book report - The Divine Dance by Rohr and Morrell 2016

This book is not one you want to blast through in a few weeks like I did. I really like Franciscan friar Richard Rohr and have been receiving his daily emails for about a year now. I have only read one of his books before this one, Simplicity: The art of living. Simplicity captures a series of lectures by Rohr from the 1990's. His new book, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, has a similar origin. As described in one of the afterwords co-author Mike Morrell took material from two of Rohr's conferences, The Divine Dance and The Shape of God, wrote down, arranged, condensed, expanded, and subdivided them into this amazing book.

The chapters are short, usually two or three pages, which lends itself to more of a devotional read. In fact, I'm planning to re-read this as a spiritual supplement this next Lenten season. The Christian theology of the triune God distinguishes it from the other Abrahamic faiths, Islam and Judaism, and has been and continues to be a source of division within the Christian church. One of the metaphors the early church leaders used to describe the one God who is three persons is a dance, a divine dance. Rohr admits this is a mystery. He writes,
“Remember, mystery isn’t something that you cannot understand—it is something that you can endlessly understand! There is no point at which you can say, “I’ve got it.” Always and forever, mystery gets you! “Circling around” is all we can do. Our speaking of God is a search for similes, analogies, and metaphors. All theological language is an approximation, offered tentatively in holy awe. ” Page 42 
This celebration of the God who is a trinity is not akin to the blind describing parts of the elephant, but more like the ants discussing the works of Mozart. It will always be inadequate, but never insufficient for delight to the degree one can apprehend with Rohr his adoration of the Happy Trinity. As a kind and generous Catholic follower of the way of St. Francis, Rohr is an inclusivist. He sees where God has revealed himself to cultures before and apart from Christianity. An orthodox Roman Catholic will say, "Grace perfects nature." What other cultures see in threes spiritually, Rohr can affirm those things and point to the revelation of Jesus as the culmination of those hints hidden in plain sight in nature. This book is also about the victory of God's love, which flows centripetally out from the dance into all of creation. The fallen creation is not greater than the love of God. He writes, “I think penal substitution is a very risky theory, primarily because of what it implies about the Father’s lack of freedom to love or to forgive his own creation.” p. 282 (That's some inside baseball talk for modern Christianity.) He is hopeful because his understanding of the trinity makes him exude with hope. The ugly parts of the Bible do not drag him down, because Jesus settles all the craziness that seems unloving in the Bible.
“We get the promise of free love (grace) now and then, but it is always too much for the mind and heart to believe.
The biblical text mirrors both the growth and the resistance of the soul.
It falls into the mystery, and then it says, “That just can’t be true.” Scripture is a polyphonic symphony, a conversation with itself, where it plays melodies and dissonance—three steps forward, two steps back. The three steps gradually and finally win out; you see the momentum of our Holy Book and where it is leading history. And the text moves inexorably toward inclusivity, mercy, unconditional love, and forgiveness. I call it the “Jesus hermeneutic.” Just interpret Scripture the way that Jesus did! He ignores, denies, or openly opposes his own Scriptures whenever they are imperialistic, punitive, exclusionary, or tribal.” p. 294
He has so succinctly summarized where I myself have struggled to attain after finding the Christian fundamentalist hermeneutic inadequate for the complex realities of life. Rohr's "Jesus hermeneutic" can also be called a love hermeneutic. Whatever does not reflect trinitarian love is not of God. What does that trinitarian love look like? I encourage you to buy this book and begin the dance.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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