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

Friday, October 30, 2020

Notice - Process Thought Invitation: Oct 31, 9a-noon PST

John Cobb invites the process movement to reflect on the possibility that we are at a new threshold. Maybe, at last, the thinking we have done about creative transformation and ecological civilization will capture the imagination of millions and make a real contribution to radical change of collective behavior. At this gathering we will consider how we can work together to respond to the call to save the world. It’s worth trying.


RSVP to receive Zoom meeting information.


Conference Schedule
Process Thought at a New Threshold

October 31, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

9:00: Welcome and Opening Remarks: John Cobb

How has the work of the process community expanded since 2015?

9:10: Center for Process Studies: Andrew Schwartz
9:15: Pando Populus: Eugene Shirley
9:20: Institute for Ecological Civilization: Philip Clayton
9:25: Cobb Institute: John Fahey

What is happening that suggests greater openness to process ideas?

9:30: Philosophy: Dan Dombrowski
9:40: Christian Theology: Thomas Oord
9:50: Spiritual But Not Religious: Damian Geddry
10:00: Interfaith, Arts, and Spirituality: Jay McDaniel
10:10: Science: Matthew Segall

10:20: BREAK

10:30: Education: Richard Rose
10:40: Economics: Mark Anielski
10:50: Agriculture: Sung Sohn
11:00: Mass Media: Philip Clayton
11:10: Younger Generation: Kathleen Jacobson Reeves

How can we respond effectively to the new openness?

11:20: Small Group Discussions
Led by Pat Beiting, Ignacio Castuera, Louis Chase, Kathleen
Jacobson Reeves, Lynne de Jonge, Carol Johnston, Elaine
Padilla, Richard Rose, Jeanyne Slettom, and Bonnie Tarwater

* * * * * * * * *

First Letter by John Cobb Conference Invitation

Date: October 31, 2020
Time: 9 am to 12 noon
ZOOM Meeting

An Invitation from John Cobb

In the forties and fifties, the neonaturalist faculty in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago provided a community in which a process understanding was nurtured. By the sixties, the Divinity School joined the mainstream, and the academic disciplines tightened their control of university curricula. There seemed to be no future for the study of Whitehead.

In the avoidance of disappearance there have been two thresholds. The first was institutional. We established a journal (1970) so that scholarly discussion could continue. And we established an official Center for Process Studies (1973). The journal, edited by Lewis Ford, emphasized philosophy and philosophical theology. The Center, co-founded by David Griffin and me, focused on important topics from the process perspective. It cultivated an interest in process thought in many fields.

All of this was extremely marginal in every field. Nevertheless, it created a unique community, directly contrary to the disciplinary fragmentation of the university. Whereas the university disciplines prided themselves on their academic purity, the process community had, as its primary concern, “saving the world.” It adopted from China the term “ecological civilization” to name the alternative (saved) world for which Whitehead’s thought called. It included philosophy and theology, but its greatest success was in officially atheistic China.

By 2015, I thought we could reasonably claim to have an alternative to the university. We held a conference showing that on 80 topics process thinkers were working at the cutting edge, dealing with their assumptions. I thought we could also show that what we offered was urgently needed for practical purposes as well as theoretical.

In the following five years, the urgency of change became more widely manifest. Society needed to move away from the value free compartmentalized academic disciplines to a passionately committed holistic vision of the world we need to create. This could happen only with the change of key assumptions offered by process philosophy. Our conference had shown we were ready to help, but the number (outside of China) who cared enough to look were in the thousands.

Nevertheless, we made real progress toward a public role. Process organizations began working with cities, counties, and even states. Locally they gained public visibility and their contributions have been appreciated. But in the national public arena, we remained largely invisible and unheard. Despite our still marginal status, can we help? Can we reach millions? That possibility may be emerging as the global crisis forces itself on the world’s attention. Many of us feel that the cultural climate is changing
dramatically, and that many more people are ready to hear what we have to offer if we find ways of getting the ideas to them. This is the threshold that we now may have the opportunity to cross.

Our chances of crossing may be increased if many of us working in different fields and in diverse ways work together as one community to make the needed changes. That is why I have planned with the heads of major American process organizations a mini conference to help us shift our thinking and perhaps our priorities in ways that increase chances of success. First, we will hear from leaders of four process organizations. What have they achieved in the last five years? In my view, quite a lot. I think we have become ready for “the big time.” Is “the big time” ready for us? We will hear from astute observers in ten fields whether the time for process thought has come.

We’ll begin with philosophy. In recent years it has certainly improved on the European continent. In the non-academic community of thinkers, it has improved in the United States. Even the American philosophical guilds are more open to ideas important to process thought. Can we hope for a major breakthrough in the U.S.?

 I propose that we hear about the thinking of church people, and here I consider the success of Tom Oord’s “God Can’t” as a real breakthrough. We also need to hear from those with spiritual interests separate from the Christian churches. Finally, among liberal religious thinkers who are interested in interfaith, political, and cultural matters, Jay McDaniel will tell us where process thought stands.

The physical sciences have an immense influence on our world view. They contribute especially to cosmology. Whitehead thought the time had come for a changed science and cosmology. The scientific guilds have not changed, but their limitations have become more apparent. Might they shift from substances to events? Is there anything the process community can do to increase the chances of change? Matthew Segall will share his expectations.

The survival of whole populations depends on the products of agriculture. The modernization of agriculture has been a catastrophe. Awareness of the destructiveness of factory farming and raising animals for meat has increased. Interest in regenerative farming has increased. Process thought can undergird this interest philosophically. Has the time come to show the importance of how we think for what we eat?

