September 21, 2018

Just in case you’re wondering…I’m a both/and person

Martha’s Bears (2016)

I am a both/and kind of person.

This is a rather uncomfortable place to be in today’s polarized world. I know there are more of us out there, but our voices are getting drowned out by partisans and tribalists. At any rate, I thought I might list some of the ways (peculiar perhaps) that I view the world as a both/and guy.

• • •

I believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word, that God himself speaks through this Word, and that it is divinely powerful to bring people to Jesus and renew lives.

And

I believe the Bible was produced by human beings in communities of faith for their purposes, and that it is marked by all kinds of imperfect human characteristics as people describe their experience of God and their understanding of God’s work in this world.

I believe belonging to the church is an essential, not optional, part of being a Christian. As Christians we are organically linked to God’s family and our faith and formation is meant to be nourished within the community of faith.

And

I believe there are times we must leave the institutional church in order to find Jesus and practice our faith with integrity and in the way it was meant to be practiced.

I voted Republican in the last presidential election (though absolutely not for DT) and consider myself a moderate Republican, thinking that a frugal, efficient, responsive government would best serve the people of our country.

And

I strongly support the Democrats’ emphasis on a shared social contract where we the people, through our representatives, are called to take care of each other. Therefore I hold political positions, such as universal health care, that are usually anathema to Republicans.

I am against abortion, believing that it harms the most vulnerable and helpless in our society, and is often not really a woman’s “choice,” but something that she feels constrained to do for various reasons.

And

I think abortion should remain legal, safe, and available.

I believe marriage is presented in scripture as a unique covenant relationship between a man and a woman, blessed by God as the relational context in which sexual intimacy is to be enjoyed and  children are to be born and flourish.

And

I think it behooves our society to recognize committed homosexual partnerships as a valid way of doing family and not discriminate against them, but encourage them to live in those relationships responsibly.

I can appreciate the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Colts and the Patriots, Indiana, Purdue, and Butler basketball, rock and classical music, the city and the country, the mountains and the ocean, dogs and cats.

But I have my limits.

Never Trump.

Cubs, but never Cardinals.

Comments

  1. john barry says:

    CM, Good and honest personal reflection on what you think and what you believe. I would think that many Americans would agree with you in your presentation of your views and beliefs.

    As usual the devil is in the details, is late term abortion a legal right if not medically necessary to save the Mother?
    Should public funding, tax money go to fund abortions? should parents be advised that their under age daughter is seeking an abortion? Bill Clinton , the centrist , response was “safe, legal and rare”. The current progressive view has gone far beyond that to basically abortion on demand. Do the abortion foes have any concerns that need to be addressed or they just anti woman rights?

    The current renewed coverage on abortion is in response to the Supreme Court vacancy and it is a political question. I do not think Rove Vs. Wade decision will be overturned as most conservative legal minds respect settled or “black letter law”.

    So like many issues, the American people are in the “middle” but the extremes are not. Abortion is a political football with man nuances. Most Americans think abortion should the last “resort” not a method of birth control or personal choice of the Mother. I believe most Americans do not want tax payer money to fund abortions. Groups that have a religious or personal moral objection to abortion should not be forced to assist in abortion nor hinder one . This is a small example of the political divide. Same with all the other issues you bring up . Devil in the details.

    So on the issues you listed and I am sure many others, would it be safe to assume you kept an open mind and perhaps on some of the issues listed and many not , have changed your mind. Did you always believe as you do on homosexual lifestyle, marriage, abortion, Bible or did you as “they’ say evolve like President Obama did on same sex marriage? Not that it matters but President Obama was never against gay marriage etc. , it was just a political decision to oppose it , early in his political life, my opinion.

    So Never Trump means you will never accept Trump as the legal President, you will never agree with any of his polices or actions, you will never support or vote for someone who is Pro Trump agenda, Never Trump as a moral and cultural value leader. You can Never separate Trumps moral short comings and unorthodox behavior from his political agenda that maybe will be of benefit to the country?

    Just a quick tin foil hat observation that I think has some merit , Rule #5 In Saul Olinsky’s Rules for Radicals is to ridicule, make fun and mock opponents to de legitimatize them. Would it be safe for me to think that the coordinated mocking attacks on Trump as the fool and orange face dunce who somehow blundered into being the President just happened organically? In the world of Never Trump on the national front , anything is justified as long as it is Never Trump or its ok because people are outraged?

    Can you imagine if Clinton had won and the same events were transpiring under the Never Clinton mantra? I guess we now know what the real answer was to the question “Will you accept the results of the election”. Well, the answer seems to be Never Trump.

    Again as usual good , thought provoking thoughts and I always appreciate your sincerity and honesty.

    Even Sean Connery had to rethink his Never Say Never position on being Bond, James Bond.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Question back at ya, JB…

      During Obama’s first term, heading into election cycle for the next the next president (four more years of Obama or “someone/anyone else”), did you ever think/say “Never Obama?”

      Let’s face it…if you don’t respect the man/woman in charge, it’s difficult to accept them in a role of leadership no matter the periodic “good” decision.

