Me/Integral Christianity in Vancouver Sun

I got a very kind mention in the Vancouver Sun today from Doug Todd, the religion reporter for that paper.  Doug was a recent student in my Integral Christianity class (which is I guess how I got the label “educator” that he tags me with).  The article is predominantly about bringing back some natural hierarchy (er holarchy) within the development of faith and spirituality.

For those who are not familiar with the background on some of this, see here (Levels and Lines) and here specifically on James Fowler’s work.  Or just read Doug’s summary of Fowler in the article.

Note these are human constructs like mile markers which require thinking in terms of miles as opposed to say kilometers or feet–they measure something but are still our constructs.  They are helpful insofar as people become educated experientially to estimate miles or whatever the unit of distance is.  There is according to this metaphor a kind of interior distance that can be measured.  What is being measured is a person’s description of their own views on their core held meanings.  What is NOT being measured is better or worse persons, i.e. who is of more and who is of less value qua human-ness.

The element of development, re-constructed through scholarship as a series of fluid levels/stages, is but one of the elements that we would call “spiritual”.

Other definitions of spiritual would include the mystical life (in Wilber’s language state-bodies of consciousness and the corresponding transformation of behavior/meaning that goes along with them…or at least can).  Wilber uses a four state pattern (what he calls state-stages as opposed to structure-stages like in Fowler/Piaget) from Vedanta-Vajrayana Eastern spirituality:  waking-gross, dreaming-subtle, deep sleep-causal, Nondual.   In the native language of Christianity that is (exact correspondence):  purgation, illumination, union (of spirits), indistinct union.

One of the classes in the course Doug took was to walk through each of the states in the native Christian experience-way via classic forms of Christian meditation calibrated to each state.

A third understanding of spiritual is (again using Wilber’s typology) the higher/highest levels-stages in any of the lines (e.g. transcendent art, music, sports, emotional sensitivity).  The Fowler Stage of Faith is considered a separate line of development.

The Fowler stage is a sketch of human reconstructions of their answer to the question “What is Ultimate?”  It’s one piece only of the puzzle.  Moreover no one is ever 100% at any one stage.   The use of structural-stages are what Wilber calls “probability waves”.  They are simply probabilities of life experience of “locating” people’s expressions, outlooks, attitudes, ideals, etc. within certain parameters of human interaction.  They do not exist separate from people making discriminatory fallible judgments in other words.  Fowler’s stages do not exist outside humans in some pre-planted fashion. That said, it is a very helpful tool in seeing and dealing with people in regard to questions of spirituality.

Published in: on March 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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Announcement: Teaching Integral Christianity Class Jan ’09

For anyone in the Vancouver area, I wanted to pass this on.  Canadian Memorial United Church–the church I sometimes guest preach at–has been very gracious and afforded space (for free!!!) to have a class on Integral Christianity, that I will be the lead instructor on.  The class will be the first in a series of programs Bruce Sanguin, the pastor of the church is organzing to more widely a more integral consciousness in the congregation.  The four-part class I’ll be teaching can be taken as a separate program.  There will be a number of members of the church who are participating in the class as the initial part of their church leadership training that will go over the course of 2009 and 2010.

The info:

Chris Dierkes w/ Bruce Sanguin

Dates:  Starting Tuesday January 13th and then running the next three Tuesdays (Jan 20th, 27th, & Feb. 3rd)
Time:  7:30-9:30 pm.
WhereCentre for Peace. 1825 W. 16th Ave Vancouver, BC (16th between Cypress and Burrard)
Cost: $40 (for all four classes)
How to Register: Send me an Email (Email on upper right-hand side of blog). Or any questions, send me an email.

Course Description:

In this course, we will be exploring the intersection between an integral worldview and Christianity over four weeks.  The integral worldview encompasses both a theory and practice.  It provides a sense of clarity amidst the confusion of the 21st century world.  The integral view will provide a framework in order to more fully and compassionately reflect on the meaning and practice of our faith in our contemporary world.

Class 1–Perspectives on the Divine:  Introduction to Integral Christianity
Class 2–Stages of Faith: The Structures and Spires of Spiritual Development
Class 3–States of Consciousness:  The Christian Mystical Path
Class 4– Praxis:  The Integral Christian (Ad)Venture

The only reading for the course will be a short essay covering the basics of integral thought.  Participants will receive the essay in pdf form or can access it via the web.

About The Instructor:
Chris Dierkes is a 29 year old seminarian in the Anglican Church of Canada.  He has been working with integral theory for nine years.  He is an avid blogger and one of a core group of individuals working to bring Integral thought into the Christian world. He is working on a book applying Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory to Christian Mystical Theology.

Published in: on December 11, 2008 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.    Luke 9:58

I’ve been studying for the last couple of weeks tracts on Christian evangelism.  It’s completely neglected in my course of studies (typical for liberal postmodern Christians from sideline churches like mine), so I thought I would investigate.

Been listening to podcasts, reading books, looking at websites.

And all of it has left me dis-spirited frankly.  I’m really dismayed even dis-heartened at what I’ve found.

There is a whole batch of the texts built around the model of the Seeker-Mega Church Movement (e.g. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church).  Others include the Alpha Course (started by evangelical Anglicans from England).

These churches do a number of things well.  They get bodies in churches.  I think they in part have sold out to the entertainment/spectator culture of the West….e.g. cushy seats, glitzy rock music, feel good sermons.  They have a number of sub-groupings within the church which they hook people into.

They are really built for new families often living away from their parents (grandparents of the children) in new suburbs/exurbs.  They are struggling with bad financial patterns, broken relationships/marriages, addiction problems, need parenting advice, worry about how to raise their children in this culture, etc.  They are then taught social service work, evangelism in the same style (bring a friend night).  But generally these churches have high in/high out rates, people leaving after a year or two, having as it were gotten their lives back together and then look for something deeper and the church has nothing really to offer in that way.

Their manuals ride on the practice of formal operation cognition.  It can perform tasks upon concrete operations, but is not yet deeply dialogical/mutual.  It tends to a pre-set equation that you understand and can plug the numbers into (salvifically as it were) but not understand the derivation of the equation, its relation to mathematico-theological history, or the reason it exists.  What purpose it serves.  More plug and play only model.

Then there are the Emergent Church folks (a fair description of them admittedly from a sympathetic outsider here).   The Emerging/Emergent church (characterized differently from within itself) is the postmodern (green meme) form of ecclesiology and missiology.  It strongly grows out of the evangelical North American tradition, although there are Anglo-Catholic emergent churches. (more…)

Published in: on October 18, 2007 at 10:15 pm  Comments (1)  
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