Narcissism: material/spiritual

Body/mind (material realm)


monkey selfie
Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay || CC0

Natural narcissism

Narcissism is both a natural step in everyone’s human development, and a way of indicating a particular kind of dysfunction some [many?] express. This natural narcissism is the ordinary process of ego development. The Red [CP] values system comes online in direct correspondence with ego development. Natural narcissism is the process of developing the individual self. Mature, healthy CP forms a personal container, the boundary that binds an individual together into a healthy, ego-driven worldview. This ego, this personal container, is a necessary but insufficient aspect of human development. We’ve talked before (Know thyselfabout Martin Buber’s I-It relationshipit’s native to mature, healthy Red. Arrested or Closed CP embodies, “No one tells me what to do!”

Values associated with Red, the third values system include:

…power; ego-centered; control; passion; independence; testing self against others for dominance; winning; exploitive; I-centered; expression; tyranny; instinct; champion; self-referential; self-preserving; emotional; and impulsive values


Dysfunctional narcissism

Pathological narcissism describes a continuing over-emphasis on the self, an overreach of Red [CP] in post-Red contexts—e.g., Blue [DQ]; Orange [ER]; etc. I feel this pathological narcissism is always a matter of degree, variously expressed, and dynamic in relation to Life Conditions [LCs]. Every self truly begins as a narcissist, and even those who grow a sturdy, healthy ego must vigilantly maintain an appropriately balanced relationship with self in the midst of new opportunities, challenges, and changing LCsrecall the confirmation bias.


Sin Red [CP] overreach | pathological narcissism 

You may choose your preferred designation, or framesinRed [CP] overreach | pathological narcissism, but, I feel we’re talking about the same thing. We make note that designating the expression of a particular value system as ‘naïve’ is not an indictment of pathology because naïve expression simply betrays an immature, underdeveloped relationship with the mature version of any particular values system. So, it’s important that we remember that ‘naïve expression’ is not intrinsically sinful.


Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay 

‘Made to grow’

We are made to grow into the fullness of Christ [Ephesians 4.15], however, being underdeveloped is not a sin. Trauma, and other factors, may make development difficult or problematic. Perhaps it would be helpful here to offer Strong’s definition of what ‘sin’ means in the biblical context. The ancient Greek term ἁμαρτία, hamartia: a sin, failure (in an ethical sense), means a loss, or failure, e.g., to have no-share for missing the mark or not hitting the target. Biblically, and in Wesleyan terms, sin is a dysfunctional emphasis on, and relationship with, one’s own self. Missing the mark in favoring the self with regard to balancing the relationship of self and community—justice for both the many and the one


Sin Red meme 3


Soul (spiritual realm)


Wisely, in On Loving God, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) begins his four degrees of love where we all begin, the love of self for one’s own sake. Again, trauma can effect this as we all know of people who do not appear to love themselves. At the very least, Bernard’s developmental schema declares that love of self is the beginning and basis of growth in Love. The first degree is a gift from G-dotherwise how could we experientially know how generous, faithful, gracious, encouraging, and hopeful ‘Love’ is? Bernard’s first degree of Love identifies a mystical reference point that scripture had previously leveraged, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Leviticus 19:18; Matt 22:37—39]


Eucharist 1

Remedial work (healing)

As control is a lynch pin of the Red [CP] values system, it’s also a tell on the dysfunctional narcissism of overreaching Red. The spiritual dimension of healing the overreach of CP has been likened to Falling Upward. The ‘control’ dimension of one’s overreaching Red can make healing feel about like this:



Providence often reveals the necessity of our losing controland it feeling like jumping/flying off a cliff and getting our stuffing knocked out on the way down. In my life, having life-threatening cancer served a good example of this.

Discovering the gifts in our shadow

Some Christian expressions of Blue [DQ] values project sin, or overreaching Red [CP], as a ‘demon’a control spirit. In an enumeration of the gifts handed out by the “one Spirit,” Saint Paul writes, “…to another the discernment of spirits, …” (1 Corinthians 12:10). In my experience, that’s like saying, “It takes one to know one.” A few months back I wrote about widespread ‘demon possession’ in The United Methodist Church [UMC]. [Being a Wounded Healer…] I argued that persons, leaders, and groups on all sides of UMC divisions were expressing the demon possession of a ‘control spirit.’

