Wednesday, October 3, 2012

World/Church Development Model- Part 1

For many years I have thought of church history as a growth process. The pettiness of so many people and events in the OT writings as well as atrocities committed in the name of Christ in modern history. For me it was a way that made the most sense in dealing with these inconsistencies. The growing pains of children trying to make sense of the world, the wandering teen attempting to grasp their place in life. It has always been more of a passive thought, one in fact spurned on by a comment of an OT professor who would probably disagree with the direction I have taken the thought.

In my coursework for counseling I have been reading through developmental theories, both for childhood and adulthood. I had remembered Erik Erikson's Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development from a project I did in high school, but that was about all I knew of the developmental studies. There are many more developmental models than just that of Erikson, and they all point to the same sorts of life changes, though each tends to focus on only one aspect of each change.

The following is the first developmental model, The Moral Development model as proposed by Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan.

There are two basic theories of Moral Development. Kohlberg's tends toward a male theory of morality and Gilligan who specifically studied female moral development. Both have very similar stages of growth in children, though with differing basic desires. Each has three basic levels of development: Preconventional, Conventional, and Postconventional.

From Kohlberg's male side we have a punishment/reward system for the Preconventional level. From Gilligan we have a concern for survival. At this point not all that different. The concern for survival being that of enjoying reward and wanting to stay away from punishment. Kohlberg's tends more towards individual punishment/reward and Gilligan's on a more social level.

I would equate this stage to that of prehistory and early history when people discovered that in joining together they could keep more safe and more fed. Their concern for survival was little more than that of not dying.

At the Conventional level we see the males move to a more conformity of social norms and maintaining rules for law and order. From the female side the focus is on caring for others and a sense of responsibility to others. Each gender has set up a convention that seems to work from their perspective. The males focus on rules and order above feelings and punishment/rewards should be based solely on those rules. For the females Gilligan saw a sense of social responsibility that some action could be taken not because it was within the rules but because it is better to have peace among the group.

This would be generally be the time of early civilizations through the beginning of monotheistic religions. A time when law and order were kept by the man with the biggest sword (or biggest army at least). This convention began to fracture at the time of Christ, but would last up to modernity in some regards.

At the Postconventional level we see males making democratically arrived at social contracts, rules can be changed through logical processes, and further development into individual conscience. From the female study, decision making is from an interdependent perspective, that every choice affects everyone else.

Though beginning much earlier in the minds of philosophers and thinkers, the Postconventional stage came about during the modern period. This country was founded on the principles of the postconventional theory (and interestingly enough would bring about post-modernism).

These theories primarily focus on child development. This Postconventional stage is generally attained at the end of the adolescent years and upon entering adulthood. Since this model goes no further in explaining moral development after reaching adulthood many would surmise that is the end of moral development. I would like to make the case that as people grow beyond their early twenties (if that is to be understood as adulthood) that some members of society are able to surpass thoughts of mere democratically decided rules or in just trying to keep the social norm.

I find the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, William Wilberforce, Harriet Beecher Stowe and many, many others to be of this type. Taking morality beyond what the majority says or what is best for the feelings of others. It is a joining of both ideals. That we as a society find the best ways for the absolute most number of people regardless of whether they are in the majority or not. And thus lifting humanity one step further out of the mud of our own unjust societies.

The Moral Development models are explaining our past actions, the progress of society, and also in pointing the direction of our continued movement. One of reconciliation of unjust actions of our past. One of seeking at each cultural turn to work for the best for the most people. I find events like the Arab Spring and Occupy movements to be but hints of our progress as a growing humanity and inevitable forward motion for all creatures.

Next week I'll delve into Robert Keagan's Constructive Developmental Model and how that may look for our world and it's progress.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Growth & Change- World/Church Development Theory

Yesterday I tweeted that I had written a 2000 word essay for no apparent reason. And later mentioned that I was working on a series of posts on what I call World/Church Development Theory. In my counseling studies I have been digging deeper into psychosocial developmental models, the likes of Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget. In some of the lesser known developmental theorists I have found striking similarities to the psychosocial growth of the world at large and the place of the church in it.

By this I mean to explain my theory that we (primarily western culture) are following the developmental patterns as explained by theorists such as Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, Robert Kegan, William Perry, and James Fowler. Each focusing on his or her niche expression of development in both children and adults.

