James Fowler's Stages of Faith

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MisterCurie
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by MisterCurie » 27 Aug 2009, 16:31

Tom Haws wrote: Faith development in adulthood could be as simple as moves like restricting High Priest ordination to some advanced age (35 or 40 approx. post mid-life crisis), adding a "senior" Relief Society restricted likewise, extending the youth Sunday School groups in two or three year steps to age 30, restricting Gospel Doctrine attendance to the age of 30 or older, or splitting Gospel Doctrine into "adult" and "senior" (35 or 40+) sections. In general, small moves that could provide and tacitly, structurally, and institutionally in some way acknowledge the reality of "advancement" after true adulthood (post-college, post honeymoon, post-mission, age 25 or 30) and mid-life (age 40) would help a lot, I think. Creativity is of course needed, but something in the church is needed to point to the faith difference between a 45-year-old and a 20-year-old that are now in all the same classes. There is a time (sacrament meeting) for mixing, and a time for matching.
Clearly the current church curriculum is not suited for extending faith development into adulthood, when the manuals are strictly correlated and essentially no new concepts are introduced after the teenage years and discussion is strictly limited to "approved" topics. I don't think that breaking things up by age is going to really encourage faith development if all of the classes use the same restricting manuals.

Anyone know the history of when the church began so thoroughly correlating the manuals and presenting a "scrubbed" view of history?

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Heber13
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Heber13 » 28 Aug 2009, 06:12

MisterCurie wrote:Anyone know the history of when the church began so thoroughly correlating the manuals and presenting a "scrubbed" view of history?
It was a pretty big goal of the church during the David O McKay era, when the auxiliaries were brought under more control of the Q12, and the big push was made to correlate the manuals and the content across the church.

I personally would like to see a new class, like a doctrine intelligence class or something that gets more detailed in lessons about Christ's ministry and teachings. But even as I type this, I sense the risk would be to start an "in depth" class would only draw those wanting to prove they are "more advanced" or getting into questionable doctrine, and that doesn't seem to go well with trying to unify the ward members.

Somehow, I just wish there was more meat to the current lessons. I attended a evangelical congregation not too long ago and someone there gave a great sermon on 6 verses in the book of Mark that I have never considered the meaning of those scriptures like that before. It was completely in line with my beliefs as a mormon, but a new angle at those scriptures. I want more of that, along with some testimony and personal experiences shared, but something that helps people who have heard the normal curriculum multiple times already, able to continue building faith and learning.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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timpanogos
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by timpanogos » 29 Aug 2009, 09:34

I believe the old RDLS had it right. They did not automatically advance through the priesthood and many adult males were still teachers etc. I'd be interested to know what their advancement criteria was. I know their men had a far greater respect for their priests, elders, HP, as these offices were not reached via automatic age advancement.
Push to the Peak!

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Rix
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Rix » 29 Aug 2009, 15:35

I think generally the church is designed to keep most members in stage three. It keeps consistency, and it avoids most conflicts. Let's face it, with the internet there are so many stories out there about church history, it would take every Sunday, every meeting to straighten everybody out!

That's why I think there is much to be said for individual study, discussion with those ready to deal with the challenges maturely...and of course:

THIS WEB SITE!

:D
Überzeugungen sind oft die gefährlichsten Feinde der Wahrheit.
[Certainty (that one is correct) is often the most dangerous enemy of the
truth.] - Friedrich Nietzsche

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that. -- Joseph Campbell

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Heber13
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Heber13 » 14 Sep 2009, 16:44

I regularly go back and review the Stages of Faith essays...they provide good meaning for me, and yet cause me some uncomfortable reflection.
Stage 5 – "Conjunctive" faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems
How can I better understand this stage? Can someone give me examples of people that would be described as achieving this faith (including yourself if you feel you are there) and how that person views the church and the world?

Are there qualities or characteristics that I should be looking for to help aspire to that level?

Can you help me understand this level of faith development moer?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Brian Johnston
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Brian Johnston » 14 Sep 2009, 19:34

I will give a shot at trying to describe this state of mind.

I feel Mormon. I was raised in this tradition. It was the brick and mortar that built the images of meaning in my life. I love the Church, what it represents and what it does in the world. I have changed though over the past couple years. I sometimes tell people now that I believe in the Church, but I no longer believe it. I believe in the purpose of the Church. I think it is the best expression of transcendent and divine urges in humanity, restored (re-interpreted) in our day. It is very clear, challenging and profound. It works. It works for me at least. Is that like I am saying I know the Church is True? ... kind of, but kind of not. The symbols are just symbols to me now. Their meaning, what they point at has become very true to me. I see these symbols in other places, but none so clear, condensed and leading as what I find in Mormonism.

I feel sometimes like Neo in the Matrix when suddenly the virtual world around started looking like a stream of characters (symbols) instead of reality. It seems like that some days in the Church. I used to be focused on the symbols thinking THOSE were the "Truth" or the Ultimate Reality. A great example is the temple. I used to think the information was actually a true story, that the signs and tokens were secret knowledge that got me past actual guards, or that maybe we actually dressed like that in the Celestial Kingdom. I don't believe that anymore, not literally. So I don't believe it. But ... I see the symbols as symbols now, and they are pointing at something beautiful and glorious, just past them a little deeper under the surface of the water. I can't really put to words what I feel sometimes. The best I could hope for would be through poetry or art. I believe in that Ultimate Reality in Mormonism very much now, even more than my faith allowed me before. So I don't believe it, but I believe in it. It is a paradox.

