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

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Jay McDaniel & Sheri Kling, "The Rapture of Being Alive"

The Rapture of Being Alive

Two Hymns by Sheri D. Kling


God as Singer, God as Song

by Sheri Kling
​While all of this “becoming” is a beautiful thing, for those of us in the midst of upheavals and changes, life can feel quite chaotic, random, and difficult. Yet it has always been my sense that there is a certain grace within the chaos of life because the Divine is at work at its very heart. When order trembles with something new, we witness an ineffable holiness that is raw and powerful. Yet, we can also tune our ears to hear the strains of the Song that the Divine Singer is singing, which I believe is the song that our hearts yearn to sing as well.

​*Sheri D. Kling, Re-Tuning Religion in a Process-Relational Key, in Preaching the Uncontrolling Love of God


The Rapture of Being Alive

Several years ago I developed a slideshow naming six ways that the God of open and relational (process) theology can be understood and experienced. (Click here.) We can feel and know God as:

  1. The Universe itself as interwoven with divine love
  2. A Companion to the world's joys and sufferings
  3. A Guiding and animating spirit in the universe
  4. The Spirit of Creative transformation
  5. The Mind of the universe
  6. The everlasting Song of the universe

Many open and relational theologians like to speak of God as a luring presence in the universe; that's what I had in mind by a Guiding Spirit and the Spirit of Creative Transformation. But a way that is especially important to all of us who love music is the sixth way. God as the Song of the universe.

It is not that everything that happens in the universe is the divine song. Terrible things happens that are not musical in a divine way. But much music that we hear does indeed resonate with a song we hear in our heart as well: a song of grace, of yearning, of creative transformation, of longing, of love. As Sheri Kling makes clear, we hear the strain of this song within us, even in the hardest of times, and we are moved by its holiness, raw and powerful. She often speaks the whole-making nearness of God. I hear that nearness in her music.


I thought of this sixth way when I read her essay "Re-Tuning Religion in a Process-Relational Way" in the anthology: "Preaching the Uncontrolling Love of God." In this essay she introduces and discusses two hymns she has written: "We All are Related" and "Love is Perfect Power." I also thought of the sixth way when I found versions of her singing the hymns on Youtube. (Scroll down and listen.) I have heard her before, many times, and I think her voice is gorgeous. I'm hoping that, in heaven, there are angels that sound like Sheri. To me you can hear in her singing not only a conviction but also a hope, not only an affirmation but an aching. The angels in heaven must be like this, too. Surely they share in the aching of living beings on earth - in the heartbeat of billions of bodies just wanting to be.


Here are some of the lyrics in “We All are Related”:

God is embodied, Word become flesh, in all that we see.
Deeply incarnate in every bird, in every tree.
In the heartbeat of billions of bodies just wanting to be.
God is embodied, soul of the world, breathing in me.

As I read these lyrics, I ask myself: "Billions of bodies wanting to be what? What do the myriad creatures of our universe—quantum events, living cells, plants, animals, stars, galaxies—want to be? What are they seeking and perhaps even aching for?"


At the end of her essay, Sheri Kling offers what, for me, is as good answer as I can imagine: "They want to be fully alive in whatever ways are possible for them!" She writes:

But I believe there are many of us who ache for what Joseph Campbell described in The Power of Myth as 'the rapture of the experience of being alive'; people who, like me, can sometimes glimpse the Oneness of a grace-filled Reality that exults in embodiment, even with its heart-rending sorrows.
I believe there are those who seek to align themselves with the sacred flow of healing love, dynamism, and adventurous creativity that can bring relationship, reconciliation, transformation, and abundant life to all. Let us now sing those hopes into being. - Sherri Kling

To be sure, in this passage Sheri is speaking primarily of human experience, but the whole of “We Are All Related” is about how we humans are kin to other creatures, to other “bodies just wanting to be.” It is not a stretch to imagine that they, too, seek full aliveness. We seek the rapture of being alive, but so do dogs and cats and fish and insects. We are related.


For my part, I am grateful for the quotation from Joseph Campbell. The quote reminds me of a question a student of mine asked me once, while taking a seminar on Whitehead's "Process and Reality." She had been reading Campbell and knew the 'rapture' quote. She asked:

If you take Whitehead's philosophy seriously, what is most important in life: the rapture of being alive or finding meaning in life?

Knowing that Whitehead is a both/and thinker, but not wanting to dismiss her, I offered a pat and predictable answer. I responded:

"Maybe that's a false dichotomy. We can have it both ways. The rapture of being alive is the meaning of life."

She, [the student], would have none of it! She was surrounded by people who think that making or finding something called "meaning" is the purpose of life, and typically by 'meaning' they have something somewhat intellectual in mind, like having a story or narrative in terms of which the many moments of life can be situated. Or maybe having 'meaning' because you are engaged in 'meaningful' activities such as loving other people and helping make the world a better place. The meaning-seeking people she knew thought the rapture of being alive, while enjoyable, is not really an end in itself. It lacks narrative and ethics. She said:

"The insects will never understand. They don't seek meaning, they seek life."

I know that Sheri Kling would certainly think that having stories and being ethical are part of what gives human life meaning. She might well agree with my pat answer. But she (Sheri Kling) also speaks about the "many of us who ache for the rapture of the experience of being alive." It seems to me that this aching is not simply for meaning; it is for being alive. And this we share with all creatures: Insects, microbes, plants, animals, fungi, and all forms of life. Each entity, from the smallest bacterium to the largest whale, aches for aliveness. We all are related.


