James Fowler's Stages of Faith

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johndehlin
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by johndehlin » 08 Nov 2009, 15:49

hawkgrrrl wrote:- Stage 4, 5 and 6 are personal journeys. You don't take them with others
Not true, Hawk. We have each other here. ;)

God bless the StayLDS community (especially you moderators).

dash1730
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by dash1730 » 09 Nov 2009, 08:05

In my ward, my wife attends what she calls "old fart's relief society" which primarily are the over 40 crowd, and their husbands as desired who spend much of their time functioning as a book club. They review books about reasonably balanced between "faith promoting" and otherwise interesting.

Separately, we attend an "empty nester's FHE." It meets monthly to discuss some topic of interest. It's members all take the Church seriously, but we aren't necessarily orthodox. Last month's class was on oriental meditation techniques.
I may not walk the straight and narrow, but I try to cross it as often as I can.
---J Golden Kimball

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Tom Haws
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Tom Haws » 05 Jan 2010, 05:25

Great ideas, dash1730.

I just read this entire thread again and was newly amazed by its insights, especially on pages 2 and 3, sandwiched between Heber13's question "How can I understand Stage 5?" and his long recap.

A couple of things I thought worth saying again:
hawkgrrrl wrote:I doubt that just staying out of trouble will make one a God. Just sayin'.
Pithy. And of course valoel's (Brian's)
Brian Johnston wrote:I make cheese instead of wool now for "The Man."
Masterful and poetic extension of the analogy.
Brian Johnston wrote:Modern Stage 3 people are often concerned with our thoughts and faith images. It is more important to say that we obey than it is to actually obey. It is more important to profess acceptance of a doctrine than it is to explore it and practice. To Evangelicals, you must only acknowledge that Jesus Christ is your savior. That is what saves you, not trying to figure out through trial and error what Jesus was teaching.
I wanted to maybe discuss this further. This is a concept that percolates through the discussions here, the idea of trying to fully appreciate what others care about in their faith stage. This is an extremely practical principle to try to understand. Of course the bishop doesn't want wolves among the flock. That goes without saying here. But he wants to know you have a good heart and a good spirit, that you are not an angry apostate, but a "good guy". That you aren't insistent on declaring the church "false" and making everybody's life miserable. This is real and important in Staying LDS, as well as in continuing onward in our faith growth.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
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Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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Heber13
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Heber13 » 06 Jan 2010, 02:10

Tom Haws wrote:I wanted to maybe discuss this further. This is a concept that percolates through the discussions here, the idea of trying to fully appreciate what others care about in their faith stage. This is an extremely practical principle to try to understand. Of course the bishop doesn't want wolves among the flock. That goes without saying here. But he wants to know you have a good heart and a good spirit, that you are not an angry apostate, but a "good guy". That you aren't insistent on declaring the church "false" and making everybody's life miserable. This is real and important in Staying LDS, as well as in continuing onward in our faith growth.
Tom, I think you make a great point, the wolf is a real danger to the flock. The shepherd must try to protect the sheep from angry apostate wolves. And so we have that responsibility to not cause real danger.

However, a good shepherd will also know what is real danger and what is not. Just because the goats are there making milk and cheese, does not mean they are a danger, even if they are different. If the sheep don't like it, a good leader doesn't try to please everyone all the time, or let majority rule, and treat the goats just like dangerous wolves. A good leader discerns the real danger from the harmless differences and reminds the flock to broaden their vision.
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."

katielangston
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by katielangston » 20 Jan 2010, 11:52

Thank you, everyone, for this insightful discussion. Great stuff.

Here's a question I've been wrestling with lately. As parents, will it damage our children to provide them a more nuanced approach and narrative to Mormonism? Do they miss something if we encourage them not to accept wholly literal interpretations? Developmentally, do they NEED stage 3?

