Friday, October 1, 2010

Psychology of Religious Faith Development Assignment 7

Nicola Slee's “Women's Faith Development:  Patterns and Processes” sets out a rudimentary theory of faith development which builds upon and differs from Fowler's cognitive model in several ways.  Her emphasis on context is reflected in the open-ended interview, which gives more credence to individual experiences than a (semi-)structured format.  Additional layers of the faithing process are highlighted which may not have been adequately considered in more traditional models.  These include concrete, relational and intuitive aspects, among others.
Slee affirms the reality of spiritual growth through a process of meaning-making which is presented as “an orderly and patterned deep structure in women's lives which integrates and gives coherence to all the disparate events of their lives” (p. 164).  The importance of transitional deconstruction is given more weight through an exposition of paralysis, which often precedes a phenomenon Slee terms “awakening”.
One major suggestion for improvement to Fowler's theory is to consider relational models.  These give more in-depth treatment of the processes of faithing specific to women's spiritual growth, which may take place in a more “symbolic and affective realm” (p. 165).  For Slee, the sophisticated articulation of one's experience is not necessarily a mark of spiritual advancement in a culture where women (as a representative of oppressed groups) are marginalized.  Relationality is presented as a valid expression of knowledge and context for maturation.  Thus  what might correspond to an external faith in a traditional model may be reinterpreted as a necessary dialectical component in a model sensitive to women's unique experience.
Slee's examination opens a door not only for women but for all marginalized classes in the discussion of faith development:  “The imposition of a universal pattern of development tends to screen out the unique and irreducible particularity of lived faith experience and the contextual variations of culture, gender and class...” (p. 167).

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