Back to my student. She reminded me of Whitehead's idea in "Process and Reality" that in every moment of experience, we are aiming at satisfaction: the self-enjoyment of being one among many. She said, "This sounds to me more like 'the rapture of being alive' than like 'meaning.'"

I think she had a point. True, in many of his writings, Whitehead speaks of the importance of love and peace; he seems to think that Love is the very heart of God, and in "Adventures of Ideas" he says that Peace is the consummation of a soul's journey. Such language sounds like "meaning" language. But he also says, in "Process and Reality," that every actual entity, every concrescing subject anywhere in the universe, is aiming at, in his words, "intensity" of experience, and he describes the enjoyment of such intensity as self-enjoyment. Such language sounds like "rapture" language to me. Perhaps in human life peace and love are forms of rapture, but there is more to rapture than peace and love. Sheer survival, in some circumstances, is rapture enough.


Whitehead speaks of God as “a fellow sufferer who understands.” What does God understand about us? Here, too, Sheri Kling offers a key. The song includes these two lines:

God’s Spirit moves toward abundant life,
so that all who live may flourish.

Perhaps what God understands is the desire within each living being to flourish, to be fully alive, to enjoy the intensity of momentary rapture.

Certainly, this is what we ourselves understand about other people and other creatures when we love them. We do not just love their meaning, whatever that is. Nor do we simply understand their states of feeling: their sufferings, their joys, their heartaches, their pleasures. We understand their desire to flourish, to be fully alive.


​Sheri Kling offers us an image of God who likewise seeks the flourishing of each and all, and thus who understands the naturalness and beauty of their desire. The image of God she offers is not that of a sky-god above the world, overseeing it from afar. It is of a holiness in life itself, powerful and raw, yet also more than life itself in that it understands us. I repeat a quote from above:

It has always been my sense that there is a certain grace within the chaos of life because the Divine is at work at its very heart. When order trembles with something new, we witness an ineffable holiness that is raw and powerful.

Can it be that this ineffable holiness is also tender and personal? A fellow sufferer who understands not only our own lives but the lives of all who ache for satisfaction?


Sheri Kling speaks of God as Spirit and as Oneness and as Sacred Flow. I especially like sacred flow, because it reminds me of music. You cannot grasp the flow of music, but you can feel its presence and flow with it. I think God is like this. Faith is a form of flowing.

We cannot easily picture the flow, but with help from Sheri Kling, we can hear it. The key to a good hymn, of the sort Sheri Kling composes and sings, is not simply that it gives you guidelines for living and evokes intuitions about life's meanings. It is also that, in its melodies and in its tones, you can hear the aching and the ineffable holiness. An aching for life in its fulness, even if momentarily realized.

That's the love to which her hymns point, not through words alone but through the soulfulness of her singing. God is, after all, the Soul of the universe: the luring companion to each and all, luring toward wholeness, toward aliveness, a companion to all the suffering and to the joy. This spirit of uncontrolling love is not exactly "above" the universe, although more than it, but rather with the universe, in loving way.

My favorite sermons are sung. Sheri Kling's songs are among my favorite sermons.

- Jay McDaniel


Sheri Kling “We All Are Related”
by Sheri Kling  |   Apr 5, 2020

We All Are Related
by Sheri Kling

(Choral chant)
Fiery brilliance, cooling gas, condensing gravity
Atoms forming stars and carbon-fueled diversity
Earth with sky and oceans, molecules then multiply
Stardust is the mater of the cosmos and all life.

We all are related, woven as threads in earth’s tapestry
A kinship creation, depending on all in deep harmony.
Internally formed by each other, creative and free
We all are related, wholly and actively.

The world is becoming, the future of God is luring us there.
Grace within chaos, the pow’r of the new, holiness bare.
The Singer is singing the Song we are yearning to share.
The world is becoming, process is everywhere.

God is embodied, Word become flesh, in all that we see.
Deeply incarnate in every bird, in every tree.
In the heartbeat of billions of bodies just wanting to be.
God is embodied, soul of the world, breathing in me.

All things have value, all the way up and all the way down.
God is redeeming the lowliest stone and the glorious crown.
Christ is the pattern in every atom around.
All things have value, whispering Spirit Sound.

We need liberation from seeing our world as dead-matter machines
All creatures as neighbors, a healing embrace, so held we are free.
Entraining our rhythms to the heartbeat of Life consciously,
We all are related,
In a world that’s becoming,
Where God is embodied,
And all things have value,
We are liberated, affirming the world we see.

 © 2011 Sheri D. Kling, Waking Woman Music, ASCAP


Sheri Kling “Love is Perfect Power”
by Sheri Kling  |  Jun 11, 2020

Love is Perfect Power
by Sheri Kling

Verses to the tune of “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”

Love is perfect, perfect power,
Perfect, perfect power is love.   (repeat)

In community we all belong;
We are formed through incarnation.
So when the powers press the weak,
We call for liberation.

This world is full of fear and rage;
Domination steals all choices.
Compassion, boldness, hope, and strength
Empower silent voices.

God’s Spirit moves toward abundant life,
So that all who live may flourish.
Injustice threatens everyone;
Rise up, so all are nourished.

Love is perfect, perfect power,
Perfect, perfect power is love.   (repeat)

Our God does not dominate the world;
We choose each realization.
For perfect love seeks not control,
God’s power is persuasion.

We now must turn from the ordered past,
Seeking God’s imagination.
Divine adventure brings new risks,
for wholeness and salvation.

So we stand and meet all force with love,
Tending seeds of transformation.
We bring the power that can redeem;
God’s reconciliation.

Love is perfect, perfect power,
Perfect, perfect power is love.   (repeat)

 © Sheri D. Kling, Waking Woman Music, ASCAP

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