Ferrer's "The Plurality of Religions and the Spirit of Pluralism"

Yesterday, searching on Google under the phrase, "enactive, participatory spirituality," I came across this relatively recent (2009) essay by Jorge Ferrer.  It looks like it is directly relevant to my own recent Integral Theory Conference paper*, and also to the themes of this forum. 


Here's a copy of the abstract:


"This paper first uncovers the subtle spiritual narcissism that has characterized historical approaches to religious diversity and discusses the shortcomings of the main forms of religious pluralism that have been proposed as its antidote: ecumenical, soteriological, postmodern, and metaphysical. It then argues that a participatory pluralism paves the way for an appreciation of religious diversity that eschews the dogmatism and competitiveness involved in privileging any particular tradition over the rest without falling into cultural-linguistic or naturalistic reductionisms. Discussion includes the question of the validity of spiritual truths and the development of a participatory critical theory of religion. The essay concludes with an exploration of different scenarios for the future of religion – global religion, mutual transformation, interspiritual wisdom, and spirituality without religion – and proposes that such a future may be shaped by spiritually individuated persons engaged in processes of cosmological hybridization in the context of a common spiritual family. A participatory approach to spirituality turns the problem of religious plurality into a celebration of the critical spirit of pluralism."


And here is a link to the full essay:  The Plurality of Religions and the Spirit of Pluralism: A Participa....


I find I appreciate and resonate with parts of this essay, and I am uncomfortable or dissatisfied with others, but I may need to take a little time to sort through these reactions before I can produce a cogent response.  His proposal is similar to the enactive model I outlined in my ITC paper (and I drew on some of his earlier work in the formulation of my ideas), but something about his overall framing of his participatory approach still strikes me as problematic.  I'm not satisfied, for instance, with his appeal to the co-participatory "undetermined mystery," but I can't quite put my finger on what it is that bothers me.  I'll think on this and will write more soon.


Best wishes,




* While Ferrer doesn't make exactly the same arguments or come to exactly the same conclusions as I do, he does actually touch on enough of the same  perspectives and players (Cobb, Hick, Heim, etc) that I'm feeling a little down!  Makes my paper seem a bit redundant.

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John Abramson has posted a response to the Ferrer essay referenced above.  I've attached a copy of Abramson's piece to this post.


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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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