Thursday, September 8, 2011


I recently listened to an interview with Bruce Sanguin and Rev. Kelly Isola in which Sanguin talked about how he’s applying the Spiral Dynamics model of human development to explain why Jesus means so many different things to so many different people. 

I have been a fan of Spiral Dynamics for quite some time.  Spiral Dynamics is a theory of human development introduced in the 1996 book by Don Beck and Chris Cowan which was based on the work of professor Clare W. Graves.  This theory explores the process of human emergence and how living systems evolve, grow and change.  Each new level transcends and includes all previous levels.

 The following diagram illustrates the different levels of development and their associated characteristics:






Group bands together
to stay alive





The sense of family-tribe
with time honored





Power-action driven,





Purposeful, absolutist,
"one right way"














Natural processes, mutual realities; live for mutuality




Harmony, holism, spirituality

In his book The Emerging Church, Sanguin applies these stages to how Christians see Christ.  Each stage's view has a positive and a negative aspect:

Purple--Christ is the Tribal Christ. "He makes the world go 'round when proper ritual is performed....He answers the prayers of those who are obedient." (p. 94).
The negative can be superstition: praying for football victories, parking spots, and miracle cures.
Red--The Warrior Christ. "Followers of the Red Christ go with him into battle on behalf of their tribe, nation, or belief system....In its most positive expression, following this Christ gives us the energy to "fight" for what we believe in--to take a stand."
But, "The Red Christ led the Christian armies in the crusades. He also led the U.S. army into Iraq." (p. 94)

Blue--The Traditional Christ, a Divine Scapegoat. "As part of the divine plan, God sends his only son to suffer and die on behalf of humanity, modelling sacrifice of self for a future reward....Christ's own sacrifice invites followers to led lives of self-sacrificial love, with the hope of eternal reward.
But...he can be used in a triumphalistic manner. He is the only truth, the only way, and the only life, and if you don't believe it you're going to hell." (p. 95 emphasis author's)

Orange--The Modern Demythologized Christ and Christ as CEO. "Christ is seen as the human one, a teacher of spiritual wisdom....In its positive expression, the Orange stage helps us transcend the literalism of previous levels....modernist values give us permission to think for ourselves.
But......In its negative expression, the Orange level leaves no room for Spirit." (p. 95)

Green--The Egalitarian-Postmodern Christ. "The postmodern Christ embraces multiple cultures and downplays the "Truth" of any particular religious system. The Green Christ draws the circle ever wider, so that it includes the outcasts, the left-behinds, and the marginalized.
But...In its negative expression, followers of the Green Christ are impatient and dismissive of all other value systems." (p. 96)

Yellow--The Integral/Ecological/Cosmic Christ. "The Yellow, integral Christ encompasses the universe and all cultures as an integrated ecology of systems....Followers of this Christ become fascinated by the world that the new sciences are discovering, and by how this world connects to the core metaphors and narratives of the Judeo-Christian tradition." (p. 96)
 But...elitist thinking and impatience with those perceived to be 'below' this stage.
Turquoise-The Mystical Christ. "At this level, the world is experienced--not merely conceptualized--as one. A follower of this Christ does not merely perceive the universe an integrated whole. She knows herself to be a form of the integrated whole, the part in whom the whole is manifest. The great diversity of life is also an expression of the Holy One. All of life is sacred revelation, for those with eyes to see." (p. 97, emphasis author)
(Thanks to John Shuck at Shuck & Jive, for this summary).

I can see my own journey reflected in this spiral. Although it has not been a smooth journey (I'm more than sure that I've expressed both positive and negative traits at each stage!), I've traveled through magical thinking, dealt with anger problems and judgmentalism, escaped the bonds of fundamentalism, questioned everything I ever thought was true, and come to a place where I can embrace the Oneness and inclusiveness of the Divine.

I fully believe we need to have space for people to think for themselves and ask questions, but I've been puzzled lately by the attitudes of some (certainly not all!) skeptics that I've encountered on blogs and in comment threads.   So what was really illuminating for me was Sanguin's perspective on the unhealthy aspect of the Orange meme's worldview.  This seems to fit with what I'm encountering: a tendency to leave out spirit; a mindset that rejects the spiritual completely and reduces everything to the level of matter and empirical evidence.  Throwing the baby (spirit) out with the bathwater (mythic literalism), so to speak

In his book, Sanguin describes healthy Orange: "The orange value system embraces scientific rationalism...Within this system, Christ is seen as the human one, a teacher of spiritual wisdom.  The divinity of Christ is downplayed in favor of the flesh-and-blood human being...In the scientific era, we learned that Christ didn't actually walk on water, heal the blind, or raise from the dead.  These are rich metaphors, but not to be taken literally...In its positive expression, the orange stage helps us to transcend the literalism of the previous levels" (p. 95).

