Entanglements: Feast of the Transfiguration and Hiroshima Day

The Feast of the Transfiguration, which falls on this day, reminds us that even in the oddest of moments, in the toughest of times, the veil may be drawn aside and we may be permitted a glimpse of something glorious.

Scott Cairns opines:

What might we make of this apparent “change” in the Christ we speak of as being one of the Holy Trinity? What does it mean to say that God appears to change?

By and large, the Orthodox Church — in keeping with the rabbinic tradition of its Lord — is relatively comfortable with theological speculation, and somewhat less comfortable with — acutely less tolerant of — scholastic, theological nit-picking and definitive theological certainties. The Eastern Church even has a word for the more provisional, interpretive activity; it is theologoumena (Te??????µe?a), which is to say, simply, “to speak of God.”

To speak of God is, of course, not a thing one should do — ever — with anything like certainty. It is always a practice to be approached modestly, humbly, and fully aware of the inadequacy of language to “set terms” to the One Who Exceeds All Terms. Our “God talk” must be understood always to be an interpretation, and no interpretation should occasion idolatry — which is what happens when we allow our terms to eclipse the Mystery we hope to serve.

Transfiguration of an entirely different order was on display 65 years ago today when atomic hell was unleashed at Hiroshima and at Nagasaki. Survivors are known as Hibakusha, and they’re working to tell their story and maintain visibility as their numbers dwindle with age.

The Rev. Jennifer Phillips, rector of St. Augustine’s Church at the University of Rhode Island, offers this prayer.

Incendiary God:

In the scalding light of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

we have seen our power to destroy;

now show us ourselves in the fullness

of your radiant image and will,

in the shining face of your child, Jesus,

transfigured on the holy mountain,

through whom we pray.


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Category : The Lead

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  1. Father Matt Tucker

    The problem here is that Christ was not “changed” but merely revealed. Poor use of language leads to poor theology and worse conclusions.

  2. Rod Gillis

    Transfiguration, in the language of religious studies, a disclosure sign, entangled on the calendar with mass destruction at Hiroshima. Some may find this link to a documentary on withholding the truth in the last days of WWII prophetically engaging.


  3. Rod Gillis

    Re, the documentary link, click the trailer for episode 5, hiding the horror.

  4. www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560747865

    Father Matt, you may want to look at all of Mr. Cairns’ article. We don’t as a rule tend to copy and paste other people’s work, but try to limit it to what we feel is the heart of it. So sometimes you have to follow a link to learn more. If the beginning of the quote seems to confuse the issue, I do apologize.

    Torey Lightcap

  5. Father Matt Tucker

    My apologies for jumping on it prematurely.

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