Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Trinity

The Trinity Within

We bear in ourselves
a living representation of Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost.

Put three children in a room together, and they will play.

Take them to the lake, and they will swim and laugh and explore. They’ll take turns pulling a raft. Or pushing. Swimming in front or behind. Pulling down a corner to fill the raft with water. Then jumping in and helping to bail it all out. They’ll attack from beneath, flipping the raft and its occupants. Then they’ll have a mud fight. Go for a swim. Jump in the raft together and do it all over again.

Take them to a waterfall. They’ll climb rocks: “Look! Up here!” “How’d you get up there?” “There’s a trail. No, over here. It’s easy!” One will find a snake and yell for the other. Or maybe they’ll slide as far as they dare toward the back of a hole behind the falls.

Choose what children you will. It doesn’t matter. Even those labeled “shy” or “loud” or “disagreeable” find a way to fit, to take part, to interact, to play.

One of my new favorite writers – William Law – suggests that we must turn “to the Light and Spirit of God” that is within us. We bear in ourselves, he claims, “a living representation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

We were created for communion.

Children know this, and they are naturals at creating community through play.

I spend most of my days with children and youth. And it is this aspect of my job that gives me so much for which to be thankful. My schedule from just one week this summer: On Sunday, I drove a handful of fourth- and fifth-grade girls to Twin Rocks. On Monday, I took a dozen students to the St. Paul Rodeo. On Tuesday, I hiked to Wahclella Falls with 10 middle school boys. On Wednesday, another youth pastor and I drove 20 students to Hagg Lake. On Thursday, back to Wahclella Falls with another group of boys.

And it’s not always a joy.

They spit paper at each other while I’m driving in Portland traffic. They run ahead of the group and try to lose the girls. They toss their empty water bottles in the creek and complain when I ask them to wade in and retrieve them.

But they also play.

They let Thomas have the front seat even though Noah got to the van first. They lean into one another for a group photo. They offer to stay and clean the van when we get back to the church.

They don’t even have language for their experience. Other than that it is fun.

But I do.

And I am thankful for what I see, thankful for this every-day experience of communion, hoping that I am faithfully reflecting “the Light and Spirit of God,” hoping that I am helping youth to see in themselves, “a living representation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


In his advice for men, Miller used the words
seductive or seductress five times. In his advice for women,
Miller used a form of the word slut four times.

Earlier this month, Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz (and quite a few other really good books), wrote a pair of blogs about love. He counseled men to provide safety, security and emotional stability if they want to be attractive. He wrote that women should “stop acting like a victim. If you want a strong man who can protect you and your children, stop trolling for predators by crying all the time.” In his advice for men, Miller used the words seductive or seductress five times. In his advice for women, Miller used a form of the word slut four times. Miller tells men to write “a great love story.” He then says to women that they must “train hard” in order to get included in such a love story, likening it to a marathon and further counseling women that they must suffer in order to win.

Nine days later, Miller announced the deletion of both blog posts, offering a kind of ersatz apology. But he didn’t apologize for denigrating women. He didn’t apologize for blaming women. He certainly didn’t apologize for the sexist content of either blog post. What did Miller apologize for, exactly? Here it is. In his own words:

. . . I write blogs on a whim. . . . I’m thinking out loud. What I never expected was to incur the amount of traffic the blog received. And for that matter, the feedback both negative and positive.

Miller apologized, first, for the negative comments his blog received. He was only thinking out loud. He had no idea this many people were reading. He stresses that there was also positive feedback.

To be honest, I wrote the blogs and never reread them, even after all the traffic. I’m writing books at the moment and didn’t feel the need to go back.

Miller apologized, second, for not actually caring enough about the subject to pay any attention to it. He’s writing books, after all.

I write blogs, misspellings and all, as a way of journaling through ideas. That said, after receiving critical feedback from people I greatly respect (along with support from people I greatly respect) I feared a backlash. Not a personal backlash, mind you, but a backlash against the actual ideas the blog presented. That is, I feared many would say “who are you to tell me how to live or how to love, I’m going to do anything I want.”

Miller apologized, third, for people who don’t understand or agree with his argument. He also indirectly labels such people sexual libertines. Reading through the comments on Miller’s original posts makes it clear that many of these people are women.

I’ve seen this sort of backlash before in other arenas. I’m convinced a number of preachers drive as many people away from Jesus as they invite toward Jesus through the harshness of their rhetoric. I’m not interested, then, in driving people away from a good love story simply because I used language and presented ideas they found offensive. Especially when the ideas were generated in no more than half an hour . . . .

Miller repeats his out that he’s too busy for this kind of thing.

But he’s not.

Yesterday, Miller posted a new blog, asking, “Ladies, Why Do You Hook Up?” Maybe Miller’s just curious “why some girls give up sex easily.” Maybe Miller really does believe that women “use sex for some kind of social power.” Maybe Miller doesn’t know that the Getty Images photo he posted with his blog is the same photo used by Time Magazine in its online post Monday regarding the top 10 most promiscuous cities.

When one of Miller’s readers asks why Miller isn’t “asking the same questions to men,” it might just be that Miller’s right in saying, “All questions can’t be asked at the same time to all groups of people. While I appreciate your consideration, it really isn’t helpful. Honestly.”

Then again, maybe not.