In spite of what the proverb tells us, I believe that I can ‘have my cake and eat it, too.’ That’s right. I love fence posts, particularly in dealing with theology. It’s why I’m a Molinist–because I welcome the alleged paradox of Man’s Libertarian Free Will and God’s Exhaustive Foreknowledge. I love that many of my blog viewers just experienced Sudden Head Explosion* trying to read that statement.
Extremism is so unhealthy. Always, we must seek balance. Do we like a hot climate, or a cold climate? When we speak of climate, we somehow use that out-dated common sense of ours to rule out the idea that someone might actually want to live in a climate wherein his physical body would perish. Logically, when we say we like it hot, we are talking about 70, 80, 90 degrees…maybe even a few freaks who like it triple! How many people do you know who want to feel their flesh burning off their bodies? We naturally and logically seek balance.
And yet, in heavier matters, we insist upon extremes. Christians WILL attend Church every Sunday. Grassroots movements ARE NOT Conservative. War is wrong. AIG Executives should NOT receive their bonuses. Et Cetera.
What a silly game of extremism we play, insisting that some things are true to the forsaking of all other truths. This is, in my opinion, what has gone so incredibly wrong in the Global Warming** debate. The truth, in my best articulation of it, is that Mankind has stewardship of this planet and we ought to take care of it. But the detriment is in exalting this to a truth above all others. I understand the temptation to try and regulate household temperatures, for instance; but I find it appalling that some jackanapes in D.C. is going to decide how much heat I can have in Upper Michigan in the middle of a February blizzard. How about we move all of our politicians to the U.P. for one winter–just one winter–and I’ll decide whether or not to heat their homes. And when their little tootsies freeze at night, I’ll encourage them with the knowledge that they are saving the planet.
This kind of extremism is destroying us. It’s not even logical. Take another approach: Everybody knows that we need water and oxygen to survive. But we also know that too much of either of these things can kill us just as well as a deficiency of them! So would you prefer hyper- or hypo-thyroidism? Yeah, you don’t want either one, because your body is created to be balanced–not too much, not too little.
And it is often true that the things that seem contradictory are actually synergistic. Rather than arguing about who is right, perhaps we should be looking at what each perspective contributes to functionality. Perhaps we should be looking for the middle ground–the give and take that allows us to be save our money AND pay our bills, that allows us turn the heat up during the blizzard and down during the warmth of daylight, that allows us to be awake and alert during the day and then sleep during the night. It’s all about the balance, the middle ground.
Believe it or not, the Bible is a proponent of this idea. We could look at several passages, but I’ll just share my favorite, from the Ecclesiastes, chapter 7:
16: Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise–why destroy yourself?
17: Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool–why die before your time?
18: It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.
G.K. Chesterton gives great perspective on this, as well. From Orthodoxy:
The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic…He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man.
So what do you say, friends? Shall we have our cake and eat it, too? Or shall we continue to play this silly game of Extremism? Politics, social and economic justice, faith, temperature…these are matters that demand Absolute Truths; but Absolute Truths do not require Extremism and Exclusivity.
I vote for cake.
*It’s Glenn Beck’s fault. I didn’t know heads could explode until I heard it on his show.
**Are they still calling it Global Warming? I think they’re calling it “Climate Change” now to account for Cooling as well as Warming. Thumbs Up.