“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Friday, May 28, 2004

Fowler's Stages of Faith (part 6 of 6)

We conclude this discussion of James W. Fowler's Stages of Faith (1995), with a discussion of Stage 6 Universalizing faith. Some bullet points about Stage 6 faith from Fowler.

-In order to characterize Stage 6 we need to focus more sharply on the dialectical or paradoxical features of Stage 5 faith. Stage 5 can see injustice in sharply etched terms because it has been apprehended by an enlarged awareness of the demands of justice and their implications. It can recognize partial truths and their limitations because it has been apprehended by a more comprehensive vision of truth. It can appreciate and cherish symbols, myths and rituals in a new depth because it has been apprehended in some measure by the depth of reality to which symbols refer and which they mediate. It sees the fractures and divisions of the human family with vivid pain because it has been apprehended by the possibility of an inclusive commonwealth of being.
-the self at Stage 6 engages in spending and being spent for the transformation of present reality in the direction of a transcendent actuality
-Stage 6 is exceedingly rare
-they are "contagious" in the sense that they create zones of liberation from the social, political, economic and ideological shackles we place and endure on human futurity

Who, you might ask, are examples of persons achieving Stage 6 faith? Fowler states,
". . .I refer to Ghandi, to Martin Luther King Jr., in the last years of his life and to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I am also inclined to point to Dag Hammarskjold, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Abraham Heschel and Thomas Merton. There must be many others, not so well known to us, whose lives exhibit the qualities of Stage 6."

The little I know of him, perhaps Jean Vanier might be a person of faith who has spent himself for persons with disability. There is a great deal of information about him available on the internet as well as the L'Arche communities he has founded.

Like Vanier, I see a link between faith and involvement with persons with disability. My faith is a motivating force behind my desire to see social justice for disinfranchised people, particularly those with disability. How will you and I spend ourselves in this noble cause?


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