Postcards from Claremont I – An Adventurous Interlude (Bruce Epperly)
Dr. Bruce Epperly, a frequent contributor to Ponderings on a Faith Journey, is set to begin another series of of conversations with my readers. Serving this autumn as Visiting Professor of Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University, Bruce is going to be offering weekly reports/reflections on this latest holy adventure. In this piece he sets out the parameters of the adventure and invites us to join him for the journey. So, for the next number of Wednesdays, Bruce will be present with us. Join with him on the journey and share your responses!
Postcards from Claremont I –
An Adventurous Interlude – August 26, 2012
Dr. Bruce Epperly
Our lives are holy adventures and I feel like I’m beginning an adventure as I wing my way from my home in Washington DC to Claremont, California, where I will be Visiting Professor in Process Studies this fall. I have joined a new demographic, known as bi-coastal commuters. Every few weeks I will be sojourning back to the East Coast for long weekends with my wife, mother-in-law, son and daughter-in-law, and precious grandchildren. In nearly thirty-four years of marriage, I’ve never been away from hearth, heart, and home for more than a week. I’m excited but I’m already missing my family.
Adventure always involves leaving home, geographically, spiritually, emotionally, or relationally. Adventurers always feel a bit ambivalent, but the call of something new, a frontier, new possibilities, and uncharted spaces still lures us forward just as it did Abraham and Sarah. the magi who visited Jesus and his parents, North America’s first settlers as they crossed the Bering Straits, the first European explorers seeking a route to India, and the countless immigrants who have crossed seas and deserts in search of freedom and a new life for their families.
This fall, I’m in the heart of process theology, Claremont, a place where Whiteheadian-influenced theology holds sway even for those who aren’t theologians. I’ve been called to Claremont to share wisdom with seminarians and doctoral students and add my voice to this community of scholars. In many ways, Claremont is my intellectual home: I first came here as a graduate student in 1975. Here in Claremont, I met my wife and experienced the call to academic ministry, joining heart, hands, and head, and pulpit and classroom, to share the good news of global and progressive Christian spirituality and theology.
Process theology is, I believe, the primary intellectual foundation for today’s progressive and emerging Christianities. Process theology provides an open-ended, humble, and inspirational vision of a non-competitive, relational god who rules by love rather than threat. For process theologians, revelation can occur everywhere and anywhere. Process theology asserts that God shows no partiality but is the source of truth and healing under whatever guise it appears. Diverse religious journeys are not falls from grace and sinful aberrations from the one true faith but gifts from a generous heart, calling to people in cultures in ways that they can understand. There is no one finished truth, but truth itself is many-sided, adventurous, and emerging along with our own personal and communal adventures. To seek truth and healing is to be always prepared for new horizons of spirit and practice.
Last night, a few friends and I attended a “Sound of Music” sing-along at Wolf Trap in the DC suburbs. It was an appropriate send off for a theological pilgrim. I am here for the pure joy of it, but I am letting go of the day-to-day holiness of life with Kate and my grandsons. In between visits home, we’ll be connected by phone and Skype. Of course in the interdependent universe, imagined process-relational theologians, we are all connected. There is no distance in life or love. My prayers for my family will touch them, even when their asleep and their thoughts of me are not hindered by geography or time zones. So with the von Trapp family, I begin a cross-country pilgrimage, and celebrate life’s adventures.
Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every pathway
Till you find your dream.
I will be seeing old pathways with new eyes and fording new stream of experience in the next three and one half months. I hope to share a bit of the journey with you – exploring the gifts of process theology and spirituality for seekers, open-spirited Christians, and partners from other faith traditions.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, pastor, and author of twenty two books, including Process Theology: A Guide to the Perplexed, Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living, Philippians: An Interactive Bible Study, and The Center is Everywhere: Celtic Spirituality for the Postmodern Age. His most recent text is Emerging Process: Adventurous Theology for a Missional Church. He also writes regularly for the Process and Faith Lectionary and Patheos.com. He is currently serving as Visiting Professor of Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for lectures, workshops, and retreats.