The Resurrection is a field of wildflowers in God's heart, each representing a sentient being on Earth. We cannot know for certain whether the individual flowers continue in their own lives; however, we can trust that the significance of their actions and feelings is forever retained within this field. New flowers are added at each moment. God is both the field itself and the One in whose life the field unfolds. This field represents the transformation of the world into heaven, into a harmony of harmonies. It includes within its ongoing existence both beauty and suffering, and its beauty encompasses even tragic beauty. Sad things, too, are in the field. God is a feller sufferer who understands.
Each sentient being is woven into the tapestry of the whole, such that its meaning is preserved both for its own sake and in its relation to all others. Indeed, each individual being is "saved" by this inclusion in the larger whole. The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead puts it this way:
The wisdom of [God's] subjective aim prehends every actuality for what it can be in such a perfected system— its sufferings, its sorrows, its failures, its triumphs, its immediacies of joy— woven by rightness of feeling into the harmony of the universal feeling, which is always immediate, always many, always one, always with novel advance, moving onward and never perishing. The revolts of destructive evil, purely self-regarding, are dismissed into their triviality of merely individual facts; and yet the good they did achieve in individual joy, in individual sorrow, in the introduction of needed contrast, is yet saved by its relation to the completed whole. The image— and it is but an image— the image under which this operative growth of God's nature is best conceived, is that of a tender care that nothing be lost. (Process and Reality) If individual sentient beings undergo a continuing journey after death, the experiences they encounter on that journey will likewise become a part of this field, and thus a part of God's ongoing life. They will become part of the "universal feeling" of which Whitehead speaks. Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead by God after he died. Some insist that he was bodily resurrected. Process philosophers appreciate the general notion of bodily resurrection, if this means a resurrection of bodily experiences in the heavenly field. They believe that bodily experience, no less than mental experiences, are preserved in the resurrection. Physical feelings of pain, and also of joy, are among the experiences preserved in the Resurrection. And it is possible that even the flowers perceive one another in reconciled unity, such that they have, as it were, spiritual bodies.
Christians speak of Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega. This field of heaven, itself a field of dreams.is rooted in the earth. It is the Omega. It is the living Christ as the redemption of history, each flower and every flower, on our planet and on any planet. Christ is not the only name by which it can be felt, but when felt as Christ, its essence is clearly understood. That essence is love.
- Jay McDaniel
A Hospital Chaplain's Perspective
"During a recent summer stint as a hospital chaplain, my weekdays were spent at a medium-sized, suburban facility. There I engaged people who had time - at least a few days in most cases - to dwell upon the medical issues their loved ones faced. My conversations with severely ill patients and their families tended to focus upon the meaning and intrinsic value of life experiences. People recounted things as extraordinary as the birth of their children and as mundane as the view of the clear sky that they were able to see from their hospital room in the morning. Those who were dying or who had lost loved ones were not interested in whether their lives and deaths might achieve some ultimate meaning in the future, but they were wholly concerned with the prospect that I might be able to assure them that their lives had meaning in the now, that there time on earth was, in some way and from someone's perspective, enduringly valuable. In response to this concern I found myself repeatedly utilizing the idea of anamnesis, of the peculiar way in which we can remember the lives of loved ones in such a way that the are felt to be present again and in so doing affirm the intrinsic integrity and value that their lives had. without resorting to hope in some anticipated future fulfillment. This experience has led me to continue to search for an eschatological perspective that affirms the goodness of creation and the integrity of the present for its own sake."
ESCHATOLOGICAL MOMENTS IN THE THEOLOGY OF JOSIAH ROYCE AND THE NOVELS OF WENDELL BERRY BARKLEY THOMPSON Pages 39-47 | Published online: 07 Aug 2015
The Eschatological Resurrection of all Things within the Divine Life
"For Whitehead the ultimate ground of assurance of the worthwhileness of our efforts cannot lie in a future event on this planet. Such a consummating event, if all goes well, could have penultimate significance, but it would not bring an end to the process. Eventually this planet will become uninhabitable. Our resurrection cannot be here or on any other planet revolving around some other sun. It must be in God. What is resurrected in God is what has occurred here in the course of natural and historical events. Here is where decisions are made -and the content of the Kingdom is determined. There can be no depreciation of the importance of the historical future in this view. Rather the importance of the historical future and of how we freely shape it is confirmed and undergirded by the truly eschatological resurrection of all things within the divine life. It is important that we should succeed in realizing new levels of justice, but even if we fail, our efforts count forever in God."
- John Cobb, Process Theology as Political Theology, Chapter 4: The Doctrines of God and Eschatology
Living into Omega
1. Traditional Christian Theology: The Eschatological End
Traditional Christian thought places the Omega Point within the eschatological framework, often drawing from the Book of Revelation where Christ is designated the "Alpha and Omega," the beginning and the ultimate conclusion of all things.
2. Teilhard de Chardin: The Evolutionary Unfolding
Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit priest and philosopher, seeing the resurrection primarily as a distant destination, reframes Omega as the climax of evolutionary advancement. In this perpetual state of becoming, the universe is directed towards an apex of complexity and consciousness—conceptualized as the cosmic Christ. He invites us to imagine that we might participate in the resurrection mystically: that we might feel it radiating into the present.
