a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
This “[UMC] …” series of 3-minute readouts on the present climate within the United Methodist Church [UMC] (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (‘reset’ here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (last week), is meant to be generative, not definitive. The expressions I’m using for the project are evolving. “Compatibilism” [and its attending humility (Micah 6.8)] is key to “The 95% solution.” Some insight from last week:
In light of our prior discussion of the prohibitive language in the UMC Book of Discipline [B.o.D.], I wanted to generate a discussion in some Facebook groups about controlling others. Specifically, I wanted to discuss this 95% solution meme:
However, stated that straightforwardly, the problem seems just too threatening in the context of the UMC discourse regarding inclusion. I wasn’t confident it could generate enough trust to elicit wide engagement, or even any engagement at all.
So, I incorporated a more general, less direct way that I hoped might allow folks to tip-toe into a discussion. I created this graphic, introducing it with an overarching question:
“Does your Christian paradigm align more closely with 1 or 2?”
The idea was to invite interlocutors to participate within the space provided by a somewhat vague graphic. Hopefully, those who pick “1” would provide examples of ways that ‘Love’ and ‘control’ relate in their Christian worldview. Additionally, conversation with those picking “2” could render different perspectives when the question of self-control (Galatians 5.22-23) is subsequently introduced, e.g., how does ‘Love’ relate to ‘the fruit of the Spirit?’
“Evidence of concept?”
This 95% solution project has been my effort to apply Edward de Bono’s work to the problem of the UMC‘s closed thinking. In the “Love/Control” graphic, at least resonating with de Bono’s “PO” and with C.S. Pierce’s notion of abductive reasoning, my idea is to offer an intentionally open space within which new/different ideas might be able to emerge. So, from my perspective as author of the project, the best possible outcome is whenever an interlocutor reads back my (deliberately ambiguous) text/media to me in a way I hadn’t imagined.
So, I posted the graphic, and one of the responses struck me as quite curious. My interlocutor wrote:
“I mean I’m not sure if I feel seen or convicted. “
I thought about it, and yet I couldn’t come up with any way of understanding the words in relation to my graphic. So, I replied:
“I don’t know what you mean, but I’m generally pretty bullish on laughter, so, yeah.”
To my delight, they wrote back:
“…being seen as in ‘you get me’ or being convicted like ‘maybe I shouldn’t love control quite so much.'”
I’d been thinking about and focused on the question of whether or not controlling others (like through LGBTQ prohibitive language) had anything to do with Love; and so their idea surprised me like a rabbit out of a hat. I mean, I just hadn’t seen that my graphic could be about one’s personal love of being in control, distinguished from one who personally does not love being in control; but, of course, it very plainly could.
Some folks called for more information, so I created this graphic:
Before anyone had a chance to comment, I realized that the relationships weren’t correct — that self-control and control of others do not conflate very much, if at all. So, I created this more granular graphic:
Of course, several different potential variations spring from this formula. Here are some examples:
So, I wrote back to my delightful conversation partner: “…if I had skipped directly to the more granular graphic, I would have missed your insight!”
Disrupting rigid stuckness is no mean feat
As usual, missive space is limited; so, I’ll end with some de Bono excerpts from page 226 of Lateral Thinking:
Lateral thinking could be said to be the management of PO just as logical thinking is the management of NO.
PO is to lateral thinking what NO is to logical thinking. NO is a rejection tool. PO is an insight restructuring tool.
Although both NO and PO function as language tools the operations they carry out are totally different. NO is a judgment device. PO is an antijudgment device.
Lateral thinking deals with the patterning of information not the judgment of those patterns.
—My tentative plan for next week’s missive is to take a somewhat closer look at de Bono’s ideas in Lateral Thinking.
I suppose the hypothesis I’m testing in this project is: “Can I apply Lateral Thinking to disrupt anyone’s perspective in the rigidly closed system we call the UMC?” I’d like to think it’s possible.
The relationship of Love and control is no routine matter to uncover and discuss; however, for a long time now, it has been one way to understand a root problem in the UMC.
—I note that the North Georgia Annual Conference issued a hopeful statement (here). I find it in harmony with The 95% solution.