Spirit, Son, and Father: Raising our Consciousness
By William Bezanson
Some years ago I heard a sermon in church by a visiting theology student in which he prefaced his talk with the words, “I preach to you today in the name of God...” (Ah! The comforting words of a standard sermon preface!) “... Spirit, Son, and Father.” (Wow! Backwards! Amazing!)
What a profound impact that reversal made on me! Of course, the traditional, expected way of naming the (Christian) three Persons of the Godhead is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” But to name them in reverse order! It seemed like ... blasphemy, heresy, ignorance, insulting, provocative, ... and yet ... refreshing, evocative, stimulating, challenging, thought-provoking. After I adjusted to the initial surprise, I reflected on this clever way of shaking me out of my lethargy and spiritual laziness.
Even such a simple device as naming God’s Persons in reverse order had an unexpected power to teach me a great deal. It enabled me to relate to the personhood of God. It reminded me of the equalness of the three aspects of God. It forced me to think, rather than to repeat by rote. It prompted me to think of raising my consciousness to a higher level. It urged me to examine many other aspects of my beliefs from a new perspective.
But perhaps most importantly, it prompted me to consider naming ordinary people in reverse order. “As above, so below,” as the prime Hermetic maxim once again found application in my life.
So now I occasionally name couples—family members, neighbours, friends—in reverse order whenever I want to shake myself up, or to shake up someone else, from the lethargy of always giving the first person primacy. Thus, if Joe and Mary are always named in that order, I might drop into a conversation a statement such as, “The birthday party will be at Mary and Joe’s house,” or “Let’s send an anniversary card to Mary and Joe,” or “Mary and Joe called last evening.”
Similarly, I occasionally name children first and their parents next. Or employees first and managers second.
The habit of naming a couple in a specific order is often formed because the first person is an original family member and the second person married into the family; or the first is an old friend and the second a recent arrival; or the first is a man and the second is a woman. So the occasional reversal of the orthodox naming reminds me, and others, that the people are equal in the relationship, and that the “new” person deserves as much respect as the “old” one. Similarly for other relationships and groups.
Reversing names constantly would make me a pain socially. I hope that I’m not a pain, but a pain killer, or better yet, a preventer of pain in the first place. But sometimes, to prevent long term pain, one must inject a small amount of short term pain, in a manner similar to that of a medical vaccination that injects a small bit of virus in order to build up the body’s resistance to a serious disease.
My wife does not like my habit of reversing the customary order of family or friends’ names. She finds it pedantic or showy. But I disagree with her, especially if I do this practice in moderation. I admit that I do this naming reversal sometimes to be controversial. But I hope that this practice is not to draw attention to myself, but to stir up my listeners’ minds a bit. After all, I consider myself a change agent, and change I must create—even more in myself than in the world.
We all should be change agents. We are priveleged to be born into good circumstances, to have good minds, to be well educated, to have access to good information and services, and so on. One way to acknowledge our good fortune is to give back more than we get, to leave each campsite cleaner than we found it.
Ultimately, naming God and people in reverse order moves us beyond a lazy habit into a realm of raised consciousness, in which we take responsibility for how we address people as equal in their partnerships. If doing so shakes people up, then that’s good. After all, that’s what we are all about in the OMTimes community: raising consciousness for ourselves and others.
Naming in reverse order now and then is a simple method of contributing to our little worlds. It works for me. How about for you?
William Bezanson is a writer living with his wife in Ottawa, Canada. He writes for OMTimes regularly. He has published six books on systems design, spirituality, and world stewardship, most recently I Believe: A Rosicrucian Looks at Christianity and Spirituality. His website is http://www3.sympatico.ca/bezanson1.