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Brian Johnston
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Brian Johnston » 20 Jan 2010, 13:16

I'll take a stab at trying to answer. I can't say that my answer is right, and I am no expert on child development. Fowler stage theory is based on psychological development theory and not theology, so in that regard I would think a young child's brain just isn't going to really get the depth of a nuanced faith and paradox. I would guess that has to do with physiological brain chemistry and maturation as well as a psychology the evolves from enough years of practical experience dealing with the world.

I personally observe that my own children wanted "stories" when they are young and often have a hard time telling the difference between reality and fantasy. Our youngest is 7 years old. I am not a huge fan of pushing the Santa Claus myth too far, and he still asked me a couple times if Santa Clause was real this past x-mas. I would tell him a nuanced answer. He sat there and I could see the gears spinning and grinding in his head as he pondered what I said. I had to finally tell him no, Santa was not real (again, for probably the 6th or 7th time). There was another example recently when he was watching a new kids action drama about kid agents who fight aliens. He came to us and said he was having a hard time because he thought the alien monsters on the TV were real and was a little worried.

Kids just don't process information and stories like adults. Not even teenagers are full developed mentally. They don't just make bad judgments at times, they often really can't handle complex thought like adults when it comes to actions with serious consequences.

The real question is how do we as parents give them the stories without feeling dishonest. That's the million dollar question. I'm not sure there is a single best answer.

Dr. Fowler makes a point in his book that children don't totally escape the mythological stories of their culture even if their parents raise them as atheist with nuanced instruction. He also points out that adults he studied that were not exposed as much to myth and story (perhaps their parents wanted to be too honest) did not have the vocabulary and story experience to be able to describe and think about their own faith. Our words allow us to think - sort of in the "1984" George Orwell kind of notion. So giving our children a faith culture helps them in the future to make decisions with the vocabulary and with a reservoir of thought-experience to explore faith and examine if for them self as adults. They may not keep the same faith content (same Church), but it gives them better language and experience to decide what works for them. It gives them something to compare and contrast against I think.
"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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Tom Haws
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Tom Haws » 20 Jan 2010, 13:47

katielangston wrote:Developmentally, do they NEED stage 3?
Not just Stage 3. We are talking Stage 1 (ages 3-7) and Stage 2 (school kids, pre-teens, early teens). My hunch without going back and reviewing the literature is that our kids aren't even ready for Stage 3 until they are about 17 years old. I don't think it would hurt to spend a few pages now trying to understand stages 1 and 2 better.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
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Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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Orson
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Orson » 20 Jan 2010, 14:21

I agree. Kids will have a stage 1 and 2 and 3 belief in SOMETHING. These stages are trying to explain a natural maturation in spiritual/beliefs development. It's not about maturing in theology, it's much more personal than that. Kids need stories, I've heard several parents say they told their kids Santa wasn't "real" and the kids refused to believe them. I think the key is support during maturation, not trying to have them "skip steps" to avoid pain.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Tom Haws
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Tom Haws » 20 Jan 2010, 15:29

In our families, my siblings and I do our best to make the mythology so obvious that it is easy to get the message as soon as the kids are ready to receive the higher reality. For example "I'm going Christmas shopping" is always rendered "I'm going to talk to Santa Claus". "Don't come in. I'm wrapping presents" is rendered, "I'm talking to Santa Claus". We all randomly sign our gifts "From Santa" with no regard to the tender age of those present. So we play the game, and we try to play it well. But we play it with no deception and with plenty of signs for the wise.

Could there be a type in this? Hmm. I'm gonna think about it.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
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Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

Curt Sunshine
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Curt Sunshine » 20 Jan 2010, 16:41

Kids are ready for whatever they are ready for - and each one is different.

As far as hurting them, all of my children know of my own nuanced views. We talk about them all the time. My younger children have grown up hearing me talk with my older children, so they are developing more nuanced views earlier than the oldest ones did. (My youngest two also sit at the table eating breakfast while my wife and I teach Seminary in our home, so they have a deeper understanding of a lot of things at an earlier age - since I also teach my nuanced views in that setting.) I only would hurt them if I pushed things they weren't able to comprehend - but I think we tend to WAY over-estimate what they can't comprehend.
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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