Thursday, March 12, 2009

Exploring Framing Stories(Part 3): Where do they come from?

I was recently asked, concerning my last post, to address from where framing stories come?

This is a tough question to answer in the confines of a blog post, so know that this is not comprehensive. However this should give one a good idea. Let's take a step back away from religious framing stories for a second. EVERYONE has a framing story (or sets of framing stories) that inform and affect their lives. Our individual framing stories are a mix of genetics and environment. Our framing stories are passed down from our families, education, culture, experiences, etc...

These framing stories inform our decisions, personality, preferences, and well... everything about us. We can't escape our framing stories, for without them we wouldn't be who we are!

Now back to religious framing stories. I'm going to stick to the overly-simplistic examples used in the first post of this series: the conventional and emerging.

We develop our faith/religious framing stories as we grow up. We inherit these frames from our church experiences (or lack of), our parent's/families' faith, and the religious culture from which in which we are exposed. We also feed back into this frame and culture. It also should be mentioned that our overall framing stories impact our religious FS, and visa-verse. It is truly a tangled web. Studies show that the #1 place from which we learn our faith practices are our parental figures. Church actually appears 3rd on the list.

Please understand that a person can inherit EITHER (or any) FS, not just the conventional. It just happens that in American Christianity, the conventional FS is the one that is inherited.

However, I think that although understanding where these FS originate is important, the question that is MORE important is WHY are so many people choosing to move away from their original Framing Story?

I use the work "choose" loosely. For the majority of people it is not a conscious decision to transition from the inherited framing story into a new one. Yet many (more every day) are realizing that they are indeed emerging out of and away from their original FS. The factors that inform this happening are as complex as are the factors that make up our original FS. In fact, the easiest way to understand WHY and HOW people move away from their original FS are the SAME factors listed above that inform their original FS. What changes? The overall frame. They move away from their family, they experience new cultures and cultural surroundings. They break free of the bubble of thoughts and ideas into a new surrounding. They explore their own thoughts, world, and beliefs through higher education (not just a college degree, but education derived from new experiences). What they are finding is that the conventional FS does not do a good job addressing the "new" reality in which they now find themselves. A reality that has always been there, but was outside of their spheres of influence as a child.

There is a lot we can learn from other's FS. Everyone's journey is unique to them. The greatest thing we can do is listen and share in each other's journeys! This will help us to understand each other's FS's, and hopefully, will help churches to embrace and even encourage people to explore and question their own framing stories. The pews should no longer be a place of forced conformity, but full of people who are diverse in their experiences and FS's, willing to listen and willing to share. Otherwise, I fear that the Church will not survive, or at least thrive, as more and more people continue to move away from the conventional FS (the one that most mainstream churches cling to), towards the emerging FS that addresses their reality.

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