What I say is blasphemous and beautiful to me at the same time. There is nothing superior or better about this point of view. It isn't even very practical, and nothing to build a whole Church around. I can't help what happened to me, but I have hope that I am expressing my divinity the way I was created by God to do. God made me. I am who I am. We are friends now.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Sep 2009, 21:49

To follow-up on Valoel's wonderful thoughts:

If a people could view a health practice like circumcision as a holy ordinance (Can I get a, "Holy Crap, you want me to do what?! - and you want it to symbolize that how?!"), then baptism is a particularly beautiful alternative - but I don't believe in baptism itself in the slightest. I believe God could save his children even if we didn't perform a single vicarious ordinance - but I absolutely LOVE the symbolism I find in those ordinances. If our culture found such stunning symbolism in spitting and clapping my hands in a unique way, I'd be all for it - but I just can't. Our ordinances work for me amazingly well, since I am able to see the intent behind the action.

More importantly, I can accept that others might be able to find that same stunning symbolism in spitting and clapping their hands in a unique way - and let them have it if they can't see it in the same way I see it. I'm not worried about making others see things my way. I'm content and at peace and joyful with my own worldview; and I am not about to mess with others who can say the same. Honestly, I'm not really concerned about them. I'm looking to share with those who aren't content and at peace and joyful, since the well need not a physician - and trying to help them find the same type of contentment, peace and joy I feel, even if that means they have to construct their own worldview slightly differently than I have done for myself.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by hawkgrrrl » 14 Sep 2009, 23:05

A little more about correlation's beginning - if you are interested in a great read, pick up David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. While the correlation effort commenced under McKay, it was orchestrated by Harold B. Lee, at least according to the book. It was pretty interesting to read about some of the machinations within the Q12 during McKay's long tenure as church president.

As for Fowler's stages, when I was first exposed to the concept I did some looking around. There are other churches who have discussed these stages within their own faiths. I am left to conclude that all religions cater to Stage 3 because it would be impractical and/or counterproductive for those religions to cater to any of the other stages. Christ could also be described as a Stage 4 Jew who transcended that religion and progressed from Stage 4 to Stage 5 and eventually to Stage 6. He did not so much establish a religion (at least in the NT account; he did in the BOM) as talk about how to transcend Judaism as a religion (Mormon theology might say "fulfill" but contemporary Jews certainly didn't agree with that assessment).

johndehlin
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by johndehlin » 15 Sep 2009, 03:27

Man I love you guys.

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Heber13
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Heber13 » 15 Sep 2009, 09:36

Thank you for your insightful responses. I'd like to continue to learn more.
Valoel wrote:So I don't believe it. But ... I see the symbols as symbols now, and they are pointing at something beautiful and glorious, just past them a little deeper under the surface of the water. I can't really put to words what I feel sometimes. The best I could hope for would be through poetry or art. I believe in that Ultimate Reality in Mormonism very much now, even more than my faith allowed me before. So I don't believe it, but I believe in it. It is a paradox.
This is beautiful, though I had to read it twice to comprehend (I'm a little slow sometimes). The trick is to be able to accept the value of paradoxes in life, I think. Because living in a literal faith can only take you so far, whereas, a paradox can embrace the literal and then take it beneath the waters for deeper personal meaning.
Ray Degraw wrote:I'm looking to share with those who aren't content and at peace and joyful, since the well need not a physician - and trying to help them find the same type of contentment, peace and joy I feel, even if that means they have to construct their own worldview slightly differently than I have done for myself.
This makes a lot of sense to me, this is charity and tolerance (like David O. McKay exhibited) and is in line with Christ's teachings in the NT. This makes me think that whatever happened to me that pushed me out of stage 3, there is no need to go to my brothers or neighbors and try to push them out of stage 3...if stage 3 is working for them...great. But I can now relate more to those who fall away or who currently struggle, because they are not content. I want to aspire to this state where I have found confidence and peace with my world view, even if it differs from my prior TBM view. In order to do that, I still have to find a way to deal with obedience to the church rules when I don't believe all the church rules have value, kind of like trying to get to where Valoel is where he believes in the church, even if not believing it.

I am not yet at peace. Not sure how I find that peace. But I hold on to my faith hoping one day I'll find it (and hope my faith isn't what is keeping me from finding it).
hawkgrrrl wrote:I am left to conclude that all religions cater to Stage 3 because it would be impractical and/or counterproductive for those religions to cater to any of the other stages.
I see the purpose of why established religions see the stage 3 faith is needed by members to function as an organization. But this is troubling to me. If the Church teaches the will of God, claiming its teachings are what God wants us to do and to be obedient to...why would God be teaching stage 3 faith and also teaching us to become like Christ that transcended Stage 3, went through stage 4 and 5 and achieved Stage 6 faith development? Why not just teach us we all need to go to stage 6?

I feel a personal need to journey to Stage 5 and find my peace, because I believe God felt I was ready to be booted out of Stage 3. But I don't feel any church teachings or true believing church members view my current actions as a good thing. I feel the church teaches that we should safely stay in Stage 3 with the flock. And if you leave the flock, we'll have to go find you and bring you back to stage 3 again for your own good. And if you leave the flock, you are jeapordizing eternal punishment and damnation and forfeiture of eternal glory.

And so there is an internal struggle for me. I feel God wants me to broaden my faith and find the deep symbolic meanings Valoel talks about. And yet I feel the church I am trying to cling to that professes it teaches God's will is discouraging me from doing this, and actually teaches that the path I'm headed down is one of apostacy or heresy, that I'm on dangerous ground and am losing spiritual strength and light. I may not be worthy to baptize my son next year, or give the priesthood to my son next year, or see my daughters married in the temple (in hopefully many many years from now).

If the church is really true...why would they not celebrate my journey and support me? Why would they not be teaching and preaching this need to follow Christ's footsteps? Why must I try to accept the paradox, but the church not teach that is God's way? This is troubling to me. (thanks for letting me ramble).
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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