Empathy only comes the hard way sometimes. Next week, more overreaching Red.

Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: The blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics, a complex developmental anthropology. I  used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).

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Luenig warning cartoon
“Warning,” by Michael Leunig || used with permission, grateful to Leunig Studio

Social discontents…

Descriptors I’ve heard: ‘age of outrage;’ ‘tribal age;’ ‘age of political correctness;’ ‘dominance of elitists;’ ‘everyone living in silos/bubbles;’ ‘chaos;’ ‘tyranny;’ ‘smoldering populist nationalism;’ ‘a polarized society;’ ‘a hateful nation;’ ‘binary vs plural;’ ‘tribal rage;’ ‘age of anxiety,’ to name a few. There’s a grain of truth in each if examined. “Warning” seems an apt header for most any announcement in our broken times (article).


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The cause?

The truth that encompasses this for me is straightforward, and it’s certainly not new. These days most people/groups have little difficulty spotting the flaws in the other [Matthew 7.3-5]. The difficulty is our hyper-individualism and, with it, a widespread lack of self-awareness [Luke 6.41-2]. If I’m steeped in confirmation bias and caught-up in a partisan frenzy, then chances are I feel I’m able to correctly discern all the flaws in any opposing views. However, it’s equally likely that I have no clue about the flaws in my own/groups view. We’ve talked before about how cynical politicians and corporate media interests have exploited, exacerbated, and plundered our polarized society for power and profit. All this conspires against reconciliation, especially with confirmation bias at work. 


bells will be ringing

Double ring…

I’m seeing a pattern, resources that reflect the ability to serve as a gray screen of sorts. Last week I focused the blog (The ‘confirmation bias’) on a double-ring video created by an association of university educators (HxA). By, ‘double-ring,’ I mean resources that reflect/reveal shadow material (blind spots) from both sides of a polarized issue. My post treated ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘confirmation bias,’ and the way HxA is addressing them—e.g., through community, and viewpoint diversity.

The video sparked defensive reactions from both ends of the political spectrum. Obviously, ‘conservatives’ are about protecting orthodoxy and threatened by any notion that is unorthodox. The subtle advantages of heterodoxy, and the more nuanced understandings that attend it, are invisible to most conservatives. Conversely, ‘liberals’ have no problem declaring religious orthodoxy by conservatives an overreach—e.g., denial of LGBT+ rights. However, ‘liberals’ often have great difficulty seeing the frequent overreach of their orthodoxy, both in ideological terms and in forms of extreme political correctness, e.g., shouting/shamming others down.


head to head


Inter vs Intra

The HxA video exposed an inter-values systems debate between the Blue [DQ] values coalition and the Green [FS] values alliance regarding ‘___doxy’ (e.g., orthodox; unorthodox; and heterodox are contested). The video raises uncomfortable aspects of both systems.

This week’s focus is a cartoon illustration by Australian Michael Leunig whose distinctive work is widely recognized. His “Warning” cartoon was just recently published (May 11, 2019) and it exposes an uncomfortable intra-values system tension within the Green [FS] values system. It reveals potential maturation and processing capacity differences of a person/group expressing Green valuese.g., a naïve, or mature relationship with FS. First, we’ll briefly examine Leunig’s cartoon and the rip in Green it depicts. Then, we’ll look at a practical example of a healthy inter-values system’s reconciliation of intra-values system tensions in leading edge FS.

inter vs intra


Every person is a story that belongs within the human communion, and needs to be so recognized. I feel this is the deep code of Green [FS] and the existential ground of the Green value of inclusivity. Without inclusivity it just wouldn’t be FS, it’s non-negotiable. This creates some performative problems that reside in naïve Green’s shadow. In terms of inclusivity, ‘open borders’ reflect a fully realized expression of Green values. However, to think that any open borders policy is practically attainable within present Life Conditions [LC] betrays a naïve, absolutist, simplistic relationship with inclusivity/ FS. Leunig’s cartoon pokes directly at the border and orthodoxy issues. It also tangentially confronts the performative errors that naïve Green is caught in on the border, free-speech, and, by extension, other debates that reflect LC readiness factors.




