Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Strategic Planning Committee discusses "The Goals of the Orthodox Church in America -- the Next Twenty Years"

December 23, 2009
Latest update:
December 24, 2009

Metropolitan Jonah and members of the Strategic Planning Committee

In reading the account of the December 14, 2009 meeting of the 10-member Strategic Planning Committee of the Metropolitan Council (MCSPC), several items caught my eye. They heartened my waning optimism for the OCA in general and for our local St. Dimitri of Rostov Mission in particular.

Metropolitan Jonah said, "The Church must manifest in and to the world this perfect Love and Life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To image God's life her own life must mirror this mystery of hierarchy and conciliarity in love. She has no 'agenda' separate from this mission…"

According to the MCSPC, "this work will require the Church to describe her mission and how it can be implemented in the present time in America including, as necessary, a reexamination of administrative structures and governing Statutes.

"…This means that very soon all the faithful of dioceses and parishes will be encouraged to know what concerns the bishops and teachers of the Church have expressed; to respond to these concerns; and to expand upon these concerns and ideas in order to refine and advance the Church's mission.

"…This work has been stifled by a confusion of terms and goals among Orthodox themselves, and by an unfortunate and unnecessary conflict of two essential terms, which are of the essence of the life of the Holy Trinity, and therefore of the Church: the terms hierarchy and conciliarity. Through a concerted, intentional engagement of the whole Church, we hope to overcome such confusion and to render ourselves open to receiving God's word for the Church's life and work for our time."

I awoke this morning (December 23) with the above diagram in mind, wondering if it would produce the cross I'd imagined from the terms "hierarchy" and "conciliarity". It didn't quite fit, as you can see, but perhaps you get the idea.

Then, a 2004 conversation came to mind between Ken Wilber and Robert Kegan, published on the Integral Institute website. The title of the conversation hooked me, since I was then still struggling to understand my Mormon background and my many Mormon family members and friends. This was before I began investigating Orthodoxy. This remembered conversation resolved my conflict between these two above-mentioned words.

Unless an ecclesiastical hierarchy is, itself, spiritually true and healthy, it cannot expect conciliarity to thrive. Here is what Harvard Professor Robert Kegan has to say about how to heal any unhealthy external hierarchy.

The Evolving Self. Why the Hierarchy Within Can Heal the Hierarchy Without
by Robert Kegan

Note: (Quoting from the Integral Institute article):
"Robert Kegan is a founding member of Integral Institute and the author of the critically acclaimed books The Evolving Self, In Over Our Heads, and How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work.

"Bob is the first-ever Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As the holder of this endowed chair, Bob has the official support of HGSE to pursue developmental studies for the rest of his career.

"This is significant. For the past several decades developmental studies have fallen upon some hard times in academia. For many, to have a developmental view is to be hierarchical—and to be hierarchical is to be oppressive, regressive, patriarchal, and a direct contributor to the suffering of untold millions. The fact that the HGSE has decided to so clearly support Bob's work is a welcome sign that the winds may be shifting

"It's important to note that there are (at least) two significantly different ways that "hierarchy" can be understood: as it exists in the exterior structure of a society and as it exists in the interior structure of an individual. Historically, enormous abuses of power have occurred by those at the top of a societal hierarchy—but those who would do so are by definition not at the higher stages of the interior, developmental hierarchy.

"Psychologically, people grow through stages of increasing competence, care, and concern. Each stage transcends and includes the function of what came before, but excludes an exclusive identity with that function.

"In Bob's work he outlines Five Orders of Consciousness:
First Order: Impulsive—Perceives and responds by emotion.
Second Order: Imperial—Motivated solely by one's desires.
Third Order: Interpersonal—Defined by the group.
Fourth Order: Institutional—Self directed, self authoring.
Fifth Order: Interindividual—Interpenetration of self systems.
Loosely, one can think of the first and second orders as egocentric (me), the third order as ethnocentric (us), and the fourth and fifth orders as worldcentric (all of us). If one grows from egocentric to ethnocentric, one doesn't stop caring about oneself, but that care and concern is now extended to one's family, community, nation, and so on. Likewise with the growth from ethnocentric to worldcentric, that care is now extended to all people regardless of race, class, creed, gender, etc.

"A person at the top of this interior hierarchy, i.e. worldcentric, would categorically never use any power given to them by a social hierarchy for less than worldcentric reasons. Needless to say, Hitler was not a worldcentric individual.

"As Bob points out, one of the most complete ways to illustrate how levels of developmental complexity exist in the subjective, intersubjective, objective, and interobjective aspects of reality is the following diagram of Ken's:

"The Five Orders of Consciousness exist in the intentional (I) quadrant, but their influence permeates the behavioral (it), cultural (we), and social (its) quadrants. Likewise, those domains can influence the speed at which one does or does not evolve through the Five Orders."

Returning to Metropolitan Jonah's new vision for the OCA, I cannot help wonder if these Strategic Planning Committee meetings portend a complete return to the essential mission that Metropolitan Jonah has articulated. Could it be that the above mentioned restructuring (i.e., perestroika?!) would ever include the OCA hierarchy deciding to lead the way by divesting itself of the extravagant imperialistic ecclesiastical trappings that began to creep into and corrupt the church during Constantine's reign?

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