To ponder: Can ‘The Law of Unintended Consequences’ be a profound grace?
Green creates harm (cont.)
Last week in “Do no harm” I asserted that both sides of the ‘way forward’ debate are demon possessed. Taking on the growing edge first, we began unpacking some examples of toxic, harmful expressions of ‘leading edge’ Green [FS]—in this case, applied in the context of the United Methodist Church [UMC], and especially the ‘way forward’ debate.
As we have seen previously (“Who’s Blue? Whose Blue?”), ‘religion,’ especially institutional religion, is prototypical Blue [DQ] and, therefore, intrinsically conventional. The consent that members freely and willingly give to Blue-authority is the existential ground of any conventional organization. In the case of the UMC, our conventions are enumerated in our ‘covenant.’ Faithfulness to Blue values is seen in obedience to the agreed upon DQ convention[s]. || Important to note that FS discounting/dismissing DQ authority is in no way limited to the church context as nearly all institutions have lost society’s confidence. The church likely mirrors society on this. || So,—likely in concert with cultural disregard for Blue, e.g., rules, laws, institutions—on the issues of human sexuality, UMC Green basically un-tethered itself from DQ. This FS power overreach reflects a demon—a control spirit (e.g., Red [CP] overreach).
Binary and plural…
Green is intrinsically pluralistic, valuing many stories—both/and. Like it or not, Blue is intrinsically binary, valuing its conventional story—either/or; us/them; insider/outsider; sacred/profane. The FS || DQ problem this creates is alive in many arenas of life. For example the disciplines of law and postmodern philosophy have never engaged in genuine conversation. Please recall that previously we’ve talked about Blue‘s lack of agility, a profound downside of DQ—like it or not, Blue is intrinsically binary.
One group discerns “One Church” and another group discerns “Simple” church. Doing the “least harm” is an appeal of one group—and credit them for candor there. The two Green [FS] initiatives being presented to the special general conference in St. Louis later this month—’The One Church Plan,’ [OCP] and ‘The Simple Plan’ [SP]—both claim that their plans refrain from coercion and don’t really require anything of anyone: the easy, no-change change for Blue [DQ]. I suggest that in that intentional choice of branding, Green conspicuously condescended to Blue, completely discounted DQ‘s concerns, and, ‘least harm’ admission notwithstanding, essentially dismissed previous/present/future harm of FS approaches.
“The One Church Plan honors the perspective of United Methodists who believe that our current impasse over marriage and ordination of homosexual persons does not rise to the level of a church-dividing issue,” according to the Commission on a Way Forward’s Report to the General Conference.
Again, while perhaps unconscious, the language totally fails to recognize the importance of this issue to Blue. The OCP honors some United Methodist’s perspective on the impasse but not others—a control spirit.
As we’ve seen previously (Will Blue hold?), Blue is conventional—it’s the story we (any group) agree to agree on. Further, our DQ is affirmed and reinforced whenever others assent to the authority of our convention. When many different kinds of Blue communities all line up in agreement on the same convention, the convergence forms a remarkably powerful human norm in and through that story. Far beyond the parochial UMC, the conventional understanding of the vast majority of human beings and virtually all legacy DQ communities/organizations worldwide is that marriage is constituted by one woman and one man. The two progressive ‘way forward’ plans change the time honored definition of marriage while advocacy largely fails to even recognize or acknowledge the magnitude of the impact on those faithfully holding to the legacy. —Granted, much of Western society has already legally codified the redefining of marriage, however, (from the standpoint of what I’m trying to get at) that’s really another issue, I think, and I don’t have space to rehearse Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture here.
No big deal
In his book, The Road to Unfreedom, Timothy Snyder details how Putin, to a very significant extent, used the LGBT+ rights issue as leverage to help annex Ukraine and create the far-right populist movements in Europe and the U.S.A.
Marie Le Pen “advanced the Russian argument that gay rights were the sharp end of a global neoliberal conspiracy against innocent nations. In her own words, ‘homophilia [sic] is one of the elements of globalization.'” (pg. 101)
Exploiting Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyan’s “Christian totalitarianism” [pg. 91], part of what Putin realized was that the West’s efforts to change the definition of marriage created an extreme vulnerability and political opportunity that he aggressively exploited. Green shadows (in general and in the UMC), and FS‘s (Red) self-interest, have largely prevented FS from seeing/acknowledging both the depth and significance of this issue for Blue worldwide. Green has also failed to account for all the global, political forces harnessing and exploiting the issue of LGBT+ rights (here). For UMC FS to speak a word of this change as ‘no big deal’ is to completely disrespect those who support legacy DQ. We may only be removing a few words from our official documents but let’s not be totally disingenuous by gaslighting people in saying we’re not really changing anything.
Grace seems a bit scarce
We’ll get to Blue‘s demon possession and toxic harm next time. Then perhaps we’ll better see that Green‘s motivation is to transform DQ such that it would cease and desist the harm Blue has been/and is doing. Before we move on, however, the question I put forward at the top of this week’s post may be a good partner for the reflection/conversation FS might like to have about the good and ill of what has been wrought in the battle for justice and change.
We’ve talked at length now about the fact that Blue [DQ] values reflect human conventions. Now, admittedly, religious communities reflect what the persons in those communities believe and trust to be divinely inspired conventions. Through sacred texts and prophetic witness Blue communities receive and institutionalize divine inspiration, or revelation. But is there any Divine DQ that is experientially true for all with or without human assent? It seems to me that the physical laws are an expression of Divine Blue—[see Romans 1.20] G-d’s Presence, Divine laws of nature, existence made to adapt and evolve.
Where I stand…
First, I want to emphasize my respect/regard for the crucial importance of the Blue [DQ] values attractor—without it civil society of any scale would not be possible. Second, I’ve not tried to conceal that while I recognize and highly esteem Blue values, I am with those who would transform the UMC institution to be inclusive of LGBT+ people without condition—just as it is for cisgendered, heterosexual people. Over the past 30 years or so in the church, I hope that I have not expressed Green demon possession in relation to this issue. In an honest moment of reflection, however, I must confess I remember times when I was quite dismissive in conversation with traditional colleagues.
I do recognize/confess that a demon control spirit drives Green‘s express disregard of Blue order, and FS‘s discounting of DQ‘s deep and abiding commitment to the traditional definition of marriage.
I’m sorry! I pray that demon be revealed/cast out.
For myself—and likely many others—I can say honestly and without reservation, it was never an intended consequence of mine to disquiet the souls of those who faithfully stand in the traditional ranks of the church by my words/attempts to offer justice to those who stand in the excluded ranks of the church. This week, acknowledging The Law of Unintended Consequences offers your/my Green [FS] a taste of G-d’s Grace.
Next week (part 3), more demons to be revealed/cast out.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
In September of 2021 I set aside the stadial aspect of Clare Graves’ theory. I did not rectify this post in any way, I have only added this note and updated the graphic below.