      • john barry says:

        Rick Ro. and others, Rick, except for the far right extreme wing nuts there was no where this resistance to President Obama on public display. There was no F U on national TV, no concerted effort by mainstream media to degrade and down play or ignore any accomplishment of Obama Presidency. There were not every late night talk show and several shows dedicated exclusively to mock and belittle Trump, the very example of Rule #5. In the service , the old saying trite but true was ” you respect/salute the rank/position not the person “. Oppose Trump on the issues, oppose Trump in the court of opinion and denounce him for his moral short comings in the proper forum and in the proper manner. If your only issue is Never Trump than when Trump is like the Raven and Never More what do you have?

        Case in point , at the very beginning of Obama campaign, a noted reporter made fun of Obama ears, they were big. Right away she was silenced and admonished to stick to issues. She was not vindictive , it was like off limits and stayed off limits. Trump gets 2 scoops of ice cream, big story , Obama smoked, hardly any one knew. Just silly examples but the bias is obvious as the Time magazine picture cover.

        The majority here on this site do not agree with Trump on the issues, that is what it is all about. However it appears to me that the main and only issue the Democrats have is they are Never Trump, period. Even the Socialist promote ideas as well as being Never Trump. What are the Democrat ideas that the majority of Americans support?

        If Trump did not go full blown Trump , he would not have beat Hillary Clinton, the Establishment Republicans, Democrats and special interest as well as the mainstream media.

        One more time, believe it or not and I know you do not , Trump won on the issues, Bernie Sanders was beating HRC on the issues that the majority of Democrats supported in primary, HRC was the establishment candidate for the status quo and establishment greed.

        Plus the Russians got stupid evangelicals to vote for Trump and they do not even know it, they think they made a free will choice. Who influenced the evangelicals to vote for McCain and Romney? in almost the same percentage exception was Trump got about 3 percent of new voters out who usually did not vote.

        • John, my point has always been: Even if I agree with DT on an issue, I remain “never Trump.” In this case it is about the person and his complete unfitness for the high office of POTUS.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          –> “There was no F U on national TV…” etc…

          Mainly because Obama’s personality never involved big FUs. Trump’s own persona and methods pretty much sets him up for the responses he gets.

          Also, I’m pretty sure none of the other Republican candidates, had they won, would’ve been treated like Trump is treated, because none of them are narcissistic ego-maniacal bullies like Trump is.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > you will never agree with any of his polices or actions

      I do agree with his administrations actions regarding reform of the tier 2 EIS (Environmental Impact Study) process [regarding infrastructure projects].

      But then there are a-l-l those other issues, so many other issues; aside from naked incompetence.

    • “Just a quick tin foil hat observation that I think has some merit , Rule #5 In Saul Olinsky’s Rules for Radicals is to ridicule, make fun and mock opponents to de legitimatize them. Would it be safe for me to think that the coordinated mocking attacks on Trump as the fool and orange face dunce who somehow blundered into being the President just happened organically? In the world of Never Trump on the national front , anything is justified as long as it is Never Trump or its ok because people are outraged?”

      This is almost laughable. it is Trump who is the ‘incarnation’ of that rule! He constantly ridicules his opponents (and sometimes his friends) with childish nicknames (‘Crooked Hillary’, ‘Little Bob Corker’, etc.), and attempts to delegitimize them. He is uses extreme language to describe anyone who disagrees with him, often questioning their patriotism. See how he describes Democrats on the issue of immigration – they all want to let in MS-13, drugs, and terrorists. Does anyone REALLY believe that (except, apparently, a LOT of Trump supporters)?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Yep. I felt this was such an obvious ciritque I took a pass on it. The reality inversion of citing rule#5 [and who even pays attention to such things?] is mind boggling.

      • Trump’s go to method of operation! Completely degrades any civil discourse. Lyin’ So and so. Tiny… Cheating…Big headed… This is the leader of the free world? Maybe a Third world dictator grasping for power but not The President of the United States of America. I’m surprised you brought that up JB. You opened your flank on that one. He is the penultimate mocker of our age and that is always a symptom of weak mindedness and inability.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Yet to 81% of Evangelicals (including some high-profile and vocal ones), He is LOORD.

          • senecagriggs says:

            That’s idiocy Ken; as well you know.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              From comments on Eagle’s blog:
              “I give Donald Trump Praise and Adoration.”
              “Thank You Donald Trump” (after telling how great his job and income are doing in today’s economy)

              Isn’t “Praise and Adore” part of the Gloria I recite in every Mass?

              • john barry says:

                Headless U Guy, I do not know of Eagle but here is a quick recap of what we do at the Trump worship service which is only official at a rally were Trump is present spreading inspiration and words of wisdom, as only he can.

                1. Starts with chant with the most common and popular being “Build the Wall” and the most profound being “Make America Great Again”. How deep, how profound , but that is who we are..

                2. All must face forward and have backs toward the press platform to show rejection of fake news that we once believed in.

                3. Concentrate hard to attain a level of understanding as Trump rambles on with his inner thoughts. Do not worry about the message it is the messenger that is important. We get it as we actually believe Trump wants America and Americans to be great or at least try to be.

