God In the Middle, Round 2

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Every so often, I run across something that evokes such a visceral reaction in me that I think, Oh, man, I’ve finally crossed the line. I’m a liberal. But every time that happens, two hours later I encounter something that evokes an equally strong reaction in the opposite direction, and I think I must be super-conservative. Which tells me that I continue to inhabit the middle.

But mostly, it tells me that human beings tend to embrace the extremes.

A few weeks ago, I reflected on a quote from Donald Miller’s book Searching for God Knows What. Since then, I’ve read the whole book, which lays out the argument that we’ve turned religion into a bunch of rules and regulations, when it’s supposed to be about relationship. Knowing (because he more or less says so up front) that he is liberal, I kept expecting to smack into one of those “clearly I’m an ultra-conservative” moments. The thing was, I never did. Although I often felt he rambled on and on, I never felt like he said anything inappropriate.

In fact, at times, he echoed John Paul II’s beautiful, and integrated, view of the human person. Here he is, talking about Adam & Eve:

So here was this guy who was intensely relational, needing other people, and in order to cause him to appreciate the gift of companionship, God had him hang out with chimps for a hundred years. It’s quite beautiful, really. God directed Adam’s steps so that when He created Eve, Adam would have the utmost appreciation, respect, and gratitude.

I think it was smart of God because today, now that there are women all around and a guy can go on the Internet and see them naked anytime he wants, the whole species has been devalued. If I were a girl today in America, I would be a feminist for sure.

He says “feminist,” but he doesn’t add that this is a radically different—and truer—view of feminism than what NOW espouses.

And even when he tackles the hot-button topics of conservative vs. liberal, he does it in a way that makes a lot of sense to me, despite my conservative leanings:

I realize there are people reading this who will automatically dismiss me as a theological liberal, but I do not believe a person can take two issues from Scripture, those being abortion and gay marriage, and adhere to them as sins, then neglect much of the rest and call himself a fundamentalist or even a conservative. The person who believes the sum of his morality involves gay marriage and abortion alone, and neglects health care and world trade and the environment and loving his neighbor and feeding the poor is, by definition, a theological liberal, because he takes what he wants from Scripture and ignores the rest.

Notice he’s not trying to argue that Christian beliefs on abortion are wrong—just that they can’t be the only thing we pay attention to. A “God is in the middle” moment, for sure.

So, all in all—a worthwhile read. I’d hoped to share some of my own thoughts as I read the book, but it’s 8:15 a.m. already; my kids are at school, and I’m still working on my blog post for the day. In case you’re wondering, it’s because this cutie…

Look, you can even see it in his eyes: "You only THINK I'm angelic! Just wait till 3a.m.!"

…decided that a runny nose was justification for being held ALL NIGHT. Waking every twenty minutes to half an hour, and griping.

So I’ll refrain from the eloquence today. Because I’m tired. And I have a book to write about Lent.

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5 thoughts on “God In the Middle, Round 2

  1. While I lean right, I definitely find myself in the middle more often than not. It definitely makes me unpopular with my “you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” friends. I just don’t think they realize that even they could be caught in the middle on any given day.

  2. Therese Sander

    I doubt that most conservatives think that abortion and gay marriage are the sum of all morality. Without hearing in more depth what Don Miller thinks we should all be doing about health care, world trade, and the environment, it’s hard to make a focuesed response. I probably hold very different views from him on what I think should be done (or not done), but it is NOT because I don’t care about those issues. I just don’t happen to think that the liberals’ way of attacking these issues with more government programs and money is the most efficient, sensible way to get things done. I still recycle almost everything. I bury my garbage, recyle my newspapers, magazines, cardboard and plastic. When I run hot water, I save the cold water that comes out of the tap first to use for cooking purposes later. I don’t run the shower continuously, wasting precious water. I get wet, turn it off, soap up, and then turn back on to rinse. I oppose cap and trade because it a very costly solution looking for a problem to fix. The science of climate change is all over the board. Equally qualified scientists have come down on both sides of the issue. Contrary to what the liberal media is feeding us, there is no consensus on what the scientific data is telling us, and much of the data the cap and trade folks are citing as the basis for their proposed solutions has been shown to be flawed by the way it was handled.

    As far as the poor and hungry, I seek out local individuals or programs to put my 10% tithe money where I can see it will do good, and avoid most of the national health charities because they all support embryonic stem cell research to which I am strongly opposed. I take my extra garden produce to the local food pantry.

    With regard to healthcare, I oppose Obamacare because it promises what it cannot deliver, increases the cost of our health insurance, and decreases the quantity and quality of the health care I will be able to get. There are things that should be done, but Obamacare doesn’t address those things–things like medical malpractice tort reform, transparency, and empowering consumers with information to shop as wisely for health care as they shop for food, clothing, and cars.

    I’m a conservative, and I do care about all those issues and I act on my concerns.

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