a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
B&W absolutist premises -> schismatic structure
Many folks trust that God justly executes absolutist judgments; however, most people (95%?) deeply comprehend that humans do not.
In the last three missives (part 1; part 2; part 3) of the current mini-series, “UMC schism, a holistic take,” I’ve been trying to surface/describe a schismatic-division dynamic in the UMC (and society) and how it is providing structure to much of our discourse.
The Missouri Annual Conference’s bishop, Bob Farr, writes (here): “Division creates complexity.” I don’t think that means that he’s challenging Plato’s diairesis. Rather, I take him to be referring to schismatic division. So, how is “schismatic division” “providing structure to much of our discourse?”
I created a “95%” meme to generate some discussion around my assertion. This graphic reflects an earlier (pre-2000), lower-intensity compatibilist configuration.
After the sorting and polarization processes (cf. Ezra Klein) that church and society have undergone over the past couple decades, please note in the illustration how much greater is the partisan intensity (i.e., tribalization) in compatibilist groups 2 & 4 now than before.
So, I’ve argued that incompatibilist groups 1 & 5 have oversized influence on the nature of the discourse in the church regarding the inclusion/authority debate. The absolutist premises that 1s & 5s use create extremism in their rhetoric (e.g., mutually-exclusive language) that tends to produce a schismatic division in the very structure of our conversations. How? You likely know tacitly. Let’s see, explicitly.
Anecdotes from related conversation this week
hyperbolic (mutually-exclusive) language
One response to my meme exhibited the overblown rhetoric that structures any conversation that follows it (I’ve edited the “genital”-laden introduction that led to their final analogy):
You simply can’t pour red ants into a black ant hole and assume that because all are “ants” that there will be no problem…
Antman? That structures the conversation in mutually-exclusive terms. To their comment, I replied:
Well, off the top of my head, I don’t imagine that the narrative system you’ve concisely articulated there could reasonably be expected to produce much in the way of good fruit with respect to holistic community. So, yeah, that’s one of my points that might be inferred from “UM schism, a holistic take.”
We simply cannot reasonably expect that our conversations that are structured in mutually-exclusive terms are capable of producing anything but schism. If a system produces what it is designed to produce, then our denominational inclusion/authority discourse (driven by 1s & 5s extremist rhetoric) is, defacto, designed to produce schism.
Another conversation (i.e., one that later just disappeared, as my discussion partner deleted their original comment that our sub-thread was under … #facepalm) demonstrated a different way our discourse gets hijacked and structured with schismatic rhetoric. Much like a Rorschach test, they replied under my meme/post:
“Something about Jesus leaving the 99 to find the 1.” —[Matthew 18:12–14 and Luke 15:3–7]
After asking what that meant in the context of my post — they basically meant that Jesus was on the side of Group 1 — I realized they were claiming that I was drawing a false equivalency between the core animating content of 1s and 5s, i.e., their respective ’causes.’ I explained that I was not referring to that, and that the equivalency that I was drawing was in terms of the absolutism of both 1s and 5s. This form of projection (seeing something in my typology that I did not put there) is another way the discourse gets structured to include unrelated moral binaries if we don’t recognize it when it’s happening.
This response reflects a partisan call for someone to “walk the plank.”
All compatibilists assume the freedom to officiate same gender weddings and the elimination of LGBTQ+ barriers to ordination. There is no path to that in the UMC, unless the 5’s GET OUT.
In 2019 I wrote:
[cf. 2 Corinthians 5.19.]
If we can shed our blind idolatry to winning, there’s a plain and simple way forward for the 95%. We’ll take that up next week in the final installment of this mini-series.
Next week: Final part. [this post 850 words (3 minute read)]