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
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
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
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

Monday, November 2, 2020

Living Practical Applications of Process Thought



What is Process Thought?

by R.E. Slater
November 2, 2020

Below I have posted three articles reflecting on the practical outcomes of process thought (otherwise known as process philosophy) and how process thinking may be applied into life situations.

As a Christian, I find process thought to cross many, if not all, of the barriers of communication between humanity and with creation. If it has any reality at all then process should be found pervasively across all academic disciplines; across all structures of society; across all languages, cultures and religions; and, across our innermost core and well as God Himself. The way God is, and how God communicates, is the essence of process.


For myself, as a Christian, looking for philosophical and theological foundations on which to build, I see process thought's essence coming directly from observations of our Creator-Redeemer God who is the ground of our being and essence. All that we are, all that creation is, is very God Himself (sic, process relational panentheism).

As such, process theology builds upon process thought and philosophy to say that God's generative love and goodness is the force which impells process-driven life forward: its becoming, unfolding, emergence, and experience.


Four Characteristics of Process Being & Creation:
1 - Divine love and goodness is an embedded and driving process inhabiting all aspects of life. But it can be defeated by a freewill creation whose agency can foul up its main constitutive driving forces. 

2 - Our Creator-God has set in motion hope, promise, love, and goodness as a constitutive basis emmenating from all that He is.

3 - By God's own divine atonement and redemption (which also must be looked upon as divinely embedding processes) God's-Self has doubled down on bringing harmonious fellowship between all creation with itself and with Himself.

4 - And finally, process theology expands on these ideas by recognizing process as the fundamental driving force behind all other driving forces.


Thus and thus whether evolutionary, social, or religious processes, all are subtended in the initiating God of compelling love from whom all things flow.

For practical applications of process thinking I highlight three examples: (i) The building of ecological societies in China; (ii) the building of compassionate communities in relationship to Black Lives Matter and social justice; and, (iv) the advocacy of listening, literacy, and communication between interfaith beliefs. All three examples are due to the alignment and involvement of Jay McDaniel year's earlier into these living communities of practical process applications. Thank you Jay.

- R.E. Slater

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Why Process Philosophy?

The Process Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead prioritizes freedom and creativity. The system in its fully developed form is also deeply complex, and its professional discussion is weighed down with jargon. But in its simplest form, process philosophy is about engaging in the process of what we are, what we do, and how we can guide, develop and create our own future.

Events

Process emphasizes the space between two points. It's neither the start that's important, nor the end; but the travelling between. In the case of Whitehead, this travelling in between is what makes up reality. That is, Whitehead, in contrast with much philosophical - and everyday - thinking, doesn't regard 'matter' as the stuff of reality, but instead treats 'events' as the most real things that there are.

Novelty and Adventure

As a philosopher, Whitehead focused on practical matters. He recognized the barrenness of theory without practice, of education in a vacuum, of authority without responsibility, and action without purpose. His aim always was a 'creative advance', the creation and engendering of something new, something novel, something that was in a literal sense 'new under the Sun'. The past was relevant for Whitehead, but not overly so. The authorities of history were interesting, but not to be followed blindly. Experience and adventure, and the risk of the unknown: these are what drove his metaphysics.

Nothing is True

A key implication of his work is that reality doesn't have to be like 'this' or like 'that'. There's no ultimate reason why we are living in this way, in this world, in this universe. Our existence can be thought of as something like a particular rhythm set within an infinite beat, it being the rhythm that sets the tone of reality. But there is nothing to stop the establishment of new rhythms, new realities. Process philosophy is thus partly an 'aesthetic metaphysic'. What tends to succeed are those rhythms of creating which bring forth the most effective and most elegant patterns. I sometimes think of this as the Collaging of Reality.


