Dissolving Racism

I am a fan of the Franciscan priest, Fr. Richard Rohr -- as you can probably tell, since he shows up pretty regularly on this page. That said, though I love the ideas he shares, I can sometimes get tripped up and even frustrated with the language he uses to share them.

This is not a problem exclusive to Father Rohr -- mystics and philosophers of all religions and traditions are drawn to language that is hard to pin down, probably because they are often using words to describe experience that words simply cannot describe. To paraphrase one of my favorite novelists, Ursula K. LeGuin: painters use their art to describe what words cannot describe. Novelists (and in this case mystics) use words to do the same thing. They describe in words what words cannot describe.

I say that as I share this article just so you know that if you read it and end up thinking "what is this dude talking about? What in the world is the 'way of the flow' and how does it have anything to do with dissolving racism??" you aren't alone. I'm right there with you.

But after some thinking, here's at least part of what the good father is saying. The idea of the Trinity in Christianity -- that is, the idea that God is both One and Three separate entities or expressions (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) -- is the perfect metaphor for embracing all the different ways there are of being human. We don't talk much about the Trinity anymore, except in ritual language, probably because it's a difficult concept to grasp. How can there be one God if we are always referring to three of them? Lots of religions have gods with children, who usually are themselves separate gods. What Rohr is emphasizing is that the idea of the Trinity gives us insight into both the nature of God and the nature of human beings.

Three rivers that run into the ocean are distinct from one another, yet all part of the same system. Once they reach the ocean, it becomes impossible to divide them out. And the water in that ocean will one day run back into those same rivers. Different, yet the same. And we, Rohr is saying, are the same way -- human beings are distinct from one another, and yet all made of the same stuff: bodies and souls. Made in the image of God, we are even all part of that same great divine ocean. To hate one people for the color of their skin, is as nonsensical as one stream hating another as they both speed their way to merge in the sea.

God is unified in diversity, and so are we.

Read the article on Sojourners here