I am not a super-crazed sports fan, but I do like me some basketball. I just couldn’t help pulling in a basketball related title to in honor of March Madness!
I was listening to an episode of A Thoughtful Faith podcast where the host Gina Colvin interviews Jana Spangler and Peter Bleakley. Spangler mentioned that she had attended a week-long retreat with Richard Rohr. She was able to talk with him and she mentioned that she was a Mormon (about at 28:30). Richard Rohr said:
Mormon’s do first-half of life spirituality better than anybody else.
And you have almost no second half of life [that is taught]
She clarifies that first-half of life as put forward by Richard Rohr is the kind of spirituality that organizations are going to be able to hold. Organizations themselves are first half of life. They are concerned with establishing good values and structures for growth. It is concerned with the rules and the reasons for the rules. The second half of life spirituality is where we can grow beyond that and more concerned about the connection with the divine rather than being bogged down in how we do that. 
This really resonated with me and made me recall a few years ago when I was just moving past my faith crisis and moving more into what I considered my faith transition. It was a bit of a “halftime” in a way. In one way I felt that it was really time to “graduate” to something else. The church and its teachings just didn’t seem to be connecting me to God much anymore. Now saying that it was time for me to “graduate” from church will sound blasphemous to some and I am not saying I am a know-it-all. But when I heard this quote about first-half life of spirituality vs the second-half it immediately rang true for me and gave a name to how I was feeling.
Has anyone else experienced that feeling that it is time to move on to something new?
Does Rohr’s “first-half life” and “second-half life” spirituality concept ring true to anyone else?
 With just a bit longer beard Richard would make a great Santa!
 This concept is covered in Richard Rohr’s book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life”. This is just one of many books that are on my ever-growing list of books to read.
There might be some selection bias in Rohrer’s conclusion, because I know a lot of long-time Mormons who I’d describe as deeply spiritual. But maybe not in the way he’d consider deeply spiritual, I don’t know.
There’s also something real about mid-life crises, when all the things you’ve done in the past just don’t seem to be working for you anymore. Doesn’t necessarily mean those things were inadequate or wrong. Maybe you just need to get shaken up a little in order to start growing again.
I’m pretty open in church meetings that I’ve spiritually graduated from Sunday-church and only attend for my kids and to interact with the community.
I usually phrase it as- my values and faith is rooted. My beliefs aren’t going to change. I could skip church for the next 3 yrs and still maintain my faith, testimony, and connection to god.
The second half is supposed to come from community and other mature adults. We seem to not always create that in modern wards.
It seems, in a way, a side effect of smaller units. “Science” tells us that smaller wards are better for adults and for the mission of the church, etc. However, smaller wards are, paradoxically, less social and as a result have a number of fewer social structures, including larger internal communities. Instead, they seem to generate a single clique of insiders.
The dynamic is interesting and I’m not sure where the inflection point leads, but I observe it.
That was a pretty good podcast episode, so I’m glad you mentioned it.
You asked,”Has anyone else experienced that feeling that it is time to move on to something new?”
Yes. That was me and I did so reluctantly. If one is going to seriously consider “second half of life” faith as valid, I think one must concede that there are many paths up the mountain, and focus on supporting each other in our various paths.
I love this idea. It doesn’t devalue 1st half spiritual path, but sees it as a means to an end. I’m happy to be in the 2nd half now, but I wish those on the 1st half would accept my path as I do theirs.
Although perhaps acceptance is a privilege associated with being in the 2nd half…
Martin – I have not read Rohr’s book (yet), but my takeaway so far would be that someone that really gets upset if a person is bothered by others that don’t watch all 10 hours of conference, then that person is more first-half of life – very worried about the rules. I think of Richard Bushman’s comments as of late when he is asked to help “fix” people in faith crisis. He asks the, “what do you think about Christ” and if they still say they are Christians – he says, “Everything is alright.” To say it another way, I don’t think you HAVE to leave the church to go on your second half of life spiritual journey. I agree that there are some very spiritual people in (and out) of the church.
