The Lifecycle of Hope
The first "birth of God" is strongly affected by early attachment experiences and spans the first 6 or 7 years of life. The second "birth of God" begins in middle childhood and continues through adolescence. In the Catholic faith, this is the time for "confirmation". The Jewish Bar Mitzvah gives teens a public forum to solicit community support while affirming their faith in the Torah. A Lakota boy is given animal hairs and feathers which make it possible for him to move into an uncertain future with symbols of attachment, mastery, and protection. The Ifa elders in Western Africa provide the next generation with instructions on creating a "sacred space" to bond with Orisa. Adolescent Hindus receive sashes to symbolize the three Vedas that will encircle them, keeping them safe from danger and evil.
In this chapter we focus on gaining a better appreciation of how spiritual beliefs affect one's experience of hope. The process of spiritual growth is discussed in terms of the development of the hope-related motives and their building blocks. We also discuss how sacred rites and practices may trigger brain circuits associated with attachment, mastery and survival. Ultimately, these rituals can be thought of as ceremonies designed to create a sense of "communal hope".
Related issues covered in our book
Why religion matters: Why religion is the source of hope for much of the world's population
Religion and hope: How religious and spiritual beliefs determine your degree and quality of hope
Hope in darkness: Historical examples of sustaining hope in the midst of tragedy and genocide
Spiritual development: Four phases of spiritual growth and the impact on hope development
Neurotheology: A hope-based twist on the new science of brain functioning and spirituality
Hope Tip #7: Tracking your spiritual growth
The Life Cycle of Religion, Spirituality and Hope: A Four Stage Integrative Model
1. Have you grown spiritually? Which of your spiritual building-blocks need further development? What can you do to make this happen? Are you motivated to grow in this way? Why or why not?