Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Search for the Historical Adam 7

We have been working through the recent book by C. John Collins entitled Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care. This book looks at the question of Adam and Eve from a relatively conservative perspective but with some good nuance and analysis. The questions he poses and the answers he gives provide a good touchstone for interacting with the key issues. Later this fall we will look at the question of Adam from an equally faithful, but less conservative, perspective in the context of a new book coming out by Peter Enns entitled The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins.

There are two prongs to the approach that Dr. Collins takes to the question of Adam – the first is, perhaps, best classified as hermeneutical (consequences of the authority of scripture), while the second, and more valuable, part of his discussion addresses the anthropological and theological questions raised by the references to Adam. Chapter 3 of Dr. Collins’s book looks at the biblical and extra-biblical texts concerning Adam. We’ve dealt with all but two of the texts concerning Adam in earlier posts of this series. The two texts remaining for us to consider are Romans 5:12-19 and Acts 17:26.

Romans 5:12-19 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned … This is a key text for many as we consider the question of Adam. Acts 17:26 is a reference that is not often brought into the discussion. This reference arises in the context of Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, … since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation. (Acts 17:24a, 25b-26)
In this chapter Dr. Collins does not discuss the theological implications of Paul’s reference to Adam and death in Romans 5. He focuses instead on Paul’s view of Adam. There seems little doubt that Paul’s discussion in Romans 5 is framed by the way he, and at least some of his contemporaries, read Genesis 2-3. Most commentators, James Dunn is the sole exception he cites (others considered include Cranfield, Fitzmyer, and Wright), conclude that Paul viewed Adam as an historical person, the progenitor of the human race, through whom the relationship between God and mankind changed. That is, Paul viewed Adam and Eve as a persons and took the fall recounted in Genesis 3 as a key historical event.

Overall I find Dr. Collins book well worth the time and effort for interaction. This section, though, is a bit unsatisfactory. Dr. Collins’s argument appears to hinge not on the significance of Adam to Paul’s main theological points, but Paul’s 1st century understanding of the nature of human origins based on Genesis. That Paul viewed Adam as a historical individual should carry, he appears to suggest, significant weight, perhaps definitive weight, in our view of Adam.

In what way should Paul’s view of origins influence our view?

How much of Paul’s view is determinative for our understanding?

Dr. Collins’s discussion of the other passage, Acts 17, is much more interesting – to my perspective anyway. Rather than opening the question of Paul’s belief regarding Adam Dr. Collins dwells on the significance of one universal source for all humanity. The unity of the human race is a key concept and the foundation for racial and ethnic justice. Paul is asserting such a unity and using the text of Genesis 2-3 to provide the foundation for his claim. God created one man from whom all descend – every nation of mankind. Dr. Collins quotes F. F. Bruce from two commentaries on this passage:
Against such claims of racial superiority Paul asserts the unity of all men. The unity of the human race as descended from Adam is fundamental in Paul’s theology (cf. Rom. v.12ff.). This primal unity, impaired by sin, is restored by redemption (Gal. iii.28; Col. iii,11). (F. F. Bruce The Acts of the Apostles)
And in the later commentary:
This removed all imagined justification for the belief that Greeks were superior to barbarians, as it removes all justification for comparable beliefs today. Neither in nature nor in grace, neither in the old creation nor in the new, is there any room for ideas of racial superiority. (F. F. Bruce The Book of Acts.)
This is a foundational idea in Paul’s understanding of both theology and anthropology. We are all one people. Dr. Collins expands on this:
The making of all kinds of people from one person is an historical statement, which grounds the universal invitation – an invitation that itself is established by an event (the resurrection), in the light of a sure-to-come future event (a day of judgment). p. 90
Paul’s views expressed in Colossians 3:11 (Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all) and Galatians 3:28 (There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus) find their foundation in his understanding of the inherent unity of all people grounded in Genesis 1 and 2. Ethnic, racial, and class barriers all fall beneath our inherent unity. (Gender barriers fall as well – but that is somewhat peripheral to the current discussion). Genesis 3 takes us one step further – not only are we all one people, but we are all in the same boat. We are all in need of reconciliation to God through the redeeming work of Christ.

