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

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Index - Open & Relational Process Theology



What is open theism?





Thursday, April 16, 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Friday, April 3, 2020


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Friday, May 29, 2015

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014




Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011



Thomas Jay Oord - 9 Reasons We Have Genuine but Limited Freedom



Amazon Link

Book Blurb

Are humans free, or are we determined by our genes and the world around us? The question of freedom is not only one of philosophy's greatest conundrums, but also one of the most fundamental questions of human existence. It's particularly pressing in societies like ours, where our core institutions of law, ethics, and religion are built around the belief in individual freedom. Can one still affirm human freedom in an age of science? And if free will doesn't exist, does it make sense to act as though it does?

These are the issues that are presented, probed, and debated in the following chapters. A dozen experts―specialists in medicine, psychology, ethics, theology, and philosophy--grapple with the multiple and often profound challenges presented by today's brain science. After examining the arguments against traditional notions of free will, several of the authors champion the idea of a chastened but robust free will for today, one that allows us still to affirm the value of first-person experience.

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9 Reasons We Have Genuine
but Limited Freedom

by Thomas Jay Oord
May 29th, 2017

An essay I wrote has just been published. I argue humans and God have genuine but limited freedom. The new book is What’s with Free Will? Ethics and Religion after Neuroscience, edited by James Walters and Philip Clayton.

The book responds to some neuroscientists who claim human free will is an illusion. These neuroscientists base their views on a few experiments. For many reasons, I believe they are wrong in thinking this. The experiments don’t come close to disproving human freedom.

Here is a portion of my book chapter. I offer nine reasons why we should believe humans have genuine but limited freedom:

We should affirm human freedom because…

1 - belief in freedom fits the data we know best: that we are freely choosing selves. We all presuppose in our actions that we make free choices and we know this from our first-person perspectives. We have better grounds to think human freedom is genuine than think it is not.

2 - it helps us make sense of other creatures, especially humans. This argument fits nicely with what philosophers call “the analogy of other minds.” I think of it often when I consider how parents raise children. Nearly all parents believe their kids have some degree of freedom, at least sometimes, and they reward or discipline their children accordingly.

3 - belief in freedom seems necessary to affirm human moral responsibility. This is an obvious reason why we should believe humans are free. Without freedom, humans seem neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy. Moral responsibility requires free response-ability.

4 - it’s a component of love. When it comes to humans, it’s difficult to think we can make sense of love if we think humans are not free in any sense. Robots may do good things, but unless we define love in an odd way, we don’t think robots can love. Love requires genuine but limited freedom.

5 - belief in freedom seems necessary to affirm that we sometimes intentionally learn new information. Insofar as students choose to be educated, this choice presupposes free will. Insofar as we all seek to learn, we act freely.

6 - it accounts for intentional actions to reject the old and welcome the new or reject the new and return to the old. Conservatives appeal to freedom when calling us to return to past ideas, and progressives appeal to freedom when calling us to embrace new ones. Intentional change presupposes free will.

7 - belief in freedom is part of what motivates many people to choose good over evil. Those who believe their negative urges are beyond their control typically fail to resist those negative urges. And those who encounter evil are unlikely to resist it if they feel nothing can be done. After all, why try to combat antisocial behavior if we’re not free?

8 - it is necessary for believing our lives matter. If all life is predetermined, it makes no sense to think our lives have meaning or that what we do ultimately matters. If all comes down to fate, we make no real contribution to what has already been decided.

9 - belief in freedom is most compatible with believing God loves us. This is not only true if one believes a loving God would give freedom to creatures. It’s also true for rejecting the view that God praises or punishes creatures who are not free. A fully predestining God has no grounds to judge predetermined creatures.

10 - The final reason I list for why we should believe humans have genuine but limited freedom refers to God. In the second half of my essay, I explore what God’s freedom might be like. But I believe descriptions of divine freedom will be inadequate if we don’t also explore the relationship between God’s love and power, creaturely freedom, and evil in the world. So I explore those ideas as well.

I hope you consider getting a copy of this new book. When you read my full essay, let me know what you think of my arguments.

In the meantime, below is a short video with these 9 reasons…






Tom Oord, "The God of Non­coercive Love
in the Face of Randomness and Evil"





Does a Good Theology Help Alleviate Suffering or Does It Just Defend God?


