An informal discussion of open and relational worldviews that are conducive to living with respect and care for the community of life, appreciative of many different faith traditions, and with special care for the vulnerable: people and animals included.
Often open and relational worldviews envision our world as a vast process of inter-becoming, filled with multiple forms of life, each worthy of respect and care. These worldviews also highlight the interconnectedness of all things and encourage delight in diversities: cultural, racial, religious, sexual, gendered, artistic, musical. They see many differences (cultural, philosophical, religious) as complementary not contradictory, and propose that societies and communities can be enriched by them.
Of course we all know that there are conflicts as well. Open and relational worldviews advocate living with enriching tensions, but moving beyond destructive conflicts, not through violence or coercion, but through dialogue across differences and generous listening. Their advocates speak of an open future that is influenced by the past, but not entirely determined by it, due to the creative decision-making (conscious and unconscious) of human beings and, so some believe, other living beings. Open and relational worldviews can include belief in God as understood in various ways, and they can be non-theistic as well. They are available to believers, non-believers, and the vast majority who are somewhere in between.
There are many forms of open and relational thinking. Whitehead’s process philosophy is an example of such a worldview (see Twenty Key Ideas in Process Thought and Five Foundations for a New Civilization) Nevertheless, it is one among many, and all are important in our time: African, Asian, Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Daoist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim, for example. Central Arkansas is home to many advocates of open and relational worldviews in one form or another, each with his or her distinctive emphases.
GAIN hosted a weekly discussion at Panera, from 4-5 each Wednesday, inviting professors to come share their versions of open and relational thinking in short fifteen minute presentations, followed by open discussion for forty-five minutes.
Professors included Dr. Donna Bowman (process theology), Dr. Nicholas Brasovan (process philosophy, Confucianism), Dr. Clayton Crockett (continental philosophies), Dr. James Dow (environmental aesthetics), Dr. Bill Gorvine (Buddhist worldviews), Dr. Jay McDaniel (process theologies, Buddhism), and Dr. John Sanders (conceptual metaphor theory). Professors are given fifteen minutes to articulate their worldviews, after which a bell us rung, and open discussion ensues for 45 minutes. The question at hand is: “If you had only fifteen minutes, how might you recommend that we look at the world, so that we might live with respect for a plurality of religious and cultural traditions: and with respect and care for the community of life: people, animals, and the earth included.”
Wednesday, September 13: Dr. Jay McDaniel (Hendrix): Process Theology
Wednesday, September 20: Dr. John Sanders (Hendrix): Conceptual Metaphor Theory
Wednesday, September 27: Dr. Bill Gorvine: A Buddhist Perspective
Wednesday, October 4: Dr. Donna Bowman (UCA): Process Theology
Wednesday, October 11: Dr. James Dow (Hendrix): Environmental Aesthetics
Wednesday, October 18: Dr. Clayton Crockett (UCA): Continental Philosophy
Wednesday, October 25: Dr. Nick Brasovan (UCA): East Asian Philosophy