I will attempt to examine the theories in light of world and church history, examining not individual persons, but societies as a whole. I would like to illuminate philosophic and theological underpinnings during the major societal shifts as occurred in western society, through the lens of psychosocial growth. I would also like to include the work of Gregg Braden as a source outside the traditional discussions of philosophy, psychology and theology, who brings to the study a source of mathematics on growth and change.

I am not sure how long this will take, but I am committing to at least one post on the subject each week until I believe I have exhausted the subject.

Comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated through this process. Thank you.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


My problem for the last twenty-eight years has been options. I love options. I love having the ability to have options. I love the thought of options. I love thinking about the possibility of potential options. I love options.

The problem herein lies in the fact that I’m always wasting time with options and never actually pursuing any of them. I’ve learned to curb this passion of mine at times, but always in the back of my mind is: what other options are there?

I want to be a rock star. I want to be a record producer. I want to be a painter. I want to be a photographer. I want to be a writer. I want to be a screenwriter. I want to be a counselor. I want to be a teacher. I want to sit and think about more possible things to do with my life.

And not really do them.

Everything around me lately has been telling me to do what I love; tweets, blogs, books, movies, real people, fake people, dead people, my wife, myself.

I think the deeper issue is that we live in a specialized world. Go to school for one specific thing, graduate, and attempt to do that one thing until you are doing that one thing, then wonder why it’s the one thing you picked to do. Life hits and you have a family to support and others look down on not being financially secure, so you just keep doing that one thing.

I can’t do just one thing.

Doctors like to call this ADD. I can sit and read one book for hours, only getting up to facilitate and maybe pour more coffee. In fact my favorite pastime is to sit. I love to sit. I can sit on couches, on benches, chairs, inside, outside, you name it and I’ll probably enjoy sitting there. My point is I absolutely do not have ADD.

But I can’t do just one thing.

And I’m beginning to be okay with that. During the Renaissance artists would do all sorts of things. Make music, paint murals, carve sculptures, invent flying machines.

Why is it so wrong for people to act the same way now?

Right now I spend my time: Reading (work and fun), studying (school and fun), writing (school and fun), making music (church and fun), and watching sci-fi (I mean I want to write it, so its more educational experience than anything).

And I don’t intend to stop.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding Frissen

Since Monday I have had two moments of Frissen.

Monday night in class the teacher did a little "lab" in front of the class with another student. I generally loathe these sorts of things, asking students to go up front and talk about stuff (it is for counseling after all). Well they did their little counseling session in front of the class, really just to allow the teacher to give us live action experience with the sorts of things he says and asks during a normal counseling session. I liked the way he found little things to ask about and kept digging deeper even though all she talked about was a little family trip she took last weekend.

Then he discussed with us what he did, the questions he asked. As he was talking it was hitting me how easy and yet excruciatingly hard it is to do just what he did.

I got that pang in my chest. The one where your heart seems to wrap around your lungs and pull up your diaphragm all at the same time. It was quick. In fact it didn't take me long to notice it was there and then it was gone.

Then, last night, while waiting for my wife to finish doing some of her work I was passively checking twitter and emptying out my emails when a friend posted a tweet that Jeff Goins had a kindle book for free for a limited time. I've read his blogs a few times and always thought he had good things to say, but I've never taken the time to buy any of his books. Or do anything he says on his blog.

This was free and it was titled "You are a writer (So start acting like one)." So, I downloaded it and began to read. By about the fourth page my chest began to tighten. By the sixth page he instructed us to do a little exercise. To get over the hurtle of when you become a writer he says, "Grab a pen and paper -- make this a tactile experience -- and write the following words:"

"I am a writer."

So, I did.

Not only had my heart wrapped around my lungs and tightened my diaphragm up into my throat, my stomach was doing flips.

I am a writer?

I mean, I write. Sometimes. And I love doing it. But really? Am I a writer?

I am a writer.

So, here I am. Writing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reflections of Frissen

I've been working over this idea of Frissen in my life. I recall the last time of truly having a moment of frissen, that moment of excitement or fear from the possible future I was heading into.

It was while working with some really great musicians, the beginning stages of a band, a recording studio, and a life full of musical adventures was upon me. At the time it seemed we had all the necessary requirements to "make it" as a band, and that all it would really take would be to "just do it." It was a frighteningly excited time. My heart seemed constantly in my throat, and my head a-buzz with the possibilities.

