[UMC] Love as structure

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


Serial narration


A “[UMC] …” series (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (‘reset’ here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (last week). The expressions I’m using for the project are evolving. Micah 6.8 is key to “The 95% solution.” 


Premises create structure

On the up side

Last week, I heard an illustrative story about building community. Here’s a link to a five-minute audio (here) entitled: “‘Instead of a class, he wants us to be family.’ Yuma High band makes music with a coda of community.”

“Kids flock to the band room,” says journalist/story-host, Rae Solomon.
Band teacher Robert Zahller has found a really safe way to help a struggling student get to: “Ok, now I know what it’s supposed to sound like.” (It makes me think of Leonard Sweet’s “Nudge.” What can UMC local churches learn from this heart-warming story?)

On the down side

As we have discussed previously, the premises that we lay down in our churches create ideologies and behaviors that extend far beyond the walls of the church. Three weeks ago (here) we raised some problems aligned with our prohibitive language. This related 1A story (here) is entitled: “Is it time to rethink sex ed?” Excellent information! 
Consistent with last week’s *political technologies* (here), misinformation and disinformation regarding “comprehensive sex education” dramatically aggravate an already sensitive and difficult area of community relations. 

On the up side

Of course, objectively establishing ‘causation’ with any degree of certainty is very difficult in most cases of human relations. Consequences are always connected to our words and actions; however, most often they are traceable only through ‘correlation.’ Obviously, correlation is not causation. This is why unquestionably fixing “blame” is frequently difficult and, many times, lacking confession, even impossible. “Credit” is often equally difficult to determine infallibly. 
So, is this…
…a premise for this? …
Well, here’s what we do know. Since this past June the ‘a mystical möbius‘ “[UMC] …” series has essentially been banging pots and pans together in related social media spaces suggesting that Micah 6.8 might/could provide a Scriptural key to finding a harmonized ecclesiology.
Still, the only way I would believe that this “lateral thinking” series premised the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection’s [C.o.R.] recently launched “BE” campaign is if Adam and the C.o.R. team who created the campaign plainly stated as much. 
First, getting ‘credit’ is irrelevant; it doesn’t matter.
I said “Compatibilism” (here) (here) (here). A mystical möbius editor, Doug Asbury, observed a connection to Micah 6.8.
Please don’t miss the point! We’ll see why “the credit doesn’t matter” in a subsequent missive. As I’ve said repeatedly, this series is meant as a “lateral thinking” process. It is meant to be generative, not definitive. It’s an open process that prioritizes creativity over credit. The process seeks to generate something that speaks differently to our rigidly-stuck structure. We’ll pick this up later with a bit closer look at Edward de Bono’s work. 

On the down side

I sometimes wonder if our (perverted) focus on what married adults do with their genitals is a way to avoid other “premise –> structure” dynamics that are problematic. 

What about other difficulties that our cultural zeitgeist creates for our ecclesiology?

In an insightful article last week, Rachel L. Coleman raises some pointed questions for those who bemoan decline in the UMC. Her article is entitled, “Of Yard Signs and Yearnings.” Coleman raises — at least, from my perspective — some very pertinent questions.

  1. What kind of church does one have if the congregants’ premise is that “church” is a commodity? What if the (unconscious) premise shared by the congregation is that “church” is a package of consumer items selected to satisfy one’s own religious preferences? 
  2. What kind of church does one have if the congregants’ premise is that “church” is an event, something you attend? Coleman writes, “If church is primarily an event, like a concert or a ballgame, then participants are few, spectators are many, and the commitment required is minimal.”
  3. Implicitly from the first two, what kind of church does one have if “attending” the “event” is a commuteraffair? What if one’s church is no longer embedded within one’s own physical-community? 

The article says to me that if one wonders why so much of the structure (i.e., enactment) that we call “church” (i.e., the congregation) in many locales is dead, with no hope for life short of death and resurrection, then one need look no further than these three faulty ecclesial premises. 



Premises create structure. This works both positively and negatively; obviously, a prudent/pragmatic track is to maximize the former and minimize the latter. 
Our feature graphic (below) this week is a comp that I hope offers a big-picture illustration of these Biblical texts as our premise and the structure they potentially create.  


Your thoughts?



14 thoughts on “[UMC] Love as structure

  1. I see the instructions of Micah 6:8 as having 3 parts;
    1. To act justly,
    2. and to love mercy,
    3. and to walk humbly with your God.
    And it’s the 3rd part that’s the road block for incompatibalists. To walk humbly would seem to me to mean to trust God, even when you can’t see full sense in his ways. It would mean to obey God, including what the Bible says about sex and sexuality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tom,

      Thanks for writing!

      > …
      > 3. and to walk humbly with your God.
      > And it’s the 3rd part that’s the road block for incompatibalists. To walk humbly would seem to
      > me to mean to trust God, even when you can’t see full sense in his ways. It would mean to obey
      > God, including what the Bible says about sex and sexuality.

      The problem there is easily accessible.

      I hope you understand why I see a great deal of irony in your perspective on this?

      > what the Bible says about sex and sexuality.

      That is far from settled. 

      So, unless you are prepared to claim that your interpretation is superior to any other and why, then humility may be more about allowing for different understandings. You can be faithful to your understanding while allowing others to see it differently. There, again, the problem is ‘control’ and wanting to control others…  that’s not humble on my reading.

      pyong hwa, [‘peace’ in Korean]


      1. Thanks Michael,

        No I’m not clear on the irony.

        Yes I feel my interpretation is generally superior. I wouldn’t say my interpretation is superior to *all* others. But I’ve read enough unorthodox interpretations and critiqued enough of them and debated enough to feel that mine makes more sense than many. I prefer not to call it “my” interpretation though, but rather just the conservative/historic interpretation. IE the one that is the backbone to the BoD and to many other denominations including the Catholic Church.

        I think I can see your point about humility of belief. But do we accuse scientists of lack of humility when they embrace debated positions, EG on climate change, or do we accuse Biden of lack of humility when he says Russia are acting inappropriately toward Ukraine. Some positions are contested, but we can still feel confident we have embraced a suitable intellectual position, based on perceptions on strengths of various arguments, while still remaining humble.

        Liked by 1 person

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