Responding to Crisis – Henry Nelson Wieman

“It is a time of danger and suffering; but there is glory in it for him who will face it alert, fearless, and with capacity for transformation of his own personality and all the ways of his life.”


Dorothea Lange Country filling station owned by tobacco farmer, Granville County, NC Jul 1939
From Shorpy Historic Pictures, which I discovered at Automatic Earth

It’s not hard to find evidence that we’ve entered a period of crisis. See for example John Michael Greer’s post on Heading Toward the Sidewalk or Ilargi’s post on Oil, Solar, Dollars and Fairy Tales.

It’s time we start preparing ourselves for understanding and handling Crisis (esp. if it’s going to be long and sustained). I’ve recently become enamored with the writing of the mid-twentieth century philosopher of theology, Henry Nelson Wieman, whose influences include John Dewey and A.N. Whitehead.  Here’s what he had to say on the topic:

A crisis is an experience which we have never had before. It throws us into a state of disorganization. An experience which affects us deeply, and is different from all that has previously befallen us, must inevitably throw us into a state of disorganization, for we cannot react to it in any other way. The only other alternative is to be wholly unaware of it and insensitive to it. An experience of sensitivity and disorganization is a necessary stage to a more inclusive organization of our world and of ourselves as functioning members of that larger world. Without it we could never enter so deeply into that progressive integration of more significant and unified worlds, which is the work of God.

Our habits constitute one condition determining the kind of world we live in. When our habits are disorganized that condition is removed. In so far as disintegration of all habits is a state out of which any kind of habits might emerge, it is a state out of which any kind of world might arise in so far as the emergence of any kind of a world is dependent upon a certain system of habits. Therefore crisis offers the golden opportunity for creativity. It is the call of God to join with Him in the making of a better world. It is a time of danger and suffering; but there is glory in it for him who will face it alert, fearless, and with capacity for transformation of his own personality and all the ways of his life.

Crisis shatters the little dome of daily life. Can we find a vaster dome above? We have tried to sketch a method by which it may be done.

 

– Henry Nelson Wieman, Methods for Private Religious Living (The Macmillan Company, 1929), pp. 114-115.

Wieman points out that crisis can be an opportunity for “the progressive integration of more significant and unified worlds,” and “a golden opportunity for creativity.”  May it be so.

 

 

 

 

In PatternDynamics, this is the Order/Chaos polarity pattern:

The Order/Chaos Pattern represents the oppositional dynamics at work in the creative process. Order/Chaos demonstrates the relationship and interplay between states of orderly functionality and states of breakdown and irregularity. Orderly states must be balanced against periods of breakdown that allow the rearrangement of previously fixed elements into new, more appropriate forms. The role of Order/Chaos is to facilitate adaptation and evolution. – See more at: http://www.patterndynamics.com.au/patterns/polarity/orderchaos/#sthash.ym0L87jF.dpuf
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s