About the Blogger

I was born in 1962 to Russel Burl Mabry and Karen Lynn Kleckner at La Mirada, California. My parents, my sister Tiffany and I moved around the midwest most of my childhood. From La Habra, CA, to Granite City, IL; Brownstone Township, MI, to Woodridge, IL. Finally, in my senior year, we moved to Benecia, CA, which feels like the closest thing to a home town that I have. I spent my childhood writing stories, doing scouting with my Dad (our assistant scoutmaster) and feeling stupid trying to do sports (mostly hockey; I was god-awful at it, too). During the 1970s we were moderate Southern Baptists (there were such things back then). When I was in high school we got involved in an extremely fundamentalist church (the details of which you can read about elsewhere on this site), which significantly wounded me spiritually. I languished on the edge of the Baptist church until in my early twenties when I discovered sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, intellectual independence, and also experienced an epiphany which changed my life (and more or less made me a universalist).

I attended California Baptist College and completed a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. Cal Bapist was a wonderful environment to be a religious rebel, and I found lots of other like-minded free-thinkers in the Socratic Club. I stayed to get my teaching credential, but was so emotionally shaken by student teaching that I never set foot in a High School classroom again. While at CBC, I was floundering in the Baptist church and experienced a spiritual rebirth in the Episcopal Church, partly due to the influence of C.S. Lewis and the novels of Charles Williams. From there I moved to Old Catholicism, and was drawn by my interest in all matters of faith to do a Masters Degree in Spirituality at the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirtuality (now called the Sophia Center at Holy Names College), and later a doctorate in World Religions at the California Institute of Integral Studies. While I worked on my doctorate, I worked at Creation Spirituality magazine, where I served as managing editor, and later editor.

In 1993 I was called to be co-pastor at Grace North Church. I worked for many years as managing editor of the Pacific Church News (the diocesan magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of California) and as editor for Presence (the Journal of Spiritual Directors International). For the past few years, I have also been fortunate to teach interfaith theology, world religions, and spiritual direction at the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministry. In 2004 I founded the Apocryphile Press, a small publishing house specializing in theology and reprints.

In 2010 I became senior pastor at Grace North Church, and in 2012 was installed as a pastor in the United Church of Christ. Well, this pretty much brings us up to date. I spend my time visiting parishioners, writing, preaching, reading theology, fiction, and comic books, and singing in two progressive rock bands, Metaphor and Mind Furniture. I still keep my eyes open for epiphanies, and read voraciously from theologians and mystics of every tradition.


14 responses to “About the Blogger

  • Charles Mugleston

    Dear Friend,

    Seeing your book The Way of Thomas reviewed in the latest New Vision magazine, I thought I would say hello, and well done and if… you are thinking of visiting the U.K this year – might you be interested in joining us here at The Well Chapel for The Ordination to the Priesthood of Alyssa Stebbing on August the 9th ?

    It would indeed be lovely to welcome you amongst the Kindred Spirits here for that day.

    Keep up The God Work

    In Service

    + Charles

  • Chuck

    I am a Taoist and found your essay on Taoism when a classmate asked for information about my philosophy. It is one of the best summaries that I found and is true to the interpretation that I follow. I am a 49 year old ex philosophy major who lived in the business world until now. I am going back to college to get my masters in social work which is more in line with what I wish I did thirty years ago. It is wonderful to be back in an intellectual washing machine. Anyway, I Googled you to see if you had written anything else and found your site. I look forward to digging in.

  • Sandra

    Dear Sir,

    I recently picked up your book “The Monster God” at the library. I have found it to be enjoyable and enlightening, but it has added one minor (but very frustrating) mystery to my life. What is the title/artist of the cover painting? I feel sure I have seen it before, but cannot place it. Thank you.

    • johnrmabry

      Hi, Sandra. Sorry for the delay–I’m still getting used to how wordpress works. The painting is by Francisco Goya. I really had to fight to get it on the cover, but I think it’s just perfect! Glad you liked the book, too. All the best,

      John

  • Frodo

    Hi Dr. Mabry!
    Are you working on intergenerational spritituality – is this you on usenet?
    http://groups.google.com/group/talk.religion.bahai/msg/a2dc6badf7706f69

  • Ed Gurowitz

    John,

    Just finished Heretics, Mystics, and Misfits that was recommended to me by Aaron Paxson, a friend here in Incline. Really excellent work. Fr. Jim Beebe at St. Patrick’s Episcopal here and I are working on a book on religious experience, religious teaching, and how religious dogma subverts and defeats these. Would love to chat with you when I’m down on the Bay Area – if you come to Tahoe there is a group of us who have started a transdenominational program at Sierra Nevada College and would love to have some conversations. My blog is above – I’d be interested in your comments and will be following yours.

    Ed Gurowitz

  • Gideon Yohannes

    Dear Dr. Mabry, greetings! I came accross your article entitled Generation X: Rebels without Applause and enjoyed reading it. I am a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary under Dr.Wilbert Shenk and wonderd if you would be available to discuss my research on generation X. My research has led me to beleive that Xers need a community of people they can trust to come to faith in Christ. But what is the shape of that community today? Or is this even a valid assertion? Would you commen on that please?

  • Gideon Yohannes

    Dear Dr. Mabry, greetings! I came accross your article entitled Generation X: Rebels without Applause and enjoyed reading it. I am a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary under Dr.Wilbert Shenk and wonderd if you would be available to discuss my research on generation X. My research has led me to beleive that Xers need a community of people they can trust to come to faith in Christ. But what is the shape of that community today? Or is this even a valid assertion? Would you comment on that please?

  • Mark

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the book at Wondercon. A fortuitous meeting. I’m a Thelemite and “Magician” and appreciate your book. If the Black Friars and Thelemites can hang, we’ve come a long way from the polarizations of dogmatic religiosity.

    All the Best,

    Mark

  • Dennis Maltz

    Hi John,

    I was researching for connective ideas so I could communicate with a cousin I really do not know. He is seriously into what appears to be a modern interpretation of practical Kabala. I believe he follows via a chapter of an organization appearing to be headed by a gentleman named “Rabbi Michael Laitman”. My background is Eastern mysticism and has been for 44 years. After searching a bit I found your article “Strange Bedfellows: Hinduism and Judaic Mysticism in Comparison”. I thought it perfect if we are to quickly bridge what might appear a divide. I thought the article right on mark. Also enjoyed your homepage article a lot. Thanks! Dennis

    • johnrmabry

      You’re very welcome, Dennis! So glad the article was helpful. Do let me know how your conversations with your cousin go! Mystics of all traditions have much in common…

      John

  • N. S. Musson

    Hi John,

    I read this excerpt from a sermon you preached:

    “Very early on, the Kiss of Peace was given freely between all the members, regardless of gender, full on the mouth, as an expression of the mystical unity shared by the congregation. It was another symbol of union in that it foreshadowed and supported the common partaking of the body of Christ, which also united them spiritually. St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote in the fourth century, ‘Think not that this kiss is of the same character with those given in public by common friends. It is not such: but this kiss blends souls one with another, and courts entire forgiveness in them. The kiss therefore is the sign that our souls are mingled together, and banish all remembrance of wrongs.'”

    I’m curious concerning your sources for this statement? And are the sources ones that would be accepted by people that are more theologically conservative?

    Blessings.

    • johnrmabry

      Hi, N.S. If you google that statement, you’ll find that it’s found in St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s 23rd Catechetical Lecture. It doesn’t get much authoritative than the church fathers, so yes, anyone would recognize it’s authority, no matter how conservative.

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