Thursday, July 02, 2009

Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [4]

'There must be more than this...' shifts from a mantra of frustration and becomes a gateway of hope as faith opens up as a welcoming and lush plain. Rather than a series of unmet expectations, faith only expects surprise and is not let down as God feels so much more nuanced and colourful.

'The trouble is Gordon, you are different, you're not the same Gordon I once knew, you think different, your faith has a different shape..."

He was right, I was different, I did think differently, my faith had taken on a different shape, I wasn't the same Gordon. It felt rough, I thought I was losing my faith, nothing made sense anymore. I was fed up of a faith based on the kind on song I sang. I was fed up of a faith where I felt guilty about asking questions. I was fed up of a faith where I stacked up off pat apologetics, where to fit with the prevalent culture I needed to keep my brain in neutral. I was fed up of a faith where truth seemed disembodied. Answers that once brought comfort now grated, smug answers stuck in my throat. Oh yes he was very right - I was different.

The transition from Fowler's conformist stage to the critic is the most turbulent and rocky. Fowler using yet another catchy title, calls this stage the 'Individuative Reflective' and captures a faith caught up with rigorous and thorough examination. Analysis runs deep, as sense is sort through an intellectual pursuit. The reliance of the security blanket that faith in stages already outlined no longer brings the answers and comfort they once brought.

This transition is characterised by an emergence of self that runs contrary to those that have been significant in the past. The move away from 'the tribe' is momentous and difficult as core actions, beliefs and values are redefined. Styles of church and theology that once brought comfort and guidance now feel patronising and authoritarian. Fellowship once sweet and edifying - now unappealing.

The unpicking of previous faith occurs as beliefs and values are held up for scrutiny. Seeking meaning is lonely and bewildering. Ironically worship takes on new meaning and provides the odd glimpse of how to let go of an objectivity that now feels restrictive and cumbersome. 'There must be more than this...' shifts from a mantra of frustration and becomes a gateway of hope as faith opens up as a welcoming and lush plain. Rather than a series of unmet expectations, faith only expects surprise and is not let down as God feels so much more nuanced and colourful.

I'm glad I had another friend who heard me, who felt my anguish and bewilderment. "Losing your faith...? You're not losing your faith, you are finding it?"

Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [1]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [2]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [3]

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