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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spirituality: “Mature religious generativity” from Christian Life Patterns

Growth into mature religious generativity results in a new combination of virtues in the personality. Charity, matured into less controlling care and a broader concern, is now joined by detachment. Charity is manifested in the generative person’s contribution to the community and society. In middle age this self-giving is informed by greater self-knowledge and less restricted by one’s personal ambition and the need to succeed. Detachment is that peculiar virtue that allows one to let go of control. It is rooted not in a stoic indifference but in a conviction – perhaps new for the adult – that God rather than oneself will see to the destiny of future generations of believers and nonbelievers. The energetic self-investment in Christian service characteristic for many in the twenties and thirties may be transformed in the forties and fifties into a self-investment complemented by a new self-engagement. Control can now be shared and passed on as one becomes able to trust more fully both in God and the next generation. This virtue of detachment does not manifest itself in a decrease in one’s involvement or creativity but rather in a growth in trust, patience, and an ability to share responsibility. The religious insight which allows such mature generativity is that the human and Christian enterprise extends beyond my strengths and limitations. Thus I learn to give myself to something that transcends me. And in giving myself away, I find myself again, now in a new relationship with God and the community.

Evelyn Eaton Whitehead and James D. Whitehead

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