The Future of Process Theology:
Learning from the Talmud
Come and see how beloved is a mitzvah in its time!, the Talmud counsels. The time to comfort is when someone feels pain. The call to courage is when we fear. The opportunity to exult is during joy. You are alive today, now. This is your moment, your opportunity: Respond, Revere, Rejoice, Reach out!
Rabbi Bradley Artson
Whitehead and the Talmud
As I write this I am teaching a course on process philosophy and theology to college undergraduates. We have been reading Whitehead's Process and Reality and we came upon a place early in the book where he said he would not be proceeding in an axiomatic way but would instead introduce topics that are poorly elaborated in one place but more thoroughly elaborated in another. He said that whatever wisdom lies in his thought can best be evaluated at the end, when the whole is seen, not at the beginning. And he added that he hoped that his ideas would be critiqued, revised, amplified, and, where needed, rejected. A student raised his hand and said: "So is his philosophy kind of like a mandala?" I said "Yes, but it's also open-ended, so that new things can be added and it changes over time." The student said: "Oh, so it's like a Talmud?" The answer, of course, was Yes.
International Process Theology
International process theology will be as story-centered as it is philosophy-nourished. It will move past the pretense of self-assured pronouncements into the freedom of exploration through philosophy and religion, art and music, history and story.
Bradley Shavit "Brad" Artson (born 1959) is an American rabbi, author, speaker, and the occupant of the Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean's Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, California, where he is Vice-President. He supervises the Louis and Judith Miller Introduction to Judaism Program and provides educational and religious oversight for Camp Ramah of California. He is Dean of the Zecharias Frankel College at the University of Potsdam in Germany, ordaining Conservative/Masorti Rabbis for the European Union.
-- from Wikipedia
Featured - Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
God Wants You to Have Fun (With People You Love) GO
The Crack is How the Light Gets In GO
The Supreme Court Decision: Another Step Forward for Love GO
Homosexuality and the Bible GO
Gay and Lesbian Jews GO
The Gift of Revelation GO
Jewish Holy Days and Festivals GO
She is a Benefit to Herself: The Value of Being Alive GO
Four Reasons I'm Bound to Israel GO
Turtles and Whales (and Us): What the World Reveals? GO
What are We Doing When We Pray ? GO
Judaism: Way of Life, Philosophy, Culture, & Faith GO
Coming to Know the God We Already Love GO
Becoming - East and West GO
The Constellation of Process Theology: An Invitation GO
God's Call to Justice: Finding Your Inner Bad Girl GO
Want to know what process theology can look like in the future? Let the Talmud be our guide. In the future process theology can be a web of interconnected ideas, developed in a conversational way, articulated in story as well as dialogue, in a conversation that never ends. The stories and dialogues can have practical implications for how we live, some of which help us reach out in comfort to those who feel pain, and some of which help us find our way to courage when we feel fear.
Understood in this way, process theology will grow beyond a magisterial tone of philosophical self-absorption and enter into a more narrative tone, sensitive to first-person experience. It will be ethically relevant; and it might also be fun, just like the Talmud. Of course, in the case of the process Talmud, the participants will be people of many faiths and also people without faith, all of whom will be committed to the building of communities that are creative, compassionate, participatory, multicultural, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind.
Who will these people be? Some will be rabbis, some imams, some ministers; some will be musicians, some homemakers, some street venders; some will be from Asia, some from Africa, and some from Latin America. Each and all will have a voice in the ongoing development of a process Talmud. Part of the Talmud will be written down in script, sound, and ritual, and part in the depths of the widened heart and exploring mind. Like the Jewish Talmud, it will be multi-voiced and open-ended, because its meaning will lie, not only in what it says, but also in how it is received and enriched. It will offer mitzvot for our time: guidelines for how we truly live. Call it process halakha.
Wouldn't that be nice? I think so, too. And for my part I think Jewish process theology has an extremely important role to play in all of this. In what follows I offer excerpts from a recent BBC story on the Talmud, followed by a bit more about how process theologians can learn from its form and style.
-- Jay McDaniel
The Talmud: Why has a Jewish law book become so popular?