God In the Middle, Round 2

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.