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Center for Action and Contemplation
We Are One and Many
We Are One and Many

Each a God-Carrier

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The late Bishop Desmond Tutu understood our interdependence with each other as part of what it means to live in the image of God:

God has created us, upholding us in being from moment to moment, providing us with our very existence. . . . Despite everything that conspires to deny this truth, each one of us is of immense worth, of infinite value because God loved us. That is why [God] created us. Thus our value is intrinsic to who we are. It comes with the package of being human. It depends neither on extrinsic attributes such as ethnicity and skin color nor on our achievement, however that may be computed. Our worth stems from the fact that we exist only because of the divine love. . . . [Richard: As Bishop Tutu told me when I met him, “We are only the light bulbs, Richard, and our job is just to remain screwed in!”]

We are each a God-carrier, a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by God the holy and most blessed Trinity.

To treat one such as less than this is not just wrong. . . . It is veritably blasphemous and sacrilegious. It is as if we were to spit in the face of God. Consequently injustice, racism, exploitation, oppression are to be opposed not as a political task but as a response to a religious, a spiritual imperative. Not to oppose these manifestations of evil would be tantamount to disobeying God.

God has created us for interdependence as God has created us in God’s image—the image of a divine fellowship of the holy and blessed Trinity. . . God has created us to be different in order that we can realize our need of one another. There is an African idiom: “A person is a person through other persons.” I learn how to be human through association with other human beings. . . .  [1]

Like Desmond Tutu, CAC teacher Brian McLaren sees the Trinity as offering a healing vision of the world, in which we create holy community that overturns categories of “us” and “them”:

This Trinitarian vision of God helps us imagine a relational universe of one-anotherness, community-in-unity, unity-in-community, being-in-interbeing, where benevolence toward the other is at home, and hostility toward the other is foreign, invasive, out of place. . . .

God-with-God in community leads us to envision God-with-us in community. And that vision in turn dares us to imagine God-with-them in community. And that expansive vision invites us higher still: to envision God-with-us-and-with-them in community. This approach to the Trinity need not be a litmus test used to legitimize us and delegitimize them. Instead, it can be a gift, offered to others like a poem, not an ultimatum—given not to require assent-leading-to-acceptance or dissent-leading-to-condemnation, but rather to inspire us to reverence otherliness as a theological attribute. At that moment, Trinitarianism becomes not only a healing doctrine but a healing practice. [2]

[1] Desmond M. Tutu, “My Credo,” in Living Philosophies: The Reflections of Some Eminent Men and Women of Our Time, ed. Clifton Fadiman (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 234, 235. Note: Minor changes made to incorporate inclusive language.

[2] Brian D. McLaren, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World (New York: Jericho Books, 2012), 130, 131–132.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 24 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States, used with permission. Warren K. Leffler, View of the huge crowd, 1963 (detail), photograph, public domain. Warren K. Leffler, Demonstrators sit, 1963 (detail), photograph, public domain. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to core teacher Dr. Barbara Holmes as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. Her photos are featured here together with historical images in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: Humanity is One although we are as diverse as flowers in a field. There is power in many different individuals coming together for one purpose—the March on Washington reminds us that together we have the capacity to be a transformative body and force for change.

Story from Our Community:

As an artist, painter, and maker, meditation helps me realize that my own work seems best when I create with love and awe for Oneness. I feel any talent I have is a gift from God and to create is my own way of praying.
—Suzy K.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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