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 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

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Toward Ecological Civilization, Preface




We begin with the public recognition that the Process Philosophy/Theology of mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead may provide the tone and tenor for any discussions relating to ecological civilizations. That Process Thought is inclusive of all previous environmental and sustainability efforts, movements, projects, and organizations, providing a shared vision of a fairer and more equal system of justice both socially and ecologically. A pervasive justice which is dearly needed in a global world collapsing as equally away from social and environmental justice.
At the 10th Whitehead international conference on June 2015 in Claremont, California, the topic was called "Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization." it claimed an organic, relational, integrated, nondual, and processive conceptuality is needed, and that the philosopher, mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead provides this direction in a remarkably comprehensive and rigorous way.  (note 1)
The process-based philosophy of an ecological civilization may also be considered an Integral subtheory of the greater Integral Theory of Process Philosophy and Theology. These latter come together in Whitehead as he searched for metaphysical and ontological expression of the cosmos around us. When indicating that the cosmos "feels," Whitehead is speaking to the metaphysical what-ness of the universe and its Maker even as he does to the ontologial who-ness of the universe and its Maker.

From these observations two things immediately emerge. One, both creation and the Creator are in relationship one to the another. And secondly, in process thought it matters not which came first as both the metaphysics and the ontology of the what and the who are equally combined in the Creator Himself. That is, God is the What of the universe as well as the Who of the universe. Each element is equally subsumed in the Creator God Himself as both Initial Process as well as Initial Relationship.

Hence, God as the What and the Who is also the How. That is, God is the First Process of all proceeding processes which are informed and infilled with His Essence and Being. And as a God of Love we must expect all creative processes - that is, all cosmic and earth-bound processes - to flow with God's Love and Light. Here then is found the organic relationality of all things to all things. Moreover, Whitehead initial titled this system A "Philosophy of Organism" by which he intended to not simply state the relationality of the cosmos to its Creator but to its panpsychic nature of feeling, of being, in unlimited open novelty and uncontained creativity that is indetermined by agency, fully free, and fully non-directed.

One might thus think of this latter idea as responding cosmic processes bearing indeterminate freewill. And with this freewill it has the power to become and not simply be. And in its being flow through the streams of space-time with the essence and being of God's relational Self. And where it deviates to becoming less than it was created to be, it is due to the failings of freewill - even as it may also become more than it was created to be as due to the reciprocity of responding to the relational energy, presence, urging, and non-coercive partnership with its Creator-Redeemer God.

Thus Whiteheadian Process Philosophy/Theology becomes a panacea for all past, present, and future expressions of a process-based cosmos where technically speaking we may speak of cosmoecological civilizations in the greatest, most expansive terms pertaining to its being and becoming.

One last, Whiteheadian Process Thought may be seen exampled in Darwin's evolutionary character of the universe. Or in the quantum cosmological display of the Big Bang. Each portrayal emphasizes a process which starts from something  (creatio continua NOT creatio ex nihilo) becoming something greater, more expansive, more distributive, more enhanced, novel, and with continuing energetic expression borne from the past into the present and from the present into the future.

The God of Creation

Two things here:

FIRSTLY, God and Creation were always present. One might capture this idea from the Genesis "void" which is poetically expressed in ancient metaphor. Here, in this passage, it is  admitted that there was something in the beginning of Creation. The ancient's called it a void, most probably meaning "nothing." But if you will forgive me, I'd like to twist it's definition a bit.... In quantum terms of a void being a void let's take free scientific license and simply state that apart from its ancient meaning of apparent nothingness there was actually a somethingness there. A one-dimension spatial infinity filled with a hot, dense plasmic void without irregularity, wrinkle, or asymmetry.

Contemporary, scientifically-informed theologians differ from their classical counterparts in describing this observation as "creatio continua" as versus the older idea of "creatio ex nihilo." Creation from something as versus Creation from nothing. As this latter cannot be possible it is rejected in quantum physics and evolutionary biology. Which bumps up into the more "recent" Christian idea from the 1940s expressed creedly contra Darwin as "immediate" or "spontaneous" creational genesis by God from nothing into something. Later to become tamped down to perhaps admit a "Young Earth Creationism" or several other non-process, or semi-process based models.

However, since the God of Creation is involved in Process as very Process Himself, so we might expect God's "Calling forth" the worlds and man to bespeak process through-and-through. Thus and thus one might speak of "Theistic Evolution" by its old timey name or currently, as "Evolutionary Creationism" by its newer name, admitting Darwin and process together as one. Even as the Big Bang may be spoken of in process terms.

