Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harnessing the Power of Islam to Create Free and Open Societies

How Foreign Policy Leaders can Generate, Replicate, and Propagate Evolving Interpretations of Islam

Challenging the claims of secularization theorists that modernization and religiosity are antithetical to one-another, my research will build upon the work of scholars like Peter Berger, Noah Feldman, Timothy Shah, Jeffery Haynes, Scott Thomas, and Monica Toft, to examine how foreign policy makers can strategically engage religion as a permanent fixture in the global landscape. Then, applying the latest empirical research in adult psychological development, I will move beyond already existing scholarship to explore (1) how the stages of adult psychological development influence religious interpretation, (2) how this new framework of analysis can allow us to make nuanced evaluations of healthy and pathological expressions of Islam, giving agency to address socio-religious environments with deeper understanding, and (3) how foreign policy can be designed to ensure that evolving interpretations of Islam continue to be replicated and propagated.
Although the theories in this proposal apply to all religious traditions, I narrow my focus here to Islam due to both its prominent place in the government of several strategically relevant countries (e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan) and the fact that intolerant interpretations of Islam currently serve as one of the greatest barriers to more open and democratic societies.
Utilizing systematized evidence and examples to connect a metric of religious interpretation to the stages of adult development provides policy makers with several critical advantages. First, applying this new methodology to religion and international affairs will help decision-makers craft foreign policy that empowers religious leaders to promote evolving expressions of Islam; validating that expressions of Islam are constantly changing to accommodate historical, cultural, and technological changes. With the gates of ijtihad (Islamic interpretation) open and as more fluid expressions of Islam increase in ubiquity in “countries of particular concern”, it will create what CFR president, Richard Haass, calls a “gradual opening”2 in traditional societies. Not only will more evolved expressions of Islam include pluralistic values such as tolerance, cooperation, and cross-cultural dialogue but because worldviews are so strongly influenced by religion, evolving interpretations will also help to shift societies away from the tendency to forcibly limit women's rights, promote blind obedience, and perpetuate intolerance, to views that are more likely to encourage gender parity, human rights, critical thinking, and democracy.
Second, this project will have immediate implications for counter-terrorism and international security strategies. As foreign policy specialists learn how to use a developmental model to preserve the integrity and key principles of Islam, they can simultaneously more actively help interpretations to gradually move away from radical perspectives to those versions of Islam more aligned with modern values. By working in cooperation with organizations like the United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (1) to condemn censorship in countries where more liberal approaches to Islamic interpretation are banned due to laws that designed to prevent religious defamation (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.), (2) to curb the exportation of extremist education and literature and (3) to promote the publication and protection of those voices from within religious communities that hold more moderate views, foreign policy can create the necessary conditions for a new type of positive change to emerge; a type of change that, by its very nature, reduces the potential for terrorism and instability.
Furthermore, when a developmental psychological lens of interpretation is applied to religious analysis, it helps to clarify why such diversity exits within each religious tradition. With this clearer perspective, policy makers can use evidence and examples to work directly with Islamic leaders worldwide to establish a more substantial foundation for religious freedom, as articulated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. An understanding of religious freedom that is aligned with developmental stages of interpretation will have two positive repercussions. (1) Not only will religious freedom continue to more effectively protect the integrity and diversity between different religious traditions (a right desperately needed in countries like Saudi Arabia), but perhaps more importantly, (2) because an evolving lens is validated by empirical research in the stages of adult development a new understanding of religious freedom will also protect the integrity and diversity of all progressive views within each tradition. Policy designed to enforce a more nuanced approach to religious freedom that includes the protection of intra-religious diversity, will help to prevent the dominance and hegemony of Islamic fundamentalists who seek to suppress and silence alternative, moderate views. With a background in religious studies, a deep understanding of the nuances of religious interpretation, and professional experience working directly with religious leaders navigating the intersection between international affairs and diplomacy, I am strategically positioned to contribute to this specialized area of analysis.
A concrete example helps to ground these ideas. The practical experience of pioneers like Ambassador Robert Seiple, Douglas Johnston, Thomas Farr, and Marc Gopin, demonstrates that the sheer potency of religious belief are often dramatically underestimated. Failure to recognize and utilize Islamic strength may be directly linked to why the strategies implemented in Iraq and Afghanistan are only partially effective. Using a developmental lens to view the current situation in these countries, one notices that when Islam is interpreted though an ethno-centric, intolerant, and exclusivist perspective (all characteristics of lower stages of adult development) it serve as an invisible blockade to progress. Modern structures like democracy will continue to be unstable unless the internal beliefs of Islamic populations are also reinterpreted through a modern lens. If there is to be true social progress in countries that align with traditional forms of Islam (e.g. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.) or in territorial conflicts that, at least in part, involve dispute over holy land (e.g. Israel and Palestine)3, policy makers must engage pragmatically with Islamic leaders to shift religious interpretation up the developmental spectrum. In short, we do not need to force Islamic countries to secularize, ridding them of religion, rather we need to help set the conditions for more evolved forms of each religion to organically emerge. This project shows one powerful way such a goal can be accomplished.

