Exhumator Esoterics

Encyclopedia of Spiritual — Letter S - STAGE-STRUCTURAL APPROACH TO RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT

STAGE-STRUCTURAL APPROACH TO RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT
Exhumator Esoterics
Exhumator Esoterics





Therefore, according to Oser and Gmunder another characteristic of RJ is the incorporation of eight polar pairs:

1. Transcendence versus immanence
2. Freedom versus dependency
3. Trust versus fear
4. Holy versus profane
5. Hope versus absurdity
6. Eternity versus ephemeral
7. Functional transparency versus opaqueness
8. Divine providence versus (good or bad) luck.

RJ development cannot be characterized only by the changes in the person-Ultimate Being relationship; there is also the changing relationship between the poles of each pair: from being far apart and excluding each other (typically a child, at one point in time is full of hope, at another time full of despair) to finally their natures being recognized as linked, as enabling each other's existence. For example, fully developed RJ understands that only because I depend on God, experience God's love, and follow God's commandments am I really free (within a space thereby defined). Thus, each stage of RJ development is characterized by a change in the person-Ultimate Being (God) relationship itself and that between the poles of each pair. This state of affairs is not assessed directly in RJ interviews but inferred by Oser and Gmunder (and their associates) via questions about specific dilemmas put before the respondents. Questions dealt with in such dilemmas are, for instance, whether a promise made to God in a stressful situation must be kept and, if not kept, whether God will punish. Some prototypical answers are reproduced in the following stages.

The RJ stages resulting from and being confirmed by (multicultural) empirical research can be described as follows:

DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES OF RELIGIOUS JUDGMENT ACCORDING TO OSER AND GMUNDER

Stage 1. There is an Ultimate Being (God) who protects you or sends you something hurtful and dispenses health or illness, joy or despair. The Ultimate Being influences you (and all other living beings) directly. The Ultimate Being's will must always be fulfilled. Otherwise, the relationship is broken. ("God will punish if one does not keep one's promise.")

Stage 2. The Ultimate Being (God) can be influenced by prayers, offerings, the following of religious rules, etc. If one cares about the Ultimate Being and passes His tests, He will act like a trusting and loving father, and you will be happy, healthy, successful, etc. An individual can influence the Ultimate Being, or he or she can fail to do so, depending on his or her needs and free will. ("If someone breaks his or her promise, he or she should do something to make it up to God.")

Stage 3. The individual assumes responsibility for his or her own life and for matters of the world. Freedom, meaning, and hope are linked to one's own decisions. The Ultimate Being (God) is apart. He has His own field of action; we have ours. The Ultimate Being's wholeness encompasses a freedom, hope, and meaning that are different from the human ones. Transcendence is outside the individual but represents a basic order of world and life. ("An accident has nothing to do with God even if someone breaks his or her promise; he or she is responsible for what happens to him or her.")

Stage 4. Now an indirect, mediated relationship with an Ultimate Being (God) has come into existence. The individual continues to assume responsibility, but he or she wonders about the conditions for the mere possibility of being responsible. He or she sees his or her commitment as a way to overcome lack of meaning and hope, as well as absurdity. Transcendence is now partly inside (immanence): the Ultimate Being becomes the condition for the possibility of human freedom, independence, etc., via a divine plan. ("We should reflect and follow our conscience").

Stage 5. The Ultimate Being (God) appears in every human commitment, yet transcends it at the same time. The Ultimate Being becomes apparent in history and in revelation. Transcendence and immanence interact completely. This total integration renders possible universal solidarity with all human beings.

The "realm of God" becomes a cipher for a peaceful and fully committed human potential, which creates meaning not in options detached from the world but rather in a truly social perspective.

Apart from meeting the stage definitions stated earlier (stages are qualitatively different, follow an invariant "logical" sequence, and are ordered in a way that is irreversible), these structural stage descriptions also illustrate the difference between psychic structure (which is supposedly shared by "all persons") and actual content. (mostly different for different persons). The Ultimate Being (God), and its role in the relationship with individuals, figures as an abstract structure that develops through "universal" stages. According to stage theory, this is in principle true irrespective of specific attributes of the Ultimate Being (such as being all-powerful, present everywhere, just, loving, etc.), which are not indicated directly and explicitly in the stage descriptions. Likewise, the human person concerned is pictured as an abstract structure without individual differences such as differences in temperament, cognitive style, or emotionality. Therefore, RJ does not describe every individual path to the fog-covered top of the mountain but refers to way stations many wanderers will reach sooner or later.