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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Christian Humanism - Leadership: What It Looks Like In Practice

LEADER  / ˈlēdər/


1. The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.

     Example: "the leader of a protest group"

2. The principal player in a music group.

What is the definition of a good leader?

"Good leaders don't leave people behind. They don't charge forward without others. They mobilize others and continually inspire them to strive toward the destination. Good leaders don't wait around for others to guide them. They take the initiative and demonstrate the courage and fortitude to make things happen."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The New Humanity

We are the architects of our own destiny:
let’s open up to progress,
to sustainability,
and to tolerance.
Let’s look at the future with positivity and hope.

This is how the new day will be our next renaissance.

This is the good morning of a rediscovered humanity.
Let's live it together.


Good Morning Humanity

A speech by Charlie Chaplin on turning 80

A speech that reminds us that on the horizon
there’s a new world ready to welcome a rediscovered humanity.

Music by Ezio Bosso.
Some of the pictures:
Steve McCurry and Magnum photographers.

We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.
We want to live by each other's happiness.
Not by each other's misery.
We don't want to hate and despise one another.

And this world has room for everyone,
and the good Earth is rich can provide for everyone.
You have the love of humanity in your hearts.

You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful,
to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Let us fight for a new world - 
a decent world that will give men a chance to work -
that will give youth a future and old age a security.

Let us fight to free the world -
to do away with national barriers -
to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance.

Let us fight for a world of reason,
a world where science and progress
will lead to all men's happiness.

Let us all unite!

It is the good morning of a rediscovered humanity.
Let's live it together.

- Charlie Chaplin

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Amazon Link

Book Blurb

We've been thinking about leadership the wrong way.

What if good leaders lead like God? And what if God's leading is open and relational?

Leadership studies have blossomed in recent decades. Many researchers take developments in science, economics, medicine, or politics as their guide when advancing theories in leadership. Others seek insights from great leaders of yesteryear, presidents and prime ministers, coaches, or titans of industry today. Some mine sacred scripture.

Open and Relational Leadership is unique among leadership books. It describes what good leadership looks like from an open and relational theological perspective.

Open and relational theology has many dimensions and facets. At its core are these ideas:

1. God is relational. God engages creation by giving love and receiving responses.
2. Creatures and creation are relational. We all affect one another; no one is isolated.
3. The future is open, not predetermined. Our choices and decisions really do matter.

Contributors to this book explore questions like, What would it mean to lead like a God who is open, relational, and loving? What does leadership look like in an open and relational world with open and relational people? What “style” of leadership fits this view? What common views of leadership present problems that the open and relational leadership model overcomes? And so on. These essays upend long-held views of hierarchy, tit-for-tat exchange, disconnected leaders, or controlling leadership.

Open and Relational Leadership leads with love, like a loving God leads.

Select Reviews

"Short, well-crafted chapters together with deep theological insight - this book is a treasure, bringing creative resources to the study of leadership, theology, ministry, and citizenship. Highly recommended!"

-- Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

"There are still too many people who think that leadership is deciding what other people should do and getting them to do it This book makes clear that often the leader's task is to widen horizons and offer new possibilities. Those who read this book will understand more deeply how to lead and follow."

-- John B. Cobb, Jr., Author of Jesus' Abba

Book Introduction by Authors

Click to Enlarge: "Introduction to Book"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

What Does Holy Leadership Look Like?

By Glen O’Brien

Relational leaders need to admit their fallibility and proneness to sin. They should walk with Jesus in solidarity with others.

“Holiness” is an increasingly “insider” concept, rarely used outside of a religious context. In fact, it’s very difficult to think of its occurrence in the present culture of the West except as something very negative. Someone might say, “He’s a bit of a holy Joe” or “she’s a bit of a holy roller.” Of course, this kind of statement is not meant as a compliment! What does it mean, then, to offer genuinely holy leadership?

In a relational theology, holiness is characterised by love and by openness toward others. It isn’t about being separated from the “impure” or the “unclean,” but about the power of presence. Think of how Jesus, surely the holiest of all spiritual leaders, touched and healed the unloved, the impure, and the rejected. Yet his holiness was not tainted by this contact in any way. Rather, those he touched were healed and themselves made holy. His was a contagious holiness.

In the nineteenth century, Protestant churches were very much engaged in a project to transform culture through the application of Christian principles to social problems. This was as true for Liberal advocates of the “social gospel” as it was for the Evangelical revivalists. In some circles, this ethic of transformation began to be replaced by an ethic of separation so that withdrawal replaced engagement. This created a leadership gap in the public square as the focus shifted from contributing to the common good to purifying the holy community from within.

Of course, the church no longer has the privileged place it once had in society and there are good reasons why it should not assume the sole place of moral leadership in a plural society. Yet Christian leadership still has an important role to play alongside other people of good will in seeking human flourishing across cultural and religious boundaries. Any concept of holiness as separation will not be up to the task of such engagement. Only a relational concept of holiness as transformative presence will do.