Work Product

With the recent completion of a full-length manuscript on religious interpretation, I have the capacity and know-how necessary to turn this proposal into a book if it is so desired by CFR. Similarly, with several shorter pieces already published, I also have the skills needed to develop the recommendations and research findings into a succinct report for CFR, scholarly articles for academic journals, or presentations oriented to the general public appropriate for Foreign Affairs magazine.
My IAF work product will include both theoretical research and empirical evidence to support its claims. In addition to providing examples of each stage of Islamic interpretation as it relates to psychological development, I will also make recommendations as to how the research might be implemented for immediate action through coordination with both Islamic Institutions such as the World Muslim League and trans-national organizations like the World Council of Religious Leaders. Depending on the interest and needs of CFR, I am pleased to focus my project on Islam as a global phenomenon or to offer a more specialized study of Islam and foreign policy in relation to a single region or country (i.e. Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

Institutional Support

As Director of Integral Affairs, at the World Council of Religious Leaders, I consistently gain practical experience working on the cusp of the emerging field of religious diplomacy. With full appreciation for my position, I also recognize its limitations. Thus far, although I have gained exposure to many religious leaders and the types of religious diplomacy already underway, my work experience has not provided me with sufficient exposure to the intricacies of policy analysis. Adding a more nuanced understanding of foreign policy to my current repertoire of intellectual frameworks (academic, diplomatic, religious) will directly serve my professional strength and aspirations.
Clearly, an opportunity for professional experience in foreign policy analysis can unfold via a number of channels and I welcome the feedback of the Council as to where they feel it might best be accomplished. The most ideal situation would allow me to work as a fellow in residence with CFR at its offices in New York or Washington, DC, while simultaneously maintaining the support of Harvard University faculty.
Taking residency at CFR with periodic visits to Cambridge, MA offers the experience and flexibility necessary for both an excellent work product and successful career development. Dynamic interaction with CFR staff, its networks, and its members will offer a window into policy analysis to which I might not otherwise be exposed. Concurrently, maintaining support at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard’s Center for the Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, will ensure that I have access to many of the various scholars whose work I hope to bring into a constructive dialogue.

Personal Development

I have devoted my entire career to understanding how we can make concerted effort to shift religion into a more positive role in international affairs. Thus far, I have had the fortunate opportunity for interaction with some of the most well respected university faculty and religious leaders worldwide. These interactions will directly translate into my International Affairs Fellowship (IAF) project. Through my study with Professor Jocelyne Cesari at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, I gained a deeper appreciation of the many complexities involved in weaving together various streams of Islam with modernity. Similarly, study with Professor Paul Hanson at Harvard Divinity School has deepened my understanding of the interaction of the religion and politics and the importance of a sophisticated look at hermeneutics (religious interpretation). Finally, the support and mentorship of Bawa Jain, Secretary General of the World Council of Religious Leaders, has showed first-hand how religion and diplomacy intertwine in practical application.
The International Affairs Fellowship provides the next natural step in my professional development by exposing me to areas of study and practice that would otherwise not be possible. If offered an IAF, it will allow me to make the crucial link between a nuanced approach to religious interpretation and the implementation of foreign policy. Surprisingly, despite the desperate need for this type of approach, the vital connection has not yet been brought to the attention of decision-makers.
Bridging the gap between theory and action, I plan to write several more books over the coming years. After gaining several more years of professional experience in policy analysis, I hope to return to academia to pursue a PhD in Political Science. As my career unfolds, I plan to continuously marry theoretical ideas with pragmatic application at think tanks and policy research institutions. Riding the inevitable trend of globalization well into the future, I hope to engage the practical ways that religion might play a role in what Princeton professor Richard Falk calls a “Humane Global Governance”.4 Ultimately, I am determined to find a way that both the core teachings of our world’s religious traditions and secular models of human dignity and universal rights might be harnessed together to catalyze a more compassionate and ethical world order.

