Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [5]

"Paradox is held together as faith becomes a symbolic space where 'ambiguity, mystery, wonder and irrationality' become the story that shapes relationship with others and God."

Fowler's fifth stage is known as the conjunctive or as Jamieson subtitles it 'The Seer'. Acknowledging that this a stage that is not as definable as previous stages, Jamieson points to the essence of contradiction that shapes thinking here. To this point the stages are well defined, visible, tangible, here however Jamieson points out that the firm boundaries become porous.

The confidence of self takes on a different guise as it becomes 'humbly aware of the depth of the unconscious and the unknown' (pp118). Paradox is held together as faith becomes a symbolic space where 'ambiguity, mystery, wonder and irrationality' become the story that shapes relationship with others and God. Whereas the 'critic' looks for interpretation and sees mystery as the ultimate cop out, the seer is comfortable with the apparent naivety that marks this post critical stage. What is embraced is a new sense of God's 'otherness' and the vastness of the unknown.

One obvious outcome is the willingness for dialogue with very different opinions and thoughts; being able to identify with perspectives other than their own becomes a hallmark of thinking. This brings agitation and confusion from those at previous stages, nervousness even irritation is shown towards Seers at their apparent liberalism. However this willingness to dialogue does not equate to total acceptance as The Seers faith is very individual as it is multidimensional.

There is a very real danger that alienation, even aloneness could contribute to a spiritual eccentricism. Isolation as a simpler way of being, an internalisation of thought a means of protecting the thinking of others, can easily become a retreat into a private world of spirituality. Interpretation kept to oneself becomes less tiring than exposure to a barrage of misconstrued opinion and proof texts.

An interesting observation by Jamieson is that while faith development is not age dependent, this stage is rarely reached before mid-life. A product of having had time to have 'our noses rubbed in our own finitude' (Fowler quoted Jamieson pp118)

Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [1]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [2]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [3]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [4]

Jamieson, A. (2002). A Churchless Faith. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press

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