a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Process (i.e., note to interested first-time readers)
A series of 3-minute readouts [32, counting this one] regarding the United Methodist Church [UMC] and getting unstuck (beginning here) …. (‘reset’ here and here) …. (last edition) is meant to be generative, not definitive. Non-absolutism is key to “The 95% solution.”
—Scriptural underpinning for ‘The 95% solution‘ (getting unstuck) is Isaiah 43.19; Micah 6.8; John 17; and 2 Corinthians 5.19-20.
From consensus on division to a vision of unity
Last June I decided to try applying Edward de Bono’s ideas regarding thinking to the UMC‘s problem of being stuck.
Many/most leaders have been caught-up in the division over human sexual identity.
“Schismatic division,” many said.
I began looking for unity.
First, it seemed obvious unity already existed around the fact that the UMC was/is having a feud over issues of human sexual identity. Sadly, that unity was/is stuck in a pattern lacking any forward movement (toward the Kingdom of God).
Next, I asserted that I could see another unity that remains largely unrecognized: the vast majority of people on every side of our divisive issues are not absolutists at root. Most people are not all-or-nothing. Based on anecdotes (e.g., from UM Church of the Resurrection), I’ve suggested 95% of UMs are non-absolutists.
Since then, I’ve been looking for connections, trying to reveal and unpack some of the dynamics animating/guiding/driving the UMC discourse, as I perceive it.
Present shape of my ‘getting unstuck’ project
Last week, building directly on the previous week’s post, with a graphic (below) I summarized the problem that has us stuck, i.e., the ill-performing notion that imposing conformity regarding sexual identity universally across national and cultural lines is a prudent idea.
Nope. It’s not.
Even so, for fifty years we’ve been in a modernist-structured battle to determine who gets to do the imposing on the matter of human sexual identity. #facepalm
After all, the possibility of pluralism (political, ideological, spiritual) lives in the core understandings of the people and each individual. True absolutists live within a binary understanding, a cognitive-framework/patterning-system that says, “I am right you are wrong.” The graphic challenges the overreaches of that understanding in very straight-forward terms.
The claim of the graphic isn’t complex and is actually simple commonsense fairness. If human liberty is to exist at all for any of us, it can only do so under a shared basic respect for the liberty of others. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s first degree of love applies here by extension in that we all know the nature of liberty from the inside out.
One reason I appreciate the graphic above is the fact that it works for both sides of the divide we’ve created, and that fact often comes as a surprise to those who are hyper-partisan. For what appears to be far too many people, reckoning with the above graphic affords an opportunity for a mystical experience, i.e., becoming self-aware of one’s own partisan blindness.
Space allows unpacking one example — it calls attention to what liberal hyper-partisans frequently miss. The DW video that I included last week calls attention to the fact that the stated concern coming from Russian sources is that the West is imposing and forcing what Vladimir Putin calls Satanic values (i.e., LGBTQ rights) onto Russia. [cued to the spot, 1:51 to 2:02]:
The matter-of-fact statement of the Russian politics expert, Jenny Mathers, that the Kremlin’s new laws against “LGBTQ propaganda” are just fine with about two thirds of the Russian people “who probably do disapprove of same sex relationships, homosexuality and LGBT people” reveals a space for some interesting conversation about what “imposing” actually means. [cued to the spot, 9:20 to 10:21]:
Compromise is difficult
The Church of England announced a new policy last week and may have found a compromise (“Church of England votes in favour of blessings for same-sex unions,”). The change doesn’t go nearly far enough for either extreme; however it does serve to counter the two chief extreme-overreaches that have been ongoing.
- It counters extreme-conservative initiatives to drive/force the LGBTQ community (and LGBTQ persons) back into the closet.
- It counters extreme-liberal initiatives to impose/force full LGBTQ inclusion universally across national and cultural boundaries.
Opposing/violating the commonsense fairness of the benchmark expressed in the above graphic can only be done on the basis of some kind of perceived privilege. Maybe some believe their personal feelings afford them privilege, or perhaps the way they read their Bible affords them privilege, to claim personal exception in their violation of the standard.
In Russia about two-thirds of the people ‘disapprove of same sex relationships, homosexuality and LGBT people.’ It’s fair to reverse that and say that in the U.S.A. about two-thirds of the people approve of LGBT people. Obviously, even democracy can never fairly decide such questions for universal application.
Next week: Trust Jesus to sort it out.