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
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
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)
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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Jay McDaniel - 20 Key Ideas in Process Thought



Twenty Key Ideas in Process Thought

Scroll down for Chinese Version

by Jay McDaniel

Process thinking is an attitude toward life emphasizing respect and care for the community of life.

It is concerned with the well-being of individuals and also with the common good of the world, understood as a community of communities of communities.

It sees the world as a process of becoming and the universe as a vast network of inter-becomings. It sees each living being on our planet as worthy of respect and care.

People influenced by process thinking seek to live lightly on the earth and gently with others, sensitive to the interconnectedness of all things and delighted by the differences.

They believe that there are many ways of knowing the world -- verbal, mathematical, aesthetic, empathic, bodily, and practical - and that education should foster creativity and compassion as well as literacy.

Process thinkers belong to many different cultures and live in many different regions of the world: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, North America, and Oceania. They include teenagers, parents, grandparents, store-clerks, accountants, farmers, musicians, artists, and philosophers.

Many of the scholars in the movement are influenced by the perspective of the late philosopher and mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead. His thinking embodies the leading edge of the intellectual side of process thinking.

Nevertheless, a mastery of his ideas is not necessary to be a process thinker. Ultimately process thinking is an attitude and outlook on life, and a way of interacting with the world. It is not so much a rigidly-defined worldview as it is a way of feeling the presence of the world and responding with creativity and compassion.


The tradition of process thinking can be compared to a growing and vibrant tree, with blossoms yet to unfold.

The roots of the tree are the many ideas developed by Whitehead in his mature philosophy. They were articulated most systematically in his book Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology.

The trunk consists of more general ideas which have been developed by subsequent thinkers from different cultures, adding creativity of their own. These general ideas flow from Whitehead's philosophy, but are less technical in tone.

The branches consist of the many ways in which these ideas are being applied to daily life and community development. The branches include applications to a wide array of topics, ranging from art and music to education and ecology.

Much of this website -- Jesus, Jazz, and Buddhism -- is devoted to the trunk and branches. For those interested in gaining knowledge of the roots, we have created a free course of short videos which provides an introduction to Alfred North Whitehead's organic philosophy and serves as a guiding companion to Whitehead's seminal work, Process and Reality. These twenty six-minute videos can be viewed in sequence or in parts, depending on your interests. If you would like to get started on this short course to better understand the roots of process thinking, go to What is Process Thought?


The ideas below represent the twenty key ideas in the trunk.

1. Process: The universe is an ongoing process of development and change, never quite the same at any two moments. Every entity in the universe is best understood as a process of becoming that emerges through its interactions with others. The beings of the world are becomings.

2. Interconnectedness: The universe as a whole is a seamless web of interconnected events, none of which can be completely separated from the others. Everything is connected to everything else and contained in everything else. As Buddhists put it, the universe is a network of inter-being.

3. Continuous Creativity: The universe exhibits a continuous creativity on the basis of which new events come into existence over time which did not exist beforehand. This continuous creativity is the ultimate reality of the universe. Everywhere we look we see it. Even God is an expression of Creativity.

4. Nature as Alive: The natural world has value in itself and all living beings are worthy of respect and care. Rocks and trees, hills and rivers are not simply facts in the world; they are also acts of self-realization. The whole of nature is alive with value. We humans dwell within, not apart from, the Ten Thousand Things. We, too, have value.

5. Ethics: Humans find their fulfillment in living in harmony with the earth and compassionately with each other. The ethical life lies in living with respect and care for other people and the larger community of life. Justice is fidelity to the bonds of relationship. A just society is also a free and peaceful society. It is creative, compassionate, participatory, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying - with no one left behind.

6. Novelty: Humans find their fulfillment in being open to new ideas, insights, and experiences that may have no parallel in the past. Even as we learn from the past, we must be open to the future. God is present in the world, among other ways, through novel possibilities. Human happiness is found, not only in wisdom and compassion, but also in creativity.

7. Thinking and Feeling: The human mind is not limited to reasoning but also includes feeling, intuiting, imagining; all of these activities can work together toward understanding. Even reasoning is a form of feeling: that is, feeling the presence of ideas and responding to them. There are many forms of wisdom: mathematical, spatial, verbal, kinesthetic, empathic, logical, and spiritual.

