John B. Cobb, Jr: What Keeps Us Trying?

John B. Cobb, Jr. , born in 1925, graduated from the University of Chicago Divinity School with a PhD in 1952. I believe Cobb entered the University shortly after the departure of Henry Nelson Wieman, who had infused the school with the thinking of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead.
John B. Cobb, Jr.
John B. Cobb, Jr.jpg
In 1958, Cobb began teaching at Claremont School of Theology, and Claremont Graduate University in California. In 1971, he and Lewis Ford established the Process Studies Journal, and soon thereafter co-founded with David Ray Griffin the Center for Process Studies, which became “the center of Whiteheadian process thought” according to Wikipedia. Wikipedia also states that Cobb has been characterized as “one of the two most important North American theologians of the twentieth century (the other being Rosemary Radford Ruether).[1] Cobb is often regarded as the preeminent scholar in the field of process philosophy and process theology—the school of thought associated with the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.[2] Cobb is the author of more than fifty books.[3] In 2014, Cobb was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[4]
Another distinction of John B. Cobb Jr. is that he published, in 1971, again, according to Wikipedia, “the first single-author book in environmental ethicsIs It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology—which argued for the relevance of religious thought in approaching the ecological crisis.[7] In 1989, he co-authored with Herman Daly the book For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, Environment, and a Sustainable Future, which critiqued current global economic practice and advocated for a sustainable, ecology-based economics. He has written extensively on religious pluralism and interfaith dialogue, particularly between Buddhism and Christianity, as well as the need to reconcile religion and science.”
Indeed, ecological interdependence has been an important theme throughout his long career. I read “Is It Too Late?” a number of years ago, and it made a great impact on me (I posted an excerpt on my blog here: https://integralpermaculture.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-titanic-on-earth-day/ )
Why am I writing now about John Cobb? Because at the age of 92, Cobb is still actively engaged – still writing, still working to make the world a better place.  In recent years he founded the organization Pando Populous, with an aim to create an ecological civilization.
Just a few days ago, after Trump’s announcement about pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, he posted an article in which he shares from his years of experience in the ecological movement within the academic community. He speaks honestly about the roles of hope and optimism in the face of the “manifold disasters” the world is heading toward.
“For those of us fortunate enough to have an optimistic temperament, distinguishing optimism from hopefulness is not always easy. But it is important because optimism may fade while hope remains. What I am calling “hopefulness” is grounded in faith and faithfulness. It is because the Cosmic Spirit’s aim can be our aim, that we are never alone. The Cosmic Spirit seeks through us to save this little planet. It has no hands but our hands, as I sang as a boy, but it can direct those hands beyond simply our personal wisdom. That I cannot know what good consequences may follow from some act to which I feel called does not mean that none do. Hope is a kind of trust that we can be partners of a Spirit that guides us, and that can sometimes transform even our sins and failures into stepping stones to something positive.”

Perhaps you’ll take the time to read the entire article, “What Keeps Us Trying?” by John B. Cobb, Jr.

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