The unity of humanity. I find arguments for the historicity of Adam and the fall that are centered on Paul’s view of origins unconvincing. Paul was a first century man and his understanding of science, geography, cosmology, origins, was limited by his location in time and space. On the other hand I find arguments based on Paul’s Christology and his understanding of the unity of humanity more persuasive. Whether Genesis 1-3 is historical, metaphorical, or some combination of both – it is true, it teaches the unity of humanity and this is an important component of Paul’s understanding of the central event in history, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a key force in his mission to the Gentiles. Paul didn’t have evolutionary theory and genomics to convince him of human unity – he had a story, a cultural history that made this a natural conclusion and a starting point for his understanding of his call to preach to the Gentiles.

What do you think? Does the unity of humanity play a role in our understanding of Genesis 1-3?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

If you have comments please visit The Search for the Historical Adam 7 at Jesus Creed.

R.E. Slater - Jars of Clay (poem)

"For you are God's artwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand to complete and behold." - abridged, Eph 2.10

Jars of Clay
by R.E. Slater

Is there a reconciliation that may be found

At the weathered hands of Father Time -

Where hearts are broken beyond remits

Groaning loving-care’s clarion chimes?

Ringing o' ringing in the halls of wear

Unheard a dulled ear’s deaf stirrings -

Unwearied ensnaring grasping fares

Soon ruined a dark reef’s moorings?

Then away, away, come away at once

To faith’s fraught shoals and lauded lands -

Where sycamore trees arise tall bonded communions

And butterscotch'd groves flow o’er grace’s rolling strands.

Bathed in rosetted fugues of cherry blossoms perfuming sweet airs

Thence to lie 'twined amid the hallowing silences of shrouded black boles -

In spellbound hush o'er lush verdant swards of pilloried souls risen all-glorious

Lifting as thrice bound sonatas upon forgiveness’ flutes of fruit’d harmonies.

Whence plucked death’s withering hands and unsparing scythe unreaped

Bursting unfettered lo discord’s mighty lairs of chaining darkness -

Rupturing from cold earth's torn despairs and chiming griefs

Forever moored glad Fellowship’s eternal fortresses.

Nay, if ever a reconciliation ere be found in thee

Pray fall Incarnate Love unsparingly -

Poured from yielded earthen jars of knelling clays

Birthing sweet ambrosial nectars remitting parched souls a’thirst.

R.E. Slater
Sept - Nov 2011

@copyright R.E. Slater Publications
all rights reserved


I have written and re-written this verse attempting to purge its sealed mysteries into sight for us poor earth-bound souls faithless and benighted in humanity’s withholding cloths of fleshly concerns and mortal pales. I wanted to fashion a poem that collided intense descriptions with lurid imagery, and against irregularly compressed metaphors, again, and again, and again, until we wearied of the words and could only read it numbed and lost within the verse’s sublimity.

I further wished to avoid reading this poem in tripping verse, or in everyday rhyming parlance, and have broken up the meter just enough to momentarily pause the eyes and arrest our attentions. There is, however, a slight cadence that can be found within its phrases when initiated by breathing stops and pauses. I also imposed an uncommon structure onto it that would mash together its sacred thoughts into a blinding composition of white light, whose prismatic rainbow is only seen when read more thoughtfully.

Lastly, I wished to convey life’s greater adventures found within the rich compositions of everyday joys and wonders, beheld in the arts, in sound and canvas, horticulture and nature, sacred communions and worship. How each abounds to us at the Divine’s hand as they can abound from us to one another’s hands when practicing the arts of service to one another. For is not the heart of creation like that of its Creator?

Hence, we may deliver life - against death’s imposing grip - when seeking to help and assist those near to us in common ways. Through the simplicities of listening, sharing, respecting, loving. We do this in the knowledge that we are chosen vessels brought into this life to enrich one-another’s lives - however beggarly they may first appear to our sight or circumstances. For it is not the vessel itself that brings life’s fullness to bear, but the ambrosial nectars that that vessel holds within which enriches friendships and fallow, wheel and fortune.

