[UMC] ‘Get your program, here!’

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.  


Serial narration



Last week I admitted that I’d made a foundational error, and I repented of it (I hit the reset button and turned in a new direction). I introduced a simple new typology that offers a clear line of distinction regarding perception and position.

I’ve been working on some graphics to communicate the typology. My sense is that I’ve landed on this one as the feature (calling-card) graphic going forward (at least for now):



Scriptural background

So, in the 95% solution ‘calling card’ image, G-d’s care is foremost. Through allusion, Jesus transforms chaos into Living Waters. Let’s see.

Biblically, the sea represents chaos (cf. Genesis 1.2) G-d’s Ruach (Spirit, breath, wind) creates order on the face of the deep (Chaos).

G-d‘s care and provision are seen in Noah’s vision (Ark) in the face of chaos (The Flood). 

Similarly, the message of Matthew 14.28-32 depicts Jesus as the one who, in the midst of the chaos (stormy sea [lake]), sustains peace and order (remaining above the chaos, i.e., he walks on water and bids Peter to do so, too). Along with the Ark in Genesis, the boat in Matthew’s story depicts the proto-church (i.e., the community of disciples). Along with Jesus, it’s the sustaining presence of Christ even in the midst of chaos.



G-d doesn’t usually send a whale to the rescue; so, unless your name is Jonah (here), it may be best to remember that throwing oneself off the ship (Ark) will necessitate an ambulance boat. Jonah does illustrate that, even when we separate ourselves from G-d‘s compatibilism/inclusion (and the 95%), we’re still in G-d‘s care; there’s no where to hide. 

The 95% solution is not a systematic idea. Far from it. It’s “lateral thinking” what Edward de Bono calls “po.” Still, I do want the visuals to feel systematic, to tell a holistic, relational story. So, here’s the breakdown as I imagine the new comp.

btw…I’m planning to do a missive or two on de Bono’s “lateral thinking,” soon. 

New graphic – a calling-card

The Ark in the new graphic represents G-d‘s desire and provision to make a way through chaos together. The bow in the clouds symbolizes that G-d‘s promise is for all and shows no partiality.

We can imagine para. 2553 as the little blue boat.

We can also imagine that the little blue boat is an ambulance, because compassion knows that both “Traditionalists” and “Inclusivists” often become absolutists (Incompatibilism-ists//5%ers) as a result of religious trauma. The little blue ambulance boat in the comp means that no one — least of all, Jesus —wants anyone to walk the plank.



The holistic unity is found in seeing the two categories “Incompatibilism” (absolutist) and “Compatibilism” (non-absolutist), as one relationship i.e., seeing the system (e.g., G-d‘s care) that encompasses the binary. The two categories (and vessels) represent distinct, mutually exclusive ideologies, with either of which United Methodists may align themselves.

While no one wants anyone to walk the plank for their ideology, as Father Richard Rohr wrote in a recent meditation regarding heaven as a party (according to Scripture):

“There are fifteen different, direct allusions to eternal life being a great, big party.

The only people who don’t get in on the party are those who don’t want to come…”

So, I say “seemingly mutually exclusive” because, while ideological positions may be mutually exclusive, people are one in Christ: “he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” —Eph. 2.14. The only people in the (5%) Incompatibilism-ist boat are those who cannot (or who refuse) to be on the Ark with the 95%.



Our absolutist terms (CompatibilismIncompatibilism) are nearly ideal, as the irony and limitations of both rock logic and language are plain.

Thankfully, Christ’s unity overcomes even our Incompatibilism, e.g., on the stormy sea, through a whale and the rainbow.

‘The 95% solution’ (as “po”) is a mash-up

Essentially, the deep divide in the United Methodist Church [UMC] is not a problem to be solved. Rather, our apparent division is actually a polarity to be managed. I wrote in 2020 about the dynamics in a 4-part mini-series. (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) and (part 4)



Our fifty-year food-fight in the UMC is an expression of the primeval stability vs. change polarity. The 95% solution‘s new calling-card graphic tells a story of unity in division, order in chaos, hope through faithfulness. The stories of G-d, Noah, Jonah, Amos, Peter, Jesus, et al. narrate the Church’s holistic relationship with G-d‘s grace and care.
The notion of “winning” is a categorical error that simply doesn’t fit or apply to true polarities e.g., breathing (inhale – exhale polarity) is not a partisan contest to be won. Neither, stability (order) – change (chaos). Period.
When I wrote/promoted the mini-series mentioned above, I surely hope I recommended Barry Johnson’s book: Polarity Management. This is a must read for clergy and church leaders; please don’t delay.
Next week: [UMC] Meet the Taylors [this post 850 words (3-min. read)] 


Your thoughts? 

8 thoughts on “[UMC] ‘Get your program, here!’

  1. Another way to look at the story of Noah, is that grace and unity did not feature much at all, because God drowned most people. I think that’s an angle that incompatibility traditionalists have in mind. IE if we aim for unity, will God drown the conservatives too.


      1. Michael hopefully I can see the spirit of the piece and project. My perception is that you would like the UMC to agree to disagree, with the end-goal being everyone being happy.

        My previous comment seeks to point out that what you are proposing, would not result in the incompatibilists being happy, because they would feel such a plan would leave God unhappy.


      2. Tom,

        > My perception is that you would like the UMC to agree to disagree, with the end-goal being everyone being happy.

        Ah, ok. So, “Yes” to the former and a resounding “No” to the latter, at least with regard to an unnuanced notion of what “happy” means. My vision is anything but Pollyannaish. In my view, living in holistic community is a way that balances empathy and compassion for others with personal happiness. “Happiness” falls on a spectrum that runs from immature to mature, imho.

        > would not result in the incompatibilists being happy

        No. By my reckoning, “Incompatibilism” is incompatible with mature “happiness,” perhaps even incompatible with immature happiness.

        This is significant as I’m trying to say that those who I’m describing as “Incompatibilism-ists” (the ~5%) are using an ideological framework that sets themselves outside the holistic community. Self-imposed exclusion. Very ironic.

        > My previous comment seeks to point out that what you are proposing, would not result in the incompatibilists being happy, because they would feel such a plan would leave God unhappy.

        “…such a plan would leave God unhappy.”

        My claim is that only about ~5% would attempt to interpret that with a legalistic certainty.



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