Spiritual Transformation and Chrysalis
While Leonard Sweet considers Alan Jamieson’s Chrysalis as “destined to become a classic” I found the book to be lacking what it takes to rise to classic status in my library. Jamieson himself offers a caution that while he is employing the metaphor of chrysalis in his book, “human faith is far more complex than the journey of caterpillar-to-chrysalis-to-butterfly.” If this journey is so complex, why limit oneself to such a simple metaphor? I found many of Jamieson’s stories about his journey and others helpful, but struggled with the metaphor. I also found the use of pre-critical, hyper-critical and post-critical terminology in defining faith stages to be confusing as he does not explain what he means by these terms. Since Jamieson uses this terminology in conjunction with the life stages of a butterfly, I am tempted to conclude his use of the term “critcal” to fall under the definition: “relating to or denoting a point of transition from one state to another” as the term is used in physics and mathematics. But, I could also see the implications of the definition: “having a decisive or crucial importance in the success or failure of something.” Perhaps there are some nuances of meaning to the pre-, hyper-, post-critical terminology that I am unaware of that would have helped me.
Jamieson is clear in his caution or disclaimer at the beginning of his book that “we are all called to walk our own pathway: a pathway that is unique and personal into a deeper understanding and living out of our Christian faith.” I appreciated the themes, stages and descriptions of what a person might be struggling with and frustrated about in their journey of faith transformation. As someone who has experienced “chrysalis,” “dark night,” or “desert” times, I can identify with much of the emotional turmoil, doubts and fears he suggests as normal during those times. In some sense, this metaphor of chrysalis leads us to believe this is a one time happening – that once we emerge from the chrysalis we will never have to go back. This has not been my experience.
Humans go through stages of spiritual life development that lead to a state of maturity, but I see those stages as more chaotic in nature than can be likened to the life cycle of any physical being. Spiritual development is far more complicated than physical development and far more mysterious. Jamieson’s Chrysalis is worth celebrating as a guide for those struggling with understanding their own hidden transformation on the journey of faith, as long as the readers heed the caution at the beginning of the book and do not try to simplify their journey or conform themselves to a metaphor but instead allow Chrysalis to inform them on their journey and assist them in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ.
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