                4. Hold sign and MAGA hat high above head to show approval of message. The message never changes , it is just the delivery

                5. The traditions and customs of Trump worship will flourish, main problems right now, cannot find 3 Wise Men to visit Trump. Place to pilgrimage to, Trump Tower or Mar-a-logo? Will official opening song be “We Are Not Going to Take It Anyone” or “Do You Believe in Magic”.

                6. Dress up in bib overalls and cameo , try to portray an image of the “average ” Trump voter as many people in the press think all Trump voters are below average , which makes us dang mad.

                There is more but the cult is fairly new. Please do not tell the “Eagle” as I have revealed some real insider info and I want to keep my hat, it was made in the USA.

                • Robert F says:

                  You forgot the hymn “Lock Her Up!”. But that’s understandable, since the author of that hymn, one General Flynn, had to plead guilty and cooperate with the to avoid being locked up himself, and so is no longer available to lead the crowd in his original composition, as he did back in the good old days of the campaign.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  And the SCRIPTURE, all pre-divided into 140-character Twitter-length Verses.

      • Robert F says:

        The man masters in ridicule. No president in my lifetime has ever publicly ridiculed citizens the way this one does; it’s a disgrace, and he should be called on it every time he does it.

    • John, there are always details to work out. This is a big picture post. But unless we all step back and admit the possibility of both/and, then we are wasting our time even trying to discuss details. Those who have a zero sum mindset are incapable of talking on the level of details.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And pretty much everything this day is Zero Sum.
        Where the only way to get more for ME is to take it away from YOU.
        Where the only way to Win is to Make You Lose.
        By Any Means Necessary.

      • john barry says:

        CM, I agree with you hence the devil in the details. The details are where many of the current conflict comes in. That is why I listed a few examples. Should the Little Sisters of the Poor have to offer an health plan that pays for abortions and birth control ? Why would California lawmakers mandate the abortion clinic information be displayed in a pro life clinic offering pro life counseling?

        I think I agree with you as most things are both/and many things are situational. Things change. I know many of my views have changed or to be politically correct evolved. We always say we should think outside the box but do not see much new out of the box idea.

        One way to stop unwanted pregnancy , Every child born gets DNA to establish fatherhood of child, the man who is responsible for that child is legally responsible for his share of the financial upkeep of that child until 18. This would be elective on the part of the Mother but to be eligible for government assistance she must agree or forego assistance. There are many things that can move to helping settle this issues in the 21st century.

        Headless Unicorn Guy, all the conservative economic guru’s believe that you do not split up the existing economic pie and split it but make a bigger pie for all to have a piece of . I think it is most progressives who favor means testing for example again we must think out of the box.

        • One way to stop unwanted pregnancy is to make contraceptives readily available. Let’s get real.

  2. DennsiB says:

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve loved a lot of the articles on your website and a lot have got me thinking.

    I hope your journey is at a “transitional” point as I believe 2 of your points step you outside of “orthodox” Christianity. You probably don’t care anyway as you wouldn’t, at this stage, want to define what “orthodox” Christianity is. It seems from your viewpoints that it is always conditioned by the culture it finds itself in. What is “orthodox” may change once more “comes to light”.

    I completely agree that there is a “Development of Doctrine”, but it is a development that follows the trajectory already laid down in Scripture, Patristics and church history. I agree with authors like Greg Boyd & Paul Copan who illustrate how the Jews, through their own culture, were blinded to what God was really like & it took His Word made flesh, to sort that out. But if you read carefully, Jesus made it all seem harder. Anger points to murder, divorce points to adultery, if we’re looking at things wrongly we should “pluck our eyes out”, if we want to follow, leave the family behind.

    Jesus doesn’t abolish slavery, overlook fornication since there is no marriage in heaven, or make a case for women Apostles. However some things are in “seed” form and their development may be tracked from OT to NT through church history. For example circumcision becomes “circumcision of the heart” which then becomes baptism.

    Some of your points make Patristics and church history irrelevant. The faith handed on from the Apostles to lead the church into “all truth”, by the inerrant Holy Spirit becomes conditioned on a culture impacting the church rather than the other way around. It may be hard to read what the Holy Spirit is doing through the Scriptures and the church, but to capitulate to cultural norms is the same type of error as capitulating to the power of Empire, Rationalism, or Emotionalism.

    • I concur with most everything you say here, Dennis. Where do you think I’m stepping out of bounds? I can’t see that any of my points make earlier church history “irrelevant”.

      • DennisB says:

        Hi Mike,

        Well I couldn’t see any of the post-Apostolic Fathers accepting abortion rather than proposing some other type of solution the society could think about (I’m thinking of some Catholic Youth initiatives I saw on TV reported by Stacey Dooley). Neither would they accept describing homosexual relations as a substitute for “family”.

        You wouldn’t find anything prior to the 19th century at least, that would contemplate anything like these innovations. If we pray, “His Kingdom come” we can’t advise, “well if you don’t like that, your cultures can stay”.