Mature, healthy Green [FS]: Inclusivity with nuance

Leunig’s cartoon represents a gamma trap that can prevent naïve Green [er/FS] from becoming healthy Green [FS]. Healthy Green has a correction for this. For example, inclusive local churches have overcome the obvious impossibility of naïvely including a registered child sex offender in the life of a congregation. Orange [ER] strategies create additional Blue [DQ] protocols (e.g., constant accompaniment by another adult who serves an accountability and compliance function) that make it possible for a congregation to fully include a pedophile in their love and care. Healthy Blue [DQ] arrangements provide that any protocol violation initiates a process leading to exclusion from full inclusionnote: healthy congregations find ways to safely maintain connection and ministry even if prison becomes a person’s ruling LC.


Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: This blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics, I  used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).

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The ‘confirmation bias’


Image by John Hain from Pixabay || CC0


Viewpoint Diversity?

That I even discovered Heterodox Academy. [HxA] this week was serendipitous. How HxA grasped my attention was synchronistic. I’ll start you off with HxA exactly where I began, with this video: “What is Viewpoint Diversity?” 




I am not sure why this group chose the term ‘heterodox’ as their anchoring word. From looking into the group a little bit this week I can/will speculate. First, how have we conventionally thought about the word ‘heterodox?’ I note that heterodoxy seems to be synonymous with some rather interesting terms.  


heterox definition meme


So, heterodox is a relational term, it takes on its meaning in relation to another term, ‘orthodox.’ The relationship of these two, and their energy, has animated the debate in the United Methodist Church [UMC] for some time. We’ll come back to that.

“Orthodoxy (n) …When everyone’s beliefs line up and dissenters are punished”


The ‘me’ in orthodoxy

Research into the phenomenon didn’t begin until the 1960s, doubtful that Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) had any notion of ‘the confirmation bias’ [CB]. However, from, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 17 (1871), we find Spurgeon saying:

Orthodoxy is my doxy; heterodoxy is anybody else’s doxy who does not agree with me.


Reason,” has a crippling flaw…

The lynch pin of Orange [ER] is rationality. So, I’ve talked before in the blog about confirmation bias [CB], although I have not used that particular designation previously. Three weeks ago in “Know thyself” I wrote:

Further, as we learn from Green [FS] values system thinking, rationality is subjective and often vectors data. 

“Confirmation bias (n) …The tendency to search for, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs.”

With an intrinsic lack of self-awareness regarding this ‘crippling flaw,’ CB is a shadow to Orange [ER] and all that springs from Enlightenment values.


Creation of Adam


Blue [DQ] religious contexts, like churches/denominations, include divine injunction in the formulation of their orthodoxy. This adds a very powerful layer of justification to the confirmation bias impacting the reasoning of most religious communities. If Orange is less than thrilled about Green calling reason and CB into the light, then Blue is even less so. Centuries of forming religious orthodoxy have proceeded with CB in the shadows.

Why ‘heterodoxy‘ as the handle for this group? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a bit provocative in a sense of rebelliousness, a plea to effectively challenge the (unsustainable) status quo? HxA provides its own definition:


heterdoxy meme 1


In religious contexts, heterodox is similar to unorthodox, but adds a tone of dissidence to the unbelief. The relationship of orthodox and unorthodox forms a pure binary. Some church folks like the most colorful, pointed descriptors from the dictionary list of synonyms: ‘heretical,’ ‘blasphemous,’ ‘apostate,’  and, UMC favorites, ‘revisionist,’ and ‘schismatic.’ The notion of heterodoxy—might this be HxA‘s motive in using the term?adds significant nuance to the relationships available with orthodoxy. ‘Constructive disagreement,’ is one example. One member said it this way in an HxA video:

“If you don’t agree with what someone is saying, you don’t just shout them down. You make an argument for what you think.”

HxA seems to challenge social justice activists and offer an opportunity for an alternative to the ‘just-shout-them-down,’ hard deconstructionist postures. The master’s reasoning exploited CB to build the master’s house. However, we don’t abandon rationality because it is flawed, we make reason faithful to the command in Isaiah 1.18.  So, the wisdom to overcome the weakness intrinsic to rationality has been around for a good while. Reasoning together, in diverse community. We’re back to the title of the video and its reconciliation of the CB problem:

“Viewpoint diversity (n) …The only reliable way to get around the confirmation bias.”