8. The Self as Person-in-Community: Human beings are not skin-encapsulated egos cut off from the world by the boundaries of the skin, but persons-in-community whose interactions with others are partly definitive of their own internal existence. We depend for our existence on friends, family, and mentors; on food and clothing and shelter; on cultural traditions and the natural world. The communitarians are right: there is no "self" apart from connections with others. The individualists are right, too. Each person is unique, deserving of respect and care. Other animals deserve respect and care, too.

9. Complementary Thinking: The rational life consists not only of identifying facts and appealing to evidence, but taking apparent conflicting ideas and showing how they can be woven into wholes, with each side contributing to the other. In Whitehead’s thought these wholes are called contrasts. To be "reasonable" is to be empirical but also imaginative: exploring new ideas and seeing how they might fit together, complementing one another.

10. Theory and Practice: Theory affects practice and practice affects theory; a dichotomy between the two is false. What people do affects how they think and how they think affects what they do. Learning can occur from body to mind: that is, by doing things; and not simply from mind to body.

11. The Primacy of Persuasion over Coercion: There are two kinds of power – coercive power and persuasive power – and the latter is to be preferred over the former. Coercive power is the power of force and violence; persuasive power is the power of invitation and moral example.

12. Relational Power: This is the power that is experienced when people dwell in mutually enhancing relations, such that both are “empowered” through their relations with one another. In international relations, this would be the kind of empowerment that occurs when governments enter into trade relations that are mutually beneficial and serve the wider society; in parenting, this would be the power that parents and children enjoy when, even amid a hierarchical relationship, there is respect on both sides and the relationship strengthens parents and children.

13. The Primacy of Particularity: There is a difference between abstract ideas that are abstracted from concrete events in the world, and the events themselves. The fallacy of misplaced concreteness lies in confusing the abstractions with the concrete events and focusing more on the abstract than the particular.

14. Experience in the Mode of Causal Efficacy: Human experience is not restricted to acting on things or actively interpreting a passive world. It begins by a conscious and unconscious receiving of events into life and being causally affected or influenced by what is received. This occurs through the mediation of the body but can also occur through a reception of the moods and feelings of other people (and animals).

15. Concern for the Vulnerable: Humans are gathered together in a web of felt connections, such that they share in one another’s sufferings and are responsible to one another. Humans can share feelings and be affected by one another’s feelings in a spirit of mutual sympathy. The measure of a society does not lie in questions of appearance, affluence, and marketable achievement, but in how it treats those whom Jesus called "the least of these" -- the neglected, the powerless, the marginalized, the otherwise forgotten.

16. Evil: “Evil” is a name for debilitating suffering from which humans and other living beings suffer, and also for the missed potential from which they suffer. Evil is powerful and real; it is not merely the absence of good. “Harm” is a name for activities, undertaken by human beings, which inflict such suffering on others and themselves, and which cut off their potential. Evil can be structural as well as personal. Systems -- not simply people -- can be conduits for harm.

17. Education as a Lifelong Process: Human life is itself a journey from birth (and perhaps before) to death (and perhaps after) and the journey is itself a process of character development over time. Formal education in the classroom is a context to facilitate the process, but the process continues throughout a lifetime. Education requires romance, precision, and generalization. Learning is best when people want to learn.

18. Religion and Science: Religion and Science are both human activities, evolving over time, which can be attuned to the depths of reality. Science focuses on forms of energy which are subject to replicable experiments and which can be rendered into mathematical terms; religion begins with awe at the beauty of the universe, awakens to the interconnections of things, and helps people discover the norms which are part of the very make-up of the universe itself.

19. God: The universe unfolds within a larger life – a love supreme – who is continuously present within each actuality as a lure toward wholeness relevant to the situation at hand. In human life we experience this reality as an inner calling toward wisdom, compassion, and creativity. Whenever we see these three realities in human life we see the presence of this love, thus named or not. This love is the Soul of the universe and we are small but included in its life not unlike the way in which embryos dwell within a womb, or fish swim within an ocean, or stars travel throught the sky. This Soul can be addressed in many ways, and one of the most important words for addressing the Soul is "God." The stars and galaxies are the body of God and any forms of life which exist on other planets are enfolded in the life of God, as is life on earth. God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. As God beckons human beings toward wisdom, compassion, and creativity, God does not know the outcome of the beckoning in advance, because the future does not exist to be known. But God is steadfast in love; a friend to the friendless; and a source of inner peace. God can be conceived as "father" or "mother" or "lover" or "friend." God is love.

