A societal transformation from binary values to the ascendancy of pluralist values is no mean feat. Actually, it’s an epochal level change. So, ‘liminal space/time’ seems like an apt description of where I’ve been dwelling for the past couple years. I think it may also be where we (society) are in so many areas of human life in the West. Forwards or backwards, I don’t think our direction is in any way clear right now.
In writing this blog for the past eight months, in terms of applying the Spiral Dynamics [SD] developmental anthropology to the UMC, and the LGBT+/authority debate, my intention and hope has been to come from a different angle on it. The talking points of the decades-old debate are very well rehearsed on both sides. If the first forty-seven years of ‘conversation’ formed the Overton window on it, then my goal has been to write from outside of that.
The Special General Conference* [SGC] needed to be a barrier breaking turning point for the UMC. We’ll see if it was. It’s unclear to me if writing about current events using a SD lens makes sense now. Writing outside the Overton window necessarily eliminates many readers who rarely stray from their orthodox understandings/thinking (on whatever it may be). In any event, my plan, at least for now, is to continue writing here weekly. I do intend to ease the word count back to ~750-825 words per week (brief, three minute read).
*SGC ~ The Special General Conference of The United Methodist Church [UMC], February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, was called to finally settle the debate over the place of LGBT+ people in the UMC. The extent to which any particular United Methodist individual or group believed that SGC would actually be able to resolve this complex issue with a vote is the degree to which the conference was ill fated.
UMC microcosm of U.S.A.?
The Church is intrinsically a keeper/protector of effective human norms (revealed wisdom). Perennial human norms change very slowly, even more so in the Church. Most church people agree that, in general, the culture moves along with social issues and societal change more readily, and sooner, than does the Church. In other words, many UMC people feel the SCOTUS has moved too quickly on marriage and LGBT+ rights issues. The 55/45 vote in St. Louis reflects that. For a ten point majority of the global UMC, the West has indeed moved ahead too rapidly on LGBT+ rights, even in the church. UMC progressives cite statistics to indicate nearly seventy percent of U.S. United Methodists support a local church option (One Church Plan) on moving forward on LGBT+ rights and inclusion—but does that indicate where the wider U.S. society is on this? Robert Kegan’s research indicates U.S. society overall may be more closely aligned with the UMC global majority on the marriage issue. Whether he knows it or not, in 2020, President Trump’s fate is dependent upon Kegan’s research being correct. Is the SGC an early indicator on how the U.S.A. will answer the forwards or backwards question?
Giving something up for Lent?
That’s another way of saying that Lent invites us into spiritual disciplines, such as fasting. Spiritual disciplines are meant to enable us to step outside of ourselves and gain an expanded, more helpful perspective. ‘Helpful’ to whom or what? Helpful to growing in self-awareness, human empathy, and compassion.
For instance, most everyone reading these words has no idea what really being hungry is like. I mean holistically. Oh, granted, at some point you may have missed lunch and were simply famished by suppertime. You likely know that kind of hunger. Or, perhaps you have fallen on real hard times at some point—for any number of reasons, in and out of one’s control—that drove you into a degree of temporary food insecurity. You may know that kind of hunger. But, what it’s like to be chronically hungry, day-in, day-out, not knowing if, or from where, the next meal might arrive, that hunger is unfelt, and unknown because it is largely unexperienced by most first-world people. Persistent, unrelenting poverty, or conflicted circumstances—the kind that produces chronic hunger and malnourished, starving children—is beyond our scope. Intentional fasting, with accompanying study and reflection, can help penetrate this experience barrier to some degree.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?