In my previous post about enemy imagery, I spoke about various types of enemies we conjure up in our imagination and I touched briefly about how we might circumvent those thoughts by converting foe feelings into friend feelings.  With the end goal in mind of becoming a Zion people, I want to go a bit deeper into integral theory, including Holons and Spiral Dynamics and provide a framework.  In the next installment, I will tie it all together by discussing how dissolving current enemy imagery can affect the future for the better.  Buzz kill alert, for all my Trekkie fans Holons have nothing to do with worm holes or Klingons.

Integral Theory

To begin, I want to talk about Integral theory.  I was first introduced to integral study by Alan Seid in a workshop on Non Violent Communication in which he presented Ken Wilburs work with integral theory.  Integral theory “seeks to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching.” (Esbjörn-Hargens, S. (2010). Introduction. In Esbjörn-Hargens (ed.) Integral Theory in Action: Applied, Theoretical, and Constructive Perspectives on the AQAL Model. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press)  The building blocks of integral theory are made up of the concept of a whole/part.  Everything in the universe is made up of whole/parts and each whole part is built on another whole/part.  So to break it down in Mormon terms.  A WHOLE Ward is made up of several PARTS we call family’s/people  Several PARTS we call Wards make up a WHOLE Stake.  So a Ward is a WHOLE and a PART.  Ken Wilbur postulates that the universe is not made up of things or processes.  It is made up of these wholes/parts called Holons.  This is just a simple example in the Mormon experience to llustrates the concept of a Holon.  There is more to it though, so let me extrapolate the various aspects of a Holon to provide better idea of what it is and how it applies to everything.

 A Holon Dissection

A Holon has four intrinsic dimensions that cannot be reduced to any of the others represented within a quadrant system.


Each quadrant can be identified by its placement and the pronominalized language surrounding it.


Upper Left (UL), Upper Right (UR), Lower Left (LL), and Lower Right (LR)

The interior individual (UL) quadrant is referred to as the “I” or Experience (I, you) quadrant.

The exterior individual (UR) quadrant is referred to as the “it” or Behavioral/Measurable (it, that) quadrant.

The interior collective (LL) quadrant is referred to as the “we” or  Mutual Understanding (we, they, us, them) quadrant

The exterior collective (LR) quadrant is often referred to as the “its” or Systems (its, those) quadrant.


The UL gives insight into what is perceivable

The UR informs as to what is observable

The LL connects via cultural identity

The LR accesses infrastructure


Now when we see this perspective of the Holon we can take any concept, idea or thing and place it on this model and gain greater perspective.  A ward can be an individual and a collective and can be viewed from within and without.  Imagine the interior experience of a bishop the interior individual (UL), compared to what we most see the exterior individual (UR).  Then there is the counsel of bishops that meet and share a collective experience amongst themselves a mini-culture of sorts (LL).  Now that I have shared that such a council exists called a council of bishops, we can talk about it as to the form and structure it takes and how each Stake has one (LR).  Even as we speak to the collective exterior form of a Bishop, we can see that a collective is referenced in language as if it were an whole entity in and of itself.  Think of how this might change our perspective if we believe that a bishop acts alone in making decisions regarding the affairs of a ward.  Not only does he draw on his own experience but also the collective experience of the Bishops council, the Stake President, as well as his own councilors.  This collective wisdom along with scripture and the Spirit form a powerhouse from which to draw upon and use to take decisions to the Lord for Spiritual Confirmation.  (D & C 9:8)



Next, I want to take the concept of a Holon and see how it might enlighten us regarding being gay or experiencing SSA (same sex attraction).  Specifically, I want us to see how we might dissolve our enemy imagery by applying this concept of Holon to sexuality, Straight, Gay, Same-sex Attraction, etc.

Homosexuality Holon


Homosexuality Holon

Homosexuality Holon


I want to recognize that you can substitute the terms lesbian and bisexual with the term gay and the Holon stays true.  You can substitute the requisite terms for straight, heterosexual and opposite sex attracted or OSA and the Holon remains true as well.  In light of Lisa Diamonds work regarding the fluidity of sexuality, I wonder if the terms LGBS are even reductionistic, painting people into a box to which they are culturally blinded or even bullied into a pathologically frozen pseudo-Holon of sexuality.

Gay ? Stupid

Conversely, using the term “gay” in reference to something stupid doesn’t hold up to this Holon but if we were discussing a Holon in reference to the concept of stupid, the term “gay” would most likely be in the right column in reference to an exterior individuals behavior such as playing basketball is “gay”.  Though it could refer to an exterior collective like those cars are “gay”.

