Most Christians are aware of the basic theology about the first two persons of the Trinity: the Father and the Son. Both the Father and the Son are widely represented in scripture and alluded to in tradition and liturgy. Although we know, according to strict theology, that the Father is not an embodied person, let alone an enfleshed male, we have grown comfortable with thinking of the first person of the Trinity in human terms, often as an older man––maybe a kindly father figure, maybe a stern and just judge. And we have created thousands of artistic representations of Jesus, the Son of God, seeking to understand the second person of the Trinity via a broad variety of artistic and cultural traditions.
But the Holy Spirit remains elusive and difficult to pin down. Catholics and other Christians are not always entirely certain who the Spirit is, or the Spirit’s role in the life of faith. And unlike the Father and the Son, the third person of the Trinity is frequently represented, both in scripture and in other sacred texts and art, not as a human figure, but as a bird.
On this episode of the podcast, guest Grace Ji-Sun Kim talks to hosts Emily Sanna and Rebecca Bratten Weiss about why the Holy Spirit appears as a dove and what this means for the church and for our life of faith. Kim is professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion and the author and editor of 21 books, most recently Invisible (Fortress Press) and Reimagining Spirit (Wipf and Stock). She is the host of the Madang podcast which is sponsored by the Christian Century. She has written for U.S. Catholic as well as the Huffington Post, The Nation, Sojourners, and TIME.
You can learn more about this topic and read some of Kim’s writing in these links.
- “Let the Holy Spirit guide how we talk about race,” by Grace Ji-Sun Kim
- “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our ‘Jeong,’” by Grace Ji-Sun Kim
- “For a more inclusive vision of the church, look to Pentecost,” by Grace Ji-Sun Kim
- “Grace Ji-Sun Kim: It’s time to recover the Spirit.” A Faith and Leadership interview
- “What are the symbols of the Holy Spirit?” by Father Michael A. Van Sloun
Glad You Asked is sponsored by the Claretian Missionaries.