Charles Howard -Huff Post Black Voices
Of Trinities Good and Evil
Ten years ago as a young graduate student I found myself enrolled in a course entitled Trinitarian Theology taught by the brilliant John Hoffmeyer. By the end of the first day of class the chalkboard was covered with words in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German and English. On this suddenly polyglot blackboard was the Greek word Perichoresis. This is the word that a group of ancient theologians used to attempt to describe the relationship between the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity of the Christian tradition. The term alludes to the way that unique entities interpenetrate one another, creating an existence as one con-substantial being while maintaining distinctness in the comprising persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (or Creator, Savior, and Sustainer) remain unique persons while all being eternally united as One God.
Simultaneously I was enrolled in a class with the great Michael Eric Dyson. Weekly we explored the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. The highest compliment that I can offer a course is to say that it will “mess you up.” And this class certainly did that – in a most necessary way.
King, if taken seriously should mess listeners and readers up in regards to the way that one lives their life in contemporary America. If his words don’t shake you, then you are either only reading his “I Have a Dream” speech and nothing else or you aren’t really reading him at all.
In the King class we considered a different triune god. Towards the end of his life, King spoke and wrote more and more about what he described as the dangerous giant triplets: Racism, Extreme Materialism, and Militarism. Part of King’s genius was how he saw that these three dangerous trends in our society were (and remain) deeply connected in what we might call a perichoretic relationship of their own.
There is a word or two in all of that for my fellow Black Lives Matter activists. The first is an encouragement to not miss the interconnectedness of various aspects of oppression and presume that the sole force we must fight against is racism. This racism draws from and feeds other distinct yet connected systems that are just as lethal.
The Hydra, Slavery, and Complex Systems of Oppression
If I may borrow again from Christian scripture, this fight is not against individual people, but rather “powers and principalities.” It is best to see our fight against racism rather than against unique racists. The dismissal or conviction of a racist police officer, careless prosecuting attorney, or corrupt judge is certainly important, but it does not solve the root and source of the problem.
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