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

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Alleviating the Ache of Loneliness

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by Mark Gregory Karris
June 11, 2016

There is an enormous amount of suffering in the world. Not only do I experience my own suffering, but as a therapist I continually go scuba diving into the suffering of others. As I gently wade through the currents of my patient’s stories of trauma, I continually pick up on a theme that causes my heart to break. Perhaps I pick up on it easily because it is something I have felt and is an experience know all too well – the sting of loneliness. Loneliness is that crushing feeling that we are disconnected from others and we are existentially alone in our emotional/spiritual/physical pain.

Loneliness is probably best thought of on a spectrum of intensity and frequency. There are those who experience chronic loneliness and those who experience state and transitory loneliness. In other words, there are some who have felt a nagging sense of loneliness their whole lives. They could be in a room filled with people and still feel lonely. There are others who feel lonely for moments at a time and then come back to baseline and feel a sense of connectedness with others. There are also those who are in between. Perhaps they felt connected at one time, yet due to painful transitions and life circumstances they find themselves lonely for a season.

Loneliness is fearless and is not prejudice. It does not care about roles, status or labels. I have counseled CEOs, pastors of megachurches, military officers, esteemed therapists, talented musicians, store clerks, housewives. The subjective and often times debilitating experience of loneliness effects people from every walk of life.

Loneliness is kryptonite for human beings and has holistically devastating consequences. Mother Theresa wrote, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” John Cacioppo, one of the leading researchers in the world on loneliness, says that around 60 million people in the U.S. are affected by loneliness. His research concludes that loneliness increases suicide, lowers a person’s immune system so they get sick more easily, decreases the quality of sleep, and is associated with increased negative views about themselves and the people around them.

If you struggle with loneliness, let me offer a few thoughts.

Time to Get a Wit(h)ness

For those I journey alongside in the therapy room, there is a common thread surrounding their troublesome stories and deep sense of abiding loneliness. For example, in regards to a husband’s sexual abuse growing up, I ask him, “Have you ever told your wife about this?” He replies, (with his head slumped down in shame), “No, I never have.” I ask a pastor, “Have you ever told your leadership about your struggle with addiction?” He replies “No, I never have.” I ask a sailor, “Have you ever told one of your fellow sailors about your desire for connection?” He replies, “No way, they will think I am weak.” I ask a wife, “Have you told anyone about your anxiety and panic attacks?” She replies, “No, I haven’t.” It becomes clear that all of the people above who reported both their struggles and their loneliness were without a wit(h)ness.

We are wired to connect. We are wired to belong. We are wired to be known. From the cradle to the grave, from birth to earth, and from the womb to the tomb to the place beyond the moon, we are meant to be in intimate relationships with others. To the degree that we have shame-filled secrets and are without intimacy (sic, "in-too-me-see") is the degree that we might be lonely and soul-sick.

If you are plagued by loneliness, I encourage you to allow at least one person into your haunted house. Let someone you trust into your painful and embodied stories of abuse, trauma, or struggles with everyday life. Take a risk and share your battles with addiction, parenting, relationships, singleness, God, or whatever keeps you up at night and down during the day. You might have learned long ago that people are scary, that they could hurt and reject you. I get it. But there lies the paradox. It could very well be that people from the past have been part of the root cause of your loneliness, however, the consistent compassionate wit(h)ness of people can become a catalyst for tremendous healing and growth.

For those who value spirituality, one of the most powerful wit(h)nesses can be with God. The psalmist writes in Psalm 42:1-2,

“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
so my soul pants for Thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.”

Sometimes there are aches and thirsts, which only God can soothe and quench. Dare to take a risk. In the silence, in the darkness, cry out to God, thrusting your aching heart onto the altar of grace and see what unfolds.

Embrace Your Loneliness

Asking you to to embrace loneliness might seem like an odd suggestion. Let me share with you what I mean. I find that most of us do not want to enter into our loneliness. As a matter of fact, we do everything we can to avoid our loneliness. Some shop till they drop, some work overtime, some watch porn, some use religion, some smoke pot, and some go on websites attacking and criticizing other’s views, all to avoid their loneliness. The activities one can engage in to avoid their inner ache of loneliness are endless.

