Human Development; Beyond Socialized MindAPRIL 26, 2010
Human development can go further than the socialized mind. Informing people and getting them to fit in or conform to everything from doctrinal statements to more pious sounding “requirements” so they can be accepted and belong is the doorway in and in some cases goal
in many of our churches. James Fowler calls this the “mythic literal” stage of development and a remarkably high number of people stay here their entire lives. They conform to doctrinal standards, think denominational distinctives, to stock answers to the standard questions, if you don’t ask many questions or question the systems certainty or become too independent in your thinking you can belong for a lifetime. This is mythic-literal faith. If you haven’tread Fowler you need to.
A couple weeks ago I posted something from Robert Kegan, the great adult development chairman at Harvard. As Kegan is to stages of human adult development, Fowler is to stage of faith development, a subset of human development. I repeat real quickly this first conforming, belonging, stage of development here.
The Socialized Mind
We are shaped by the definitions and expectations of our personal environment.
Our self coheres by it’s alignment with and loyalty to that with which it identifies.
This can express itself primarily in our relationships with people and schools of thought or both. (I am Baptist, I’m republican, I am a union rep)
• Team player
• Faithful follower
• Seeks direction
Here is my observation. Our church systems are designed specifically to develop the socialized mind; socialized to my churches doctrinal distinctives, predestination or free will, inspired without error text or a text with errors, or endtime hysteria, lifestyle statements about alcohol or tobacco, evolution or young earth creationism, accepting of gays or not accepting…I could continue. The fact is I know lots of guys and gals in lead posts and church staff positions that want to buck and deny this as a characterization. But upon even a bit of questioning agree that you can’t be on staff, you can’t be a leader and in fact you can’t usually be a member if you hold your own views on any of these big issues. And yet here is the interesting thing?
Not one of these churches checks on, and I mean asks questions about, their level of transformation over the last 6 months, year, or decade. In other words we need to check on your doctrinal commitments, we need to make sure you are with us on the socialized mind piece, but when it comes to whether or not you are really serious about being transformed, growing, changing, more patient with your kids this 6 month run than the last 6 month run, we apparently don’t care. I know…harsh. BUT…true!Note this is the lowest level of human development. Without developing this yet, might this be why so many millions, that is right millions, are leaving the church looking for alternative areas for faith development? Is it possible that they are moving beyond the socialized mind level of development and the church doesn’t know what to do?
Apparently we more concerned about doctrinal conforming than real growth? We want to make sure you conform to our standard of agreed upon tenets that qualify you as socialized into our system. We in action and policy at least, consider this primary and more important then whether or not you really show the marks of a disciple, which is growing in love, alertness, patience, joy, peace, etc…
Is your context one where you have to subscribe to certain tenets or is growth and real movement more important?
Did Jesus give the disciples a doctrinal and lifestyle statement before they could follow him? Follow him was the question NOT join an organization he was forming. Maybe I missed something but I don’t think so.