Kaleidoscopic Intellectual Play as a Way Toward Conceptual Integration

For the past several months, I've been thinking a lot about integrative thought. Back on December 18, 2018, the dictionary.com Word of the Day, kaleidoscopic, caught my attention, so I set a reminder for myself to ponder the intersection. So, here we go.


Kaleidoscopic intellectual play moves across conceptual links like an intellectual dance, using its versatility and creativity to transform and communicate reflections of God's divinity and power. It plays with substantive concepts about the power and divinity of God as spoken through his creation to please God and serve others. It is a form of theological reflection taking place amidst personal and conceptual connections and gaining power from those connections. It is a type of thinking across. The participants’ attitudes toward power grounded in towardness and gratitude, reveling in God's endless works and Jesus’ ever-present partnership and telic guidance.

Kaleidoscopic intellectual play is grounded in the connections and integrations made possible by Jesus’ Creatorship and Lordship. The players are equipped with the delegated power, gifted grace, and centered community that God supplies to his people. This means it functions best in Christ-centered contexts, for he is the reason there are connections to discover and integrations to work out.

In communal kaleidoscopic intellectual play, each participant must exercise his or her power. God has already delegated power to humanity, and his grace shapes how each Christian focuses and exercises that power. When any player in the community is stifled, the community is the less. When one refuses to contribute their gifts, the community is less.

Much pondering remains.

Informing Reads and Ponders

(C) Laura Springer
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Musings of a peripatetic wannabe-sage by Laura Springer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Visual autobiography of a peripatetic wannabe sage

SPECULATION: A Synergistic Responsibility System

Definition. A synergistic responsibility system [1] is a complex unity in which divine and human members exercise accountable power and form connections toward new outcomes. It is fueled by interest and diffuse attention along each part of the process and by focused attention during the final push. Diffuse attention looks at the big picture and is all about distraction. Focused attention is attentive and ignores the extraneous (via Brainscape)

The first and most important concept in synergistic responsibility is recognizing that God’s part in the system is not our part. While he is our partner, he is sovereign. We are his subjects. Second, synergistic responsibility means that all partners have the responsibility to make wise decisions and take action. God will do his part, but none of us can be along for the ride. The system needs all of us. Third, partnership brings complexity, and shared concern (you and I around one great thing) brings unity (”shared concern” Palmer, P. J. (2017). The Courage to Teach: Exploring the InnerLandscape of a Teacher’s Life (Kindle). Jossey-Bass., p 117). Both are needed for synergy to happen. Complexity increases the number of possible connections. Around the shared concern, all are accountable to and for the process, having the capacity (power) to make real changes in the process and outcomes. Finally, the system is at least robust, remaining stable under less than stellar conditions. But it is more. It is antifragile, improving through struggle and challenge. 

Partnership. As mentioned above, God is sovereign; we are subjects. But he has delegated responsibility and its attendant power to humanity as his image bearer, and he holds us accountable for their proper use. He has made us free so that our loyal love is a choice. In all this, he remains sovereign.

As God’s commissioned image bearers, we are a little lower than the angels. Because of this, we can decide. We can choose what our systems include. This is both scary and cool. While a synergistic responsibility system is a divine-human partnership, it is very human. It looks like us. My responsibility in each partnership is to use, develop, and expand that which God has delegated to me. The same goes for you.

Current culture. Our intersectional culture (see The Medici Effect) is in sore need of synergistic responsibility systems. Our connection-nurturing intersectional culture allows those who commit to interdisciplinarity to create synergy by attending to essence and playing on the edges. Focusing on the essence of capacities and ideas develops our awareness and nurtures interdisciplinary wisdom. Playing on the edges exposes us to surprising possibilities. In each intersection, approaching tasks and ideas as if they matter opens our minds to be able to see how they matter and to create accordingly.


       A synergistic responsibility system increases the cross-pollination of perspectives in a mutually respectful context.
       A synergistic responsibility system counters cultural tendencies to blame externals for current conditions by encouraging commitment to the team and the system.
       A synergistic responsibility system is large and complex, and a shared concern is crucial for healthy functioning.

[1]  A system is an “interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something” (Meadows, D. H., & Wright, D. (2008).Thinking in systems: a primer. White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea GreenPub., loc 327

(C) Laura Springer
Creative Commons License
Musings of a peripatetic wannabe-sage by Laura Springer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License..