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Achieving Higher Quality in Christian Living

What is the value of having the right model of the Human Mind?  If one believes that the problem of Christians today is that they live lives of low quality, and that the solution is that the Church must lead the way to a higher standard, then the kind of model one uses makes all the difference in the world. 

In the Classical model, since the "I" is the one producing thoughts, and it is the thoughts that are corrupt, wicked, and evil, it makes perfect sense to "lash the people".  Berate and cajole them like an Old Testament prophet.  That's how modern western managers of industrial production lines would extract higher production and better quality from their assembly lines.  Why not?  Is not the operator totally responsible for their output, and the quality of it? 

However, if one follows the Human Heart model, an expert in improving production would look at things differently.   Dr. William Edwards Deming was a quality improvment guru who was credited for increasing the production of the United States during World War II, and transforming the nature of manufacturing in post-war Japan to its current, first-rate, world-class position of high quality products.  The Human Heart model has the human heart producing thoughts, with the human "I", by their choices of what to pay attention to, rendering feedback to the heart that would lead it to change, update, or improve the presentation being given to the human "I".  Dr. Deming would insist that quality was a product of the system of man plus machine, not the man alone. He would probably have this conversation with management, who is uttering the first line.

"We ought to fire this entire lot of workers!  They're not any better at producing quality product than the last lot!"
"What would happen if you shut off power to the plant?  The workers are still awake, so could they still produce?"
"No, they could not!  They need the machines to produce!"
"So what if we took away the machines and gave them hand tools.  Would they still produce high quality product?"
"Well, No.  They could not.  Only a few of them, with good eyes and steady hands, could make the product we want to the standards we set!  And productivity would fall through the floor!"
"So what if we took away the new machines and gave them the ones the plant started with?"
"Those machines are obsolete!  Their tolerances are so bad, the product would not meet our quality standards!"
"But what if the new machines are out of tolerance?  That would make them as bad as the obsolete ones, right?"
"Well, of course out of tolerance machines would produce bad product!"
"Wait a minute.  We went through changing all these machines and getting different quality products without changing the operators.  So what role, exactly, do the workers play?"
"Well, they operate the machines and make the product!"
"No, they don't."
"They don't??"
"They don't make product.  The machines make the product.  The role of the operators are to make sure the machines are in tolerances so that the product is of the required quality."
"Well, a poorly operated machine will make poor quality product, right?"
"True.  What do you think operating a machine involves?"
"Why, turning it on and off, making sure its properly lubricated and powered, feeding in the material, taking out product, clearing out jams, and reporting broken equipment."
"What about out of tolerance equipment?"
"What kind of answer is 'Huh?'? Before you fire this lot of workers, who were not producing any better than the last lot, did you bother to train either group how to detect if their machines are out of tolerance and how to adjust them so they are in tolerance?"

As long as Church pastors and leaders believe that the classical model is true, they'll assign blame for evil thoughts to "the man" who is defiled by a heart that is beyond their individual control.  They will be more indulgent if they believed that the Human heart model was true, and that the thoughts presented to "the man" from the heart are largely out of their control.  Of course, they could become like the New Testament Pharisees and Saducees who decided that the road to purity lay in training the heart to discern, and choose, good over evil.

But Dr. Deming demanded that management go further, giving training and permission to their operators to monitor the output of the machines, tweak the calibration knobs, and use statistical methods to determine the impact of those adjustments on the quality of the product.  Testing, measurement, statistical analysis, and adjustment of the production machines to achieve continuous improvment became the means by which Japan overtook the United States in high quality manufactured items on the factory floor.

Unfortunately, Dr. Deming's prescription for quality improvement on the production line cannot be applied to the Human Heart Model: the heart is, after all, the unconscious unreachable part of man, very difficult to search.  The "I" only perceives and focusses attention on thoughts whose creation is out of reach or control.  Even those thoughts that might have been generated in response to the attention feedback loop were generated because the heart decided to, not because it was compelled to or made to do so.

