Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Book Review: Sacred Pathways

This week the Change and Transformation spiritual formation class of the seminary is discussing the ideas in Gary Thomas' Sacred Pathways. What a breath of fresh air! Keith Drury was the writer of the assignment.

What Thomas does is do for spiritual formation what personality inventories do for personality. Now mind you, there are some people who take personality inventories like LaHaye's temperament types or Myers-Briggs letters too seriously. That's bad too. But it's a step above most people, who simply assume that everyone should think and act just like them.

So if we were to make an ad hoc developmental chart in understanding personality, we might have something like:

1. Those who don't know that other people think differently than they do and that their personality is not the "right" personality.

2. Those who realize there is significant diversity in people's personality, but overly fixate on their own as if it is something unchanging and perhaps even predestined by God.

3. Those who realize that personality is complex and that personality tests are simply meant to give a general description of people, general categories to help us process personality.

Anyway, I just made that up. The genius of Sacred Pathways is that it rightly recognizes that personality affects the way one interacts with God and that the spiritual formation snobs out there who insist you can only have a close relationship with God if you get up at 4am and pray for an hour are just as unaware as #1 above.

Certainly Thomas' 9 pathways are not absolute (avoiding #2 above too), but they are a helpful way to look at the most obvious pathways each of us most easily interact with God. I'm not sure exactly how he correlates them to Myers-Briggs and haven't taken the time to guess thoroughly. But here are his types:

naturalists: love God out of doors
sensates: love God with their senses
traditionalists: loving God through ritual and symbol
ascetics: loving God in solitude and simplicity
activists: loving God through confrontation
caregivers: loving God by loving others
enthusiasts: loving God with mystery and celebration
contemplatives: loving God through adoration
intellectuals: loving God with the mind

He has chapters on all of these. I suppose I'm somewhere between a traditionalist and an intellectual. What are you. You can see much of the book on Google books.


Keith Drury said...
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Keith Drury said...

OK I'll bite... people often guess me as a naturalist (love God in the out of doors) but actually I am more of a traditionalist... I sense God's presence more with I am worshipping with the people of God than in creation.