Although the natural impulse is to run away from the pain of loneliness, the beautifully dangerous and paradoxical task is to enter into it more fully. While connecting deeply with others in the midst of your loneliness can be transformative, engaging in solitude and spelunking into the dark cavern of loneliness can become an alternative site of apocalyptic salvation. Sitting in silence, allowing yourself to feel every nuance of loneliness throughout your body, and allowing yourself to come into contact with the accompanying thoughts that have been buried underneath the pain, enables you to transform the experience. Although there are no guarantees, what began as a dark and scary endeavor can end in hope and become full of liberative insights.


Loneliness is not something we can ever get rid of or alleviate entirely, it is only something that we must tend and befriend when it appears. When loneliness arises we can either bring it forth to the dark light of solitude or to the warm embrace of loving others. When we do, healing and transformation become possible.


Cacioppo, John T., and William Patrick. Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social
Connection. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2008.

A Faith Regained: The Agony of Unbelief, Christian Atheism, and the Music that Stills Rings in the Soul of Despair

"When I think about [my] atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like
people who have no ear for music... who have never been in love. It is not that (as
they believe) they have rumbled the tremendous fraud of religion - prophets do that
in every generation. Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on
something [only gained by faith]..." - A.N. Wilson

A Faith Regained: The Agony of Unbelief, Christian Atheism,
and Music that Stills Rings in the Soul of Despair

by R.E. Slater

For a believer God will sometimes be doubted. Perhaps strongly so. Or, perhaps the religious system one was raised within when specious arguments no longer enamour the soul but grind it to dust. One of the first things for me in my late twenties was realizing how critical my Baptist heritage had become of not only the "world" we lived in but of fellow Christians "different from us" in their doctrines and creeds, church styles, and behaviors. It took my usually happy spirit and made me cynical and I didn't like its affects upon my missional witness or Christian attitudes.

Another area that slowly came to stand out was regarding the Bible versus the "science of evolution." The entirety of my early Christian training in high school and college came from a creational understanding of Genesis. I had dutifully gone to the Henry M. Morris Creationist's conferences, read and studied the Institute for Creation Research books, and listened for years and years to Christian preaching against evolution. Finally, after much persuasion I had become convinced that there was still doubt in my heart concerning the whole affair and it wasn't until my late-40s when my young family and I visited Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum in the Badlands that I came to understand that my doubt needed educating and nurturing. Hence the many, many articles on this website here correcting my Christian misunderstanding of evolution beginning with the evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin himself who was also a Christian in search of God's truth in the rocks and anatomies of the earth. A naturalist who struggled to credibly interpret God's special creation by a remarkable (I would say, miraculous) process he came to name evolution. A science searching for neutrality but for myself as a Christian never a science without witness to God's miraculous creation of the cosmos we live in.

As you can tell I came from a very strong, conservative fundamental and later, evangelical (which I considered "heretical" at the time! haha) tradition. It took many decades of bible study, prayer, and finally a "fall from heaven" as it were, for my Christianized spirit to become open to the possibilities of the broader truths of God's revelation through the Bible, and His creation for me to understand that my last calling in life may be that of a prophet to my own countrymen. For, as we all know, a prophet comes to challenge the dark soul of not only its own faith, but the faith of others as well, when led astray of the veracites of God and the Bible. Who advocates as much for an "unbelief" and repentance to one's religious system in order to gain back "the God of belief" in truer perspective and form.

And this I have done to the dismay of my family and friends who would challenged my doubt and double-down in their own absurdities of the Christian faith. And yet, I have remained strong and compassionate in these visceral matters of deconstructing the God of my faith - even my very own soul by the power of the Holy Spirit - in order to finding a broader reconstruction of God and His truths which were meant to be told beyond the modernistic "devolution" of my own past Christian faith. It became a path as full of darkness and wind as any of the Old Testament prophets experienced as they rang the clarion bells for rebellion against the "people's faith" and the "temple's teaching" as the Day of the Lord grew in proportion to the sin growing in the lands of Israel and Judah. Which is no different from any age of the church since Jesus' resurrection as God's people have struggled to rightly interpret God's truths without losing sight of His love and missional outreach to the world of mankind.