Curiously, this poem’s thematic elements blend in with its visual shape, and when later discovering this I made both one, into a visual poem about becoming jars of clay. For it is in the very act of service to others - and only then - that our true purpose may be found in acts of sharing with one another in a community of common-use pottery. Some dinged up and battered, others enriched and ornate. But no matter, it is the nectars within the vessel that gives all-and-one joy and usefulness. And yet, there are some pots that are cracked, and others that leak, that can give no service to anyone until bound-up and restored into service’s assembly. The metaphor extends even further when considering unused dusty bowls and unwashed pots unprepared for service to anyone until discovered and re-purposed by a fellowship’s divine.

For should we disdain the use of our talents and abilities, powers and resources, knowledge and connections, it is to give harm to our societies forever fraught with greed and ambition, pride and jealousy, unkindness and sin. But to become vessels that pour out grace and mercy, humility and kindness, courageousness and truth, is to present a society of men and women strengthened into living, organic fortresses immovable, beauteous and inviting.

So then, it is not how pretty the pot… nor how banged-up and unpainted the bowl or jar…. Value is not found in the thing itself. But in the vessel’s use and service. A simple thing to explain but one forever misunderstood in practice and practicalities. Be then mere “jars of clay” become vessels useful for service.

R.E. Slater
Nov 7, 2011

"But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand."

- Isaiah 64.8

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power
belongs to God and not to us."

- 2 Corinthians 4.7

'Unschooling' Gaining Popularity, Allows Children Alternative Learning Tools


August 29, 2011

School's never out for 14-year-old Zoe Bentley. Nor is it ever in.

The perky teen from Tucson, Ariz., explores what she likes, when she likes as deeply as she chooses every day of the year. As an "unschooler," Zoe is untethered from the demands of traditional, compulsory education.

That means, at the moment, she's checking out the redwoods of California with her family, tinkering with her website and looking forward to making her next video on her favorite subject, exogeology, the study of geology on other planets.

"I love seeing the history of an area," Zoe said. "Maybe a volcano erupted and grew taller over time, or wind eroded rock into sand dunes, or a meteor hit the ground and made a crater. Finding out how these and other formations formed is something I just really like."

Zoe's cheer: "Exogeology rocks!"

Unschooling has been around for several decades, but advocates say there has been an uptick as more families turn to home-schooling overall.

Reliable data is hard to come by, but estimates of children and teens home-schooled in the U.S. range from 1.5 million to 2 million. Of those, as many as one-third could be considered unschoolers like Zoe, meaning their parents are "facilitators," available with materials and other resources, rather than topdown "teachers."

There's no fixed curriculum, course schedule or attempt to mimic traditional classrooms. Unless, of course, their children ask for those things.

Zoe, for instance, wanted to know more about geology once she turned 12, so she signed up for a class at Pima Community College. "I had to take a placement test, which was the first test I'd ever taken," she said. "It was surprisingly easy."

She has since taken several other college classes, including astrobiology, algebra and chemistry. Maybe, Zoe said, "I'll earn a degree, but the important thing to me is to learn what I need to and want to know. Everything else is a bonus."

John Holt, considered the father of "unschooling," would have been proud. The fifth-grade teacher died in 1985, leaving behind books and other reflections that include his 1964 work "How Children Fail."

The book and others Holt later wrote propelled him into the spotlight as he argued that mainstream schools stymie the learning process by fostering fear and forcing children to study things they have no interest in.

Colorado unschool mom Carol Brown couldn't agree more.

"Being bored makes school miserable for a lot of kids, plus there is the element of compulsion, which completely changes any activity," the filmmaker said.

Brown and her husband unschooled their oldest daughter until she left for college and their youngest until her junior year in high school, when she chose to attend Telluride Mountain School, a small, progressive school near home.

"Unschooling parents are doing what good parents do anyway when they're on summer vacation," Brown said. "We just had more time to do it."

Like other unschoolers, Brown's girls had books and films, art supplies and building materials growing up. They visited beaches, museums and forests. "There's no one right way for every child to learn or grow up," Brown said. "Freedom is essential for that reason."

For Clark Aldrich's 16-year-old son in Connecticut, that meant raising hens for his own business selling eggs. "It's a good way to learn about animals, commerce and economics as well as inventory," Aldrich said.

