[UMC] patterns and change [2]


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


Serial narration


This “[UMC] …” series of 3-minute readouts regarding the United Methodist Church [UMC] and getting unstuck (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (‘reset’ here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (last week) is meant to be generative, not definitive. “Compatibilism” is key to “The 95% solution.” 

—Scriptural underpinning for ‘The 95% solution‘ is Isaiah 43.19; Micah 6.8; John 17; and 2 Corinthians 5.19-20



Key stepping stones

Of course, The People Called United Methodist [UMC] (and the institutions that structure them) are the sum of many, many patterns. We’ve been looking at the pattern we call ‘schism’ and have considered its prominent positioning as primary (i.e., relative to the denominational, General Conference scale).

—Note: please recall, my hypothesis attributes many of the problems we’ve been describing in this project  to being the product of unintended consequences. This is key. There are no accusations of intentional maliciousness or harm; although, as we saw two weeks ago (here), John 9 indicates that Jesus appreciates (and nuances) the complexity of the ‘intention’ question.



A journey

Almost six months ago we began with “premises create structure.” I described our schismatic context as structurally driven. For a host of reasons, our primary pattern’s chief shared narrative is that we are hopelessly divided (roughly 52% vs 48%) on the issue of human sexual identity. Of course, our society is caught in a parallel dynamic thanks to almost thirty years of what Ezra Kline describes as a sorting and polarization process. We’ve observed that the process has been systematic.



Using Edward de Bono’s notion of traditional thinking [TT] (rock logic), I’ve suggested that our language (especially our infamous “prohibitive language”) and thought-forms are the “premises” serving to “create” and shape our schismatic “structure.

Recall, de Bono’s lateral thinking [LT] (water logic) model is grounded in a contrarian way of thinking about the brain/mind. To de Bono, perception bears the capacity to enact (and work in parallel with) the brain’s way of operating. The brain, so de Bono, is a self-organizing information system that utilizes patterns and pattern recognition to operate.  

In de Bono’s view, TT is necessary but not sufficient. TT lacks generative, design and creative capacity. I suggest that, in a way, it’s like TT is custom-made to be harnessed and exploited for the purposes of sorting and polarizing a population. Again, I do not think that the GG3 [Greek gang of three] or the Renaissance thinkers had any notion, let alone intention, of such an eventuality. 


Patterns are prominent

*Information* animates de Bono’s brain system to create sense-making; i.e., information is self-organized by/through patterns. In I Am Right You Are Wrong [IARYAW], de Bono writes:

In a patterning system there is the main track and there are many side-tracks. If the mind had to stop at every sidetrack to explore its potential, life would be impossibly slow and there would be no point in having a patterning system. In addition there would be a need for a second mind to make these decisions and then a third mind to make its decisions . . . and so on. [pg. 87]

The brain is much better organized than that. The natural and intrinsic [behavior] of the system I have described ensures that at any point the most probable path forward is enhanced and a less probable side-track (even if only slightly less probable) would be totally suppressed for the moment. So for the moment the side-tracks do not actually exist. We sail along the main track without dithering and with full confidence. [pg. 88]

Let’s build on Johnny’s story from last week. In IARYAW de Bono writes:

If however we ‘somehow’ jump to the side-track or even start out on the side track, the path back to the original point is very easy along the side-track. This is classical asymmetry…

If we ‘somehow’ get across from the main track to the side-track, in ‘hindsight’ we can see that the track back is obvious. This is the essence of [humor]. … Something which could not be obvious in foresight is obvious in hindsight. [pg. 88]

In terms of our project, the main track, i.e., ‘52% vs 48% division regarding human sexual identity,’ dominates the view. That main track view obfuscates any potential side-track view, e.g., claiming a 95% unity appears in foresight to be as absurd as Johnny taking the one dollar coin.  

We’ll continue with perception and patterns, and add perspective next time. 



po overall the UMC reflects a 95% unity.

I’m not denying the apparent ‘52% vs 48% division in the UMC on the issue of human sexual identity;’ I’ve said it’s structural and that it’s “the main track” pattern/narrative. My point has been that it’s not the only fair description. When I began suggesting a 95%-unity way of seeing the UMC (i.e., on a non-absolutist metric), I was quickly countered by many folks who clearly perceived the notion as absurd. 
Little dog, Giorgio (“rock logic”), and big dog, Ralph (“water logic”) ….


Your thoughts?



2 thoughts on “[UMC] patterns and change [2]

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