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Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Life isn't fair!"

Joan complained to me "It's not fair. How can God allow these things to happen!?"

Joan is at stage 2 using James Fowler's model of stages of faith development. Stage 2 is what he calls "Mythic-literal." In every day speech, people at his stage of faith development are called "fundamentalists."

Fundamentalists believe in the literal interpretation of what they consider to be sacred texts, the revealed words of their God. They also believe in an orderly world based on reciprocity and fairness, an eye for eye, the Code of Hammurabi.

This stage of faith is very soothing for believers because it makes order out of what they perceive to be a chaotic world and thus reduces their anxiety and enhances a sense of security and predictability. People in recovery from addictions find this stage of faith very helpful in reorganizing their lives in a more constructive way. Also children in elementary school years find this stage of faith development helpful in creating rules and roles they should play and expect others to play as they make sense out of an unfamiliar and sometimes threatening world.

Stage 2 faith works for a while with its literalness and articulated understanding of fairness, but it can't last forever because life is full of paradox and is not always just and then what is a person to do, believe, and how is a person to manage mixed feelings?

For today take comfort in what you understand to be the order of the universe and what you understand to be fair and just, but remain open and flexible if contradictions, paradoxes, and injustice come your way. Life is not to lived based on a recipe or a protocol. It is to be lived as an adventure and in the last analysis as a mystery.

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