John R. Mabry teaches spiritual direction, world religions, and interfaith theology at the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministry. He is the former editor of Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction and Creation Spirituality. Mabry is co-pastor of Grace North Church in Berkeley, California. In this Spiritual Directors International Book, he presents a handy and insightful overview of six faith styles.
Mabry has developed a model of spiritual assessment that is both non-developmental and non-hierarchical in nature. He uses the following questions as a foundation for his interviews:
• How is the Divine imagined?
• What is the nature of one's relationship with the Divine?
• How does one construct meaning in the world?
• What are the accepted sources of spiritual wisdom?
• How is spiritual growth assessed?
• What spiritual disciplines and practices are honored?
• What are the advantages of the style?
• What are the disadvantages?
The six faith styles are:
• traditional believers
• spiritual eclectic
• ethical humanists
• liberal believers
• religious agnostics
• jack believers (known in some communities as "backsliders" or "apostates").
Mabry's description of each one includes a case study and illustrative material to flesh it out. For example, here is a Spiritual Eclectic at-a-glance:
• The Divine is imagined as a spiritual force animating all of nature.
• Pantheistic there is no distinction between creation and the Divine.
• Meaning comes by protecting the biosphere and all creatures, and by promoting greater consciousness.
• The spiritual wisdom of every tradition, in one's own experience, and in the body is honored.
• Spiritual growth is assessed to the degree to which one can see through the illusion of separateness and realize one's unity with all being.
• Spiritual eclectics practice prayer, meditation, ritual, sacred reading, art, exercise, being in nature, and activism.
• Advantages: diversity and spiritual generosity.
• Disadvantages: Gullibility and a lack of groundedness.
Mabry advises spiritual directors and other religious counselors not to try to "convert" a person from one faith style to another and to be sensitive to the movement individuals may make from one faith style to another. In our pluralistic age where change is the name of the game, Mabry's hospitable approach is an inspiring model. He gives interfaith ministry a good name!.