* * * * * * * * *




R.E. Slater -
One of the areas process philosophy is being examined is in China. China has been driving forwards since the 1990's towards the idea of ecological societies in balance and in rhythm with nature.
Because of process philosophy's all encom-passing nature, it can easily serve as both foundation and driver for China's vision. The reason it can do this is because nature, planet earth, and the universe are all process mechanisms unfolding every moment in interactive, collective community with, and impact upon, one another.
Process is a cosmic (cosmos-based) mechanism on which process evolution runs. So too with all of life - including humanity. Humanity's job is to find it's balance and rhythm again with nature, synch up to it, and to each other. Such effort would be the start of discarding our biased attitudes of superiority over creation.
An attitude that uses nature only for our wants and needs rather than recognizing the biotic communities we live within with it's own wants and needs. How we each impact the other for good or for ill.
Biogenic and communal biotic process equalization is an aspect of the larger idea process philosophy identifies as essential processes humanity must learn to inhabit in compassionate communities moving through open futures filled with chaotic challenge inhabited by an agency driven creation.
As example, the Chinese civilization has enough of its old cultures left to perhaps offset the adverse affects of the Westernization of its land and peoples by moving towards the idea of process communities.
Similarly, Western civilizations should take note and begin doing the same as we face the rigors and chaos of crises from weather events to rolling pandemics to resource challenges such as  fresh water to drink, fresh air to breathe, and  fresh, unpolluted greenways to recreate and grow food (known as agricultural beltways or regional habitat zones). If not, we can expect more of the same crises as humanity remains unsynched with nature.
In summary, process-based societal living addresses how to reorientate and manage Western cultures gone unhealthily rogue in their economic and political policies, theologies of usury and theft, and practices and attitudes habituating ignorance and the blind eye to what is happening all around itself as the prime cause and motivator.



Teaching & Learning Process in China

by Jay McDaniel of Open Horizons

Teaching Whitehead in China today, with Kevin Clarke, and students from the
department of education at Harbin Normal University, all teachers-in-the-making.




Emerging Hopes in China
The Sunshine Eco-Village, Process Philosophy,
and the Resurrection of Tao Yuanming

Go to the Website for Complete Reading of Each Subtitle:

        • Why This Page? A Word from Jay McDaniel and John Cobb
        • Audio Version of Tao Yuanming's Peach Blossom Spring
        • The Sunshine International Ecovillage in Zheijian Province
        • The Resurrection of Tao Yuanming
        • Process Philosophy in Five Sentences
        • Further Reflections on Sunshine Village
        • The Way of Creative Compassion: Process Philosophy in Action
        • ​Lessons to Learn from Tao Yuanming

1. Why This Page?

A Word from Jay McDaniel

In The Ecological Era and Classical Chinese Naturalism: A Case Study of Tao Yuanming, Professor Shuyuan Lu proposes that the great Chinese nature poet, Tao Yuanming, can be "resurrected" when people reclaim their felt bonds with the more-than-human world and live accordingly. This page offers two illustrations of that resurrection: the inspirational work of the Sunshine International Eco-Village in Zhejiang Province and that of Process Philosophers in China. Along the way I explain what process thinking is for those who do not know it. Readers might also be interested in another page on this site: Open Horizons China. At the end of the page, I offers a "process" appreciation of core themes in Professor Lu's book. (Jay McDaniel)

A Word from John Cobb

​"Many of us speak generally and appreciatively of classical Chinese thought and of its potential relevance to our time and need. Some of us know that there was a great Chinese thinker by the name of Tao Yuanming whose thought was especially significant and useful to the Chinese tradition. Now Professor Lu Shuyuan has not only described that thought in nuanced detail but located it in relation to Western thinkers so as to display the value of Tao Yuanming's insights." (John B. Cobb Jr.)

​Addendum: Powerpoints for Use in
Introducing Process Thinking

Ecological Civilization and Whole Person Education:
A PPT on Process Thinking for Chinese Readers

Collecting Light:
A PPT on Process Thinking for Chinese Readers

Ecological Civilization and Whole Person Education (In Chinese)



5

Process Philosophy in Five Sentences
Process Thinking in Five Chinese Sentences

1. 一切皆在联系中,一个现实实有存在于其它现实实有之中。
 
2. 万物皆流变,流变皆有其模式。

3. 万物有情,一切生物都值得被尊重。

4. 人类是宇宙关系之中的一小部分,但是人类的使命是伟大的。即带着尊重去关心他者,特别是弱者,以及不遗余力地建设生态文明。

5.  享受生活,关爱他人,宽恕他人,身心愉悦,眼里和心底都是美

A Very Rough Paraphrase in English

1.  Everything is connected to everything else: every actual entity is present in every other actual entity even as each entity is also unique.