And so, let's talk about the world of unbelief for a moment. A world where many a Christian soul has entered most willingly when become disillusioned with their own Christian faith. An a/theistic world for many which has become a place of sanctuary and repose against the roaring in their ears of the evil and absurdities they see being dispelled throughout the auspicies of the holy church. For myself, I can't say I have ever reached this point of total disbelief in God even when held in the deepest pits of despair and anguish. But it has also been in that place of darkness and agitation that I have come to strongly appreciate why people reject all testimonies of the church and its teachings to go and live in a foreign land of unbelief, agony, and despair. My sympathies go with you dear friends.

But it is my call to those who read this blog today that unbelief is a place where God can still be found, and a life rebuilt, in happiness and peace, without leaving the foundations of one's youth. That God may be found even in the hells we live through or the torments which wear out our spirit of faith and hope. A God whose love is strong and compassionate and full of grace especially to those who would love Him too well, too dearly, too highly. That God is no further away from us in our unbelief than He was in our belief... and perhaps more near to those of His children in agony over the rags of their former Christian belief and the harm they have seen within its need for repair from its addictions and blindness to truth and love.

Yeah, to those Christian atheists who are my brothers and sisters I call you back to faith. Back to the hard years of rebuilding, reconstruction, renewal, and reclamation leading to redemption's resurrection. And back to considering how the Christian faith is special in all its vernaculars. To reclaim it by broadening its vision of Christ's gospel beyond the dogmas and creeds of the church where it especially needs to be broadened and re-envisioned. At the last, it is left to the prophets of God's children amongst us to reclaim the Christian faith as it was meant to be lived. Not by strong argument and criticism but by its doubts, pains and sufferings, and disappointments as a fellowship in love with those both inside and outside its holy see (temple). This then is the task of the new Christian church. A task to rebuild from the ruins of a faith made ruinous by the dogs and heathen within its holy faith. Let us do this miraculous task together as special creations of the Lord.


R.E. Slater
June 12, 2016
edited June 13, 2016

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A N Wilson: Why I believe again

by A.N. Wilson
April 2, 2009

A N Wilson writes on how his conversion to atheism may have been similar to a
"road to Damascus" experience but his return to faith has been slow and doubting.

y nature a doubting Thomas, I should have distrusted the symptoms when I underwent a "conversion experience" 20 years ago. Something was happening which was out of character - the inner glow of complete certainty, the heady sense of being at one with the great tide of fellow non-believers. For my conversion experience was to atheism. There were several moments of epiphany, actually, but one of the most dramatic occurred in the pulpit of a church.

At St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London, there are two pulpits, and for some decades they have been used for lunchtime dialogues. I had just published a biography of C S Lewis, and the rector of St Mary-le-Bow, Victor Stock, asked me to participate in one such exchange of views.

Memory edits, and perhaps distorts, the highlights of the discussion. Memory says that while Father Stock was asking me about Lewis, I began to "testify", denouncing Lewis's muscular defence of religious belief. Much more to my taste, I said, had been the approach of the late Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, whose biography I had just read.

A young priest had been to see him in great distress, saying that he had lost his faith in God. Ramsey's reply was a long silence followed by a repetition of the mantra "It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter". He told the priest to continue to worship Jesus in the Sacraments and that faith would return. "But!" exclaimed Father Stock. "That priest was me!"

Like many things said by this amusing man, it brought the house down. But something had taken a grip of me, and I was thinking (did I say it out loud?): "It bloody well does matter. Just struggling on like Lord Tennyson ('and faintly trust the larger hope') is no good at all . . ."

I can remember almost yelling that reading C S Lewis's Mere Christianity made me a non-believer - not just in Lewis's version of Christianity, but in Christianity itself. On that occasion, I realised that after a lifetime of churchgoing, the whole house of cards had collapsed for me - the sense of God's presence in life, and the notion that there was any kind of God, let alone a merciful God, in this brutal, nasty world. As for Jesus having been the founder of Christianity, this idea seemed perfectly preposterous. In so far as we can discern anything about Jesus from the existing documents, he believed that the world was about to end, as did all the first Christians. So, how could he possibly have intended to start a new religion for Gentiles, let alone established a Church or instituted the Sacraments? It was a nonsense, together with the idea of a personal God, or a loving God in a suffering universe. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.