        Our fight with our own hearts must last to the end. Whatever causes our de-humanisation or de-“naturalisation”, is against His plan & cosmic order. Even if homosexuality is natural it is a disability & needs to be treated as either sin or sickness or both. He covers both in that He “bore our sicknesses & carried our diseases”. To suggest that this lifestyle is Ok is to suggest a fallen creation is Ok & doesn’t need restoration.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          The historic fathers would have probably estabished an orphange for all the babies who wouldve been aborted otherwise. I don’t see many anti-abortion evangelicals rushing out to do that — rushing to help non-aborted babies and their mothers to survive post-birth — so i think that negates your point. Let’s face it, when we evangeliclas support post ‘aborted abortion’ children and their families AND their futures, then we earn the right to make abortion a black-and-white issue.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            +1

          • One seminary professor I had made the same point. He proposed that, if Christians want to be taken seriously about being “pro-life”, they should present petitions in state capitals with lists of Christian families who have already made legal and financial preparations to adopt, with a signed statement of intent that they will, sight unseen, adopt ANY child, no matter the chuld’s sex, age, race, ability, or health.

            Most of the class stared at him like he had lobsters crawling out of his ears.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > I couldn’t see any of the post-Apostolic Fathers accepting…

          Lacking the intellectual context to even begin to understand let alone fathom the ethical issues created by a techno-industrial society I suspect they would be hiding under a park bench trembling as all the machines roared past and over them.

          Bearing their wisdom forward requires washing it through all the ages that have come and gone between then and now.

          • Burro (Mule) says:

            The goal of being a practicing Christian in the Orthodox Church is to obtain the same mindset that the post-Apostolic Fathers had. There are plenty of modern Fathers (St. John Maximovich, St. Paisios of Mt Athos, etc) who are very familiar with the roaring machines and not intimidated by them. The Orthodox Church missed the Scholastic development for the most part. I’m still mulling whether that was a good thing or not.

            and St. John did just that, founded several orphanages for non-aborted babies

        • Dennis, I do come from a more Lutheran two kingdoms perspective, and I tried to word my political statements in that light.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Just add Evolution to Abortion and Homosexuality and you have the New Trinity right there.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      AS LONG AS YOU USE THE CHRISTIANESE WORD “FORNICATION”, NOBODY OUTSIDE OF THE EVANGELICAL BUBBLE WILL TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY!

  3. I think the entirety of my theological and spiritual journey can be summed up in the following dialogue…

    Me – “The world is BLACK AND WHITE!!! EITHER OR!!!”

    God – “No, child. The world is black AND white. Both and.”

    • Robert F says:

      Yes, but notice that in your dialogue, God is still saying no to something. No matter how open and inclusive we try to get (and I want to get a lot of both), there is always something that will remain outside, that is subject to either/or. In your dialogue either you are right, or God is. Either/or and both/and are part of the reality that God has created; it’s a matter of balancing them and seeing them in God’s way.

    • When I was a 35 year old, life was simpler and the scripture of my childhood and youth seemed clear on all matters. Now, as a 68 year old, I have lived through several life-changing situations that turned my world inside out. I had to examine and wrestle with all I had been taught and believed. I found that the rock of my faith was still there, but I began to see everything with a new perspective. Both/And describes my honest relationship with God and others.

      • Yes. Nothing causes us to rethink the certainty of our theology like life! And the comforting thing is that the Bible is full of people doing exactly the same thing, as Pete Enns points out quite often.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Isn’t Pete Enns’ podcast titled “The Bible for Normal People”?

      • Christiane says:

        Hello Patti,
        I was moved by what you wrote, this:
        ” Now, as a 68 year old, I have lived through several life-changing situations that turned my world inside out. I had to examine and wrestle with all I had been taught and believed. I found that the rock of my faith was still there, but I began to see everything with a new perspective. Both/And describes my honest relationship with God and others.”
        Patti, I also have come to see with a different perspective after many ‘life trials’. Wisdom seems to come to us through suffering, and maybe that is the price we must pay for achieving ‘understanding’.

        Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the name of ‘Mark Twain’ once cautioned people, this:
        “re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul”

        Perhaps he had a insight that might prove useful in our own time,
        when we are pulled this-way and that way by so many who would decide for us too many things,
        and if we let them decide for us, our own hearts must ‘look away’.
        We were not made for that.

        • Christiane,
          I read several blogs where I see your comments. Due to time constraints, I rarely comment, but I have benefited from seeing others’ comments. I always appreciate your insightful responses. Wish we were able to visit over a cup of coffee.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        When I was a 35 year old, life was simpler and the scripture of my childhood and youth seemed clear on all matters.

        “Oh, I was so much older then,
        I’m younger than that now…”
        — Bob Dylan, “My Back Pages”, 1967
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h80l4XIPJC4

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Me – “The world is BLACK AND WHITE!!! EITHER OR!!!”
      God – “No, child. The world is black AND white. Both and. Also, I got bored one day so I made fuchsia – come look at this, isn’t that wild?”
      Me – ” Uhm… I think you might be missing the point”
      God – …. long pause … “Seriously?” … long pause … “Fuchsia is beautiful”
      Me – “Yes, but the”
      God – [interrupting] “But What?”
      Me – … long pause… “Nothing.”