God With Creation

SECONDLY, if creation isn't with God in the beginning than there can be no God as we know God today in all of His Relational-Self and Self-Expression. Nor would it matter. God would be beyond our kin and simply not exist to His creation. God would be considered non-factual and most probably unconceivable much like a dog would never think of God, living in a god-absent world of chaos, chance, and random event. (PS, the current Process models of evolution and Big Bang cosmology would also includes these elements but with an expanding theistic base model of a God-filled teleology as versus an atheistic teleology full of process but devoid of God-filled meaning. Agnosticism would be of no matter here in these matters except for the fact of debating with a process-epistemology which would inform one of a process-based metaphysic and ontology).

So logically, for argument's sake, let's say God may be independent of the cosmos theoretically. For some this will be meaningful. But for the panentheistic theologian, it makes no sense. As God explains the cosmos/world (let's use these terms synonymously now) so too does the world explain God. In a process universe each requires the other metaphysically and ontically. It is a moot question then of which came first as it can never be resolved, only argued over from a Hellenistic point of view. Thus it is illogical and of no meaning. Allowable, fine, if one wishes. But unnecessary.

Within this panentheistic world is a world of relationships between God and the world and the world with God. Panentheism speaks expressively of relationality, of giving, of becoming, of dynamism, of movement. Wherein comes identity, expression, purpose, novelty, and - when agency is used aright - of valuative relational presence. Thus, we may speak of ecological civilizations as expressing social justice, humanitarianism, being human, as much as we may speak of environmental justice focusing on reducing humanity's carbon footprint to one by restoring earth's biophyllic communities to relational balance and harmony with itself and with the anthropocene era which now overcomes the earth perhaps to oxygen-breathing organism's doom.



Side Note: Both charts I find helpful in showing the comparison between older to new theistically-modeled systems. Where problems crop up will be in imperfectly understanding this newer panentheistic model because process theology is poorly understood. You will note too that God is no longer required to be in the "top spot" on the lower chart below, thus "relationally equalizing" God and Creation in mutual affection together, one to the other. The rallying cry, or universal theme, now becomes that of process philosophy/theology described as "creativity" but meaning so much more than this simply word might express. Again, this will come with a better understanding of Process Thought. I have spent some time in explaining this and will leave several index links for those of you interested in learning more about process thought.



Conclusion

At this point I think we should stop. Take a little time to think through these large thoughts which have tilted all the windmills upside down in the classic world of creedal Christianity. I began this exploration some years back and it has take quite a few years to get my head around it. I grew up in fundamentalist churches, and later their more "liberal" counterparts, the conservative evangelical churches. All were megachurches which I attended and all fully devoted to God and family, community and missions. To break from my Baptist background, and later, newer Covenant Reformed roots, required reprising Christianity from a contemporary, postmodern, post-structuralist viewpoint. This website here, Relevancy22, is testimony it can be done and that God, the Gospel of Jesus, and Christian faith is even cooler than it was - if that could even be possible. Which, apparently it is, by my own and other's testimony here on this website.

One finally story. Having been taught in a one-room schoolhouse where we had 19 kids from grades K-8, was the highest and best education I could imagine. It was safe. It allowed me to think and follow my own educational paths. And I had ample opportunity to teach the older kids. But we were closed down after six generations (starting way back with my homesteading relatives in the 1800s) when our township became a city and we were moved into the public school system. Here I felt alone in a very strange world. It was a place I really never considered as good or beautiful as my own country school. Perhaps because I had grown up in an agrarian-based, pre-industrial mindset, making modernism quite foreign to me with its wars and civil unrest. Which is probably why I feel so comfortable in today's postmodernism and in its rejection of industrialism, its rejection of the pursuit of money for relationships, and its disjointedness from the natural world I grew up on, loved, and never every ant hill on the thousand acres I roamed since a young boy, along with the generations of my relatives before me.

And so, I was transferred, and learned in hindsight how much more I would gain in education and socialization though I didn't realize it at the time. I learned, and did things in public school which I would never have in my wonderful country school. But I did struggle. I remember Algebra I as being completely beyond me. I couldn't make sense of variables like "x" and "y". They were ungrounded for me. Just mathematical expressions joined by axiomatic symbols. They were meaningless and confounding. Then one day deep into October, maybe early November, as I kept getting D's and E's the light dawn and I suddenly understood. From there I didn't stop learning mathematics until the end of my junior year in University as I was studying graduate applied maths by then. It's a love affair I sadly miss and wish I had stayed with as a career and theoretician. But somethings are not meant to be in life and this was one. The Lord had me bound for somewhere else.

