Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Long Green Season

Trinity is called "the long green season"--both for the color of altar hanging and vestments and for the fact that in England and the Eastern US it's summer and the trees are green. In Northern California, where I live now, our green season is winter (also known as the rainy season). In Australia and New Zealand, Trinity actually is in winter, while Christmas is in summer. This is on my mind lately because I've been reading Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mystery series, which are set in Australia. I started with Cocaine Blues (free for Kindle) in mid-April and just finished The Green Mill Murder (book #5) so I still have another fourteen books to enjoy. (Occasionally I have to look something up; it turns out that ANZAC stand for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, but I can usually get a pretty good idea of what a word means from its context.) I've read Kerry's Corinna Chapman series over and over (only six books so far, starting with Earthly Delights, and I hope she writes more), so it's nice to find another series of hers.

And next week, on June 4, one of my favorite authors, Nalini Singh, who lives in New Zealand, has a new Psi/Changling book coming out: Heart of Obsidian. Mercedes Lackey, another favorite author and longtime friend, has the new Elemental Masters book, Steadfast, out the same day, and I've promised myself those two books as a treat for getting Music of Darkover published on the 3rd. (This involves staying up until after midnight on the 2nd so I can go to three different sites to publish the book and have the publication date be the 3rd. It's the 13th Darkover® anthology, so I'm certainly spending a lot of time with series these days.

I love Trinity Sunday. "Holy, Holy, Holy" is one of my favorite hymns. Marion Zimmer Bradley loved it too; when she was a child she thought that they sang it in honor of her birthday, which was June 3. As childhood delusions go, I think that one is preferable to thinking that "Gladly the cross I'd bear" is "Gladly, the cross-eyed bear." I supposed that one could create a religion that worshiped a cross-eyed bear named Gladly. That might even make an interesting story. Come to think of it... (pause to scribble down idea for new story)

This year I was in Salt Lake City attending CONduit, so I went to the Episcopal Cathedral there. The Trinity is a very complex doctrine, so the sermons are always interesting. This one started with "One plus one plus one equals..." followed by several voices from the congregation slowly replying "One." I think it might be better to use multiplication instead of addition, because one times one times one equals one, both theologically and mathematically.

The sermon on Trinity almost invariably refers to the Athanasian creed. The Athanasian Creed starts out:
Whosoever will be saved,
before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.
Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled,
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
That sounds ominous, but at least it doesn't say you have to understand the Catholic Faith. It then gets to the details:
And the Catholic Faith is this:
That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity,
neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father,
another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,
is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible,
and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated,
but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
It's easy to see why this will never replace the Apostles or Nicene Creed in public worship. There's a lot more, but this is as far as most people get before joking, "The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible--the whole thing incomprehensible."

This is true enough to be funny, but it's using two different definitions for the word "incomprehensible." The last instance uses the current meaning of "impossible to understand" while the rest of it is in Early New English where the word means "limitless; not limited or capable of being limited." (I love Dictionary.com; it's great to have a place where you can find both sets of meanings.)

I wish you a great summer or winter, depending on where you are.