Pat Farenga of Medford, Mass., unschooled his three daughters with his wife but said: "I don't see unschooling or homeschooling as the answer for everybody. It's the answer for those who choose it."

Farenga, who worked with Holt, said Holt coined the term "unschooling" in 1977 but was never terribly fond of it. It stuck for lack of a better description. He considers unschooling a subset of home-schooling, while some unschoolers see themselves more akin to democratic free schools, a century-old movement based on a philosophy of self-directed learning and equality in decision-making.

As an educator, Holt's journey began with his career in posh private schools, then more progressive ones.

"He called progressive schools soft jails and public schools hard jails," Farenga said. "He described learning that takes place outside of school, but doesn't have to take place at home and doesn't have to look like school learning."

Rare, unschoolers said, are children who never find reasons to pick up the basics – and beyond. That could mean reading later than many parents might be comfortable with, or ignoring math until they see a reason on their own to use it.

Unschoolers operate under state laws governing home-schooling, which is legal in all 50 states. Such regulations vary tremendously by state, with some requiring standardized tests or adherence to a set curriculum and others nothing more than a letter from parents describing what their kids are up to. Unschoolers said they have no trouble meeting their states' requirements.

In Alaska, for example, home-schooling parents don't have to notify officials, file any forms or have their children tested.

In Sugar Land, Texas, Elon Bomani's 11-year-old son has never been to school and doesn't know how to write cursive. She doesn't care. When he was younger and had no interest in learning how to read, she found a video on the subject and put it on for him to discover – or ignore as he wished. He's a reader today. Her younger son, who's 6, learned to read when he discovered Garfield comic books.

"If children find something that they love, they'll read," Bomani said.

Ken Danford, a former middle school history teacher, has two kids who love their schools, but he doesn't think classroom learning works for all. That's why he co-founded and runs North Star, a program that offers an array of self-directed activities and welcomes teen unschoolers in Hadley, Mass.

Danford considers himself a Holt groupie, based largely on his experience as a dad and an eighth-grade teacher for five years.

"Coming to my class juiced to learn U.S. history was not that common," he said. "Kids wanted to know, was it going to be on the test, can we go outside, can we go to the bathroom?"

For parents interested in unschooling who don't want to quit their outside-the-home jobs, "we try to make it available, realistic, manageable for any regular kid," Danford said.

Unschoolers have their own publications, message boards and websites, like www.Theunschoolersemporium.com. The site's owner, mom Sara McGrath near Seattle, blogs regularly about unschooling.

McGrath, who has three daughters, notes the approach is more than hands-on, child-directed, experience-based learning.

"It doesn't describe a specific alternative to schooling. It just gets schooling out of the way so various unique dynamic personal creative ways of growing up, living, participating and contributing to communities can develop," she writes.

To McGrath, unschooling means looking at life "as a creative adventure," a cooperative lifestyle involving the entire family.

Kellie Rolstad is an associate professor of education and applied linguistics at Arizona State University in Tempe. She teaches a graduate seminar on unschooling and free schools each spring. She also unschools her three children, ages 11, 13 and 14.

"School was really wasting our time," she said. "The kids had so many things they wanted to do and places they wanted to go and things they wanted to talk about, and all we could do was mindless homework. It was very frustrating."

How does she know if her kids are learning anything at all? "You just do," she said, as parents know how things are going when their kids are babies or toddlers.

Rolstad's oldest, Xander MacSwan, completed fifth grade in public school before moving on to unschooling.

"I felt like school kind of pushed things on you," he said. "In school, learning was just a boring event where you did a lot of math questions. Now I'm into music and science and all kinds of things."

Xander is building computers with his friends. He and some buddies spent a couple of months with a blacksmith to learn how to forge their own swords. He took a class on the history of rock `n' roll at a college and plays guitar, piano, bass, violin and ukulele. He had to give up the saxophone when he got his braces.

Had he stayed in school, he said, his goal of pursuing music as a career wouldn't feel quite so real: "With unschooling you can do things how you want to."

Additional Resources

External Links - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling

The Unschoolers Emporium - www.Theunschoolersemporium.com