Posted by: smstrouse | March 21, 2015

Is God a Circle or a Triangle?


imagesBeing is God’s circle and in this circle all creatures exist. – Meister Eckhart

I’m much happier thinking of God as a circle. But I know that’s not the usual way of imagining heaven, earth, God, us, etc. It’s more like a triangle, with God at the top and everything else at the bottom. Think about it: we sing words like “Glory to God in the highest” and “Word of God, come down on earth.”

marriage-triangle-21At its best, it’s an image of love watching over us, a power greater than ourselves looking beneficently down on us. At its worst, it’s a threatening behavior control tool.

But even assuming the best sense of it, I resonate so much more with Meister Eckhart, and with the philospoher Empedocles who said,  “The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.”

I heard a Native American speaker this past week talking about just this. His point was that in order to really address the ecological issues facing our planet, we need to bet away from the hierarchical view of the world, including our concept of the Divine Presence (he wouldn’t have named that God, but it makes sense nonetheless). In the circle, everyone is equal. Even leadership is shared. Power has a different meaning from the top-down, coercive model we’re used to.

But much of the language of our liturgies, prayers, hymns and doctrines reflect the sky-god who either comes down to rescue us or threatens judgement over us.

Not all. We’ve been using a song for our midweek evening prayer services during Lent – “You Are the Centre” by Margaret Rizza, which begins “You are the centre, you are my life; You are the centre, O Lord, of my life.”

We also pay attention to the language we use in prayers: are we asking for a divine rescue operation or for deep connection to Presence which will enable us to do the work of healing the world? What are we asking for in an invocation: for God to come to us, when in reality God is always here?

It takes initiative, intentionality and work to make a shift from triangle to circle (I’m not talking about the Trinity here; that’s for another day). But I firmly believe that language matters.  Christianity has a lot to learn from the indigenous traditions, from Eastern religions, from our own mystics about the interconnectedness of all beings. We have begun. May we all recognize our place in the Divine Circle!



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