[quote=“Funk500”]I think its fair to say everyone here has suffered some form of tragedy in one form or another. One could also argue that different people have a different threshold for what counts as a tragedy.
This ain’t one of those posts where I get all “woe is me/ I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”, but I’m interested in this.
When a tragedy strikes, people use that as a reason for proving there is no God because “Why would he strike down someone so kind and harmless?” i.e. they are looking to lay blame somewhere. Others take solace in the bottle and try to block out whatever happened. Now, other people take strength from their faith at those times and it seems to get stronger.
Why is that?
The religion thing in this case really baffles me.[/quote]
From what I have seen, it has a lot to do with stages of faith development. Fowler has done the most research on this and most of the research I have seen on it stems from his ideas and goes from there.
0-2 starts off similar to other stages of development.
Ages 3-7 is characterized more with later stages modes of thinking, which is ironic based on what we would normally think. There is a much more sense of God being a “presence” rather than a “man in the sky.” They’re mixed, but the way it is often described is in terms of a more abstract concept.
The Mythical-Literal stage is where there is a strong sense of justice and the gods are anthropomorphic. This is in grade school.
The next stage is one where many people are and it’s where we begin to see the answer to your question - the synthetic-conventional stage. This appears around the time of adolescence and it has a sort of conformist attitude with a struggle involved. The person is trying to conform to those who are important to them while at the same time trying to break away from that conformity and find his or her own beliefs. Many people settle in this stage. Many churches take this opportunity to create support groups for teens to help them understand their own values and identity. Some churches do a good job at helping teens grow - others tend to exploit this and provide teens with an “us vs. them” mentality. You’ll see this struggle come up often as people talk about how controlling religion is. There is a good chance those people got turned off to religion at this stage from a group that did not help them grow.
The next stage is the individual-reflective state. This is why some people become stronger in tragedy. The person here is moving beyond knowing himself in terms of how others view him while at the same time developing their own identity. It is important to note I’m speaking in terms of faith here. A person can form his or her own identity in many ways, but still be in stage 3 of identifying his or her own faith by how others are. So if a person is in stage 3 of faith, it does not mean they are still seeking out others’ views for conformity in other areas of their life.
A person faced with tragedy who is in stage 3 will usually have 2 different reactions, as you pointed out.
–Anger. This often happens when they look to their support group and tend to feel the answers are not satisfying. The person then begins to feel angry and often rejects the faith because the support is simply not there in the way it needs to be.
–Strength. If a person is ready to identify for themselves what these events mean and is ready to look past the group mentality and seek deeper, there is a good chance they will look at their faith on a more personal level.
If you think of it in terms of relationships, it is very similar. When a person has something bad happen in his or her life, relationships of other people are also tested. At the death of a loved one, many people get angry and reject any sort of consolation. Others need time to retreat and take some time away and reflect. Other people find strength in family and friends and those relationships come stronger.
It all depends on how the person will react, how they view their faith, where they are in the development, and the chosen reaction to it.
That’s my thoughts, at least.