help us grow in that faith. Many of the classic teachings need to be expressed in ways that can be understood by people today. Otherwise they are lost to them.
The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is a case in point. I, for example, was formed spiritually in an environment where I regularly confessed my faith using the words of the ecumenical creeds (Nicene and Apostles). But as time and experience evolved for me, some of the hard-fought meanings in those words were lost to me – a situation I know very well. Probably you do too.
I began to learn from a notable Canadian philosopher like Charles Taylor of McGill, that a secular age prompts us to formulate new thoughts, models and expressions to help us live the classic Christian way in circumstances very different from the times when those traditional faith formulations were developed. God is very much a part of modernity, says Taylor, but we need to be creative in how we discover God today.
For one attempt to describe the development of the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity click: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity
A helpful mentor and model for our quest for renewed meaning is the author and our colleague Richard Rohr, an articulate and much-published Franciscan living in Arizona. His recent book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation is a case in point.
Here is a book infused with the kind of new awareness we very much need.
Choreography, rather than rational dogma, is a better way of describing the Trinity – the source of a well-lived Christian life, says Rohr, who seeks to liberate our understanding of the classic faith while remaining orthodox and true to it.
A helpful way to read Rohr is to note the paradoxes to which he alludes. He links reason and mystery, action and contemplation, faith and real life – by transcending the meaning of both. His thoughts are clear-headed, provocative, inspiring, challenging and infused with the spirit.
Many years ago, as a graduate student in Europe, I first encountered a hymn that had just emerged. It was entitled: Lord of the Dance. Do you remember it? Rohr’s book enhances that hymn with new meaning and value for me as I sing it to myself now.
I think that reading The Divine Dance, might do the same for you.
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