While there is a public role for relational leadership, there are also internal dimensions to church leadership to be considered. In Holiness churches, uncritically received teachings about sanctification, and in particular “entire sanctification,” have sometimes resulted in rather toxic patterns of leadership. I have known leaders who could not admit responsibility for the harm caused to others through their words and actions. “My motives are pure because my heart is fully sanctified. If you are harmed by something I said or did, I’m sorry, but it was not intended by me.” This is not an apology at all but merely an evasion of responsibility. Even the most fully sanctified are aware of their proneness to error, to fault and yes, to sin. No one ever outgrows the prayer Our Lord taught us to pray—”Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Relational leadership is the kind of leadership that is honest about failure, open to correction, and willing to admit fault.

Too often we think of leadership as exercising authority over people in order to get things done. It is something quite different to that. The relational holiness to which Christian leaders are called does not treat people in an instrumental way—simply as tools to achieve some purpose. Rather it wants to learn from others and is open to the contributions and insights of all, including (indeed especially) the humblest and simplest of fellow travellers. When reflecting on the people you think of us as the holiest “saints” you know, they are likely to be people who are too humble to speak of themselves in such terms. They don’t need their holiness announced, it announces itself. These people are true leaders, even if they have no official leadership role in the church, because they are models for us to follow.

In the 1980s I was involved in attempting to plant a church in a little seaside village on Australia’s east coast. Around 60 people attended a public service, interested in what the introduction of a “Holiness” church might look like in their region and whether they might like to be involved. The invited speaker gave his testimony with great boldness and confidence. “Forty-five years ago, God sanctified my heart at an altar of prayer and since that day my heart has been as pure as the driven snow.” My heart sank and I knew we had lost that crowd. Sure enough, no one showed any interest except to say, “If that’s what a Holiness church looks like, we don’t want to be a part of it.” That kind of testimony might have gone well in a camp meeting in rural Tennessee within a revivalist subculture, but in beachside New South Wales it failed to communicate. It was heard only as prideful boasting. It didn’t point to Jesus (as the speaker probably intended), but only to the person speaking. As such it failed the test of genuinely relational holiness—it spoke of the “purity” of the preacher but did not evoke the “presence” of Christ.

One of the key insights of the theology of Openness is that God is a relational Being who does not simply act in an arbitrary way over against people from a position of ultimate power. Instead, God makes covenants, keeps promises, grows frustrated, dances with joyful celebration and occasionally even has a change of mind. God’s people, made in the divine image, are also called to be relational beings expressing a range of responses in a dance of mutual connection to others.

Christianity certainly affirms the oneness, the unity, and the power of God, but it does so in a very particular way. God is not simply a Divine Being, but a being who exists in communion. The Father loves the Son. The Son asks the Father to send the Spirit as our Helper, and the Spirit speaks not of herself but of the Son.1 Terms like “Father” and “Son” can seem very gendered (and very male!) but if we think more deeply about them it is not their gender that matters so much as their relational nature. The relationships that exist within the very being of God are mutually reinforcing relationships of others-focused love. There is nothing jarring, competitive, selfish or abusive within God. Relational leaders will exhibit a similar kind of holiness, even if of a less perfect kind. They will not demand a predetermined set of responses from others, but be open to their uninvited, unexpected (even sometimes unwanted), insights. Relational leadership will ask how best to provoke love even in the most surprising and disarming of circumstances.

There is a very short answer to the question of what holy leadership looks like. It looks like Jesus. Not the Jesus who is morally perfect (though he was that) but the Jesus who loved perfectly. Most people do not become (or stay) Christians because they become convinced that Jesus is God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity or any similar theological description. Somehow or other they encounter him, maybe through reading the Gospels, maybe through seeing a movie, maybe through a conversation. They are drawn to him, not as an idea, or as a concept but as a person and they find they want to follow him. It’s for this reason that Christianity is not first a system of beliefs or religious practices (even though it involves such things) but a way of living with and for Christ in solidarity with others. A person may be a religious leader but can only be a genuinely holy leader when their response to others is in line with the love most fully exhibited in Jesus of Nazareth.

*Glen O’Brien is Research Coordinator at Eva Burrows College within the University of Divinity and Chair of the University’s Research Committee. He is a Uniting Church minister with an ecumenical placement to The Salvation Army. He is the author and editor of several books including (with Hilary Carey), Methodism in Australia: A History (Ashgate 2015) and Wesleyan-Holiness Churches in Australia (Routledge, 2018).

1 The use of the feminine pronoun in reference to the Spirit seems allowable given that the Greek word pneuma is neuter. The author is aware that male pronouns are used of the Spirit in the New Testament.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Pope Francis isn't a liberal. He's something more radical: a Christian humanist

Peter Weber
September 22, 2015

Pope Francis is causing quite the stir these days.

On Tuesday he will make his first trip to the United States, where he'll preach the existential urgency of climate change and the moral imperative of economic inequality to a Republican Congress that would probably prefer he talk about abortion and marriage. Conservatives worldwide are upset that Francis is allowing priests to absolve women who repent for an abortion and has "vandalized" marriage by making it easier for Catholics to get their marriages annulled.