20. Faith: Faith is not intellectual assent to creeds or doctrines but rather trust in divine love. To trust in love is to trust in the availability of fresh possibilities relative to each situation; to trust that love is ultimately more powerful than violence; to trust that even the galaxies and planets are drawn by a loving presence; and to trust that, no matter what happens, all things are somehow gathered into a wider beauty. This beauty is the Adventure of the Universe as One.

- Jay

A Tree Trunk


* * * * * * *


A Version of the Twenty Key Ideas in Chinese
(Simplified)

1. 过程:宇宙是一个不断发展和变化的过程,在任意两个不同的时刻绝不可能完全相同。宇宙中的每一个实体最好被理解为一个生成的过程,产生于它与其他实体的相互作用之中。世界上的存在都是生成。

2. 相互关联:宇宙作为一个整体是一个由相互关联的事件构成的无缝的网络,其中没有一个事件可以与其他事件完全分离。所有的事物都与所有其他的事物相关联,并在所有其他的事物之中。正如佛教徒所说的那样,宇宙是一个交互存在的网络。

3. 持续的创造性:宇宙呈现一种持续的创造性,在此基础上,以前不存在的新事件随着时间的推移而产生。这种持续的创造性是宇宙的终极实在。环顾四周,我们都能看到它。即使上帝也是创造性的一种表达。

4. 万物:自然界有它自身的价值,一切众生都值得尊重和关爱。岩石和树木、山脉与河流并不仅仅是世界上的事实,它们也是自我实现的行为。整个自然界都充满生命,富于价值。我们人类居于万物之中,而不是与之脱离。我们也具有价值。

5. 伦理:通过与地球和谐共生、相互同情,人类可以找到完满。伦理的生命在于尊重和关爱他人和更大的生命团体。公正就是忠诚于纽带关系。一个公正的社会也是一个自由、和平的社会。它具有创造性、慈悲心、参与性和生态智慧,令人得到精神上的满足——不落下任何人。

6. 新颖性:通过对不同于过去的新的思想、见解和经验开放,人类可以找到完满。即使在学习过去的经验时,我们也必须向未来开放。上帝存在于世界上,在其他的方式之中,通过新的可能性。人类的幸福不仅在于智慧和慈悲,还在于创造性。

7. 思维与感受:人的大脑不仅局限于推理,也包括感受、直觉、想象;所有这些活动可以共同协作,达成理解。即使推理也是感受的一种形式:也就是说,感受到观念的在场并对它们作出回应。有许多种形式的智慧:数学的、空间的、语言的、动觉的、移情的、逻辑的以及精神的。

8. 作为社会人的自我:人类不是以皮肤为边界而与世隔绝的裹在皮囊中的自我,而是社会中的人,其与他人的互动部分地决定了他们自己内在的存在。我们自己的存在取决于朋友、家人和师长;取决于食品、衣物和住房;取决于文化传统和自然界。提倡共产主义社会者是正确的:离开与他人的联系就没有“自我”。个人主义者也是正确的。每个人都是独特的,值得尊重和关爱。其他动物也值得尊重和关爱。

9. 互补思维。理性的生活不仅包括查明事实和诉诸证据,而且包括采纳明显冲突的观念并显示如何将它们编织成一个整体,各方都为对方做出贡献。在怀特海的思想中这些整体被称为对比。要“合理”就是既要凭经验,又要富有想象力:探索新的理念,研究它们可能如何组合到一起,互相补充。

10. 理论与实践:理论影响实践,实践也影响理论;将两者二分对立是错误的。人们的行为会影响他们的想法,他们的想法也会影响他们的行为。学习的发生可以是从身体到心灵:即在做中学;而不仅仅是从心灵到身体。