(As is obvious from this proposal, I am currently looking for funding for this project. If you know of available resources or are personally interested in funding this project please contact me directly

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Two Energetic Poles of the Universe

Dear _____,

In response to your question of how I view the ideal romantic partnership, please find my response below.

Forgive me for re-articulating that knowledge in which you are already drenched.

The Macrocosmic Perspective:

As you know, duality is a constant flux, an oscillation between two primary poles of energy.

(Energy 1)
Instinic Qualtiy = Its nature is Freedom
Deepst Gift = To offer its partner Fullness

The first energy wants nothing more than radical liberation from restraint. It is boundless in its autonomy, potential, and desire to manifest; exploding new ideas, consciousness, opportunity, truth, goodness, integrity, and beauty into the world. This is the dynamic movement of the evolutionary impulse. In its most healthy and pure form, this energy offers its deepest gift of total fullness as a result of its radical freedom. This energy is fed, nourished, and catalyzed in partnership with complementary energy of support, love, and fullness. The feeder/comlplemtnary energy must give support freely, without expectation or any form of restraint.

(Energy 2)

Instinic Qualtiy = Its nature is Fullness
Deepst Gift = To offer its partner Freedom

The second energy in the universe wants nothing more than to let go completely into the spaciousness of existence. A boundless ocean of love-awareness; Infinite in expanse; relentless in its capacity for care, communion, concern, embrace, and radical inclusively. When it is pure and because of the fact that it is already full, this pole offers total freedom as its deepest gift. When in its healthy form, this second pole surrenders as infinite stillness. It is nourished, feeds, and is catalyzed by partnering with an energy that has %100 conviction and a determination of purpose and direction. The feeder (partner) energy must have complete integrity, autonomy, and must offer itself with so much honesty and transparency that it is deserving of complete and total trust.

The Microcosmic Perspective:

In addition to the more broad macrocosmic scale described above, both of these primary energies also manifest microcosmicly in relationships between two humans.

Most obviously we see these dynamics in our romantic encounters. The ideal relationship would match the descriptions above. One partner consciously taking a particular polarity of energy and his or her partner taking the opposite pole. Another alternative, would be to be in a relationship in which each partner spontaneously feels into the context and situation and then selects the appropriate pole -- easefully gliding between one perspective and the other. For maximum efficiently, evolvability and progress in the universe -- in other words to be aligned with evolutionary principles -- each partner must play the balancing role to its fullest manifestation.

This means that while one partner offers %100 percent support to complement one partners dynamic developmental direction. The other partner must bring an infinite stream of integrity, will, ingenuity, trustable, and explosive energy of potential.

The key to a healthy romantic relationship that involves not only partnership but communion that maintains sexual attraction is to play the appropriate role fully and consciously. This is true whether you find yourself playing one of these roles more than the other or if you and your partner can switch back and forth -- trading poles with ease.


Where do couples go wrong?

In most relationships these two poles are watered down. For instance, the supportive pole (Energy 2) comes in a form that is conditional. It comes with expectations. Ultimately, a watered down version of Energy 2 limits energy 1 because it fails to offer total and boundless freedom.

Similarly, very often the dynamic energy of direction and creative explosion (Energy 1) fails to provide total transparency, clear purpose, and integrity, and as a result is not trustable. Ultimately, when Energy 1 fails to have total conviction and direction it fails to provide the needed context that allows Energy 2 to fully surrender in complete support.

The Ideal

The ideal partnership arises when two humans line up in a way that allows each to play complementary poles 100% in as many life situations as possible. One pole offering total support without restrictions on the other partners freedom. The other partner offering total direction whilst maintaining integrity and trustability allows the other partner to surrender. As energetic "pliancy" or "flexibility" develops -- a partnership can switch between the two poles instantaneously depending on what is required for a particular context.


My advice to you is this...