The days of homogeneous groups dominating policy determinations for everyone have run their course. HxA makes it a binary in terms of “victory vs truth.” I think this helps HxA focus on what my cursory examination identifies as its prime target: any form of tyranny disrupting the healthy creation and exchange of knowledge.


heterodox meme



I quickly realized the video seems to represent shadow material and pose a threat to folks on both ends of the political spectrumCB works on all sides. The same ‘orthodoxy dynamic’ (e.g., exclusion) is seen clearly at work in both the “traditional” UMC and the “liberal” university system in the US. The UMC uses orthodoxy to exclude LGBT+ persons from the fullness of the church. Some universities and, conversely, some students, use orthodoxy to exclude ideas that deviate from the respective cannon of each, be that academic discipline, pedagogy, or social justice. 

Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: This blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics, I  used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).

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Relentless is change


How do we change difficult things?

Persistence, mostly, I’d say. We keep trying. We keep talking. We persist in our resistance to the causes of our dissatisfaction. This week, an example of a very difficult, very relevant issue in the U.S.A. that has resisted being reconciled for many decades. Contributing to the difficulty, civil rights legislation drove the recalcitrant issue of racism underground.

Original sin

The U.S.A., and its prosperity, was built upon the slave labor of a particular group of people, African people. Obviously, this original sin has left a deep wound on society. The system that was produced by that history/legacy is rigged to work best for white people and disadvantages people of color.


Family of slaves in Georgia, circa 1850 || Creative Commons CC0

How do we gain shared understanding about something as subjective as racism? How do we have public discourse with regard to a particular person’s racism? I’m not talking about complicity with the systemic white supremacy of the U.S.A.—the corporate, institutional, objectifiable, measurable racism that each and every one of us is complicit in by virtue of being U.S. citizens. I’m talking about the willful, white-supremacist racism of individuals.



The racism of an individual, subjective racism, is, well, subjective. It’s internal. In some cases it may be vividly expressed as militantly racist behavior making it difficult to deny. In other instances the speech/behavior may be deemed ‘intentional signaling’ (dog-whistling), however, that can easily be denied. The truth is, it’s impossible to know another’s ‘intentions’ beyond the shadow of any doubt without a truthful, direct report from the subject, a confession.




All this is problematic as it relates to politics. How, as a democratic society, do we talk about an individual and how they relate to white supremacy and racial bigotry? If we feel a person’s behavior and speech reflects that of a racist, can we make a significant claim of that person being a willful racist without their confession of intention? How do we, as a society, do interventions with leaders believed to be racist?

Many see President Trump as a divisive, dark cloud. His political coalition does include those animated by the immigration issue for reasons of maintaining white supremacy as a nation—the silver-lining here is the unintended consequences of the Trump-era climate. A public backlash (and discourse) about many of the difficult issues of our time, such as racism, has arisen.


No dogs negroes Mexicans

U.S. Representative Steve King (Iowa ) has long been on the record as a spokesman for this bigoted view. King tweeted (in his endorsement of Mr. Wilders in Dutch elections): 


King tweet


When called out on it later, King doubled down:

“We’re watching as Western civilization is shrinking in the face of the massive, epic migration that is pouring into Europe. That’s the core of that tweet. They’re importing a different culture, a different civilization … and I say, and Geert Wilders says, Western civilization is a superior civilization — it is the first world.”

We’ve talked a good bit about shadows/projection, here’s an extreme example. Rep. King would likely be nonplussed if you said/asked, “That’s classic white supremacist racism, are you a proud white supremacist?” King’s blindness may be unconscious.


Steve King


When asked if he is a white nationalist or white supremacist, Rep. King responded:

“I don’t answer those questions. I say to people that use those kind of allegations: Use those words a million times, because you’re reducing the value of them every time, and many of the people that use those words and make those allegations and ask those questions can’t even define the words they’re using.” (article




In our social media connected world, novel ways emerge to examine political leaders. People like David Duke, Richard Spencer, et al., who have already voluntarily offered confession of their militant, white-supremacist, racist bigotry. We know without doubt these individuals are racist because they have proudly told the world precisely that. Days of burning crosses, hoods, and hiding identities have given way to tiki torches and emboldened displays of defiance toward any form of racial justice and reconciliation. Has a new window/mirror appeared?




President Trump and Rep. King are both in the category of those who’d never admit being racist. In what seems like affirmation by a kind of reverse projection—the loud and zealous voices of Duke, Spencer, et al.—do we have a new warrant on calling out our leaders’ speech/actions? Does the enthusiastic reaction to Trump by society’s out, openly racist voices  provide a reliable, visible witness to his overt, if unadmitted, racism? Is Trump racist because openly racist folks say so?


