Jay McDaniel, professor of Religious Studies at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, Patricia Adams Farmer, a novelist and educator, are the editors of this collection of essays which is part of the "Toward Ecological Civilization Series" based on process philosophy. In a piece at the end of the paperback, McDaniel sums of "Twenty Key Ideas in Process Thought" which gives readers a succinct and accessible overview of this philosophy developed by Alfred North Whitehead. It involves complementary thinking, relational power, the primacy of particularity, education as a lifelong process, and reality as "an inner calling toward wisdom, compassion, and creativity."
Editors McDaniel and Farmer are process thinkers who believe that the destruction of the earth in the name of consumerism has "shrunk the soul of humanity." They are firmly convinced that to counter this cultural force we "need to stretch our souls higher and wider and deeper." What is the key that can open us up to this adventuresome quest? The answer, says Farmer is beauty, which she defines as "that which glistens on the edges of our yearning and lures us into the depths of things."
In five sections on Sustainable Community; Relational Thinking; Creativity, Imagination and the Arts; Stories; and the Earth, the editors share essays from scholars, writers, artists, activists, educators, and clergy who have been inspired by the philosophy and thinking of Alfred North Whitehead.
Patricia Adams Farmer (Embracing a Beautiful God) is one of our favorite writers and in this anthology she writes enchanting essays on simplicity, fat soul, the numinosity of rocks, Dave Brubeck and creative transformation, Mozart, Van Gogh, novels, stories, imperfection, nature and hope. In her final essay in the book, Farmer concludes:
"With the companionship of divine Beauty always re-creating out of chaos and pain, we can finally relax and let our roots spread deeply and peacefully into the welcoming Earth, wherever we happen to be."