So, I think, its probably where many faithful, wandering souls are today wondering how Christianity became so foreign to itself. A faith of love, mercy, forgiveness, and service, now become a politicized, partisan faith exhibiting the worst of humanity's sins and fully unlike the Christ it professes. If anything I write to those who have lost their way that there may be hope again. The themes and subjects here are many. And it's all meant to be explored and considered using many pens and writers rather than my own alone. Many of these theologians speak to their own heartaches and frustrations in ministries. Which is well and good as Christianity would be the poorer without their influence, failures, and losses.

In the days ahead I will try to move forward through process thought into ecological societies of the future. For now, rest and be at peace. God has not forsaken this world. There are processes in place which will extinguish the awful, perhaps permanently, with an ecological collapse. But before this happens let's try to put people and trees, land, water, and air, back together again in balance and harmony with one another like it "was" in the fictional Garden of Eden. A utopia fallen into the noise of mankind's dystopia. Let us join together and build a City of God, and therein learn to dwell. Peace.

R.E. Slater
February 16, 2021

1What Is Ecological Civilization, by Philip Clayton, CC x, pp x-x


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RESOURCES












Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 1

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 2

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 3

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 4

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 5

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 6

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 7

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 8

Toward Ecological Civilization, Conclusions









Thomas Oord - Why We Embrace Open & Relational Theology




Why We Embrace Open & Relational Theology

by Thomas J. Oord
February 15th, 2021

I’m writing a book introducing open and relational theology. It’s aimed at the general public and for use in classrooms, small groups, and personal enrichment.

Early in the book, I list reasons people are attracted to open and relational theology. Many of the reasons come from posts on social media. Whole books have been written on some of these reasons.

In this post and in the book, I sketch out each briefly. Below, in no particular order, are reasons many find open and relational theology appealing.

The Reasons…

Jesus – A number of Christians point to Jesus as the primary reason they embrace open and relational theology. In their eyes, the persuasive love of Jesus — who re-presents God (Heb 1:3) — reveals God as one who loves nonviolently. Jesus engaged in giving and receiving love with others believing their responses were not predetermined. God does the same. We best know what God’s love is, say some open and relational thinkers, from the life, teachings, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Jn 3:16). Open and relational theology offers a framework to make sense of God in light of Jesus.

Scriptures – Others interpret sacred scriptures as pointing to the primacy of divine love. Jews (and Christians) might highlight the fifteen times these words appear in the Hebrew Bible: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to act in anger, abounding in loving kindness, and forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Exod 34:6-7; Num 14:18; Neh 9:31; Psalm 86:15, Joel 2:13; etc.). Muslims might build a case for open and relational theology from the way the Qur’an portrays Allah. It begins, “Allah is the ultimate source of instant beneficence and eternal mercy, who encompasses the entire universe” (1:1-3). The root Arabic letters R-H-M describe God’s caring and compassion. In addition to what scripture says about Jesus, Christians might emphasize “God is love” (1 Jn 8,16) and other New Testament love passages.

Logic of Love – Other advocates of open and relational theology build from the logic of love itself. They ask questions like the following: Does love cause or allow unnecessary pain? Does love predestine some to eternal hell? Does love entirely control others? Concern itself only with self-interest and ignore other-interests? Does love make sense without freedom? To each of these questions, open and relational thinkers answer, “No!” If God loves everyone and everything, a loving God is open and relational.

Moral Intuitions – Others come to open and relational theology following their deepest moral intuitions. They may not have been exposed to religion, but they respond to truth, beauty, goodness, and love. It stands to reason a Source grounds and summons such responses. And if this Source is truly loving, it must be relational rather than static, engaging an open future, not a settled one. The deep intuitions of many fit the open and relational vision.

Healthy Relationships – Another entryway to open and relational thought starts by asking, “What if we took seriously what the research in psychology, sociology, communications, and medicine tells us about relationships and genuine happiness?” Then they ask, “What if we believed God relates in the ways research says healthy people relate?” Many such studies suggest we’re healthier when not manipulated, bullied, neglected, or abused. In fact, people who think God benevolently nurtures are, on average, healthier and happier than others. They have better relationships, greater psychological well-being, and more positive social connections. Some embrace what social science research tells us about the good life and extrapolate theologically.

Solves Intellectual Problems – A good number of open and relational thinkers arrived at these ideas after an intellectual quest. Some wrestled for years with questions about divine grace and sovereignty. Others wondered about God’s relation to time. Some looked for solutions to why a loving and powerful God doesn’t prevent genuine evil. Others tried to reconcile their sense of free will with an active God. Some sought a theology that didn’t imply God is an old white guy intervening on occasion to mansplain morality. And so on. Open and relational theology offers real solutions to our biggest questions.