      • That Other Jean says:

        I think, Adam, that you may have missed a point in God’s answer: The world is black and white and fuschia and gray. Lots and lots of gray. God gave us brains to figure the gray parts out for ourselves. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we get it wrong. Then we learn.

        • Robert F says:

          And always we depend on grace, knowing that we and others will inevitably get it wrong at least sometimes, and we and they may not ever learn that we were wrong, even seriously, tragically, criminally wrong, before we die.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Nope, I got the point. My point was that the moral distillation of the life, the universe, and everything is NOT the point.

  4. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    Yes, lots and lots of both-and.

  5. Nope! Uh-uh! ALWAYS the Red Sox and NEVER the Yankees! As for the Colts… I was born and raised in the Baltimore area, and we will NEVER forgive the Colts for bolting overnight to Indianapolis in 1983, so raise the Patriots banner high. I’m a pretty forgiving and get-along guy, but there are SOME principles I stand firm on!

  6. So you are lying on your death bed. The doctor walks in and tells you there is a miracle cure, but it will require you to do one of two things. Vote for Trump in the next election, or root for the Cardinals in the World Series. Your choice is……….

  7. David H says:

    WANTED: Schrodinger’s cat: dead and alive. (I have found pursuing the field of physics, along with all its bizareness and “paradoxes” according to our often limited way of thinking, has helped shape and broaden my outlook on the issues we face (including cultural as well as theological). We often approach questions with such a limited mindset that can’t see any alternatives beyond those that lie along the linear spectrum laid before us, and end up merely settling with a particular position. Just like both the natural world as well as our God, the reality is often far richer and more complicated than we could imagine.

    When it comes down to it, I have often found that the “either/or”, as well as the “both/and” are restricting. Instead, I find myself in the “neither/nor” camp. The former two options always start with the presumption that the answer is somehow a linear combination of the two options, which is often not the case. I believe the following two viewpoints are inaccurate: 1) light is either a wave or a particle, 2) light is both a wave and a particle. Instead, light is neither a wave nor a particle. It is some mysterious entity that may at times separately display characteristics of distinctly a wave or a particle, but is ultimately something else entirely from our ordinary, intuitive way of thinking.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Nice perspective to mull on!

      The glass is half full. The glass is half empty. The glass is neither full nor empty.

      • The engineer says the glass is simply twice as large as it needs to be.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          The accountant is fine with any amount of fill as long as the glass is empty at 27.5 years, when it will be fully depreciated.

      • Robert F says:

        The glass is always full of something or more than one thing, because nature abhors a vacuum.

    • Heisenberg, Schrodinger, and Ohm are in a car. They get pulled over. Heisenberg is driving and the cop asks him, “Do you know how fast you were going?”

      “No, but I know exactly where I am,” Heisenberg replies.

      The cop says, “You were doing 55mph in a 35mph zone.” Heisenberg throws up his hands and shouts, “Great! Now I’m lost!”

      Finding this suspicious, the cop orders him to pop open the trunk. He checks it out and says, “Do you know you have a dead cat back here?”

      “Well, we do now!” shouts Schrodinger.

      The cop moves to arrest them. Ohm resists.

      • David H says:

        +1000

        How have I not heard this one before?!

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Epic! That is epic!

      • Can’t take credit for it I’m afraid. It’s a moldy oldie nerd joke.

        • Robert F says:

          Originality is overrated, and exceedingly rare. Credit is due to those who can remember and apply in creative and apropos ways. Thanks for passing it on.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > Originality is overrated

            +1,000.

            He who assists in the persistence of the good is as worthy as the originator.

      • If I ever get another cat and a dog at the same time I think I’ll name the cat Pavlov and the dog Schrodinger.

        This may seem counter-intuitive. But they would be in the same family and would therefore “belong” to one another. Pavlov would be Schrodinger’s cat, and Schrodinger would be Pavlov’s dog.

        Now to talk my wife into that.

        • john barry says:

          KISS pleaded Occam trying to help John Barry keep up with the comments.

        • If you can talk your wife into that, you should get an honorary doctorate in rhetoric.

      • (begins singing Nunc Dimittis…)

  8. Rick Ro. says:

    Great post, CM. I once tended to be black-and-white, now tend strongly toward both-and. (Frankly, I think us creative types thrive in the both-and.)

    I think there are a lot of black-and-white folks, and they are uncomfortable with both-and viewpoints (and uncomfortable with both-and people). Likewise, both-and people are uncomfortable with black-and-white viewpoints and black-and-white people.

    What’s the solution? Listen, seek to understand, don’t drift into tribalism.

  9. I like this post.

    However….

    “it harms the most vulnerable and helpless in our society”

    “something that she feels constrained to do for various reasons.”

    If you replace “she” with “our government”, isn’t this the reasoning behind family separations at the border? This seems like a logical disconnect to me. It seems that the most vulnerable should be protected in all cases by all means, including outlawing practices that harm the innocent.

    • I’m with you fully on the border stuff and don’t see how my statements contradict that.

