Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

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AmyJ
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Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by AmyJ » 30 Mar 2018, 07:38

One of the things I have learned from Stage 4 is that it is not easier to be a non-believer - it is is not a "get out of commandments free" card the way it is traditionally viewed. Yes, that is a consequence in the sense that the person chooses which traditions [viewed as commandments] are kept or rejected. But I feel that if a faith transition is being posed as that, then it isn't a stage 4 transition, it is rather a stage 3 transition to a different set of rules.

If one rejects or lessens the influence of God in their lives through a faith transition, the person is altering what motivates them. A lessened belief in God seems to lead to a lessened belief in the afterlife - which means that is no longer a carrot dangled over the head for obedience or a stick wielded on the backside metaphorically for disobedience. A transitioning person integrates the "commandments" or rules of behavior they obey into protocols for everyday here-and-no living prescribed under the ethics window - in a sense supplying their own carrots and sticks as necessary.

Which means that every person I run into who has changed religions, or has the earmarks of a faith transition ("fell away from the church, etc") I can assume has struggled with the questions on the influence of God in their lives, and what the rules that govern their lives should be.

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LookingHard
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Re: Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by LookingHard » 30 Mar 2018, 08:42

I am finding that I feel almost more pressure now to do good in the world since I am not so sure there is a God that is going to make everything OK in the long run. If there is no afterlife to balance what happens here in this life, what am I doing now seems even more critical to current and on-going generations.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by DarkJedi » 30 Mar 2018, 09:23

First of all, I'm not sure stage four is about lack of belief. I don't believe any of the stages are about lack of belief. There are certainly differences of belief, though.
Which means that every person I run into who has changed religions, or has the earmarks of a faith transition ("fell away from the church, etc") I can assume has struggled with the questions on the influence of God in their lives, and what the rules that govern their lives should be.
I agree with this, and this is more stage five stuff in my mind. I think it's also helpful to recognize that few of us are fully in one stage or the other and that the stages are not concrete. That is, I can be at stage 3 in some things, stage 4 in others and even stage 5 in some. The stages aren't pigeon holes or boxes.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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AmyJ
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Re: Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by AmyJ » 30 Mar 2018, 09:35

DarkJedi wrote:
30 Mar 2018, 09:23
First of all, I'm not sure stage four is about lack of belief. I don't believe any of the stages are about lack of belief. There are certainly differences of belief, though.
Which means that every person I run into who has changed religions, or has the earmarks of a faith transition ("fell away from the church, etc") I can assume has struggled with the questions on the influence of God in their lives, and what the rules that govern their lives should be.
I agree with this, and this is more stage five stuff in my mind. I think it's also helpful to recognize that few of us are fully in one stage or the other and that the stages are not concrete. That is, I can be at stage 3 in some things, stage 4 in others and even stage 5 in some. The stages aren't pigeon holes or boxes.
I feel that Stage 4 is a step where beliefs are predominantly analyzed - very much in a take-it-apart-and-put-it-back-together process. I want to use a person building with legos as an example of the next statements I tentatively believe. I think that belief is "suspended" the same way that a lego is picked up and "suspended" in the air until the person figures out where to put it. In that sense, each piece can be defined as "Stage 3" in the sense it hasn't been picked up and examined yet, "Stage 4" as this process, and "Stage 5" as placing the piece into its new position and accepts it as it is. While the state of each piece at any given time has a specific status, I think there is an overall theme regarding where a person is in their building design. Some people are very happy with their building and protect themselves from making changes. Others are surrounded by lots of random scattered pieces that they are endeavoring to figure out what to do with. And others might be happy with their reconfigured building and are focused on making refinements to it.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by DarkJedi » 30 Mar 2018, 12:04

I think we might be talking past each other, Amy.

To me, Fowler's stages are more about how or why I believe than what I believe. Allow me to explain.

I like your Lego analogy. In my faith crisis/transition I have often used a similar analogy with a building. When my FC hit full on my building collapsed and laid in ruins. As I began to rebuild my faith edifice, there were parts that I could reuse (belief in God being the foundation in my case), parts I could not reuse (Santa Claus analogy), and parts I didn't know if I could use or not. As I have rebuilt, which is an ongoing process I expect might last the remainder of my life, I have examined some of the rubble and have either used it, thrown it out, or I am still examining it. I should also note that there are new parts that were not part of the building before.

