I've been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is to polarize issues. A recent blog post over at the Ontario ThoughtWorks blog has sparked a conversation regarding the content of one of our courses. I had to admit that the course was not one I'd investigated much - I know the couple that developed it and appreciate them greatly. For me the thing that comes out strongly is that I really believe there can be a middle ground - a place where a variety of approaches and views and actually sharpen each other and bring out the best in each other. So I'm reticent to speak ill of any contribution that seems to be bearing good fruit - and even to struggle to find the fruit that its participants claim to see.
My buddy Mike came over and we were talking along similar lines. To paraphrase one of his observations, it is easy to employ cynicism to tear apart views we dislike, but harder to find out what it is in those views that is compelling. For me the compelling aspect is much more interesting than whether a view is right or wrong - and I am less and less convinced that right and wrong exist outside of contextual realities. Sorta like when Scot McKnight says that God's wisdom led God to inspire misogynistic scriptural texts - it is equally plausible that this is mere cultural capitulation and not a product of God's inspiration at all. (See Blue Parakeet, p.157.) But then we get into the whole debate about different views of inspiration and fall into that same trap of needing the one right thing instead of living in the tension of a reality that is much more messy than black and white will ever convey. What is compelling to me is why McKnight wants to frame it the way he does - and I think that has something to do with the way he understands tradition.
The reality is that sometimes the fruit isn't worth the cost. At some point that needs to be faced - but I think it can only humbly be reached when both sides are fairly heard. And I think that good methods and views can be horribly used - so having the high ground in a debate does not imply responsible application. Life gets pretty messy - which I why I long for the middle ground, the radical middle as some have called it. I know it is not always a realistic position - but it is where I feel the conversation needs to rest at least long enough for the polarized positions to be shaped by the other views.