Image may contain: 23 people, people standing and indoor
Artists, Performers, and Host Committee members representing diverse faith and civic communities, participated in Atlanta's inaugural Day of Religious Pluralism: Beauty in Harmony: Artists, Performers, and Host Committee members representing diverse faith and civic communities, participated in Atlanta's inaugural Day of Religious Pluralism: Beauty in Harmony Artists, Performers, and Host Committee members representing diverse faith and civic communities, participated in Atlanta’s inaugural Day of Religious Pluralism: Beauty in Harmony: Artists, Performers, and Host Committee members representing diverse faith and civic communities, participated in Atlanta’s inaugural Day of Religious Pluralism: Beauty in Harmony. Aga Khan Council | Naz Samji



Belief in God is meaningless if that faith does not move us towards responsible, loving, generative attitudes and actions. As the Apostle Paul said, if a theology or belief does not love then there is no reason for God, religion, hope, or faith. A good theology is a theology which shares meaning, value, purpose in ways which lifts up those around us with hope, affirming action, true empathy, and life-giving words. A theology, faith or religion which speaks death is not the same as a theology, faith, or religion which speaks life. One is to be abandoned. The other nourished in revitalized ways of empowering healing of self, society, and nature around us.

R.E. Slater
April 16, 2020




1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.


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Barrel Aged – Homebrewed Christianity – Podcast – Podtail


This Barrel Aged podcast was originally released in 2008 as episodes 8 & 9. The quality of the conversation was so good we had to put it back out. Who doesn’t enjoy a good conversation about evil, suffering, Buddha, Bible & a little Whitehead? Clearly someone who hasn’t listened to this episode yet. Bob Mesle is a professor of Religion and Philosophy at Graceland University.

Dr. C. Robert Mesle’s 136-page introduction to process-relational philosophy is a must-read for anyone new to process or who wants to be able to clearly articulate Afred North Whitehead‘s philosophy to others without a lot of technical language or headaches. You can check out his podcast about the text HERE. You should also check out his introduction to Process Theology which again is the best for a newbie.







Evil & Divine Power
by R.E. Slater

*The podcast sets up a separate discussion questioning
the need for a theology to defend God; my discussion
here starts in the same direction but tails off differently.

Introduction

Theology, religion, and metaphysics asks the question of "What is the fundamental nature of reality?" Especially as it relates to the Self, Others, and Nature around us.

What makes for a good theology or life view? "Any approach which might put the welfare of children, humanity, and earthcare above the fundamental need to protect one's religious beliefs or view of reality. An approach which might reduce pain and suffering and make the world a better place."

The Problem of Evil

Rather than accepting the reality of suffering and evil many Christian responses have been to deny its existence in the face of facts. The Church Father Augustine captured this idea many centuries ago and it has been a popular church response ever since. In doing so Christians are supposedly protecting their idea of God by reframing suffering and evil around its purposes. We will also find this same response in the Jewish and Muslim religions.

In this sense of denial the common Christian view of evil is that it is good if we react to its experience in a better way to its harm. As illustrated:

    The Pain of Suffering                   Whereas the Pain of Suffering
        hurts more when it feels   ------>    hurts less if goodness is achieved
         meaningless                          in the midst of our suffering

Often, suffering feels meaningless which explains why we go through such lengths to find meaning in its expereince. We search for the philosophical, religious, social or ecological good of its harm.

Is There a God?  --> Why Evil? --> Perhaps Neither God nor Evil?

If God is Good, Loving, All Powerful than why is there Evil? Maybe God doesn't Exist? Maybe God is too distant from us to care? Maybe God is weak and unable to prevent evil?

The Old Testament book of Job asks these questions over 40 long chapters of back-and-forth dialogue between Job, his "friends", and God. Job's friends say, "You have sinned and must repent." "You are proud and your pride has brought this disaster." "Your sin has justified your suffering." And on and on it goes. The Job questions God for most of the remainder of the book but gets very little in the way of answers excepting that we live our lives in the mystery of divine event.

And so, do God's faithful live lives held in the mystery of divine event? Can we question God at all as to why we suffer and whether our suffering is pointless or not? Whether it makes our lives more meaningful?

The Apostle Paul presents suffering in the context of a future goodness (Romans 8.28) - "All things work together for good." Or that we learn from our suffering because God allows it (Romans 5.3-5) - "Suffering provokes endurance which produces character and Christian hope."

Christian teaching then goes on to deny the actuality of evil while granting to God the duty of "bringing evil upon us" to improve us. And, in a round-about-way, says that God allows the evil He doesn't prevent. If it doesn't come then God didn't allow it.

If these appeals to divine mystery, character building, future event, disallowance of sin and suffering, personal blame for cusaution, or a God who damns, judges, and determines our lives is mystifying to you as it is to me, then we are both asking the right questions.

What problem are we trying to solve when it comes to good and evil? The theological concept for this is known as "The Theodicy of God." That is, how is God just and loving in the face of sin and evil? Is He all powerful (omnipotent) as He says He is? Does God determine all aspects of our lives (omniscience)? Is God there when we need Him or so distant as to be unavailable to us (omnipresence)? How we answer these questions will frame our theology of God and how that faith lives itself out in the world around us.

