Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Where's the Center?

Kudos to the Dog

What can I say but that Dennis McFadden knocked two runs out of the park today over at www.hisbarkingdog.blogspot.com ? (The Angels could have used him against the Sox.)

First, he analyzed remarks from Timothy Bonney about the "conservatives out of their pen" in Mid-America . Then he follows up with some thoughts about the shrinking middle.

The Fallacy

This relates to something I've often blogged about: the fallacy of the false center. That's the tendancy we all have to think we personally represent the reasonable middle, and there be dragons to the right and left. Also, since we mostly hang out with people who think like us, and since we are all so reasonable, the dragons are (1) small in number and (2) lunatics.

Maybe it's because I've served churches across the US (from NH to PA to OH to CA), I tend to have a more rounded view of the denomination. The heart of the ABC is center right, and the heart of the Valley Forge leadership is center to hard left. When I was on the General Board, I was on the task force dealing with abortion (this was from 1983-87 as I recall). In truth, pro-lifers dominated the hearings we held--even one in the heart of Manhatten. Also, pro-life sentiment in the form of letters greatly outnumbered the pro-choice letters.

But as a member of that Task Force told me, "The sheer numbers don't matter. The point is, there is a diversity of opinion in the denomination."

Now at the time, I was a Democrat. (There's a point to this, be patient.) Yet I pointed out to the person I just mentioned that even though I opposed the "Star Wars" defense system I was appalled that a resolution comdenming SDI had just been adopted by the General Board on just that ground--that "there is a diversity of opinion among American Baptists." She literally laughed and said, "But everybody agrees on that!"

I was on the Board of International Ministries. During an "open forum" time, I shared that I'd received a number of letters critical of the unqualified support that a certain missionary in Nicaragua was giving to the Sandanistas. You must understand, I was in my 20s, and a bit intimidated by the General Board "scene." My comments were very mild; I remember saying "Could it be that we're backing the wrong horse there?" (I would put it this way, now, in view of the actual track record of the Sandanistas: "Why are we backing Stalinist thugs?" See the difference?) Entirely out of order, the Latin America secretary stood and berated me.

So today, am I shocked by the tactics, mindset and actions of the VF politburo? Not in the least.

And I think I know why: VF is afraid of, and does not understand, its churches. They are afraid of a PSW style uprising. But I also think that the VF leadership is quite baffled. The proletariat isn't supposed to act this way. They have gone off the reservation. What those churches are supposed to do is give money and shut up. After all, they all think like us, don't they? Don't they? DON'T THEY???


Anonymous said...
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Tom said...

I really think you and Dennis ought to merge into one megablog. You cross-reference each other constantly anyway and it would save your readers time from clicking back and forth.

pastordo said...


Your experience reminds me of a time when I was in seminary at Central in K.C. At a meeting of our students and administration, an open meeting, one of our students had their pastor with them. He questioned the teaching of a liberal professor that was unbiblical at a seminary supported by largely conservative churches. This pastor was roundly excoriated by liberal members of the student body and by teachers and administrators alike. I was disgusted by both the content and the attitude of the objections, which basically said that a pastor of a supporting church had no right to object to anything any professor taught at Central.

In Christ's Love,

Pastor Dan Osborn