Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ramblings but mostly on "Sacred Pathways"

Had a good Home group meeting - practically everybody was there so it was crowded and the discussion was interesting (albeit a bit sensitive). Then slept past midnight last night and dreamed a lot on all sorts of things :-) and then at 5.30 AM woke up wide awake ... but with a headache :-(. Think I had too much mental activity last night (and did not watch TV in case some of you were wondering). Think it also had to do with finally finishing reading "Sacred Pathways" by Gary Thomas earlier in the evening after coming back form the office.

So here's some ramblings on the book. IMHO, a very interesting book (I got it last year from a Bible College as a gift for my "services" as a Supervisor for a church  intern)

The book is easy to summarize - the sub title puts it clearly - "discover your soul's path to God".

Basically the author lists "nine sacred pathways" and then discusses each of them and then ends each discussion with the "Temptations" (i.e. dangers to look out for) of each path and a short quiz to help gauge "the dominance of the spiritual temperament in your life".

The pathways he lists are: 
1. Naturalists: Loving God outdoors
2. Sensates: Loving God with the senses
3. Traditionalists: Loving God through ritual and symbol
4. Ascetics: Loving God in solitude and simplicity
5. Activists: Loving God through confrontation
6. Caregivers: Loving God by loving others
7. Enthusiasts: Loving God with mystery and celebration
8. Contemplatives: Loving God through adoration
9. Intellectuals: Loving God with the mind

I came out of the book with a greater appreciation of each pathway though nothing was anywhere near a "mind boggling new revelation" which only helped emphasize his point that my spiritual temperament is high on the "intellectual" spectrum :-)

In a way the book has caused me to also become a little more frustrated (?) I seem to lean more strongly in some areas BUT the reality is some are not what I would consider my strengths or things I am currently passionate about. And in addition, I do not score very high in even the temperaments I am most strongly inclined. So for example when I look at the intellectual temperament / pathway, while joint highest it is not a high score at all (18 out of 30). And my answers are actually inconsistent - so  yes, "concepts and truths" are very appealing to me (4 out of 5) but I don't find myself as passionate (anymore?) about spending several hours of uninterrupted deep study time (2 out of 4). Nowadays I tend to need a lot of small breaks, even if it is 5 minutes as I can't focus for extended times as I used to be able to. And the statement on "A book on church dogmatics would be appealing to me"? I gave it a 1 out of 5 where 1 is not true at all! LOL. An intellectual? Hmmm... doesn't seem like it to me. :-)

But then again, the closeness of most scores on the temperaments does seem to indicate that I may be most naturally a generalist? That was my deliberate focus and goal back in my twenties when I first entered seminary. That was then a pragmatic based decision ... or then again, I wonder now, was it just that? :-)

But it's a worthwhile book to read.... not a difficult book at all. Down to earth spirituality and he is an excellent writer and communicator.

Anyway I hope to slowly go through the book a second time at an even slower pace using the discussion / reflection guide and I think at the end, things will be come a lot more clearer to me.


  1. Paul,

    Thank you for this post.

    It's good to be reminded we can be refreshed through pathways other than the ones we most often use.

    Lately I've been reminded of this through Kathleen Norris' The Cloisters. I've been reawakened to the Psalms and to poetry.

    Another thing: some years ago I was helped by another book by Gary Thomas, Authentic Faith - in which he encourages positive responses to disappointment, mourning, etc.

    Thanks again


  2. Thanks Rama. I am very slow lately (actually for many years mow :-)) in my reading. Would like to read Authentic Faith one day ... soon I hope :-)