It was such a relief to discard it all that, for months, I walked on air. At about this time, the Independent on Sunday sent me to interview Dr Billy Graham, who was conducting a mission in Syracuse, New York State, prior to making one of his journeys to England. The pattern of these meetings was always the same. The old matinee idol spoke. The gospel choir sang some suitably affecting ditty, and then the converted made their way down the aisles to commit themselves to the new faith. Part of the glow was, surely, the knowledge that they were now part of a great fellowship of believers.

As a hesitant, doubting, religious man I'd never known how they felt. But, as a born-again atheist, I now knew exactly what satisfactions were on offer. For the first time in my 38 years I was at one with my own generation. I had become like one of the Billy Grahamites, only in reverse. If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb. Hitchens was excited to greet a new convert to his non-creed and put me through a catechism before uncorking some stupendous claret. "So - absolutely no God?" "Nope," I was able to say with Moonie-zeal. "No future life, nothing 'out there'?" "No," I obediently replied. At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world - that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that "this is all there is" (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of much (no, come on, let yourself go), most (why stint yourself - go for it, man), all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

My doubting temperament, however, made me a very unconvincing atheist. And unconvinced. My hilarious Camden Town neighbour Colin Haycraft, the boss of Duckworth and husband of Alice Thomas Ellis, used to say, "I do wish Freddie [Ayer] wouldn't go round calling himself an atheist. It implies he takes religion seriously."

This creed that religion can be despatched in a few brisk arguments (outlined in David Hume's masterly Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) and then laughed off kept me going for some years. When I found myself wavering, I would return to Hume in order to pull myself together, rather as a Catholic having doubts might return to the shrine of a particular saint to sustain them while the springs of faith ran dry.

But religion, once the glow of conversion had worn off, was not a matter of argument alone. It involves the whole person. Therefore I was drawn, over and over again, to the disconcerting recognition that so very many of the people I had most admired and loved, either in life or in books, had been believers. Reading Louis Fischer's Life of Mahatma Gandhi, and following it up with Gandhi's own autobiography, The Story of My Experiments With Truth, I found it impossible not to realise that all life, all being, derives from God, as Gandhi gave his life to demonstrate. Of course, there are arguments that might make you doubt the love of God. But a life like Gandhi's, which was focused on God so deeply, reminded me of all the human qualities that have to be denied if you embrace the bleak, muddled creed of a materialist atheist. It is a bit like trying to assert that music is an aberration, and that although Bach and Beethoven are very impressive, one is better off without a musical sense. Attractive and amusing as David Hume was, did he confront the complexities of human existence as deeply as his contemporary Samuel Johnson, and did I really find him as interesting?

Watching a whole cluster of friends, and my own mother, die over quite a short space of time convinced me that purely materialist "explanations" for our mysterious human existence simply won't do - on an intellectual level. The phenomenon of language alone should give us pause. A materialist Darwinian was having dinner with me a few years ago and we laughingly alluded to how, as years go by, one forgets names. Eager, as committed Darwinians often are, to testify on any occasion, my friend asserted: "It is because when we were simply anthropoid apes, there was no need to distinguish between one another by giving names."

This credal confession struck me as just as superstitious as believing in the historicity of Noah's Ark. More so, really.

Do materialists really think that language just "evolved", like finches' beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where's the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of a single sentence, let alone the whole grammatical mystery which has engaged Chomsky and others in our lifetime and linguists for time out of mind? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena - of which love and music are the two strongest - which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits.

For a few years, I resisted the admission that my atheist-conversion experience had been a bit of middle-aged madness. I do not find it easy to articulate thoughts about religion. I remain the sort of person who turns off Thought for the Day when it comes on the radio. I am shy to admit that I have followed the advice given all those years ago by a wise archbishop to a bewildered young man: that moments of unbelief "don't matter", that if you return to a practice of the faith, faith will return.

When I think about atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like people who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love. It is not that (as they believe) they have rumbled the tremendous fraud of religion - prophets do that in every generation. Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on something that is not difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is too obvious to understand; obvious, as lovers feel it was obvious that they should have come together, or obvious as the final resolution of a fugue.

I haven't mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler's neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer's book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer's serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God "a category mistake". Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings. Turn to the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - "Read the first chapter of Genesis without prejudice and you will be convinced at once . . . 'The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'." And then Coleridge adds: "'And man became a living soul.' Materialism will never explain those last words."