On this episode of Conversations in Process, Jay McDaniel and Jared Morningstar are joined by Brendan Graham Dempsey to discuss metamodern spirituality and possible connections with process theology. Brendan is a podcaster, author, community-builder, philosopher, and poet whose work focuses on the meaning crisis and the nature of spirituality in metamodernity. He has a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Vermont and an MA in Religion and the Arts from Yale University. Brendan lives in Greensboro Bend, Vermont, where he runs the holistic Sky Meadow retreat center and hosts metamodern gatherings.
In this conversation, Jay, Brendan, and Jared discuss metamodernism and its relationship to various other intellectual/philosophical modes—such as modernism and postmodernism—and also consider its relationship with process thinking and contemporary religiosity.
The discussion begins with Brendan’s own journey with metamodernism and how this was intricately intertwined with his own spiritual path of deconstructing and eventually reconstructing a religious worldview. Based on his work in his pseudonymously authored book Building the Cathedral: Answering the Meaning Crisis through Personal Myth, Brendan explains the centrality of narrativizing and personal myth-making in a metamodern spiritual project.
Jay builds on these ideas, introducing process ideas such as Whitehead’s “consequent nature of God,” showing how not only our own religious sensibilities are in process, but actually so is the Divine itself. However, there is still the question of communal and collective spirituality and myth-making, and Jay wonders if the collectivity involved here may even be beyond our merely human communities.
The conversation closes with a discussion of the relationship between metamodernism and the established religious traditions. Jay asks, “can a Methodist be metamodern?” and Brendan beautifully responds in the affirmative, stating that these traditions have the potential to be expressed and understood in a variety of different moods, from pre-modern to metamodern and everything in between. The goal of a metamodern standpoint, however, is to accept all of these different moods for what they are and the value they bring, and weave a coherent whole of this diversity, without losing the unique individuality of the various standpoints.
- Brendan’s website
- Brendan’s book Building the Cathedral: Answering the Meaning Crisis through Personal Myth
- A conversation with Brendan, Layman Pascal, and John Vervaeke: “The Artful Scaling of the Religion that is not a Religion”
- Matt Segall on Brendan’s Metamodern Spirituality podcast: “Process Philosophy and the Metamodern Metanarrative”
- Sky Meadow Retreat
- The Cobb Institute
- Open Horizons