Relational Worldview – Others came to open and relational theology not so much to find answers but because it fits the way they naturally relate. This is a common entryway for feminists, for instance. A relational God who engages noncoercively fits what many intuit is the best way to live. It fits existence top to bottom, simple to complex, individual to community. If we are open and relational beings in an open and relational world, why not think our Creator is open and relational?

Science and Philosophy – Still others follow theories in science and philosophy to an open and relational view. A number of physicists, biologists, and chemists find creation to be evolving. They conjecture that a God who also in some way evolves must have created it. Or take philosophy. In attempts to make sense of morality and existence, many ethicists and metaphysicians postulate the existence of an open and relational deity who grounds morals and goads existence toward complexity. In fact, a disproportionate percentage of scholars exploring issues in science and religion embrace an open and relational perspective.

Perfect Being – One might come to believe God is open and relational through what some call “Perfect Being” theology. Instead of starting with scripture, science, religious experience, philosophies, or wisdom traditions, this approach asks, “What would a perfect being be like?” This perfect being is, of course, what many call God. If love is the greatest among divine perfections, one might deduce that a loving God is perfectly open and relational. Beginning with love also overcomes contradictions in perfect being theologies that start with power, timelessness, or changeless perfection.

Meaning and Purpose – I conclude with a final reason some find open and relational theology appealing and likely true. The open and relational view provides a framework for thinking our lives have meaning and purpose. Most theologies portray God as one who either pre-programs all life or can get results singlehandedly. In those theologies, our choices don’t really matter. By contrast, open and relational thinking says we have genuinely free choices. Not even God can stop us. The future rests, in part, on what we decide, so our lives have meaning and purpose.

Concluding Questions

I conclude with two questions:
1 - Did I miss something above?

2 - What attracted you to open and relational theology?

<-- Go to link to leave comments at the bottom of Tom's page. By doing so you will help contribute to the writing of his new book he's developing. Thanks. - re slater


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Resources & Reading Materials on
Open & Relational Theology




  

 

  

    

  



Ecological Civilizations - Bill Gates 2021 60 Minutes Interview

 


Bill Gates: The 2021 60 Minutes interview

"Without innovation, we will not solve climate change.
We won't even come close." - Bill Gates

Anderson Cooper reports for 60 Minutes.










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CEO Daily

 

February 16, 2021

 

Good morning.

Bill Gates takes over as guest editor of the Fortune website today, providing a look at the steps needed for a climate breakthrough. You can read the whole package, along with updates, at fortune.com. Especially worth attention is Gates’ lengthy interview with editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf, available here. In it, he makes the point that during the last recession, in 2007-2008, concern about climate change receded. But this time, the opposite has happened:

“During the financial crisis … people were like, “Hey, things are tough now and that climate stuff, that’s way out there.” Even by 2010, if you polled the public, you’d find that interest in the climate had gone way down. It began to build up gradually over the next decade, but as we hit the pandemic, I thought, ‘Okay, what’s gonna’ happen?’ But it’s actually gone up somewhat during the pandemic, which is kind of weird.”

Gates believes the global challenge to meet net zero carbon emissions will have to rely heavily on innovation. And in his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he lays out the innovations needed. (Read Leaf’s review of the book here.) It’s a daunting agenda. But as we reported last month, 60% of CEOs surveyed recently are now on board and have adopted their own plans for achieving net zero by 2050 or before. And many executives I’ve talked with recently share the view that GM CEO Mary Barra expressed at a recent Fortune meeting—that 2021 could be an “inflection point.”  

For its part, the Biden administration is rapidly turning the U.S. government toward the net zero goal. The recent COVID vaccine effort has shown what can happen when business and government collaborate with a clear purpose. If they do the same on climate change, anything is possible.

Separately, Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya is the subject of a new documentary, which debuted last night on Vice. The film focuses on the work he has done to resettle and provide jobs to refugees. I spoke with Ulukaya about the film last week. He says he grew up “hating CEOs and business and wealth,” and wanted to show it could be done better. He believes other businesses increasingly share his view, for two big reasons:

“One is the people who want to come and join these companies. They want to work for companies whose values align with theirs. That’s the new force, and it is getting more and more powerful… The second big force is the consumer…That’s also becoming more and more powerful.”

And finally, Magic Leap’s new CEO Peggy Johnson was our guest on Leadership Next this week.  She believes she has a plan to turn the troubled augmented reality headset maker around. You can listen on Apple or Spotify.

More news below.



Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com


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RESOURCES, READING MATERIALS, GRAPHICS, & SPECULATIONS IN GREEN

https://earthcharter.org/


























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RESOURCES












Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 1

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 2

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 3

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 4

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 5

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 6

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 7

Toward Ecological Civilization, Chapter 8

Toward Ecological Civilization, Conclusions