In July, Gallup reported that the pope's favorability among American self-described conservative Catholics had dropped to 45 percent, from 72 percent a year earlier. "This decline may be attributable to the pope's denouncing of 'the idolatry of money' and linking climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality," Gallup said, noting that these are "all issues that are at odds with many conservatives' beliefs."

But just because some conservatives are upset with Pope Francis, that doesn't mean that he's a liberal. He isn't, really, politically or religiously.

He is a reformer, and he is shaking things up in a church that had experienced theological and institutional continuity for 35 years under Pope John Paul II, elected in 1978, and Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul's doctrinal right hand from 1982 until his own elevation to supreme pontiff in 2005.

Francis boldly promotes some policies that make conservatives uncomfortable. But the Pope Francis revolution is probably best described as humanist — and that makes it a much bigger challenge to Catholics in the West, both conservative and liberal.

Let me be clear: I'm not arguing that Francis is a secular humanist, or capital-h Humanist, by any means. Instead, let's call him a Christian humanist, defining that as one who cares about human beings more than ecclesiastical considerations.

That might sound like secular balderdash, but it's actually a phrase coined by Pope Benedict. "Christian humanism," he wrote in the 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate ("Charity in Truth"), "enkindles charity and takes its lead from truth, accepting both as a lasting gift from God. Openness to God makes us open toward our brothers and sisters and toward an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in a spirit of solidarity." Benedict explicitly borrowed the idea from Pope Paul VI.

Pope Francis has taken the idea of Christian humanism and put it into practice, with a big smile. He is concerned with the welfare of the Roman Catholic Church, certainly, but he is much more concerned with what the Catholic Church calls the "mystical body of Christ" — that is, the people who make up the Christian church.

There are plenty of examples.

His groundbreaking encyclical on climate change, Laudato Sí ("Praise Be to You"), for one, is a stern rebuke to humanity — that includes industrialist polluters, but also voracious consumers and even environmentalists — for turning the Earth into "an immense pile of filth." But he intrinsically pairs ecology and social justice, arguing that efforts to save the planet "must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor."

Then there's the pope's modification of church law to make it easier to get broken marriages annulled, which, Vatican Radio says, is rooted in the core principle of "salus animarum — the salvation of souls." Catholics whose marriages fail — especially in poorer countries, where annulments are expensive and hard to come by — should be shown mercy and love, encouraged and allowed to fully participate in the sacramental life of the church, whenever possible.

But probably the most illuminating example — the one that shows Francis putting the needs of humanity firmly above the parochial concerns of the church — has to do with the Christian character of Europe.

Pope Benedict, before he retired, fought tooth and nail to keep Europe anchored in Christianity. In 2007, after the European Parliament rejected including references to God and Christianity in the European Constitution, Benedict chastised European lawmakers. How can EU governments "exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity, in which the vast majority of its people continue to identify?" Benedict asked. "Does not this unique form of apostasy of itself, even before God, lead [Europe] to doubt its very identity?"

Pope Francis has not only ignored the issue, he has pleaded with Catholics — and, in fact, all Europeans — to personally house the masses of mostly Muslim migrants seeking refuge in the EU.

The surge of humanity from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya will make Europe more Muslim and less Christian, as some European politicians have noted caustically. But the preeminent Christian leader in Europe is begging Europeans to open their doors, anyway. And in the case of Catholic religious orders, he is more than pleading: He is ordering them to utilize their unused convent and monastery rooms to house refugees, unless they want to start paying property taxes. The Holy See has already chosen two families of migrants to stay in the Vatican, the pope said, and they are welcome to remain "as long as the Lord wants."

If you think that the church focusing on migrants isn't novel, you wouldn't be wrong. Pope Benedict said it was "impossible to remain silent" on the issue of refugee camps in 2008 (years before the refugee camps were in Europe). And, back in 1985, John Paul II said the fact that a migrant "is a citizen of a particular state does not deprive him of membership to the human family." In the U.S., the Catholic Church has long advocated for the rights of immigrants — though the big waves of immigrants in the 20th century were largely Catholic.

But that's the point of the Pope Francis revolution — it's not really about new ideas, it's about what the Catholic Church truly focuses on and where it leads by example. Francis isn't just visiting the sinners in the U.S. Congress, he's also visiting the sinners in prison, as well as children, hard laborers, refugees, and other demographics the Bible says that Jesus paid attention to.

Ostentatiously living a more humble papacy, determinedly mingling with the disenfranchised and downtrodden, radically (for the Catholic Church) putting the laity at the center of church solicitude: This is the change Francis is bringing to the Catholic Church. It is making lots of people uncomfortable. Honestly, any Catholic that doesn't feel challenged by Francis' subversive papacy probably isn't paying enough attention.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, calls Francis "an equal opportunity disturber," noting that "when we listen to some things he says, we smile; as we listen to other things he says, we bristle." But, he added, "Jesus was like that, remember?"

It's pretty clear Pope Francis does.

Mother Teresa