If we are trying to solves the whys and wherefores of suffering and evil, whether its has come into our lives so brutally as to be no meaning for us at all, then we are asking the right questions. We are seeking answers which might resolve the pain and harm we bear.

But if we are trying to protect God, to give Him a pass in someway, or have gathered around us worthless friends like Job had, who offer opinions over silence, and provocation over love, then we are approaching this entirely the wrong way. God doesn't need protection - which is why we find no straight answers in the book of Job other than that He is God and things are the way they are. And it may oftentimes be the case that these facts are the only things we have. But I might suggest we may have a few more things to cling to as well....

One is to recognize that sin and evil, pain and suffering, will be legitimate items we all will deal with in this life. The paramount reason for this is that God has granted "agency" or "freewill" to nature (indeterminate agency) and to humanity (limited freewill; limited in the sense of our birth, environment, circumstances, etc).

Secondly, God is as real as reality; He is always dearly present with us in every life event and at all times; and thirdly, His power is real but mitigated by creaturely agency. Not by allowance, not by primordial divine fiat, but because He birthed a world from love. A love which may make choices, create order from chaos, generativeness from hatred and misery, compassion, mercy, forgiveness to those having none. We, God's children, are very much like our God. We bear passion, anger, despair, grief, and all the things which make up life. We are because He is.

So how does one respond to suffering that it might be reduced? One way is to act redemptively, to live compassionately, to be available to those who themselves are suffering, to provide nourishment to one another, to gather about us those might listen and support us in love and not criticism, and to seek to alleviate the passing of this pain forward to other circles of humanity or the earth.

Evil is real. In God there is no evil. But we do not need to defend God to ask the questions of sufferings due to sin and evil. We live in a lost world which many times chooses not to love, nor to do the right thing. To ignore and not alleviate the pain of others. To promote its pain and make it all the worse. These are not loving actions. This is not how the gift of "agency" is to be used.

Christians give 5 (6) reasons for suffering. They may help but they are not recognizing several factors. First the list. Five (Six) reasons for suffering:

1 - Its painful but I'm better off now so the harm is good (optimistic stoicism) 
2 - Its a difficult experience but I've learned from it and am moving on (forgiveness, hope) 
3 - ?? 
4 - Yeah, its hard, and I wish it will never happen again (admittance, wishfulness) 
5 - It was really, really bad. Its terror and horror I am trying to live with. Perhaps learn something from. I've tried to reconcile it but will always, always regret that it happened to me. There can be nothing that will ever make up for this terrible tragedy. (grief and lost) 
6 - My suffering has reduced my voice to a place where it can never speak again. I find myself incapable of finding any good out of it. It has left me dead, miserable, angry, in full despair. I will never be able to learn from it or grow forward with it. (irrecoverable grief and lost)

In any healthy response the individual, or society (I think of Laos under Pol-Pot), must be allowed to suffer. To grieve. To feel the (tragic) lost of a part of their life. How the road to any kind of recovery proceeds from there is left up ultimately to the individual. It can occur in the strangest of ways and if it is really real, it will have really real affects and consequences that provide healing and hope.

Secondly, do not feel you have to vindicate or protect God. God will always be there and is always meaningfully real and loving to us. God does not project the control Christians demand of Him because He cannot in a freewill world of agency. What He can do is be there when harm and tragedy comes, and try to mitigate the suffering you are enduring. His love will not be the less for any doubt, uncertainty, or anger you have. It is a constant even as life is left open to us to move forward as best we can under His care and divine agency in our lives as best as He can do in a sinful world.

Looking at Jesus, through the sufferings of His life, God was with Him, fully loving, fully guiding, but the world can be evil and cruel and live with stopped up ears and hearts. Jesus died not only for our sins but because of our sin and evil. But what He did was to bridge the gap between God and humanity in sublime ways of identity with us in our humanness. Our joys and pains.

The other thing is how we think of God's power. In Jesus God's power was made strong by being weak. By allowing sin and evil its affects. By bearing this sin and pain that an atoning efficacy might be made. Did God determine to die or make efficacy in this way? It both yes and no. As God he knows our hearts and surmised He would be placed in a position like this in some manner.

Why? Because God doesn't determine the future, He allows any futures their fullest possibilities and opportunities. The future is borne of infinite processes each yearning towards generative fullness. But it has also been mitigated by sin with is the opposite yearning. One that leads to death instead of life. A God who is in full control of our circumstances has failed us already. But a God who speaks "to become as He is becoming" is a God worthy of worship.

May God's peace and healing be with you this day.

