Spring 2019 – Notes from the Journey

The Reverend Doak M. Mansfield


I’ve been thinking deep thoughts through Winter’s passing. 

I’ve been trying to understand life as an interrelated, interdependent organism and express myself on that idea. 

Current accepted science has offered the concept of the Big Bang Theory, evolution, and gradual structured change influenced by being as the way of life. Classical mythologies had offered up ideas of creators and intentional design as the way life was set in motion and works. Sadly, those ideas became limits of divine possibilities and understandings. I came to believe long ago that “God” can’t be limited. Most human descriptions do that. 

I discovered a 20th century set of ideas about existence called Process Theology early in my spiritual exploration that helped me embrace an expansive “God”. Here are its major aspects:

“God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than force. God is an idea expressing goodness and purpose.

Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. 

The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. 

God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism.) 

Because God contains a changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.”

Those grand ideas mean to me that that which is ultimate and eternal: “God, The Divine, The Holy” – is a verb, not a noun. There is a vitality, an energy of which we are a part, and we experience it in our conscious living. We are born into a dynamic story and through our learning to relate we are challenged to find creative and meaningful ways to cooperate with the energies that shape life. There is a broad reciprocity in creation. Good yields good. Bad yields bad. 

A meaningful spiritual life involves how sincerely we live with mutual respect and regard for our interdependent life. “Doing unto others as you want them to do to you” is a life enriching imperative that confirms our love of life, self, and all of the possibilities of being.

What we do needs to be what we want “God” to do – express appreciation and concern for all that is. Lived out it moves us to honor differences, respect relatedness and work to sustain equity and justice within human relations.

As Spring 2019 unfolds may your involvement with the eternal be good and enriching for you and our shared life.

Love – Doak