      • Christiane says:

        Good response, Chaplain Mike.

        until we find a way to be ‘more welcoming’ to new life in this country by providing for the nurturing and protecting of BORN children, we cannot command women to ignore the present reality . . . .

        currently we are a country whose leader ordered that refugee infants and toddlers be forcibly taken from the arms of their mothers

        women who are legal residents of our country realize that this IS the present political reality,
        and they know that our nation is now become a land that persecutes small children who have done no harm to anyone, save they were brought here to ‘live’, as Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus as a refugee to Egypt to escape death by the hand of Herod’s soldiers . . .

        if our nation can abuse those tiny refugees on the whim of a ‘leader’ who is the darling of a majority of white evangelicals, it may cave to the abuse of ANY children that leader sees as worthy of abuse

        The times do not bode well for bring a child into this nightmare, no.

        • senecagriggs says:

          Everytime someone goes to jail or gets a divorce, little children are separated from parents.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The main reason we’re seeing these forced separations is that Executive Order to prosecute border-jumping as a CRIMINAL prosecution instead of a Civil action.

          • Marcus D Johnson says:

            …which senecagriggs then followed up with “that’s why we should be more aware of how our criminal justice system needs significant reform. I hope no one thinks that I would ever justify one violation of the sanctity of the family by affirming another commonly used violation.”

      • Thanks CM. The both/and way of thinking about abortion is a difficulty one for me. I’m trying to justify how I could be for safe and legal abortion while at the same time wanting to protect innocent and vulnerable life.

        I understand that the best way to protect life is to come alongside the mother and support her and her child before and after the child’s birth.

        • Fully agree with your second paragraph. As to how I can come to both/and, it is by remembering the vulnerable woman who is often involved and by thinking it would not be good for the back alley to be revived.

          • Ok I see. I have 2 two teenage daughters so my wife and I have had this conversation about where we “stand” on this issue. I’ve considered your reasoning and find it reasonable, though not comfortably. Thanks again CM.

        • Christiane says:

          “I understand that the best way to protect life is to come alongside the mother and support her and her child before and after the child’s birth.”

          YES, THIS!

  10. Burro (Mule) says:

    Mexico just got spanked by Brazil. They have to go home now.

    My hopes for a Spanish-speaking World Cup champion are now pinned on Uruguay or Colombia.

    I could handle Russia or England, or even France but never, ever Belgium.

  11. Stephen says:

    Well, Chaplain Mike, if you insist on being reasonable how can we take you seriously?

  12. senecagriggs says:


    I believe the Bible was produced by human beings in communities of faith for their purposes, and that it is marked by all kinds of imperfect human characteristics as people describe their experience of God and their understanding of God’s work in this world. ”
    __________

    And that’s the crucial divide C.M.

    Because, that position says God either

    a] cannot, using human authors/scribes, give us exactly what he wants – but is indeed at the mercy of the scribes or
    b] God is actually pretty casual about His Word, imperfections don’t bother Him –
    He’s more like a SoCal surfer dude – “Your beliefs are cool dude as long as you are sincere.”

    That position actually impugns the righteousness, holiness, omnipotence of creator God – who is never thwarted and is in all things perfect and precise.

    Your view upon Scripture directly reflects your view about God. He’s either casual about truth or He is never casual about truth.

    My viewpoint; He’s never been thwarted, not once. He’s fully God or he’s a lesser god. Those are the choices.

    • I completely disagree Seneca. Your reply indicates the very either/or mentality that I don’t think is necessary. My view of the Bible has only caused me to appreciate the greatness of God even more.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Ditto! It’s when the mystery of God increases that I see the futility of me attempting to put Him in my little box.

    • The problem with your argument is that you think you have a Bible that doesn’t really exist. The Bible does not exhibit the kind of superhuman/supernatural perfection you want it to. For example, despite the efforts of some to ‘harmonize’ the Bible into one consistent message, biblical authors don’t hold the same positions on all issues (even the Apostles of Jesus don’t always agree – cf. James and Paul – [and I know ALL the arguments about how they ‘really do’, but they don’t]). There are also historical errors (camels were not domesticated until long after Abraham lived, the Philistines didn’t live in Gerar during the time of the patriarchs [Gen. 26]), the prophets make predictions that don’t come true (e.g. Ez. 26 – prophecy against Tyre, where Nebuchadnezzar gave up and went home after some 13 years), and the simple fact that there are so many different understandings of essential elements of the faith suggests that God didn’t give us something to provide the certainty you are so certain of. And that doesn’t even begin to address the problems with interpreting an ancient book written to people who saw the world very differently than we do.

      It’s like a ‘discussion’ I had once with a KJV-only person. He argued the KJV Bible is the only ‘true’ Bible since it was translated from the ‘Majority’ text (of the NT). He said God supernaturally protected his ‘word’ in the Majority Text, which is why it is the ‘majority’. I responded, if that’s the case, show me which one of those ~3000 manuscripts is the perfect one, since they are almost all different in some detail. One can also clearly trace a theological progression (most often to clarify the diety of Christ) over time in the Majority text. The evidence for his claim simply doesn’t exist.

      My point is that no matter how much we wished we had a completely consistent ‘inerrant’ Bible the empirical evidence we have (the Bible itself) just doesn’t support those claims. We have what God gave us, and apparently we have what he wanted us to have. And if that is the case, perhaps the ‘faith’ he wants us to have is a faith that exists (and trusts him) in spite of the lack of ‘certainty’ one could have if we had a Bible like you describe. Perhaps it is the kind of faith CM describes – one that has a lot more ‘both/and’ than ‘either/or’.