Find a partner who makes you surrender because you trust his or her direction so fully. Find a partner who supports your direction because in his or her presence you can offer total honesty, transparency, integrity, and purpose. Practice both autonomy and communion. Freedom and fullness. Play with poles and your capacity to shift back and forth. The integral human being is emerging. It is up to use to guide its birth. It will only be so if we maintain evolutionary principles in mind and live in accordance with the laws of the universe.

I'm not sure if this was what you were looking for but I do hope it helps in some way.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Religion: Evolution's Greatest Ally

The basic idea is this....

Currently our religious traditions are stuck at a pre-modern level of expression and interpretation. That is to say, many traditions still hold a position that is in direct contradiction to modern forms of reason and analysis. In many cases, blind faith not evidence is the basis of religious adherence. For those of us who have developed psychologically beyond pre-modern stages of awareness to fully saturate ourselves in a modern and post-modern paradigm, truth claims without support are simply not ideologies that we aspire to hold. Even worse, locking religion to a pre-modern level of consciousness has three disastrous side-effects.

1) Because so many people around the globe identify with a religious tradition, religions, in their current forms, are serving as barriers that prevent individuals (and culture) from moving to higher stages of development.

2) Because religious traditions have yet to adequately express themselves through higher levels of development, vast amounts of the human population are unable to tap into the amazing practices that they do offer (i.e. meditation) because most people cant see beyond the mythic baggage.

3) Because the pre-modern framework is ethno-centric in nature, it automatically creates animosity and conflict between individuals of differing religious and/or civilizational communities. Each assuming that their own system is right, while others are wrong.

In Wilber's book Integral Spirituality, he introduces an idea called the conveyor belt .The notion of the conveyor belt explains that there is an appropriate form of religion for every new stage of psychological development. There is a pre-modern version of Christianity, a modern version of Christianity, a postmodern version, an integral version, etc.

Currently, pre-modern interpreters and religious leaders have the market cornered.

All of us who care about evolution and the well being of humanity, must ensure that religious freedom is institutionalized for each stage of development.

If the full conveyor belt of development is illuminated in each tradition -- religion will no longer serve as a barrier to evolutionary growth. In fact, even more importantly, if each stage of development is successfully articulated in each tradition, the religious traditions themselves can actually serve as vehicles (or a conveyor belt) ushering both consciousness and culture up the evolutionary spectrum. With this new understanding -- religion becomes the most powerful ally of all of those who care deeply about evolution.

I describe all this in detail in my forthcoming book: Developmental Religious Pluralism. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fellwoship proposal to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom

I just turned in a fellowship proposal to the US Government. In it, I suggest an integral methodology that considers at least three significant stages of development. A more complete model includes extremist and moderate typologies at each level of development.

My book should be ready to go by the end of the month -- if your excited about these ideas please send me an email for an advanced copy.

Here's a taste of my proposal to the US. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)...

Area of Intended Study

This proposal introduces a new and more sophisticated model of religious analysis that will (1) aid in the reduction of religious extremism, (2) help prevent religious repression, and (3) improve foreign policy implementation of USCIRF.

The latest research in adult psychological development allows one to map a successive path of psychological maturity in each religious tradition. Applying a developmental model when analyzing potentially harmful religious actors and Countries of Particular Concern (CPC), gives US officials, diplomats, and policy leaders the capacity to promote a more robust and efficacious American policy that advances international religious freedom.

Religious interpretation follows a predictable path of growth and development that directly correlates to the psychological complexity of the religious adherent. At one end of the spectrum, strict and often literal interpretations of religion set the conditions for religious violence and terrorism. At the opposite end of the spectrum, self-reflective and pluralistic interpretations of religion form the foundation for social progress, prosperity, and religious freedom.

Using a model of stage development will allow USCIRF to demonstrate, through empirical evidence and research, that religious views that promote religious tolerance will emerge in all traditions as a natural process of developmental unfolding. Consequently, once backed by research, USCIRF can strategically protect more tolerant views of traditions even in those areas where extremist and intolerant views are dominant. This proposal offers USCIRF the opportunity to use both theory and research to support the spread of international religious freedom.

