Fowler’s Stages of Faith Development in “The Pilgrimage”

In the autobiographical narration of “The pilgrimage” (Coelho, 2003b), Coelho describes his personal faith development while walking the Road to Santiago. As with regard to the analysis of the narration in terms of the HWM described in Sects.

8.3.3 to, only excerpts of narrations on stages of faith development are analysed, based on the methodology described in Chap. 6.

Stage 0 - Primal Faith

Usually, Stage 0 - primal faith - occurs at the age of one year (Fowler, 1981; Stroud, 2004). In “The pilgrimage” (2003b), Coelho is in his late thirties; however, he reexperiences Stage 0 through the new relationship-building with Petrus: They build trust, bonds and create meaning, as usually happens in Stage 0 (Fowler & Dell, 2004). The relationship between Coelho and Petrus appears to be healthy, with a clear structure and dialogue structures of Coelho posing questions and Petrus answering, providing advice and guidance (Coelho, 2003b, p. 24), requiring obedience (Coelho, 2003b, p. 169). Petrus, the guide, explains and reconfirms his status as the knowledgeable one on the journey, creating a healthy und trustful relationship and attachment with the learner (Erikson, 1963), based on openness and interdependence (Coelho, 2003b, pp. 192-194). The guide-guided relationship is a master-learner relationship (Coelho, 2003b, p. 197) that is interpreted as a kind of parent-child or caregiver-caretaker relationship. This relationship is built on a master-learner power imbalance; however, this imbalance is respected and not used against, but rather for each other’s learning opportunity. Both men create trust and bonds, as well as meaningful commitments through their common experience and RAM membership (Coelho, 2003b, p. 192): Petrus respects Coelho and their common learning curve: “By taking on the role of guide, I was able to find my own truth.”

Both protagonists see themselves as bound to each other and as being separated identities at the same time, which creates a healthy form of self-image (as described in Fowler, 1984, 1987). After Coelho has developed enough, Petrus recognises: “You must find your sword alone” (Coelho, 2003b, p. 192). He thereby respects the phase during the relationship in which Coelho, the child, grows up, becomes independent and becomes a separate identity (again).

After Coelho has had all the necessary experiences and applied his new knowledge to finally find his sword, he builds his self-worth (Coelho, 2003b, p. 213), built on a clear set of values, an aim and emotional awareness and mindfulness. In the relationship with Petrus, Coelho has relived important aspects of Stage 0, the primal faith stage. Throughout the journey, he regained the possibility to process the initial experiences of faith development once more in his life while developing a clearer self-image and after a bonding process, an identity separation process.

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