      • Ronald Avra says:

        Thanks for identifying specific issues that get brushed off by the crowd that insists on an inerrant approach to the Bible.

    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      You God is plainly a lesser God, a bit player on the cosmic scene who can only influence events in what is someone else’s ongoing creation by magically forcing a few individuals to write some words on paper. A God who, having done so, is apparently then powerless to prevent subsequent transmission and translation errors that have subsequently arisen in the text.
      Look at the other “Book of God”, thevworld. The world itself in its present state is imperfect. Either God chooses to permit imperfection in his creations (which would include the Bible) because through love of us he works out his creative power and purpose through flawed human beings, or God does not permit imperfection in his creations as you maintain, in which case God cannot be responsible for the (demonstrably not unthwartably perfect and exactly dictated) world.
      Those are the choices.

      • senecagriggs says:

        No, I serve THEE GOD who is never, ever thwarted. Do I understand it? Not even close.

        I’m an Evangelical – God in His sovereign purpose allows things that don’t make sense to me.

        “There is a God, I am not He.”

        • Iain Lovejoy says:

          “I’m an Evangelical – God in His sovereign purpose allows things that don’t make sense to me.”
          Yet you don’t allow God to have written the Bible through imperfect human beings because you know that God would never do that. You do nothing but tell everybody else how you know God’s sovereign purpose, then fall back on how incomprehensible it all is if challenged to justify your assertions.

    • Marcus D Johnson says:

      Meh, I think that belief impugns “the righteousness, holiness, and omnipotence” of you, and that’s where your discomfort is coming in. God still seems unchangeable and divine in Mike’s opinion.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Are you saying that God never changes his mind?

  13. senecagriggs says:

    My view of God, utter perfection, not at all like a Socal surfer dude. I’m lazy, and quite casual. He’s just the opposite.
    I don’t envision Him saying, after Paul’s passage, “Well that’s not quite what I envisioned, but what the heck. That’ll do”

    Your position C.M., “Well that was then, this is now.”
    My position, “That was then, that is still now.”

    The unchanging God.

    [ BTW, C.M., I’d visit your church. I’m quite an admirer of yours, we just disagree about Scripture and and its authority. ]

    • David H says:

      So according to your “either/or” logic, Jesus was “either” God or man, but He couldn’t have been “both” God and man.

      More than “what” you believe, this article is about “how” you believe what you do, and it’s crucial to get rid of this dualistic mindset you apply to every issue in life. Something can be “both” right and wrong, black and white, a particle and a wave, … to accept one position does not reject the other. Does accepting that Jesus was a man reject His divinity? Of course not.

      • senecagriggs says:

        David H., you missed my point entirely. Black and white facts; Jesus was both God and Man. It’s black and white.

        • If it’s so black and white, why did the early church bitterly argue over what that meant for almost 300 years?

          • Eeyore, I don’t think that was bitterly argued for the most part. When the Arian heresy became a threat they dealt with it at the Council of Nicaea and made official what had been generally accepted, but for the occasional deviation like Arius.

            There is a similar heresy going on today in the “eternal subordination of the Son” nonsense. I think the Evangelical Theological Society dealt with that a year or so ago. It had gained enough traction to put it on the table, but it seems rather quiet right now.

            And the JWs are still around.

            It’s good to have the Nicene Creed as a benchmark, but it didn’t invent Christianity. Dan Brown is a hack.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          Mr. Griggs, have you studied early church history? It’s worse than watching sausage being made. There were riots and murders over the issues dealing with Jesus being both divine and human or Jesus being either divine or human. Talk about a both/and, either/or.

          • Robert F says:

            Yeah, what became what we call the Church was unwilling to tolerate the existence of another faction. They insisted on an either/or: Either our (the Church’s) way, or the highway.

            • Dana Ames says:

              Much of the time, the other faction put forth some “new revelation” or teaching and insisted the Church accept it. After deliberation (may have lasted a long time or a short time), and when the Church rejected the “new revelation” or teaching as inconsistent with what Christians had always believed, the other faction generally left of their own accord. That’s a major point in Fr John Behr’s lecture “The Shocking Truth About Christian Orthodoxy.” It wasn’t always as black and white as “my way or the highway.”

              Dana

  14. Marcus D Johnson says:

    But which one of those stuffed bears is going to steal my soul? It’s the white one, isn’t it?

    Seriously, the both/and approach seems to freak out a lot of folks, especially those who have been conditioned to believe in absolutes. I have been nervous to admit to folks that, for example, I trust most individual gun owners to act responsibly with their firearms, and that any government initiative that tries to remove hundreds of millions of highly-desired, once-legal items from citizen possession is going to go really wrong, really fast. And I also recognize that our shared access to firearms is exponentially greater than our need, that there are folks who should not have or lose access to firearms, and that our government can be more proactive in restricting firearms.

    My conflict is not pro-gun or anti-gun. It’s that I can’t pull toward a third way of thinking. Or a fourth or fifth.