2.  Everything is flowing and changing, and there are patterns and rhythms within the change.

3.  Everything is filled with energy and feeling, and all living beings deserve respect and care.

4.  We humans are small but included in a larger web of life, and our mission – our great work – is to help build ecological civilizations: that is, communities that are creative, compassionate, participatory, humane to animals, in harmony with the rhythms of the earth, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind.
5.  Enjoy life, care for others, forgive others, be healthy in mind and body, and keep your eyes and heart on beauty.




* * * * * * * * *


R.E. Slater - 
Here is an example of process thought in action in society. One of its outcomes is the formation of compassionate communities. In this instance its support of Black communities in need of being heard socially against despair, depression, active racism, and so on. To be welcomed, embraced, wanted, enjoyed, respected, and invited. Process thought speaks to social equality, justice, equal opportunity, fair housing, food availability, and locality. This can easily be applied to poor whites, Muslim communities, Catholic-based Hispanic neighbor-hoods, transgenders, gays, and so forth. An open democracy allows all voices to be heard, recognized, and respected. This would be an example of Process in action. Such action forms the basis for an ecological society moving towards balance, harmony, and generative values.

Introduction by Jay McDaniel
of Open Horizons

An essay by Dr. Richard Rose, friend par excellence of the Cobb Institute in Claremont, CA. Influenced by Howard Thurman and active in interfaith circles, Dr. Rose is Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of La Verne (Ca), program director for the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies.

Dr. Rose is a powerful voice at the Cobb Institute. One mission of the Institute is to take the general ideas of process thought and apply them to local initiatives in southern California. The Institute focuses on "compassionate community" as an embodiment of the 'integral ecology' of which Pope Francis speaks in Laudato Si.

An integral ecology is sensitive to the cries of the Earth and the cries of the poor, neither to the exclusion of the other. It emphasizes just, loving, and harmonious relations among people and respective and compassionate relations with other forms of life, responsive to the sacramental beauty of life itself. "Ecological Civilization" is the name given to a community and society that embodies these qualities.

In this imaginative dialogue between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Socrates, Dr. Rose shows how no compassionate community is truly compassionate, and no Ecological Civilization is worth working toward, lest it realize, and cast its lot in, with the Black Lives Matter movement.

- Jay McDaniel


    
 Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash | Photo by Tandem X Visuals on Unsplash

​On Black Lives Matter & Institutional Racism:
A Dialogue Between Socrates and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Richard A Rose

Dr. Rose is a Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of La Verne (CA)
and serves as the Program Director for the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies. 
SETTING: The year is 2020. Each participant is at home, comfortable in their study. The conversation takes place on Zoom.

SOC: Hello Doctor King? Glad you could dial in. Looks like there is dissatisfaction in your community these days. I have been a well-respected citizen in this area since I left Athens over 2,300 years ago and I have never seen this much discontent. Can you explain to me what’s up?

KING: Sure Socrates.. I know you are busy with your teaching of the youth, bugging city officials and everything. It is nice for you to take time off from your position of social privilege and ask about our condition. So, I’m going to be marching with these young people from BLM this Evening. Even though this march was not approved by the City officials, it is important that we make this statement against the system.

The TRUTH of the matter is that the nation is not living up to its promises and it has practices that make us feel like Lincoln has yet to pronounce the Emancipation Proclamation. 

SOC: Im afraid I’m confused. What do you mean?

KING: Give me a moment. I will be happy to explain. The Declaration of Independence states as I said at the March on Washington. “In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.”

SOC: Sir, I must admit you put forth a strong position. Yet, there are several key ideas that it appears you did not consider prior to your response. 

KING: Pardon me?

SOC: When I had to decide whether or not I would obey the laws of Athens - the laws themselves spoke to me. Hear carefully what they said: “He who disobeys us is triply wrong: 1) in disobeying us he is disobeying his parents. 2) we are the authors of his education. 3) He has made an agreement with us that he will duly obey our commands. (204a) [“But he who has experience of the way we order justice and administer the State, and still remains, has entered into an implied contract to do as we command him.”]

So, although you have legitimate complaints the way to eradicate what you see as systematic racism, is not by marching and causing a disruption of normal life; the best way is to work within the system and change the way people are doing business. Let your little light shine, Dr. King!

