I’m a bigger fan of Richard Rohr than I am of Drake, but when you beat Beyoncé in record sales I pay attention. Drake did that this weekend while I was talking about sex at the Sunday Meeting, and the kids in my cell that meets in a Pizza Shop in Woodlynne on Friday afternoons are sooo in love with Drake and his new album, “Views from the Six” (though it seems to be getting called just “Views”) that I just had to talk about it..
The first emerging single on Drake’s album is “One Dance” which scored him his first Hot 100 No. 1 as the lead artist. It caught my attention when I was sampling the album, not just because it’s the one you’ve heard on the radio, but because Drake’s says “I pray” 3 times in the first verse and “higher power” in the hook. And that’s where Richard Rohr comes in.
Two of the podcasts I like (The Liturgists and Robcast) interviewed Richard Rohr this month. He was plugging his forthcoming book on the Trinity called “The Divine Dance: The Trinity and the Transformation of the Self.” The Trinity is the notion that early Christian Theologians worked out to describe how God, The Higher Power IMO, can be revealed to us in three persons in the Bible. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in a unity of essence we call the Trinity. Working in the Greek language they came up with the word perichoresis to describe how the different persons of the Trinity dance (chore- think choreography) around (peri- think perimeter). The Divine Dance is a description of the nature of God. Three in one, non-dualistic, communal at the core, self-giving at the core, mutually submitting at the core. God’s existence, in essence, is coexistence and everything that God does in the Bible (and beyond) from Creation to Jesus’ death on the cross, to the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (which we celebrate this Sunday!) comes from that Self that is one in three and three in one. It’s a great mystery that somehow seems to make a lot of sense to me.
Rohr thinks we need to reclaim the theological vitality of the Trinity if we are going to help people be transformed or be transformed ourselves. The quickest way to arrest your spiritual development is to succumb to a cycle of judgment. “I’m not doing a good enough job.” “I’m not spiritual enough.” “I don’t know enough.” “I’m too messed up.” “God is disappointed in me.” These are sure-fire mantras for self defeat on your spiritual journey but they are also natural outcomes of a judgmental King of the universe who decides if we’re in or out of heaven as his primary function. Reinvigorating our Trinitarian theology, says Rohr (and I agree) would help us avoid lopsided views of God’s nature that seem to be magnetized specifically to attract judgment of all kinds.
So what does the dance that God is doing have to do with Drake and sex? Well, Drake has a lot to do with sex. I was disturbed by allusion after allusion to alcohol-fueled sexual encounters, hurt feelings and painfully-ended relationships. Drake is codifying a broken way of sexual connection that even he isn’t very happy with. I suppose most pop artists are doing this (and yes, Drake is pop), but now I’m paying a little bit more attention because I’m rolling with a crew of teenagers who love this guy.
“One Dance” fits Drake’s pattern but complicates it by adding religious language into the cocktail. His higher power is either a blasphemous prayer or the Hennessy-induced buzz he is feeling. How confusing and influential is this when you’re 14? I’m trying to help some teenagers navigate some tumultuous years with Jesus, and Drake is becoming a multimillionaire letting the tumult of teenage confusion ride all the way to age 29. Does not growing up and making a commitment to your sexual partner pay? If you’re Drake it does. I hope his stuff is not as autobiographical as it seems. Nonetheless, I’ll take his inadvertently theologically correct mash-up. “Higher powers taking a hold on me.” We need to dance.
Jesus prayed for us in John 17, not long before he was arrested, “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” We get to participate in the oneness that is threeness that is in God, and it’s a dance! This view of God allows us to even dance with Drake without fear of being smote, to talk about sex and the realities of most people’s behavior without the need to tell everyone they’re wrong. We can put down the billy club that Jesus didn’t give us because he never had one and stop regulating the world’s morality. If you want to talk about healthy sexual relationships that reflect God’s desires for you, come talk to me or talk to your cell leader! We won’t start with “You’re bad!” We’ll start with where you are at. There is a way forward and it’s toward God. Will you dance?