Chrysalis

Spiral_StaircaseApologies for the delay, if apologies are necessary. I finished reading Alan Jamieson’s latest book ‘Chrysalis: The hidden transformation in the journey of faith’ a couple of weeks ago, but due to other pressures it’s taken me a bit of time to get round to blogging about it.

It was really Jonny’s review and recommendation which got me to buy the book in the first place, and it is well worth a read.

There are a long series of things I really liked about the book, REALLY liked. This is a very necessary book, and as Len Sweet say’s on the back “Alan emerges as the dominant journey-theologian of our time”.

For those familiar with James Fowler’s ‘Stages of Faith’ then the ideas of faith development are nothing new. But, I believe, the shadow side of Fowlers work is that it supports deconstruction, but can be presented in a way which has little to say to the reconstruction of faith. In Chrysalis Jamieson has drawn a lot from the work of Parker Palmer. I hadn’t come across Palmer before reading this book, so have Alan to thank for that. Palmers work, in the way it’s presented by Jamieson is MUCH more reconstructive, and this, for me, is perhaps the biggest strength of the book.

It was these ‘re-constructive’ sections of the book that I was most interested to read, and I was not disappointed. Alan’s insights into the importance of vocation, were just great.

Perhaps the only element of the book I struggled with was it’s linear presentation of the journey. While I liked the grand analogy… Caterpillar – Chrysalis – Butterfly (I was able to recognise much of the journey as detailed by Alan in my own journey) I was left feeling it was a little too neat.

My own experience is that the journey is a little more like the ‘Spiral Staircase’ analogy used by Karen Armstrong, among others. The spiral staircase suggests that we come back to points time, and time again, believing we have answered a point in faith when in fact it’s a point we need to visit time and time again.

Despite this, I feel the Chrysalis analogy is fundamentally more useful and accurate.

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