3. Process Theology: The Ecological Web of Divine Love
Process theology, drawing inspiration from Alfred North Whitehead, sees resurrection as something happening all the time. It posits Omega as God's "consequent nature," an endlessly unfolding facet of the Divine that encompasses all experiences, sentient beings, and intelligences. This understanding of Omega is ecologically inclusive, embracing the interwoven fabric of all life forms and ecosystems. It portrays God as the eternal "poet of the world," whose creative synthesis involves both divine suffering and joy.
4. Tragic Beauty in Process Thought
Within this framework comes the concept of "tragic beauty." The divine tapestry of each unfolding moment incorporates not just elements of joy and love but also integrates sorrow, brokenness, and loss—thereby deepening the richness of divine love and ecological harmony.
5. Deepening Omega Through Human Action
In process theology every human action has the potential to 'deepen' Omega. By engaging in ethical and loving acts, we contribute layers of beauty and complexity to each moment, making it "more restorative."
6. The Eternal Significance of Earthly Actions
Our actions, whether they succeed or fail on Earth, have eternal significance in the greater unfolding of Omega. They contribute to the endless tapestry of God’s ongoing life, ensuring that every act of love, justice, or ecological responsibility has a lasting imprint on the divine narrative.
7. Practical Engagement: Living into Omega
Several avenues can help us live into this complex concept of Omega, each harmonizing with themes of love, sustainability, and justice:
Mindful Consumption: Make ethical and sustainable choices, recognizing their broader cosmic impact.
Community Dialogues: Initiate discussions that blend various perspectives, enriching our collective understanding of Omega.
Justice Initiatives: Advocate for social and environmental justice, thus aligning human endeavors with the broader cosmic narrative.
Spiritual Practices: Use meditation or other spiritual practices to deepen your spiritual connection, aligning personal quests with the greater unfolding of Omega.
Ecological Stewardship: Adopt eco-conscious behaviors, acknowledging the interconnectedness of all life forms in the ever-developing concept of Omega.
Conclusion Omega is not just an intellectual construct but a living reality into which we are all invited. Whether framed by traditional eschatology, Teilhard's evolutionary vision, or the ecologically nuanced paradigm of process theology, each perspective enriches our understanding and active engagement with the concept of Omega. Mindful, ethical choices on our part contribute to this ever-unfolding cosmic tapestry, which is endlessly woven with elements both harmonious and tragic.
- ChatGPT with help from Jay McDaniel
The Becoming of Heaven
In process theology, the resurrection is not something that God does; it is something God is. It is divine life itself, understood as an inclusive Consciousness in which the universe unfolds, akin to the way an embryo unfolds within a womb. The resurrection is God's creative reception of all events as they happen, transforming them through a process of divine anamnesis. This does not mean that everything that happens is God's will. All things possess their own agency, so the resurrection is not the universe as created by God but rather the universe as received and felt by God. God is the living whole in whose life the universe lives, moves, and has its being - a whole is in process, becoming with the world. The resurrection, then, is an ongoing process. The universe is always being resurrected: not just people but all creatures. A new heaven is being created again and again, and heaven itself is in process.
In the context of this ongoing resurrection, there is a fundamental affirmation of the inherent "goodness" of creation. Unlike some philosophical or theological viewpoints that consider the physical world inferior or merely a stepping stone to a higher reality, this concept emphasizes that the universe, in all its diversity and complexity, is inherently good. It also argues for the intrinsic worth and integrity of the present moment. Each moment is not merely a transitional phase to some future end but holds value and meaning in its own right. This perspective aligns with the idea that the ongoing resurrection is not just a future promise but also a present reality. Every element of creation has its own significance and role to play in the larger tapestry of divine life.
- Jay McDaniel
Recently, a friend asked me if I believe in bodily resurrection after death. The answer is yes. I believe it happens before death, too. In process theology, the resurrection is not something that God does; it is something that God is. The resurrection is the divine life itself. More specifically it is the remembrance and creative transformation of everything that happens to us, and everything we do and feel and think, as it happens, in God's ongoing, imaginative life.
Think of going to a music concert earlier in the evening, and now remembering the music in such a vivid way that is again present. Imagine further that, as you remember it, the music is woven into every other event that has been part of your life and, for that matter, every other event that has happened in the world, such that its meaning is transformed. The resurrection is this kind remembrance and transformation.
In this context, God is not situated above the world but instead encircles it as an inclusive Consciousness, within whose life the universe unfolds—akin to the way an embryo unfolds within a womb. The resurrection is God's creative reception of all events as they happen, transforming them through a process of divine anamnesis.
These moments include our bodily experiences: that is, our experiences of being affected by and affecting others in bodily ways. When we suffer pain or enjoy pleasure, when we dance to music or are given a hug, these moments are resurrected in God's ongoing life. It is not that the body is resurrected (although it may be); it is that the bodily experience is resurrected, even if the body has disappeared. The experience is made present through anamnetic resurrection in God's life. Yes, I believe in the resurrection of bodily experience.