Fowler fits in not in that I believe in God, but how/why I believe in God. In my pre-crisis/transition days (stage 3) I did not question my belief in God nor did I examine why I believed in God. But I did believe in God. Like other faith related things, I just didn't think about it. Until I did think about it (stage 4). Admittedly I did go through a time where I very seriously doubted there was a God but came to the conclusion there is - but I now believe God is not what I had been taught or believed God was. Most other faith related things are likewise - I believe in most of it to some extent, and some of it is stage 3 belief. At the same time, more of it is stage 4 and even stage 5 because I have examined it, I know what and why I believe as I do, and I accept that. And I accept that others can believe differently and they're still OK. I can carry on a conversation about God with any stage 3 person and he or she will not be the wiser because we both believe in the same God, just differently. The same could be said for many other things, such as historicity of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, or literal vs. symbolic scripture stories. People at all stages believe in God, but likely different from each other.

So back to your OP:
Which means that every person I run into who has changed religions, or has the earmarks of a faith transition ("fell away from the church, etc") I can assume has struggled with the questions on the influence of God in their lives, and what the rules that govern their lives should be.
In other words, all of these people you mention have at least stepped into stage 4 for at least some time - and your recognition of that is stage 5. We don't necessarily stay in one stage, although there are people stuck in stages. It is not necessary for someone to move to stage 4 to get into heaven, nor is it a given that someone who has examined his or her beliefs will remain in stage 4 - in my experience it is possible to go "back" to stage 3 or get stuck in stage 4 the same way they were stuck in stage 3. Reaching stage 5 is not akin to Nirvana or Enlightenment, although some might be confused about that. Anyone at any stage is still eligible for heaven - and they may be right and I may be wrong or we could both be right or both be wrong.

So I'll finish with an example. Your title mentions a blessing in your newfound understanding. That's great, and I'm happy you feel blessed by this. It's good that we recognize that others are also learning and that we're all in different places on the same journey but others have also seen some of the same places and had some of the same experiences we have. I have likewise come to such an acceptance. This is a totally authentic statement, I really am happy for you. If we were having this conversation in the hallway at church I might even give you a hug. But here's what I'm thinking and not saying: I don't believe in blessings.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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AmyJ
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Re: Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by AmyJ » 30 Mar 2018, 12:22

DarkJedi wrote:
30 Mar 2018, 12:04
I think we might be talking past each other, Amy.

To me, Fowler's stages are more about how or why I believe than what I believe. Allow me to explain.

I like your Lego analogy. In my faith crisis/transition I have often used a similar analogy with a building. When my FC hit full on my building collapsed and laid in ruins. As I began to rebuild my faith edifice, there were parts that I could reuse (belief in God being the foundation in my case), parts I could not reuse (Santa Claus analogy), and parts I didn't know if I could use or not. As I have rebuilt, which is an ongoing process I expect might last the remainder of my life, I have examined some of the rubble and have either used it, thrown it out, or I am still examining it. I should also note that there are new parts that were not part of the building before.
It is entirely possible that we are talking past each other. But I think that part of my perspective shift in figuring out what the theme of Stage 4 means to me is a fundamental shift in perspective. Yes, I am holding legos and putting them into places that I see they belong - but I am doing a lot of categorizing of color and type in the process. So I think that the "what" I believe (theoretically, or currently believe or have at least suspended both disbelief and belief on) are the mutterings you would hear from someone with their tongue stuck out picking up a piece and starting to figure out where it goes.

The way I tick means I try to deconstruct and classify everything as much as possible (including a classification if "unknown" or "un-classifiable".

