Why Process?

Timothy pictureEveryone who has found process theology helpful reaches that conclusion based on different reasons and experiences. We each have diverse relevant worlds that lure us in particular directions, for process theology is not one entity that can be felt from only one side.

Alfred North Whitehead developed his thought in large part as a response to his engagement with math and physics. Charles Hartshorne sought a way to account for God in metaphysics.

What brings you to process theology? Is it because it makes belief in God more credible, helps you understand how other religions can be true, reconciles religion and science, addresses postmodernity more satisfactorily than other theologies, or is it something else?

I am here because process conceptually helped me reflect on two issues I was already working on before I knew anything about it: how to think about God (including related topics like theodicy and the God-World relationship), and how to understand that I am connected with others, especially those who are oppressed. I knew Latin American liberation theology before I knew process. It spoke to my experiences of injustice and God's preferential option for the poor.

Since those days, my theology has shifted several times, and I expect it to continue to do so long after school is complete. I no longer see liberation the way I did before. Things are more complicated, and I am more gracious with those who disagree with me. However, that does not mean that for me the intent of early liberation theologies have become just another option to conceptually try on. To put it strongly, process is not sacrosanct for me: I would give it up if it meant that I could no longer stand in solidarity with others or if it undermined that ability.

However, I believe that process helps me connect things that too often are left disconnected: religion and politcs, spirituality and activism, theology and ethics, individuals and community. It is the place from which I stand, but there are many locations whereby one finds a relevant path for oneself. So again, I ask: what brings you here? What ideas, commitments, potentials have you prehended such that they constitute how you see the world and shape how you will respond to that multiplicity of actuals and potentials? Why process?

Comments

the path to process

Timothy thanks for asking that question. I've been tracing my path here, allow me to present it in single word form. (I started this chain in 2007)Postmodern - (Matthew Fox) -Panentheist (Matthew Fox) -Emergent (Brian McLaren, Peter Rollins, Richard Rohr) -Inclusive (Carlton Pearson) -Ecumenical & Interfaith (Bede Griffiths, Karen Armstrong) -Taoism -Mythic (Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell)Evolutionary & Scientific (Michael Dowd) -Sacred/Conscious Evolution (Teilhard, Barbara Marx Hubbard) -Integral (Ken Wilber) -Process (Whitehead et al)...

Who is Jesus in Process Theology where you are in your process?

Who is Jesus as you now see him in Process Theology?

Jesus to me

I'll give a few images that resonate with me at this time. I love the story in Mark of the Syrophoenician woman meeting Jesus. Over the course of their encounter, Jesus moves from a position of being closed to the possibility that she has something to offer him to one of growth and insight. Here, Jesus is the 'open one' who listens for where God is speaking and is willing to go wherever that leads. I also like the images of Jesus' role as Christ in the form of Sophia/wisdom and creative transformation. Schubert Ogden talks about Jesus as a window into the reality of God, that the point is not who Jesus was on the inside but what he reveals about God, like a window that lets the sun shine into an enclosed space. Catherine Keller adds that it is not his identity that is revelatory but his priorities that matter. As you may be aware, there are many process Christologies, some fairly speculative like John Cobb's where Christ creates a field of force that we can participate in and expand. That doesn't really do much for me but others love it. Ultimately for me, I think that Jesus comes through best in the parables where he deconstructs certainties and opens up decisions of meaning towards an indeterminate but transforming future. I think he authorizes and encourages us to that same process today, particularly in light of 'the least of these.' Hope this helps!