Usually only offering two terms, extremist and moderate, the model currently used to analyze religious actors is too simplistic and is not linked to solid research or theory that can legitimize its use. This one-dimensional model has not allowed the type of dramatic and long lasting influence that would be possible if a more sophisticated model using psychological development were employed. Understanding psychological development is not only an imperative for the advancement of international religious freedom but is the moral obligation of our policy leaders and diplomats who wish to ensure the security of our nation.

If our efforts to reduce religious extremism and terrorism are to succeed, USCIRF will be deeply served by learning and implementing a model of religious analysis that takes into account the way faith development influences religious interpretation. A developmental model of religious analysis recognizes at least three stages or lenses through which religion can be interpreted based on the latest finding in Adult Developmental psychology. These stages of increasing development range from Pre-modern, Modern, and Post-modern. Using a more accurate model that includes the relevant research from Adult Psychological Development in general and Faith Development in particular, will offer decision makers a strategic advantage allowing them to more accurately (1) predict behaviors, (2) assess the consequences of decisions, and (2) determine the most appropriate courses of action to reduce religious extremism.

Beginning in the 1980s at Harvard and continuing a 30-year legacy internationally, empirical research clearly indicates that individuals move through predictable levels of psychological development with regard to faith. 1 Lower levels of Faith intelligence (e.g. pre-modern) have the potential to serve as the breeding ground for intolerance and extremism. Higher levels of faith development (e.g. modern and post-modern) produce, tolerance, pluralism, and contributing factors of religious freedom. 2 It is therefore in the interest of USCIRF to understand these stages of faith development to ensure that modern and post-modern interpretations of religion have a voice.

Validating each of the three stages of interpretation provides sufficient conditions for religious adherents to naturally increase in development. In other words, because the path is sequential over time, adherents will gradually move away from extremist orientations that are unwilling to engage in dialogue, to more open and inclusive views that can successfully integrate and endorse a modern economy and a stable democratic system.

The great religious traditions of the world are inherently neutral and must be preserved and protected through religious freedom. As neutral entities, religions are molded and manipulated according to the psychological stage of faith development of the individual adherent. If the USCIRF is to implement successful policies of international religious freedom, they must begin by addressing the various perspectives that religious adherents bring each tradition. Below, please find a brief list of the basic characteristics of each developmental stage most relevant to the mission of USCIRF:

Pre-modern stage of religious interpretation: literal, absolute, rigid, dogmatic, patriarchal, male dominant, cannot integrate with a democratic system

Modern stage of religious interpretation: self-reflective, self-critical, inquisitive, tolerant, open to dialogue, gender equality, can integrate successfully with democratic system

Post-modern stage of religious interpretation: pluralistic, diversity seeking, supplements own understanding with the views of others, gender equality, can integrate successfully with democratic system

Due to the fact that evidence suggests that all adult human beings share the potential to move through these given levels of adult development, all of the aforementioned stages of faith development exist within each of our world’s religious traditions. 3 This means that there is a pre-modern version of Christianity, a modern version of Christianity and post-modern version of Christianity. Similarly, there is a pre-modern version of Islam, a modern version of Islam, and a post-modern version of Islam.

Currently, violent religious actors and CPCs tend to promote only pre-modern versions of religion to the exclusion of modern and post-modern interpretations. Not only do Pre-modern religious proponents often claim that they adhere to the only true religion, but many also claim that their particular sect and interpretation is the only correct perspective within their respective tradition. Such narrow views create conflict both between different religions and within single traditions.

Relevance to Religious Freedom

This proposal meets several goals of USCIRF. Policy that incorporates a proper understanding of the stages of development within each religious tradition will help to:

♣ Protect freedom of conscience and provide evidence to support at least
three valid stages of religious interpretation

♣ Reduce religious extremism and the consequent violent actions that can
result (i.e. terrorism)

♣ Promote the rights of women by ensuring that interpretations of
religion that tend to embrace gender equality are protected (modern
and post-modern)

♣ Increase efficacy of US assistance through its new ability to evaluate
and rewire policy agendas and education models to include
interpretations of religion from every level. Among other things, this
remodeling can serve as a tool in foreign diplomacy that ensures that
countries of particular concern are not indoctrinating children with
only a pre-modern, intolerant version of religion

♣ Contribute to a more comprehensive curriculum for the Foreign Service

♣ Ease foreign suspicion of US policy. A clear foreign policy that
acknowledges and upholds the value of all stages of interpretation in
all religious traditions will reduce fears that the USCIRF is “designed
to undermine traditional cultures” and “privilege American

♣ Protect tolerant expressions of religion from suppression. With
research to back up more liberal interpretations of religion, USCIRF can
prevent modern and post-modern views from being suppressed by
radical fundamentalists at pre-modern levels. Until all three level of
religious orientation are protected through strict regulations of
international religious freedom, more liberal interpretations
(modern and post-modern) will continue to be stamped out by pre-modern
extremists, both subtly (through educational indoctrination of
pre-modern values as in the case Saudi Arabia) and violently (through
public executions and use of force).

