We're back on track in our magic carpet ride with Tom McMahon today. However he's decided to fly-over the Trevi Fountain in Roma and head straight to Istanbul or Constantinople on the track of where we Christians came up with the difficult notion of a Trinitarian God.
WARNING: parents beware the promotion of Trinity has a connected horror story. Beware of Divine retribution. Your kids may get diarrhea if they don't believe.
I enjoy playing with my imagination. It was an experience that was OUT OF BOUNDS while in 1940/50's seminary. Imagination might have connected up with testosterone and curiosity about human sexuality and there would be no Roman collar in the distant future. This fatherless boy of 13 did have a big problem with the classic statue of Venus de Milo, but reasoned peeking (a mini second glance) was not matter for Saturday night confession, surely not a mortal sin ... not even an itsy bitsy venial as there it was smack dab greeting me five-days-a-week in the front page of our First Year Latin Primer. I figured Genesis said God created them male and female and God said this was good. If the female figure was good enough for god it was good enough for me. Reader be assured that at 83 I have a much more mature appreciation. Those junior seminary days were spiritually confusing for a growing lad in the first stage of puberty. Thanks goodness for sports!
Throughout seminary my mind became peaceful as I accepted without question the party line on the Most Holy Trinity. I had god on my side. I am glad that junior seminary system is dead today, as otherwise as a professional therapist I would have to report the faculty for child abuse.
Woops, we're ready to land and our timeless clock tells us the year is 325 c.e.. Jumping gee hose' fats, that's the Bosphorus, and this isn't Rome, its Constantinople. Emperor Constantine has called into session the Council of Nicea. Here's our opportunity to get a bird's eye view of how the Christians figured out there are three-persons-in-one-god, aka Trinity.
The Roman Empire is in shaky condition and Constantine has called together the bishops, the political and spiritual leaders of the day, hoping to unify the empire under a spiritual one-god dogma. The Bishop of Rome opposed, refusing to come and his legates were found dead on the way. (Something here reminds me of Pope John Paul the First.)
Constantinople; Ottoman Turkish: İstanbul was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empires. It was founded in AD 330, at ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Constantine I, The city was the largest and wealthiest European city of the Middle Ages, and shared the glories of the Byzantine Empire, which was eventually reduced to the city and its environs.
Although besieged on numerous occasions by various peoples, it was taken only in 1204 by the army of the Fourth Crusade, in 1261 by Michael VIII, and in 1453 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II. An inner wall was erected by Constantine I, and the city was surrounded by a triple wall of fortifications, begun during the 5th century by Theodosius II. The city was built on seven hills as well as on the Bosporus, and thus presented an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces, domes and towers. The Church of Hagia Sophia, the sacred palace of the emperors, the hippodrome, and the Golden Gate were among the largest of the many churches, public edifices, and monuments lining the arcaded avenues and squares.
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day İznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of Jesus and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, settling the calculation of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.
Back in old Roma the pantheon has been closed and chicken entrails and paganism are virtually outlawed by imperial decree. There is this troublemaker named Arius who has debated Athanasius over Jesus being co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father. What is being said is Arius refuses to accept Yeshua (Jesus) as divine. After hearing Arius profess the Nicene Creed with subtle reservations [according to Will Durant in THE AGE OF FAITH, The Story of Civilization IV. Read it ONLINE for FREE HERE. Quotes that follow are from this book.] Constantine thinks he has taken care of the protester and bids Patriarch Alexander to take him into communion ... YET ... YET ... "divine retribution overtook his daring criminality..." [hang on you believers in Yeshua's Abba; crime-filled entrails may yet be a heavenly sign...] "it was Saturday and Arius was to assemble with the congregation the day following ... going out from the imperial palace, approaching the porphyry pillar in the Forum a terror seized him, accompanied by violent relaxation of his bowels ... his bowels protruded, followed by a copious hemorrhage and the decent of smaller intestines" [now there is a bad Halloween story about an avenging god]. Athanasius places his case before Pope Julius the 4th in 340 c.e. and Athanasius is restored to his see ... and Catholics ever since recite the Nicean Creed. There were riots over the dogma; "probably more Christians were slaughtered by Christians in these two years (342-3) than by all the persecutions of Christians by pagans in the history of Rome" .... "I believe in one God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth ... and in Jesus Christ ... I believe in the Holy Spirit..." I wonder if this is the god American baseball players acknowledge as they sign two fingers to the sky after hitting a home run?
In the Vatican Two COMMUNITY OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND BROTHER, founded in 1975 with Tom McMahon as pastoral guide and dismantled in 1982 by the Archbishop of San Francisco we had refused to recite the Nicean Creed, writing each week our own creed, our belief that god lived in all nature and in each person. We knew who Teilhard de Chardin was.
I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows ... Yes, I believe!
PS: From my friend Paschal Baute in KY: "Concepts create idols, only wonder and awe understand anything", Gregory of Nyssa, 372ce.
Comments (mine and yours) can be found in the Catholica Forum at:
Tom in San Jose, Ca., always on search for a living god and feeling very close. 28Apr2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?