Introducing “Critical Conversations”

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Dear Nexus Members,

In February this year I began sending periodic letters to the representatives of our member organizations to keep them apprised of the latest developments and activities. Now that our members include both organizations and individuals, these letters will be sent to everyone. As always, they will also be made available on the platform’s blog (here) for anyone who is interested in reading them there or sharing them with others.

Some of us believe that the many process-influenced organizations and programs should recognize one another as companions in a common task. We delight in the organization of a network, the Claremont Process Nexus, to which you belong. But there is always the danger that a network means very little to its members.

To counter the potential for apathy, we have created a platform. At the very least, we hope that the member organizations will post notices of what they’re are doing that might interest others. But we have other hopes for the platform. We hope it will serve as a place where process folk can discuss what they consider important and challenging. People can ask questions: What is the process view of abortion? Are there more experiences after physical death? Is there a process legal theory? Can process thought help us make sense of war?

To encourage reflection on these sorts of questions, and foster dialogue about them, we created a new series called “Critical Conversations.” It is now featured prominently on the platform’s home page. We think that this kind of discussion can enlarge our understanding of the difference that wearing process “glasses” makes. We think it may strengthen our contribution to the intellectual life that is so discouraged by academic disciplines. In a society torn apart by dualistic, moralistic, polarizing argument, we would like to show that exchanges between open-minded people can deal with differences in a way that benefits all who participate.

To get the conversations started, Cliff Cobb wrote a piece on vaccination. He does not oppose vaccination, but he is critical of our government’s overall response to the pandemic, including its excessive emphasis on vaccination. Ignacio Castuera agrees with much that he says, but is unequivocally committed to encouraging vaccinations for all. It is our hope that others will explain why they take other positions or emphasize different facts.

John Buchanan has promised to start a discussion about the positive use of psychedelics to enlarge spiritual experience. Perhaps that will be of more interest to you. Perhaps this will suggest to you or other members of your community other conversations you would like to initiate. Please inform members of your organizations and people you know of our invitation to engage in constructively critical argument, and help us grow by encouraging them to become members. And please get involved yourself by either suggesting topics or starting a conversation of your own in the discussion forum (here).

By encouraging serious thinking and constructive interactions, we hope the platform will not only provide a way to be informed about what’s happening in the process movement but also model a way to engage in difficult dialogue and provide an understanding of critical issues from a process perspective.

  • John B. Cobb, Jr. taught theology at the Claremont School of Theology from 1958 to 1990. In 1973, with David Griffin, he established the Center for Process Studies, and throughout his career he has contributed to scholarship on Alfred North Whitehead, and promoted numerous process programs and organizations. In recent years he has given special attention to supporting work toward the building an ecological civilization. Toward that end, he led the effort to found the Claremont Institute for Process Studies in early 2019, which was renamed in his honor one year later.