16 February 2004

interesting article over at the right christians, concerning james fowler and his research on "stages of faith." (fowler, btw, is a professor of theology and human development at emory, & did both div and ed grad work at harvard.)

it's funny: i guess i've been trying to say something like this for years now. fowler's work, broadly put, addresses heart/brain conflicts in believing christians and posits a development path that begins with brittle fundamentalism, continues to angsty (destructive?) questioning, and ends with a faith that embraces heart/brain conflict and appreciates mystery.

for me, fowler's rubric works well at articulating my wonder at all the fundamentalist friends who argued over the years that they would "lose their faith" if particulars like the genesis creation story or the virgin birth were disproved. it also reminds me of the conflict between, say, kohlberg and gilligan (and aristotle!) in describing moral development. certainly fowler's analysis agrees with gilligan's and aristotle's morality of complexity and context than with kohlberg's morality of inflexibly applied rules.

the real question is, why are there so many very smart people out there who are stuck in fowler's first stage? what keeps them there, and why? is it simply an "easier" place to be? is it a choice? what are the benefits? who gets the benefits?

...this deserves more development from me, but it's not going to get it today. i am researching defamation, woo hoo.