    • senecagriggs says:

      Marcus D., there is no answer to the gun dilemma. There are at least 350 millions guns out there, they think there might be a trillion ammo units. People will be killed by guns in the foreseeable future.

      You know of that Australian law where they had to turn in their guns; they think at best, 1/3 of the guns were actually turned in.

      If the USA tried the same thing, maybe they would collect 100 million guns. That would leave 250 million out there.

      Percentage of criminals who would turn in their guns; ZERO

      It’s a mess

      • Clay Crouch says:

        For starters, let’s excise tax the hell out of gun and ammo sales. Then, let’s shut down flea markets that sell guns to anyone.

        • And, no concealed carry without a background check, certified training, and a license. You have to train to drive a car or a boat, and they’re not specifically designed to kill things.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Wow, dude, those all sound like “answers” to the gun “dilemma”!!!!!

          • “And, no concealed carry without a background check, certified training, and a license.”

            Eeyore, back in the day when I wanted to legalize by concealed carry it took those three things. However, after becoming “legal” I found that legal conceal carry is not really a good idea when stopped by police for a traffic violation.

        • Robert F says:

          These aren’t “easy answers”, but they are reasonable steps on the way to answering.

          Be prepared to watch them get shot down with the rhetorical equivalent of semi-automatic gunfire, if anyone associated with the fanatical wing of the NRA reads them.

          • senecagriggs says:

            Please tell me Robert what those “reasonable steps” are that we keep hearing about – but never specifically.

            • Robert F says:

              I was referring to the two comments right above my reply to one of them. Those were made by Clay Crouch and Eeyore, and they were very specific. You don’t think their suggestions are reasonable steps?

        • senecagriggs says:

          Clay, if we, this very day, outlaw the sale of any more guns from here unto eternity, there are still 350 million out there and at least 1 trillion units of ammo.

          • Robert F says:

            I.e., do nothing, except sell some more guns so the “good guys” can shoot the “bad guys”? Bang, bang, shoot, shoot. That’s always the answer of gun rights absolutists, and it changes nothing.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            I didn’t mention one thing about outlawing gun sales. I know it’s hard, but please try to stay on point and respond to what I actually wrote.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “My conflict is not pro-gun or anti-gun. It’s that I can’t pull toward a third way of thinking. Or a fourth or fifth.”

      Bingo. My frustration, too.

  15. senecagriggs says:

    Eeyore

    And, no concealed carry without a background check, certified training, and a license.”

    Eeyore, that’s the law in my state. It’s been that way for years.

    BTW, there is still 350 million guns out there.

    • That’s fine, but given current federal regs, a permit from a state with no such restrictions is legal in the other 49. The lowest common denominator “wins”.

  16. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Am interesting perspective I came across recently re the Abortion issue is the Jewish perspective. Apparentlywell over 80% of all Jews are pro choice. The source of this is the following article:

    https://forward.com/opinion/393168/why-are-jews-so-pro-choice/

    Quoting:

    “The first is religious. To put it plainly, Jewish law allows for abortion. For the first 40 days of gestation, a fetus is considered “mere fluid” (Talmud Yevamot 69b), and the fetus is regarded as part of the mother for the duration of the pregnancy. It is not considered to have the status of personhood until birth; the Mishnah (Ohalot 7:6) teaches that if the mother’s life is in danger from the pregnancy, even in labor, the fetus may be sacrificed to save her life, unless the baby’s head has already emerged. Only then, according to Rashi (Talmud Sanhedrin 72b), is the fetus or baby considered to be a nefesh, a soul. Elsewhere, the Mishnah (Arachin 1:4) teaches that “If a [pregnant] woman is about to be executed, they do not wait for her until she gives birth. But if she had already sat on the birthstool, they wait for her until she gives birth.” Birth, not gestation, is the critical marker, here.”

    • That is very interesting. Thank you Klasie.

    • Exodus 21;

      22 “If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. 23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

      The fetus is regarded as property and the mother is not much better off. The “serious injury” in vs. 23 is to the mother, not the miscarried baby.

    • Dana Ames says:

      Why can’t we be like most of the rest of the developed world and at least put a time restriction on obtaining an abortion? Average time limit is 12 weeks (first trimester) in most of Europe. Why can’t we do at least this much?

      Not really expecting an answer.

      Dana

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Why can’t we do at least this much?

        Because Idealists think and have their being in All-or-Nothing Boolean dichotomy and the Universe cannot have two centers. Or two One True Ways.

        So like the half-white and half-black alien from that “Old Testament” Star Trek episode, they will always be at each others’ throats to the death dragging all the rest of us along for the ride.

  17. senecagriggs says:
  18. Wayne Essel says:

    Great post, CM!! We need LOT more “Both/And” in our world today. I have to say, though, that it does seem to me that “Never Trump” doesn’t fit with “Both/And”… Gotta at least pray for the guy.

  19. Jessica says:

    Politics wins out again. Do any of you “never Trump” folks ever pray for him? I don’t think you have it in you.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Our parish prays for him every Sunday. Jessica, did you and your congregation pray for Obama during his eight years?