Exploring the Social Imagination

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sacred Pathways, Understanding our 'social relationship' with the Lord

In Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas identifies and examines nine different spiritual paths. What exactly does this mean? Each of us has a different approach as to how we relate easiest with God. Each of us grows spiritually in different ways. Gary Thomas leads us through nine major categories, showing us the strengths and weakness of each one. And after each of them, he offers a few questions, to help identify if that particular pathway is one of the reader’s stronger characteristics.
Naturalists: Loving God Out of Doors
The naturalist sounds like exactly what it is: someone who prefers to leave everything behind and head into the great outdoors to connect with God. A walk beside the river or through the woods is more worshipful than reading a book or listening to a sermon. Naturalists are moved by God’s creation. A view from a mountaintop connects them closer to God than a classical cathedral ever will. Naturalists seek God by surrounding themselves with all that he has made.
Sensates: Loving God With The Senses
Sensates love to be lost in the awe and wonder of God. Sights, sounds, and scents add to the worship experience. A sensate desires to connect with God through the senses, and the more overwhelming, the better. Experiencing God though the five senses is a most effective inroad into the heart of the sensate.
Traditionalists: Loving God Through Ritual And Symbol
Traditionalists are fed by the classic and historic dimensions of the faith: ritual, liturgy, sacraments, and symbols. The traditionalist has a desire for worship to have a ritual and structure; without these, he feels disconnected from God. Traditionalists tend to be very disciplined and organized in their faith.
Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude And Simplicity
The ascetic would love nothing more than to spend every waking hour alone in prayer. The ascetic needs none of the symbols and structure of faith; anything along those lines would simply be a distraction. Ascetics tend to isolate themselves from others and any organized structure. Frequently seen as introspective, leaving everything behind in his quest for God is no trouble for the ascetic.
Activist: Loving God Through Confrontation
Activists love to set things right, even if that means confronting someone or something head on. The activist is quick to jump into a cause, or several of them, if it helps wage the war against injustice. The activist feels closest to God when she is standing against evil and calling sinners to repentance.
Caregivers: Loving God By Loving Others
The caregiver is a servant. Serving another is the quickest way for this person to connect to God. The caregiver sees Christ in those who are needy, poor and downtrodden. The caregiver’s faith is built by serving others. Caregivers often display the deepest compassion, seeing the needs of others and identifying practical ways to meet those needs.
Enthusiasts: Loving God With Mystery And Celebration
The enthusiast loves the excitement and mystery of worship. Joyful celebration is crucial to the growing faith of this type of person. God moves by moving their hearts. If they don’t feel moved during their worship, they wonder if they’ve experienced God at all. With some similarities to the sensate, the enthusiast doesn’t want to just know concepts; he wants to experience them to the fullest.
Contemplatives: Loving God Through Adoration
A contemplative would refer to God as their lover. The idea of a loving Father or Bridegroom depicts their relationship with God very accurately. The person who is a contemplative seeks to love God with his entire being: his heart, soul, mind and strength. The contemplative is a very humble person, seeking nothing else than to sit at the feet of the Savior.
Intellectuals: Loving God With The Mind
Intellectuals live in the world of concepts. Studying and learning are a prime way that this type of person experiences God to the fullest. Understanding doctrine and other key points about Christianity and the faith is the best type of connection for this person. The intellectual gets fed when they learn or grasp something new about God or their faith.

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