David Duke tweet


Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: This blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics, I  used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).

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Visual correction

visual correction
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Nerd disclaimer… 

This post is inordinately focused on Gravesian thought and it very likely falls in the Spiral Dynamics [SD]-nerd category. Read beyond this point at the risk of being deemed a wizard in training [WIT]. It’s likely good to keep in mind, though, I’m probably only about half way on the wizard trail myself [HALFWIT].



Last week: barber polemic

My “Know thyself” piece last week sparked some conversation that stimulated me to go back to the source material. I was pleasantly surprised to find that what I thought was going to be a controversial, contrarian, possibly polemic assertion is actually classic Gravesian orthodoxy. I’ll come back to quote/cite Graves in a bit.



Process and Reality

In the early-nineties I read A.N. Whitehead’s books. His work lead me to a fresh way of understanding G-d — and so indirectly back to Jesus as by then I’d become a lapsed Christian. So, I have always had a soft spot for Process thought. Is that why I have a strong sense that Clare Graves’ thinking was seriously influenced by Whitehead? I had no way to know, so I asked the SDi facebook community if any Graves scholars could affirm or deny. No one knew for sure, although it was observed that it could easily be so because Whitehead was so huge. Very true. Philosophically/theologically, the twentieth century in the West was essentially a rather lofty conversation between Tillich (Being) and Whitehead (Becoming). Whitehead’s process thinking overcomes many dualities and was indeed huge in much of academia in the late 50s, 1960s, and early 70s. Graves’ theory elegantly integrates becoming and being in both/and developmental union. 


double helix
visualization of Gravesian human development

I object!

The elegance of Graves’ theory is that, as Whitehead’s Process, it fully integrates both transcendence and immanence. It deserves to be visualized well. However, a linear double helix mistakenly over-emphasizes transcendence. A barber pole seems a non-starter as an image for human existence/development on two counts. Arguably, the barber pole might be seen as the quintessential visualization of a closed system. And, isn’t a barber pole just a snippet of an extended, linear process, an illusionist’s way of bringing brevity, and novelty to sameness?


barber-pole 1


A closed system is categorically unacceptable from a Process standpoint. The barber pole gives the initial appearance of violating the central principle put forward by Whitehead, namely the creative advance into novelty. A barber pole seems to comport better with Qohelet’s early assertion, “…there is nothing new under the sun,” than with Isaiah’s insistence that G-d declares, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”


young Clare Graves

What did Graves say?

So, my quarrel with Graves’ model turns out to be the selection of one word in the article I’m quoting, and strictly a matter of what I feel is an errant visualization. Drawn from his 1974 paper for The Futurist, “Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap,” Graves writes:

At this point in history, the societal effective leading edge of man in the technologically advanced nations is currently finishing the initial statement of the sixth theme of existence and is beginning again with the first theme in an entirely new and more sophisticated variation.

Makes it seem as if Graves was thinking of a barber pole himself. For reasons we’ve only learned the hard way, to avoid spiritual narcissism it may be more helpful to visualize the “momentous leap” as a möbius leap. Graves’ “…the initial statement…” of a values system is precise. Rather than privilege the visualization of ascension on a never-ending, linear double helix, we imagine a symbol of endless movement, the möbius-like movement of a barber pole.


mobius meme
visualization of Gravesian human development

I have no qualms in seeing a möbius leap into re-alignment and tuning as a vital creative advance into novelty. At such time as individuals and societies have all six themes fully aligned and tuned to Spirit (Love) we can talk some more about what image might best depict that. 

New site cover

new cover 4-26-19 ver 3

Trying out a new page cover [same image, new page/blog title and tag line]. If the new blog title feels like it may stick for a bit, then I’ll declare.

Next week: Red [CP] and narcissism

I confess, I’m a life-long, recovering narcissist. If the top two characteristics society is imprinting on its population right now are narcissism and nihilism, then many ‘wounded healers’ will be required for the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Next week: “material/spiritual narcissism.”

Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: This blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics, a complex developmental anthropology. I  used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).