One of the things that helps me right now is identifying that in some instances, the overall theme of my life is Stage 4 deconstruction - there is a classification for it, and it is a form of normal (not traditional - but not alien either). I describe it as such the way that a person might measure the tidal wave level, take a temperature to check for sickness, or define a specific shade of blue that the sky is. Intellectually I understand what got me here, and that here is not an easy place to be, and that to some small to medium extent my choices on resolving the dissonance will assist or resist the process. I think in part I am on a boat bobbing on the sea double-checking with my radar that I am going in the generally correct direction and that I am making progress.
DarkJedi wrote:
30 Mar 2018, 12:04
Fowler fits in not in that I believe in God, but how/why I believe in God. In my pre-crisis/transition days (stage 3) I did not question my belief in God nor did I examine why I believed in God. But I did believe in God. Like other faith related things, I just didn't think about it. Until I did think about it (stage 4). Admittedly I did go through a time where I very seriously doubted there was a God but came to the conclusion there is - but I now believe God is not what I had been taught or believed God was. Most other faith related things are likewise - I believe in most of it to some extent, and some of it is stage 3 belief. At the same time, more of it is stage 4 and even stage 5 because I have examined it, I know what and why I believe as I do, and I accept that. And I accept that others can believe differently and they're still OK. I can carry on a conversation about God with any stage 3 person and he or she will not be the wiser because we both believe in the same God, just differently. The same could be said for many other things, such as historicity of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, or literal vs. symbolic scripture stories. People at all stages believe in God, but likely different from each other.
In my pre-crisis/transition days, "God was in his heaven and all was right [or would be made right] in the world". I thought about stuff, and the nature of God, and other random religious stuff.

My standard answer right now is "It's not that Simple".

I am trusting in a few years I will be at ease with it all. I am trusting in the experiences of others along the path that the turmoil (that is normal though painful or uncomfortable) will subside and I will have a foundation again. Just like when I was in 2nd grade, I wanted to be a "cool" 6th grader (who turned out to be normal), and then a teenager, then an "amazing" adult.
DarkJedi wrote:
30 Mar 2018, 12:04
So back to your OP:
Which means that every person I run into who has changed religions, or has the earmarks of a faith transition ("fell away from the church, etc") I can assume has struggled with the questions on the influence of God in their lives, and what the rules that govern their lives should be.
In other words, all of these people you mention have at least stepped into stage 4 for at least some time - and your recognition of that is stage 5. We don't necessarily stay in one stage, although there are people stuck in stages. It is not necessary for someone to move to stage 4 to get into heaven, nor is it a given that someone who has examined his or her beliefs will remain in stage 4 - in my experience it is possible to go "back" to stage 3 or get stuck in stage 4 the same way they were stuck in stage 3. Reaching stage 5 is not akin to Nirvana or Enlightenment, although some might be confused about that. Anyone at any stage is still eligible for heaven - and they may be right and I may be wrong or we could both be right or both be wrong.
I view it more like the tides. There are distinct differences in tides at different times, and depending on what you want to do determines which tide you want. However, the water is still there and is a force to be reckoned with at either high tide or low tide. Depending on which part of the shore you are on, the tidal difference may end up being a difference in depth over several feet - and should be approached cautiously and intellectually in some circumstances. The person who wants to sail, collect sea shells, search for metal, or go fishing is wise to consult the tidal tables, check the local weather, and listen to the experienced people in the area who know a thing or two about those tides.

Roy
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Re: Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by Roy » 01 Apr 2018, 14:01

I appreciate the positive and patient discussion on this subject.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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SilentDawning
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Re: Stage 4 - Unexpected Blessing

Post by SilentDawning » 01 Apr 2018, 15:08

For me, at first, it wasn't a faith problem. It was a commitment problem -- an engagement problem. I actually did post graduate work in engagement in organizations, and I see now that a number of factors come to work at once that hurt my engagement...

1. decades of the same old same old (skill variety)
2. bad relationships with leaders and members -- with the onus put entirely on me to just deal with it.
3. Lack of meaningful opportunities to grow and progress personally. the story of Stephen R Covey being a willing but awful primary teacher as case of this point.

And it did relieve me of certain commandments, but only after I disengaged and decided to let my conscience be my guide. And changed my goal from doing what the church said for salvation, to creating joy in my life now.

I actually changed and upped my community service after this "disengagement" and found new places to serve. Happier, better places.

And yes, life got more complicated. And still is. But more interesting for sure.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

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