Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on July 7, 2020

"As we move around this world and as we act with kindness . . . or with indifference or with hostility toward the people we meet, we are setting the great spider web atremble. "
— Frederick Buechner

The world is like a great spider web — minus the spider. Or rather, including the spider, as even the tiniest of creatures are card-carrying members of our silky, web-like world. This lacy, cosmic extravagance in which we all find ourselves can be explained with elaborate cosmological or scientific models, but the spider web is all we really need to stir our imagination.

As a theologian, I believe the spider web is the perfect image . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on June 12, 2020

I feel fairly certain — as certain as I can feel — that when George Floyd couldn’t breathe, God couldn’t breathe either. What I mean is that George Floyd’s gasping for air was shared by an eternal companion to the universe who, in the words of process theologians, feels the feelings of all living beings. I’m sure Christians can understand. God must have felt George’s gasping not unlike the way God felt the nails as they tore into Jesus’ flesh on the cross. Of course, God feels the nails of hatred as they tear into anyone’s flesh. And the nails may be knees rather than nails.

And yet I also hope that there’s a side of God that kept breathing . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on March 20, 2020

Fear. If you're feeling it, you're normal. You're paying attention. The coronavirus is an invader that has come upon us with great speed and virulence. Like a bull in a china closet, this new invader blithely wrecks our most precious plans, blocks our ability to congregate, and stomps out normal touching and hugging. If that's not enough, it turns to decimating our economy. This bull is on the loose. We would be crazy not to stand back and tremble.

Fear is not my favorite spiritual companion. . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on January 6, 2020

Perfectionism is both a curse and a blessing. Mainly a curse, in my experience. But there is that inescapable reality that perfectionists grace our human landscape for a reason. It is my fervent hope that my accountant, my dentist, and any future surgeon who chooses to traverse the intricacies of my insides are all dyed-in-the-wool perfectionists. But even these folks whose work demands the utmost precision and who demand much of themselves as well as others — even these folks eventually need to come home, kick off their shoes, and quit being perfect.

Without a practice to smooth the sharp edges of the perfectionist . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on December 20, 2019

I have spent a lot of time in mainland China over the years, teaching process philosophy to students young and old. The youngest are in kindergarten and the oldest are in their late eighties. I’ve been thirteen times in thirteen years.

One thing I’ve discovered in China . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on December 12, 2019

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories . . . and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie

In "The Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy," W is for Wonder. And, for many of us, Christmas is the Season of Wonder: pageants and angels and stars and potluck dinners and knitted scarves fresh off the needles. Mesmerized by twinkling lights and Advent candles piercing the darkness, it would seem that wonder just happens, descending like the Angel Gabriel, announcing good tidings.

But hold on. For the introvert, Christmas heralds a nightmare of multiple social events . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on December 2, 2019

I am in a band, and on Halloween evening we played at one of my favorite restaurants in central Arkansas, Toad Suck Buck’s restaurant. Members of the band had an informal understanding that we might … just might … come dressed for the occasion, in costumes. I forgot all about it and came as I ordinarily would, in a cardigan sweater, slacks, and a dress shirt. As I set up, I asked a fellow band member, Allen Dixon, if he could guess who I was. He teasingly responded, Mister Rogers. We laughed.

What was funny to us? I think part of it is . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on October 23, 2019

I was told that the most important thing in life is to be rich, powerful, and famous. What happened?

Zen and Whitehead ruined me. Zen taught me to measure my life in terms of moments of experience rather than everlasting achievements. Whitehead gave me a cosmology which said that moments are the ultimate reality of the universe. This led me to be less interested in fame, fortune, and power than society tends to expect, and more interested in who I was and how I was in the immediacy of the moment. I wanted to live with integrity, not ambition.

Friends said that I was thinking too small. . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on October 9, 2019

We can then see our own suffering as a voluntary participation in the one Great Sadness of God. . . . Within this meaningful worldview, we can build something new, good, and forever original, while neither playing the victim nor making victims of others. We can be free conduits of grace into the world. — Richard Rohr

Recently, my young cat named Oliver struggled with a painful illness, and it occurred to me that my own deep sadness over his distress was something much bigger than me. Remembering a line from Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, I even found myself saying, "It is the Great Sadness." It was as if my cat's suffering was noted and felt and permeated with that same Great Sadness that mourns the death of bees, that same Great Sadness that feels the groans of refugees and hurricane victims and gun violence. Yes, that same Great Sadness feels the suffering of this tiny gray rescue cat. It is the one Great Sadness of God, a sadness that invites us to participate. And when we do, we become channels of grace to the world.

We Are Not Alone . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on September 6, 2019

In the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.
— Rebecca Solnit

In her book Hope in the Dark, writer and activist Rebecca Solnit argues a strong and eloquent case for uncertainty. Uncertainty? But . . . no one likes that word. Don't we often remark that the worst part of waiting for news about a diagnosis or a lost dog or an unpredictable hurricane is the "uncertainty"? Today, we face serious, existential uncertainties in the larger world: Will we finally address climate change before it's too late? Is it, in fact, too late? How much more violence will we see before hate runs its present course? Will our democracy hold? All this uncertainty makes us crazy. That is, until we discover the riches inherent in uncertainty.

The elegance of Solnit's premise ...


About This Blog

Welcome to Process Musings for the spiritually curious, the creative, and the open-hearted. We, Jay McDaniel and Patricia Adams Farmer, are two bloggers from the world of process thought, inspired by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. This multi-faith blog features articles, essays, stories, videos, and poetry which invite you to discover fresh possibilities for wholeness, creativity, and joy. Read more.