Mapping the universe and all of reality… through blogging…

March 9, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 12:54 am   Category: 7 Habits,Bloggernacle

A simple way to understand paradigms is to see them as maps. We all know that “the map is not the territory.” A map is simply an explanation of certain aspect of the territory. That’s exactly what a paradigm is. It is a theory, an explanation, or model of something else. … In the more general sense, it’s the way we “see” the world — not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting.
(Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 23)

Yeah, I know the word paradigm has become a cheeseball cliché and that Covey’s 7 habits did a lot to help over saturate our culture with the term – but as with a lot of cheesy Covey-isms, I think the concept he is describing is very important. In Covey-speak our paradigm is the lens through which we see and understand reality or the map we use as we navigate life. The excellent point Covey makes is that if our map is inaccurate we will inevitably get lost no matter how much effort we put in or how good our attitude is along the way. One cannot properly navigate Phoenix by consulting a map of San Antonio. Likewise, one cannot properly navigate this life by consulting an inaccurate map of reality.

Of course since 7 Habits is a secular book Covey couldn’t launch into a gospel preaching chapter to help readers properly map reality (even though that is largely what the gospel is supposed to do for us I think). Instead he focuses on “principles” which are quite similar to the notion of Universals. That is, he focuses on what he considers to be immutable laws of the Universe. He preaches that we should seek to find and understand these eternal principles and conform our maps of reality to them. The other thing he talks about is the “aha” moments known as paradigm shifts that we all experience in life. These are moments when we suddenly change lenses and see reality in a new light. Or, using the map analogy, these are moments when we realize that we were incorrectly reading the legend on our map of reality and the territory suddenly looks quite different. Paradigm shifts can be very healthy if we shift from a less correct map to a more accurate one. But such paradigm shifts can also be jarring at times.

Now there are lots of reasons to blog, but I think one of the reasons I blog is to improve my map of reality. I have been hanging around the bloggernacle for nearly 18 months now and I’ve had a lot of “aha” moments in that time that have helped me amend my paradigm or map of the universe. Most of these paradigm shifts have been more pleasant than jarring for me.

So now is your chance to sound off. Tell us about the paradigm shifts you have experienced since you started blogging with Mormons. How has your map of the universe and reality been added to or changed? Do you believe that your map of reality more accurate since you have been hanging around the bloggernacle?

[Associated songs: Morphine – All Your Way; Jack Johnson – Upside Down. The Morphine song has a great paradigm shift line “I finally see things all your way”. I love this Jack Johnson song from the Curious George soundtrack… and paradigm shifts can make one feel upside down at first, right?]


  1. I have experienced some shifts since starting into the experience about 4 months ago. I thought participating here would allow me to be more free to express and discuss aspects of the gosple – and it has. The results for me have been surprising. Instead of taking me to new ‘places’ so to speak – doctrinally, it has caused me to ‘dig in my heels’ to my understanding of how things really are. Very surprising to me. I thought I was a bit of a liberal liahona type, and that this place would push me further in that direction. The opposite has happened. Not really what I wanted, but it is happening.

    Comment by Eric — March 9, 2006 @ 6:38 am

  2. My eyes have certainly been opened farther than they were. There is LOADS of church history issues I never knew about, but I think at the same blink the nacle has helped me navigate them. I’ve also had pretty big shifts in my understanding of feminism, evolution/creation, culture vs. doctrine, and online interaction in general. I love the paradigm shift.

    I guess the real test is, of course, how much more charitable am I since I’ve started blogging? I don’t know the answer to that, but I think there’s been a net gain.

    Comment by Rusty — March 9, 2006 @ 7:48 am

  3. Eric – Yeah that is a paradigm shift you have experienced — realizing that you are not nearly as doctrinally “liberal” as you imagined yourself. My guess is that you are even less conservative now than before, but in contrast to some of the folks in the nacle it feels like you are moving in the opposite direction.

    Rusty – I have experienced eye-openers in the same areas you mentioned. My guess is that I am more charitable and empathetic (and often sympathetic) toward those who feel strongly about the issues you mentioned as a result of understanding the evidence and their positions better. That is a good thing.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 9, 2006 @ 9:12 am

  4. Well, I learned that people who like Stephen Covey are really cheesy . . .

    But seriously — like Rusty, I’ve learned a lot about church history and doctrine. I’ve challenged some of my old assumptions about others, and about myself. I’ve learned to be a better friend, and (I think) (usually, or at least some of the time) a better person. I’ve learned new words (hermeneutic) and I’ve learned (sort of) how to read stuff written by philosophy and literature types. (For posts containing the word “hermeneutic” or “epistemology,” my likelihood of understanding the post has more than doubled — from 20% to about 45%).

    Oh, and I’ve learned that people who listen to Jack Johnson tend to be decidely odd. More so if they also like Stephen Covey . . .

    Comment by Kaimi — March 9, 2006 @ 9:14 am

  5. Admit it Kaimi — you just listened to that groovy Jack Johnson song on Thang Radio didn’t you? And now I’ll bet you’re giving it second listen. Moving to San Diego is making you susceptible to surfer rock…

    Comment by Geoff J — March 9, 2006 @ 9:32 am

  6. I have learned to appreciate whole different viewpoints than what I have. I’ve always been right about almost everything…now I find there are many ways of looking at different doctrines and events. I’ve been stimulated intellectually, causing deeper and more meaningful thought. I’ve also laughed at the stupidness of some people and laughed with others at their stories and personal musings. It’s a fun ride and I just glad to be along for it.

    Comment by don — March 9, 2006 @ 10:55 am

  7. Geoff:

    You are probably right about me. Where we think we are is often relative to those around us. There is a great line in the movie ‘My Blue Heaven’ where the Steve Martin Character says ‘everybody thinks they have a sence of humor, even those who don’t’. I think many of us tend to feel we are pretty mainstream, even if we aren’t.

    Comment by Eric — March 10, 2006 @ 6:42 am

  8. G&K, totally off subject, but wanted to let you know I spent the night in your town last night. MY, my has that little town grown! Back home today after a temple wedding (in Mesa) of nephew this a.m. Talk about a whirlwind.

    Comment by chronicler — March 11, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  9. I am all about the paradigm shift. I sincerely believe in living in a pretty constant state of dialectic (thesis+antithesis=synthesis). I have my map (to use SC’s analogy) in my hand, and I am always looking over shoulders at or asking others about their maps, and further refining the accuracy and detail of my own from that.

    I’ve had countless moments of that enriching experience in the ‘nacle. Sometimes I post on something just for the sake of clarifying my own understanding by tossing other people’s view into the mix. It’s a fantastic tool for it. Post=thesis comments=antitheses new/refined/enriched views on the part of the writer afterward=synthsis.

    I have to confess that I have never read 7 Habits, but now my curiosity is piqued. My husband has a copy (that neither he has read). Time to get it in the queue…

    Comment by Naiah — March 15, 2006 @ 6:58 pm