Stephen – I don’t think there is a “perfect” sized ward. I have been a counselor in a bishopric of an extremely rapidly growing ward with an average of 1 family a week moving in. I have been in a much smaller ward also. It can be very hard to give everyone a meaningful and enjoyable calling that they are capable of doing within their time and talents.
Cody/Handle – I do think “second halfers” should have more patience. I would suffice if first halfers were not disdainful of the paths that some second halfers took. It feels to me now, “the rules are the rules and the rules/obedience to the leaders is the primary objective.”
Thanks for the comments.
Somebody on this site dropped a comment the other day about their elderly father having calculated all the Sunday School meetings he had sat through in his long life, and realized he could have acquired a Ph.D in religion in the same amount of time. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this comment since I read it.
I do wonder: What might the fields of spiritual growth look like, for those in or past half-time?
I think the Church (the organization) offers venues for second-half spiritual development. Challenging callings can be a gift in this regard. But the church itself (the physical body of members) leaves a lot of second half development up to the individual to be his or her own parent about it. And atrophy results.
Also, all of the venerable role models for second-half growth are of a mold. There are not a lot of quirky, eccentric spiritualists among the visible leaders of the church. This makes it look like you have to become an apostle (or apostle-wife) in order to receive that spiritual maturation you crave in the second half. That’s a shame, because (going by historical evidence), Cookie Cutter Company Man is just not a look that the Gandhis and Zarathustras of the future are likely to ever take interest in.
That’s a great way to look at it. My second half started way past my second half of life. But, I do feel that it is a new and renewed life. Nice to see you blogging here my friend.
This seems to me to be another in series of posts talking about there being more than one way to live the Gospel, within the church.
I am a diciple of hawhgirls personality types, with one personality type valuing obedience, loyalty, authority, tradition. Which is where I was before I went on my mission to Ireland in 1968.
I have now moved right through the next group which values agency, freedom of expression, respect for those who earn it.
To idealist, humanist, motivated by love.
I believe now that our purpose here on earth is to become Christlike, by learning to love perfectly as God loves.
Whether this is what the author is talking about I don’t know?
I would highly recommend Falling Upward , it was an incredible book. There is also a great Jack Naneek podcast where he talks about these concepts as applied to Mormonism. I would agree that our Church discourse and learning is very first half of life oriented. However, I think there are many chances to serve and be a part of the community that can provide a rich second half of life experience. One of the best quotes Richard Rohr uses in the book is from the Dalai Lama: “Learn and obey the rules very well so you will know how to break them properly.” Richard Rohr does not advocate for a life devoid of rules and structure. He argues this is an essential foundation for the second half of life and that the goal is to become a “true elder” who mentors and guides individuals and can use wisdom and life experience to help people. This is very different than people and institutiuons who continue to pursue accumulation of wealth as an end in and of itself. I would argue that the message of Jesus is a second half of life message critiquing the cult of obedience that was prevalent in the religion of his day. We have taken that message and regressively made it all about obedience, that is what we emphasize about his life–he was perfectly obedient.
This post totally struck a nerve. I have been in the 2nd half for a few years, but I‘m finding it to be not very spiritual. I don‘t believe in the Mormon description of God, but haven‘t found any other belief to replace it. For me God is dead. And that is ok – I feel fine (except for occasional tension with spouse/extended family on the topic).
I believe in values. I don‘t care if my kids go to church, and most of them don’t, but I tell them what values I think they ought to have – and that the church can help reinforce some of them. So I still want my family, me included, to have a relationship with the church and with spiritual things. But worship for me now means helping out at the homeless shelter.
I feel stuck—not moving forward, can’t move backward. My association with the church isn’t satisfying or very comfortable, because I don’t agree with what I see as the over emphasis on appearances and rules. The few times I’ve tried to publicly express a different way to look at something, the response is vigorous pushback. It is sad that we can’t broaden the landscape.
Thanks for sharing this material! Definitely something new to explore. I am grateful for this community!
Generally you don’t switch teams at half time.