a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
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) (here) (last week) is meant to be generative, not definitive. Non-absolutism is key to “The 95% solution.”
Related current events
This week the Judicial Council of the UMC made its decision regarding delegate eligibility for the 2024 General Conference (UM News story here). Reaction is largely divided. The perspective of the rank/file person analyzing the decision strongly vectors/colors their perception of it.
Perception is key
Recall, de Bono recounts in I Am Right You Are Wrong [IARYAW, pg. 42]:
“For twenty-four centuries we have put all our intellectual effort into the logic of reason rather than the logic of perception. Yet in the conduct of human affairs perception is far more important. Why have we made this mistake?”
“We did not like the vagueness, subjectivity and variability of perception and sought refuge in the solid absolutes of truth and logic.”
“Perceptual truth is different from constructed truth.”
“We have never understood perception.”
Traditional thinking [TT] produces a “constructed truth.” As TT is logic grounded in language and reason (argumentation) — i.e., a belief system — it is vulnerable to subjective vectoring (as postmodern thought has revealed).
“An intelligent person can always win an argument by choosing perceptions, values and circumstances to fit the logic. [IARYAW, pg. 28]
“Our logic system carried through into language (and particularly the false dichotomies necessary in order to operate the principle of contradiction) have created and crystallized perceptions that are crude and polarized — of the ‘right/wrong’ and ‘us/them’ type. Logic cannot change beliefs and prejudices but can be used to reinforce them and solidify the perceptions. [IARYAW, pg. 40]
“A belief is a perceptual framework which leads us to see the world in a way which reinforces that framework. This circularity is a very natural function of a self-organizing patterning system, so beliefs are very easy to form. In a sense ‘belief’ is the truth of a perceptual system.” [IARYAW, pg. 212]
“I never would have seen it if I hadn’t of believed it myself.” —Yogiism
Church people are exposed to the same systematic sorting and polarization process that the entire society has experienced over the past 30 years. Many would describe the present divisions in church/society this way:
Others share a perspective that perceives no center; everyone has a side, they say. That view models more like the following with a shared tangent point (i.e., non-absolutism) for the ~95% group — I’ve called both 2% extremist groups: absolutists:
I’m more aligned with the latter view for a couple of reasons.
First, anecdotally, most of my interlocutors are of the latter variety and have difficulty accepting that anyone might still be on the fence about anything. Further, many assert there’s a moral obligation to pick a “side.” Enter “virtue signaling” — we used to call it “dog-whistling.” I’ve suggested this is the structural result of our faulty premises (“premises create structure”).
Second, it more accurately distinguishes the ~5% from the ~95%. Primarily, it is helpful in visualizing a unity and illustrates that, no matter their perspective, there is no light between those within the unity of the ~95% (they’re non-absolutists).
Sadly, the ‘we’re hopelessly divided (48% vs 48%)’ narrative is a constructed truth that has crystallized our schismatic perception. Fifty years of TT and extremist rhetoric has ossified our perceptions into a rigid circular pattern (i.e., belief system) in which we’re stuck.
In our extremely polarized state, will we even know basic fairness in our midst when we see it?
A seemingly odd question that I learned the value of this past week in a casual conversation.
So, to test the question, I thought, perhaps a little po.
If “fairness” is in question, then let’s make our penultimate commitment ‘basic fairness’ on a universal basis that integrates proximity and so translates locally in everyone’s own favor:
I posted the above graphic to the UM Clergy group (on Facebook) with an invitation for anyone to make their case if they had any argument against my fairness claim. No refutations, albeit one clergy person did express that they had “no interest in fairness in that regard,” but “restorative justice only.” Wait, doesn’t that cancel the insight of Jesus’ po (i.e., parable) of the laborers in the vineyard? — cf. Mathew 20.1-16. Because, I wasn’t aware that restorative justice disregards basic fairness.
Marc Cohn powerfully captures the ‘belief’ dynamic, …“Ma’am I am tonight” ….