a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
A serial narration
My “UMC schism, a holistic take” project is a narration of my hypothesis, i.e., the 95% solution [95%S]. I’ve argued that our traditional thinking habits [“rock logic“] and our premises (“tradition” vs. “inclusion”) have structured our thinking and discourse to be schismatic by default. The critique that the 95%S makes is directed at the absolutism and certitude that drives both 1s (“Inclusivist Incompatibilists”) & 5s (“Traditionalist Incompatibilists”). —Tough to build support; after irritating “both sides,” who’s left? Yikes!
Because 1s & 5s have outsized influence, no one knows the actual percentages; but in their natural state, free of propaganda, imagining that as many as 95% of folks are non-absolutist is not difficult. I’d suggest that even with tribal alliances influencing everyone to some degree, these “95%ers” still comprise a vast majority in the United Methodist Church [UMC].
I’ve said repeatedly that my ‘a holistic take’ project is firmly grounded in the reality of Unintended Consequences [UC]. I see UC as divine grace. UC only becomes grace to each of us individually as we see and recognize the problems and damage that our ideas/actions have created. Even so, one can well imagine that 1s [Inclusivist Incompatibilists] and 1-influenced 2s [Inclusivist Compatibilists] might have a powerful reaction to a meme like this:
At least on Facebook, it seems as though people who disagree strongly are the most likely to express their view regarding a provocative message — my ‘a holistic take’ project, for example. To a person who is absolutely certain that they are right, any claim outside their “truth” frame is frequently a fitting (ergo, compelling) target for their stern rebuke. I see and describe it as a structure-driven characterization (or, often, seeming mischaracterization or misplaced concern).
Two weeks ago, I encountered the reaction of a United Methodist [UM] leader to the argument I’d written in “And, if pain is a premise?” They had summarized it this way:
“Applies white fragility to United Methodist traditionalists and suggests that Don Hand killed United Methodist youth by suggesting incompatibility language in 1972.”
It might seem tailored to fuel social media algorithms.
While it wasn’t a completely incoherent take of what I’d written, it lacked any understanding, grace or insight. Please allow me to describe how I see the ‘premises create structure‘ dynamic at work in the quote. (I mean to analyze the text, not the psychology of the text’s author.)
Breaking it down
Re: “Applies white fragility to United Methodist traditionalists”
Yes, I did draw on insight about White fragility — unconscious sensitivity many white people feel regarding the history/reality of traumatic/lethal harm done to Black people — and related it to unconscious sensitivity “Traditionalists” may feel regarding the history/reality of traumatic/lethal harm UMC dogma has done to LGBTQ+ people. However, the potential discourse-dampening effect of my interlocutor’s seven words on possible conversation became clear to me when I attempted to discuss the missive with other traditionalist conversation partners.
As we have considered previously, the *political technologies* that have been generated around the phrase ‘Critical Race Theory’ [CRT] — a generalized smear of critical theory that includes Robin DiAngelo and “White fragility” — have provided “conservatives” a stock means of dismissing any associated ideas. The mention of ‘White fragility’ in my interlocutor’s summary might/could serve as a tribal virtue-signal (“dog whistle”) inviting “Traditionalists” to simply dismiss my argument out of hand. The ubiquitous tacit knowledge/unconscious aspect of *political technologies* frees the author from a charge of deliberate mischief on the ‘White fragility’ point, yet makes more likely the UC, in practical terms, ‘UM Traditionalists’ dismissing my missive, essentially on tribal grounds. [Or, it might/could “troll” them, too.]
…”and suggests that Don Hand killed United Methodist youth by suggesting incompatibility language in 1972.”
That passage strongly enacts what I’ve been pointing toward, i.e., our faulty, devisive premises create schismatic structure. For many “Traditionalists,” a faulty premise is that the language has done no harm. As our siblings’ testimonies and research studies have plainly identified the harm, the ill-effects of this double bind on Traditionalists are obvious.
Minimally, the summary reduces/confuses my meaning. Is the summary a strawman move, meant to pervert my meaning as a way of refuting it? As I’m not a mind reader, I don’t know.
However, I am suggesting far more than the summary allows. To focus my charge on only one person completely inverts my point and scapegoats Don Hand. The point was that the UC of the “incompatibility clause” made every United Methodist complicit in the lethal harm the “incompatibility” language has caused our LGBTQ siblings in Christ over the past fifty years.
Next week: “[UMC] Are questions passé?“ [this post ~825 words (3-min. read)]
17 thoughts on “[UMC] Stymied by structure”