They are the rage of students and the bane of teachers (and aunties) alike. Popularity or effectiveness aside, how can fidget spinners demonstrate a theology of the Trinity?
Let’s take a singular fidget spinner. That choice in and of itself is a critical point in our metaphor. If monotheism is a theology Christianity is seeking to protect, we need to begin with one fidget spinner and not two or twenty or forty-two. This singular fidget spinner is all one unto itself. You could say all of its “self” possesses homoousios — the same essence throughout its entirety. We cannot break off a piece of this one fidget spinner and find a different essence in the broken piece, nor can the remaining larger piece suddenly change essences for having been broken. Its essence remains the same.
Each lobe contains its own ball bearing that spins on an axis using minimal force to maintain its movement. Each lobe is connected to the centre that maintains the balance, structure, and core of the spinner. Unlike a hierarchical view of the Trinity which traditionally placed God-the-Father at the head, fidget spinners reflect a Trinity more akin to Maximos the Confessor’s vision: each Person of the Trinity is dynamic, and moves in a kind of dance together stemming from the power and pressure of the core. It is a far more relational Trinity represented here.
One caution I would verbalize is: even though each Trinitarian lobe is ‘dancing’, each remains static and dancing alone. All three move together for the spinner to spin, but each lobe maintains a fixed distance that is immutable.
As with most Trinitarian metaphors, the fidget spinner eventually dissolves into a form of functional modalism. However, unlike other metaphors, its dissolution occurs only when we attach modes to the lobes. If we name each lobe — each of which are made of the same essence — as distinct Persons without roles, we might be able to avoid modalism altogether.
However, since each Person of the Trinity appears in Scripture to complete different functions, we run the risk of erasing Personhood altogether moving to far the other way. If that happens, we end up with the core of a fidget spinner and no lobes. The entire purpose is gone.
I enjoy the dynamic, relational quality that fidget spinners present the Trinity. In this simple accessible object, children might begin to understand what even adults still argue about: the nature of the Trinity. My drawback is the the relationship is still fixed and static in certain ways that prevent the dynamic nature of the Trinity to act incarnationally or creatively.