Thursday, June 13, 2019

Queerying Holy Trinity Images

This blog was updated on 15 June 2019, after its original publishing (13 June 2019) with more images.

This week I asked folks on Facebook what images they liked for the Trinity and for the Holy Spirit.  The responses were wonderful, so I'm sharing them all together here for you.  Most of them are pictures, some are words, and some are both.  The pictures have image descriptions if you hover over them (if this is not the case, please let me know so that I can fix that!).

Jess Davis posted this image, which really embraces the relationality and solidarity of the Trinity.

Rev. Stefanie K. L. Fauth describes the Holy Spirit with: "I see the Holy Spirit as a ball of energy. Closest visual is crab nebula. Not that I think the Spirit is distant, it's just the closet visual of how I feel the energy.   "  I love outer space and really resonate with this image.  For me Space is resurrection, so whether it is a suggestion of this Crab Nebula (or Mariah's image below) or the gender of the day as a black hole, if you suggest outer space, there's a very good chance I will love it.

In looking at a variety of images, this one caught Rev. Kim Beckman's eye.  On a personal note, I particularly love the way the triangle combines with the round halo to evoke the trans pride flag.

Rev. Kim Beckman also posted this stating: "Bishop Macholz used this Pentecost picture for his cover photo this week. It moves me. There was a post by someone about Pentecost hymns in the ELW last week that noted you can either go gentle or go forceful with the Spirit and the ELW hymns mostly went gentle. I've been thinking about that a lot and how to break out of the binary, so to speak, and this image captures that for me."  Anything that breaks a binary is good and holy in my book :)

Ashley Herrikane posted this image, a common way of explaining the diversity of the person of the Trinity combined with the unity of the one essence of the Triune God.

Rev. Kim Beckman shared this image.  Along with the obvious name on the front of the uniform, the joy and relationship, even while distinct and made up of a diversity of people on the team, points toward the diversity of God's essence.

This was sent to me in a private message, reflecting on both the Vatican's recent transphobia, and images of the divine from a Christian perspective.  The English translation for the top is "Some stories have two dads" and the bottom right is "I am not your joke." This queering of family is deeply fitting for Christianity at its heart.

This image was added by Matt Bear-Fowler and Elle Dowd.  It is my favorite icon of the Trinity and I would love to own it someday.  It is queer in so many ways and deeply representative of the diversity of God.

Mariah Himes posted this and the one below stating, "I think of the holy spirit as big and beautiful and complex and deep as the universe, as well as gentle and soft and real as animal friends. I like to think she’s multifaceted 🙂"  The holding together of these two images is delightfully queer, resisting a binary or forced decision.

Mariah Himes posted this and the one above it stating, "I think of the holy spirit as big and beautiful and complex and deep as the universe, as well as gentle and soft and real as animal friends. I like to think she’s multifaceted 🙂"  The way these two images are held together breaks the binaries and boxes so often created.

Tucker O'Leary posted this one stating "This is one of my favorites. It’s an icon I have in my office with a whole explanation on the back."  The explanation on the back reads: "Crow Trinity: This Crow Trinity highlights the Great Spirit as the Sacred Eagle whose wings enfold the mystical unity of the elder and the Son.  The Christ wears a warrior shirt of native tanned hide, glass beads, porcupine quills and ermine skins.  The ermine skins indicate that the man wearing this shirt is an old-time warrior who has captured his enemy's gun.  Contemplating the Christ within the symbolism of the warrior shirt we see him victorious in disarming death of its ultimacy. / Traditional iconography gives witness to the human face of the Sacred.  This icon, imaged in the features of America's indigenous peoples, reveals anew that sacred power.  It celebrates the soul of the Native American as the original spiritual presence on this continent, and as a prophetic sign, it celebrates the reconciliation of the spiritual vision of Native and Christian peoples of this land."  This image makes explicit the beautiful connection of the Trinity with all of Creation.

Rev. Tyler D. Rasmussen posted this one, stating "I was thinking of someone who described the Trinity as 'Papa, Kiddo, and Spook' and tried to find an image of that, but instead I found this and it made me laugh.  (which apparently is Nimrod, and Babylonian god, but has occasionally be confused for the Trinity)."  The pink triangle evokes the pink triangles that were used to label gay men and transgender people especially during the Holocaust and which have become a symbol of the LGBTQ community.

Rev. Aaron Decker posted, "From Bernard of Clairvaux, preaching on Song of Songs 1.2a: The first person of the Trinity is the one who kisses, and the second person is the one who is kissed, and the kiss itself is the Holy Spirit. So, like, any good picture of a kiss would do nicely."  So, I chose this picture of a kiss-in in Russia from an article in The Advocate magazine which points towards the intimate connection of the whole Trinity as one Triune God.

Rev. Marie Sager posted Andrei Rublev's Icon of the Trinity with this link, explaining its history.  This image is taken from Abraham and Sarah's hospitality to strangers, later discovered to be angels, in Genesis and reminds us of the way that hospitality is essential to the experience of a Triune God.

Resonating with the above icon, additionally, Rev. John Michael Longworth describes the Trinity, stating "Inspired by Rubelev's Trinity, I imagine a cuddle threesome that always has a spot for a fourth."

Rev. Kim Beckman also posted this stating "I found this one on a site Aleteia thru google and it makes me smile! Trinity, Fridolin Lieber, Early 20th century." The baby angel heads, especially the ones used as footstools, make me laugh, reminding me of the delight with which God experiences Creation.

Mairi McGilvrie posted the above video of a rare Rainbow Blanket Octopus swimming, colors undulating in the water.  Mairi states, "This is my holy spirit image of the day! It just seemed to fit the question you asked! Beautiful peaceful rainbow octopus. That is the holy spirit playing dress up for me today"  To this I add that octopi are also clever, tricky as can be, and nearly impossible to capture or contain, also much like the Holy Spirit.

To end these wonderful images, Wendy Heilman posted this stating "Maybe this is not exactly what u r looking for??? Lol"

Sheri Kutsch-Stanton posted this, naming it as "Native Spirit..."  This image makes explicit the connection of the Spirit to Creation within the frame of Native Spirituality and Tradition.

Rev. Tyler Rasmussen, in looking for the hymn "Come, Join the Dance of Trinity," found the following images:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
This image and poem evoke the complexity and diversity of the Trinity within a framework of beauty and intimate relationship.

This image shows both the warm joy of the dance of navigating relationships and the connection of the Trinity as each person appears to blend into each other.

Trinity by Mark Jennings emphasizes the interconnection and overlap of the Triune God.

Dance of the Trinity evokes the movement and motion inherent in the Triune God.


If you're wondering why none of these are Harry Potter references, it's because I've got an entire podcast devoted to that, so check out our podcast and find out what Pastor Kay and I come up with for Holy Trinity images!

What are your images for the Trinity?  For the Holy Spirit?  For the divine?

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