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Know thyself

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Beyond our shadows

Reportedly, Socrates proclaimed: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Our fullness is only defined by both light and shadow. Our shadows/projections—or lack of self-awareness (blindness)—hide our humanness from us. At some point our spiritual journey [to our full humanness] can go no further until we find some way to grow in self-awareness. The Jo-Hari window formalizes the ‘in-communion’ archetype. 

Stairway to Heaven?

spiral-stairs to Heaven

Light in the shadows


Mark 8.22-25 meme white



The story above provides grounding in Christian Scripture for the developmental dimension of human reality—e.g., we are made to grow in human authenticity with Jesus as our benchmark. Jesus fully exemplifies holistic (holy/non-dual) vision and the Marcan story relates how we gain our holistic sight in stages, in relation to Jesus’ full-embodiment. Holistic vision is attained when one’s sight allows one to truly see people as people—created in the image of G-d, and not merely as objects (“walking trees”).  Martin Buber described it as transformation from an I-It relationship with others to an I-Thou relationship. Our present societal zeitgeist is anathema to humanness development.


Surgical precision



Pick most any significant issue these days and I’ll show you a food fight. Compared to that, having Graves’ work and Spiral Dynamics [SD] as a tool to analyze all sides of an issue is like having a boundary-breaking laser pointer. For instance, in this blog space I’ve used the SD tool to criticize both sides of the LGBT+ debate in the United Methodist Church on the hope that anthropology can provide a means to free-up a Gamma-trapped (see Being stuck) theology/ecclesiology debate (see Do no harm).


“The map is not the territory” ~ Korzybski 


Alfred_Korzybski quote


As all rational models, SD is an expression of Orange [ER] values (here). Even though Orange is grounded in the created sphererationality, science, data,’s crucial we are self-aware with respect to ER when using any model. Orange models/maps regarding humans are largely heuristic. Further, as we learn from Green [FS] values system thinking, rationality is subjective and often vectors data. The chief difficulty in seeing holistically with an Orange developmental model is rationality tends to conflate the material and spiritual spheres. Even more problematic, ER projects the myth of progress as a shadow into the models/maps of reality it creates (e.g., perennial Tower of Babel project). 


My Destination


Log in own eye

The effect of the Integral school’s mapping of Graves’ thinking onto the Integral “AQAL” model has greatly confused the relationship between SD‘s development (in terms of evolutionary/human progressand spiritual development (seen here in terms of growing in humanness). Some have called Ken Wilber’s [KW] contribution to SDi “helpfully wrong.” True, but helpful only in the sense of revealing the mistake of confusing/conflating the spheres. In fairness, some of KW‘s thought integrates nicely with SD, e.g., principle of transcend and include, and the quadrant (pronouns/interiors/exteriors/singular/plural) model (not AQAL). 




Imagine the ocean pictured represents human life: human souls spiritually working out our humanness in/through the Beige [AN] thru Green [FS] values systems. Now, imagine the step ladder rising above the ocean is the SDi model (think periscope), and the man pictured is you on top looking down knowing the crucial importance of all the values systems in the ocean of humanness.

Integral philosophy essentially stacks spirituality on top of the material sphere. The difficulty can be visualized. So, imagine higher development in integral spirituality as an extension ladder teetering atop the step ladder. Sadly, KW‘s insistence on a unified-theory model is a recipe for disembodiment. The “Integral” model, with its Tiers Two and Three, inadvertently (via projection) actualizes the (Gnostic) mistake. 


ladder illustration

A KW disciple (unconsciously) sings the problem…


“The higher that we climb, the more the ladder sways.”

Now, that’s dangerously, existentially true for evolutionand SD, an evolutionary theory. However, it is totally untrue for spirituality.

Wedding cakes have tiers; ranks of presidential candidates have tiers; sporting cathedral seating is tiered. However, stages of human development are not tiered. Well, at least not in the way I’ve heard tiers conceived/used by many in the SDi and Integral communities. Yes, mindful use of the step ladder for perspective is prudent. However, the extension ladder going up from there is an ego-bound distraction that leads away from our aim: union. 


tiered cake


I’d suggest the SD spiral is much better visualized as:



Wisdom loop…


mobius meme


My SD friend from Russia, Anatoly Balyaev, said it: “go downstairs by the ladder leading upstairs.” Precisely!

So, I and Thou. Follow Jesus. Be a Bodhisattva. 

Easter ~ Please read this very beautiful story by AnatolyVso svazano (“Connection”)



Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: This blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics. I  used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).