Most Americans are not, today, enthusiastic about the American or the global economy. Some of them recognize that the problems are partly rooted in the dominant economic theories. Although academic economics still largely supports the current neoliberal economy, that concentrates wealth in fewer and fewer hands, there is much greater openness to call for changes that were barely discussable in the past. Can we hope for an economics that strengthens local communities?

Our minds are largely shaped by our many years in schools. Schooling has been shaped by modern beliefs such as the Kantian separation of facts and values. Dissatisfaction with the results increases. Is there a chance for a different kind of education oriented to the needs of students and of the world?

For generations young people have known that collective human behavior has been unsustainable. But more important for them has been doing well in the present context. The present young adult generation seems to be aware that it is their future that is at stake. Their commitment to change seems deeply rooted. Can process thinkers form an alliance with this community of shared concern?

We will conclude by considering quite directly the question of access to the determinative media. Even if there is change, those who control the media may contain by excluding it from widespread knowledge. Might process thought circumvent this in some way? The news that Philip Clayton’s ECI had partnered with a major organization gives promise that the idea, and eve the content, of ecological civilization may get a wide public hearing. If the news is good on many of these fronts, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to find new ways to spread the word. To conclude the conference, we will break up into smaller groups to start the conversation about how in any and all these fields to reach a much larger audience. The goal is to arouse enough people that politicians will pay attention. In conclusion, I will mention three possible projects that might help us reach more people.

We might form alliances with other organizations that are already contributing to that goal in ways we are not. This could make clear that ecological civilization is an inclusive vision of the world we need. It would certainly not be racist or sexist, but other organizations are doing much more on those fronts than are we. We think all humans should have rights, but we may be critical of the excessively individualist emphasis. Is there an organization working for individual rights that recognizes the importance of community? We certainly favor peace, and we can probably find a peace organization that is very congenial to our understanding of ecological civilization.

I have been thinking for some time about a website that invited wide participation in proposing how ecological civilization would differ from modernity: a kind of Wikipedia of ecological civilization.

Universities may be in a vulnerable situation and willing to consider a change in curriculum. Some of them may consider that the global crisis is so serious that they should allow it to affect what they teach and the way they teach it. There have been encouraging developments at Willamette and LaVerne. We might work together to persuade other universities to experiment. We think there are students who would be attracted to a university that was working to save the world and to prepare students to take part.

Our meeting will be on Saturday, October 31, from 9 to 12. Please join us. We are called to do what we can to save the world. Maybe, at last, the thinking we have done about this will capture the imagination of millions and make a real contribution to radical change of collective behavior. It’s worth trying.

- John Cobb

* * * * * * * * *

Second Letter from John Cobb Conference

Date: October 31, 2020
Time: 9 am to 12 noon
ZOOM Meeting

An Invitation from John Cobb

Dear Fellow Members of the Process Movement,

I hope that you have all received and read my earlier letter about a conference on preparing ourselves to respond to a new openness to process ideas and especially the idea of ecological civilization. I hope that many of you have reserved the time, October 31, 2020, from 9am to 12pm. I am writing now with a few more details about the program, and am attaching a schedule.

The purpose is to get many of us thinking about how to get the attention of a much wider public, and to communicate the most relevant and urgent ideas to it. I speak of urgency because of my judgment that the time that changing policies will help very much is short. I encourage you to listen to Pope Francis’ recent Ted talk. I am very grateful that, under the rubric of “integral ecology,” he shares our concern for transforming society and our sense of urgency. What is most hopeful is that he already addresses the people of the world.

We are experiencing a mild foretaste of an ever-worsening future unless there are profound changes. The process community has been reflecting about the needed changes longer than any other. We believe that, if we are heard, we can help, and there may be a real chance of being heard. Philip Clayton has co-edited an important new book called The New Possible, a title that would have worked for this conference. Zack Walsh told us in our weekly gathering with friends of the Institute that his colleagues in Silicon Valley are influenced by process-relational thinking and know that we must shift in that direction. But unless we use the new opportunity wisely, the door will slam shut. Hence, the urgency!

The most important part of the conference will be the breakout groups at the end. We hope they will begin the conversation about what we need to do, and that all of us will continue that conversation and find ways to implement our creative ideas. One realistic topic for discussion is whether the process community should seek to work together or any one project.

Actually, the conversation is already beginning. Andrew Schwartz wrote me that a correspondent made the point that to influence most people in any topic in which they are not specialists, the point must be made in a single step. Speaking for myself, I find that hard. Process thinking believes that everything is connected and that, therefore, all adequate explanations are complex. But Andrew is right that we must learn how to make crucial points simply and well.

For example, a crucial need is to shift from a global economy to local ones. I have been making that point since the eighties, but I have made it as part of complex proposals for reorganizing society. Recently the idea of a local economy has caught on. The leader of this very promising movement is Helena NorbertHodge.

The way she promotes it, as in the excellent film, “The Economics of Happiness,” leaves many questions unanswered. But in its simple presentation, it is having an influence on the way cities think of their economy. Of course, actual efforts to localize will bring many issues to the foreground, and we may be able to help. But simplifying is required in order to get cities to ask those questions. I must learn new skills, and I do not think I am alone, especially among academics. We have ten people who have agreed to lead or facilitate discussion after the presentations. In my previous letter I briefly described some possible projects. The purpose of including this was to stimulate imagination, not to gain priority for these proposals. Please begin thinking now. Then come and get a clearer idea of what we are already doing and what the openings seem to be in diverse fields. Be prepared to think boldly, as if life depends on you. Perhaps it does.

- John B. Cobb, Jr.