It’s important, at least for me, to reiterate that stages or levels of spiritual or theological development are not about “better” or “higher than”. This sort of thinking is the basis that leads to the creation of an “Other” that pulls our egoic energy in all sorts of unskilled ways and feeds our need to be right, to have THE answer. The entire spectrum of human experience, from the child who sees the shape and color and white areas around a letter to the accomplished poet or philosopher who paints with words are all experiencing a valid and healthy understanding of reading and writing.
We are all engaged in a call-and-response dance with language. The poet or philosopher is still working with letters, with “the white space” around the black, but in a different way. If we lose the compassionate and “soft-eyed, open heart” way of studying and responding to the stages of spiritual development, we have merely added to the pain of the world.
So, too, in each stage of theological development, there is a dance happening. If you will allow me to switch metaphors, I would say sometimes there is a clear “leader” in the waltz, other times it’s more like trance dance, and yet at other times, it has the formal lines of a centuries-old ballet. But all of us would nod and say, yes, that is dance just as we would look at this blog and say, yes, this is writing.
I think the greatest challenge presented to us as faith-filled people is to avoid tumbling into the fallacy that our particular dance, or our particular skill in using the alphabet of faith, with its letters and words and sentences, is the only or best way. This danger is true whether we are “classroom” kids who love legalism and the black and white literal understandings of sacred texts or the poetic liberal who glances across the spectrum of religious scripture and practice and glories in the many windows into the vastness of God. We are all responding to the music pouring out around us. We all dance in ways that suit us. And we will always find living and breathing partners to move out onto the dance floor with. But the melody? It will go on, eternal and rich and unending.