divisive premises -> structure

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 2part 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?”

Illustrating structure

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. 

false ‘false-equivalency’

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. 

It appears as a sign that “both sides” (1s & 5s) are appalled at the suggestion that there is any parity whatsoever between them and their opposites. Certitude (and our extreme polarization) puts that idea beyond imagination.

partisan carryover

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. 

tribalized church — “winning” is now our partisan-success criterion
I wrote in a comment to my own OP:
Extreme polarization has produced tribalization in church and society. Even to the point that it has become impossible for one who is partisan to make any positive or kind remark to their opponent. It appears that this conflicts with the virtue-signaling messaging that tribalism requires.

Pathway forward

In 2019 I wrote:

[cf2 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. 



The absolutist premises that Groups 1 & 5 choose (and communicate via activist messaging) create a schismatic structure within our discourse in the UMC regarding inclusion/authority. Structure that places perspectives in mutually-exclusive, either/or, win/lose relationships can be expected to produce only schismatic division. It’s (demon-possessed) magical-thinking to believe that “victory” (for either “side”) in our “partisan battle” could sustainably express God‘s Dream.





Next week: Final part. [this post 850 words (3 minute read)]  

Your thoughts? 






20 thoughts on “divisive premises -> structure

  1. Hi,
    You said the 5s demon is the idea they can(or might) win if it all comes to votes. That may be true. But your assertion that the 1s don’t have the luxury of such a demon is in my opinion misplaced.

    Isn’t that same demon of victory behind the 1s withdrawing their support for the protocol?
    –That as some 5s depart they may have the votes to “win” outright?

    In my own annual conference the 1s made sure at the last election for GC delegates that there was no 2 3 4 or 5s elected. Seemed to me they may be planning on winning. Just my observation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dave, thanks for reading, and writing!

      Well, I have observed, in the “UMC schism, a holistic take” mini-series, that 1s engage Machiavellian political machinations in their attempts to “win” despite their having a minority of the votes of GC. However, what I’m saying in the snip at the end of this post is a bit different, e.g., about 1s never having had the majority and being tested in that way. So, 5s are the exemplars of the problem because they are the ones who have the thin majority. However, I’m not trying to say that 1s would likely do better if things were reversed, because I’ve seen no indication that they would.

      The point I’m making there in the snip graphic is that (whether a person is a 1 or a 5) believing a 55%, or even 60%, majority on something as significant as human sexuality is sufficient, is “(demon-possessed) magical-thinking” regarding what political “victory” can accomplish on such an issue. It is a complete failure to embrace wisdom. It also makes for a terrible example to our society that is crippled by polarization.

      That 5s have been explicitly satisfied with their thin GC margins regarding a rightful place for harmful, repressive language and for trials and coerced episcopal accountability is beyond problematic. Not only a complete failure to embrace wisdom, it’s a slap in the face of wisdom.

      imagine whirled peas,


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