A concrete example helps to ground these ideas and demonstrate the direct relevance of my proposed area of study to the field of religious freedom.

Because pre-modern versions of religion are exclusivist in nature, they (1) are not open to direct criticism, (2) fail to engage in self-reflection, and (3) do not allow conversions away from their specific faith. We need to look no further than the case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan, who, accused of apostasy, stood on trial and was threatened with death for converting from Islam to Christianity. In this case, a pre-modern interpretation of Islam prevented true religious freedom from unfolding.

How did this limit on religious freedom occur in a country that the US helped to reconstruct? Using a developmental approach we see that the US was half right and half wrong in its approach. The US was right to understand that secularism (separation of religion and state) is not the most appropriate model for democracy in other countries. Hence, the decision to help Afghanistan develop an Islamic republic was a positive move. However, the move to establish a democracy based on Islamic law was made before the religion and religious adherents had reached the appropriate level of development. That is to say, the faith development of the masses had not yet achieved a critical majority at a modern level of consciousness that is open to self-reflection and criticism (both critical for successful democracy). As a result, although decisions in Afghanistan were made through a democratic process, the choices represented the will of the religious majority who still subscribed to pre-modern values of intolerance, a lack of religious freedom, and restrictions on the rights of women.

If the US possessed a better understanding of the stages of faith proposed here, they could have made bolder moves to secure and protect modern and post-modern interpretations of religion that welcomed public debate and criticism. The conditions in Afghanistan and others like it offer the direct opportunity to promote the legitimacy of all levels of interpretation; thereby, out of necessity, creating a public space for religious debate and dialogue. The US in general and the USCIRF in particular must understand that if a democratic system is to preserve its capacity to maintain honest religious dialogue and freedom of conscience, the limited and exclusivists views of pre-modern expressions of religion must be balanced by a majority of modern and post-modern views; If this advice is ignored, and democracies are created where the majority of religious adherents subscribe to pre-modern beliefs, there will be a tyranny of the intolerant religious majority over the more tolerant religious minority.

Former Director of the Office of International Religious Freedom, Thomas Farr, states: “Religious freedom is the right to pursue the religious quest, to embrace or reject the interior and public obligations that ensue, and to enter or exit religious communities that reflect, or do not reflect, one’s understanding of truth of religious truth.” 5 When faith development is properly understood, it serves as a vehicle to directly support the mission of USCIRF. USCIRF must directly promote and ensure the security of modern and post-modern interpretations of each religious tradition.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back Cover - Developmental Religious Pluralism (DRP)

Why do so many people describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious"? Are there rational expressions of our world's great religious traditions that meet the demands of our modern and postmodern worldview? Is it possible for the interpretation, practice, and expression of religion to evolve so that it might meet the needs of humans at every level of psychological and spiritual intelligence? This book begins to shed light on these types of daunting questions.
Developmental Religious Pluralism, serves as a brief introduction to a larger, more in depth volume titled Integral Religious Studies. Like its longer companion, this book uncovers the ways in which academic inquiry might transcend the limitations of the standard approach to religion called religious pluralism. With both simplicity and vibrancy, this book uses a trans-diciplinary approach. Adding insight offered by the field developmental psychology, Developmental Religious Pluralism uncovers five developmental stages of religious orientation (magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, and integral); two types (moderate and extreme), and provides examples of how each unfold within four traditions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism).
Despite the assumptions of theorist like Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, religion has not faded from the world stage. In fact, to the contrary religious participation and engagement is on the rise worldwide. If we are to engage with religion in any sort of successful way, the approach we take must as comprehensive as possible, taking into consideration new insight from all fields of human knowledge. This book offers one way that such a new model can be implemented.