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 hometown 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, 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).
About this time, I married Cherrisa Sloat, the greatest animal lover I have ever met. She's also a heck of a lot of fun. We almost immediately moved to Riverside California so that I could attend California Baptist College to do 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 gave up the idea entirely. I would still like to teach college someday; you know, folks who WANT to be there.
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 met Dan Turner, another Very Important Person in my life. Dan encouraged my creativity and my vocation as a religious writer and thinker, and also provided a great role model as a liberal religious saint.
Around 1992, Cherrisa and I agreed on a divorce, and I moved in with a crazy guy who was to become my best friend, Lawson Barnes (left), shown here in one of his favorite poses. Lawson is an INTP on the Myers-Briggs and is the most tatoo-ed man I know. He is also a creative dynamo with a sensitive and sincere spirit.
While I was running a Fundamentalist Anonymous group, I met a young woman named Karyn Wolfe, an INTJ who had also spent her adolesence in fundamentalism. We supported each other at meetings and in our friendship, until 1993 when we finally started dating. In 1994 we broke down and got married.
Kate is the greatest, most healing blessing I could have asked for. She is also a fiesty woman who always speaks the truth as she sees it, with a warm and compassionate heart.
Kate and I have had an extremely similar spiritual path, and have achieved a powerful creative partnership. We currently live in Oakland, CA, and have two lovely dogs, Clare and Abegail, both of whom were rescued pups. In 1993 I was asked to be part of the faculty of the Grace Institute for Religious learning, and have taught philosophy and church history there ever since. I currently work at home, as managing editor of the Pacific Church News (the diocesan magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of California) and editor for Presence (the Journal of Spiritual Directors International). For more info on these things, see my vocation page.
In marrying Kate, I gained a whole new family, the Eckhardts. Here is me with Kate and her father, Keith, brother Kirk, mother, Lorraine, and brother, Erik. Her parents have made me feel like part of the family, and her brothers are a little nuts and truly scary in restaurants.
In the meantime, Mom and Dad moved up to Alaska (of all places!) where Dad could live out his dream of being a mountain man. Not long after Tiffany and her husband Ed followed suit. Tiff and Ed have since brought four lovely boys into the world, Joseph, Lamond, Carlin, and Terrill. I can never remember their birthdays. I think it's a guy thing. Well, this pretty much brings us up to date. I spend my time editing, sweeping floors, preaching, napping, reading theology, fiction, and comic books, writing theology, walking the dogs, washing dishes, singing in an ambient/gothic/grunge band called Falling Dark, and in a progressive rock band called Metaphor. I still keep my eyes open for epiphanies, and read voraciously from theologians and mystics of every tradition.