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Brilliant! Sometimes.

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The Orange [ER] vMEME

A brief review for any new readers joining today. Previously in this space, I’ve enumerated some values attending the Orange vMEME system:

Orange [ERvMEME: ‘merit‘ values.e.g., world-aware, nation-state, rational, individualistic, scientific, ‘formal operational reasoning,’ democratic, innovative, capitalistic, free market, competition, prosperity, modern, Enlightenment values.

The values attending the fifth values system emerged en masse in the West through The Enlightenment. Arguably, Orange values have done more than any other values system to raise the standard of living and bring the benefits of progress to more human beings around the globe. The entrepreneurial/capitalistic aspiration of ‘making a dollar’ is a very powerful motivation to action and expansion. ‘Prosperity’ is an intentionally desired aim/outcome of ER values. We find the ‘prosperity gospel’ is an unintended consequence (shadow appropriation) that sometimes occurs when Blue [DQ] churches/leaders meet Orange values.


bible 1

The Bible and other ancient texts indicate prosperity was enjoyed by some people even back in antiquity. Seemingly the question has always been, ‘who gets to benefit from prosperity, and at what price?’

As ever, a lack of self-awareness (shadow/blindness) may attend any given vMEMEtic expression and the Orange [ER] vMEME is no exception. The notion of ‘privilege’ is native to the question of prosperity anywhere it is found. As brilliant as Orange can be in what its values create (e.,g., man on moon!), in matters of simple human decency, ER often has absolutely no clue at all. This brief video journals the wake-up call offered by U.S. Representative Katie Porter to financial executive Jamie Dimon regarding his shadow-laden Orange values: 


Thanks to congresswoman Porter for her preparation and tenaciousness!

I’m not trying to argue that Orange [ER] values have not created many benefits, clearly they have. However, I am arguing that Orange can be clueless regarding decency. Last week I wondered if (ER) capitalistic values are best in every instance:


ER and healthcare meme


This week perhaps we need to extend this concern. What if we change the focus of the above question from human healthcare to environmental health?


ER and Environment meme

If archetypal to the Orange [ER] vMEME is the idea of merit, then any culture, e.g., social/political/economic system, that equates money with merit will tend to discount the above, and other important questions, and dismiss them as outside the Overton window of that system’s values. I recently asked a couple rather provocative questions in some of my conversation contexts: 

Is there money in Heaven?

Does the Church work to eliminate the institution of money?


If we pray “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” then we need to know: is money G-d’s will? (article)

Orange is driven to innovate. However, eternally ‘growing the pie’ isn’t sustainable and soon comes into conflict with the interests of the environment and eventually even the interests of the very human beings economies are meant to serve.


Kevin Kelly 12 Technologies shaping our world


In his 2016 eBook, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our World, author and co-founder of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly, writes:

Most of the important technologies that will dominate life 30 years from now have not yet been invented.

I’ve not read the book, I saw the quote on Dr. Leonard Sweet’s Facebook page. I’m planning to really begin tackling the chief shadow that operates upon the Orange vMEME next week, however, Kelly’s grand assertion is an opening to ER shadows.

My reaction to Kelly’s assertion was visceral. I wondered if the arrogance and hubris evident in Mr. Kelly’s prediction stopped for even one second to consider if individual humans and society can even stand the strain of the continued onslaught of that kind of change. Some early indicators say our impromptu human experiment with social media technology is producing some dour unintended consequences in our society/world, especially in young people (article).


smartphone critique for blog
Disclaimer: This reflects my privileged, first-world context. In the two-thirds, developing world smartphones are a different matter.

Further, we are well into what the techies call the fourth industrial revolution. This time Orange innovation is creating wholesale human displacement. I’ve shared this Pope Francis quote before in another context, it fits here, too: 

economy not for humans

Our economy is investing in the means to simply cut humans out of the employment loop. Not just factory jobs: the delivery truck driver, your Uber driver, retail clerk, banker, lawyer, accountant, even your doctor or minster may soon be a machine (article). Of course, the poor and most vulnerable are always hit first/hardest (article).


Robots Industrial

Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: This blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics, a complex developmental anthropology. I  used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).

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SD Worldview Color Key

Bonus video

Lawrence O’Donnell and Rep. Porter talk on The Last Word about what Dimon missed:


Robots Industrial