"A Journey of Faith"

Caitlyn Fischer, an undergraduate at Syracuse, has posted a project she did which reads some U2 lyrics side by side with contemporary faith-development theorists. One of them, James Fowler, is very well known; I hadn't heard of the other writer she cites, who seems to be working less in terms of general human development and more in terms of forward-or-back steps on a unidirectional Christian path.

Even though there's much less Fowler than the other guy in it, this piece sort of struck me because I was thinking of Fowler in connection with a conversation with a U2-fan friend I've been emailing recently. Personally I have some quibbles with his work, but whatever you make of him, I wonder if his faith-development theory could shed any light on the (wearying and strange, to me) "U2 can't be Christian because Bono once wrote/said [fill in the blank]" comments. Specifically, one might note that in many U2 lyrics the narrator or main character speaks in language reminiscent of the Fowler stages called Individuative-Reflective Faith and Paradoxical-Consolidative Faith... while people who lift individual citations from the band's work as direct "evidence" that they are "not Christian" often seem to be looking for statements growing out of what sounds to me like Fowler's Synthetic-Conventional Faith (which is where he says most adults are -- although the page I linked to above does not mention this.)

Here's another Fowler article from New Zealand which talks in more detail, from a pastoral context, about the three stages I mention above. His big book is Stages of Faith. Just in case anyone is interested in the concept.

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