More on vMEMEs …
I discovered it in Brené Brown’s latest book, so I’m beginning this week with a quote from neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio:
We are not necessarily thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.
Along with Clare Graves, and Spiral Dynamics, this blog site asserts that a developmental anthropology allows for an elegant bio/psycho/social integration of human feeling, thinking, and animation.
Again, we must set aside all notions of typology, and human type categories, when considering Graves’ work and Spiral Dynamics. If we think of Gravesian values systems as analogous to computer operating systems [OS], perhaps then we can gain a clearer picture of the nature of vMEMEs.
Humans come equipped with a system hard drive—e.g., brain/neurological system—capable of producing an amazing diversity of human expression. Perhaps we need a fanciful tale to help us wrap our minds around the plain weirdness of this idea. In 1991 Terry Bisson wrote a science fiction dialog that is fun, and it fits. Find the entire story (here)—where, you will find this part of the dialog between two intergalactic travelers on a mission to record all sentient beings (just after first consideration of earth and humans):
“Oh, there is a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat!”
“So… what does the thinking?”
“You’re not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat.”
“Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”
Operating on the system hard drive, each vMEME represents an OS at work sorting reality. Extending the analogy, think of the values in the amalgam of values for a particular vMEME as ‘apps.’ This is a helpful image because with it we can easily see that a particular vMEME provides a specific animating energy. Further, how the energy is channeled, or expressed, is only limited by the range of the particular OS—hence diverse (apps and) expressions.
Think of Windows XP as an OS enabling many different kinds of applications to operate. At the same time, one step up on the Spiral, Windows 7 is also operating and running the appropriate apps for that OS. And, again, next stage up on the Spiral, Windows 10 is also operating and running the appropriate apps for that OS. So, we have a Spiral that analogously consists of a stack of increasingly complex operating systems that come online in response to various Life Conditions [LCs]—to operate a nearly infinite number of possible apps combinations on the single hard drive. Humans function through constellations of vMEMEs which exponentially increases the possible diversity of expression.
Further, Graves sees human brain/mind development as a series of bio/psycho/social transformations graduating from instinctual, to purely emotional, to increasingly complex amalgams of emotion and cognition. For instance, the Beige [AN] vMEME function is expressed through the instinctual, autonomic output of the brain stem, e.g., breathe, blink, digest, ‘fight or flight’ survival values—a super-powerful bias toward life. Up Spiral four steps, the Orange [ER] vMEME function is expressed as an amalgam of emotional responses, pre-formal operational reasoning, and formal operational reasoning. We’ve talked previously [“Facts are facts, right?“] about brain science and the primacy of emotion in human processing of reality—reinforcing Damasio, ‘… feeling machines that think.’
This developmental reality regarding the primacy of emotion in perception exposes the cynicism present in the strategic [mis]use of emotion in political influence/manipulation. That secular politicians do this is troubling. Partisan church leaders doing this dilutes the potency of Christ’s message and risks fatally damaging our spiritual credibility and influence as Jesus followers. Wesleyan Christians are not called to abandon rationality. Rather, the Wesleyan epistemological lens is Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. As we turn to current events a brief refresh on two particular vMEMEs.
Blue [DQ] and Green [FS] vMEMEs, briefly:
Blue ~ mythic membership (conventional), sacred text [e.g., scripture, covenants (religious) and/or constitution, statutes (national)], faith, sacrifice, honor, duty, ethnocentric, nativist, authoritarian, hierarchical, rule of law, pre-modern, ‘pre-formal operational reasoning’ values // Blue [DQ] – Order
Green ~ global (post-conventional), world centered, pluralistic, eco-friendly, multi-cultural, gender equality, LGBT+ and minority rights, social justice, many stories, post-modern values // Green [FS] – Pluralist/Justice
United Methodist Church [UMC] = Mess
I don’t anticipate having a headstone. If I did, this would be appropriate:
I participate on two clergy group pages on Facebook, e.g., “United Methodist Clergy” and “The New Methodists.” Sadly, many posts/threads there often express some extremely toxic ideas issuing forth from both progressive and traditional sides of the special general conference [GC], ‘way forward’ conversation. [background here]
What we have are abundant instances of pluralistic, justice values [(naïve) Green] demonizing and dismissing binary, order values [(naïve) Blue].
What we also have are abundant instances of binary, order values [(naïve) Blue] demonizing and dismissing pluralistic, justice values [(naïve) Green].
I hope it’s no surprise to anyone that much of the UMC (as a Blue system) is demon possessed with a fierce [Red] control spirit. No surprise, then, that both traditional (Blue) and progressive (Green) groups are also demon possessed. A control spirit possesses much of both of these group’s thinking. The sure sign/evidence of demon possession is whenever factions in a dispute demonize the other—we’ve talked previously about shadows/projection.
Denials are frequently proffered on this charge, however, in a naked moment, I think many/most in both groups would really prefer the other group simply walk the plank. Obviously, that’s unlikely to bear any good fruit. So, beginning with leading edge Green [FS], let’s briefly unpack what I mean by ‘toxic ideas’ [and ‘naïve’] with a couple of examples.
First, we need to keep in mind that whether it’s being expressed through a Blue or a Green dominant person/organization, ‘absolutism’ is a naïve Blue value. I have observed that United Methodist naïve Green often channels/expresses naïve Blue absolutism. We talked about being stuck in GAMMA Traps last week—the UMC is in a big time GAMMA Trap! How FS handles GAMMA dynamics is epitomized in the UMC when naïve Green is unable to even allow the possibility of Blue (traditionalists) operating in good faith. ‘Naïve’ indicates a value has an immature/unhealthy relationship with its vMEME. Last week I quoted Beck and Cowan:
When GREEN confronts the barriers, it will descend into a rigid, holier-than-thou, politically correct stance, arrogantly questioning everybody else’s motives.
Green [FS] demonizes and discounts Blue [DQ]
One of the latest pre-GC conflagrations concerns the Green camp‘s charge that the Blue camp [e.g., Wesleyan Covenant Association] is in violation of the U.M. Discipline. Of course, DQ naturally saw this as laughable/colossal chutzpah—FS is blind to its shadow on this. Green would probably rather forget it pioneered the practice of disregarding the rule of law—FS literally ‘schooled’ Blue in how to overreach power. While ‘rule of law nullification’ may have been the fruit of extreme postmodern overreach, naïve Green‘s discounting and dismissal of DQ (‘rules‘) has been a toxic disaster doing great harm to society.
Note the LCs generating this ‘executive action’ strategy was/is a broken, gridlocked Blue legislature.
Do no harm. Now that’s some good Blue—it’s a rule.
Short on space and nothing but harm done by Green [FS] thus far—again, beginning with Green because it is the growing edge. Therefore, we’ll continue from right here next week with: “Do no harm [continued].” We’ll see that the harm Blue [DQ] has done through its perspective on special general conference issues has been extremely toxic as well. Next week: more harm by Green, as well as Blue [DQ] harm—e.g., discounting and demonizing Green [FS].
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
Hambone, thanks for the reminder of this!