KING: Socrates, you and I have much in common. You are in some ways correct, I grew up in a good home, I went to good schools, I was ordained and earned a Ph.D. degree. That is why I’m going to shine my light on you Soc. I’m doing well, however, the vast majority of my folk, especially in the inner-cities, do not have access to the same quality of EDUCATION that allows for full participation in the system. That same system, that abused them, they are then asked to obey. 

SOC: Your marching is leading to looting and even some instances of people being hospitalized and some deaths have occurred. Don’t you bear responsibility for that evil? If I had been shown how my actions, before the trial, were harmful to the larger society, I would have discontinued my behavior. Now, you are aware of your error. As a man of honor, certainly you will do the right thing.

KING: Again, Socrates, you are a man of wisdom. Yes, I try to live a life of honor and I do plan to do the right thing. However, those many years since you left Athens have left you a bit rusty. It is always right to do the right thing. In this case the “right” thing is to disobey the law; I’m not calling for violence, but I do understand the anger of some with the system.

Should, I repent of their sin? I believe my mentor Gandhi would acknowledge your concern and he would encourage me to do so. But my repentance for my brother’s anger, does not erase the original concern. Institutional Racism is still preventing us from breathing in an unobstructed way. You see how Covid-19 has impacted “all” people of color disproportionately. There are too many places where we do not have access to the rooms where decisions are being made. The result are laws and policies that are made that are not good for our community.

SOC: Ah ... yes, but can you begin to pick and choose which laws you like and don’t like? I’m confident that the city officials put a great deal of thought into each law that is on the books. You are placing yourself above the law when you and your crew decide which laws are good for you. What about the rest of society? Don’t they deserve consideration?

KING: I’m glad you asked. Of course the others in society are important when making laws that effect the whole country. There are a few necessary ideas to keep in mind when drafting laws. This is essential:

A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.

An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

An unjust law a majority inflicts on a minority and is not binding on itself. A just law a majority compels a minority to follow and it is willing to follow itself.

SOC: So change the laws!

KING: That is what the Civil Rights Movement did. But the policies and practices remain.

SOC: So you are telling me there are practices and policies that have been in place for hundreds of years and in other cases corporate policies that affect your lives, but you do not have access to the places the decisions are made.

KING: That is correct.

SOC: And these conditions are causing hardships on workers and their families. That is a concern. And have you approached them and tried to negotiate a better arrangement, better conditions?

KING: Yes, and every time we have been misled, one excuse after another. My people are tired and frustrated. So we have a plan. We have identified our concerns and sought negotiations and have been put off. We believe our cause is just:

So, because of our commitment to justice and truth, we cannot participate in this corrupt system. So we are bringing attention to the institutional corruption in the very system that brings you, Socrates, such satisfaction.

SOC: Well, I see why they call you King. You are the type of person I would want to be King of my ideal state. I like the way you think. The Eternal Truths on which you are building your movement are impressive. Where is this March headed? I think I will join you. Maybe we can work together to get them to reconsider their behavior in the light of self-reflection.

KING: Great! We are always looking for people of outstanding character to join us. I will have a BLM T-shirt for you when you arrive, we will be honored if you will wear it.

SOC: You know I only wear this piece of cloth that looks like a Toga.

KING: Okay, no problem, I will see if I can get you a BLM mask! See you in the Streets!



* * * * * * * * *


R.E. Slater - 

If process thought is any good at all then it must be pervasive. Here's an example
of process at work spiritually crossing the boundrylands of differing faiths and religions...



 

Growing in Spiritual Literacy
Interfaith Center

Fall Session: Sep 30 - Dec 16
Moderated by Jay McDaniel & Sophia Said

Spiritual vision can come through art, scripture, theatre, service to the poor, meditation, dreams and countless other ways. It is how we find our own wisdom and align ourself with Spirit. Sometimes this process involves developing good judgment, deliberative skills, and common sense. Other times we may experience extraordinary perceptions, what are often called revelations. This wednesday’s (10.28.2020) spiritual letter is “V” for Vision. Our guest is Rev. Susan Sims Smith, who is the visionary and founder of two non profits, The Interfaith Center and House of Prayer in Arkansas. She will talk about three key times in her spiritual journey of service where fresh new vision upended her personal plans and brought her to places that she never imagined You can join the class by emailing us your name at theinterfaithcenter@gmail.com Jay McDaniel Sophia Said






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