R.E. Slater


The Power of Love
by Catherine Keller



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FREE SPEECH AND RELIGION

Hosting a Day of Religious Pluralism:
Two Cities Celebrate the Energetic Engagement of Difference

by Allison K. Ralph
April 24, 2019

There have been too many instances of bias-motivated violence in recent years: parishioners murdered at their own bible study meeting, holiday shoppers run over at a market, young people executed by a neighbor who didn’t care for their faith. Incidents like these, says Joumana Silyan-Saba, who has helped the city of Los Angeles organize its Day of Religious Pluralism since 2015, were moments of pain, but also “moments where we decide what defines us.” It was incidents like those that were the impetus for the city of Los Angeles to partner officially with its thriving interfaith scene to establish a unified stance to promote social cohesion and “celebrate our unity and shared compassion for our fellow human beings by honoring and respecting diverse beliefs and practices.” For the last four years, the annual Day of Religious Pluralism has drawn diverse participants, established and solidified partnerships across boundaries of faith and no faith, and galvanized local leaders to engage each other in practical efforts to strengthen the greater community using common virtues.

The resolution and events showcase the kind of efforts promoting religious pluralism that the Inclusive America Project has championed for years. Believing that few issues today are as vital for American civil society as maintaining our national commitment to religious pluralism, our focus includes developing relationships between religiously affiliated organizations and government agencies. We aim to highlight and disseminate proven long-term strategies to increase respect for diverse religious identities in the public sphere, foster positive interfaith interactions, and form productive partnerships among people of different beliefs to advance the common good. This is why we are thrilled to report that the expansive vision of the city and interfaith community of Los Angeles has been so successful.

The organizers in LA wanted the event to become a template for other cities to establish their own unique Day of Religious Pluralism. There is even a toolkit available. Four years after the inaugural event in LA, the city and faith communities of Atlanta designed their own inaugural Day of Religious Pluralism, which took place on April 4. Farida Nurani, a volunteer of the Ismaili Muslim community and part of the Aga Khan Council for the Southeastern United States, was one of the organizers. Inspired by LA’s resolution and events, she says her Ismaili community reached out to other local faith leaders and to the mayor’s office to tremendous response. Like LA, city and faith leaders collaborated to draft and pass a proclamation to “affirm our shared, cherished values of dignity, unity, respect and compassion for our fellow human beings” and establish their inaugural event. As the planners in LA had hoped, Atlanta then took the idea and made it their own. In formulating their event, they drew also on the articulation of pluralism at the Global Centre for Pluralism.

With a theme of Beauty in Harmony, Atlanta’s event was centered on art as a language that can cross all barriers. Curated art exhibits as well as poetic and musical performances showcased faith-inspired beauty in harmony with diverse compatriots. It was a tangible representation of pluralism at its best: an intentional meeting of commitments rather than a surface-level assimilation of beliefs. The evening ended with a Civic Dinner that included a facilitated conversation on religious pluralism. Organizers are already planning for next year’s event.

Events in both cities have spurred tangible outcomes that have bettered society at large. In LA, the city’s collaboration with its faith partners created a kind of institutional frame where non-governmental actors – faith leaders, community members, non-profit leaders – could connect. From there, collaborations developed organically around numerous issues including homelessness and emergency management. In Atlanta, the Civic Dinner template for conversations on religious pluralism had never existed; now the organization is expanding what it developed for the Atlanta event and plans to add religious pluralism to its regularly offered topics.

Although organizers in both cities are proud of the work done and thrilled with the outcome, they stress that success depended on strong collaboration between civic and civil partners who developed real relationships with each other. These events were not organized and dictated by any one organization with the hope that everyone else would get onboard. Instead, resolutions and events were planned on a consensus basis and documents were developed iteratively with participation from a diverse group of faith leaders. That collaborative process set the stage for real buy-in from the communities.

Organizers in both cities also stressed the importance of the public ceremonial aspect of civic involvement. The symbolism of the public ceremony around formal proclamations and resolutions recognized collective representation of city, community, and country. These documents were symbolic of us as citizens, all of us, acting as one to stand with and protect each other not in spite, but because of, our differences.

In addition to the toolkit mentioned above, the Inclusive America Project can offer further resources to those interested in this work. Developing a Day of Religious Pluralism is a tangible and generative way for civic and faith leaders to address the rising tides of hate. Such work, done in good faith through difficult moments, is not only a practical approach to building local community resilience, it is also a very real way to build a joyful human community.  As Joumana Silyan-Saba, oversight committee member for the Day of Religious Pluralism in LA said, “It is a shining light in a very dark time.”


Using Music to Tackle Hate
MAY 17, 2018 • MARCI KRIVONEN