Saturday, August 4, 2012

General Convention Chaos and Doughnuts or "Play It Again Sam!"

     A Metaphysics of Complexity is about the fundamentals of universal motion in its manifestation through the complex and chaotic dynamics of nature and human reality and the urge towards fulfillment in its evolutionary self-organizing drive.

     Social complexity sees humanity and institutions as existing always on the edge of chaos because of the impermanence of emotions, thoughts and actions.  Dynamic Social Complexity theory explores the process of social stability by means of signs standing for objects, events and processes that constantly move, change, evolve and transform the social-cultural phenomena.

     In the dynamics of social complexity, Strange Attractors of Meaning (SAM) emerge out of the chaotic dynamics of the thoughts and feelings constantly swarming in the mental space of each individual and groups that form into vortexes of meaning (SAM).

     The Strange Attractors of Meaning are an energy source that exhorts and motivates human action.  They are a source of mental and spiritual energy that moves a social system to growth.  If there are no or weak attractors of meaning behind the social actions then actions are simply meaningless.  Human positive energy dissipates and the counter for of negative energy drives the system into disorder (entropy).  It mean s that the lack of meaningful support, be it mental, emotional or spiritual is incompatible with the growth of the social system.

     When SAMs become a counter force, new meaningful action attractors are brought to life in the mental and spiritual space of the social system.  A spontaneous creation of an attractor happens when the system parameters pass beyond certain critical values.  For example, the House of Bishops and the General Convention have served as a critical SAM in The Episcopal Church, but it is presently passing beyond the point of being an effective attractor energizing the institution.  In turn, a SAM becomes a counter force when it loses its ability to provide positive energy for meaningful and pragmatic action.

     In the case of General Convention and the energy of a House of Bishops the attractor has turned into a Fatal Attractor.  This type of an attractor has a pulling force where energy is focused on maintaining the status quo.  The energy of this attractor puts into operation a special self-protecting and self-justifying mechanisms.  The pulling force of this attractor is achieved by drawing energy to customary internal habits and attitudes and external signs of ecclesiastical and religious authority.

     As a result the General Convention states that the structure needs change, therefore we will examine the issue.  It is at this point where the fatal attraction turns into a torus attractor.  As a system responds to chaos it retains its life by repeating similar but not identical patterns held in place by torus attractors, e.g. National and Diocesan Conventions.  Torus attractors are described as doughnuts as round and around the same circle the events go, never exactly repairing, but never leaving the circumscribed area of power.  The torus motion keeps spinning in circles around the same issue in a stuck loop e.g. We will put it into committee, then into study, then under advisement and back into committee.  It creates an infinite loop intended to go on until the end of time and beyond if possible.

The Episcopal Church as a system in high chaos is in meed of emergence attractors.  New meaningful actions require new Strange Attractors of Meaning.  According to chaos theory the spontaneous creation of an emergence attractor happens when the system suffers a boundary crisis i.e. the torus attractors lose their energy.

     An emergence must occur when the pulling force of torus attractors becomes counterproductive.  A vacuum is created that waits for new creative attractors of meaningful action to stabilize the system and grow.  In complexity theory, these emerging attractors are the small rumblings of butterfly effects that just might cause a massive tornado of deconstruction.

     So what happened at the last General Convention?  Well, we put more sprinkles on the Episcopal Doughnut.  Once again it was an Episcopal Torus Attractor exercise of "Play It Again Sam!"  Meanwhile, we, the butterflies of change, must keep flapping our wings.

This article was written by Bill McVey.  He is on vacation and I am simply his scribe.  Thanks.  Bob Terrill


  1. I always appreciate this blog's essays. I wonder however if it is system chaos or spiritual crisis. I welcome your feedback on my current 5 part series in ECF Vital Practices on Congregational Spiritual Discernment: Anxious Decisions or Passionate Urgency. I don't think we need more systems work even if complex system theory, but rather deeper spiritual deep tissue work. More systems work leads to examination of issues and what the essay critiques. The system of which we are all a part is reproducing the problem in new forms over and over. I also suggest Graham Standish's wonderful new book,Humble Leadership, available through The Alban Institute.

  2. Bob, thank you for posting Bill’s article. The Episcopal Doughnut idea brings to mind the “whirling Dervish” as an additional metaphor. Those who adhere to this practice spin in circles until they get so dizzy they have visions; nothing gets done, of course, except for the headache of those watching.

  3. Strange Attractors of Meaning (SAM) is not a study of issues as much as it is an observation of the relationship of symbols and rituals of meaning. When spirituality is coded into attractors, it provides positive or negative energy for the system. Emerging spirituality becomes new emerging attractors.The concept of chaos and spiritual crisis are really about the same phenomena. Spirituality is about spiritual energy in my construct.
    Joe, thank you for your interest in the blog. I enjoy your responses.
    As soon as, I get the opportunity I will read Humble Leadership. I am presently attempting to define just what we mean by spirituality in the present postmodern dialogue.