We had an EP under our belts, quite a few live gigs and hadn't even come up with a standing moniker yet. The only problem was that soon, we would all be moving back across the country from one another. I had to finish school in California, and the others had school in Boston, Philadelphia and the Twin Cities. Ideas where thrown around how we could work around this and it seemed settled that we would work as much as we could collaboratively over the next year until we would be able to find a common place to call home as a band and finally get to work.

As I moved back to California one of the band mates joined me and we worked a little on some music but the passion began to fade. The recording studio was coming along nicely as far as equipment goes, I was able to bring in some friends and find work that way. But the songwriting stopped, went dormant. A fracture began as the realities of life set in.

The tension between excitement and fear had broken to fear. I made a few last ditch attempts to pull it back together, but it felt more like trying to hold together a castle in the sand while the incoming tide drew out the foundation.

Maybe it saved us all from a greater disaster down the road. But looking back I still feel a greater pang of loss of the frissen of the moment and the potential we had together than most of the last four years of time I've spent figuring out what to do next.

I've had very meaningful experiences in that time. In fact I met the love of my life and married her during that time. But I still haven't fully felt those moments of tension between excitement and fear. There has been little moments as we figure out our life, but the decisions usually present themselves so well to the future that they don't seem that frightening.

Ever since I was a little kid I have loved the possibility of an apocalypse. So much so, that in reading the Left Behind Series in high school I hoped it was wrong in its interpretation of end times so that I could both be a Christian and deal with such massive chaos (assuming of course it happen in our life time). It is in times of chaos that who we really are stands up, when our character is given its most full expression.

May I seek to find chaos in my life and to act accordingly.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

To Enter Silence

I read a blog today titled "A Manifesto for Wimps, Dreamers, What-If Junkies, and Procrastinators" and this new blog site is my response.

I keep having these moments of clarity when I'm sitting around the house in my pajamas that "I need to be doing something productive," which usually means looking up stuff online. Like what grad school I should attend, or who is writing new books (that I need to figure out how to convince Marla we need to buy), or how to turn one of my guitars into a baritone "for that one sound I need." And then there are times when I'm frustrated at the world that not enough people have food and quality health and that billionaires can run for president on the platform of disabling those who "don't work hard enough" because outsourcing jobs and running well-intentioned businesses into the ground is "good honorable work."

But I keep being reminded that the best work I can do for the world and my little corner of it, must sit within the framework of my creation, aptitudes, abilities, and spiritual gifts. "For the body does not consist of one member but of many,"(1 Cor. 12:14). I am only one member. I can only do the work that is instilled in me to do. It is physically possible for me to do any number of functions in this world, but it is when we use our beings most fully as they were formed that we begin to work in conjunction within the body. This work, this action of ones being is not necessarily occupation, but the attitudes, outlooks and the way life is lived out in the means given for the body/mind/spirit/soul of each person.

In the aforementioned post, Tina Francis describes the word Frissen as "a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear." This frissen is what drives people who are driven. It is the feeling that keeps the Wimps, Dreamers, What-If Junkies and Procrastinators from stopping entirely. From dying before death. You can't be a wimp or a dreamer if there is nothing to wimp-out from or to not dream of. Nothing to phrase the words "what if," if there is no sentence to follow. Nothing to procrastinate from, if there is nothing that should have already been done.

I've been wimping out for the last four years or so. I've been doing just enough to survive and to remind my self that I had a dream once. Many dreams actually. I only get close enough to "see that it wont work" and sit back down in front of the computer to read about other people's dreams and what great things they are doing about it.

I've stayed small because you can hide easier when you are small. You don't fall as far when you are small. You can't get crushed all that much when you are small.

I don't think I've ever been truly content. I've always had a pang in my gut that I wasn't quite doing what would fulfill me. I found too much comfort in the misery. I was close when I had the recording studio. People looked up to me. I drove a nice car. But really it wasn't enough. In fact it showed me how much more those things were useless. When it came to me being one member of a body.

That time pointed me in the direction I should go. Yet, I keep standing to the side of that path looking at how cool it would be to go down that path someday.

 In December I signed up for this writing thing called Figment, were they would email you a new writing prompt each day so that you could every day. I currently have 190 unopened Figment emails. I think I followed one prompt and thought about another. I'm not necessarily going to write every day now that I've started this blog. But I'm going to commit to at least one blog every week. Steps are all that we can take at any given moment. So, here is one step.

A time to step into my silence. A time to allow my self to be interrupted by my self. To not take in the outside world. Yet to work out the problems that are set forth for me to overcome in the outside world.

Here's to initiating FRISSEN in my life. And hopefully in yours.