Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Trinity and the Shack

Our lectionary-based bible study met Wednesday morning and the subject was the Trinity, because the scripture passages were for today, Trinity Sunday. Where to begin with such a daunting theological concept? Once again I was impressed by the insight of this gang. Twelve of the fifteen regulars were on hand and probably two thirds offered opinions and experiences. We considered the traditional Father, Son, and Holy Spirit formulation and then looked at some alternatives.

I brought along a copy of the multimillion selling novel The Shack by Paul Young. I must admit that I purchased mine because parishioners have been reading it, but I am suspicious of "squishy" theology wrapped in novels, so it has sat on my side table since January. I must admit that it isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, although great lit it ain't. The writing is clunky but I wasn't holding my nose while I read.

It does present an encounter between the central character and the Trinity in, you guessed it, a remote shack. Except that God is a big African American woman named Papa (no, I don't get the name thing either.) The Holy Spirit is an Asian woman named Sarayu, and Jesus is a Middle Eastern handyman. Hey, this seems to be working for a lot of people, most of whom probably puzzle over what the Trinity should mean to them as Christians. I'm sure not an enthusiastic supporter of The Shack, but I won't be a critic either.

Do you feel comfortable with the concept of the Trinity? Have you read The Shack.


pupil said...

The Trinity has always been a stumbling block for me, but there are times when I see a logic. For instance, it makes perfect sense when I look at it through the example of water, steam, and ice. All experienced through the senses differently yet the same substance.

Deborah Laforet said...

I'm one that struggles with the Trinity, especially knowing that it became a part of Christian doctrine by church councils after the gospels were written. I do enjoy grappling with the idea and some of the imagery around the trinity can be fascinating. One of my favourites that I read was where God is the sun, Jesus is the sun's rays, and the Spirit is the heat from those rays.

Yes, I have read the Shack, in response to others in the congregation having read it. One couple was deeply moved by it, as they had just been in the midst of tragedy in their family. I can't say that I was much impressed by it. It was an easy read and I enjoyed some of the thoughts and imagery, but I grappled with some of the theology and found the answers to easy. I do know that others have been greatly influenced by this book though.

lionlamb said...

Both of your responses are reminders of the various metaphors we use to help grasp a powerful mystery.