Faith Communities and Learning Organizations LO21883

John Zavacki (
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 04:58:27 -0400

Replying to LO21873 --

At Delange closes his thoughts with:

>However, here is something for you to chew upon until you are ready to
>swallow and digest it. The highest level to which a Learning
>Organisation can emerge, is the Faith Community.

Rick worries that the discussion of faith communities may metamorphose
into a discussion on religion. I worry that it may miss the relevance of
spirit and the spirit of relevance.

I understand At's comment: "The Highest Level to which a learning
organisation can emerge, is the Faith Community." to mean that humankind
can practice nothing more important than being a community which shares
faith. We characterize such a community as a learning organization at the
cognitive level, a community of practice at the operational level, an as a
religion at the spiritual level. Faith is cognate with belief. We have
had many discussions on belief on this list. They do tend to become
religious. But there is something religious in all thinking about
community. It is not the imposition of one's mental model of rubric or
ritual, authority or discipleship. It does not depend on tools or
techniques, but on that simple word faith. Those of us who wish to share
in communities of practice tend to believe in a higher good which can only
be realized in community. We have a metatheoretical understanding of this
higher good which manifests itself in a lattice or network or matrix of
believers working toward that higher good. In terms of entropy
production, this community of belief (please note that I do not use the
term Belief Community or Faith Community which syntactically tend to force
dogma as labels for a class of all classes, but container/contained
structure which will allow us to think more freely of the two parts,
subsytems: community AND belief or community AND practice ((manifestation
of belief))) uses its beliefs to guide its actions and its actions to
preserve and enhance its beliefs. If we understand entropy as "A quantity
specifying the amount of disorder or randomness in a system bearing energy
or information" then we must understand feedback and corrective action as

In the practice of systems thinking and its application in organizational
learning, we are taught to listen and to respond in ways that will elicit
more knowledge, that will expand our horizons, if you will. If a member
of our community is creating entropy, that is, if they are eliciting
cognitive dissonance (antibeliefs, heresies, casting aspersions, attacking
the persona, giving us a headache) we are taught to reflect, to recall the
ladder of inference, to be antientropic in our response. To reduce the
signal to noise ratio until we have gotten as close to the true signal as
is humanly, cognitively possible. This is because we believe in the
negative effects of such behaviors on the life of the matrix. We link our
minds, or believe we link our minds, by linking our beliefs. In LO
language, we have a Shared Vision, shared values. We hold common beliefs
and are therefore, a community. We explore these beliefs in a way that
allows us to develop a deeper and broader understanding of the way that we
affect the rest of our community of faith, practice, belief; our
discipline; our art. We learn together as a team as a community and begin
to truly understand the system in which we operate. This in turn
precipitates more personal mastery which engenders the ability to add to
the higher good, the organization system, the organizational behavior,
memory, knowledge. Belief and/or faith learned are belief and/or faith
practiced. If the faith we share is truly based on principles, we
practice, as a community to reach a higher good. If the belief and/or
faith we practice is based on unprincipled values, we may have crusade,
jihad, pogrom.

John F. Zavacki


"John Zavacki" <>

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