Spiral Dynamics

In integral theory, as Holons begin to evolve we move into the realm of Spiral Dynamics.  Spiral Dynamics argues that human nature is not fixed: humans are able, when forced by life conditions, to adapt to their environment by constructing new, more complex, conceptual models of the world that allow them to handle the new problems.  Each new model transcends and includes all previous models. (Van Marrewijk, Marcel. “Strategic Orientations: Multiple Ways for Implementing Sustainable Performance.” Technology and Investment, 2010, 1, 85-96. PDF, doi:10.4236/ti.2010.12010)

Spiral Dynamics of a Ward-Stake-Worldwide Church

In integral theory we look at Holons through Spiral Dynamics and see how an individual Ward functions and on the next level an individual Stake functions and on the next level the Worldwide Church.

Church Leadership functions at each with each reflective organizational structures. Some would call this a hierarchy but when you look at it functionally it really functions as a holarchy of hierarchies.  By this I mean that an Sunday School President does not directly report to the Stake Sunday School Presidency, though he might receive support and council.  Ultimately he reports to the Bishop and Ward council.  The same holds true of the Stake Sunday School President and General Sunday School President.  The disparity is much more profound, yet the General Sunday School President has a profound influence on the ward Sunday School President through curriculum correlation and input to the church handbook and policies.  A hierarchy is a structure often seen as a system to describe power.  A holarchy describes a dynamic system of Holons from micro to macro and vice versa.

Birds Eye View of Spiral Dynamic Systems

A generically applied Spiral Dynamic system can be seen in the developmental structure of society as a whole.



Spiral Dynamics Model with Relative holons


Pre-modern — Modern — Post-modern, Post-post modern

(art, music, plays, politics, food, etc)

In general one can look at Spiral Dynamics in a structure that developmentally moves through this pre and post structure and see how a Holonic construct potentially evolves and even devolves.

Spiral Dynamics in the Book of Mormon Challenge

Through out the Book of Mormon you can see a Dynamic Spiral often called the Pride cycle occur.

Compare this link to various incidents within the Book of Mormon.

Spiral Dynamics of North Star Challenge

Notice also  how even North Star’s Mission is a three tier spiral dynamic of Holons.

Solitude (Pre-community)

How I experience solitude (UL),

exhibit solitude (UR),

identify with those who seek solitude culturally (LL),

and find infrastructure like temples, ashrams, and meditation institutions and sites throughout the world (LR).

Community and Ministry (Post-Community)

Using what you know, apply the Holon Quadrant System to the concepts of Community and Ministry.

Bringing it All Together

Finally, referring back to the Holon of Homosexuality.  Ex-gay seems to be a devolution into warrior consciousness (see link) as opposed to an evolution into an integral consciousness (see link again).   Currently society has moved from a Pre-Gay Era into a Gay Era.  It has been my sense that the term Ex-gay and Gay just did not feel right.  Ken Wilbur has said:

“In other words, in pathological hierarchy, one holon assumes agentic dominance to the detriment of all. This holon doesn’t assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is the whole, period. On the other hand, in pathological heterarchy, individual holons lose their distinctive value and identity in a communal fusion and meltdown. This holon doesn’t assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is a part, period. It becomes only instrumental to some other use; it is merely a strand in the web; it has no intrinsic value. Thus, pathological heterarchy means not union but fusion; not integration but indissociation; not relating but dissolving. All values become equalized and homogenized in a flatland devoid of individual values or identities; nothing can be said to be deeper or higher or better in any meaningful sense; all values vanish into a herd mentality of the bland leading the bland.” (Wilber, Ken (2011-09-07). Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (Kindle Locations 955-962). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.)

I believe the ideological war between the concepts of Gay and Ex-gay is a product of the static and reductionistic use of these concepts and is either a devolution into or an involution of the Pre-gay values and society.  Instead of Ex-gay or gay, I am loving to the term Post-Gay as it relates to Spiral dynamics and the dissolution of Enemy Imagery.  The term Post-Gay speaks peace and goes beyond to the next evolution of this Holarchy which to me is where North Star’s Mission is poised.  We are at the brink of this new frontier as a pioneering organization. North Star is an integral conduit into the Post-Gay movement.  As we follow this course the resulting momentum can propel us, warp speed, into Post-Post Gay paradigm and values as a Zion People where “There (are) no ….manner of -ites; but (we are united) in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God…and there (is) no contention in all the land.”

4 Nephi 1:17-18

Postscript- In the third installment, I talk about how to apply this concept of  Holons to the discussion of enemy imagery and how we can use this perspective to apply what is called street NVC or coloquial Giraffe language to move beyond enemy imagery.  Stay tuned, I might even talk about those pesky Klingons.

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