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James Fowlers Stages


Inthedark
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Hi there.

 

I attended a talk to our local Ephesus Group on Sunday, which is a group associated with the Sea of Faith. The talk was given by the Ministry Team Leader for the local Presbyterian Church, namely the Rev Dr Susan Jones.

 

I was suprised to hear her tell the group that the God of the Bible was dead, or at least the mask that we had given the Ultimate Mystery in the Bible was dead, but the Ultimate Mystery that is really God still remained. She said that she agreed with Fowlers Stages of Faith model putting herself at stage 4 or 5, but said it was delicate and she couldn't just say what she thought in open church. She said she was obliged to think of everyone in the congregation and where they were at in their faith journey, be respectful of that and in effect, tow the company line.

 

In this particular forum, she was able to tell us what she really thought.

 

We discussed the stages according to Fowler and she then talked about adding some descriptions used by Ken Wilbur in Integral Spirituality. She finally went on to add a further column in her graphic "crudely" aligning world history with the stages. It was a fascinating talk I thought.

 

The tables she used during the talk looked a little like this:

 

Fowler Name Description

 

Stage 1 Magical Children

 

Stage 2 Mythic-Literal Fundamentalists

 

Stage 3 Conventional Orthodox, mainstream church

 

Stage 4 Individual-Reflexive Questioning

 

Stage 5 Conjunctive Integrating critical thinking

and faith

 

Stage 6 Universalising Practically sainthood

 

 

She then referred to Ken Wilbur and added a column called "world view stages" as follows:

 

 

Fowler Name Description World View Stages

Stage 1 Magical Children Archaic

Stage 2 Mythic-Literal Fundamentalists Magic

Stage 3 Conventional Orthodox, mainstream church Mythic

Stage 4 Individual-Reflexive Questioning Rational

Stage 5 Conjunctive Integrating critical thinking Pluralistic

and faith

Stage 6 Universalising Practically sainthood Integral

And finally, as stated previously she added a final column called "world history as follows:

Fowler Name Description World View Stages World History

Stage 1 Magical Children Archaic Pre-history

Stage 2 Mythic-Literal Fundamentalists Magic Pre-history/history

Stage 3 Conventional Orthodox, mainstream church Mythic Church history

Stage 4 Individual-Reflexive Questioning Rational Enlightenment/modern

Stage 5 Conjunctive Integrating critical thinking Pluralistic Post modern/quantum era

and faith

Stage 6 Universalising Practically sainthood Integral

 

 

It was a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it certainly got the juices flowing. I have always identified with Fowlers Stages of Faith and this extension of them was fun to explore.

 

Regards

 

Paul

Edited by Inthedark
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so is the suggestion that, as 'stage 6' has no entry in the world history column, that it hasn't happened yet but will possibly be the next phase of 'spiritual' thinking?

 

also, what is the definition of 'universalising'? how is it different from the Pluralistic worldview?

 

Jonny

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so is the suggestion that, as 'stage 6' has no entry in the world history column, that it hasn't happened yet but will possibly be the next phase of 'spiritual' thinking?

 

also, what is the definition of 'universalising'? how is it different from the Pluralistic worldview?

 

Jonny

You are correct Jonny, the inference is that it hastn't happened yet. Universalising means an understanding of the fact there are many paths to God and a sort of transcending of the normal frames of reference, an understanding of the whole e.g. Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Teresa maybe. That is my take on it Jonny.

 

Here is a small section from an interview with Ken Wilbur on the pluralistic stage:

 

 

Tami Simon: Now, I can imagine the person listening to "Insights at the Edge" is thinking, "Well, you know, I'm probably an integral person. Maybe I'm pluralistic moving into integral." How does somebody know the difference, whether they're at the pluralistic stage of development or the integral stage? What is that transformation?

Ken Wilber: The pluralistic stage is still part of what's called first-tier stages. And this was based on the research of Abraham Maslow and Clare Graves among others, and what they found is that as development continued, when it got to the pluralistic stage, then the next stage of development into the integral was what Clare Graves called "a momentous leap in meaning." And Abe Maslow found that it was a jump entirely from being motivated by deficiency needs to being motivated by being needs.

Now, deficiency needs means that I'm motivated by I lack something, I need it, I get it, I'm fulfilled. So I lack food, I get it, I'm satisfied; I lack sex, I get it, I'm satisfied. All of these—I lack self-esteem, I get it, I'm satisfied. But then all of a sudden, with the integral level or the being level, one's motivation becomes that of abundance, becomes that of overflowing. You are motivated to do something not because you lack something, but because you are full. There's a superabundant overflowing of motivation. And it's sort of as if somebody gave you a million dollars or even a billion dollars, and so instead of operating from a scarcity drive, you are operating from an abundance, and the first thing you do is share this money with all your friends.

So that's sort of the emotional difference between pluralistic and integral, but it comes down to the essential definition between first tier and this second tier or integral tier, and that is that as, still being part of first tier, the pluralistic value structure thinks that its values are truly the only real and believable values in the world. And so the pluralistic stage is antimodernity, antienlightenment, antirationalism, it's anti-traditional-values, and doesn't have quite a big enough mind-space to allow there to be some truth to all of these value structures.

And so there's still, if you're at the pluralistic stage, there's the beginnings of an integral move in that there is an attempt to not marginalize individuals, there's an attempt to overcome oppression, an attempt to overcome repression and social injustice, but it still doesn't include all the other value structures. Whereas when you get to the integral level, all of a sudden the mind expands, and there's a place for everything, there's room for everything. There's a sense that everybody's right, although some truths are more right than others.

The full interview is here: http://www.soundstrue.com/podcast/transcripts/ken-wilber1.php?camefromhome=camefromhome

Regards

Paul

Edited by Inthedark
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Thank you for the chart, we can see it in our own evolution of consciousness. It is nice to love are fundamental brothers and sisters and know it is only a stage.

I agree it is a nice simple way to view some of the alignments between stages. With regard to Fowler's stages it is my understanding that most individuals progress but not all. Many might stay in stage 2, depending on their character and their environment, likewise 3. I also believe the lines between stages are not solid, so there can be a bit of two stages at the same time in certain circumstances. Most of those who do progress usually get to stage 4 and fall out of the side of the model but for those who can work through it, stage 5 is attainable. Stage 6 is reserved for those enlightened individuals and very rarely acheived. I believe this is a very basic summary of the way we work through the stages.

 

Personally I would put myself at stage 4, trying to hang in there and knowing there is much more to learn ;-)

 

Regards

 

Paul

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I think I am like a mood ring that fluctuates between the stages. The key for me is to just be in being and allow it to happen and enjoy the show. No more becomming.................................except when I am in the lower stages I witness this, but in the higher stages I witness being.

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