Pastor Pat Bailey in front his church


Editor’s Note: Rev. Pat Bailey, pastor of Telluride’s Christ Presbyterian Church, takes a developmental and evolutionary view of faith, spirituality, and religious community. Join him for his weekly blog as he explores the ever-changing landscapes of perspectives and consciousness and discusses both the challenges and promise of trying to make meaning in our evolving social context.

Pastor Pat Bailey in front his church

Pastor Pat Bailey

When I was six years old, I was baptized, full immersion, in a Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia. At the time I remember it being a very significant experience, though I am sure I could not have explained what it signified. I think now that it marked my transition from a magical consciousness to a mythical consciousness. The church was welcoming me into full membership in a community whose main worldview was shaped by mythical consciousness. I could now be a responsible believer, God worshiper, rule keeper, and religious insider within the best and only faith, which is, of course, what we believed it to be at the time.

A couple of years later, my family stopped attending church, and I could not help but feel that I had been derailed from the course I was on of becoming a good person, good Christian, and good citizen. I was able, though, to find other traditional communities to shape my youth in structured ways, most notably sports teams and the Boy Scouts, offering their own standards, identities, rewards and punishments, and yes, mythologies.

When I was six years old, I was baptized into another frame of reference, way of thinking, state of consciousness, and level of maturity. I was no longer the little kid who believed that I could control the weather and have a conversation with caterpillars or that God was everywhere and in everything. Now I could worship the Father in the Sky and learn to be big and responsible like my parents. I had to become a mythological thinker, because that was as high of a perspective as I was capable of taking at that time, and it served me well into my early adolescence.

I am glad now that I was part of a community that could mark and then assist me with the transition, though that was not entirely their intent. Other religious communities hold off marking this transition to mythical consciousness until it is more fully developed with rites of passage such as Confirmation or Bar Mitzvah. Such rites once marked a child’s development to a mature worldview, which was, after all, the mythical worldview. For some religious communities they are now an attempt to hold the child at a mythical stage of consciousness; for most such initiates, though, it is already too late.

No matter what we may think of any particular traditional worldview, our need to conform to some structured perspective that provides standards, identity, community, and, frankly, external authority is essential for our growth toward and into adolescence. Such a worldview provides the foundation for further stages of consciousness to develop.

So, if our own personal development is sequential and nested, might also the cultural worldviews that support various stages of human consciousness also evolve? Is what happens in the development of our children reflective of the evolutionary journey of our species and cultures? I know that for many of you these are not new questions. Yet, are we prepared to value all the stages in the journey of both individuals and communities?

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.