According to Ken Wilber in his book Integral Spirituality, both modern science and religion have confused the premodern mythic level with spirituality itself. He went on to say that religion itself needs to make room for and sanction the orange, or modernistic, interpretations of its religious messages.  Wilber recommended the works of John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Stephen Carter, and F. Forrester Church as religious and spiritual writers who have emphasized the orange interpretation of Christianity without dispensing with spirituality (p. 178-179).

To disregard any level of development leads to rigidity and lack of growth.  Let us allow room for one another to retain a connection with the Divine at whatever developmental level we find ourselves.  May we encourage one another to grow and transcend each level in a healthy manner, and may each of us enter into the place where all of life is experienced as sacred.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


The following article blew me away!  I found the perspective on Reality as viewed through the minds of primitive peoples to be fascinating.  The application for today is even more fascinating.  The article  is taken from The Doctrine of Oneness website.

"A Great Flood is coming...

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.”

Noah received Revelation to build a great Ark. He shared the message of the coming Great Flood with his people but the community heckled and rejected him.

Our Earth is 4.6 billion years old, and global temperature fluctuations have caused many changes in our environment. Floods are commonplace.

At the height of the last Ice Age 18,000 years ago the sea level was 394 feet (120 meters) lower that it is today. Ancient humankind, just like today… typically built their society near the sea. All of these outposts at the dawn of humanity where flooded as the ice melted. As the Glaciers receded, the sea rose 394 feet and destroyed everything in its path.

Thanks to science, we have a new Revelation.

We live in a time of great crisis, confronted the challenge of the ecological consequences of our own doing. The consensus is overwhelming: human activity is triggering environmental breakdown on a planetary scale.

Climate change is happening at an exponential rate, and threatens to cause the rise of sea level this century of at least 1 meter (3 feet). Not only sea levels will rise but the balance of life as we know is changing. We can already see it now: extreme earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, drought, flooding.

Koyaanisqatsi. Our Life is out of Balance.

Just like in the time of Noah, our naysayers heckle and reject the message. They are motivated by their own greed and self interests.

It is our collective responsibility to preserve humanity from this imminent disaster.

Future generations, and the other species that share the biosphere with us, have no voice to ask for our compassion, wisdom, and leadership. We must listen to their silence. We must be their voice, too, and act on their behalf.

Instead of an economy that emphasizes profit and requires perpetual growth to avoid collapse, we need to move together towards an economy that provides a satisfactory standard of living for everyone while allowing us to develop our full potential in harmony with the biosphere that sustains and nurtures all beings, including future generations."

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Letter From a 16 year old Oslo Survivor

Dear Anders Behring Breivik,

A lot of the friends I met at Utoya are dead and you are the perpetrator. You are the man who, by coincidence, didn’t kill me. I was lucky.

You might think that you have won. You might think that you have ruined something for the Labour Party and for people around the world who stand for a multicultural society by killing my friends and fellow party members.

Know that you have failed.

You haven’t only made the world stand together, you have set our souls on fire and should know we’ve never stood together as we do now. You talk about yourself as a hero, a knight. You are no hero. But you have created heroes. On Utoya that warm day in July, you created some of the greatest heroes the world has seen, you unified people from all over the world. Black and white, man and woman, red and blue, Christians and Muslims.

You made your victims martyrs, immortals, and you have shown the world that when one person can show as much hatred as you have done, imagine how much love we can show when we stand together? People who I thought hated me have given me hugs on the street, people I haven’t been in contact with for years have written 300 to 400 words about how much it means to them that I survived. What can you say about that? Have you broken anything? You have united us.

You have killed my friends, but you haven’t killed our cause, our opinions, our right to express ourselves. Muslim women got hugs of sympathy from random Norwegian women on the street and your goal was to protect Europe from Islam? Your actions worked against its purpose.

You deserve no thanks; your plan failed. A lot of people are angry, you are the most hated person in Norway. I am not angry. I do not fear you. You can’t touch us, we are greater than you. We do not answer evil with evil, as you wanted it. We fight evil with good. And we win.

Ivar Benjamin Østebø, aged 16.

Thanks to Humanity's Team for this blog post.