Liminality and Transformation pt 4

What would happen if we determined to make horizontal and vertical development part of our definition of transformation?  That is the last question from my last post.

What I realize is many of us simply may not understand there is something more than horizontal development, or what I am calling horizontal bandwidth acquisition.  Remember that from last post?  Increasing our knowledge base (biblical, doctrinal etc…) as well as our response repertoire of being more patient or more kind for instance?

Vertical development is something far more subtle but more deeply transformational.  When we are infants the way we making meaning of our world is fundamentally different than how we make meaning when we are 13 year olds and different again when we are 23.  The key and operative phrase is making meaning. 

As we progress in age, for most people at least into the early 20’s, we are learning to make meaning in and of our lives in increasingly complex ways.  Our ability to shift meaning making schemes as well as hold more and more complexity in dynamic tension is a whole world of growth and transformation that is different than horizontal knowledge acquisition.    Most developmental theorists call this ego development; development of our sense of self.  They would also note early adulthood is where a majority of adults stop developing (upwards of 85-90% stop here)  Though most young adults stop ego development at that stage and lock in, transformation experts say there are at least 4-5 more stages of growth that only 10-15% ever even access.

And if this is all totally new terrain for you, no problem that is probably the case with all of us.

So here is a question I have been pondering now for awhile.  Why is it that Christianity as the ultimate meaning making metanarrative has no language of understanding of these levels of human development?  Why is this not part of the very frameworks we engage in spiritual formation?  Some of this of course is that development work like this is a new field of research in the last 40 years or so.  But that still seems to be a thin reason for not engaging something that has the potential to bring such incredible fruit and transformation of human lives.

I am making a commitment to a live Sunday night exploration of these themes starting in the middle of September.  Using the SEL forum I began this last year, we will look at the intersection of these stages of vertical development, their implications for spiritual formation and how we need to integrate these into the Christian lexicon if we ever expect to move past the information=transformation equation found so desperately wanting in our modern world. 

I have to tell you there are very few things I have been more excited about for personal growth and development.  I am really curious to see if adding this vertical component to our repertoire of growth we don’t see quantum leaps in what it means to experience deep transformation.  Would you consider joining us?


Hi I’m Nancy Carpenter and I assist Ron.  I asked Ron if I could take a few minutes to just be really open about what Sunday nights are about….giving a participant’s point of view on what happens at Spiritual Explorations Live. 

A group of people from all over the nation meet live on the web  every Sunday night at 6:00pm EST to engage the questions of growth and development together with Ron….questions in a space that have us all yearning to really LIVE.  We are finding that these are the types of spiritual formation questions that people, particularly small groups and life communities, are yearning to discover and talk about but are hard-pressed to find a forum and curriculum that allows for this level of interaction and instruction. It’s pretty easy to find a great podcast or video but a bit difficult to connect with the teacher online while at the same time being with a community of friends. This forum and Ron’s unique gifts allow for master level interactive and connective instruction with those you do life with, asking the questions that open us up for transformation. 

We are committed to providing a forum and curriculum that have people seeing what Jesus meant when he said that we can have an ‘abundant’ perissos life so….On SEPTEMBER 14th we will begin a new 6 week series on human development and it’s intersection with stages of faith development. We hope that you will think about getting your small group, friends, and/or life group  together on Sunday nights to be a part of this. Join us for compelling, connective, and interactive instruction in a high tech performance space where spiritual formation is alive and everyday!

For those of you who don’t want to wait… join the conversation this week, July 27th at 6:00pm EST.   Login at (with a login you create there), go to the youCAST link, type ‘unique’ for the group password and join the conversation. 

If you have questions or want more details about getting connected to Spiritual Explorations Live mail me at  Peace on your week. 


4 Responses to “Liminality and Transformation pt 4”

  1. I’m always happy to see my google reader light up with a new post from you. I’ve been meaning to join in on Sunday nights, but it does seem like that’s the night the community pours into my house for food! I’ll get there one of these days.

    I’m not so sure that the Christian community hasn’t recognized some of the vertical development…perhaps using different language to describe it?

    Regardless, that vertical integration does represent the most dramatic personal growth possible. I’ll be looking forward to this discussion.

    Thanks again!

  2. I wonder if the celebration of breadth over depth isn’t cultural.

    It would appear that we value people who are “sort of” good at many things over the master of the one thing.

    I wonder (always dangerous to form thoughts as you type them in a live forum) if that is because we are a society focused on the individual rather than the community. It makes sense to me that would need people good at multiple things if they each have to handle everything on their own.

    Mindy Caliguire of Soulcare talks about embracing where you end and where God and others begin. Incredibly counter-cultural in a place where self-reliance is the name of the game. (I blame John Wayne and Edgar Rice Burroughs.)

    Is it possible that vertical growth would require an environment of community? The simple time that depth takes would require “tasks” to be covered by multiple people.

    This idea interests me greatly. Hmm….

  3. Yo Ron!

    Love the concept of the Liminal. Add to this your emphasis of seeking the “meta” questions/issues as something that is… multidimensional and spiritually amplitive. I think it important to note that meta-questions should not be thought of as merely theoretical pontifications, but questions that expose our ‘actual’ conceptual finite limitations, grids we work from. Self-reflective archeology is something we all need.

    Two questions: 1. Does the idea of liminality and inquiring into the meta relate? If so, how?
    2. Do you relate the notion of liminality to the sublime?

  4. […] – bookmarked by 6 members originally found by YoungRainTV on 2008-12-28 Liminality and Transformation pt.4 – bookmarked by 4 […]

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