Top 6 of 2010: #3 Spirituality at Asbury Seminary, Adrian van Kaam, and Susan Muto

In honor of the coming new year, I am posting six of my most popular posts from this last year.   I hope you enjoy the throwback:

#3: “Spirituality at Asbury Seminary, Adrian van Kaam, and Susan Muto.”

The seeds of Spirituality sown by Father Adrian and Susan Muto have been cast wide at Asbury. From as early as 1980, Asbury’s faculty have looked to Father Adrian and his institute for guidance.  Now, Asbury boasts of one faculty member taught mentored by Father Adrian, two staff members who have taken the 60 CEU course on Formative Spirituality and many more influenced by his right hand woman, Dr. Susan Muto.  For example, Asbury’s core small group initiative looks mainly to Father Adrian’s model of small group direction for guidance.

I am glad for this.  Read one of his books and you will see why.  In his preface to volume one of his magnum opus (13 volumes on Formative Spirituality), Father Adrian gives this challenge to us all:

“This is the first volume of my series that aims to initiate the reader not only into a new science but also into a way of thinking that is as old as humanity, though perhaps new for many today.  Our purpose here is to distinguish informative thinking from formative thinking.  Most readers may be familiar with the former, but puzzled by the latter.  The informative approach is customary to our culture, our sciences, our daily life.  Its results are most impressive; at times, as in the technological conquest of outer space, awesome.  The results of informative thinking are most useful in many fields of inquiry, including the science of formative spirituality.

However, exclusive dependence on informative thought alone does not seem sufficient for the full flowering of our life and world.  Human thought also has to help people find ways to live more consonant, happier lives, making the world a better place for them and succeeding generations.  To be sure, the majority of informative thinkers and researchers also aim at such improvement, but in a more remote or indirect way.  Their insights and findings contribute greatly to its realization, but the missing link between their informative efforts and the concrete daily life of people is formative thinking.”