The Colours of Spiritual Development

I’ve written a fair bit in the past about James Fowler’s theory of faith development, and I’m going to be picking it up again in the near future. I’ve decided that I need to clarify something about how I’m going to refer to the different stages in future posts.

In Fowler’s early work, his stages were numbered. In his more recent work, he has avoided numbers. I think there are good reasons for doing this, so I’m going to avoid using numbers as well. However, because the names for the stages are sometimes long enough to be unwieldy, it is helpful to have a shorthand name for each, and for this I will be borrowing Ken Wilber’s practice of using the colours of the visible light spectrum.

The line up like this:

Wilber’s use of colours, which began (as far as I can tell) in his 2007 book Integral Spirituality, struck me at first as being somewhat gimmicky, but I’ve since realised that it is a very helpful way of comparing the levels across different lines of development. Basically, there are corresponding levels in the various lines (cognitive, moral, spiritual, values, etc.), and levels that correspond might be said to be at the same “altitude.”

For a more detailed (and more adequate) explanation of the concept of altitude, I recommend reading “What Is Altitude?” from Wilber’s Holons internet newsletter.

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