Sunday 16 December 2007

Don’t make a Drama out of a Crisis

People have been asking me all about last Friday, the first of my 3 days as a guinea pig on a research project about Integrative Complexity. It’s resourced by theologically literate Cambridge research psychologists. What did I learn, and what is Integrative Complexity anyway?
  1. You measure IC by language — not what’s said, but how it’s said. It’s a psychological discipline, grounded in our understanding of the functions of different brain parts, and with a big experimental base. People studying Osama’s IC level (as you do) noticed it hit the floor just before 9/11.
  2. People Integrate Complexity, when they hold the whole picture = all the particular information in a diverse field simultaneously. Telescoping things into simple yes/no’s, Not relating them, or eliminating them are strategies for avoiding rather than integrating complexity. If you can hold things in view for what they actually are in their own terms, you achieve higher integration. The higher your integrated complexity level, the higher your capacity to understand, and the less likely you are to end up punching people's lights out.
  3. OK, Wittgenstein fans! Remember those Duck/rabbits? being realistic about what you see and not telescoping one into the other whilst remaining aware of both possibilities, demands a higher level of IC than the ‘be right and persist’ approach.
  4. Hi-IC isn’t always the best way. Some situations call for it and others don’t. Before World War 2, for example Hitler’s low IC posturing required Churchill’s low IC, not Neville Chamberlain’s high IC response. We studied a five-phase model of how people evolve tension into full scale wars, along with tell-tale signs of transition between stages. We also worked through other case studies, using an IC toolbox.
Violence flares from low to obscenely high in ways that can be described in almost any context. This study is all about how religious leaders use and could use IC awareness in leadership. Different approaches to faith and leadership profile differently in IC terms. This study is finding out how.

Why bother? Scripture tells Christian leaders to accept the prospect of conflict, but to aim for peace and steer away strenuously from fruitless punch-ups. I want to learn how. I am particularly interested, having written a thesis on religious conflict in the Church of England between 1880-1914. I’m furiously scribbling questionaires, writing up notes, and looking forward to stage 2 next year. Watch this space...


BanjoVicar said...

Sounds intersting - is there an "idiot's guide" that could introduce me to the subject?

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Not sure, Steve. Funnily enough I asked Sarah exactly the same question and she said she'd get the reading list together for next time!

I think this method's been used for a while for politicians, but this si the first time people have tried to do it for religious language. Both the research psychologists were also trained theologians.

There was particularly interesting pilot they'd done on Conservative as opposed to Liberal Christians, where they freely admit they'd expected to find a higher degree of IC in the more liberal clergy, but found the same levels in both, but with a higher degree of acuity within the field in the Conservative clergy, and slightly higher contextual awareness in the Liberals. But the IC levels were basically the same.

I'll post more info when Ive got it!

as ever


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