11. 说服先于强制:有两种力量——强制力和说服力——后者应优先于前者。强制力是武力和暴力的力量;说服力是邀请和道德榜样的力量。

12. 关系的力量:这是人们在致力于促进相互关系时所体验到的力量,双方都通过这样的相互关系获得“授权”。在国际关系中,这种赋权会发生在政府间建立贸易关系时,互惠互利,并服务于更大的社会群体;就为人父母而言,这种力量指父母和孩子共同享有的一种亲子双方相互尊重的关系,而这种关系能加强亲子双方的力量,即便是在一种有(长幼)等级的关系之中。

13. 个体特殊性优先:从世界上的具体事件中抽象出来的抽象概念与事件本身这两者之间是有区别的。误置具体性谬误在于混淆抽象概念与具体事件,更多地关注抽象而不是(关注)个体特殊性。

14. 因果效应模式中的经验。人类的经验并不局限于对事物发生作用或主动诠释被动世界。它始于有意无意地将事件接受到生活中并因此而受到所接受的事物的影响。这可以以身体为媒介而发生,但也可以通过接受其他的人(或动物)的情绪和感受而发生。

15. 关怀弱者:人类共聚在一个可以感受到联系的网络之中,这样,他们分担彼此的痛苦,对彼此负有责任。人类可以分享感情,并通过一种彼此同情的精神而相互受情感的影响。对一个社会的衡量不在于它如何对待那些被耶稣称为“最卑微的一族”的人——被忽视者,弱者,被边缘化者,在其他方面被遗忘者。

16. 恶”是一个人类和其他生物所遭受的使其衰竭的痛苦的名称,也是一个他们因错失潜在性而遭受的痛苦的名称。

17. 教育是一个终生的过程:人生本身就是一个从出生(也许还在这之前)到死亡(也许还延续到这之后)的旅程,而这一旅程本身就是一个性格随着时间的推移而发展的过程。在课堂上接受的正规教育是一种促进这一过程的环境,但这一过程会持续终生。教育要求有浪漫、精确和综合。在人想要学习时学习得最好。

18. 宗教与科学:宗教和科学两者都是人类的活动,随着时间的推移不断变化,可以切合于现实的深度。科学侧重关注可以在试验中复现、可以用数学语言表述的各种能量;宗教始于对宇宙之美的敬畏,认识到事物之间的相互联系,并帮助人们发现规范,这些规范是宇宙本身的构成的一部分。

19. 上帝:宇宙展现在一种更大的生命环境——一种至高无上的爱——之中,它作为一种与眼前的情景相关的整体的诱惑而持续地存在于每一个现实体之中。在人类生活中,我们能体验到这种作为内心呼唤的实在,它呼唤智慧、慈悲和创造性。每当我们在人类生活中看到这三种现实时,我们就看到这种爱,无论是否这样称呼它。这种爱是宇宙的“灵魂”,我们很渺小,被包含在其中,与胎儿居于子宫、鱼儿畅游于海洋、星体穿梭于天空没有什么不同。可以有许多种方式称呼这一“灵魂”,其中对这一“灵魂”最重要的一种称谓是“上帝”。 星星和星系是上帝的身体,正如地球上的生命一样,存在于其他行星上的任何生命形式都被环抱在上帝的生命之中。上帝是个圆,圆心无处不在,圆周无边无际。当上帝召唤人类走向智慧、慈悲和创造性时,上帝事先并不知道这种召唤的结果,因为未来并不存在,无从知晓。但上帝坚信爱;是无依无靠者的朋友;是内心平静的源泉。上帝可以被看作是“父亲”、“母亲”、“情人”或“朋友”。上帝就是爱。

20. 信仰:信仰不是在理智上赞同某些信条或教义,而是相信神圣的爱。相信爱就是相信与每一种情景相关的新的可能性的可实现性;相信爱终究会比暴力更有威力;相信即使是星系和星星也受到一种在场的爱的吸引;相信,无论发生什么,一切事物都会以某种方式汇集到一种更广泛的美之中。这种美就是“宇宙作为一的探险”。

( 请读者注意:如果您对这二十个理念有任何问题或意见,请随时在论坛上发帖子。我们乐意回应,根据要求提供更详细的阐述,也愿意与您一起讨论,分享您的观点. )

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