The Symbiotic Model, however, enables each Christian to apply Deming's shop floor quality improvement methodolgy to their own thought life.  This is how you hack yer mind:

  1. The heart produces thoughts and throws them onto the bit stream.
  2. The Holy Spirit "filters" those thoughts, deleting some, adjusting others so that the temptation presented by them to the "I" is not overwhelming, making sure that there is always a "way of escape".  If the Heart is so perverse that no acceptable "menu options" are presented, then the Holy Spirit adds acceptable ones that He will undertake to perform within the heart of man if the "I" chooses them.
  3. The modified and augmented thoughts proceed on to the "I", which looks them over and makes a choice by focussing on the menu option desired.
  4. The feedback path takes the choice down to the heart.  At the same time, the Holy Spirit is made aware of the choice as well.
  5. IF the "I" chose an option that came from the heart, the Holy Spirit allows the process to continue without intervening.  The choice made by the "I" constitutes a denial of permission by the "I" for the Spirit to act on its behalf.  The ensuing thoughts that are generated, and the process continues at step #2 above.
  6. However, if the "I" chooses an option that came from the Holy Spirit, then either the heart or the Holy Spirit generates other thoughts that are consistent with the choice, and the process continues at step #2 above.  The choice made by the "I" constitutes a granting of permission by the "I" for the Spirit to act on its behalf.

Let's see how Dr. Deming would apply the above process to a machine on the shop floor.  Each machine would have two "operators": a measurer and an adjuster.  The adjuster is able to adjust the calibration of the machine, while the measurer cannot.  The role of the measurer is to identify when the machine is out of tolerance, decide that the variance is intolerable, and communicate the out-of-tolerance condition to the adjuster with enough detail that the adjuster can identify which calibration controls to adjust and determine how much to adjust them.  It is agreed that if the measurer does not identify any intolerable variances, that the machine is working normally, and no adjustment is necessary.  After each adjustment, the product is measured, and the difference that that adjustment made is recorded in a log book that the adjuster uses to directly enter the new setting to get the desired change in that aspect of the product.

The key is conscious cooperation between the measurer and the adjuster, which is what we would normally expect of an agreement made between two conscious human beings before either of them approach the machine.

On the "thought life" production floor, you, the "I" of your self, are the measurer, looking at the thoughts popping into your brain.  If an evil thought pops into your head (a temptation), then you have a choice: you either concentrate your attention on the evil thought and participate in it, or you choose to concentrate your attention on the thought that the Holy Spirit generated in concert with that evil thought that says, "That evil thought is unacceptable.  I don't want it.  Please suppress it."  Remember, you have to have agreed ahead of time that that is what you mean when you focus on that thought that was generated by the Holy Spirit.  If you focus on the good thought that says "suppress this evil thought", the Holy Spirit acts on it if the heart refuses to comply, either suppressing the thought or attenuating its attractiveness and giving you a further choice.  If you focus on the evil thought itself, the Holy Spirit stands aside and lets nature take its course.  (A man without the Holy Spirit doesn't get the "suppress the temptation" thought, and thus has no real ability to choose not to succumb to the temptation.) 

The key is conscious cooperation between Homo (the "I") and Deus (the Holy Spirit), which is fitting for a symbiotic being composed of two intelligent and free individuals.

Now a personal testimony.  I came to the first inklings of realizing the above process in April of 2008 shortly after deciding that symbiosis was real and not a metaphor.  The realization revolutionized my thought life.  Working with the Holy Spirit, I began to enjoy life with temptations and compulsions suppressed.  I even found phobias and fears that the Holy Spirit took the initiative to suppress.  I began to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit, which includes joy, and I began to be able to love and say that I loved without the bad connotations that I put on the word while living through the 1960's and being totally disgusted with the manipulations and evasions cloaked by vicious and devious appeals to "love". 

Of course, things have not always been smooth, but even the bumps, stumbles, pratfalls, and out and out sinning that I committed, became the means by which I learned what the warning signs were, what I should not have done, and what I should have done.  This goes into the   resulting in me adjusting, improving, and moving on.

And that's it.  That's the key: a conscious, aware, deliberate cooperation with the Holy Spirit by an intentional "paying of attention" to thoughts that appear to come from Him or which would be approved by Him as a means of signalling to him the sort of thoughts I expect to think.  I do not, by this, abandon the Scriptures for a mystic inner experience: The Scriptures are the Rule and Official Standard that defines what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.  To use James' analogy, the Law becomes a mirror to reveal my shortcomings.  How I react to that revelation is the key.  If I turn to the Holy Spirit, point at the dirt, and say, "I choose to let you remove this for me," He will be more than happy to cooperate.  If I say nothing, He'll let me wear the dirt, to my detriment.  However, to push James' analogy to the breaking point, I do not go legalistic and break the mirror and use the shards to wash the dirt off myself.

The remaining articles and essays will deal with the application of the Deming process to living the Christian life symbiotically.  Think of it as one measurer sharing hints, tricks, and operating experience with other measurers so that the entire shop floor improves the quality of the production since, as of June 15, 2008, and judging by the number of arrows in my back, I believe I'm the one who's travelled the farthest in this direction.  Hopefully, when others figure this out and join me, I'll be able to receive similar help from them and pass it on via this website.

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